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Meet S. Faxon

Today we’d like to introduce you to S. Faxon.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I remember my third-grade teacher giving us the assignment to write a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, with some sort of conflict that the characters would have to overcome. What I turned in was my first short story, and I have been writing ever since. I finished writing my first novel when I was eleven and have every intent of publishing that piece someday after a much-needed rewrite. Since the age of eleven, I’ve written sixteen novels, have begun co-authoring a creative non-fiction series with my writing partner, Theresa Halvorsen, and have several more books and comics on the way. I first self-published my book, The Animal Court, back in 2013, but I always knew it could be better.

Most of my endeavors over the last couple of years have been to dive headfirst into the writing community of San Diego to learn as much as I could about every aspect of producing books. With every event I attended, every author I met, I listened and learned. The number one thing I realized was that the more we authors work together, the better we all do. The writing community is so supportive and wonderful about sharing what we know with each other and encouraging our fellows to keep pushing, regardless of rejections, or red-penning, or writer’s block. There’s something very special about our city, and I am so grateful to be going through my writing journey here with my fellow San Diegans.

One of the greatest things that happened to me was making three friends at a San Diego writers conference back in 2019. Over a round of appetizers and good ol’ San Diego craft beer, we decided we wanted to start a podcast about writing. So we did. The podcast is the Semi-Sages of the Pages, and we’re into our second year now and it’s been the best thing for my writing and for my spirit. I cannot imagine what enduring 2020 would have been like without having my group of Semi-Sages. The whole premise of our podcast is, when it comes to writing, we may not know where we’re going, but we’re on an adventure. We talk about various writing topics, from marketing to adding depth to our stories, and we share our triumphs and struggles in our own writing journeys. The world of writing is very difficult, and one thing that we’ve been told sets our podcast apart from others is that we’re so raw and transparent about our failures as much as our successes.

In early 2020, I, like so many others, was furloughed from my day job, and within a few days, I started S. Faxon Productions. I wanted to interview fellow authors to help share their stories with the world on YouTube. Through these interviews, I have met some incredible people who I proudly call my friends today, and I was able to keep learning from every single one of them. I started learning about cover design, making book trailers, and the multi-staged process of professionally producing a book worthy of bookstore shelves. At the end of 2020, with many runs through my editor and beta readers, The Animal Court was re-released with a new cover, professional typeset and a new publisher: No Bad Books Press.

My writing partner, Theresa Halvorsen, and I are now developing our publishing company, No Bad Books Press. We started this company because we were so tired of seeing good books being passed by traditional publishers. There is so much noise on the internet about how to publish a book, but there really is a formula to producing a beautiful, professionally crafted book that your readers will love and share with others for years, and that’s what we’re hoping to create by educating the authors who join our No Bad Books Press family. Theresa and I frequently both look back to where we started as writers and the challenges we’ve overcome; with all of the knowledge that we have gained, we want to share that with others, no matter what stage they’re at in their writing journeys, so maybe we can help them avoid the mistakes we made along our way.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
While I never stop writing and have earned the title “Creative Warrior,” getting my stories published and into the hands of readers has always been the greatest challenge.

In my early twenties, I began pursuing traditional publishing methods, submitting my manuscript of The Animal Court to publishers and agents daily. After a while and several rejection letters, I learned that self-publishing was no longer the costly endeavor it used to be, so I uploaded my book, spruced it up to the best of my ability at the time, and boom, my first book was finally published. However, getting something done and getting something done properly are two very different things. My first go at publishing my own books was not pretty, and I knew I could make them better.

One of the most helpful things I’ve learned through my trials and one of my most frequently stated tips to other writers is to totally familiarize themselves with their genres and to find a support team who are familiar with their genre as well. The biggest misstep I took as a writer was very early on in my career when I used beta readers who were not familiar with my genre. Beta readers are people who read your book prior to publication to help you see if there are plot holes, inconsistencies, or really any red flags pertaining to the story. My beta readers for the first edition of The Animal Court are wonderful, good people and I am grateful to them, but one of the pieces of advice that I am constantly reiterating on our podcast and in essentially any writing conversation is to have genre-specific beta readers and advisers who will be able to pick up on important nuances, from cover design to genre tropes, that general readers may otherwise miss. And it’s those small details that can really make a difference. Once I figured that advice out, I was able to turn The Animal Court and her sequel, Foreign & Domestic Affairs, into the award-winning books they are today.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a writer. Writing is as much a part of me as the act of breathing. I mostly write fantasy novels and horror short stories, but I wrote my first contemporary thriller novel last year and am working on a comic book series as well. My currently published fantasy novels are The Animal Court and Foreign & Domestic Affairs, which are about a country on the verge of collapse and one woman’s fight to save the kingdom she loves. In April of this year, I released my collection of horror and dark fantasy short stories, Tiny Dreadfuls, which I’m hearing from my readers are keeping them up at night, something any horror writer loves to hear. In April, my writing partner, Theresa Halvorsen and I also launched the first book in our creative nonfiction series, where we’re exploring ghost stories and the histories of the people behind the spirits, Lost Aboard, which takes place on the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s historic tall ship Star of India.

On top of writing, I’ve also started dabbling in the art of cover design and book trailers for both my works and those of my fellow writers. Both of these art forms fascinated me and having a familiarity with the ins and outs of these pieces are proving to be very helpful for my publishing company, No Bad Books Press.

Aside from my writing assistant, my calico cat Bella Tuna Todd, I think I’m most known for my desire to help others through the weeds of the writing world. I love teaching others from the mistakes I have made, so hopefully, they may avoid common and not-so-common pitfalls. I love presenting and sharing the knowledge that I have gained, whether one on one or in front of a crowd.

I think I’m most proud of my desire to learn and to live life to its fullest. What sets me apart from others is that no matter how difficult or how long of a day I’ve had (I do again have a full-time day-job), I still write. There are few excuses I can give that’ll stop me from writing. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day, I do my darndest to put my pen to the page. I never stop writing, and I know it’s what I’m supposed to do.

One day when I was describing all of the projects I’m involved into a friend at the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, she shook her head and said, “Sarah, you’re a creative warrior!” And the title stuck.

Alright, so before we go, can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
If people would like to work or collaborate with me about writing projects, interviews, or if they’d like me to give a presentation, they’re welcome to contact me and we can work out the details! I love speaking with people, doing book club or library events, but I most enjoy giving speeches to youth or to people who want to write and just don’t know where to start. To support my creative endeavors, I’d encourage people to sign up for my newsletter on my website at www.sfaxon.com and to purchase my books, also on my site or on most major online retailers. They make great gifts and look pretty darn good on bookshelves if I do say so myself.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Sarah Faxon, Salvatore Bompensiero, and Michelle Grepe.

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