South Jersey Writers Conference…and Snow

On Saturday, a group of writers got together for the 2nd Annual South Jersey Writers Conference. The original location was only about 5 minutes from my house, but then it got moved to a place 45 minutes away. But I went anyway because this is a great group of writers to hang out with and we always have a good time!

We kicked it off with a workshop by Laura Kaighn, then the keynote by K.A. Magrowski. We rounded out the day with two panels where we discussed everything from what/who inspired us to write what we write to marketing to process. As always, much learning was accompanied by much laughter.

photo by Kristin Battestella

Many thanks to Kristin Battestella for organizing the South Jersey Writers Conference, and to all the people who came by–including my cousin and his wife! A nice surprise.

 

 

The rest of this week was taken up in mopping my floors and steam cleaning my rugs. (I live such a wild life.) I gotta say, when you have a child in the house, it takes longer to clear out the room so you can do the rug than it actually takes to do the rug. Still, it was worth the effort.

Today, it’s snowing. Since I have nowhere to go, I am able to actually enjoy watching the snow fall, and take pleasure in the beauty.

Aftermath and South Jersey Writers Conference

It’s Thursday again, and the election is now in the rear view mirror. I did not win in my run for school board, but it was quite the experience. I now need to sleep for about a week to recover.

With the election past, I can now turn my attention forward. And I have something great to look forward to! On Saturday, I will be a panelist in the 2nd Annual South Jersey Writers Conference. This is a great group of people, many of whom I have been on panels or at events with before. The panels will be both informative and fun, so if you are in the area, some on down and check it out!

The Conference is from 10 AM – 3 PM at the Carnival of Collectables located at 368 Cross Keys Road in Sicklerville, NJ. $10 at the door entry. You can check out more details on the event page.

Hope to see some of you there! You can even join the authors for an a la carte dinner at a local restaurant afterward.

 

OMG, It’s Thursday!

So it’s Thursday. And there’s supposed to be a post. But there is no post because this week has been one thing after another, and I didn’t even realize it was Thursday until this morning!

Between several firestorms that popped up this week, and family obligations, and Halloween…well, it’s Thursday and there’s no post.

I never used to know what the kids meant when they said, “I can’t even.” But after this week…

I. Can’t. Even.

Next week I should be back on track.

I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween!

 

October’s Crazy Days

I don’t know why, but October is always a crazy month for me. Maybe it’s because I have 2 anniversaries, 2-3 birthday parties, Halloween, and the Halloween activities such as Trunk or Treat and school parties. The fact that is starts to get dark early and is often still barely dawn when I get up doesn’t help. Add to that the regular litany of extracurricular activities and housework, and it’s quite a load.

And then I decided to run for the local school board.

So now, in addition to the normal October madness, I am in the final two weeks of my campaign. Just the other day I spent 2 hours canvassing in my neighborhood to get the word out. 16,000 steps for the day. My legs still haven’t recovered.

All this is to say that I have not had time to think up a properly satisfying blog post for this week. So I am giving myself a break and just letting it go.

 

Indie Author Day 2018

Indie Author Day 2018On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending an Indie Author Day event in Sewell, NJ. Hosted in the Margaret Heggan Library and coordinated by author Laura Kaighn, it consisted of 2 author panels and some mix and mingle time.

I was on the first panel, Nonfiction and Children’s Books. Since I have a middle grade novel and a genealogy research book, it was a perfect fit. The other authors on the panel were: Laura J. Kaighn (moderator), Linda Silver, Jane Lueder, Kerry Gans, Karen Castaneda, and E.P. Bell.

The second panel was Genre and Adult Fiction, with panelists Brian McKinley (moderator), Laura J. Kaighn, William Gold, J. Lauryl Jennings, Kristin Battestella, and Loretta Wish.

When I first started doing this author thing, I was a scared-to-death introvert (now I am a scared-to-death introvert that hides it well). I took a class called Act Like A Writer taught by Jonathan Maberry and Keith Strunk, and one of the things we practiced was panels. I almost hyperventilated just on the mock panel!

