Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Everybody has a MySpace"

Not everybody is a fan of the megahit site MySpace, but I've definitely found it to be pretty useful so far. I initially signed up because I had family on there, but I soon discovered that it was a great way for me to learn all about the current (and not-so-current) bands and musicians out there. I'm tired of getting funny looks from people when I don't know who someone is or that this name I come across is a BAND (being COMPLETELY deaf, I don't normally listen to music, so I am waaaay out of touch with the current music scene). So I started using MySpace to learn all about bands and musicians, just so I'll have the 411. I also discovered people I knew in real life (like the Grynch guys) also had MySpaces, so I added them, too.

Pretty soon, I started getting friend requests from fellow writers and authors. That's when I had my "Eureka!" moment. I was like, "Wow. I could USE this site for networking!" So I started adding other writers and authors, too. (And we've often sent messages back and forth about writing-related stuff.) I also added magazines, editors, publishers and lit agents. As well as other pages of people I knew online. Some sites I added ended up being a GOOD thing; there's someone on my Friends List who literally saved my life (long story) and they are on my Top Friends. (Or should I say..."HE" is on my Top Friends. LOL I don't know his name but I know he is a "he"!) Someone else on that Top Friends, who runs a fan page, is an AWESOME person and I'm happy I've "met" her through the site. She is just so cool!

But MySpace has brought me some other advantages, as well. I have been working on the haunted houses book for a loooong time. I ended up getting stuck on one chapter. My main problem was, I NEEDED people to interview for it, and I couldn't find that many! The one person I found via Google hasn't exactly had a lot of free time to answer questions via email (and whenever I've phoned him, there was no answer). Also, I had trouble finding more sites related to this topic, books on this topic and even organizations.

Then I remembered something I kept hearing a lot (or, should I say, SEEING a lot): "Everybody has a MySpace." So one day I sat down, stretched my fingers out and started searching MySpace for people involved in this industry. But not just people; any companies and authors of books related to this industry. Bingo! Page after page of search results came up. I just couldn't BELIEVE there were so many people and sites on MySpace who were in that VERY industry I am writing about! (Note to writers: If you can't find anyone on Google, that's because they're all on MySpace!) I contacted them, they responded to me and spread the word. Other people started contacting me, too, and I'm happy to report that this chapter is FINALLY starting to move along really, really well. I can finally say I'm understanding this whole industry better and I now feel confident enough to finish this chapter.

Of course, I HAVE had some bad experiences on MySpace. I've gotten messages from guys intrerested in hooking up. (One guy said he thought my profile made me sound fun, caring and sexy, even though my profile was set to private!) And of course there is spam to be had on MySpace! Some people have sent me spam THEN a friend request (which of course got denied). I HATE spam. Really. Grr!! So I delete it from my Inbox and I delete it from my comments.

I AM NOT on MySpace to hook up with anyone.

I AM NOT on MySpace to look for great deals on ringtones or how to make money filling out surveys. (*groan*)

And I am certainly NOT on MySpace to be tested by ANYONE with a bad attitude and posting "f*** you all!" messages every day hating people and tearing others down. Or sometimes they say "if you REALLY love me, you'll repost this chain letter or else I will delete you!" Fine. Delete me. I won't lose any sleep over NOT bugging my friends with some lame chain letter which I KNOW is just a prank/urban legend/rumor/etc.

However, I AM on MySpace to have fun. To stay in touch with family. To get to know other people. To network with other writers and authors. To promote my writing, my books, my E-zine and Web site. And, of course, as I have said, to learn a thing or two about the music scene (which is DEFINITELY helpful, given one of my novels-in-progress includes A LOT of real-life current singers and their songs!).

And of course to help me out whenever I get stuck on a writing project. At least now I know that if I ever have a hard time finding people to interview, I know where else to look!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

What about the deaf?

