Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sometimes, the best thing to do is step away

This week, I have been working on trying to fix up an essay in my deaf parenting book. This particular essay received harsh criticism from a beta reader (well, "harsh" as in "she never sent back any feedback on it after I sent an essay that had the same mistakes she'd complained about in another essay"). Even though I don't dispute what the essay says, I do see how it is saying what I want it to say in the wrong way. One thing I have learned during this lovely torture of revising the essays is that some of them are just "preachy." I might as well be standing on a soapbox spouting all of this stuff!

No, that's not the kind of book I want it to be. I don't want it to be some "manifesto" or "mission statement for deaf parents." It's an essay collection. I wanted it to tell stories, in the form of essays, which will convey the messages and insights which I am trying to get across to readers. If it's preachy, they won't read it. But if it's entertaining, and kind of like a story, then that might attract more attention.

Of course, it's not easy trying to write about experiences that took place 6-7 years ago with complete accuracy. I have been literally racking my brain trying to remember things, just so I could relate what I learned during the early years of being a deaf parent in a way that is more true-to-life. I have to keep asking myself, what exactly happened at that point in time that made me reach this conclusion in the essay? What was I trying to say? What was I doing? What was I thinking?

Fortunately, I used to be a heavy journal writer, so looking back on old journals has helped. Still, a lot of my journals were destroyed after I moved out of California (thank you, neighbors who refused to allow us access to our personal belongings in the garage!), but some things are still fresh in my mind. Also, old e-mails help, and I was able to review all of these things to help me revise the essays. (Yes, I do save old e-mails! LOL I even have old chats saved, too, but don't really read them.)

But ONE ESSAY was giving me big trouble. I tried and tried to revise it, but to no avail. I just didn't get it "right."

Even with one revision I did this morning, I hated it. I hated what I was writing. I just KNEW it was not how the essay should be. I kept writing it, anyway, because I knew I had to get this "junk" out of my head first. Before I could do anything else with this essay.

But halfway through the essay, I had to stop working on it. After all, nothing will get accomplished if I ended up starving to death!

So I got up from the desk and went to the kitchen to get something to eat. I'd only had coffee, which usually helps me to get through writing something decent in the mornings. But this time, coffee failed me. Maybe actual food would help. I grabbed a box of cereal, got a bowl out of the cabinet, watched as the cereal poured into the bowl...then it struck me. It literally came to me like a bolt of lightning. I knew EXACTLY how the essay should be! I knew EXACTLY how I should write it. Eureka! I've got it!

I hurriedly went through my meal, opened a new document on the computer, and my fingers started flying over the keys as the words came pouring out. I didn't care for typos. I didn't care about "that darn Shift key" sticking again. I just typed. And typed and typed.

Gee, this is getting long, I thought, noting I was now on page 3. But I couldn't stop now. There were more words to type! More things to say!

When I finished typing what I HOPED would be the final revision of that essay, a wave of satisfaction went through me. THIS is how the essay should be, I thought. It was perfect, similar to the way I wrote the others. (Like creative nonfiction. Emphasis on..."creative.") I didn't care if I did not get the exact words I said correct; how the heck could I remember exactly what I said 7 years ago?? It wasn't possible. Still, I did use quotes that got across what I was asking about. I give myself permission to misquote myself. (Ha!) The quotes were still good and the essay got across everything I wanted it to say, which is what the original version tried to say. Of course, it needs editing and probably some tightening. But at least the foundation was in place. I got it right this time, on my fourth try.

And all it took to survive that week-long revision nightmare was just stopping the writing and stepping away from it for a while.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Thank you, readers

In a previous blog entry, I shared my sadness and disappointment about something: Receiving a royalty statement that showed zero sales of my book, 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS. I am immensely grateful to the commenters who took the time to share their support, especially to my publisher for addressing this matter in an e-mail, as well. Yet in the aftermath, I felt that something needed to be done to change this.

The question was...what?

