Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Book busy.

Thanksgiving sure did creep up on me (“I have to MAKE something?? Ack!”), but at least I remembered my mom’s birthday. What’s interesting is on the day of her birthday, I was checking out this horror fiction E-zine, and as I read their submission guidelines, my heart sank over realizing I didn’t have a story to submit to them. (One story is going to an E-zine and two others are going to a magazine. And, yes, out of all of my short horror stories, I only think that three are ready for publication.) On the way to my mom’s that night, the steering wheel started turning on its own. This happened for only half of a minute (which gave me enough time to have a small heart attack!), but I suddenly got an idea for a short horror story, which I could send to one E-zine in particular. I’m not saying too much about it here but I will say it has something to do with a battered girl and a car that comes to life. (Ah, I can just see the rejection slip now: “There’s already a story like this. Christine.” The funny thing is, even Stephen King got chided for ripping off his own story!)

I came back from L.A. with over 1600 E-mails waiting for me and out of all of that, I found a message from an editor over at iParenting who got my contact info from another editor there. She was looking for a writer based near L.A. and wanted to know if I’d be interested in taking on an assignment. Even though it was a weekend, I wrote back to say “sure, I’d love to.” Then she responded that somebody else already took the job but that she’d keep me in mind. (Argh!!) I said that’s okay and thank you, but now I’m really kicking myself because not too much else has come up. I’ve been sending out queries like crazy but so far, I either get rejections or no answers. I did manage to sell a couple of articles this week but not too much else came onto my plate. I also broke a rule and submitted stuff on spec, but I haven’t heard back on them, either.

But at least this means I’ve been able to pay more attention to my other projects, mainly my books and book promotion. I have my very first booksigning coming up in less than 2 weeks and I was going nuts over the possibility of someone who once stalked me showing up. (It doesn’t help that the signing is in the same valley.) When I asked a sister who knew sign language to come with me, she said her partner will come, too, and act as my “bodyguard.” I laughed along with her over this but deep inside, I heaved a big sigh of relief. But I’m also getting really nervous because the bookstore owner hasn’t told me yet how many books he wants for the signing, and I’ve got LESS than 10 days left!! Actually, 9 days left. ACK! So, I’m gonna go ahead and order about 20 books (seems like a safe guesstimate, since not too many books usually sell at a first signing!). If he asks for more later, I’ll see what I can do.

And as for my books? I have been soo obsessed with working on them this week! I’ve suddenly realized that, as excited as I am about coming towards the end of my novel, it can be stressful, too. I have to make sure ALL of the mysteries are solved, EVERYTHING has been explained, that there are no remaining loopholes and that my characters have been consistent until the very end. I realized, only too late, that I must find a connection between how one character can be involved in something and this has REALLY had me stumped. But readers will want to know this, so I better find a way to figure that out. I’m also researching publishing companies for one of my children’s books, and it gave me an idea on how to improve the writing to make it more kid-friendly. (It’s for the pre-teen market. Oh, wait a minute; that’s called the “tweens” now.) An interesting thing happened with that book this week: I was looking for publishing companies and all the while, remembering how I’d queried this one company several months ago. I never heard back but on the same day I found another company to query, I finally did get a response, a la rejection. But I didn’t feel so bad about that because they said they’re focusing on picture books right now, which my book is not. So that query goes on to the next company!

And my book on deaf parenting is slowly but surely chugging along. With no other book on this subject or with this angle to compare it with, I’m all on my own to decide what topics to address and how it should be organized. A writer friend who’s with the publishing company I plan to submit it to told me to keep it personal, but I really think that other deaf parents would appreciate some objective discussion on certain topics. I’m also being careful not to write about every single thing that irks me (I’m still debating on whether or not to include an essay on how other parents, mainly hearing ones, tend to take it upon themselves to discipline a child that speaks out against their deaf mom or dad). I’m having a hard time anticipating what my readers will hope to see covered in this book, but I’ll do some more research on this topic outside of books and SIGNews and hopefully it’ll help me zero in on some things. (I suddenly remembered E-mail conversations I have had with other deaf parents. Maybe I can scan what things we talked about and address them in the book.)

But a REALLY EXCITING thing happened this week: I got the ARCs for my second nonfiction book, 365 Tips for Writers: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips To Turbocharge Your Creativity. YAY!! When I got the package, I thought it was Shaunna Privratsky's new book, which I'm writing a review for. But I screamed and tore off the packaging when I saw that it wasn't Shaunna's book, but MY book! VERY COOL!! Although I was disheaterned to see ONE TYPO in the Afterword. Ugh, typos. They will haunt me to my grave. I know I'm supposed to send these out to reviewers and that it's not officially released, but I want to take one copy to show off to my parents before all of them go out into the mail.

I’m doing all of this amid Jennifer constantly pulling me away from the computer or getting into something she shouldn’t. (I get most of my exercise jumping in and out of my chair.) The other day, she wanted me to make her lunch. Now one thing about her that gets to me is that she’ll ask for something one at a time. As far as the lunch episode went: “Mommy, I want jelly. And peanut butter. And bread. And milk. And chips. And a cookie. Five of them.” The writer in me was ready to correct her poor sentence construction, but, heck, she’s 3 years old. Let her enjoy these innocent times of talking anyway she wants to while she can.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Los Angeles

No blog post this week. I'm heading out to L.A. this A.M. and will be back Saturday afternoon.

