This week let me introduce Sarah and Rew Jones!
From Creating Movies To Writing Children’s Books, this power couple is making things happen.
Sarah & Rew Jones are a wife/husband duo with a background in filmmaking.
They are incredibly creative and do it all together while raising five kids.
You’re going to be amazed at everything they do!
Aspiring children’s authors – start here! An ultimate Q&A guide to self-publishing, just for you.
Struggling children’s authors – try this out! A book sales diagnostic tool, so you can know for sure where to focus in 2020.
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Introducing Sarah and Rew Jones
Laurie: Hello everybody. Welcome back to the Writer’s Way podcast. I’m here with the husband-wife duo, Sarah and Rew Jones, the authors of “Evalina’s Egg”. Thank you so much for coming on with me today.
Sarah/Rew: Hi, thank you.
Laurie: We just had a little moment when I realized they’re actually from fairly close to me here in Canada. As I drink my Tim Horton’s coffee that my husband brought me today.
Usually I end up talking to people much farther away, so I think it’s really cool to talk to other Canadians that are equally as cold as I am.
Rew: Yes, it is very unfortunate right now.
Laurie: It really is. It really is. It’s hard. My husband’s like, why are you complaining? You decide in the house. And it’s true. So you guys have like, you’re just my superheros.
You have a lot of kids and you do a lot of things. So I just want to hand it over to you and if you could introduce yourselves and tell everybody else what you do.
Sarah: Sure, my name is Sarah and I have, we have five kids together. And so I mostly stay at home mom, but I, I like to help Andrew with his film business.
And then, we’ve just kind of started into the world of trying to write children’s books as well. So
Rew: We love doing like family film projects and stuff. And Sarah has been writing ideas for kids’ books for a long time. And then, so we just kinda started like actively pursuing it this year. And our first, our first picture book came out in November and so far people seem to like it.
Laurie: Cool! Congratulations. Do you have it there? Are you reaching for it?
Sarah: This is it “Evalina’s Egg”. And so we decided to go ahead and try to self publish it. And it’s been kind of a whirlwind adventure. But, really fun and kind of addictive actually.
Laurie: It is, isn’t it?
And then, especially when you have kids around, I find like you get so many ideas just day to day. I follow mine around like this. Yeah. Just, just keep playing. Mommy’s not being weird. So can you tell me about your movie background Rew or what.
Rew: So I started off, actually, well, Sarah and I wrote a family theater program for about seven seasons, and that was really fun. It was, and we had kind of both did theater in college and high school and stuff. And then, so as that was kind of winding down, I was actually working in the music industry as well, just managing artists and stuff.
And we needed to supplement that a bit. So Sarah said, well, you’ve done lots of film work with the theater. Why don’t we start doing that? So I started directing more and more, and then. Yeah. We kind of really started into the family content with a short film called “Finding Fairies”, which is about a little girl who finds a magic tooth fairy.
And, uh, she, she has a loose tooth that goes under the pillow and then she sees a little bunny leading, leaving her room. And so she follows the bunny, and that goes into like a magic forest, which is where the tooth fairy lives. And then. So we started doing that. And then we’ve written two other TV pilots for family shows that are in kind of various stages of work.
And yeah, so that’s kind of like our full time paying the bills job, right now is filmmaking and um, and we do a lot documentary work and stuff too. And then, yeah, increasingly trying to focus on publishing some kids’ books as well as more film projects too.
Laurie: Wow. Okay. First, where can people find that “Finding Fairies” movie?
Rew: Just on YouTube actually. Or in a bunch of countries, it’s on Amazon Prime too, but it’s available for everyone on YouTube. If you just type our production company is Checkered Owl. So if you type Finding Fairies, Checkered Owl. It will come up. Well, if you just type Finding Fairies, it’s usually fairly near the top too.
Laurie: So it’s so funny because you guys look like normal people and then you talk about filmmaking. And you know, it’s on Amazon Prime, but I feel like people will be watching this and you’re their dream, right? Like, you know what? They have a film.
You know, family friendly films. So I think about, you know, the YouTubers that my kids love, my younger kids love. Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that they do, but they do.
Instead of TV shows they watch like this family on YouTube that does all these fun things, that makes our family like very, not fun. But that’s what I think of when I think of what you talk. So I know it’s not specifically about books, but could you share a little bit of sort of about that part of your life?
Like is it glamorous? And fabulous? And exciting? And how do you get a film on Amazon Prime?
Rew: So it’s really fun. I don’t know if it’s glamorous most days, but it’s really fun. It’s, um,
Sarah: No two days are alike for us. You know, so we’re not like. You know, very, and our personalities are not super duper rigid scheduled anyway. And I think you have to be pretty fluid to be able to do, you know, five kids and then try and do business as well.
