Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, March 31, 2008

Writing on the brain

I've mentioned before how I get a little..."obsessed" with a book project when I'm almost done working on it. That's been the case with a couple of book projects I have been working on this month. The essay collection was nearing the end of the editing rounds. The first book in a new middle-grade series was also nearing completion. So I started "putting the heavy" on these projects so that I could wrap them up and finish them by the time the month of March was over.

But apparently, I ended up finishing them sooner. Yay!

In order to ensure I had more time to work on them, I stopped blogging so much (and reading everybody else's blogs), stopped reading so many postings (and responding to certain posts) on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, stopped TRYING to read my hundreds of emails in my numerous email accounts, stopped working on EVERYTHING ELSE (short stories, songs, poems), and just used EVERY free moment I had to work on these books.

At some point, I got worried I was a little "TOO" obsessed with working on these books. Sure I'm pleased I was able to finish them even before the deadline of March 31st, but I was worried that I was just too wrapped up with working on my books to have much of a social life or anything else. I missed church so I could work on them. I missed the usual date of sending out my monthly update so I could work on them. I didn't go out very often. I rarely called up any of my family. I just..."disappeared."

I kept telling myself "this, too, shall pass." And even as I know that's true, even as I try to get my books edited/written and get all caught up with projects just NOT getting finished, I kept worrying that maybe I'm letting the "writer" have more control over the "wife" or "sister" or "mother." It's an ongoing battle to keep that writer in me in check. To make sure that it DOESN'T get too much control over me. I guess I have been able to control that obsession so far. Just let it have SOME power over me, but not too much. And I have to continue to make sure it won't have too much control over me, either. Yes, the writing is important to me, but my kids are MOST important. So it got to where if I wasn't writing, I was spending time with them. And not doing much else, either.

At least, not until I get through this madness of getting all caught up.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Revision blues, Part 2

I figured out what was wrong with the essay. Even though I kept thinking 'I NEED somebody to read this thing and tell me what they think is wrong,' there wasn't anyone available to read it so I had to work it out on my own. It ended up getting worked out in that workshop in my mind, while I was sleeping. I literally woke up knowing what was wrong with it! I guess "sleeping on it" really helps!

The problem was a case of "apples and oranges." I was talking about two different things. I guess I thought they were connected somehow but I realize now that they are not. The main issue this essay talks about concerns in-vitro fertilization, not abortion, as I also discussed. I'm not going to address the moral and ethical implications associated with the termination of healthy embryos once a viable embryo has been chosen for implantation. (As I understand it, instead of termination, the remaining healthy embryos are stored.) But what I was talking about was "designer babies" compared to deaf couples aborting their babies based on the suspicion that the baby can hear. (Yes! That's the ONLY reason why those babies were aborted! An outrage.) It's not the same thing, so I had to take that part out.

I WAS outraged over deaf couples doing that. In fact, my anger over that happening seeped into my essay. I had to take THAT out, too. Since I already took....that whole issue out altogether. But I have to remember that even though this IS a personal essay, I have to keep things like anger, sarcasm and satire in check.

I also decided to delete the part about a Bill passed by Parliament affecting the IVF community, because by the time this book comes out, that Bill might no longer be law in the UK. Well, I said MIGHT. Who knows. But better to leave it out, all the same.

So I made all those changes this morning. And I'm satisfied with the essay now. Thankfully, Draft 5 is the final draft. Woo-hoo!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Revision blues

This week, I am "putting on the heavy" to get some current book projects done. Book One of the middle grade series is ALMOST FINISHED! Just 7 more chapters to go. There's only a few more chapters to write for the haunted houses book. (Woo-hoo!!) AND! I'm also hoping to wrap up the edits of the essay collection.

Yet it seems that project right there has met quite a hurdle today.

I tried tackling an essay that I've been "working on" in my head for several days. I tried to figure out how to "fix" it. It's just one of those essays I had to toss out and write a brand new draft for.