Friday, November 12, 2004

In the zone.

This blog is short because I'm "in the zone" with my writing. I am working on the final rewrite of my novel (a previously published one getting placed with a new house since the publisher went belly up -- I'll write more on this later).

And for the sake of saving anyone from mental overdrive, "in the zone" is my way of saying I am WAAAAAAAY too involved with a book or writing project right now.

It can be frustrating when this happens; I've been known to get sick from malnourishment, get into accidents and/or make dumb mistakes that would put any bona fide blonde to shame. And even though it's not permanent (and short if it happens when I'm writing an article), it can be pretty scary, too.

Any writer may be anxious to start a new book or happy about being "on a roll" with their book. Me, I'm filled with a sense of dread and anxiety. I love to write. I love to create "worlds" and "act" in different roles. But when I get a little too deep into a book, it can get pretty hard to remember that I live in the real world. With real world responsibilities (namely, caring for a toddler). I stock up on emergency supplies (freezer food, diapers, LOTS of soda and dog food) then get cracking. Pretty soon, the laundry piles up, clean dishes are scarce, I start to smell bad because I've hardly showered and the meals start to suck. Yup, I am now "in the zone."

I keep saying so many times that, in order for me to keep going strong as a writer, I need someone to drag me away from the computer every once in a while to eat something, pay a bill, give the baby her bath, do a load of laundry, etc. I've tried taking breaks to do this in between writing, but the results have been disastrous. If not a little funny.

So far this week, I have:

  • Put the wrong date on a form.
  • Stopped at a stoplight -- that was green.
  • Put Jennifer's shoes on the wrong feet -- twice.
  • Hit the wrong buttons on the TV remote control, several times.
  • Thrown away good mail and kept the junk. (Ugh.)
  • Put coffee in a bottle and milk in a coffee cup.
  • Sent E-mail to the wrong person.
  • Forgot about someone's E-mail or someone waiting to hear from me -- all blooming week!

To any other writer, they might empathize with being "in the zone." Heck, they might even SYMPATHIZE. The things we do can be funny, yes, but also disastrous. Which is why I've pretty much cut down on driving anywhere, at least until I'm done with the book. (Don't get me started on how many stop signs I have ran. Is it any wonder why writers turn into hermits?? The streets are safer without us driving on it!!)

When I'm done with this book, it'll be time to start my next one! Thank God it's nonfiction.

(P.S. This post was edited three times.)

Friday, November 05, 2004


To writers in the know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo happens every November and it started in 1999 with only 21 people. Today, hundreds of thousands of writers (and aspiring writers) participate from all over the world and from all walks of life to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days (even though that's pretty short for a book). It's basically an Internet-based challenge to get your butt into the chair to write every day.

As a regular over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, I've been reading threads about NaNoWriMo. You can find a couple of discussions here http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessageRange?topicID=827.topic&start=1&stop=20 and here http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessageRange?topicID=779.topic&start=1&stop=20 . Some of the people who responded kept arguing the whole "writing is about quality, not quantity" (and I definitely agree with that!!) but the NaNoWriMo guys say on their site that it IS about quantity, not quality.

So, what they're saying is: Who cares if it's crap? Write 50,000 words. (And you will find on one of those threads that people participating in NaNoWriMo are copying/pasting something they wrote again and again to meet their word count.)

I never really got into the whole NaNoWriMo thing. Last year, I didn't hear about it until it was too late and I thought, "Well, next year." But this November sees me buried with book projects so I have to pass. Maybe I'll do the challenge next year. We'll see.

But that's all I see it to be: A challenge. I can't even remember how many words I wrote in the 3 weeks I spent rewriting a novel, but I do know it's been a LOOOONG time since I've written a novel in a month. Would be nice if I could. So, why not? I want to challenge myself to see if I can do it.

But in the meantime, I'll work on my other novels.

While I see NaNoWriMo as a challenge, others see it differently. They see it as a fun diversion, as a "kick in the pants" to write or finish their novels, as a great way to network with other writers with a common goal, etc.

But I disagree with yet another statement the NaNoWriMo guys are making on their site:

In 2003, we had about 25,000 participants. Over 3500 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

Actually, that's not technically true. Just because you have written a novel, it doesn't mean you can call yourself a "novelist." NOT UNTIL YOUR BOOK IS PUBLISHED. Then, by all means, knock yourself out. The only thing these people accomplished was that they wrote a book. Period. They don't instantly become a novelist. I mean, come on! You gonna call the person who copies then pastes the same 5 pages of work a zillion times a novelist? No. Same goes with the rest of the UNPUBLISHED participants. Get your book published. THEN you are a novelist. Until then, you've only written a novel.

But as much as I don't participate in NaNoWriMo now, it's the whole "quantity" thing that gets at me. That keeps pulling me back to the threads. How many words did this person write? How many words did that person write? I was feeling pretty darn good about myself when I managed to get almost 5,000 words done in two days (20+ pages). Then I read this writer got 7,000 words done. OK, time to up my quota.

If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo, go here: