Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Next Big Thing, Take 3

Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING blog hop! This is a fantastic new way for readers to discover authors they may not find in their local bookstore.

Thanks to Lillie Ammann for inviting me to participate in the Blog Hop. In this BIG BLOG HOP, I’ll answer ten questions about my current work in progress. You can learn a little more about my writing.  Then check out the links below this post to my fellow authors at their blogs to find out more about their works in progress.

Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?

The official title is Wandering Soul. It is a poetry book.

2: Where did the idea come from for the WIP?

I wanted to do a “big book” of poetry. When I changed my mind about what to do with the out-of-print title Take My Hand, I had A LOT of leftover poems to figure out something to do with. I decided to turn it into a collection of poems about personal things from my life, some personal experiences as well as some of my most favorite poems. Some poems were also inspired by my grandmothers as well as my mother. In fact, I wrote the poem “Wandering Soul” after reflecting on how my mother spent so much of her adulthood moving from one home to the next. I chose it as the title for the book as a way of remembering my mother.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Poetry, Christian, inspirational.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Pass – no characters.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The voice of a poet that captures life, love and compassion.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

I submitted the manuscript to one of my publishers, an indie press.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s hard to remember. I do know it took me several months to put the whole book together.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?


9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

After the original Wandering Soul manuscript was rejected, I decided to “operate” on it. I took out the first 42 poems in it and had them published as a revised version of the out-of-print book, and I gave it the new title Follow That Dream. What was left over was what I used to start putting together what became the new Wandering Soul manuscript.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Some of the poems are meant to be funny, so I hope readers will get a nice laugh over them. Some of them carry warnings about the dangers of abusive relationships as well as drunk driving. And one of the poems pays tribute to 9/11. A Girl Scout troupe actually put that poem on a bookmark!

Here is a list of the authors who will post their Q&A on their own blogs. Be sure to click through to their blogs and find out about their NEXT BIG THING!

Tara Chevrestt

Shanna Groves

Anne H. Petzer

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Advice to nonfiction authors: Don't lie

Some time ago, I read the book Roots by Alex Haley. It’s a very good book and I was impressed by how much time and research the author put into his book. Later, I went online to look up more information about it, because I was very interested in what happened after the book was published. I was dismayed to learn that Haley admitted that not all of the material in his book was true. Because the man did not have a time machine and could not go back in time to double-check everything and learn exactly how things were, he had to use literary license to fill in the gaps. I accepted this, but what I could not accept was how there were people claiming Haley lifted their stories as his own and that the main character in the story, Kunta Kinte, didn’t even exist. After reading all of that, I started to get suspicious with what was in the book. How was I to know if anything in the book was true or not? It was, after all, labeled a nonfiction book, but how could I know which parts of it were fiction?

The recent controversy over the now disgraced athlete Lance Armstrong made me remember this. Because of Armstrong’s recent confession on national television that he lied about doping to win the Tour de France, the world now knows that all of those times he fervently denied such accusations and everything he wrote in his books were all just a fake. They were his way of perpetuating the lie.

It seems that Armstrong has a long, tough road ahead of him in winning back the world’s admiration and respect. But it also appears that this lie is going to cost him A LOT of money. Not only are newspapers and magazines suing him for the lawsuits they lost or helped to defend, but readers of his books are suing him, as well. An article I read today discussed how two readers in particular are so upset over Armstrong’s public admission of the lie that they want to be reimbursed for buying his books.

This is not the first time an author of nonfiction books has been caught in a lie. But I have to wonder what’s going to happen after all is said and done, after everybody is paid and the whole thing blows over. What book would Armstrong write next? Bigger question: Will readers believe what he writes in them? Perhaps if he convinces the world he’s not a liar anymore or that he changes everything and becomes an honest man people can trust again, maybe readers will believe everything he writes in future books. Still makes me wonder, though.

But it’s not just readers that he has angered; it is possible his editors and publishers are not all that happy with him, either. Would they be willing to publish his next book? Armstrong now has an iffy relationship with his readers. What can be said of his relationship with his publishers?

