Time: Where did you go?

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I’m starting a new job next week. It’s part time and I think I’m going to love getting out of the house and being around people – and by people I mean real, live, humans the size of full-grown adults that carry on intellectual conversations with ease…(and they understand what intellectual means)! After eight years home with the kids, it will be a big change. Especially for them.

Actually, especially for me!

I freaked out the other night, spouting questions about writing time to my husband. “When will I write? When will I find time? I have to feed y’all too? And extra-curricular activities, what about that time suckage? when will I edit, write, keep up with twitter, facebook and my blog? I’m already falling down on my duty as a writer! Ahhhhh.” (You get the picture but add frazzled Einstein hair, owl eyes and pacing). Oh and then I freaked about the dogs – not the kids – the freaking dogs! “They’ll miss me. They’ll be alone. Who will let them out? Throw the ball? Pet them? They’re joined at my hips, what will happen to them?!!!?”

Of course, the hubby takes it all in stride. “You’ll be fine. They’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.”

And then there’s me: “WTF…don’t you sympathize?”

Um, no. He’s got the time part all figured out. Even gets up early to run and work out, and managed to finagle golf league time out of me. Not to mention, he’s good at not forgetting things, which all mom’s know, is pre-pagacked and stapled to our kids when they arrive.

Funny as it may be, I’m not stressed at all about the job. I can handle that, even knowing I’ll be learning an application I’ve never seen before and knowing screw-ups are super expensive. Not a problem. I just won’t screw up. Like ever.

The problem is write time. But I can do it. I’ll get up early, skip meals, pass off bowls of cereal as meals for the kids and invest in frozen pizza and spaghetti-Os. (Just kidding, well, maybe not if I can find organic Spaghetti-Os).

I seriously bow down to all you writers who work and write marvelous books! Pat yourself on the back, give yourself a big hug for jobs(sssss) well done!

Pitch contest ends June 12th

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The New Adult pitch contest is now open (ends June 12th).

Get your three sentence pitches ready!

Click the Entangled button above for rules and a run-down on Entangled’s Embrace’s description of New Adult.

Want more great submission information, click HERE.

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Big Thank You to NA Alley for hosting this contest!

Get your NAs ready…pitching opens Wednesday!

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It’s almost June 5th! It’s time! One Week Only!

Hope you’ve written, edited, chopped, added, reworded and polished your three sentence NEW ADULT pitches over the weekend.

Visit the wonderful NA Alley to see the details on the pitch contest for Entangled Publishing. Submit a three sentence pitch in the comments starting June 5th at 4:00 EST.

Don’t worry, you have a week to enter so set some time aside today and perfect that pitch!

DETAILS HERE: http://www.naalley.com/2013/05/announcement-pitch-contest-with.html

Pitch Opportunities

JUNE 5th – JUNE 12th, 2013:

NA Alley is hosting a pitch contest. Win a full manuscript review from Entangled Publishing.

See details here: http://www.naalley.com/2013/05/announcement-pitch-contest-with.html

EXPIRED: MAY 28, 2013:

Get your 140 characters ready! Today, May 28 from 8am – 8pm EST post your pitches under the hashtag #pitmad. Brenda Drake organizes the most fabulous pitch festival! See her website for rules, but for the most part, have a ready-to-go manuscript, pitch, include #pitmad and genre and wait for favorites (the little star). If an agent or publisher favorites you, congrats…you’re one step closer than you were before you pitched.

 

Know of more? Add in comments!

 

 

Why I write Epigraphs

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~~ Epigraph from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling

 

I love poetry. There’s no rhyme or reason (so did not mean that as a pun) when I write a poem. The rhyme, the rhythm, the cadence–anything quantifiable–goes down on paper without planning. This is how I like to start my novels, an epigraph of sorts, smack-center on the page preceding ‘Chapter One’.

My intent (for the epigraphs in my novels) is writing a transitional piece where the reader’s outside world–grocery lists, dinner planning, work issues, kids–fades away. It’s the time to quiet the mind and set the tone and emotional voice of one of my characters, who is usually not the narrator.

In the beginning I want just the emotional depth of the narrator (of the poem, not necessarily of the novel) to come through. Their pain or joy or loss. I want the poem to tug at the reader’s heart. By story’s end, I expect the poem to make clear sense and be another perspective (from a different angle) of a specific event. This event, no matter how minute, is the turning point, the one thing that changed everything for that character. It may occur in the character’s past, during the opening pages, half-way through or in the last chapter. It’s where I reveal the intense impact two seconds or one minute or an hour had on shaping their life. A dead give-away for the reasons they make the decisions they do.

My favorite is from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. For me, it’s a great example of setting the tone. Instead of a poem, it’s a quote, and yes, it does foreshadow, which is not my intent when I write one, but it still sets the mood of the story (and in so few words).

