Regan Leigh

All Zonbi’s Day (aka Cole’s Book Release Day)

November1

I couldn’t be more proud of my writing partner, Cole Alpaugh, and his third published book, The Spy’s Little Zonbi. (OUT TODAY!) I am humbled by his talent, but more so by his dedication and achievements.

It’s not like I didn’t already know he was talented. A writing partner who has won awards during his time as a journalist and who was a pulitzer prize nominee for an essay? Um, yes! I’ll take him. *cough* If I HAVE to. *cough*

But before I knew of those accomplishments, I first read his writing. I became a friend and eventual writing partner with Cole purely based on my initial reaction to his words. His style and prose were poetic, yet straight forward. I have always appreciated the way he incorporates raw emotions and truth with a style that flows easily.

Now Cole is *TODAY* officially a published author of three novels. Where I have slacked and barely been productive this past year, he hasn’t lost his steam or his charming story telling ability. Please check out his new book. (After you read the rest of my blog post.) :D

In honor of Halloween and his November 1st book release, I asked Cole to answer some writing and fear related questions. Thanks for playing along, Cole!

  • What was the biggest fear that you had to conquer when deciding you wanted to be a writer for a living? What helped to make that decision or gave you the courage?

Well, conquered is a strong word. I actually wrote an entire novel about fear that’s currently being shopped around. I mention it because there’s a scene in which the main character is so exhausted from living in fear that he grabs the antagonist and hauls him up the creaky stairs and down a long hall to a small closet. The MC crams him in, then shuts the door. But he doesn’t bother with the lock. The MC knows the thing that makes him afraid can escape no matter what. The best thing to do is tuck your fears away and let them live or die in the dark. The fear of failure and sickness and terrible late-night phone calls seem far away when sitting in the warm grass with my wife watching my youngest daughter’s soccer practice. I write in spite of the fears that are tucked away. If anything, I occasionally use them for motivation.

  • Out of everything you have ever written, what where you most scared of showing the world? Why?

It had to be my first book. Small parts of it, anyway. Climbing inside the heads of beaten-down circus roustabouts and carnies. Trying to bring to life a man who believes he can become invisible by sitting perfectly still, yet he’s conflicted because vanilla pudding is being passed around as the day’s reward. The hard part is putting into words what happened in his life that brought him under that ancient circus tent, seated on an unraveling bale of hay, praying nobody can see him. I spent a hundred hours trying to get him right, but always assumed I couldn’t.

  • What genre would you be most afraid to tackle?

Speaking of horror … I have friends who’ve been doing it for years and years. They’ve grown up with horror, have studied and lived with every facet of the genre. But I stumbled across a Jack Ketchum interview in which he discussed writing across different genres. He refused to use a pen name or worry about disappointing his fan base. It struck me as a heroic rant against conventional wisdom. I would love for popular authors to write out of their genres. Imagine John Irving writing a science fiction story. Or a JK Rowling western? Hell, yeah. So while I might fear the apparent arrogance of treading where others have toiled, I think all writers should write exactly what moves them on any given day.

  • Pretend that you walk onto an elevator and stumble into one of your favorite writers of all time. Who is the author and how would you describe your new book to them? You only have a few floors to summarize it.

Oh, I got this because I was rendered speechless when I first met the late Kurt Vonnegut thirty-some years ago, and swore I’d do better the next time.

I’d start by telling him that I’m his biggest fan, because that’s something Kathy Bates didn’t make creepy. I wrote a story, Mr. Vonnegut – can I call you Kurt? Cool. So, Mr. Vonnegut, it’s about a guy who tries really hard to do the right thing, becomes filled with bravado, and escapes deadly situations by the skin of his teeth. Right, right, exactly like ten million other stories already out there. But this spy story is really about love and how it survives the worst kind of betrayal. You’re floor is next? Okay, well, it’s at its heart a novel about a soccer game being played by broken children on a dirt field under a tropical sun. Each player has been mangled by disease, war, or indifference. But they share one thing. Wait, Mr. Vonnegut? Don’t you wanna know what they have in common? Can I come with you? I swear, I really am your biggest fan.

Again, be sure to check out Cole’s book and support a wonderful author!

“Chase Allen never intended to be a killer, even for the good guys, but after he is recruited as a secret agent, terminating dictators and jihadists is all in a day’s work. He marries a dark beauty and they have a child, his “Little Zonbi,” who means everything to him. Now that his priorities have shifted, Chase strives for normalcy. But a spy doesn’t escape his past so easily.”

