Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Books published in 2016

Earlier today, I saw an old meme I had shared on Facebook about how I should believe that “good things are on the way” for 2016. I saw that, shook my head and rolled my eyes. “How very wrong that was,” I muttered to myself. Yeah, I was hopeful that this new year was going to be a good one. Better than the last, at least. But it wasn't.

Well, no one in my immediate family died this year, thankfully, but some relatives did pass away. One of my aunts was among them. The year 2016 just ended up being a crappy year. And of course a lot of us are not going to forget the large amount of celebrity deaths that happened this year, either! Seriously, it was like more celebrities died this year than usual. I normally don’t care about celebrities or celebrity news and I’m not the kind of person who goes crazy over any ONE celebrity. But I DID notice this happening. I did see the pattern. There were a lot of celebrity deaths in 2016. Some people started calling 2016 “The Year of Death.” Indeed, it was that, for a lot of people – and not just celebrities! (One of my cousins also died this year, too.) Some people saw this year as a way to prepare for Armageddon – and this warning was often followed up with the comment that it would strike on January 20, 2017.

But, yeah, on a serious note, 2016 wasn’t really a good year. There’s just so much bad stuff that happened this year.

So I am not surprised I didn’t get many books out this year, either. I did plan to self-publish two children’s books, but I was sick for the entire month preceding the pub date of one of them, so I could not get it out in time. I just bumped it to next year.

So there was just one children’s book that was published this year. That book was God’s Birds. You can read the story behind the story here.

The second book published this year was released by my publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing. That book was Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited. You can read the story behind the story of this book here.

I did try to get the new version of the haunted houses book out this year, but, oh my God, it has been a NIGHTMARE trying to self-publish this book through Createspace. I have never, ever run into the kind of formatting problems and obstacles of self-publishing a book with CS as I have with this one. (One of the problems I have had? They would not review the ENTIRE 577-page file I submitted for review. Only like 35 pages of it – and they approved THAT! Uh, no!) So it has just taken me so much work to get it formatted the way THEY want it and get everything right with it. I am STILL working on that! But if this one last attempt fails, I will have to look elsewhere for affordable self-publishing. The good news is that the new file is shorter.

I am really excited about the prospect of getting this book out. It will happen someday soon, I hope! Martha and I worked very hard on updating this book and adding new material, and I know it’s even better than the first one.

Another thing I could not do this year was finish writing my YA novel. Writing this novel is NOT easy! There is so much limited research on this topic and I’m doing the best I can to construct a realistic story based on what little research I have been able to gather on this topic. But I know I will finish writing this novel soon.

And while I also could not finish writing one poetry book, I DID complete work on another poetry book. That book was Seasonal Songs. You can read about the story behind the story of this book here.

I hope that next year will be better. I am not going to predict what books I will get out next year, only that I hope the number will be higher than this year. That would be nice. It would be VERY nice if I manage to get all the books out that I hope to get out for next year, but we will see.

And I wasn’t able to get a new writing job this year, either – or ANY new job, really! – but I’ll keep trying.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Writing a short story for every week of the year: I did it!

At around the beginning of the new year, I got the idea to challenge myself to something. For some time, I often came across this quote by Ray Bradbury: “Write a short story every week. It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

Well, I decided to give that challenge a try! At the beginning of the year, I remembered that quote and thought, Challenge accepted! I soon put together my plan on how to make that happen.

And I am happy to report that I DID make it happen. I did it! I wrote a short story for every week of the year! Yay!

And I now have 52 short stories. Nice!

This was not something easy to accomplish, though. It was damn hard to meet this challenge. But I was able to do it and I am just so happy.

But I think it’s going to be a LONG time before I do a weekly challenge for the year again!

Seriously, I ran into so many problems as I tried to meet this challenge. It wasn’t writer’s block that held me up every once in a while, because I always got ideas for stories! It was EVERYTHING ELSE that was an obstacle!

Like that one time I was sick for an entire MONTH. I was constantly coughing my head off and enduring severe pain in my ribs and chest from the horrible coughing bouts. But I still wrote a short story for every week of that month, anyway!

Then there was the time I had an eye injury and, because of it, I could only open one eye. That was the week I was typing a story with only one eye open!

