Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Books that were for or inspired by my mother

Sometimes, a person can really influence a writer. There are so many things that inspire me as a writer. That is only natural for ANYONE who is a writer: Events, people and ideas can inspire us to write.

And, usually, we’ll dedicate that thing to the person who inspired the idea. My kids are the ones who inspired me to write about my experiences as a deaf parent, so I dedicated my book on deaf parenting to them.

But it usually goes that it’s just one book that’s dedicated to the person. In my case, however, my mother was involved somehow or another with 3 of my books.

The first book was my novel, November’s Child.  

This story was based on a dream experience that I had, but also one BIG dream where the whole “dream story” was one story and the title for it “November’s Child” was actually in that dream. I did want to turn my dream experience into a novel but I wasn’t sure how. My sister, Elizabeth, helped me piece it together and turn it into a story. (It was my sister’s idea to make two characters Druids and a character’s Druidic name actually came from a dream.) I gave the novel the same title it had in the dream. And, of course, I dedicated it to my mother because, at that time, she was the only “November’s child” in the family. (Sometime after her death, my niece, Kandice, got that honor. She was born on my mother’s birthday.) And, anyway, my mom was a really big supporter of my writing. She was always encouraging me to write and she supported this book, too.

Sadly, November’s Child later went out of print. However, it was brought back to life as a new story with a new title: Shadow of Samhain

 Losing my mother was a very devastating experience for me. I cried for days. It was really hard after she passed. And there were times long after her death I would just lose it and cry for hours. Coping with the grief of losing my mother was very, very hard in the beginning and sometimes I still cry. But shortly after her death, I was just inconsolable. One source of comfort I found in my grief, however, was through my dog. It’s no mystery how animals can help us heal from loss. I know of stories in which animals have helped people struggling with grief. And my dog was indeed a source of comfort – there for hugs and just to be by my side as I wept. I also felt a source of strength from my spirit animal, the wolf. Somehow or another, turning to the wolf during this low point of my life helped me to heal. Then one day, I woke up with a story in my head. That story became the children’s book, Wolf Whispers. I am still surprised I managed to write something while I was grieving the death of my mother, but, really, it was like something had control over me. The idea came to me all in one piece and I just sat down and wrote the story from beginning to end. I must say, the story offered me comfort, too. It reminded me how animals can help people to heal during the loss of a loved one.

The one true book that was actually inspired by my mother, though, was my poetry book, Wandering Soul. I wrote that poem, and others in the book, while my mother was still alive. She is the wandering soul behind the poem “Wandering Soul.” The book was dedicated to her memory. 

My mother may continue to influence me in my writing somehow or another. I wrote a poem “Today Is Her Birthday” shortly after her death when it was her birthday and I was not able to call her and talk to her. (It’s going into a poetry book I’m writing that is a collection of poems about grieving.) She has been gone for 3 years but sometimes she is still “showing up” in my writing here and there. She visits my dreams every once in a while (as does my dad) and I think about her every day. She will always be in my heart, and not just my writing. Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mom.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wandering Soul: My new poetry book inspired by my mother

Some time ago, I was putting together a poetry collection that was larger than my normal poetry books. This was my “big book of poetry.” At first, it was going to be a general collection of poems, and not a themed collection, but it did eventually turn into a themed collection. The poems cut out of this book were relegated to other themed poetry books.

One such book is WanderingSoul, a collection of poems I recently self-published.

The poem “Wandering Soul” was inspired by my mother. Most of my childhood was spent moving from one place to another, one city to another. My mother could not stay in one place. She felt “the call of the road” which she constantly had to answer. Of course, this was frustrating for my dad and siblings, and especially for me and my siblings since we were constantly leaving our friends (one friend even remarked “You don’t stick around much, do you?” after I told him we were moving), but we wanted our mother to be happy. And nothing made her happier than being on the move. (I talk more about this in the book.)

