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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Exploring the Writing of Dawn Colclasure and Her New Book, The Yellow Rose

First and foremost, I am a mom. Yes, I was a writer before I became a mom, but these days, that is my title of choice. Sure, I write every day. I drive the kids crazy hogging up the ONE computer we have in the house. And I make my kids roll their eyes when I allow my imagination to get the better of me with everything that I say and do. But “mom” is who and what I am. I have two beautiful and immensely patient children who are aged 4 and 10. Aside from all the mom stuff I do, I enjoy exploring new places and taking the road less traveled on my walks or occasional drive. I come from a nomadic family that has moved around the country a lot, so it’s no surprise I throw out the occasional “when we were living in the California desert” or “when we were living in Connecticut” story. I enjoy astronomy but can’t for the life of me figure out what’s what in the night sky. I also love animals, especially dogs, horses, and wolves, and I jump at the chance to try my hand at anything new should the opportunity present itself. And, finally, I love, love, love books and hope that someday my plans to transform my home into a library will come to fruition.

Tell us about the genre of your work. 
I enjoy writing in a variety of genres. However, my books lean more towards writing-related books as well as the paranormal. As far as the paranormal genre is concerned, I enjoy writing both fiction and nonfiction paranormal. 
Why did you choose this genre?
Being a writer and a writing parent, the writing genre came naturally for me. Because I have had personal experiences with the paranormal, this has prompted me to write in that genre. I started out writing articles about the paranormal then carried that topic over into my fiction-writing.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
My books include BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents;
365 TIPS FOR WRITERS:
Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat the Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity
 and a nonfiction book I co-authored with Martha Jette called TOTALLY SCARED: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses.
 I have written a children’s book called The Yellow Rose and I have a middle-grade paranormal mystery series that is debuting next year. The first book in this series, The Ghost of Sarah Travers, is slated for a January 2012 release by Gypsy Shadow Publishing.
What ages do you direct your books?

For The Yellow Rose, the age group is 9-11. For my paranormal mystery series, it is for kids aged 8-12. I have YA titles for ages 13+  planned for the future, as well.

