Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two acceptances

Because of the holiday this week, and with family visiting, I decided to take the week off from doing the paid writing work. I would continue to write, of course, but only when the time allowed and when an idea struck. This kind of writing would be something I wanted to write, not something I HAD to write.

That said, I figured my e-mail account for the writing stuff wouldn't be very active this week. I thought that other people would be taking a break, too. Not so!

Turns out, my e-mail account was pretty busy this week. I got two acceptances!

The first acceptance came before Thanksgiving. I got an e-mail informing me that my short story, "A Phone Call Away," has been accepted for publication in an anthology. Hooray! The anthology is called Inner Fears. When I saw that call for stories, I thought that this particular story would be perfect for it, since the theme really is about our inner fears! I'm so happy I finally found a home for that story. Woot!

The second acceptance came on Thanksgiving Day. I have so much to be thankful for this year, and on Thanksgiving Day, I was blessed with something MORE to be thankful for! My poetry book, Love Is Like a Rainbow, has been accepted for publication by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Woo-hoo!

This book has had quite a long journey on the road to publication.

The first time it was accepted, in 2005, there was something that came up with an editor I was working with and since she is friends with the editor at that company (based in France), I guess that's why they decided to drop plans to publish my book.

Then another company had plans to publish the book, but financial hardship changed those plans.

I decided then and there I would publish this book myself. After years of being told this book would be publish and then being told it wouldn't, I was fed up. I was also concerned about putting excess financial hardship on book publishers already straining under the trials of the recession. I didn't want to be an extra financial burden.

Still, with my failed attempts to self-publish a book behind me, I was even more wary of attempting this route once again. Believe me, I've been boning up on everything to do with self-publishing. But, the financial thing was an issue. How would I be able to afford it?

I started asking around. One self-pubbed author, L.K. Hunsaker, shared ideas with me about the self-publishing thing. She later told me about Gypsy Shadow Publishing, so I thanked Loraine for the reco and sent the manuscript to them.

With this acceptance, I am hoping, and praying, that my dreams of seeing this book published will finally come true. I've been trying to get this book published since 2005! And that short story that I have received an acceptance on was written a few years ago, at that. (I also have a novel I have been spending years trying to find a publisher for. I am hoping that I will find one soon. Right now, it is being reviewed by Eternal Press.)

It makes you really think about the long journey we must embark on to write certain stories and books. Writers aren't kidding when they warn aspiring authors that they could end up spending a year or more writing their books, then longer than that to find an agent or publisher. The road to publication can be long and trying. I hope those trying times of finding publishers for my books will be less and less in the future.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A time of thanks

During this time of year, those of us in America who appreciate the grander idea behind traditional holidays are taking the time to reflect on what we are thankful for.

As a writer, I am thankful for many things. Of course, I could not possibly recall every single thing and person which I am thankful for, but I do know there are definitely some things which I must take note of.

First and foremost, I am thankful for my faith and for the Lord coming through for us in so many ways. I have often felt that, for the grace of God, I have been able to accomplish certain things in my writing career. We look at the people we meet, the opportunities we come across, and we think, “Wow, small world.” Or, “It must be Fate.” But I think something bigger is at work here. I am thankful to God for bringing certain people into my life and leading me along certain paths. Thank you for being that whisper in my ear, Lord.

I am also thankful for my friends. My writing buddies, fellow authors, blogging buddies and other writers and editors who have communicated with me over the years. I am thankful to the friends who are still here, despite everything. Thank you for your kindness, patience, wisdom and understanding. I have been sad to see some friends decide that ours was not a friendship to continue anymore, for some reason or another, but I am thankful for the friends who are still here.

I am thankful to all of the writers, editors and agents out there who have taken the time to work with me on articles and books. Your time and assistance mean the world to me and have helped in more ways than you could ever know. Thank you for recognizing that I don’t know everything that I’m “supposed” to know about writing and publishing, and for patiently addressing my concerns and answering my questions. Thank you, also, for overlooking my mistakes and understanding that I am not an “evil person” trying to make things hard or bad for you.

I am thankful for the writers, attorneys and authors out there who devote themselves to fighting for the rights of writers, who work to spread the word about scam artists or fraudulent businesses, and who are sacrificing their time and energy to bring to an end shady scammers out there who take advantage of writers and crush the dreams of aspiring authors.

I am thankful for our Constitutional rights in this country to freely express my ideas and show my creative side. We hear so many stories about censorship in other countries. About how people have been imprisoned, exiled and even murdered because of something they wrote. I am so very, very thankful that we live in a country which allows its citizens to freely express ourselves and our ideas. Though some forms of censorship do still exist in America, I am thankful that this censorship is not so widely oppressive.