Aside from my mother, however, some of the other poems in the book were also inspired by my own travels, as well as stories related to me that fit with this theme (again, I talk about that in the book). As I was writing the poems of my own experiences, I had to really try to dig up those memories of constantly being on the road. I recalled how one time we drove through a sand storm in Texas, and another, we got to see the Grand Canyon out our car windows. I recalled the beauty of driving through Nebraska and Tennessee, and the amazing sights I got to see going by train from Connecticut (where we once lived) to New York. There were just so many memories that made me smile and feel wistful for those experiences all over again. I did not write about those exact memories per se, but they did help me come up with other poems to include in this book.

Well, these days, I may not be moving from one place to another out of a sense of wanderlust, more for necessity, but I do still travel every once in a while. My daughter has also inherited that love for travel, even if she might get homesick or not feel well during the journey, so it’s still a family thing for us. We’re always ready to grab that opportunity to just go explore and take the road less traveled.

Wandering Soul is my latest poetry book inspired by my mother and her love for travel. It also celebrates my own love for travel. The poems can be enjoyed by anyone who also feels the need to “hit the road” every so often and answer that call of the road. For anyone who embraces a sense of wanderlust, who tramps the streets or rides the rails, who thumbs their way from one place to another or yearns to explore, Wandering Soul is a poetry book capturing that vagabond spirit in verse. I hope they see themselves in these poems, and that it inspires anyone who can only dream of traveling to pack their bags and “just go.”

Many thanks to Denise Bartlett for editing my poems and to Charlotte Holley for an amazing cover.

Here is the blurb:

For some people, home is the wide open road, where they feel the call to travel or explore the road not taken. For these wandering souls, their life is about journeying from one place to another and seeing the world for all of its beauty. Wandering Soul is a collection of poems capturing that vagabond spirit and the experience of travel. The poems in this book are meant for anyone who answers the call of the road, or who yearns to explore unknown territory.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Faded Reflection: My new novel about dangerous relationships

Unless someone is planning to self-publish their novel, they can expect to wait a long time before they see their book get published, if that is their goal. It can take a long time – what with all the writing, revising, editing, proofreading, submitting, rewriting, more editing and more submitting before the book is finally, FINALLY published. It can take months or years before that book will finally be released to the world.

For me, it took 21 years. And all I can say is, “At last!”

At last, my novel, Faded Reflection, has been published. My publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, has just released the ebook of this novel and the print will release in the near future.

But the book that it is now certainly was NOT the book I started writing all those years ago. In fact, it even had a different title. My characters had different names. And so much of the story was different, as well.

I first got the idea for this story while I was living with my sister in Rancho Mirage, California. At that time, I was attending college while she was in high school. A man kept calling our house demanding to speak with a woman named “Betty.” There was no Betty living with us. My sister is the main person who talked to him since the hearing aid I wore at that time did not help me understand phone conversations very well. The first time he called, he asked my sister if she was married. She lied and told him she was. Hey, we were 2 young women living on our own and this man was a complete stranger who we didn’t owe anything to, so we had to protect ourselves and I guess my sister thought if she said there was a man living there, this guy might back off. But her telling him she was married only infuriated him – maybe because he thought she was the woman he was trying to reach? He’d call several times every day, sometimes at odd hours of the night, yelling at my sister in a rage about being married and also even still demanding he speak to Betty. He also left angry, negative messages on our answering machine. This situation freaked me out, but the writer in me also thought, This could be a story.

That, and the song, Gloria, is what got me started writing my novel in 1994.

The novel was originally called “Dead Ringer.” But after the release of Lisa Scottoline’s novel with the same title, I changed it because I felt it would have a better chance of standing on its own. Yes, I know there are books out there with identical titles, but I really wanted something different. I chose “Faded Reflection” because, at one point in the story, my character Laura (originally named “Madison”), was looking at her “faded reflection” in a mirror. That really stood out for me. It struck me as like a ghostly image and that seemed appropriate because the woman Laura looked exactly like, and is mistaken for by Carl (originally named “Frank”), is dead and most likely a ghost. So the whole “ghostly” aspect of that title just grabbed me and seemed like a good fit.

