Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break: How did I do?

Ah, Spring Break. The time when students everywhere gleefully embrace the mornings they get to sleep in, the nights they get to spend wide awake watching movies and the days they get to spend (gasp!) NOT being in school!

It’s also the time every single parent who works from home takes in a breath of dread, preparing for the challenge of trying to balance their work with time spent with their children. And while, yes, I DID spend time with the kids on Spring Break, and we did stuff, I also made it a point of getting things done. Since this was the last week of March, I especially wanted to wrap things up since April means moving forward with OTHER projects on the table. I didn’t know how I’d be able to do it, especially since travel was a possibility for us. (But, unfortunately, our travel plans were canceled after we had some car trouble.) But I took in a deep breath, rolled up my sleeves and stood ready for these five days of trying to work from home as a author/book reviewer/editor, AND find the time necessary to fulfill my role as a mom!

I made a list of the things I had to do this week, just so I could stay focused:

1. Finish editing manuscript for client.

2. Read in the book I am reviewing for the Dabbling Mum.

3. Work on what I am calling “the alien book” – the book I am co-authoring with Martha Jette and Usko Ahonen. I had to finish reading the draft they have put together then send that back with my notes, revised outline and any extra questions and comments I had about what to bring to this project.

4. Finish reading the novel I am reviewing for Night Owl Reviews.

5. Finish typing up the second draft of the third book in The GHOST Group series.

6. Finish reading the book I am reviewing for my own book review blog.

Yes, that DOES seem like a lot, but I work in clusters of time for each project (which has been an amazing time management tool for me, by the way!) so I was able to figure out ways to fit them in. That’s actually my USUAL schedule – though next month I am working on 4 books at a time, so I have to figure out a new system for that – so it’s nothing new.

The only wrench in the machine was finding a way to do my usual thing while also enjoying Spring Break with the kids!

The good news is, we DID enjoy Spring Break in our own ways (I only wish it didn’t RAIN so much!) and I DID get some things done.

I kept tallies on my progress from Monday through Friday. Here is how it came out:

Editing: Four days. (I had to stop work on it after the project became compromised.)

Book review for The Dabbling Mum: Two days.

Book work on the alien book: Three days. (Finished it today.)

Book review for Night Owl Reviews: Four days. (Finished it yesterday.)

Book work for The GHOST Group #3: One day. (I will try to finish it tomorrow.)

Book review for my own book review blog: Two days. (Will definitely finish the book tomorrow.)

And, you know, that’s not really all THAT bad. I’m thrilled I got some things done – the IMPORTANT things done – and look forward to wrapping up some other things before Monday gets here.

So, the bottom line is, I survived Spring Break. Yay! Yes, our Spring Break could have been better if we had been able to travel and if it hadn’t rained so much. But my kids made the best of the situation.

And, apparently, I did, too.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lovely Blog Award

Recently, I held open my dayplanner for one week of March and, showing it to my daughter, I said, “This is why my life is crazy right now!”

She took one look at all that stuff written there and screamed.

They don’t call it “March Madness” for nothing! Yes, I know that has to do with sports, but, for me, March has always been a little bit of crazy.

But it’s a good kind of crazy. I love to stay busy and there has indeed been plenty to keep me busy. So, it’s all good!

The first thing that has come up this month is that I am once again working with Martha Jette on a nonfiction book. It has something to do with UFO/alien abductions. I know, a lot of people shy away from this topic, and even roll their eyes over some of the stories being spread about, but I have always been interested in this kind of thing, so of course I was delighted when Martha asked me to work with her on this book. She already has A LOT of the book written up and I’m looking forward to writing some of the other chapters in the book. Martha and co-author Usko Ahonen have written a majority of the first part of the book. I have been taking the time to read over everything to be brought up to speed on it before I proceed to write some of the other chapters (among them, a chapter about SETI). I love science, I love anything that has to do with outer space, so I’m very excited about this!

Something else came up this month that also gave me an extra reason to smile. In fact, I’ve been smiling quite a lot lately! I am thrilled to announce that I am now an editor with a publishing company. Hooray! They don’t have their “staff page” set up yet (it’s a very new company), but I have had one week on the job so far and LOVING every minute of it! This is my dream job and I am just so thrilled. (I am not their only editor and I do line editing.)

Also this month, I finished the rewrites for Shadow of Samhain. It is now with my trusted readers. I am looking forward to sending it to my publisher next month and I have a feeling she will be happy with this one.

And, finally, I have submitted the first book in the Revisions series this month. Woo-hoo! The publisher likes the manuscript but wants to go over some things first before a contract can be sighed. Stay tuned for more on that book!

Last but not least, the lovely Joleene Naylor has given me the Lovely Blog Award. Thank you, Jo! I feel so honored and grateful for this award.