What new things could I do for a book that was published four years ago? My publisher, the lovely Beth Erickson, likes to remind me that the book's subject is evergreen, and that the content included is still just as good today as it was four years ago. Still, I had no idea how to promote an old book. I was convinced people would see that copyright date and think...Meh.

How wrong I have been proven to be!

Not too long ago, my publisher had some news for me: The Tips book was now an E-book! Hooray! Granted, it could've been an E-book four years ago, but I am grateful that it's an e-book NOW because it's like making this four-year-old book brand-spanking-new again. It's like breathing life into an old book! And I was ready to go tell it on the mountain.

Now, I didn't expect the E-book to sell. Granted, E-books are THE big selling item these days (even outselling print books, last I heard). But I knew that the book itself is what people see, not whether it's print or electronic. If the print book wasn't selling, the electronic book wouldn't sell, either.

Still, I promoted this E-book, running on this new burst of excitement and energy over the book's "graduation" in the book world. (They grow so fast, don't they? Sniff, sniff.)

My publisher had another surprise for me: The E-books WERE selling. In fact, she sold more copies of the electronic book than the print book! How cool is that??

And when I read that it was "royalty time" again, I knew that this time around, a check would accompany that royalty statement. And that "0" number would be long gone.

When I received the royalty check today, I almost went into shock! It was THE biggest royalty check I have ever received so far. And I've been doing this author thing since 1993!

I was really psyched about this. And also very, very grateful to all of the people who bought the books.

And so, let me say here: Thank you, you lovely readers, for buying my book. Thank you for replacing that horrible, tearful experience I last had with a happy and hopeful one. Thank you for taking an interest in my book and for sharing news about it with people. I am so very thankful to you all! And I hope that you'll stick around, too, because my publisher and I recently discussed a spin-off title that will soon be in the works.

I am glad this royalty experience was better than the last one. It made me hopeful that maybe people DO want to read the books I write. And, say, maybe they're even good enough for people to actually BUY them.

But the most important message of all is the one I want to carry with me for future books. That maybe, just maybe, this time around, I did something right.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Check out more writing tips from 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS! Also, a Thank You!

If you have been following the book excerpt series for my book, 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS, on my MySpace blog, I've got great news! Now you can get even MORE tips from this book -- ABSOLUTELY FREE!

My publisher, Beth Erickson over at Filbert Publishing, runs an awesome newsletter called Writing Etc. In the last issue, she ran an excerpt of writing tips from my book! And now, she's published even more tips. Woot-woot!

Check it out for some writerly advice you can use or quibble over with your writing group. No matter how you use the tips, the important thing is that it kickstarts your muse and gets you writing!

Here is the excerpt:


Please feel free to share your comments on these tips. I'd love to know what you think!

Thank you to Beth Erickson and the folks at Filbert Publishing for spreading the word about this book's NEW release as an E-book!

Also, I would like to thank Penny Ehrenkranz for posting this on her blog at:

7 More Tips from Dawn Colclasure

Thanks so much, Penny! You are a wonderful person for sharing tips from my second a second time.

Enjoy, and happy writing!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Promo opp from Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Traveling makes my pen happy.

I’ll admit. I’m addicted to travel. My writing is addicted to travel. And I’m not even a travel writer. So, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to do this (keep reading!). Sometimes we just need a little help from our friends.

That’s where Eve Caram comes in. She was my first teacher when I was refining my novel-writing craft back in about 2000. She rented a villa in Italy last year and had access to one in Rome when we started talking about how convenient and inspirational time in Italy would be for writers.

Then, once we had settled into the idea, I remembered that Jo Linsdell lives in Rome. I had worked with her on her f r ^ ^ seminar day that focuses on book promotion. Excuse me if I say, we were an instant hit, The Three Writing Musketeers. Jo will be giving a couple seminars, too.