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: If they give you ruled paper, write the other way. — Juan Ramón Jiménez

I know epigraphs are subjective, some readers loathe them and skip to chapter one, and some readers love them. I write mine for both, but mostly for reader’s willing to take an emotional journey alongside my characters. So hop on the magic carpet and enjoy the ride!

————— 

 

Decide if an Epigraph is what your story needs with these helpful links:

Essay On Epigraphs

The 25 Greatest Epigraphs in Literature

Dictionary? What’s that?

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My second grader came home with his weekly spelling list. Typically, he’s to write them three times on Monday, sentences on Tuesday, rainbow writing on Wednesday–which is a repeat of writing them three times but in technicolor! And the words are simple enough that he knows their meaning.

Last night’s directions: Look up the definitions to the words you don’t know and write them down. For starters, he didn’t tell me the ‘write it down’ part.

So ROUND ONE: I double-click the handy-dandy dictionary icon at the bottom of my screen. (I love this app by the way–it’s standard on a mac.) He spends five minutes one-finger typing each word, me wanting so badly just to do it for him to be done…we do have other homework, tae kwon do, violin practice and dinner to make!

I remember in grade school teacher’s ranting on how you CAN NOT use the word in the definition. Well, every word we looked up used the word in the definition. Just how do you ‘get the meaning’ if you use the word you don’t understand to explain it? The words: zealous, conquest and another I can’t recall…I think I blanked out after it took ten minutes to look up ‘conquest’ and another ten for ‘conquer’. Same with ‘zealous’ and ‘zeal’.

Back to present day: We discuss the meaning of each word, go to tae kwon do, come home and he tells me: I need to look those words up again and write them down this time. ME: Are you serious? *WTF look plastered on my face* Could he not have told me this from the start?

ROUND TWO: I refuse to give up my computer, the one with all my writings stored in a chaotic jumble of blue folders all over the screen. I realize, with the attention span of the squirrel on my bird feeder, my son will click everything just to see it bounce to open and, in turn, blow up my computer! Can’t have that! I highly suggest backing up your manuscripts 🙂

I spend an hour searching the house for a real-live holdable dictionary, one that he can use by himself, but it refuses to show its ragged, shabby, faded cover. This is the dictionary my third grade teacher gave me (yes, I was the teacher’s pet). It was one of my favorite books growing up. I still have it but it’s buried in a box somewhere… MUST FIND! (though I doubt it has zealous or conquest)

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By now I’ve spent two hours on three words and want to pull my hair out. And I really should bold, underline and neon-glow the word I. Because the homework was all me.

ROUND THREE: Success. I open the computer dictionary, again, and I type in the words. I read out the definition, spell out the words so he can write the definition in 2.2 seconds instead of 200.2 minutes of back-and-forth looks at the screen, his paper, the screen, his paper.

I’m exhausted from his homework, but you know what I realized: The boy’s getting his very own dictionary the next time I’m at the bookstore. And he better LOVE it!

That, Which, Who…WHAT?

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I’m sure we’ve all had those moments where you just can’t decide…much like my pup and his toys. Which one, which one which one? (Really, he should just pick up both, but he refuses.) This leads me to this question: How do you decide between that and which? I’m getting better at choosing the right one (Yay me!), but what about that and who? The answer seems obvious. Is it really?

THAT or WHICH:

THAT: Use that in a restrictive clause (you can’t have the sentence without it because it is specific to something in the sentence to make it true).

• Cotton that grows in fields produces seeds.

If I’d written, ‘Cotton produces seeds,’ the meaning of the sentence changes. I’d be saying all cotton produces seeds when in fact, cotton balls used to remove makeup and nail polish do not. What a treat that would be if you reached in your bag of cotton balls and they’d reproduced. That grows in fields specifies the type of cotton.

TIP: Ask if your sentence ‘needs that’. If yes, then you’re good to go. Does cotton need to grow in fields to produce seeds? Why yes, it does. Pat yourself on the back, you wrote it right!

WHICH: Which is found in nonrestrictive clauses, meaning the sentence can ‘survive’ without it. You’ll see commas around nonrestrictive clauses in most cases.

• Cotton plants, which have thorns like razors, produce seeds.

I can write the sentence without which have thorns like razors and the sentence would still be true.

TIP: Can you ‘burn the witch’ (which)? Can cotton plants produce seeds? Yes, I can burn the ‘which have thorns like razors’ if I want to and the sentence still makes sense.

———

WRONG EX: Cotton which grows in fields produces seeds. Can I throw the ‘which grows in fields’ out? NO, the sentence won’t work without it, therefore I should change which to that. (This was very hard to type without commas, but for bad example’s sake, I left them out.)

WRONG EX: Cotton plants, that have thorns like razors, produce seeds. Does the plant need thorns to produce seeds? NO, so I know to change that to which.

———–

WHO or THAT: 

Knowing what to use is fairly self explanatory, or so I’m told.

