Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, May 30, 2008

Busy week, busier weekend

This week has been one of those weeks where there was one thing after another after another. My calendar actually had all these appointments scribbled in for practically every day of the week! (I had to reschedule one of them because, since Jennifer had to miss school on Tuesday because she was sick and Wednesday due to our trip to Portland, I didn't want her to miss any MORE school.) I didn't get much sleep, I was cranky a lot (falling asleep while feeding the baby -- haha!) and barely got enough to eat because of all the running around.

I also didn't have much time to write.

Most of the writing I did was blog stuff. That's about it. I only posted those blogs if I felt I really NEEDED to or to bump a blog post or two down. (Or to freaking even UPDATE the darn thing! Like with this one. LOL) But not much work on my new writing book.... Heck, not ANY work! At all. I got a TINY BIT of work done with the haunted houses book. (And frustrated because it wasn't as much as I had hoped. I kept falling asleep at the computer.) I also fell behind on answering emails. As it is, a student at a school for the deaf has been trying to get answers to some interview questions, and every time I sit down to try and answer her questions, I have to get back up again!

Now the weekend is almost here. FINALLY! And even though we've got stuff planned for the weekend, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need to fit in time to work on the books. That is a MUST. Got a book proposal to get together and send off, some beta readers to hunt down for my MG manuscript, more agents to query and an appendix to finish editing. (As scary as this appendix is, I MUST finish editing it! Maybe I should just tell myself this stuff is fiction and it won't scare me so much....If anything, it'll keep me awake at the computer! LOL) And even MORE work to get done besides all that, which I'll be tackling next week.

So, this weekend, I'm going to get caught up on stuff I couldn't work on during the week. And hopefully answer all of those emails.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Agents, freelancing and books -- oh, my!

So what's gone on in my writing life this week??

Agents, freelancing and books!

For 2 weeks now (M-F), I've been querying agents. When I started last Monday, I was planning to send out batches of queries EVERY DAY. But my time limitations being what they are, I have managed to average 3 queries a day. And that's okay.

Wait a sec...did I say "batches"?? As in, simultaneous querying?


For once, I am ACTUALLY sending my query out to EVERY agent I can find representing as much of the stuff I write as possible. It's been quite the learning experience.

I have learned quite a few things in my search for an agent. In fact, I had enough tips I picked up along the way to turn it into an article! You can read that free article here on my website: http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/id43.html

I have also experienced a couple of bumps along the way, too. When I started querying agents, I didn't exactly have EVERYTHING I thought I needed. One thing I was missing was a synopsis, and I couldn't believe I'd forgotten all about writing one! Oops. So, into the second week, I had to write up a chapter-by-chapter synopsis and a one-page synopsis to send on to agents who requested them. It's a good idea to do this before starting the querying process, because stopping to write them can hold things up. (Time limits meant it took me 2 days to write the longer synopsis.)

As for the agents who refuse to accept E-queries: I WILL still query them, but only after I query the ones who do accept E-queries. I just really work faster this way, and it helps me stay on track of who I have queried so far.

Also this week, I went back into freelancing. But I have to tell you...my heart's just not in freelancing anymore. Not as much as it used to be. I was HAPPY just writing books! But the book-writing thing wasn't bringing in any income, something that I needed to do. However, I was NOT HAPPY doing the freelance writing thing. I spent a couple of days grumbling over it. I really felt like I was between a rock and a hard place. Books are what I want to write, not articles or news stories. JUST BOOKS! Books are my thing, my passion. I'm a book-writer, darn it! *kicks rock* Yet I didn't know how to solve the extra-income problem.

Until now.

Now I have FINALLY remembered how I COULD bring in some income writing books....and books and books and books. (haha) I could do the write-for-hire thing. The ghostwriting thing. I have a friend who knows people at a company she did ghostwriting for, with teen books, and she emailed me some years back on how I can step into that. I wanted to do that as a way to practice writing MG/YA books, because of my series. But I'm already writing the series now! So why not go to the next level with that?? After all, I am also planning to do YA books, too. (I have....so many....books planned.) THAT is how I can bring in extra income and STILL write books! YEAH! So, I'm going to dig up her email and look into that.

After I stop kicking myself for forgetting all about it.

In other news, I finished editing the MG manuscript. I'm still editing the VERY LONG appendix for the haunted houses book. It's a listing of haunted houses throughout the U.S. It's coming along really well but I tell you one thing: The stuff I'm reading scares me so bad, I think I'm going to be sleeping with the lights on. For a VERY. LONG. TIME.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Return to freelancing

After I stopped doing the freelance writing, I kept wondering if I'd ever take it up again. Today I got my answer: Yup. I am officially once again a freelance writer.

There are three reasons why I quit freelancing:

#1: It was eating into my "mom time." I was freelancing for 8 hours a day, EVERY DAMN DAY, and the less time I spent with my child, the less happier I was. I am one of those moms who LOVES being with her children. (While they're still not yet teenagers, right?? LOL) So I...didn't like being away for so long. Yeah, I KNOW I was technically THERE. Just not..."there." If that makes sense.

This time, I am ONLY going to do it part-time. For 2 hours, 4 hours tops. And ONLY from Monday-Friday. Weekends are OFF limits!