And you just kind of go to the next most urgent thing. And then at the end of the day, you’re kind of exhausted and hope that you, you know, got some things done. And. Had fun along the way. And we were very fortunate that we’re able to involve more and more of the kids that film “Finding Fairies”. Those are all our kids that are in it.
And then Lilah loves, our oldest, loves to help Andrew on the set in all kinds of capacities.
Rew: So she’ll come out on set as like a production assistant when I’m shooting music video and stuff. And that’s really fun experience for him or for her rather. And then they, of course, like all kids, you know, then they go home. And they make all their little imovies and blah, blah, blah. But then they, they really enjoy it.
So it’s, it’s fun and it’s fun because we can do it together. Sarah does a lot of our writing and helps with some editing and stuff. And I do most of the directing and producing.
And it’s fun cause we can juggle these things all together kind of as a couple. And as a family with our kids whenever possible. So it’s busy and crazy. But it’s a load of fun.
And then, yeah, just getting it on Amazon was just, we had produced it. And they have a program called Amazon Video Direct, and we kind of work through them and it’s been really good.
It actually, that one took off in the UK kind of randomly for a little while. And so it’s kind of a fun adventure that way.
Laurie: Is it a little bit like putting a book out there on Amazon? But it’s a movie and so?
Rew: Yeah, basically the, actually, yeah, Amazon Video Direct is, would be pretty similar to like putting a book on Amazon.
Laurie: I love it. And you guys seem happy. Like, when I think about working with my husband in a partnership. He’s like, no. But that’s great. You’re the first people I’ve talked to that do it, you know, with their spouse. So kudos to you.
Sarah: Thank you. Yeah, we’re fried a lot of the time, but I don’t know. It just,
Sarah: It’s kind of nice because you know, you just, you get done one crazy project and then you get to focus on a whole new thing.
And I think that just keeps us motivated and excited.
Laurie: Right. You always have that passion for whatever you’re doing and then move on and have new, regenerated passion. So your book came out in November. Has there been anything since it’s come out that you didn’t expect or that was a little bit surprising?
Rew: That’s a good question.
Sarah: Well actually one thing I would say is our community, our town, the support here has been actually a lot better, more than I might’ve anticipated. You know, we go into little local stores, kind of trepidatious, like would you be willing? And they’re pretty much across the board.
Of course. Yeah. You bet. And so we’ve got, you know, a lot of local vendors selling the book here, which has just. And at school, libraries we’re kind of in the midst of getting into those and stuff. So in that sense, it’s just been very encouraging because it feels like they take our project seriously. And you know, we still have that artists sense of like, Oh, it’s just my little silly, you know, whatever.
But then you show it to other people and they’re like, Whoa. And they, you know, they get excited and it kind of. Again, Reed reenergizes us to keep going and to think maybe we do know what we’re doing a little bit, but you know, you always carry that feeling of of self doubt. I think, so.
Laurie: It’s so true, but I’m so happy to hear that you’ve had such positive feedback from.
Laurie: The community, because that’s not everybody’s story always. It’s us Canadians, right?
Laurie: Everybody’s nice here. Any part of the publishing process surprise you along the way?
Rew: I would say, we publish through KDP and for some reason I like, I’ve done quite a bit of graphic design work and stuff just working in, you know, music and film and doing posters and different things.
But for some reason, like just the way they structure when they tell you about the margins and stuff in the process took me just like. It took us longer than we thought. I guess it was
Sarah: It was like that finish line was very long. Of just gettin it completed.
Laurie: Getting the book layout and the proper dimensions.
Rew: Yeah, just like. It was like, for some reason we found the margins after we had submitted. And then something weird happened, which wouldn’t be most people’s story I’m sure. But just like some file in the back end of their system corrupted, so then we had to restart it a couple times.
Not like big deals, but just those things .We’re done. Okay. Nope, Nope. We’re done. Oh, no, wait. We got. So it was just like, it felt really good once it was
Laurie: Finally done. That’s actually something really good to point out. Is that whole margins and bleed and knowing right from the beginning what your dimensions are supposed to be.
And so maybe you know with this interview, I’ll post a link to that page cause you’re right, it can be tricky. They do have it on there, but they also have a lot of other stuff. So it can cause people stress for sure and the illustrators and all that.
Laurie: I’m curious because we have kids similar age. How do your kids feel about all of this?
Like, are you superstars to them? Or is it all just every day? And was the book something? You know, like, Oh, you’re an author now. Was that more exciting than movies for them? Or?
Rew: I’d say yes because we’ve been doing the film work since most of them were tiny. That it’s, you know, us going out to shoot is kind of par for the course for them, I guess.
But the book was, I’d say like when we were writing it, when we were doing it on the computer. They didn’t think much of it but when there was is like a, you know, a physical book that in the little dedication spot we put their names and all of those things. Then that felt like. I think that felt kind of legitimate
Sarah: library, getting it into the ,
Rew: into the library. The public library was a big deal for the kids.