And, yes, I did change those character names. The reason why I changed Madison’s name is because the song “Gloria” by Laura Branigan really influenced the story and had such an impact on me, so I felt it was appropriate to name my main character after her. (And I just realized that it has been 30 years since that song came out!!) She just didn’t "feel" like a “Madison,” anyway. And I changed Frank’s name because I know someone named Frank and he’s like the most sweetest guy on the planet and I didn’t want my bad guy named after him. (Sidenote: I met the real-life Frank many years after I started writing this book.)

Also, my character, Sandy, was originally a cop in the old drafts. I decided to make her Laura’s co-worker so she could see for herself what a creep Carl was and also be a part of an organization that helps victims of stalking relationships, which is an important part of the story I felt should be put in there.

The story is about my character, Laura, being mistaken for a woman my antagonist, Carl, tried to murder years ago. Carl came home from work one day to find his wife, Shirley, in bed with another man. He flies into a rage, chasing her through the woods and drowning her. When he meets Laura, he is convinced she is Shirley because she looks exactly like her and now he thinks he hadn’t left Shirley for dead after all. Now he plans to finish her off for good this time.

It’s a story about mistaken identities, stalking, interpersonal abuse and controlling relationships.

When I first submitted the novel, it was accepted by an independent publisher. Unfortunately, there it languished for 5 years. Then I decided I wasn’t going to just let it remain on the back-burner anymore and got to work revising and editing it. I sent it out to beta readers and did more work on it. All was not lost while that manuscript was at that publisher’s, though: The Acquisitions Editor provided me with A LOT of feedback on the story, particularly with my character Carl, as well as many one-on-one chat sessions discussing how the story could be improved. My beta readers had also provided a lot of helpful feedback, as well. With a lot of thorough research, writing, editing and revising, and a final read-through from betas, I was finally ready to send the manuscript on to another publisher. It was accepted and, hooray! Now it has been published!  

I am thrilled this novel is finally published but it took a lot of hard work to whip it into shape. It’s not just the many years of getting this story published that stands out for me; it’s all of the extensive research I had to do for it. I had to research personality disorders to find one that fit my character, Carl, then research THAT one to make sure he acted the way he was supposed to. I also researched controlling relationships as well as interpersonal abuse. I read everything I could get my hands on: Books, magazine articles, newspaper articles, various website pages. Just, anything and everything, really.

I must also confess to something here: I was once a stalker. It’s not a part of my past that I am proud of and I really don’t like to remember that time in my life. But when I was in my late teens (well, 18), I stalked an older man I had a crush on. The things that Carl does in the story – showing up unannounced at Laura’s apartment and calling several times a day – are the things that I did, too. I am ashamed of this part of my past and I know that kind of behavior was wrong. But I did have to take a good look at that person I once was in order to show how real and scary a stalker can be. (And, for the record, I never again stalked anyone like that and I have since grown a little more wiser.) It wasn’t easy writing from the point-of-view of my bad guy in this story, especially since he’s also a racist pig, but I didn’t want to write a soft-core stalker story. No, I had to go the whole nine yards in order to make my character a “real” bad guy and show the dark side of a controlling relationship.

This novel is definitely one I am very, very pleased to finally see get published. It took a lot of time, hard work and patience for it all to come together and be the story that it is today.

And if you’d like to read more, check out my blog post MyNext Big Thing, Take 2

Thank you to Denise Bartlett and Charlotte Holley of Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Thanks also to the following people: Sara Dean, Elizabeth Burton, James D. Macdonald, Raymond K. Wong, Peter Bowerman, Cheryl Wright, Lori A. Basiewicz, Alison Lake Benadada, Michelle John, Jen, Laura, Darci, Elizabeth Howard, Jeanette Dodd, Darin Calhoun, and my husband and children.

Here is the blurb for the book:

Laura Williams takes a chance on Carl Gunderson, and it’s the most fatal mistake of her life. Carl is convinced Laura is the wife that he murdered—or thought he murdered. Apparently, he hadn’t left her for dead after all. Now she’s back in his life—and this time, he will make sure he finishes her off for good.

Buy links:

All Romance Ebooks



Barnes & Noble

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