Of course, the man is famous and brings in a lot of money no matter what happens. He’ll get published again.

But for the writer who is not famous, not worth millions of dollars and who is Very Lucky to get a nonfiction book published, things can be very different. This particular writer would have a harder time setting things right with readers again, let alone editors and publishers. And if an author's lie(s) in a book get so bad and build up a lot of controversy, it's very likely publishers won't want to work with this author again.

In my opinion, nonfiction should be nonfiction. There are no two ways about it. It should be as true, honest and as accurate as the writer can make it. Otherwise, you’re just writing fiction instead and should publish it as such. If you’re making things up or lying to readers, then that does not make the book nonfiction. It makes it fiction or, as some people have claimed, a fraud.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Racism in novels

Art is supposed to imitate life. That said, a lot of what passes as realistic fiction must first of all be realistic. It must be believable and it must have believable, logical or even very possible explanations for why things happen. It has to be like the real world. The same goes for characters. They have to be realistic, like a real person would be.

And while as I write fiction, I try to make my characters as realistic as possible, there are certain things about my characters that I would not like or that makes me cringe. But I leave them there, because that is just the way my character is.

Even if my character is a racist.

That is the problem I ran into with the novel I am currently revising. My antagonist is a racist. He calls certain people certain names (though he doesn’t use the n-word for a black guy). This bothers me, of course, because I respect people of all colors. I am not a racist. I would not think such things or say such things.

But this particular character does. And it troubles me.

Now, this is one of the reasons why I’m sending the manuscript off to beta readers. I want to know what THEY think about my character’s racist attitude and comments. If it was up to me, I’d take that stuff out. But I understand that this is the way my character is. He is a racist. He is not a very pleasant man at all. I don’t think I would change my bad guy's character in any way if I removed the racist stuff, but maybe I could lighten it a bit. Make it happen just once instead of a few times.

In any event, I am going to leave it to my readers to decide. Then, of course, my editor then publisher will both decide. I’m not trying to be PC and I’m not afraid of a backlash from readers who don’t like that particular thing about my character. You can't please everybody, so I don't try to. I just want to be true to my characters – the good guys and bad guys – and let them be who they are, even if I don’t like that particular thing about them.

So that’s why I kept it in the manuscript when sending it off. We’ll see if it will be kept in the story when the book gets published.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Two or three? Two wins!

Ordinarily, 3 is my number. Don’t ask me why, but I like the number 3. I have liked this number for some time. It is one of my favorite numbers (the others are 17, 25, 27 and 103). I like doing things in threes and trying three times. I also like using three things as examples when I am writing (and editors who hated sentences with serial commas have often grumbled over this habit of mine in the articles I’ve sent them).

However, I have noticed something this year. With the new year, I decided to work on two things at a time each day, instead of three. I want to make room for other things I am planning to do this year, so I figured the best way to do that was to cut out one of the things I’d be working on each day. That third thing was a book I’m reading AND writing.

I have a system: I’ll work on a book then read a book before moving on to other things in my day. This is how I am able to write books AND review them at the same time. The books I’ll read are usually fiction/poetry or research/nonfiction, but this year it’s nonfiction and fiction. The book I choose to read after I work on a book depends on the type of book I’ll be working on next. Usually, I work on fiction in the evenings, so in order to avoid copying anything from a fiction book I am reading – and you’ll notice I didn’t say “fictional book” (haha!) – I’ll read a nonfiction book early in the day.

So this year, it’s two-and-two. Two books I am reading at a time and two books I am working on at a time. That’s my plan, and it has been going very well. Because I am working on several nonfiction books at once, I rotate between the nonfiction books, depending on when there is work for them. Sometimes, though, I’ll be working on a nonfiction book for a longer period before moving on to another one, like if there is A LOT of work to be done for it. (This is the case with one book I have been working on. The part I am writing for this book is taking me several weeks to complete because it involves A LOT of research. Aye!)