I also ran into a few creative differences. I so did not expect this to happen: My son, who recently turned 9, often joined in on the writing of the stories. I often shared snippets of things he wrote on Facebook via a snapshot of his writing. (Jesse was not the only one who decided he wanted to write something, either. My daughter’s Bearded Dragon, Spike, once invaded the keyboard and, by the way he moved across it, ended up typing a whole bunch of gibberish! But see, it was all in Lizard. He alone understood every single word.) Well, I didn’t mind Jesse adding things to my stories, but there were a couple of times we disagreed over a character name or what should happen next. I even told him he should write his own story with all that stuff if he really wanted a story like that. But in the end, I left his stuff in the stories and just moved on to writing my stuff. I am glad those experiences did not create huge problems between us.

And let us not forget the most recent frustration I had to endure: Problems with the keyboard. Yes, I could have written a story in my notebook instead of on the computer, but it was a long time before the keyboard would be fixed and I didn’t want to end up on a time crunch typing up many stories. All of my stories were kept in one file – which is now 265 pages long! And I wanted them all together. Plus, it made it easier for me to do the word count for the stories. (As it is, the keyboard was finally fixed today – when I was halfway through this final week’s story.)

There was also the problem of time. Sometimes I got so busy, a day or two would pass where I wasn’t able to write in a story. There were MANY times I was so busy and running around with the story playing in my head and being unable to type it all. But I still managed to get it all done at some point – even if I had to get up early or stay up late to write it.

In the end, I got all of the stories written up for every full week of this year. I started on a Monday (and sometimes on a Tuesday) and finished on a Friday (and sometimes earlier – but I never called it “done” until Friday because sometimes I’d go back to a story and add or change things). There was one story I couldn’t come up with a title for, and some of them might get new endings too. Some of the stories are not all that great and some of them could probably use a rewrite, but they are “done” as far as my muse is concerned.

Here is a list of all the stories – including the word counts and genres. All word counts are from when I finished writing the story. Some of them were later edited and revised and that changed the word counts. Only one story has been sold – I still have some others I submitted and others awaiting submission to a market if I ever find the right home for them.

1    Almost Human    4,606 words        Sci-fi

2    End Times             2,928 words        Sci-fi

3    Settling An Old Score    1,876 words    Ghost

4    Reboot        1,577 words        Sci-fi

5    Dangerous Art    3,715 words        Monster

6    The Ghost of Baron Hill    2,535 words    Ghost

7    The Writing on the Walls   4,066 words   Ghost

8    Play With Me    2,195 words        Horror

9    Secret Shame    2,511 words        Bad Girl

10    Sweet 16  4,536 words   Bad Girl

11    When You Believe in Magic 2,617 words Fantasy

12    Blood Money    5,749 words        Bizarre

13    The Revenge Business    4,336 words    Bizarre

14    Monday Coffee 600 words  Humor/Satire

15    Astraya  1,962 words  Fantasy

16    A Christmas Blessing    2,767 words Holiday/Drama

17    Cause of Death    2,457 words    Ghost

18    Intruder Alert!    852 words      Humor/Satire

19    Eulogy        1,517 words        Drama

20    The Friday the 13th Dance     1,138 words Bad Girl

21    A Slow Burning    718 words            Ghost

22    Blood Scent   1,561 words   Vampire/Paranormal

23    Birthday Gifts    500 words            Dark

24    A Girl's Best Friend  1,133 words  Monster

25    Losing Sunny    5,811 words        Drama

26    Untitled            2,460 words        Sci-fi

27    Love Slave    1,285 words            Erotic/Horror

28    Waiting for My Pirate    2,698 words    Erotic/Romance

29    Monsters     1,252 words        Monster

30    Lost Time         1,462 words        Fantasy

31    Book Review           939 words        Ghost

32    Salvaged Video  959 words    Horror

33    Back to Life  583 words  Paranormal

34    Something Fishy     633 words    Sci-fi

35    Old Friend            1,148 words   Ghost

36    A Guilty Conscience  1,136 words      Horror

37    Angels Unaware           752 words        Fantasy

38    The Fatal Blow           2,411 words        Ghost

39    A Thousand Words  1,000 words Paranormal

40    The Paradise Pill   2,017 words    Horror

41    Rainy   1,543 words   Ghost

42    After Ted    2,744 words  Fantasy/fanfiction

43    The Brave New World  1,084 words Political satire

44    Mad Maddie  3,480 words    Bad Girl

45    Dead Weight   2,624 words    Bad Girl

46    Wanna Bet?       1,512 words    Humor/Satire

47    Becoming Charlie    1,537 words    Ghost

48    pickyourpleasure.com    3,442 words    ??????

