Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Done and done

Whenever I do two things at once, I tend to say, “Done and done.” I got to say that yesterday, with a WIP. When I received a success story from a writer for Book Two in the “How to Revise Your Writing Like a Pro” series that will be published by AWOC Books, I pretty much had completed gathering everything that I needed for that particular book. In other words, I was done. And given that Book One is with the publisher and Book Three is complete, I was done and done.

That’s right: All 3 books in this series are complete. They have everything that is supposed to go into them – quotes, interviews, end-of-the-chapter features and success stories – so now the only thing left to do is create the files for Book Two and Book Three.

All this time, I have kept a “master file” of the book. This was so that I can see the book as a whole and have EVERYTHING that goes into all 3 books in one place. Altogether, the three books make 65 chapters and 714 pages. (Though that might change later on. I had to write new chapters for Book One after the second time it was accepted and I might need to write new chapters for the other two books.)

It has taken me a long time to complete this project. I got started on it in 2009. The book was originally accepted by another publisher but that contract was later canceled. I am thrilled that Dan Case will be publishing these books and I look forward to working with him on getting these manuscripts into print.

I am also very happy to complete this series. On one hand, it’s a huge relief to complete it. It’s one of the WIPs I wanted to finish this summer and I’m glad I was able to finish it. On the other hand, it’s a little surreal. It’s like I have to pinch myself! I keep thinking, I’m done with it? Really? Wow. It seems like I have been working on this series forever. But I’m finished working on it now and soon it will be time to move on to the next books. I have another “writing book” going on but not sure yet when I will resume working on it. For now, I look forward to getting these writing books published. I have a feeling they will be a big help to writers who are struggling with the revision process.

Thank you to everyone – the writers, editors, poets, scriptwriters, songwriters, freelance writers and authors – who took the time to be a part of this project. I am very grateful to you all and I hope you will all be happy with the book you are in when it comes out. Thanks for taking this journey with me.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ten things to do on your day off from writing

The famous “day off,” heralded among the working population as a day to rest and catch up on real life, is primarily a day to recharge and keep that spark to continue working alive. Despite the pressure on writers to write every day, we are not exempt from taking a “day off” from our work. I have found that taking a day off from the writing work is a great way to recharge, as well as get my desk back in order.

Take one day out of your “work week” to spend your normal “writing time” with family and friends. But if the guilt monster is tapping your shoulder to do something productive with your extra time, here are ten ideas:

1.  Organize your clip file.

If you are an unpublished writer, use this tip as a means of sorting through your writing samples.  As for published writers, your clip file contains all of your published work.  Having your clips sorted out in different file folders or in folders on your hard drive will make it easier to reach for those “relevant clips” editors ask for.  The typical work week can be too distracting or busy for a writer to take the time to put a copy of their recently published work into its designated folder, so this might be a good thing to do on your day off. Label your folders with subjects such as “Parenting” or “Writing” and use stickers or highlighters as identifiers, if you wish. 

2.  Take stock of your supplies.

The last thing you want to have happen is run out of ink when printing your requested article. Use your day off as a chance to take stock of both your office and mailing supplies.  Have an extra printer cartridge handy?  Enough mailing envelopes of sufficient size?  Extra postage, pens, markers and paper clips?  You wouldn’t want to stop writing because you ran out of ink in your pen or miss a deadline because of insufficient postage. This tip saves trips.

3.  Make a list of magazines and publishers to query.

Keep on file a list of magazines to query for the week. A good idea is to note two or three articles you can pitch to this magazine.  Should the first be rejected, you can pitch your second to them in your reply. This is a great way to focus your next work week and note what research you will soon be conducting.

4.  Write outlines, character sketches and edit any previous writings.

Creating outlines for articles you plan to write is a good idea should an editor suddenly reply to your query that they want more information on what you plan to cover. This will also help you focus your research.  Creating character sketches for stories you plan to write are a great way to get to know your characters better and know where you want to take them in your story. Finally, editing your previously unpublished writing can help you look for weak spots, throw in some rewriting you forgot about last time and it also offers you a chance to get more ideas for future work.

5.  Jot down all of your ideas.

I can’t count the number of times I saved an idea for “later” only to forget about it. Ideas have a tendency of disappearing faster than they appeared, so write them down as soon as you can.