I am thankful to my parents, sisters, brothers, uncles, cousins, etc., who have supported my dreams as a writer and never told me to “get a real job.” Thank you for seeing how this writing thing is something I just can’t live without and encouraging my efforts to see my work in print, and even maybe someday on the screen. Thank you for always supporting my dreams from the very beginning!

Last but not least, I am thankful to my children for their support. Thank you for being my number one fans and cheering me on all the way. Thank you for sharing ideas, inspiring others, offering suggestions for stories and acting as a sounding board for ideas. Thank you for sacrificing the ONE computer we have in this house so that Mommy can write but, most of all, thank you for even being here. You are blessings in my life, blessings that I could never, ever have otherwise known if it weren’t for you.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Setting up business hours

Some time ago, I read this article about how to maintain your sanity while working from home. One of the tips the author gave was to set business hours and stick with them. Don't work after you "close" for the day. By letting your work rule over your daily, personal life, you'll likely start experiencing stress, loss of concentration and burnout. In other words, don't work 24/7!

I had to reflect on this piece of advice over the weekend. Lately, my muse has been supercharged. I have been writing and editing like the wind! Some of that writing and editing has been focused on the paying work I have going on. (My NaNo novel has, alas, fallen by the wayside.) But it was like I wasn't doing anything else. Just writing. Editing. Not reading books, watching a favorite TV show, spending time with my children or just relaxing. Business hours were unknown to me; I spent all day hard at work, writing.

And I didn't like it. You know? I was losing that other part of myself that is NOT a writer/editor. I was losing ME. Where did Dawn go? I was lost in writing and editing land. Not able to do much else EXCEPT write and edit.

So, this week, I have set up a challenge for myself. I am going to set up business hours for the writing and editing thing. After 5 p.m., all that will STOP and I will pick it up again the next day.

Of course, if I feel so inclined to write something that is NOT part of the paying work -- a poem, story idea, article or notes -- then I'll write them. That's fine. But everything else will be reserved for the business hours.

I just want to have my life back. Yes, I DO love writing. And I love to edit, too. But...I need to be present for other things, as well. Especially for my children. They won't stay young forever. And I really miss doing OTHER Internet stuff. So I want to get back to that. And I'm hoping to have some other things going on in my personal life in the near future, as well. I need to make room for that.

Here's hoping I will be able to meet that challenge and keep the habit of maintaining business hours. It will be good for me, and good for my muse, too.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eureka! I've got it! (Almost)

In my last blog post, I talked about how I had a writing gig but no idea how to put it to use. Since I have to come up with my own topics to write about, including one I said I wanted to write about when I applied, I tried to think of article ideas for that particular topic. Yesterday, that happened.

I kept going through my day thinking, I wish I had an idea for something to write for this topic! Sure, I have some articles for this topic collecting dust on my hard drive, but they're just not "right" yet. I wanted something else. Then something happened that made the light bulb go off over my head. I had my article idea! All in the same day! (I love it when that happens. Ask and ye shall write!)

Then it hit me: This would be a great way to build up an audience for my deaf parenting book. This particular book has not been published yet; it's been stuck in editing limbo ever since I had the manuscript professionally edited. (Thanks, Emily!) I've been dabbling with the edits on that manuscript here and there, all the while focused on trying to finish the books I have DUE. And getting ready for the ones scheduled for publication next year.

I am not planning to go whole hog with revising and editing that draft of the book until January. By then, I'll be able to fit that into my schedule, since I'll have a couple of other books off my shoulders.

But until then, I need to build my platform. One editor told me I DO already have a platform, since I am a deaf parent. But I wanted something stronger than this. Me being a deaf parent doesn't make this book more appealing to a publisher, but having a fan base or some kind of platform set up would look better.

Granted, I do have the SIGNews articles. But those are few and far between. I want something more consistent. Something that would REALLY touch on the theme of deaf parenting, so that my name would be better associated with it.

I also have the work going on with DPPi, but more as editing and feedback than writing about deaf parenting. (I have debated asking Shanta Everington if I could run a regular column on deaf parenting in there, but haven't gotten around to asking her just yet.)

So I thought, why not use this gig to do that? Of course, I could probably do that with Associated Content. But I think this other site would work better.

It's something to think about, at least. I do understand the importance of having a platform, because it helps book sales. With that in place, a publisher is more likely to publish a book. And I'd really like for my deaf parenting book to have that kind of appeal, so that a publisher is more likely to say "yes" to publishing it.

This particular book is something I want to put more focus on building up when 2010 gets here.

Right now, I'm wrapping up projects for this year. But next year, I'm hoping that not only will I figure out how to get that stronger platform in place for the deaf parenting book, but, hopefully, God willing, I'll find a publisher for it, too.

And as a side note, I want to add that I'm sort of glad this book has not been published yet. I've come up with new material for it, which should make the book all the more useful to other deaf parents out there.