Indie Author Day 2018Since then, being on panels has become one of my favorite things. I enjoy hearing the other authors’ experiences, and bouncing the conversation off their observations is fun. Every author’s journey is different, and I always learn something.

This was a wonderful Indie Author event. Not only were all the authors congenial and knowledgeable, but I got to meet one of my Facebook friends in real life when he stopped in!

This is the third year of Indie Author Day, and I hope to participate in many more.

Indie Author Day 2018

Book Events Past and Future

This is a “sandwich” week for me–the week in between two book events. Last Saturday was the Collingswood Book Festival, this coming Saturday is Indie Author Day at the Margaret Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ.

Book Events: Collingswood Book Festival

Collingswood, photo taken by my Young One

This was my 3rd year at Collingswood, and luckily the weather held out. No sun, but warm weather and therefore a good turnout. I had a pretty average sales day, but enjoyed talking to my fellow authors and the customers while watching the world go by from my (new) tent.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of my Collingswood experience this year was having my daughter with me. My child care plans fell through, so my Young One got up at 6 AM with me and soldiered through the long day until we got home at 5 PM. You never know the mood your 8-year-old will be in, but Young One faced the day with grace and good will. She helped me set up and break down, she chatted vivaciously with our neighbors, danced a lot when one vendor played music, and even got me a sale! I made sure she got a break, though, and we went to the LoompaLand children’s alley, where she got face paint and an appropriate tattoo.

Book Events: Collingswood

While barely recovered from Collingswood, I am preparing for Indie Author Day. I have spent the last 2 Indie Author Days at the Vineland Library, but this year Laura Kaighn invited me to join an event she is putting together at the Margaret Heggan Library. This is a panel event, and I will be on the 11:30 Non-fiction/Children’s Panel, then I get to relax and watch the second panel at 1:30, Genre/Adult Fiction. There will be time to mix and mingle and hopefully sell a few books. I am looking forward to it! If you are in the Sewell area, check it out–info is below.

Book Events: Indie Author Day 2018

And when both book events are finished, I can relax…for a week or two.

 

New cover reveals for The Lightning Road series by Donna Galanti!

Look at these awesome the new cover reveals for Donna Galanti’s Lightning Road series! Plus enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card at the end of this post and get the first e-book in Donna’s series, Joshua and the Lightning Road, on sale now through October 15th for just $0.99cents.

Donna talks today about how creating characters and shares an excerpt from Joshua and the Lightning Road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Characters That Create Themselves!

Characters can definitely arrive of their own will and on their time! Two examples of this happened in my book, Joshua and the Arrow Realm. The first is the character Oak. He suddenly appeared to me a third of the way through writing the book. His rough voice rang out and I saw him clearly as if he was sitting across from me.

Here is what the main character, Joshua, sees when he first meets Oak:

“At the table sat a man with long, red, wavy hair tied behind his neck and a full mustache that curled up on either side of his mouth. His baggy yellowed shirt emphasized his thin arms, and a chain hung from his neck across sharp collarbones. A black square pendant with braided edges and a lion etched on the front dangled from it. One bony hand fingered a huge hunk of bread, green with mold. He ripped off a chunk with his chipped teeth and swallowed it in one bite, then he picked up a small rusty knife and twirled it in his hand as if debating whether to cut open one of those nasty looking potatoes. His eyes were like shards of amber glass, gleaming luminescent in the golden candlelight. They tightened as he studied us.”

Another example is Ash, leader of the Wild Childs. She magically appeared in the first scene literally from the snowstorm that blew in! She lives in tree houses as a Wild Child to escape the hunt of Queen Artemis.

Here’s Joshua and his first encounter with Ash:

“The girl looked older than me, about seventeen, and as skinny as Charlie. She was dressed in snug pants and a tunic made of animal skin that fell above laced-up, fur rimmed boots. Her right leg twitched, revealing the top of a knife glinting from a leg holder with a handle wrapped in an oily rag. The girl shook her dripping hair, and a tangy smell of dying leaves and wet leather lifted from her. She leaned forward. Her suede satchel slid off her shoulder and down the arm of her baggy coat lined with buttons made from birch bark cut into ragged squares. A closer look at her lopsided clothes made me think they’d been cut from a crude pattern and unskillfully sewn with crooked black stitches.”