49    Conduit        875 words        Ghost

50    The Visit      939 words            Ghost

51    Departure Time   476 words            Ghost

52    A Visit From Krampus  1,046 words        Holiday/Spooky

Some of the stories will be put into a short story collection but all the rest will be sent out somewhere after I fix them up. There are a few of them, though, that I think could be turned into a novel. Time will tell if that happens.

As I was writing these stories, one of my sisters, who was told about this challenge, often texted me to ask about what story I was writing now. She liked the sound of one of them and asked me to send it to her to read. She later texted back that she loved the story and so did her daughter. (Alas, the editor I submitted it to wasn’t so crazy about it.) Some of these stories were inspired by my dreams (like “Astraya”), some of them were inspired by movies, some by things that I witnessed or me just asking myself, “What if?”

This was a very challenging and very difficult year-long project for me to get through. But I am happy that I got through it. I am just so thrilled and pleased with myself that I took on this challenge and pulled it off. I am glad I never gave up on it. It was important to me to be able to do this and I am glad that I hung in there for it to keep going until the end.

For other blog posts related to this challenge, go here:

Writing Challenge 2016

How I write a short story every week

A little story help for this week's short story

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Celebrating the Seasons: New Poetry Book Seasonal Songs Inspired by Children's Artwork

Several years ago, my kids, Jennifer and Jesse, each created a beautiful picture representative of a season. For Jennifer, it was a tree with Fall-colored leaves. For Jesse, it was a splash of white paint on a gray surface, representing snow. Later, Jennifer also drew me a picture of a “Spring setting” and after I had all 3 of those pictures up on my wall, I thought, 'Hm, something’s missing. I know! Summer!'

Since I already had two “season pictures” from Jen, I decided I would ask Jesse to draw me a picture of something that says "summer." So he drew a picture of a boy about to go fishing at a pond during a hot summery day. I liked the way he drew the sun because it really looked like it was shining so brightly and making the day really warm.

Now I had all 4 of the seasons in pictures on my bedroom wall. And for a long time, those pictures remained there for me to see every day.

After some time, however, it would seem that those 4 pictures of the 4 seasons would start to catch the attention of my muse. I soon found myself writing poems about the seasons. The first poem I wrote was about the summer and, when winter came that year, I wrote about finding frost all over the grass in our backyard and other winter-related poems. Then I moved on to the other seasons.

Soon enough, I had enough poems for a poetry book. I had some difficulty figuring out a title for this one, but I eventually settled on the title “Seasonal Songs.” I chose this title because someone was advertising their poetry book with the title “Seasonal Songs” but when I saw the cover of their book, the title was different! I frowned and muttered, “That book is not called Seasonal Songs.” Then I started thinking about what a catchy title “Seasonal Songs” was. And I thought, ‘Hm, Seasonal Songs. I like it!’

So I selected Seasonal Songs for the title of my new poetry book.

Since I had planned to bring this poetry book out this month, I contacted my cover designer and editor to see if they were able to work on the cover and edits for this book this month – preferably before the month was out. Fortunately, they were able to fit it in and I was able to get all the formatting of the final draft done in time, too.

Now my new poetry book, Seasonal Songs, is out now and available for purchase. Yay! So far, the print version of this book is available. It will be available for the Kindle very soon.

While this poetry book is mostly written for children, I hope readers of all ages would enjoy this book.

Thank you to my kids, Jennifer and Jesse, for granting me permission to include the artwork that inspired these poems in this book. Thank you to Denise Bartlett for editing this manuscript so quickly and for doing a fabulous job on the edits. And thank you to Charlotte Holley for yet another amazing cover for this book! I am very grateful to you all.