Can you tell us where me might find your books?
The Yellow Rose was published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing and its ISBN is 978-0-9834027-1-8. It can be purchased at the website here: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/DawnColclasure.html#YellowRose It can also be special ordered at bookstores as well as purchased through online retailers such as Amazon, B&N, etc. My MG book, The Ghost of Sarah Travers, does not yet have an ISBN.
Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?
I do try to impart a message to my young readers in my books. In The Yellow Rose, I try to teach children that we should stand up for those we love most, and that real beauty can exist even when the outside of something or someone is not seen. It is the inner beauty that can keep love alive. In The Ghost of Sarah Travers, the message is “don’t be afraid in order to do what is right.”
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
In Sarah Travers, I knew I wanted to call the fictional town the characters lived in “Sarah Town” because I knew I wanted it to be named after a little girl named Sarah. I had to figure out what Sarah’s story was that led to the town being named after her, and that’s how the story came together. The character names were easier: I named the characters Jenny and Jesse after my two children, and the character Vincent is named after my daughter’s friend Vincent because I thought he is one cool kid and his persona just came to life in the story. As to the character Ryan, that was easy: “Ryan” is one of the names I was going to give to my son after he was born (and obviously I passed on that choice) and I just wanted to create Ryan in a fictional sense. Cassidy is another name I have always liked, so I jumped at the chance to use it in this story.
How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books?
I didn’t develop the characters per se; they developed themselves. I got the idea for this series years ago but couldn’t figure out how to make it work exactly. It wasn’t until I figured out that my young characters had a club called The GHOST Group, and once I figured this out, the characters just came to life with their appearances and personalities put together. Vincent was a techie sort of character with a strong interest in the newest gadgets and Cassidy was sure to let me know she was the no-nonsense, businesslike person in the group. Jesse proved to be the overachiever in striving to be the best at everything and I found Jenny to be the adventurous sort who has misgivings about her clairvoyant abilities. Ryan is the athletic member of the group and is the only one in the story who has a single parent.
Is there a unique character or a recurring character if you have more than one published or to be published book?
What surprised me about the characters in my series is that Jenny turned out to be a clairvoyant. She has a strong sixth sense and can see ghosts. Of course, she uses this gift to help her friends solve the mysteries the ghosts are in, but at the same time, she struggles to understand her abilities and come to terms with her fears.
What is your favorite thing about your books?
My favorite thing about this series is that they try to teach children not to be afraid of ghosts. They also try to educate children about certain aspects of the paranormal as well as understanding that people are different.
Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
Gypsy Shadow Publishing does not yet have illustrators for their books so I had to find a freelance artist for illustrations. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look far: The Yellow Rose was illustrated by Allison Warner, who is actually my sister’s partner. She is also set to create drawings for The GHOST Group series. Working with an illustrator was quite an experience. I was able to share with her ideas I had for the stories but I knew the final creations were left up to her. It was also expensive, but so worth it.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
The big thing about writing for children is that I have to keep my young audience in mind. Where an adult character would not talk like that or do certain things, I know the kids in this age group do, so it’s okay to include that in the story. At the same time, the stories have to be PG and family-friendly. I’ve written a dark fantasy novel and horror short stories with adult themes, so I have to remember to keep things PG-rated in my middle-grade series.
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published? 
Oh, I was rejected up and down by children’s book publishers and agents before I found a home for The Yellow Rose. The same goes for The GHOST Group series. It is so hard to break into children’s literature. It is a very competitive field. It’s also a challenge to write for that audience. I’ve spent years reading children’s books as well as writing several stories for children before I felt I was ready to take on children’s lit.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I wrote stories as a child but it wasn’t until I was encouraged to write poetry at age 11 that switched on the “writer” in me. Up until then, writing a story here or there was something I just did on a whim. After a nurse at a hospital I was a patient at gave me a journal and suggested I write poems, I found that writing was a strong part of me and that I had a lot more stories to tell. I went on to write essays, articles and book-length manuscripts.
What is your writing schedule?
I make it a point to write in the mornings when the kids are either asleep or at school. I grab free time to write during the rest of the day. Then I write again in the evening before going to sleep. I can’t stick to one particular schedule because daily life can get a little crazy at times. However, I do prefer to write three times a day, if not more.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
Aside from the middle-grade series, I am also working on a nonfiction book about haunted cities, as well as a series of three books on revising your writing. I am also writing another nonfiction book about prayer. As far as children’s lit is concerned, I also have a Native American story I plan to revise as well as a book of poems for children.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
If you want to be a writer, start writing now. Don’t wait for “someday” to happen. Start writing now. Also, don’t be afraid to share your writing with other writers. My stories would not have been accepted for publication if it had not been for the feedback I got about them from other writers and publishers. It takes a team effort to turn a story idea into a story that is published. Practice, practice, practice writing every day!
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
The path to publication is a long and trying journey. Be assured you will reach the end of the journey to publication only if you stick to it. It can take months or years before you see your work in print, but never give up. Keep writing and trying to get published no matter how many rejections you receive!
What do you do when you are not writing?
 When I am not writing, I do the usual things expected of me: Keeping house, taking care of the children, cooking meals and running errands. I also try to find time to read any kind of book I can get my hands on, as well as enjoy the very rare movie.
Anything else you would like to add?
A lot of writers feel they don’t need to read books in order to be a writer. This is not true! It’s so important to read as many books as you can and familiarize yourself with what kind of books are selling, what kind of books are out there. Read, read, read! And write, write, write! Reading books will also help you as a writer because you will see how the books are put together. It will show you how the stories are structured, the kind of methods used for description and how characters come to life on the pages in a story.
This is a picture a kindergarten class drew pictures for The Yellow Rose. 
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
My “made it” moment was actually several years ago, while I was attending college. I was writing articles for the local newspaper, The Desert Sun, and when one of my sisters said her name at her school, the office lady asked her, “Are you related to Dawn Colclasure?” I thought that was pretty neat!
You can learn more about Dawn and her books on the links below:





1 comment:

Dawn Colclasure said...

Hi, Sylvia. Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I appreciate this opportunity. I want to note that, obviously, there's been a delay with the Sarah Travers book but it should be out in the near future. I hope this post will inspire your readers, especially anyone who has always wondered how they can become a published author. Take care and keep up the good work.