I have written a paranormal trilogy, won entry into a horror anthology, run a local writers' club, blog, sell my own books on my website, and started a film club to film my short stories. Ask me anything!

Jacky Dahlhaus
Mar 12, 2018

I only began writing in 2015 when my kids encouraged me to write down my dream. English is not my first language but I thought I had it under control... until I began writing novels. After finishing my second novel early 2016, I dedicated my time to learning how to write properly, only finishing my trilogy recently.

I also thought it would be fun to see the stories I wrote for the local writers' club on the big screen (I am a big film lover), hoping that one day I could write the screenplay for my novels. With the help of MeetUp, I met some local people who were also interested in making movies and I became the writer, producer, and director of Aberdeenshire Film Productions. One of our shorts was screened at the Inverness International Film Festival. 

Although I prefer to write romance, I entered Twisted50 Vol.2, a horror anthology contest, last year and one of my stories were picked to be added to the book. It may even be filmed (not sure yet). 

Not wanting to be reliant on the big Zon, I learned from a fellow author you could sell eBooks yourself. As fast as I could, I added this feature to my website and can now offer a discount to my readers and still earn more than I do by selling my books on Amazon. 

On my website, I also blog about movies, TV series, my weight loss journey (a  never-ending story), the short stories I write for the writers' club, and anything else I have time for:).

Ask me anything!

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What goal do you think humanity is not focused enough on achieving?
Mar 19, 7:01AM EDT0
If you were a ghost and could possess people, what would you make them do?
Mar 19, 5:42AM EDT0
If magic was real, what spell would you try to learn first?
Mar 18, 5:42PM EDT0
As a writer, what problem are you currently grappling with?
Mar 18, 5:11PM EDT0

I have started my own film group called Filmmakers Helping Filmmakers, it has almost 2500 member worldwide, I want to expand it into something bigger like a non-profit organization that gives the next generation of filmmakers the best chance to succeed, would you have any advice on how we can achieve that goal? 

Mar 17, 12:06AM EDT1

Hi David,

What an honorable goal! What my group and many others are struggling with is funds. I'm not sure what it's like elsewhere, but here in Scotland, money is only given once you've established yourself as a filmmaker. This is hard to do if you don't have any funds to work with. Actors want to be paid, props cost money, locations often cost money as well. Unfortunately, large sums of money are only given to full-feature length movies. It would be great if a portion of the money available is divided amongst those starting out. I don't mind if we have to hand in accounts for every penny spent, but even $1000 would get us a long way (which is nothing in the film business). I have had to let go of three projects already in the last year due to lack of funds. It's very hard to work with people who don't show the commitment because they're not getting paid. And to let go of an awesome location due to the fact we just didn't have the funds to pay for it. We have now decided to keep filming extremely small projects with ourselves as actors (less than desirable) and are struggling with locations still. Participating in Film Festivals is also expensive and with not even a spot being guaranteed, handing over the money is a gamble (which we lost once). So, yeah, that's my view; get the government to hand out little bits of money to multiple little groups instead of all of the money to one big project. 

Mar 17, 7:36AM EDT0

You have a lot of "irons in the fire." How do you effectively manage your time? 

Mar 15, 4:19PM EDT0

Hi Kathryn, 

Please see my answer to Saramade's question (way down). Basically, I go with the flow. I love writing and it's the only thing that gets me out if bed in the morning. I hate deadlines, but do most of my work when I have one (and just before they expire... or not 😁). Which reminds me, I've got to do some work 😄

Last edited @ Mar 18, 6:42PM EDT.
Mar 15, 4:26PM EDT0
Among all the books you’ve written, which one’s your favorite?
Mar 13, 3:22PM EDT0

Sorry, Bogdant, I'm sure I answered this question, but somehow it wasn't posted. 

My favorite book is my first book, hands down. I wrote it without having to worry to entertain an audience, to surpase any previous work, or to publish. I did it pure for myself and it gave me a high (literally! 😄). I suppose I will never feel like that again, but it made me realize I have finally found my niche. This is what I love doing. 

Mar 15, 4:34PM EDT0
What’s the best feedback you’ve received from readers of your books?
Mar 13, 1:03PM EDT0

I've had three types of good feedback.