Stay tuned.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Retraction

Some time ago, I posted about my decision to bring a writing gig of mine to a halt after I learned something about this gig I hadn't been aware of at the beginning.

The thing that bothered me was how they wanted all rights to my articles. With pay being only at $5, I didn't feel such a request was justified since, after all, buying all rights meant I'd lose any other chance to earn payment by reselling that article somewhere else. I miss out on that extra income.

So for a while I decided not to pursue it. I didn't officially "quit." I just decided not to do it anymore and that was that. I secured another writing gig and thought things would work better from then on.

Unfortunately, this is not true.

With the new writing gig, you have to be a self-starter. You have to come up with things to write on your own, though some suggestions were made.

Also, the pay was very low. We're talking "pennies" low. And there's no guarantee of even earning any of those pennies, either, because they depend upon the work being viewed. (Ouch.)

And, finally, I didn't know exactly what direction I was supposed to take. Was I supposed to write for this section or that one?

I was stuck in this limbo for a while, not really sure of what I was doing or supposed to be doing. I kept getting e-mails saying I had to write something, but I wasn't sure of what they wanted!

I guess you could say I'd grown accustomed to being assigned articles to write. I just got so used to being told what to write. (Of course, I did have the option to decline a suggested article. And that has actually happened.)

After a certain period of time, I had to look at what I was doing with the new gig -- and NOT doing. I had to look at what I was earning -- and NOT earning.

And compare all of that to the old gig.

The old gig kept me working. Something that I liked. The old gig kept me exposed to learning new things. Something else that I liked. And, it kept paying. Something that I REALLY liked!

So I did some thinking on that. I had to ask myself, how far have I come since then? What exactly have I accomplished with this new gig?

The answer: Absolutely nothing!

Not good.

So I started to think about going back to the old gig. But before I agreed to hand over all rights to future wok, I had to feel confident about my association with that first. I Googled them like crazy. I even tried to Google the people involved. I dug around and did some checking.

First I wanted to know if they were reputable. If they had a good reputation. If people were bad-mouthing them, I wanted to know what was being said. If they were cheating writers or doing bad things to people, I wanted to read about it -- so I'd know to stay away. (Yes, editors, having a good character and respectability IS important to us writers!)

Then I wanted to know if there was anything sneaky being done with these articles. If TPTB were taking what they bought and reselling it all elsewhere to bring in big bucks. With my limited searching capabilities, I didn't see that happening.

Then something else happened. As I was searching around on the 'Net for all things related to the site and all things about the people associated with the site, I uncovered something. A newsletter reprinted online that had a link to one of the articles on that site. It looked familiar so I clicked on it. Sure enough, it was one of my articles! Awesome!

They had written about coin collecting in the newsletter and the writer said "look at this article to see how coin collecting can help your kids learn about history and geography." That's something I pointed out in my article. So I was very pleased that what I'd written was being passed on to other readers. Hey, this stuff can actually help more people, and not just readers of the site! Very cool.

I realized that even though I was giving up all rights, I was still doing something good for other people. I have received so many positive comments about my articles on there and I'm happy I was able to gather enough of my research together to put it all into an article that someone found useful.

So I have gone back to this gig. I am once again writing for them. I have pretty much accepted losing all rights to the articles, but that's okay. It's very rare that I try to sell reprints, anyway. In fact, that hardly ever happens! I'm always moving onto NEW stuff and trying to sell NEW material. The only time I try to sell reprints is if the site where my piece originally appeared is shut down and it's not on the Internet anymore. (I wonder what will happen if that happens with THIS site??)

Sure the pay is low given that I am giving up all rights, but it's good, reliable income and it doesn't take me too long to write the articles, anyway. And at least they're not being resold to other sites by the editorial team.

Additionally, now that I have gone back to doing this, I am reminded of how fun it is to learn new things. I enjoy this work and I am grateful for the challenge.

I have definitely realized that, sometimes, the rewards of what we write are greater than what we earn from writing them. Even if all we earn from that writing is just pennies, it's worth it if someone somewhere takes an article we've written and says, "Hey, look at this! This is helpful information!" Or, "Wow, what an inspiring story!"

I know that we writers are constantly encouraging each other to demand more money, equal pay, fair terms in our contracts and more flexible control over our work. There's nothing wrong with that. These steps are taken to protect us and guard against dirtbags who cheat writers. But when that's not the case, when it's not a situation in which there's a crummy or dishonest editor involved, then I think we should try to step back, take a look at the bigger picture, and ask ourselves what we want out of this arrangement the most.

If it means helping other people out there, inspiring readers or passing on helpful information that people could really use, then that's good enough for me.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo stuff

So I started my Nano novel yesterday. Got off to a good start; wrote nearly 1700 words! Woo-hoo!