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Balancing and Priorities

September28

We could all do better balancing our lives, right? I have been the very worst lately. I’m feeling it in my body and soul. ;) Most of my days are filled with this…

And I’d rather they be filled with things like this…

So what should I do? Try harder. Make the effort and remember my priorities. I need to focus on what I love and the things that make me smile, not the things that leave me exhausted and on the ground.

What things make you smile the most? Have you incorporated that into your week yet??? Do it! ;)

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“What are you doing for others?”

January20

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

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Our Private Parts

October15

Sucked you in with that title, didn’t I? Well, this may not be what you thought it was about. ;)

As writers, we often have to take risks. We have to be open enough to let our creativity go where it may, even if that is to a private part of our mind.  It’s from there that we may really inspire our art.

And it’s my belief that we can’t be good writers without being honest and raw about life. We usually take those truths and show them in different ways like humorous or maybe magical, but it always goes back to what is human. In my opinion. :)

Any artist, no matter what the medium, knows that it’s terribly intimidating to expose ourselves through art. Even if the story or the piece of art has nothing to do with our real lives, it’s still a part of us. It came from that private place. For any artist to share that, they have to be brave. They have to be strong and prepared for criticism. And it’s instinct to crave a connection to others with our art, no matter how hard it is to show what came from our deepest self. Otherwise, it might as well stay locked up inside — only for us.

The same can be said about opening up to people in general. Many times it can be scary. It might seem easier to keep our thoughts or feelings locked in a box rather than share them with the person. Writing a letter and expressing yourself can be just as frightening as posting a short story or displaying a canvas.

So consider these things the next time you are criticizing someone’s art. Of course we all have our own opinions on what is good and what is not, but don’t be purposely hurtful. The same goes for people in your life who are trying to express their feelings. You may not agree with what they have to say and you may not even understand it, but treat it with respect and consider that it may of come from that private part of themselves that is very hard to expose. Just because they willingly share it…doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard as hell.

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Hello…again…

October8

Hello.

Vlog Hello Again from reganleigh on Vimeo.

Beth (@plaidearthworm) was the winner for the Strange and Deadly giveaway. :) Congrats Beth and thanks to all who participated!

Music in the Vlog…

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Something Strange and Deadly Giveaway ENDS MONDAY NIGHT

July29

I’ve been so busy I haven’t even been able to do a proper giveaway. As in, I forgot to make a set deadline, remembered I needed to and then forgot again. :)

Soooo….you have until tomorrow (Monday) at Midnight to enter. Pretty simple. Win Susan Dennard’s debut paranormal romance release from HarperCollins! Go read about her -http://tinyurl.com/cdald2q – and promote to win.

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Bookstore Tears: Something Strange and Deadly Giveaway

July25

Why did I cry in Barnes and Noble tonight? I saw THIS on the shelf.

It’s Susan Dennard’s book Something Strange and Deadly. So? Well, she is a friend from my high school who is living the dream. ;)

I think it was the end of 2010 when I happened upon a fellow writer’s twitter page. I did what any good writer would do and followed her. ;) Then I looked more closely. I immediately emailed my friend Amanda and asked if she knew this Susan chick. Was I wrong or didn’t we go to high school with her? (And yes, Amanda is also a fellow writer that attended my high school. We have an odd story, too. We pretty much started writing at the same time and later confessed our dirty little secret to each other over Facebook.)

ANYWAY. Susan had been this pretty and tiny girl with a beautiful voice. We weren’t close, but knew each other. And here she was on Twitter. As an author. With an incredible book deal, a lovely marriage in a foreign country and she was more beautiful than ever. Evil woman, right?

I was happy to find out that she was also just as sweet as ever. I was lucky enough to read the early version of this book and chat writing over wine and coffee. It has been inspiring to watch Susan’s career and more than a little emotional.

So when I saw her book in the bookstore? I cried. This is a woman who deserves the best. She has a kind heart and her talent is huge. She is amazing and so is her book. She makes me feel like I can one day experience the same thing of seeing my book on a shelf in Barnes and Noble. That inspiration and encouragement? Priceless.

I want you all to have her book, but since I’m not rich…I’ll only give away one. The rest of you better go buy it! ;)

How can you win this free and amazing book?

Promote her book. Like her Facebook page HERE. Watch her book trailer HERE. And then Facebook…or Tweet to promote her book and include @ReganWrites.