But the problem is, I'm writing one draft of it after another after another.
In fact, as I write this blog post, I'm thinking of YET ANOTHER change to make to it! ARGH!!

And that will make it the fourth draft. Sigh.

My daughter is on Spring Break this week. Up until Thursday, she doesn't have a bedtime. Naturally, she's enjoying her freedom. She's also looking forward to extra time to play her computer game. She's SO ANXIOUS to start playing it today....

That is, if her mommy EVER finishes working on her essay and decides to leave the computer alone for once.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rude authors

Last weekend, I was at the Borders bookstore doing research for the haunted houses book. While browsing through an aisle, I came across a book which I felt might be of interest for an article I am writing for Shadowlands. I added it to my BIIIIG stack of books to go through for my research, found a table and started reading through it. Sure enough, I found a part of the book which I might be able to include in the article. Later, I thought that in addition to including some small excerpt from the book, maybe I could contact one of the authors for an interview. It would definitely add credibility to the subject I'm writing about!

So I looked up the authors on the Internet. Both of them were NOT easy to find. I did get an email address for one of them and sent her an email, requesting an interview. She replied saying she does not give interviews. I shrugged it off and went about my business.

The thing which puzzled me, however, was how I couldn't find her book on Amazon. And when I Googled it, I only got 4 results. I was concerned, of course. One thing EVERY book needs is a healthy Internet presence and I was curious as to why the book wasn't mentioned very much on the Internet. (One of the authors didn't even have his own Web site.) So I emailed her again, asking about this and why I couldn't find the book on Amazon. This is what my email said:

Hi, *****,

I hope you are well.

I'm curious about something: How come your book ************** isn't listed on Amazon.com? Do you know why your co-author doesn't have a Web site? Has this book been reviewed in media that isn't linked on the Internet? I am curious because my Google search on your book only brought up 4 results, so I'm concerned that the book isn't getting enough "Internet attention" as it should. Please let me know, if you can, about these things. I would greatly appreciate that info! :)

Take care and have a great day!



She responded with a VERY rude email saying that it IS on Amazon and she showed me the LARGE search results numbers she got off of Google when she typed up her book.

Actually, here is what she had to say:

Hi, Dawn,

At the risk of sounding rude, when I said that I don’t do interviews, it means I don’t do interviews. The results of a Google search are below, and I know you know that ************** is listed on amazon. I’m not sure what your purpose is with this, but I won’t be replying to future emails.


Ohh-kay. Well, I tried HER method of searching on Google (removing the quotation marks) and, sure enough, up popped the very same results. Right along with an Amazon link!

Now WHY, may I ask, didn't it turn up on Amazon when I used the search feature there?? And I'd always been told to use quote marks when Googling a book's title. I don't know WHY it goes both ways now.

The fact that this woman was very rude to me -- someone who obviously liked her book -- and acted this way in light of the opportunity for her book to get more promotion is such a mystery to me. I can understand if she doesn't give interviews. I respect that, of course. Still, I don't think she needed to be so rude about it....

Maybe she has something against the media in general. Maybe she's had a bad experience with people requesting interviews in the past. Maybe she has something against the Shadowlands, the staff, me or some book I have written!

Nevertheless, she was in the wrong to assume I "knew" her book was on Amazon, because I DIDN'T FIND IT! She was also in the wrong to assume I had some kind of ulterior motive in contacting her for an interview. Bad networking, indeed.

I also do not think that kind of attitude will help her book sales. Not only will I not include her book in my article, but I won't be buying it, either.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

U.S. book reviewers wanted!

An editor I know is looking for book reviewers based in the U.S. She is a deputy editor for a British magazine called Disabled, Pregnancy & Parenthood international (DPPi). Here is their Web site: http://www.dppi.org.uk/

She is looking for U.S. book reviewers interested in reviewing books on disability topics. The DPPi is a charity, so this is a non-paying arrangement. If you'd like to review books for her, please contact me at DMCWriter(at)gmail.com and I'll include your contact info in the list I am sending to her.

