Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How do you learn about where you are living? You write about it, of course!

I may live in Oregon, but I am not a native Oregonian. Sure, I come from a nomadic family that moved from one city to another, one state to another. But in my heart, California is my home. It’s where I was born and where I spent the majority of my life (so far – we’ll see how long I end up living in Oregon!).

I came to Oregon in 2005 and, at first, I didn’t really call it home. In fact, I spent the bulk of my early time here mostly communicating with people back “home” and hoping, dreaming of moving back.

After 6 years in Oregon, however, those dreams of moving back to California are starting to fade. And, in fact, Oregon is starting to grow on me. I still love California, of course, but I have come to accept that Oregon is my home now. So I better get used to it!

One part of “getting used to it”? Looking into what Oregon is all about. From reading the papers and talking with people, seeing the sights and checking things out, I have gained a better understanding of what life is like here. One thing that has helped increase this understanding? Writing about all things Oregon. I have already written a novel set here in Eugene (it’s an unedited manuscript at this point, but I have plans to fix it up and send it off to my publisher in the near future.). But I have also written Oregon-related articles.

In fact, I made it my mission to search them out, just so I could learn more about something related to Oregon.

They say that writers should write what you know. A writer friend said this week on her Facebook page that, for her, it’s “write what you want to learn.” And I have to agree with her. There’s so many things I have learned about just from writing about them. And this has helped me to understand Oregon better, too.

When I was writing for Demand Media, Inc. (eHow), I wrote Oregon-related articles. There’s

Free Eye Exams & Glasses for Seniors with Low Income in Oregon
Recycled & Reclaimed Wood Products in Oregon (I even called up one business in Portland that was selling such products to ask them about what kinds of things they sell)

Do it Yourself Divorce in Oregon

Now that I’m writing elsewhere, I look for other Oregon-related articles to write. I actually did one recently, at Helium:

Fall festivals in Oregon

Just as I am learning things about disability law and rights for the disabled as I write about deaf-related issues for SIGNews, so, too, am I learning things about this new state I live in thanks to writing about it. Of course I’m actually out there checking places out, talking to people and visiting businesses (in addition to reading the papers). Any chance we get to visit another Oregon city, I'm there! I have visited the coast and Portland, and have seen Grants Pass as well as Cottage Grove. Our drive through Oregon to get to Eugene had me looking at all the cities we passed through. But in addition to doing these things, I am also writing about anything and everything related to what life is like here in Oregon. This is helping me understand things here better and know about stuff that is going on here. Because, the way I see it, if I am going to be living here instead of dreaming of hitting the road someday or moving back to California, then I might as well know the ins and outs of life in this state. It’s helping me to know what to expect while living here and, the bonus is, it’s opening doors for me to meet more people and get to know native Oregonians who can add to my journey of learning what Oregon is all about.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shifting gears with an article idea

When it comes to getting an assignment from the EIC at SIGNews, she usually tosses them my way. On very rare occasions, I may mention something to her that could be written up as an article for the paper, and she’ll tell me to go for it. For my September assignment, however, she opened the door for article suggestions.

I had not one but two article ideas. And she said that I could write both of them. Yay! (A third one will be for the November issue.)

So I got to work on my articles. One particular article idea came as a result of something I observed with my 3 ½-year-old son, Jesse. With Jesse being a CODA, I was aware of something POSSIBLY amiss as far as him using sign language in a school setting was concerned. After some secret investigating, however, I found nothing wrong. But I had to wonder, was this kind of thing actually happening with another Child of Deaf Adult out there? I had to find out, and therein was my assignment.

After I checked around – through Facebook, HARO and a network of deaf parents I am a part of – I found that the opposite was true. No, this was not happening. (Thank goodness!) And, actually, ASL was welcome in mainstream schools, instead of being discouraged.

But instead of considering my idea a failure, I got the message. Sign language is ACCEPTED in schools? Really? Hearing kids are allowed to use ASL?

That could work as an article, too!

And the bonus is, it’s still CODA-related. The whole point behind this article idea getting the green light was that it was related to CODAs. So it would still work!

I pitched this new angle to my editor and she gave me her blessing to proceed. I wrote up the article, got photos and turned everything in.

Thank you to you CODAs and deaf parents who took the time to respond to my inquiry about this. I am still so psyched that my own CODA will be included in this article.

I am also glad I was able to take what seemed like a “failed” idea and turn it into a successful one that sold. As writers, we do need to keep our eyes peeled for a story. But we also need to keep an eye out for how to reslant a piece if our original idea doesn't work out.

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

The cover for Shadow of Samhain!

Yesterday, I received a surprise in my email inbox: The proposed cover for my forthcoming novel, Shadow of Samhain. Yay!! I was so excited! My daughter and I both looked at the cover when I opened the attachment and hubby seemed to approve of it, too.


It is a lot like what I had put together for a "working cover" of the book some time ago. This one is so much better and, of course, a lot more professional since it was created by a professional book cover artist. (Thank you, Charlotte Holley!) I like how everything blends well together and the color contrast is just right. I also like how it is not so dark as to be unnoticeable.

And, without further ado, here is the cover:

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