I also try to fit in work on the current poetry book (in this case, the soldier poems book, but I also write poems for any old thing as well) and last year I completed what would be the children’s book for this year. All the same, I do work on other poetry and fiction books (not “fictional books” – natch!) but only after I completed the previous one. I do have yet another children’s book complete for NEXT year, except it just needs illustrations. I’ll be moving down through my list of fiction books (wait for it!) after I finish completing the previous one on the list. (And, yes, there is a list! Why I ever thought it was okay to write several novels and just let them sit on my hard drive, I will never know.)

But I have noticed that two at a time is working out much better for me instead of three at a time. It’s less stressful, to be sure, and the kids are happy that they get more time to play games on the ONE computer we have in this house.

Whether or not 2 will become my new favorite number remains to be seen. But, as a method, working on 2 things at a time just works out better than doing 3. Especially since I’ve taken on a gig as a marketing rep for a publishing company, so I need time for that, too. Perhaps doing two things at a time is a system that I will keep.


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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My Next Big Thing, Take 2

I was tagged by Charlene A. Wilson in the “My Next Big Thing” blog hop.

The Rules: Answer some questions about the book I'm currently working on. Since I have recently dug out an old manuscript I wrote years ago and am now in the process of fixing up for submission, I have chosen this novel to talk about for the blog hop.

Next, I must tag authors to keep the hop going around the web so that everyone can read about The Next Big Thing.  I listed them below.

The Questions:

What is your working title of your book?

 “Faded Reflection.” Not sure if it’s a title I would want to keep but it works for now.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Two things actually inspired the idea for this novel. When I was a college student, my sister and I lived together. I was going to college and she was going to high school. We kept getting strange calls from this guy who demanded to speak to someone named “Betty.” This guy was calling us every day, sometimes several times a day and at odd hours of the night. No matter how much we tried to convince him there was no Betty living there, he thought we were lying and kept yelling at us over the phone to let him speak to her. The other thing that inspired the idea for this story was a song. I often played the song “Gloria” by Laura Branigan and something about the words to that song plus our creepy caller had me putting this story idea together. (I knew the song well before I lost my hearing and I still had some of my hearing when I was able to wear hearing aids so I was able to enjoy songs I knew before becoming deaf until the rest of my hearing was gone and hearing aids became useless.)

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m going to select people based on how closely they match how my characters look.

Laura Williams: Laura is a redhead in her early thirties so I think Laura Prepon (she played Donna on That 70s Show) is a good choice. I know she's gone blonde now but she really has my character's face, especially the eyes. And she's also really a "Laura"!

Jeff Carson: I think Ryan Gosling would do well playing the hero of the story. He is a little younger than my character (who is 38) but he has Jeff’s face and I’m sure Hollywood can touch him up to look older.

 Carl Gunderson:  The best match for the bad guy in this story would be Brandon Routh.

 Sandy Dollarhide: This character is a Latin American nurse who is Laura’s co-worker, so I think Sofia Vergara would be a good choice because she looks like my character Sandy.

Karen McAvery: Laura’s best friend should be played by Jodi Lyn O'Keefe. She looks a lot like Karen.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Looking exactly like someone else can be dangerous … especially if that someone else is supposed to be dead.

Will your book be self-published or published by an agency?

 I am submitting this manuscript to one of my publishers.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I have no idea! I wrote the first draft of this book in 1994 and it sort of languished away when I focused on a different novel.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See above.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

One very big issue with this story is that it addresses stalkers and stalking. My antagonist stalks my protagonist in this story. A character in this story is secretly a part of an organization that helps stalking victims. I hope this story will emphasize how dangerous stalking is for a lot of people, and not just for women.

Now I must tag authors:

Note: I incorrectly noted that I wrote the first draft of my novel in 2004. That is not correct and I fixed the mistake. I completed the first draft in 1994, then picked it up again in 2004 to revise. The manuscript remained with the editor of a publishing company for 5 years before it was again forgotten about then I just recently went back to it again, as of yesterday. I just realized that in the event this novel is published next year, that will make it a book that finally sees print 20 years after I started writing it!

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