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

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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.

 

 

Revision: The fun and the fear

Revision can seem never-ending. But when someone gives you feedback you know will make your story better, you have to act on it. I have embarked on yet another major rewrite and restructuring of my YA scifi. After some great feedback from an agent, I am now revisiting the story viewing it through a new lens.

I’m experiencing mixed emotions about this revision. On the one hand, I can see how her feedback will majorly strengthen my main POV story. So my body tingles with excitement when I think about tackling that part.

But the restructuring will also require cuts to my other two points of view characters. I will lose much if not all of my villain’s POV, which pains me because I love my villain. I fear she will become a two-dimensional cardboard character and that I will have trouble finding new homes for essential information that currently comes from her.

My other POV character is a secondary protagonist. I know I will need to keep SOME of his POV or the story will not make any sense. But I will probably have to lose much of his romance subplot. This is problematic for me because I envision this as a series, and the second book would focus more on him, growing out of the plot points in this book. The rest of his POV that remains I will need to tie even more closely to the main character’s plot.

So I am facing this revision with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement for the way this will strengthen the story; trepidation because I am not certain my skills are up to the challenges ahead.

Now that my daughter is back in school, I can dig into the revision full bore. I’ll let you know how it progresses!

Do you experience the same emotional dichotomy when facing major edits?

Back to School, Back to Work

Today is my daughter’s first day back to school–which means it is also my first day back to work. Now I will have about 6 hours a day to accomplish things before she comes home. I like this schedule because it gives me quiet, concentrated time to work. Also, because I do it while she’s not home, I can be more present for her once she comes home. Over the summer it feels like a constant push-pull, wanting to spend the time with her but needing to get certain things done.

I have my plans in place (and we’ll see how those plans work out, LOL). Today I plan to catch up on PTA Treasurer stuff, and maybe squeeze in one or two other household things I’ve been putting off. Tomorrow I have to finish and send to the printer my brochure for my campaign for the local school board. I need them by Sept 22nd, and I have suddenly realized that is not all that far off!

Next week, with those large projects out of the way, I hope to settle into a school-year work routine. A couple of years ago I had one that worked well, but for reasons I still can’t pinpoint, it rather fell apart over the last year. As a result, my productivity slipped and my self-esteem as a writer with it.

I want to get back to writing every day. Doesn’t have to be much every day, but I would like to work on my fiction a little every day. Make it a priority again. Like many of us, I fall into the trap of putting everyone else first. Next thing I know, the day is gone and I’ve done nothing for me or my own work. I want to try to balance that a bit more. I know I’ll feel better about myself if I do, even though it’s hard.

So for me, back to school means back to work. Does back to school change things in your routine?

August Days: Lazy Yet Anticipatory

This time next week, my daughter will be back in school. The last lazy days of summer are winding their way past us.

Gone will be the days of sleeping in, reading for hours, spending afternoons in the park, and taking long evening walks as the sun lingers in the sky. Play dates, vacations, and excursions to interesting places and events will be replaced by early bedtime, homework, and normal extracurricular activities.

Also gone will be the days where writing time is scarce and schedules are a fantasy. As much as I cherish my summer days with my gal, I will be relieved to have my structure back. I work best with a routine, and that is brought home to me every summer vacation.

I have several projects I am dying to dive into, but I need some concentrated time to do the necessary revisions. I also have some non-writing projects that I have let slide over the summer that I want to re-energize.

The end of summer is always bittersweet. A time of enjoying the easy pace of summer and time with my girl, but also a time if looking forward to a return to productivity and focus.

Do you look forward to the end of summer?

Why Marketing Is So Hard For Authors

Many authors find marketing difficult. It’s awkward, embarrassing, and confusing. Even writing marketing copy can be a struggle.

Why is it so hard?

I think it’s because we are told over and over that WE are the brand, not our books. And many authors are introverts, so putting ourselves out there as a brand is tough.

Also, it is common to believe that you are nothing special. Many people suffer from Imposter Syndrome, writers perhaps more than the general population. That feeling that you are a fraud and everyone will find out is quite a deterrent to opening ourselves up to the public.

Another prevalent human condition is to assume that what you know, everyone knows. We literally cannot see how knowledge and skills that we use every day can be of interest to anyone else. To us they are ho-hum, and we fail to see the value.

I am currently writing campaign materials, so I am thinking a lot about marketing myself. And I am finding that this is easier than author marketing–perhaps because I am able to focus on the benefits I can bring to the position. Writing the campaign pieces is much like writing a resume–take your know skills and show how they apply to the potential job.