The first one was after the first edition and basically told me it was crap 😄 (which it was). It made me realize I needed to up my game and start to learn how to write properly. I'm so grateful this lady was honest with me.

The second type was a lady who gave me one star, but said she couldn't wait until the next book came out because she loved it. So, even though it brought my overall score down, people who would read it would still realize my book is great.

And then there's the best one from a blogger, who said (of my first book) that it was an insanely exciting read and (of my second book) that it was a mother if all rollercoasters. Very happy with those comments! 😃

Mar 13, 6:43PM EDT0

After pursuing further studies on writing, do you believe it’s necessary for aspiring authors to learn more about writing?

Mar 13, 1:42AM EDT0

You can never know too much! There is so much to learn out there. Try things out, read how others did it.  Practise, practise, practise!

With the writers'club, we don't just write short stories. I include grammatical exercises as well as keywords. This way, we keep on learning 😊

Mar 13, 3:41AM EDT0
How does one know that his written material is publish worthy?
Mar 12, 2:17PM EDT0

Nowadays, anyone can publish on Amazon. Whether it is reading-worthy will be decided by the reviews you get. If you're not sure if your work is ready to publish, find some people you trust to read it and give you an honest opinion. 

There are several groups on Facebook that can help you. Just look for writers groups in your genre.

Last edited @ Mar 12, 2:21PM EDT.
Mar 12, 2:20PM EDT0
What’s your website address where one can get copies of your books?
Mar 12, 12:35PM EDT0

Thanks for asking, Aminah! my website address is: jackydahlhaus.com.

All my books are available on Amazon, and the first two books and the prequel are also available on KOBO and my website. 

When ordering my books from my website and using the coupon code at the checkout (available from my book store), you'll get a 20% discount! You'll be directed to BookFunnel (free app) where you can pick the format you prefer :)

Books I've written:

Releasing A Vampire - Prequel

Living Like A Vampire - Book 1 in the Suckers Trilogy

Raising A Vampire - Book 2 in the Suckers Trilogy

Killing A Vampire - Book 3 in the Suckers Trilogy

20 Short Shockers - 20 Short Stories

Mar 12, 12:44PM EDT0
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Mar 12, 11:51AM EDT0

I loved reading Terry Prattchet's Disc World novels. I once had the pleasure of meeting him during a book signing in Perth, Australia. I also love the Dragonriders of Pern Chronicles by Anne McAffrey. Partly because it's about dragons, partly because they're books feature strong women.  I loved Urshurak by the brothers Hildebrandt and Nichols too, especially because the drawings by the brothers Hildebrandt are so beautiful. 

Last edited @ Mar 12, 5:34PM EDT.
Mar 12, 12:15PM EDT0
Who’s the usual target audience for your books?
Mar 12, 11:38AM EDT0

As my books span the life of Kate from after her college years until she is a mother in her thirties, my target audience is females from 25-45. Men can also read my books, though, I don't exclude them. The books are full of action and suspense and humor which can be read by anybody. The sex content in the books is minimal, so could be read by young adults, but I find the topics, especially in Book 2, are more geared toward adults (rape, adultery, abortion). It can be read by teenagers who are 'more worldly' than average :). 

For my new books, I'll still be targeting adult audiences. If not for the topics, I very likely will keep swearing in my books. Not appropriate for teenagers, I suppose :D.

Last edited @ Mar 12, 12:18PM EDT.
Mar 12, 12:11PM EDT0

I would like to know how to sell ebooks through my website too. Sounds like a great idea. Is there a short answer for that? If not, maybe you could direct me to a place to learn more about it. Thank you!

Mar 12, 9:46AM EDT0

I suppose it depends on what website you have. I use Wordpress and WooCommerce is designed for that. It's easy to set up if you follow the guidelines. You do need a business account with Wordpress, though. Check out my web store: jackydahlhaus.com/books/

Mar 12, 9:50AM EDT0
Show all 3 replies
Are your books also available on print?
Mar 12, 9:26AM EDT0

At the moment, I have only my first novel available in print. I'm working on getting the other two in print asap! I'm afraid I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and only want to print them when I'm 100% happy with the story. The first book was printed in haste so I could sell them at a book fair but wasn't 100% happy with them. Now I'm stuck with books I don't want to sell anymore :D

Mar 12, 9:31AM EDT0
What are some of the best writing tips you have learned?
Mar 12, 8:40AM EDT0

The ones I can come up with are from the top of my head and which have improved my writing the most are:

Show, don't tell. Or; show emotion, tell feelings.