We are ready to go at this full steam. We are arranging for attendees to get hundreds of dollars in free e-books on writing. Dawn Colclasure’s self-help book for writers, 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity, is one of them. If you have one, we can use it as a way to talk about "free" as a marketing engine, about cross-promotion and to encourage attendees to recommend ones they like to their critique partners, online groups, and more. We're also accepting paperback but they'd have to be sent to Jo by ship well in advance and that can be costly. Reach me at HoJoNews@aol.com.

No, we won’t limit our offers to how-to books only. No matter what you offer, your job is to send fliers with a pitch on what it’s about and the link for free access. Contact me at hojonews@aol.com for information on where to send your fliers.

We are also planning to have a welcome dinner (no host) at the restaurant where Jo’s husband works--right in the heart of Rome. And we may have a table at the restaurant to display (and sell?) our books.

Keep in mind this is not a conference. It is a casual retreat. Very small. Full of love and inspiration. There are few if any requirements other than sharing with expenses and an interest in writing. And that sharing thing is a frugal way to go.

You should see the gorgeous town house we’ll be staying in! My gawd! A dream come true with a roof garden for getting together to talk writing and for some seminars. We’ll even be tailoring the seminars to the interests of those attending. Go to http://www.budurl.com/RomanRetreat to see pictures of "our place." We only have a couple more spots left so please hurry. We want you with us!


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal".

Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.


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Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Tips book was featured on a blog!

My book, 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat the Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity, was recently featured on another author's blog. Yay!

Author Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz featured my Tips book on her blog here:

One Writer's Journey: 365 Tips for Writers by Dawn Colclasure

Thank you, Penny! I am so glad to know that my book was helpful to you and I am grateful you took the time to spread the word about it on your blog.

I have enjoyed reading what people have to say about the tips in my book. I'd love to read more comments about it if you comment on Penny's blog! That would be wonderful.

Enjoy reading and happy writing!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

365 TIPS FOR WRITERS is now available as an E-book!

The book that took the writing world by storm in the winter of 2004 now has a place in the electronic market!

365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbocharge Your Creativity by Dawn Colclasure is now available as an E-book! Best of all, you'll get 52 pages worth of bonus tips, writing tools and writing prompts to keep your muse going strong!

If you can't afford the print copy of this book, why not give the affordable electronic copy a spin?

Don't miss out on having the electronic version of the book that will show YOU...

--Where to find ideas for YOUR next book

--How to handle harsh criticism/reviews

--What editors REALLY want to see in your work

--Where to start in getting published

AND, most importantly...

--Why YOU have a chance of getting published no matter how new or different you are!

Get your E-copy of 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS today and get the ball rolling with your writing goals for 2010!

Buy the E-book here:

Enjoy, and please tell a friend!

All best wishes,

Dawn Colclasure

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book busy day

Today was quite an interesting day for me. Normally, I work in shifts. For example, I'll do the freelancing for an hour, work on the Revisions book for an hour, write for an hour, etc. Just one aspect of the writing stuff I do in the span of one hour, one at a time.

But today was different. Instead of working on one book at a time, I was busy taking care of matters related to quite a few titles. I had emails going back and forth with the publisher of my poetry book, as well as both chat and emails going on with another publisher for the haunted houses book. (And emails to my co-author, to that affect.) At the same time, I was working on book promotion stuff for the other book, 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS.

And, great news! Now you can enjoy reading 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS as an E-book! That was part of my promo activities for the book. You can check that out here.

Today was the last day I ran a series of book excerpts for the Tips book. I just wanted to share the first seven of them, which I did on my MySpace blog. I let my publisher know about this. She surprised me by putting the next 7 tips into her newsletter! How cool is that?? You can read the newsletter here. She totally rocks for pushing the Tips book so much in that newsletter.

I also spent time working on the Revisions book today. We're almost at 100,000 words! Gah!

And, finally, I got the go-ahead to submit my children's book to the poetry book publisher. Huzzah! I plan to do that after I finish and send off the Revisions book. So far, I have three books guaranteed publication this year. I'm almost afraid to ask if that's the final count.