The first thing that appears to me when I write a book is dialogue. I think this is why characters pop to me out of nowhere! They appear and start talking to me without any prompting. It’s up to me as the scribe to tell their story.

There is a bizarre outcome to this. In reading through the first draft of Joshua and the Arrow Realm, there were many scenes with characters I did not even recall writing! I contribute this to being in the “fiction dream” while writing as my characters literally speak through me. My husband knows I need to run off and be with my “other people”.  I’m sure glad he’s okay with that. J

Joshua and the Lightning Road Excerpt:

The trees crowded around us, the deafening quiet of the woods pounding in my ears. Sweat broke out on my lip and I wiped it away. The one beast licked its lips in return, then curled its mouth in an awful grin, exposing vampire dagger teeth.

The beasts inched toward us. “We don’t want to hurt you.” Bluffing still seemed the best idea.

“And you won’t, my tasty morsels.” The leader panted hungrily.

The lightning orb. I had to trust in Bo Chez’s story and believe all its stormy, electric power could help us. But Sam had said the Greek gods lost their powers. Let it do something! And if it breaks, I’m sorry, Bo Chez!

Charlie clung to my arm so tight it cramped. Fire flashed out of the leader’s mouth, and a long flame roared toward us, cutting through the mist like a fire sword. All three of us stumbled back.

The beast pack leapt toward us like hairy dragons. The moss beneath our feet snapped with fire and heat roasted my face and arms. Fire raced up the wizard trees, and their wood shrieked in splitting agony.

“Run!” Sam dragged Charlie and me back.

Red eyes glared at me.

“Hi-yahh!” I flung the orb hard.

Blue light exploded into the space before us and knocked us all off our feet. I slammed sideways into a tree and slid down to the ground. The beasts were sprawled motionless before us on the blackened, smoldering moss. Trees smoked as flames flickered up them. Charlie and Sam lay a few feet away.

 

Watch the Joshua and the Lightning Road Book Trailer!

About Joshua and the Lightning Road:

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. Armed with only luck and his grandfather’s mysterious crystal, Joshua must save his friend by traveling the Lightning Road to a dark world that steals children for energy. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.

Praise for Joshua and the Lightning Road:

“Vividly imagined characters in a gripping action fantasy that never lets you go until the very last page.” —Jenny Nimmo, New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Bone series

**$0.99 DEAL!**

Joshua and the Lightning Road is available now through October 15th for just $0.99cents on e-book from these book sellers:
Amazon: mybook.to/TheLightningRoad
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2zwsiLx
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2Q6Kukn
Apple iBooks: https://apple.co/2NF5MZA

About Joshua and the Arrow Realm:

Joshua never thought he’d be called back to the world of Nostos so soon. But when his friend King Apollo needs his help in the Arrow Realm, Joshua braves this dark world once more in order to save him. With Joshua’s loyalties divided between Nostos and Earth, he must rely on his courage and powers to restore magic to this desperate world and to free its people. Abandoned by his friends in his quest, unarmed, and facing great odds, can he survive on instincts alone and not only save those imprisoned—but himself?

Praise for Joshua and the Arrow Realm:

“Fast-paced and endlessly inventive, this is a high-stakes romp through a wild world where descendants of the Greek gods walk beside you, beasts abound, and not everything—or everyone—is as it seems.” –Michael Northrop, New York Times bestselling author of the TombQuest series

Joshua and the Arrow Realm is available through these book sellers:

Amazon: mybook.to/ArrowRealm
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2N3OYGG
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2IjXYGX
Apple iBooks: https://apple.co/2xFU4Ea

About Donna:

Donna Galanti is the author of the bestselling paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine, a writing contest judge at nycmidnight.com, and regularly presents as a guest author at schools and teaches at writing conferences. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna also loves teaching writers about building author brand and platform through her free training series at yourawesomeauthorlife.com. Visit her at donnagalanti.com.

Connect with Donna:

Website: http://www.donnagalanti.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20983429-joshua-and-the-lightning-road

$25 AMAZON GIFT CARD RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!