#2: It was holding me back from writing books, which is my number one passion as a writer. I LOVE writing books. Books are my thing! But the freelancing and newspaper-writing was just taking up all of my writing time. It was taking me FOREVER to get any books written.

This time, I'm DEFINITELY going to keep my book projects in the foreground. I will work on my books for 1 or 2 hours after the kids are asleep. (When does Mommy get to sleep??? I wonder....)

#3: I was sick of dealing with editors who didn't pay. Or who took forever to publish an article and pay for it.

This time, NO MORE writing for mags that "pay on publication." I'll probably still have the occasional editor or two who decides they're not going to cut a check for my work after all, but this time I'm going to be more aggressive in resolving that.

There are other things I'm going to do different this time, too:

--Only submit E-queries. If I used snail mail, it'd take forever to get a response and I'll be breaking my bank account paying for postage. Granted, there ARE magazines who absolutely REFUSE to accept E-queries. I'll just query those ONLY if I want to and only one at a time per week.

--Only pitch to magazines that pay good money for articles. I'm talking AT LEAST 3 figures here, not 1 or 2. I got tired of writing for editors who paid peanuts for my work. I'm WORTH the good pay, so I'm going after the good pay.

--Be more agressive in finding sources. Because I have to rely on E-mail to interview people with, it wasn't easy trying to get sources to respond, to reply in time, and it was hard actually FINDING them. So this time I'm REALLY going to put more effort into that.

I'm going to try this for a while and see how it goes. When I was freelancing before, I made an average of $500 a month. I want to challenge myself and see if I can double that this time around. I KNOW I can do it, so I'm going to DO IT!

So why did I go back to being a freelance writer? I WAS happy just writing my books. And believe me, I definitely got caught up with my book-writing. I was happy with that. But there are a lot of medical bills to be paid, more than we can afford on our monthly budget. So I need to find some way to fix that.

Also, this is the year I work to make my dreams come true!! And part of that involves having the funds available. I know I won't be able to make enough to visit Ireland (though a girl can definitely dream!) or finish college (darn, I ALWAYS dream about that one. Sigh), but at least I will be able to do SOME things. And that's good enough for me.

Another thing is that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! to travel. And I just don't get to travel as much as I'd like to.... So after the finances get better, maybe we'll have enough to take a trip somewhere! (Washington, Canada, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine and Georgia are a few places I have wanted to visit.)

So, yeah. That's why I am once again freelancing! And in addition to my "rules" above, I'm going to throw another one in there while I'm at it: NO GUILT ALLOWED.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Keeping that flame alive

I've taken to the habit of pencilling in the dates of when I'd have certain projects finished. I'd get the first draft of one book done by a certain date and work on so many chapters of it each day to get there. I planned to have the FINAL draft of my essay collection put together by today, because that's the date I gave to a publisher in my proposal.

Alas, the book was not ready by today.

Alas, the manuscript was rejected.

Alas, I'm wrestling with MORE doubts over whether or not I should even TRY to get this book published. Doubt has been throwing some serious punches at me. Punches that say: "You're not famous." "No one will care about what YOU have to say." "It's not important enough for a book." "You're not an expert." "You don't have any fancy degrees or letters after your name." "You aren't in a position to tell people the RIGHT way to do things."

I have been dealing with these doubt monsters EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am trying to move past them. I am trying to conquer them and continue in my quest to get my book published.

Why do I even want to get this book published?

Because I have something to share. Stories and lessons learned. Insights and opinions. Yeah, I KNOW I'm not a celebrity or journalist or whatever. (Well, not a journalist ANYMORE.) I know I'm not an expert and I don't have THOUSANDS of fans snatching up every single book I write. I know this. But I still think the book has merit. And I am still willing to stand behind it. I am still willing to put myself out there and talk about this book and WITH people who read it.

I still want it to be a book. Because it's not just for ME. It's for everyone.

For this reason, I will keep moving forward with my book. Yes, I've been sad over these roadblocks and frustrated with those darn doubts. But I want to see this book become an ACTUAL book. I won't give up on it, no matter how long it takes. Or what date I will actually end up having it finalized at.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Update time!

Time for an update with the book projects!

I'm on the LAST CHAPTER of the haunted houses book. Yay! I've got the appendix to edit, another appendix to write up and IT. IS. DONE. Holy crap. Four years invested in that book. WOW. I can't believe it's practically finished!

With the MG book, I'm handing it out to some beta readers. I've tinkered with the second draft a bit (found a few inconsistencies) and just waiting to hear what the betas have to say. I've already got Book Two going in my head! EEK! I better write it all down before I can officially start writing it. At least when I query the agents, I can safely say, "There are 12 books in this series and I've already started the second one."

The essay collection is still in beta mode.

The new writing book is coming along in bits and pieces. It's not moving as fast as I had hoped, but since I'm having a hard time figuring out how to put it all together, anyway, I'm not going to complain. (Yet.)

The poetry collection is once again in purgatory. Sigh. First I go months without hearing anything, then I get a "yes" then the publisher disappears again! Cripes. I'm thinking of emailing her another follow-up to get a status check, or something.

So that's what's going on with the books. Still shopping around some other manuscripts. Going to make some changes to a novel and jotting down ideas for MORE books. I'm also putting together ANOTHER poetry collection but that one won't be on the table for a while.

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