And while on the subject of books, I am looking for a NEW (2010) E- or print book to review for my book review blog! I have decided that the first book I review this year will be a brand new one. I have a title in mind but will need to double-check the publication date for it first.

In all, it's been a busy and interesting day. I have learned two things: #1, if I ever have to jump through emails to discuss different books, I can do it. And #2: I write too many books. Hey, that's not so bad, is it?

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What's to love about newspaper articles? For some of us, it's not length

This morning, I came across the article Cut This Story! by Michael Kinsley. I was logged in at Twitter at the time and shared the link, as well as comments, but I feel compelled to comment further on Mr. Kinsley's claim that newspapers are going the way of dot matrix printers only because the articles in them are too long.

As an avid reader of newspapers, and not just a journalist for one, I must disagree with this claim. Yes, I feel that in some instances, writers dump unnecessary and wordy information on their readers, yet some of that information Mr. Kinsley has cited is actually quite useful. I would like to know who a particular source is, why they are being quoted, and what relationship they have to the topic. I'm sure they were included as a source for a very good reason, some of which may require a little lengthy explanation by the writer as a means of introduction.

Additionally, one point I noted in my Twitter comments is that some writers sacrifice good writing and organization just to keep their articles short. I want to read a well-written article, and if that means a lengthy article to read, then so be it. Don't clutter your article with more quotes and less writing. I also appreciate it when the writer of a newspaper article goes in depth on the topic which they are writing about. I want the FULL story, not some 500-word summary I could find in a copy of USA Today. I want to know both sides of an issue, the details of what exactly happened, why this is newsworthy, why I should care and how this relates to us, as a society, on a human level.

As an example, I recently read a story in the (Eugene) Register-Guard of how cattlemen are finding their cattle stolen. The article began with one rancher's story of a discovery he made one day in which some of his cattle were missing, with tell-tale clues that they just didn't wander off. Someone advocating brevity in newspaper articles may claim that such a lead should be cut, or heavily snipped and pruned, because it tells us nothing about the topic at hand. I say, leave it. This is putting me into the victim's shoes. This is showing me on a personal level what the rancher is going through.

In that same newspaper, a reader once complained that a reporter's details about an infant's murder were too grisly for print, and should not have been included in the story. Well, I would like to know what exactly happened to the baby.

Why should journalists and newspaper reporters all of a sudden become gatekeepers of what they write and report, all in the name of "protecting" readers from unpleasant information -- or even more words to read?

My point is, if I'm going to take the time to read a newspaper article, I want to get the WHOLE story. I want all of the information and all of the facts. Don't leave readers hanging just for the sake of keeping an article short.

Yes, length can be an issue for some readers, but what must come first when writing a newspaper article is the ability to report on the news as in-depth as possible. Cover all your bases. Answer the 5 W's and H. Make sure readers can read "all the news that's fit to print" -- and that it is indeed all of it.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Got a book to sell? Don't neglect your church

Recently, I have been jotting down ideas on how to promote my forthcoming poetry book. I've been trying to figure out if I should divide the promotion into two different kinds of efforts -- one for the E-book version and one for the print book version -- or if I should just focus on promoting the book whether or not I'm trying to sell the E-copy or print copy.

Today at church, I was presented with another idea for promoting my book.

They occasionally run videos of things going on at church, and today I watched as a video about a new book played on the screen. The video was not closed-captioned, and I didn't have a notetaker or ASL interpreter with me to understand what was being said, but it was the title of the book that grabbed me.

The book in question is called Believing God: Experiencing a Fresh Explosion of Faith by Beth Moore. The video consisted of the author speaking while holding a Bible in her hands, people talking (about her or the book? Who knows!) and how the church was selling copies of the book today. In fact, there was a mention about it in the pamphlet handed out for today's services.

Well, even though I couldn't hear the video or get a good idea of what the book was about, the title alone drew me in. So after services, I found the table set up to buy a copy of the book.

The thing was, when I made my way through the line, I was the one buying the very last copy of the book they had! Wow! You'd think that for a $25 book, not a lot of people would be interested! Actually, there were people lining up behind me to buy the book, too.

