Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The dummy manuscript

Recently, I submitted a children’s book manuscript to one of my publishers. With the way the manuscript was formatted according to guidelines for children’s books, the manuscript came in at 10 pages. The submission guidelines for this publisher stated that the children’s books they publish must end up being at least 35 pages long. (Wow, the page length for children’s books sure is changing these days! Gotta wonder how long a child would sit still for a looong children’s book.) I wasn’t worried about this page length, though, because, after all, the draft I submitted to my publisher may have been the final draft but it was not the only draft.

Actually, with a manuscript, I can end up having several drafts of that one book. And one particular draft can be the “dummy manuscript,” what I call the draft of how a book end up MIGHT looking like when it is published. This is a draft I put together for my own use, though, not for the editors or publishers.

I create dummy manuscripts because it helps me get a better idea of how the final book will (or should) look. I did this for the children’s book, and it ended up being 65 pages long! It probably won’t be that long, but at least it gave me the reassurance that it will be at least 35 pages long. Also, these “dummy pages” will come in handy for my illustrator, because they help her decide where exactly she wants to do her illustrations. She can see how the manuscript will possibly be arranged and figure out what should go where. (This information will help the publisher, as well, as she does the layout for the book.)

This process of creating a dummy manuscript could be helpful in either preparing the manuscript for submission, getting a better idea of how the story will turn out or organizing everything.

That last one is the case with the haunted cities book. I have a “dummy manuscript” for this manuscript, and it is only because there are so many pictures to complement the stories. I created this draft to help me keep track of what goes where and to ensure everything that needs to be there is included. I also add captions and footnotes so that I will have them on hand and where they should go when final production of the book is going on and the publisher needs those pieces of information.

For Shadow of Samhain, a book I have coming out any day now, I created a dummy cover for the novel. Sometimes, envisioning the cover for the book helps me to work on it better. I don’t know why, but it just does. The dummy cover somehow helped me to “see” the story better and bring it more to life.

So I either have a dummy manuscript or a dummy cover. But using these are not dumb. (Hah!) They are useful in the creation and organization of a book, whether it’s a novel, children’s book or nonfiction.  And as long as it works, it’s something I’ll keep doing with all the books I write. Other authors may have a similar method or something completely different, but for me, this is what works.

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Join the Caravan! Gypsy Shadow Publishing Celebrates 3 Years with a Giveaway Extravaganza!

My publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, is celebrating their third year this month. Hooray! Happy 3rd Birthday to Gypsy Shadow Publishing! This two-women team has been awesome to work with. I have had two print books and one ebook published by them, with another ebook scheduled for release next month, and I have been very happy being published by them.

To celebrate their third year, GSP is holding a giveaway all month long. The prizes are free ebooks and 2 gift baskets filled with free signed print copies of books, a T-shirt, a Kindle reader and lots of other goodies. The winners of the free ebooks will be able to download them from Smashwords in order to make it possible to choose which format is preferred. You can enter to win these awesome prizes and the winners will receive their prizes on October 1st, since this is a month-long event.

But that’s not all!

All month long, GSP is giving buyers a 25% discount off of total orders when you buy books and/or ebooks from their web site. Go to the site for the code and instructions.

To enter the drawing and have a chance to win some fabulous prizes, as well as get the discount code, go here. Be sure to use the Rafflecopter entry box to enter the giveaway. You may leave a comment on the blog, of course, but you will need to enter through the Rafflecopter box in order to be counted.

To enter through Rafflecopter, please follow these instructions from GSP:

“When you go to the blog, click on the tab that says "Gypsy Shadow's 3rd Anniversary Celebration" and go down to the BIG WHITE BOX that says: "60 FREE eBooks ~ Awesome grand prize Gift Basket with signed print books and lots more goodies!" under where it says "ENTER BELOW for the GREAT PRIZES!" You MUST enter to win inside that box, either by signing in with Facebook or by clicking the link that says "Use Your Email." I definitely appreciate the comments you are leaving, BUT to enter the contest, you have to use the Rafflecopter box or you won't really be entered!”

As an alternative, if you are having problems entering through Rafflecopter, you can send an email to contests(at)gyspshadow(dot)com (remove the parenthetical stuff and replace with appropriate symbols) and provide your full name and mailing address in case you win the gift basket. Your information will be STRICTLY confidential and only used for this celebration!

My ebook, Songs of the Dead, is one of the goodies you’ll have the chance to win, as well as a signed print copy of Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion and my children’s book, The Yellow Rose, which was illustrated by the very talented artist Allison Warner.

Come one, come all! Join the caravan and get in on your chance to win some awesome prizes! And if you haven’t ordered any books or ebooks from Gypsy Shadow Publishing yet, now is your chance to get them with 25% off your order!

That link again is here. So why not enter today?

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Get Zombified! Guest Post by Lyra McKen

Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing has a new book out: Zombified, a novel about a teenager who has to fight for survival against an onslaught of zombies invading her small town while slowly turning into one after she is bitten. If you love zombie stories, check out this new novel today!

In honor of this book's release, author Lyra McKen is sharing how she got the idea for this book. Welcome, Lyra! Thank you for stopping by this blog and talking about your book.



When asked to discuss how I came up with the concept and story line for my novel Zombified, I had to think back. I had to think of where I was mentally when the idea formed. I had been annoying my family and boyfriend for weeks talking about the Zombie Apocalypse. My Dad would say something about, "If the economy doesn't do something then we are in for it." That isn't exactly what he said, my father doesn't speak like that, but for the sake of this article that is what he said. I would respond with, "The Zombies will take over!"

As annoyed as my family was, I was fascinated with Zombies and why they enthralled our culture so. I begin to think how would you feel if you knew you were going to start eating people and rotting away? Cassie started to form in my mind. She was a young girl with a bright future, derailed by a disease and the end of life as she knew it. I then started thinking, what if Zombies actually could communicate and had a purpose with their constant wondering around. Slopar was born, my idea of the Zombie language. I pictured Cassie talking to someone about her life as she snacked on him and wrote the beginning.

After this I started thinking, what if you bit your crush? I had to give Cassie a gorgeous guy, figure out how to get them alone, and let her ruin it with her soon-to-be-dead tendencies. I really enjoyed writing the novel. I wanted to explore the thoughts of the partially infected, and what would happen when they met up and tried to fight the desire to feed as the infection spread. I hope people enjoy reading Zombified as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for taking a trip into my mind.


Cassie is a typical teenager. She’s crushing on a boy and trying to make it through high school. It’s a typical day of classes when all hell breaks loose. Forced to run and hide the situation just keeps getting worse. She makes a mistake and soon becomes infected. She meets others like her and together they sent out to find a cure. Is their fate already sealed? Can they find a cure before it’s too late? See what happens through the eyes of the infected when Cassie tells you how Zombies are people too.

Check it out here.


Lyra McKen (aka, Emily Walker) resides in the mountains of North Carolina. She lives on top of a mountain quite literally with her other half of nine years and her fur baby, Rebel. After a couple of jobs ghost writing for other successful authors she embarked on her own journey to write a novel.

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