Here is the blurb for Seasonal Songs:

The seasons of the year can bring so much happiness, joy and magic into our lives. From the snowy hills of winter to the falling leaves of autumn, the new life of spring and lazy days of summer, the seasons are times for enjoyment and gratitude. Seasonal Songs celebrates the seasons with poems that will bring back happy memories and embrace the beauty of the changing times of the year.

This book is mainly written for children but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It includes color illustrations by my children, Jennifer and Jesse Wilson.

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Friday, December 09, 2016

When a nonfiction book just wasn't working anymore

Several years ago, I was contacted by someone who was recovering from addiction. This person wanted to communicate with me about the goings-on in her life on her road to recovery and she wanted to communicate with me as she moved from one step to the next. She was recovering from a drug addiction and decided to keep in touch with me by sharing her experiences. I was so inspired by her story that I started writing a book about making positive changes in your life – as this woman had done. She was ultimately the person who inspired me to write this book.

Unfortunately, her story does not have a happy ending. Thankfully, she did not go back to being a drug addict, but the damage done by her addiction ravaged her health so terribly that she was no longer a functioning adult in society.

This turn of events made me seriously reconsider the book I started writing, which was pretty much based on her story and her progress in breaking free of addiction and living a brand new life. On one hand, I did not see her end result as a disaster. This is, unfortunately, what happens to many recovering addicts. Sometimes, they are not able to completely have a new life because of what their long-term addiction ended up doing to them mentally and physically. This is a very sad outcome for many recovering addicts. However, I was not about to abandon the book I started writing. I didn’t want to just drop it. I felt that it was an important book to continue working on. However, because things were different in the woman’s case now, I had to seriously reconsider just exactly what I was writing.

In the end, I decided to break the book I was working on into two books. The first book would be about taking care of personal negative issues – fear, anxiety, addiction and self-doubts – and the second book would be the one about creating a more healthier lifestyle.

Because the first book deals with some serious issues which I firmly believe would need the assistance of a professional, I decided that it would be a good idea to seek a co-author for the book. Specifically, someone trained to help someone overcome anxiety and addiction. The whole conquering fear thing and working on self-doubt areas are definitely subjects I can write about well, because I have a lot of experience with those two things, but I definitely felt the anxiety and addiction subjects needed a trained professional. So I am in the process of looking for a professional to co-author that book with me.

As a side note, I do also have experience with addiction. I struggled with a drinking problem for years. There was just so much personal turmoil I was going through for so long, so many times I hated myself and wished I was dead and battled with regrets, and it was just too much for me and drove me to drinking. I was also struggling with depression and personal loss. Thankfully, these days I am stronger and have broken free of all of that. I have had to learn to forgive myself for being such a shitty person in the past and try to be a better person in the present. But, yes, I do have experience with that sort of thing. I know those horrors so well. I have also had panic attacks – I don’t know if that’s something that can be “cured” or “controlled” or whatever, but I do know I’ll cross THAT bridge eventually. Maybe teaming up with a professional who works with people battling anxiety will help out there. One thing I do know, though, is that I am certainly not that person anymore, though I am not yet physically where I want to be – but I WILL get there.

That second book will be my journey to get there. It will also have some of the material that was covered in the original book that I started writing. So, basically, the first book will deal with issues on the inside and the second book will deal with issues on the outside. And I think that is a better way to go about it. After all, breaking free of addiction means working on yourself inside and out. You need to address the problems you’re dealing with on the inside and change your life on the outside. And even though I keep thinking that nobody is going to care about my own personal journey to creating a more active lifestyle and getting into better shape, I still want to write the book anyway. I want to go on this journey, have that experience, and write about it! And if my publisher wants to publish this book, then that’s even better! It won’t be me telling the world “Follow this program because it worked for me!” It will just be me writing about this lifestyle change. That’s it. I’m not doing it for attention (HA! As if I EVER do anything for attention!) or to be on TV (no thanks!). It will just be to write a book about the whole year-long experience. If people are inspired by it and if it helps them to change their life for the better, then that would be really awesome. But that won’t be why I’ll be writing that book.

And for the record, I’m still going to be an introvert and a private person and taking on that whole “lone wolf” thing. But I’ll just be living life a little bit differently! This second book will be that transformation.

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