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On Being a Low-Energy Person in a High-Energy World

I am tired All. The. Time.

I don’t sleep nearly enough.

I don’t eat as well as I should.

And although I average about 7,000 steps a day, I’m not sure “chicken-without-a-head” steps count as real exercise.

So it’s no surprise I am tired.

But I think it’s worth asking: Why? Why am I cutting my sleep short? Why am I opting for the faster meal rather than the better one? Why am I not making time for more focused exercise?

Because there is too much to do and not enough time. The modern world is high-energy, and I am not.

I see people who can do everything I do and more. I don’t know how they manage. Somehow, they have the first 10 things on their to-do lists done while I’m still on number 1.

They are high-energy people. The type that makes me tired just watching them. I am low-energy. I always get things done, but it takes longer. Takes more time. And time is in short supply in today’s world. Hence the shortcuts.

Am I taking on too much? Probably. Most people are in today’s day and age. So perhaps I need to prioritize and prune a bit. And I know my anxiety has been high for a while now. This matters because the way my anxiety works is to make me feel massive fatigue to deter me from engaging in anything.

Sleep deprivation and general overwhelm exacerbate my anxiety, creating a feedback cycle. I need to break the cycle so I can pick up the pace of life a bit.

Even if I do that, I will still never match the high-energy people. But if I can be even a little more productive, I will be happy.

Do you ever feel like your natural energy level doesn’t match the demands of our modern life?

Childhood Book Influences

I read an article this week about what childhood books influenced a writer. So that got me thinking about what books I read as a child and how they influenced me.

I voraciously read animal books, particularly horse books. I owned the entire Black Stallion series and read them over and over. I read almost all the Jim Kjelgaard books, as well as the Marguerite Henry books. A childhood dream came true for me when I lived in Chincoteague for 8 months and not only visited the Misty museum, but saw the famous Pony Swim.

Yet, I do not write animal books. You will see horses appear in most of my books, and the occasional dog, but they are not my focus.

I also read–and reread—The Chronicles of Narnia, which definitely seeded my love of fantasy.  I was fascinated by the idea of magic portals, of the interconnection of everything seen and unseen. Many of my books deal with magic and the ripple effects each of our actions cause.

But perhaps the biggest influence on my writing was Madeleine L’Engle. I read her Time Trilogy until the covers got tattered. Although most people know the first book in the series, A Wrinkle In Time, my favorite was the third, A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

It stars my favorite character, Charles Wallace, who had to find and reverse the one event that would change history to prevent nuclear war, and it has a time-traveling unicorn. How could I not love it?

I see a lot of the themes in L’Engle’s writing coming through in my own. The intersection of magic and mystery with everyday. The connection of everything, everywhere. The understanding that love gives you more strength than hate. That being true to yourself and what you believe in is the most powerful magic of all.

Those are some of the influences on me. Who are some of your childhood favorites that shaped your writing and your worldview?

The Enchanted Book Fair: Fall 2018

It’s the most crazy time of year again! Book Fair week! This time we did not get closed by a blizzard, thankfully.

This year’s theme was Enchanted Forest, and our Book Fair moms did a great job bringing the magic to the library. And the kids felt it. One mom commented that she loved watching the kindergarteners when they first rounded the corner into the section where the books are. Their eyes get huge and they stare and some even gasp. They feel the magic.

 

 

 

 

The early part of the week is the hardest part, when we need the most parents in to help. That is the time when the kids come in to create Wish Lists to bring home to their parents. Many of the kindergarteners can’t read or write yet, so they need helpers to get their lists in order. Some of the first graders do, too, although by second grade they’re pretty self-sufficient.

The latter part of the week, the children return with money (and hopefully their lists), and buy their books. Again, the kindergarteners need the most help, since most of them have no clue about money. One little boy was proud and excited because he was taking a penny home to his mom as change.

But the best part, to me, is seeing the kids hugging their books as they leave. Even the older kids—too cool to actually hug the books anymore—clutch them possessively, a quiet joy hidden under the laconic exterior. Every child, young or old, takes some of the magic out into the world with them, as if trailing pixie dust in their wake.

Enchanted, indeed.

 

 

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