There have been so many occasions I've had to shake my head, roll my eyes or sigh over something I'm reading or seeing. The reason? What I see or read has, once again, neglected the more than 64 million deaf Americans in this country. Granted, the thing I see or read is aimed at the general audience and doesn't exactly keep in mind anyone in the deaf population. But when it comes to instructions on disaster evacuation, book specials and speaking engagements, I can really shake my head over the whole "hearing particpants only" aspect of it. As an example, I recently came across one book special. Interested parties had a choice of either buying a book or buying a book and a CD, which include even more juicy material for readers to enjoy. Audibly. I pretty much had to cross that off my list because I can't hear a darn thing. I mean, AT ALL. So, listening to a CD is out of the question for me. Ditto knowing what to do in case of flooding, because the evacuation instructions on the news aren't closed-captioned. (I suppose they'd rather have deaf residents drown??)

My constant concern over the exclusion of deaf mothers, deaf readers and deaf residents can come in handy as a writer. Just recently, I've been brainstorming over ideas for an article to pitch to a magazine. I suddenly realized I never thought about an angle on being a disabled writer. Bingo! I could write about how I, a deaf writer, have managed to work in freelancing for lo these 10 years. Or I could write about being a disabled writer and using the Internet to manage my writing career. Or I could write about how I've overcome obstacles in writing realistic fiction, with hearing characters, as a deaf writer. The possibilities can go on.

Being a disabled writer (actually, multi-disabled, as I also have a left hand with only three fingers) also allows me the privilege of broader writing markets to submit to. There are publications for the deaf and disabled out there. As a deaf writer, I wrote for the newspaper, SIGNews, for 3 years. I've also had an essay published in Breath & Shadow, an online literary journal by and for the disabled. There's lots more magazines, newspapers and Web sites out there specifically for my group, all chances of having more work put into print.

On the surface, I don't like the term "disabled." We "disabled" writers are anything but! I know of other deaf writers who have found success in their careers (one deaf writer writes books for a major press!) and even blind, wheelchair-bound and mute writers who STILL get past their so-called "disability" to pursue their writing dreams. In my opinion, "disabled" is an outdated term for those of us who can't hear, can't see, can't walk, can't talk. Why? Because we STILL manage to live productive lives! We still write. We still have children. We still get college degrees, become doctors or lawyers, and we still find a way to interact with the great big world where EVERYBODY ELSE can hear, see, walk and talk just fine.

All the same, being "disabled" hasn't held me back from going after my writing dreams. I may have to conduct interviews by email. I may have to type EVERYTHING up with my one good hand. But you know what? That hasn't stopped me from doing what I love the most: Writing. And it's certainly been a plus when I'm fresh out of ideas of what to write about, or where to submit a certain piece.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The secret to writing a book

Aspiring authors, take note! Want in on the NUMBER ONE secret that will help you get started on writing that book you've always dreamed of writing?? Want to know the key to creating the first draft of your very first manuscript? Ready for the one true thing that'll get you out of your writing rut and working on that book you've only been THINKING about writing??

Now that secret can be yours. Right here, in this blog. And absolutely, 100% free. And it's so simple, it can be summed up in just two short words!

Ready? Here it is: "Write it."

Don't think about writing a book. WRITE IT!

Don't let fear hold you back from writing a book. WRITE IT!

Don't dream about writing a book. Start writing it TODAY!!

Sometimes a job looks harder than it really is. Writing a book is no day in the park, but it won't get written until you actually sit down and start writing it!

Is it fear holding you back from writing the first draft of your book? Learn how to cope with your fears, overcome them, and START WRITING YOUR BOOK!

There is no easy way to write a book. Unless you've got the money, celebrity status or resources, nobody else will write this book for you. Only YOU can actually sit down and write your book!

The first draft is all I am talking about here. The first draft is your "story" in its most raw, unedited and incomplete form. Your job here is to get your "story" onto paper. You can do anything you want with it! Just WRITE IT!

Books don't write themselves. Authors write them. But a book will never see the light of day unless the aspiring author stops thinking, stops planning, stops trembling, and starts creating when he/she finally conquers fear and writer's block to sit down and write that book they've always DREAMED of writing, right now!