Also, if you know of any other U.S. book reviewers who might be interested, please feel free to forward the link to this blog post to them so that they can contact me with their information. I'd really appreciate it!

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Friday, March 07, 2008

"It's fiction!"

I have been struggling with certain issues with writing this new MG series. I've mentioned before how I was worried it might incite a negative response from the parents of kids reading these books. Something along the lines of "you shouldn't be filling my kid's head with ghost stories!" or "these children are too young to be reading about kids and ghosts!" But then I remember that these books are NOT meant to be some kind of "guide" or reference for children interested in ghosts.

In fact, they are JUST STORIES. Complete works of FICTION.Yes, I know writers and actors tend to get this very response from people. Who can forget what Timothy Busfield went through after his character made an insensitive remark to his wife in thirtysomething?? It's a nice thought that we can say "it's fiction" or "it's fantasy" and not have to deal with people ready to boycott a show or ban a book. But that's not going to take away the possibility people will still get upset.

I know J.K. Rowling faced this very problem with her Harry Potter books, AFTER they came out. Funny thing is, my situations with writing these books have even been compared with J.K. Rowling, even though MY books aren't even published yet! (Yes, they CAN be considered fantasy instead of suspense or mystery. I'm going to go with that!) And in my case, my books aren't even published yet and I'm worrying over the same thing happening to me NOW. While I am writing Book One. In no way do I expect to be "the next J.K. Rowling" or have "the next Harry Potter." Even though I DO want to say "my books are FANTASY, people!" and hide under the covers. But this kind of thing can happen to EVERY WRITER, EVERY ACTOR. And everyone else trying to spin a good yarn COMPLETELY made of fiction! As in, "NOT TRUE."

The very claim that "it's fiction!" is what is helping me to deal with this inner turmoil and write my stories, anyway. Why am I writing them, anyway? I am writing them for the readers. I KNOW that there will always be readers who understand that a story is only a story. That it's not real. That it's all make-believe. And I really think that kids are smart enough to understand that it's all make-believe, too. Most kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They know that a story is just something made-up. They read these stories for the sheer purpose of escaping into that fantasy world. Of playing pretend. It's an experience so many children know so well, and one which so many of them enjoy. For this reason, the writing of these books will continue.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What am I doing here?

If I'm not posting on the blogs as I usually do, there is only one very good reason: I'm busy writing my buns off! It used to be that this was the general idea people would pick up on when they stop hearing friom me. My friends and family know that if I'm not answering emails regularly or calling them up so often, it's because I'm busy WRITING!

And you can usually tell just how busy I am with the writing by taking one look at my house. Normally, I am a neat freak, going on cleaning spress to make the house all tidy and dust-free. But when the laundry starts piling up, the dishes don't get done, we start eating PB&J for dinner and the dog doesn't get a bath, that is when I'm hip-deep in a book project. And I don't apologize for that, either. If I've got a deadline, I've GOT to meet it! If I fall behind, I've GOT to catch up!

And "catching up" is exactly what I have been doing a lot of this week. Last week, things were SO HECTIC, I couldn't work on my books for THREE DAYS! EEK! That put a dent in my schedule so I've been spending HOURS this week trying to get caught up. I'm working on the haunted houses book more than my MG novel, mainly because I have a co-author depending on me to get stuff to her. I'm committed to 3 chapters this week, so I'm trying to get them written up. I'm also working on a HUGE, exhaustive appendix which we both are going to be writing up. I'm just writing up my half of it.

Lately, though, I've noticed that I've used some of my spare time to do non-writing things. Like go on MySpace (even though I only log in over there just ONCE a day!!) and check email half a dozen times. (That's a bad habit, I think...) And I have to stop myself and ask, "If I've got so much writing to get done, what am I doing HERE?" I WILL log in at places where I NEED to log in. Like, if there's a special occasion, or something. But other than that, I've had to remind myself that if it's NOT related to my book projects, save it for later.

After I get the bulk of my work done and AFTER I get caught up, THAT is when I can get online to play.

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