As the story unfolded, I was grateful to see how my character is not so much like me. That is something I was really worried about. You know, people would read it and say, "This character is too similar to Dawn." I guess the reason why I thought that would happen is because the fact that she's a single mom with a daughter made me recall when I was divorced and how it was just me and my daughter. And a dog. (My character's daughter has a dog, too, but the dog dies in the first chapter, the poor thing.) We were on our own for 7 months before I remarried a year after the divorce.

The only way my character is similar to me, though, is that she texts her sister every day. I do that, with one of my sisters. (Hi, Millie!)

But, my character is definitely different from me. For one thing, she only has one sibling. (Ooh, how I envy her! LOL Just kidding.) For another, she is an attorney. I know there is no way I could ever be an attorney. I just don't have it in me to be a lawyer. (Yesterday, I spent my visit at the bookstore surrounded by books on being a lawyer, legal terms and everything to do with the law she specializes in. I took a lot of notes!)

And because my character is an attorney, I am going to have to watch a lot of reruns of Law & Order: SVU. The character on that show, Alexandra Cabot, is in practically the same role as my character. (My character is a prosecuting attorney.) So I have an excuse to watch more TV. Hooray! (Good Lord, I have hardly been able to watch any TV lately because I have been so insanely busy with the writing! And especially working on my last book.) I am already a fan of this show, so it's all good. I have watched many of the reruns but now I need to pay extra attention to them. Get a feel for the stuff my character will be doing.

And speaking of TV shows, there are others that I'll have to pay closer attention to, as well.

My story is set in Chicago. When I first started this, I kept thinking, Chicago? No way! I've never been there! (My novel, November's Child, is also set in a city I have never been to. I did a lot of research and stalked, er, bugged my relatives for information about Washington.) I was able to pull off writing a story in a city I have never been to once. I didn't think I'd be able to do it again. But I knew for a fact that I am not writing another novel set in Eugene. (My last Nano novel is set in Eugene.) My muse, however, was insistent about this. So insistent that, had she been an actual person, she would've grabbed me by the collar and screamed, "CHICAGO, DAMN YOU!!" LOL

Sooo, okay! Chicago it is! (I have actually thought of visiting there one day.) I guess I could stalk, er, bug my Chicago friends for what it's like out there. And my father-in-law, as well. Not only did he live in Chicago once upon a time, but he also walked the Chicago beat. (Which is helpful. There will be police officers in this story and I will need information about certain police procedures since there is a murder in this story.) I know another Chicago cop and I might ask him for info, too.

I will also have to pay closer attention to TV shows such as Married...with Children and Chicago Hope. And, um....any other TV shows set over there. At least, on a fictional level. :) (Hm, I am going to have to rent Chicago Hope off of Netflix. Yay! More TV to watch!)

To wrap this up, here is the teaser for my story, as posted on the NaNoWriMo site. My story is called Person of Interest. (My ID on there is Writeswithwolves. Be my buddy!)

When Beth Brown takes pity on Doug Walker, a homeless man viciously attacked, friends and family question whether this is a wise move. Once homeless herself but now a successful single mother, Beth is a survivor and fighter. But after Beth's body is found and the man she welcomed into her home becomes a suspect, things take a serious turn for the worst. It doesn't help that Doug's history harbors a dark secret, one that could ultimately prove whether he is guilty or innocent of Beth's murder.

Coming soon...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's that time of year again!

Happy NaNoWriMo, writers! Woot!

I'm getting started on my Nano book today. Something pretty interesting happened last night.

I have been working on creating my characters and story development for a while, and I haven't been able to come up with a last name for my main character. I had two first names and I knew one of those names were for this woman's daughter. So I figured I would use this second name for her mother. But there was no last name.

I kept trying to come up with a last name that felt right, but no luck.

Then last night, as I sat reading while waiting for the baby to fall asleep, a sudden sense of tiredness came over me. My head dropped, my eyes closed and I went into a sort of sleep state. I heard two men talking. They were just talking about how I sat there, sleeping, even though I was not really asleep. One of them kept saying the name "Beth Brown." Then it remarked how I'm "awake." Right after that, my eyes opened as my head swung up.

Hmmmm...."Beth Brown." That's not a bad name. Has a nice flow to it, actually. Yes, I could use that first name instead for my main character! Good last name. And it sounds like a good match for her daughter's name, too. Yay!

I will use the other first name for this woman's sister, who plays a crucial role in the story. This character was "present" in the creation of my story but I didn't have a name for her. I really like the name (Juliana) and wanted to use it. So I'm going to give it to the woman's sister.

So now I have the FULL character names! Time to get writing.

Happy writing, Nanoers!

Labels: , , , , , , ,