And now I will give the lovely Jenn Greenleaf the Lovely Blog Award. Congratulations, Jenn! Your friendship and support have been such an inspiration to me for these many years. Stay lovely, my dear.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

The read-through: What I missed last time

Given how delayed things are with my books, people must wonder why I would want to delay things any further with YET MORE editing, revising and proofreading of manuscripts. As if, the manuscript is done already! Send it in! But, no, I can’t submit a manuscript just because it’s “done.” Because, the truth is, a manuscript is never “done.” There’s always something that can be overlooked.

For example, take my novel, Shadow of Samhain. I was asked to rewrite it so I got to work on that. The process took some time. And when I was done with the rewrite, I knew I had to revise and edit the manuscript just to make sure everything was in order. That phase is complete but I had to give the manuscript one more read-through, just to see if I have missed anything.

And, actually, I missed quite a bit.

In reading through the manuscript, I have noticed these problems:

Inconsistencies. In one chapter, a character’s apartment was on the second floor. In a later chapter, it’s on the ground floor. Whoops!

Another inconsistency I noticed was the number of scenes in each chapter. In a previous draft, the number of scenes varied, and some of them were too long. This time around, I wanted all the chapters to each have two scenes. A couple of chapters only had one scene, so I fixed this in this go-round.

Lack of detail. What does somebody look like? What are they wearing? What does a room look like? What kinds of things does the character have with them or in their room? What kind of job does this character have? Etc.

Head hopping. This is, unfortunately, one of my bad habits as a writer. I start a scene in one character’s POV and end up sharing what everybody else is thinking, seeing and feeling. But if it’s in one character’s point-of-view, then I need to stick with that. I did notice this happen in one scene and I’m grateful I caught that mistake this time.

What happens next. At the very end of the story, I neglected to fill in the details on what kind of changes were made in my character’s life following the Very Big Thing she just went through. Granted, not every novel should tell readers what characters are going to do with their lives after “The End,” but given that my character went through a life-changing ordeal, I thought it was important to share what’s going to happen in my character’s life after the very last sentence. What changes does she make? What will she do with her life now? I don’t fill in ALL of the details – I leave some room for the readers to come up with something – but I do cover the important stuff.

Now that I’ve gotten through all of that, I’m sending the manuscript off to my readers. Once I get their feedback, I’ll make any needed changes then send the manuscript to my publisher.

Obviously, you can never catch ALL of the mistakes in a manuscript with just one go. It takes several reads and even extra eyes to catch things. That is one thing I have learned from this. Doing another read-through of my manuscript has also reminded me of how you REALLY need to love the book you have written – whether it is a novel or nonfiction. You REALLY have to WANT to read your book again and again and again. You have to LOVE your book and even enjoy the reading experience. I certainly enjoyed reading and rereading this novel; I actually liked spending time with my characters and telling their stories. I just didn’t tire of it, and that is helpful in keeping that drive to read, reread and reread YET AGAIN to make sure your novel or book is the best it can be.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

A bit of juggling

This week has been super-busy. Up until I started doing the ebooks once a month for the "12 ebooks in 12 months" experiment, I didn't think I'd be able to take on much else. I sure had a chance to find out if I was right or not!

I have been juggling quite a few book projects this week. The good news is, I finished two of them today (woo-hoo!) so looks like I'll have a lighter load to carry next week.

But this is why I have not exactly been keeping in touch with people so much, let alone staying on top of email.

The projects I have been working on include:

*The haunted cities book. Mostly, I have been interviewing paranormal investigators for 2 different cities. I might be wrapping up the interviews next week. Once that's done, I gotta start writing!

*Shadow of Samhain, the novel. I have been working on rewrites/revisions/edits for this manuscript. Done!

*Book 3 in The GHOST Group series. Last year, I wrote the rough draft, and now I am tackling the second draft. After I fix up the first draft, then I go back and do the same with Books 2 and 3. But I want to get Book 3 to at least Draft 2 stage before I can move on to fixing up Book 1.

*Ebook for March. This is a collaboration book of dog poems. My daughter Jennifer (age 10) and I are each writing 5 poems for this ebook. Done!

*The fifth book project is another collaboration project. I am once again working with Martha Jette, my co-author of TOTALLY SCARED: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses. We are working together again on yet another "everything you ever wanted to know" kind of book on a controversial and conspiratorial subject. It's pretty interesting stuff! I am excited to be working with Martha again. I don't know if I have her permission yet to disclose what the book's about so I'll stop there.

I am glad to get two of those projects done. However, I need to give SoS one more read-through before it goes to my readers next weekend, so I'll be doing that next week -- in addition to the interviews for AGOEC, working on GG3 and working on the collab project. Things are still going to be a bit busy and I am excited about moving forward with these books.

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