6.  Go for a long walk.

Enjoy a stroll down the street, at the park, at the zoo, museum or mall. Observe everything around you:  the sights, the smells, the sounds and feelings. What are people talking about?  What are children doing?  How does the weather make you feel?  Try something new, such as that Thai restaurant you never got around to visiting or that hiking trail you always wondered about.

7. Catch up on email.

When your life gets super-busy, staying on top of email can be difficult. But when you take one day out of the week as an “off day” from work, this can be a great time to catch up on all of those emails cluttering your inbox. Respond to the personal emails and read only the important emails you don’t want your week to be without. If you find it hard to delete some emails but don’t have time to read them, create a “Read Later” folder and stick them in there. Just don’t forget about them!

8.  Catch up on reading.

Too often, writers spend more time writing than they do reading. And reading what’s out there helps writers stay current, informed and enlightened. Use your normal “writing time” to enjoy a good book, finish reading a magazine article or catch up on events with your local newspaper.

8. Clean out your desk.

Every weekend, I make it a point to tackle the desk and remove files or papers that I no longer need for current projects. I add any supplies I am running low on and get rid of the nonessentials. If you don’t have a desk (though it’s highly recommended for every writer!) then reorganize your work station so you’ll be ready to get back to work tomorrow.

10. Make a list.

What sort of goals remain unmet? What kinds of things are you struggling with right now? Take some time to think about any current problems or struggles you’ve been dealing with and write about each one. Do you need to find a person to interview? Or is there an article that needs more research? Take stock of these issues so you’ll be more focused on what to do when you get back to work.

The reminder to write every day can turn into stressful pressure for the average writer. Don’t feel guilty about taking a day off from writing; you are doing yourself and your sense of creativity a huge favor. The day will soon end and it will again be time to pull out that notebook or turn on the computer. Only this time, you will feel more refreshed and your creative spark will stay alive.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A creative madness

Creativity is in my blood. My grandfather was a songwriter and my siblings are either writers or artists. My daughter is both a writer and an artist, although it seems that art is her first love. Art is her passion. And one thing about being a creative, and having a creative passion, is that we tend to go “into the zone” with our writing or drawing. Or both.

We enter what could be called a “creative madness.” This is when we get so caught up in our work that we live, breathe and sleep our writing or drawing 24/7.

I have been through such episodes. Before I married, I would spend hours, even days, writing. I would get so caught up in writing my stories and living in those fictional worlds that I’d lose track of time. I would lose track of the days. My head would go down to write at night and when I’d look up again, and it would be morning.

My daughter seems to have inherited this “creative madness” herself. I suppose I should have realized it when she’d wake up in the middle of the night inspired to create, then spend the next several hours drawing picture after picture.

Recently, however, her madness went a little beyond the hours of a day. 

She just got off of a 4-day drawing spree. This morning, she presented to me a notebook filled with drawings she’d done over the course of 4 days. A whole notebook of them! And they were really good. (She and her friend have been participating in a fan fiction jam and she decided to draw all of the characters in their story, as well as write information about them.) I should have realized she was in the midst of a creative madness because, during those 4 days, she barely ate or slept. She’d always be going back to her notebook and drawing away. And whenever I’d tap her on the shoulder to talk or tell her a friend was texting her, she’d say “I’m busy” then go straight back to her drawing.

Fortunately, it’s still summer vacation, so it’s not like she’ll end up being a zombie at school tomorrow. Even so, I will have to monitor her when these episodes spring up. What troubled me the most was how she barely ate or slept during this episode. (And I can’t help but remember my own episode of creative madness I had once at my grandmother’s house. Now I understand why she was pestering me to eat something or get some sleep. I was so caught up with my writing that food and rest were not important to me at that time.)

Of course, I am happy my little girl is so inspired to create. And of course, I will support her and encourage her. I’ll just have to keep an eye on her when something like this happens.

I tend to joke that being a “starving writer” means we’re too busy writing to eat and that’s why we starve. We forget to eat! It can definitely happen during an episode of creative madness. I’ll just make sure it doesn’t happen to my own young creative the next time she goes on a drawing – or writing – spree.

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Monday, August 05, 2013

Interview with author C.A. Szarek

It is my pleasure to host a guest on my blog today, fellow Gypsy Shadow Publishing author C.A. Szarek. Gypsy Shadow published her fantasy romance novel, Sword's Call, Book One in the King's Riders series. I have known her ever since she joined the GSP family and I have noticed she is one of the most prolific writers around! Please welcome her on my blog and check out her books.