Who for a person and that for things (including animals). But what about paranormal, fantasies and science fiction where items, animals and sometimes plants take on human qualities and can talk, dance, sing–you name it. There’s always more explanation needed if you’re me.

I’ve done some digging and it appears that animals with names (and I’m going to assume plants/items with human qualities and names) fall under the WHO category. But what about those that lack names?

• Think Alice in Wonderland and let’s pretend the character’s don’t have names. Is it: The flower who carried on a conversation with Alice; or The flower that carried on a conversation with Alice.

I’d have to go with who. The rose talks for Pete’s sake, and scolds and is down-right rude! Very much like some people, wouldn’t you say? As does the caterpillar and the hare and the cat! Don’t forget the cat who disappears mid-sentence.

• And who doesn’t know about the wolves that/who are humans and transform and all that. But if you weren’t sure the wolf had a name but knew he could also be human, would he still be a who? The wolf who perched on the rock; or The wolf that perched on the rock?

Personal preference leads me to say who since I know the wolf will transform into a human as soon as he calms the hell down. And on that note, I wouldn’t say, The boy that is a wolf, I’d say The boy who is a wolf so why wouldn’t it be, The wolf who is a boy?

—- There’s probably a good answer/explanation/reason for all of the above questions, as well as examples and exceptions, but I haven’t found them. (BTW I majored in Art, which means I stayed far, far away from the English Department, so take all of this with a grain of sand…because it’s plentiful where I live.) The best advice I can give is, don’t let it stop you from writing. Don’t fret until necessary. Someone will let you know where you’ve gone wrong, just make sure changes make your writing stronger! —-

New Adult as a category at Amazon

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Every morning I wake myself up with coffee – several cups – and reading twitter, facebook and blogs. Imagine my surprise when I saw several tweets about Amazon’s New Adult category. Acknowledged at last! YAY for NA and YAY for Amazon.

And as seeing is believing, I hopped over to Amazon and squealed with delight when I saw this:

Genre Fiction > Romance > NEW ADULT & COLLEGE

So of course, now I need to focus on getting my stories out there. I have one NA paranormal romance out in the wonderful world of Queryland, an NA fantasy romance on the editing desktop and am two/thirds into the first draft of an NA contemporary romance. So much to do, so much to write! So not enough hours in the day!

The beautiful (and not so beautiful) words of a child

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A composit of various views of a monarch emerging from its chrysalis.

My daughter is learning about the life stages of a butterfly. She can draw details of every stage and give you the entire story. It’s when she’s doing something else entirely–like playing her violin–and overhears part of a conversation that things get interesting.

A little backstory: Over spring break we headed south, not as south as I would’ve liked, but close enough. We took the kids to the Air and Space Museum in Virginia. The planes, rockets and such were a hit with my son, not so much with my daughter. To appease her, we went to see The Monarchs in 3D in the IMAX theatre (in the museum). Wow!

She asked questions, reached for butterflies and flowers, played with her 3D glasses, fidgeted and begged for food throughout the entire show. It wasn’t until the end scene where they showed the millions of butterflies hanging from the trees like Hawaiian leis of orange petals that my daughter stopped asking questions. She couldn’t believe the numbers, the beauty, the overall heart-stopping !wow! moment. And to see her face light-up, that was something!

So here we are, back home, without a flower garden but proud owners of milkweed seeds so we can grow milkweed, because Monarch’s only eat milkweed (so I’m reminded).

Fast forward to school and the lovely magic that is a caterpillar-turned-butterfly and my daughter overhearing me talk about getting the seeds started. She yells, “Mom, we have CA-coons at school.” Yes, she pronounced it like the beginning of cackle, but with a -coon on the end. I bit my lips so I wouldn’t laugh and asked a follow-up question.

AND THEN… she comes into the room and says, “They were caterpillars but now they’re PUKA.” And that would be puke with an -uh on the end, not pupa. I couldn’t help but laugh, especially since my son nearly blew his drink out his nose. I didn’t have the heart to correct her because she’ll only say it for the next few weeks. And then no more puka, no more CA-coons, just plain ole butterflies.

Treasure the not so beautiful words of a child – they’ll only live their first experiences once!

Interested in starting your own milkweed garden and raising monarchs till they migrate? This is where we got out seeds: http://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm

It’s Blog Time

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The one thing on repeat at both the NECRWA and the NESCBWI conferences I attended this past month was market with social media. Be everywhere. Stay current. Keep it up.

So I’ve opened up a facebook author page, refined my twitter page, branded myself with a logo using my name and uploaded it everywhere…like my website (www.reaganleigh.net) and started this blog. This world is fairly new to me (the upkeep part, I can peruse and click through other’s pages like a champ). Maybe in time I’ll add more, but seriously… I need to find time to write!

So now that I’ve used my entire morning and three cups of coffee for fuel to create this blog… WELCOME!