At first, I felt a sense of dread. What if they noticed me walking off with the last one and shouted, "She's got the last book! Let's get her!"

Fortunately, the two ladies operating the table started taking names and phone numbers of interested buyers so they could order more books for them.

I was disappointed that one of the ladies at the table was not the author of the book. I had so hoped to meet her. But I'm glad I was able to buy the book and can't wait to start reading it this evening.

I had to ponder this experience. As an author with a book coming out very soon, I had to look at the elements that contributed to this book selling so well today:

The title. It's no joke that titles sell books. one of my books was picked up from a slush pile just because of the title. A title is the very first thing to get the attention of a potential reader. The title should try to tell readers something about what the book is about, or in what way it can help them.

Endorsements. I have a feeling that the people on the video were saying good things about this book, maybe even about how it helped them or changed them for the better. Endorsements can come in the form of review blurbs on a book and/or a book's Web site.

Promotional video. The video itself is a great idea for promoting a book. A book promotional video can be put up on YouTube, added to Web sites and blogs, and shared among friends. It can even be a freebie for buyers of the book.

The author. In the video, the author was dressed professionally and smiled a lot. It showed her doing readings of her book and sharing what it said with others. She showed so much passion for what her book is telling people and total belief in what it had to say. I myself thought she looked like writing this book did amazing things for her and I could sense her excitement about sharing its message simply from her body language in the video.

An attractive book. Just as you need to have a good title, you need to have a good-looking book. A book that is poorly designed, poorly formatted and poorly organized just isn't going to get much attention. The cover of the book looked very professional and the book itself is indeed bound and printed in a clear, professional manner.

And I suppose having a book with a religious message at a church helps sales of the book, too!

All things considered, a church is definitely one good way to sell your books.

As to my own book, I started brainstorming for ideas on how I could promote it there. The poems in my book celebrate love and romance. Surely there were couples there who would appreciate such a message. It was also about the enduring power of love and how strong that bond can be, no matter what the obstacles. In some way, this can be compared to our love of God. We still love God, no matter how trying the times are or what challenges and tests we face. But, best of all, my book's title could be significant. The title includes the word "rainbow," and the title itself is a reminder that just as God used a rainbow to promise never to destroy mankind again, the rainbow comes after every "storm" in life, a promise that love is still there no matter what.

I'll have to think more on this, but it's definitely got me thinking of how I can promote my book at my church. I even spoke with a friend who is involved in church activities and she told me who to contact about this.

I look forward to exploring this "out-of-the-box" way of promoting my book. I'm glad it happened now, because when the time comes for my Christian poetry collection to come out, I'll have a better idea of how to promote it at my church.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Writing resolutions for 2010

For my 2010 writing resolutions, I decided to divide them into three categories: Creative, fun, and financial. The financial resolutions are the ones meant to bring in extra income, while the creative and fun resolutions are for creating and improving material.

Here are my financial writing-related goals:

*Get the editing business off the ground.

*Ghostwrite a book.

*Break in at the glossies.


*Write a new book.

*Finish an incomplete manuscript.

*Sign with an agent for the novels.


*Finish the script.

*Edit existing manuscript.

*Get a song produced.

The ghostwriting thing is something I have hoped to do for some time. That ALMOST became a reality last year, but after analyzing the work desired and stating my fee (3K), it didn't happen. So I hope that it will happen this year.

The song is also another long-term hope of mine. I've come close when some of my songs were made into demos, and a band I knew said they liked my song and might use it (but they never did), so it, too, was shot down. I know I'll never be able to hear my own song playing, but I like the idea of having a song I wrote out there.

And as for the agent thing? I put off my agent search for my novels when I got buried working on my nonfiction books. I'm STILL working on a nonfiction book, which I plan to have ready by March. But I'll get back to that agent hunt soon and hopefully that will be a goal I can scratch off my list sometime in the new year.

Yay for new writing goals!

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