Interview with author C.A. Szarek

How long have you been a writer?

I have always been a writer. Poetry when I was very young, and then short stories, that started morphing into novels when I was about 14. It’s just a part of me. I couldn’t imagine not writing.

What was your biggest obstacle in getting your book published and how did you overcome it?

Probably dealing with the rejections. I got so many “No’s” way before I got a “yes.” I just persevered. I knew I wanted to be published, so I had to keep trying, keep submitting. It’s a matter of getting the book in front of the right editor, right publisher. I found that with GSP.

How did you end up getting your newest book published?

Well, my newest title is a romantic suspense entitled Collision Force (Crossing Forces Book One) It is published by Total-E-Bound Publishing. My friend, Maggie Nash is with them and told me to submit. I was lucky enough to be accepted.

How did you get the idea for your book?

I have always been into fantasy. Always. It is and always will be my first love as an author. So I always have a story of a world I made up floating around in my head. Sword’s Call actually came to me in a dream. I dreamt of the heroine, Cera and her white wolf. The rest sort of fell into place.

What is the most important lesson you have learned as an author?

That you never stop learning and growing. The more you write, the better you get.

What genres do you write in? If more than one, how do you balance them?

I write a little of everything: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, and the occasional YA.

I’ve always been into fantasy. Grew up reading the greats, Anne McCaffrey is my fave, and the genre will always be close to my heart.

That being said, I always wanted to be a cop and have been in to “Police stuff.” I never did becoming a police officer, but I have a Law Enforcement background, and I actually work in a court.

I adore paranormal because it’s a mix of both, sorta. *grin*

And YA, well, I work with kids, and sometimes a good story they can read will pop into my head.

Maybe someday day I will be published in all the genres I write.

What are some of your other books we might want to check out?

Collision Force (Crossing Forces Book One) is a romantic suspense story about a kicksass female cop and a hot FBI agent. They’re a lot of fun, because they don’t like each other much when they meet. Here’s the book’s blurb:

Bad boy, married to his job FBI agent Cole Lucas always gets his man. So when the unthinkable happens and one gets away, Cole grits his teeth and hunts human trafficker Carlo Maldonado all the way to Antioch, Texas, where he collides with Detective Andi MacLaren.

Cole doesn’t do small towns and doesn’t get involved with women he works with, but Andi tempts him in ways he doesn’t want to acknowledge.

Two murders, her partner shot and leading the investigation on her own, the last thing Andi needs is a cocky FBI agent who sees her as no more than a tagalong.

Widow and single mother Andi is used to being on her own. When Cole gets stuck without a place to stay, crashing on her couch puts them in dangerous territory.

Attraction and passion bring Andi to a place she’d left behind when her husband died. Her three-year-old son quickly wiggles his way into Cole’s heart, and he starts contemplating things—family, love—that he’d never planned for himself.

Can being forced to work together make them stronger or will their differences jeopardise their case and their hearts?

What else do you do besides write books?

I am a busy girl. I work two jobs, as the Juvenile Case Manager for two municipal courts, and I also work at a Shelter for teens. I also love to read and scrapbook when I’m not writing.

It’s common knowledge that writers are also readers. What kind of books do you like to read?

Truthfully, anything that peaks my interest. I read a lot of romance, all subgenres. YA, it doesn’t matter who it’s intended for. If it looks good, I’ll read it.

Do you read books in the same genre you are currently writing in? Why or why not?

Absolutely I love to read the genres I write. It’s nice to see how others do it, but I also just LOVE the genres I love. I do read and love genres I don’t write as well, I am a big big big fan of Scottish Highlander Historical Romances and I couldn’t write one to save my life.

What can we expect to see from you next?

Well, I have a few upcoming releases I am excited about!

Love’s Call (King’s Riders Book Two) will be out in the fall of 2013 and Chance Collision (Crossing Forces Book Two) will release Jan 31, 2014!

I also have a FREE short story called Cole in Her Stocking that is about the couple from Collision Force. It will be in the November Total-E-Bound Newsletter as well as a free download on their site. I am reallllllly excited about it, because I just adore Andi and Cole.