Stay in the same tense (don't write in the simple past and all of a sudden put in a sentence in present tense).

KISS; keep it simple, stupid. Don't overdo things or use too fancy words.

Use a thesaurus.

Keep an eye on repetition; don't use the same words in consecutive sentences. For example, don't start sentences with I again and again or use the same verb/noun again and again.

Vary your sentence structure. For example, don't write 'this happened, and then that happened' again and again.

Use names and pronouns alternatively. So, instead of 'He did this. Then, he did that. And so, he did that again' write 'John Doe did this. Then, he did that. And so, John Doe did that again.'

Know where to place a comma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or; know thy grammar.

Last edited @ Mar 12, 9:15AM EDT.
Mar 12, 8:48AM EDT0
How long does it usually take to write an entire book?
Mar 12, 7:16AM EDT0

The writing of the stories doesn't' take long. My first novel was written in two weeks. The second one I wrote in four weeks, and the third I wrote in six weeks. It's the editing process that takes forever. If you have a professional editor (which I don't), I guess it doesn't take as long as you set a deadline. Doing it yourself is hard work and you need to be very disciplined. And even then, a professional editor is still recommended as you brain will skip mistakes per definition. 

My last book took me five months from the first word to publishing it on Amazon.  I still think it can be improved upon :D

Mar 12, 7:53AM EDT0
Show all 3 replies
Did you self-publish your books? Was it a long and difficult process?
Mar 12, 6:52AM EDT0

Yes, I self-published all my books, and yes, it still is a long and difficult process. I find I'm not only a writer, but I'm also an editor, a formatter, and a publisher. I'm not doing too bad formatting, but editing and publishing is still a struggle. I'm lucky to have some amazing beta-readers who help me in the right direction with my stories. They pick up on the typos I have skipped and tell me if there are any unclear moments or inconsistencies. One day I hope to be able to afford a proper editor and make my books the best they can be. For now, the promoting takes up all of my budget and sadly, I still don't get back what I put in. 

I have only once sent my book to a publisher. It was the very first edition of my first book and it sucked, so it wasn't accepted. I'm still going through my books editing them one more time before I'm going to try again to get a publisher. 

Last edited @ Mar 12, 7:49AM EDT.
Mar 12, 7:49AM EDT0
What’s more difficult to write - romance or horror?
Mar 12, 6:45AM EDT0

It may sound strange, but I find romance harder to write. I'm a romantic at heart, but I'm not a girly-girl, if you get my drift. I had to write a romantic dialogue in my third book... and struggled. It ended up being a laugh. That's what happens when I read soppy dialogue; I laugh. Unless it is extremely beautifully written and in the right context. 

Horror has its own difficulties. Horror suggests it horrifies the reader. Nowadays, with all the horrors that happen in real life, people are not so easily shocked anymore, and unless it involves mutilating children, it just doesn't happen for me. 

That's why I like to add a touch of humor to my stories. You can never laugh too much :D. I'm not saying that humor is easy to write! It more or less happens accidentally. 

Mar 12, 7:42AM EDT0
Where can one learn how to write properly? Any online courses you would recommend?
Mar 12, 2:24AM EDT0

The course I did to get some basic knowledge about writing was the Creative Writing course from FutureLearn (a free online Open University course). I think it's now called 'Start Writing Fiction.' The course is eight weeks and you get feedback from fellow participants as well as teachers. After this, I learned most about the English grammar from articles online. 

Next to this, I recommend reading 'The Anatomy of Story' by John Truby, 'The Elements of Eloquence' by Mark Forsyth, and 'The Elements of Style' by William Strunk.

If you find yourself struggling with a particular aspect of writing, don't forget to search on Pinterest. It, too, is a great source of information. 

Mar 12, 7:37AM EDT0
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