Now, you’re real.
Sarah: You know, there’s a funny story from when our daughter was at school a couple of few years ago. And she would tell her classmates, you know what her dad does. And they wouldn’t believe her. And one boy in particular, I think he, he was an aspiring actor himself, and he always.
Oh, you’re exaggerating your dad. What did, what did he use to say your dad only. Do you remember?
Rew: Well, there was one kid who was like, Oh no, I think you mean like your dad makes PowerPoint presentations.
Sarah: And it was, it was just kind of an interesting thing because I think. Yeah, we do actually have. Are reminded that our life is kind of different, I guess. And then a lot of kids experience. And, it doesn’t necessarily. Seem believable maybe sometimes to the other kids. That this is genuinely what her dad does. And
Rew: This book was exciting though too, because actually like we did all of the illustrations. We did. We did photographs and we did like. So actually our 12 year old daughter made the little felt mice. Yeah. You can say it was a good picture. So like it’s full of like little felt mice and she actually made all of those.
So it’s really exciting for her when I’m like, Oh look, a book sold in California today. And like it’s some of her art work, or at least she played a role in kind of putting together that artwork and stuff. So that’s really exciting too. And a couple of local people have asked them to sign the book and stuff. So that’s very exciting
Laurie: Oh, that would be. Cool.
I love that. And I think that’s so cool that you’re involving all of them. And it’s such a different way to do the illustrations, but they’re gorgeous. Like I think you did a great job.
Okay. So do you, do you have any advice to give to somebody maybe in your position? You know, a year ago? Somebody thinking about doing a book, what would you say to them?
Rew: I think, you know, the biggest thing is just that you, for us, and partially due to our life and having a bunch of kids is like. It’s like you really have to force yourself to set aside time. Like if you just think, Oh, you know, I’ll kind of do it here and there. It’s really hard to get anything that you’re satisfied with.
Like it kind of takes one or both of us, you know, taking a weekend away. Or going to a coffee shop for a whole afternoon. Or something like that to like really. Make the progress you want to make sometimes. Because at home there’s just like, you know, people needing snacks and laundry needing to be done, and people who pinched each other because they were trying to get the same Lego piece and all of that.
Laurie: No idea what you’re talking about
Sarah: Just in our house.
Laurie: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. You have to remove yourself from all the distraction.
Rew: Yeah, and I, we’ve just found for us. Like, yeah, for one or both of us to disappear for awhile where there’s nothing else going on is important.
Like when we’ve had to finish scripts and stuff, and it’ll be the same with different, while there’s a book project coming up that we’re working on, there’ll be a little longer and we’re just like, yeah, we just need to like.
Take a weekend. Drive to a different city. Get an Airbnb. And work on this thing.
Laurie: I guess that’s sort of the, you know, pros and cons for you cause you’re both in it together. So on the one hand you can support each other and do that. But on the other hand, if you’re both needed? Grandma? Grandpa? Yeah.
Well it’s been great getting to know you guys. Are you on social media and stuff under Checkered Owl or are you under your names?
Rew: Yes. So we, um, we’re on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and our website and YouTube all under Checkered Owl. Um, and then also though, we just started, we have a Facebook page that’s just Sarah Rew Jones, like facebook.com/sararewjones.
Also an Instagram with that same thing that we’re just getting started, our authors stuff on there. So I think it has like 10 posts or whatever, but we’re building it up. And then, we’re just about to get our new Sarah and Rew dedicated website. We’re just finishing some of the layout and stuff, building that.
Sarah: So, so that’s kind of more our family content emphasize stuff. Like the Checkered Owl kind of has the whole umbrella. But then we’re trying to sort of specialize that, that part for people who are interested in our family content.
Rew: So if people are super into kids’ books. You know, they might like our documentary about grain elevators we did through Checkered Owl, but it might not be what they’re there for exactly.
Laurie: Gotcha. No, that makes sense. And I think that’s smart for you to separate the two. And I feel like that family entertainment stuff has really had a huge growth spurt. It’s just going to keep going. You know, the whole advent of YouTube and all that. Like that’s what kids are enjoying watching. So and reading of course, all that with the picture books.
Well, thank you so much for being on with us and I’m excited to share this with the world. And it’s been great getting to know fellow Canadian
Rew: Yes, thank you so much for having us. And we’ve really been like I said to you in an email, we’ve been digging into the podcast and like getting our heads around. There’s some marketing things are similar to some of the internet marketing stuff we’ve done before, but then some that are really different.
So it’s been great to have your podcast as a source to steal ideas. And helped remind us that we needed to get going and start our Instagram. And the website for blogs and content. And so
Laurie: I’m glad it’s helpful. I appreciate hearing that because I don’t always know what people think, right? So I do really appreciate when people tell me that, okay, you’re welcome. Have a great day.
Sarah: You too. Stay warm.
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