Many marketing gurus will say to sell the benefits of your books or the problem your book will solve for the reader rather than the book itself. I find it much easier to tout the benefits of a non-fiction book. Such a book usually has a clear purpose, a defined audience. I find this hard to do for fiction. My book is a middle grade fantasy. Hopefully one of the benefits is that the readers enjoy it. If they also pick up on and resonate with the themes of being true to yourself, protecting the environment, friendship, and not becoming an oppressive dictator, that’s a bonus.

How about you? How do you sell the benefits of your books, especially if it is fiction?

Control Your Inner Critic: The power of a name

Naming things gives you power over them. Years ago, my father got sick. His illness progressed from a persistent cough to weakness to dementia-like symptoms. He lost weight, got easily confused and forgetful, and fell asleep all the time, sometimes in mid-sentence. He had to stop driving, stop working, stop exercising, stop socializing. Doctor after doctor saw him but no one could name the disease. We were certain we were going to lose him. Finally, my mother dragged him to the ER in the middle of the night when his fever spiked yet again, and a young doctor there said, “You need to see Infectious Diseases right now” and called in the specialist. The diagnosis: strep infection in his heart valve.

The name gave us power. We, and the doctors, finally knew what to do. Thanks to that name, he is with us today, still running in 5Ks and playing tennis with his buddies.

My anxiety therapist told me that some people use the technique of naming their anxiety. Giving their anxiety a persona—a name—allows them to have control over it. Just as you can argue with another person, resist another person’s advances, they can push back against their anxiety persona. It also helps to remind them that their anxiety does not define them—it is only a part of them. And by thinking of their anxiety as something outside themselves, they can sometimes push it away, hang up on it, and slam the door in its face, at least for a while.

I never named my anxiety, but I wonder if I should name my inner critic–that little voice that tells me how bad my writing is and how I’ll never get ahead. You know the one I mean. You have one too. Don’t pretend you don’t, all writers have one. It came with your “I Am A Writer” starter kit.

Would naming your inner critic help you control him? Perhaps being able to call your critic by name would make him think twice about messing with you. After all, some demons can only be banished when you know their true names. By isolating the inner critic from your essential self, you are able to give yourself distance—and distance enables you to hear the lies he often tells.

I think my inner critic’s name is Shut Up. At least, that’s what I hear in my head. “Shut Up, I’m not listening!”  “Shut Up, I’m trying to think!” “Shut Up, I don’t need this right now!”

So what would you name your inner critic?

Top 5 Reasons to Cultivate a Writing Community

This week, while preparing the Author Chronicles’ Top Picks Thursday, I read an article from an antisocial writer who really didn’t want to participate in the writing community. Many writers are introverts, so being hesitant about reaching out to others is understandable. I am a raging introvert myself, but when I think about the writing community I am part of, I cannot imagine pursuing this career alone. Here are 5 reasons why:

Craft – Your community can help you hone your craft before you spend money on editors. From critique partners to beta readers, they will give you honest feedback and handy tips to bring your craft to the next level.

Companionship – If you are like me, it takes a lot to drag you out of your house. Offer me a Writers’ Coffeehouse, a Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, a workshop, or a critique group, and I’m there. Plus, writers are good at being alone together. It is not uncommon in my area to find a group of writers sitting together at a Wegman’s or Starbucks, completely silent except for the  furious clicking of their keyboards.

Camaraderie – This is different than Companionship, in that it references the deeper emotional support we get from our writing community. Who but other writers understand the frustration of not finding the exactly right word, or the pain of being rejected for the 100th time, or the elation of placing your first story in even a little-known publication? The emotional lift we get from other writers revs us up and sends us back to our writer’s grottoes ready to face the next challenge.

Collaboration – Usually we think of this in the creative sense, where two or more writers work together on a project. A writing community certainly fosters this, because how else can you meet people to collaborate with? But there are other types of collaboration, such as helping you negotiate a publishing issue or brainstorm a marketing strategy. Two heads are very often better than one.

Connection – Our writing communities are an invaluable resource for networking. We can find editors, agents, publishers, experts, beta readers, critique partners, marketing opportunities and collaborators through our community. The community can help spread the word when we have a new book out. Our community keeps us abreast of the latest news in publishing, the latest scams to beware, and the latest accomplishments of our friends.

I am forever thankful for the people in my writing community: the Writers’ Coffeehouse, the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, workshop-mates, and of course my critique partners. There are so many people who have cheered me on, cheered me up, and made this journey so much more enjoyable.

Walk this path alone? Inconceivable.

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