Love’s Call:

Senior King’s Rider Ansley Fraser has been in love with Leargan Tegran for turns, but he’s never noticed her. When she sets out for Greenwald to deliver a message to the duke, she has no idea its contents contain an order that will change her life. Instead, she is focused on visiting dear friends.
Leargan, captain of the Greenwald personal guard, is an honorable knight, so when the king commands him to wed Ansley, he intends to follow orders, even as he knows nothing of the girl.

Ansley ignores her instinct to question Leargan’s sudden interest in her. She wants to fall into his arms—and his bed—even as Ali, her wolf bondmate, growls her reticence.

Her extended visit allows Leargan time to win her affection, but when he falls for Ansley, it takes him by surprise. Will she be willing to give herself to him if she learns their marriage has been commanded by the king? What will it take to convince her he’s not simply following orders? 

Chance Collision:

Vowing to protect her had nothing to do with feelings.

Detective Pete Crane catches a new shooting case and considers it business-as-usual. But when the lead witness is the Chief of Police’s fiery assistant, he never anticipated she’d challenge him—personally and professionally. Especially while under his protection.

Little do they know, the shooting she and her grandmother witnessed was anything but random.

Thrown together, their attraction sizzles, even though she’s squarely in the no-fly zone. She makes him break every rule in his little black book.

Nikki Harper has been attracted to Pete since they met two years ago. Witnessing a brutal shooting throws her into a stigma that’s always been her greatest fear: a victim. She has no choice but to accept his protective custody and let him help save her and her beloved grandmother.

Can Pete protect his witness and solve the case, while fighting the intense heat with Nikki?

What is your advice to a writer trying to get a book published?

Never. Ever. Give up. If you want it, go for it. Fight for it.

For generations, the Ryhans, ruling family of the Province of Greenwald have been keepers of a sword rumored to possess enough magic to defeat kings. Lord Varthan, a former archduke and betrayer of the king, covets the sword and invades Greenwald.

Lady Ceralda Ryhan, daughter of the murdered duke, gains the sword and flees, trusting only her white wolf, Trikser—magically bonded to her. Cera needs nothing more to aid in her fight.

Jorrin Aldern, half elfin and half human, left his home in the mountains of Aramour to find his human father who disappeared twenty turns before, but finds Cera with Varthan and his shades on her tail instead. His dual heritage and empathic magic will tempt Cera in ways she never thought she’d desire. But can he convince her trust and love can pave the path to redemption or will the epic battle end in tragedy and evil conquer them all?

Grab your copy of Sword's Call here. 

ABOUT C.A. SZAREK: C.A. is originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could. She is married and has a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. She works with kids when she’s not writing. She’s always wanted to be a writer and is overjoyed to share her stories with the world.




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Thursday, August 01, 2013

It's still summer

No matter what kind of weather we’ve been having lately, I want to believe it is still summer. My daughter has been enjoying lazy days this summer, which has included staying up late (followed by mornings where she got to sleep in), movie marathons on nights she’d ordinarily be sleeping because of school, a sleepover during the week, bike rides and swimming with friends. My son has been going to summer school twice a week as well as having playdates and staying up late. In other words, the kids have been having a great time embracing summer to the fullest. Soon the fun will come to an end. Not too long ago, I told my daughter, “Pretty soon, we are going to have to go back on the school schedule.”

But maybe I shouldn’t have said that, because quite often this week, I have been standing at the back door, looking up at the cloudy sky, feeling the chill in the air, and asking myself, Where did summer go?

But according to the calendar, it is STILL summer!

I have to keep telling myself this even today. I had hoped to finish up a couple of WIPs during July. Alas, I did not finish them. Revisions on Book Four of The GHOST Group series has taken quite a turn. I have pretty much given up on creating an outline for this story, because my characters have taken over! They have decided that THEY will write the story. As long as I stick to my character outline, it should be okay. Just have to make sure the story does not veer too far off course. I am on the second draft of this book but I can already tell there will be a third. So it looks like I will be working on revising this book during the month of August, as well.

Another book I hoped to finish was the haunted cities book. Unfortunately, I ran into a snag with one of the chapters. My publisher gave me some good info, so I’m going to get back to work on completing that chapter. I also need to complete two other chapters, and then it will be done. So this book is also another WIP I am carrying with me into August.

Before the summer, I made a list of which WIPs I wanted to finish. These two books were on that list. And it’s still summer, so I am still going to be working on completing them. I hope that by the time the new school year starts (which will be a new year for me, as far as the books go), they will be done.

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