BUT REMEMBER TO LEAVE A COMMENT HERE TELLING ME HOW YOU PROMOTED HER BOOK SO YOU WILL GO IN THE DRAWING TO WIN! ;)

You can also check out her website HERE. And you can buy her book HERE.

Have I mentioned how excited I am for her? :D

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The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka

June28

Cole Alpaugh — my writing partner and dear friend — has a new book out.

Yep, he has another one published. Because he’s awesome. And he has a third coming soon as well. Because, again, he’s awesome. :)

I’m not recognizing and recommending The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka just because Alpaugh is like family to me. I truly believe he is talented and inspiring. His writing has always stood out, that’s why I chose to write with him. There is a truth to his words, a raw sense of life and perception that catches you off guard and yet feels familiar and comforting.

The review I posted on Amazon:

Alpaugh writes with grace and simplicity when he says, “Bigness swallowed them all.”  The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka begins with a tsunami headed straight for a beach of hand holding natives, enveloping the reader in quite a ride of suspense, humor and sadness.

When an author writes this well, you may have trouble pulling out of his world before doing odd things like looking behind you for island cannibals. The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka is a story of homecoming, whether it be for a young girl named Butter clinging to hope and the shell of a sea turtle, or a wounded ski racer longing to return to an island he has never visited. Alpaugh reminds us of how home can be both a wonderful and bitter thing.

Alpaugh’s words really do dance in the mind and tug on the heart.

Go read about it and order it today. ;)

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Writing Prompts from ME to YOU

March29

Feeling stuck? Need inspiration for your writing? Try one of these as a prompt.

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How Writers Are Like Zombies

February2

If you’re a writer, you already know where I’m going with this…

  • No sleep. You wonder if you ever fully sleep what with all those moments of popping out of to write down an idea. Or how about the nights where you sit down for an hour and then look up at the clock to see you’ve written for four? Maybe you’re a daytime writer — you rare breed — and you keep sleeping in small, weird nap times instead.
  • Your skin is…pale white and ice cold. Yes, that is a Twilight vamp quote. Wrong creature, huh? But the same rule applies. You’re a writer, lucky to spend time in the sun because you sit for hours in a dim room by the sickly light of a computer screen. Think of Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano. The lack of movement makes your extremities quite chilly. Your fingers might even get numb. ;)

  • Things seem to be falling apart. But instead of your body parts falling off in diseased ways, it’s your house that suffers. Your laundry is tall enough to dance with you and you just had to use a wine glass to drink juice in the morning. (No, never happened to me. Why do you ask?? ;) )

  • You’ll eat almost anything when you manage to eat at all. There are times where you’re so busy that you forget to eat. Then there are other times where you have to consume whatever you find. And it’s usually something raw or that takes little cook time because dammit you have to get back to your WIP and nothing should stop you! *You then grab all snack foods and hoard them at your desk, god forbid you get hungry again.*

  • Drive and determination. Just like zombies have an unquenchable hunger for brains and flesh, writers have a similar obsessive mindset. Instead of thinking BRAINSBRAINSBRAINS, writers fixate on their book. We think about our story and characters ALL THE TIME until we get it out on paper. In the shower or at the movies? Our minds are stuck on one thing.
  • Disheveled look. It only makes sense that a lack of sleep, activity and housework will cause a writer to look quite slovenly at times. A wrinkled shirt here and a missing sock there, it’s a good think you always know where your laptop cord happens to be… :D
  • Paranoia. I don’t know if zombies are truly paranoid, but they sure do act like it! They’re jumpy, rigid, and they’ll attack whatever they encounter. Writers are paranoid of many things. What do you mean my story idea has already been done? Did that agent just say that the industry is no longer looking for books about rabid bunnies with an overbite and social anxiety? Crap! Now what do I write? (Can you tell I’m tired? It’s late, moving on.) :)

  • Loners. Do you ever see zombies just chillin’? Having a beer while chatting about the old days as humans? Noooo…because zombies are loners and so are writers. The life of a writer is a pretty solitary one, mixed in with friends and writing partners reading your stuff, but even then it’s mostly done via the internet. Who needs friends when you have so many people in your stories trying to talk to you??

What other ways are writers like zombies? I ask this as it approaches 1:30 am and my eyes are gluing themselves to my contacts. I think my zombie night is taking full effect. Time for sleep. If I can. ;)

Song of the day: You knew it was coming…The Cranberries – Zombie

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