The Non-Writing Part of Writing—CoronaLife Day 432

This was one of those weeks where my other responsibilities fell on me hard, and I got very little done on any writing front. Although I hate weeks like that, they happen and I have to learn to roll with it.

People who are not writers think that if we are not getting words on the page, we are not writing. And while that may technically be true, that doesn’t mean we are not making some sort of writing progress.

As anyone who has followed this blog knows, I have been struggling with rewrites of my science fiction YA novel, Veritas. I’ve been chipping away at it, and feeling fairly happy with the new direction, but I have put it aside for now while I work on the non-fiction genealogy book. I am not in the right headspace to dive into fiction at the moment, so it is a good detour for me to take.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. I sometimes get ideas that I hurry to jot down in the notes for when I return. And I recently have been enjoying K.M. Weiland’s blog series on archetypes, which is making me think differently about not just Veritas, but the structure of possible follow-on books in a series.

So, my subconscious has been chewing on Veritas while I’ve been away. And I am also re-thinking the first chapter of another project, this one middle grade, The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone. I really love this book, but it has not found a traditional home. My co-author and I are contemplating self-publishing it, but I feel that the first chapter is our issue. We get conflicting feedback about it—some feel it is confusing, others are just fine with it. I think if we can get that right, we might yet find it a traditional home.

I also have another project that is not even on a back burner, more like on the warming pan. It is the sequel to my published book, The Witch of Zal. The first draft is written, but it needs a good deal of editing. And I am in the process of getting a new cover and illustrations for Book 1, before I move on with publishing Book 2.

As you can see, I have been doing a lot of non-writing writing. Sometimes you can move forward even when you aren’t putting words on the page.

How are you advancing your writing these days?

The Goose’s Quill Top 10 Posts of 2019

I always like to see what my readers responded to in the past year. I found a mixed bag this year, from writing-related posts, to personal celebrations, to the on-going drama of my daughter’s fish tank. In case you missed any, here are the 10 most popular posts of 2019:

10. A Successful, Grateful Book Launch for The Witch of Zal

9. A Muddy Revision Slog

8. Three Benefits of Reading to Older Children

7. Revision Difficulty? Maybe It’s Your Theme

6. The Fish Saga Continues: RIP Gem

5. Celebrating 50 Years!

4. Considering a Social Media Break

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

2. Book Fair Magic: Casting a Reading Spell

And my number one post of 2019:

1. Speak Up: Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport

I hope you all enjoyed this look back at 2019! May your holiday season be happy and safe, and I will see you all back here in 2020!

NJASL 2019

My last book event for 2019 is now behind me. It was the annual New Jersey Association of School Librarians conference, this year held in East Brunswick. I normally only go for one day of the event, but as it was relatively close to me, I decided to do both days.

I love hanging out with fellow authors and chatting with the many dedicated librarians who come to the conference. I always learn something and feel buoyed by being with people who love books as much as I do!

We share tables at this conference, and this year I had a different partner each day. On Monday I sat with Suzanne Morris, a debut picture book author, whose book A Trapezoid Is Not A Dinosaur! is both a book about shapes and an engaging story about trying to fit in and being accepted for who you are.

On Tuesday I sat with Laurie Morrison, middle grade author of Every Shiny Thing and her new book Up For Air. (As an aside, I have Morrisons in my recent ancestry, but I don’t think we are connected.) We spent the first few hours trying to figure out why we both thought the other one was familiar. Finally, the answer hit us—the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference! Laurie had stepped in to teach a seminar when another presenter had cancelled, and I had taken her 3-day seminar.

Although the days can feel long sometimes, my fellow authors always help fill the time. We discussed kids, business plans, publishing in general, editors, and school visits, among other topics. I never walk away empty-handed, as I have usually gleaned new ideas or information and have made some new contacts.

Thanks, NJASL for the opportunity to talk with your amazing librarian members! I will see you next year!

October is Boooo-k Month

October is always a crazy month for me. Lots of personal milestones in there. My parents’ wedding anniversary—50 years this year!—as well as my own. My daughter’s birthday (and the requisite party) and of course Halloween and its constellation of activities: pumpkin picking, hayrides, bonfires, trunk or treat, and school parties.

Oh, and I am running for the local school board, and elections are November 5th.

So I’m always a bit busy in October.

But October is also smack in the middle of book event season, and I have 3 events in the next 3 weeks:

October 5th: Collingswood Book Festival, 9 am – 4 pm, Collingswood, NJ

Collingswood 2017

October 12th: Indie Author Day, Galloway Library, 1 pm-3pm, Galloway, NJ

Indie Author Day 2017

October 20th: VPL FanCon 2019, Vineland Library, 11 am-4 pm, Vineland, NJ

VPL FanCon 2017

Whew! That is one packed month!

How is your October shaping up?

A Bookish Week

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year—the Spring Book Fair! This year’s theme is “Chill Out at the Book Fair”. Given that it’s still pretty hot here, that is appropriate. Our library looks like the North Pole, with snowflakes, icicles, snow blocks, and a polar bear.

While the youngest grades are the most work, they are also some of the most rewarding to work with. Today, as I helped a group of 1st graders fill out their book lists, they would eagerly ask me, “How many more can I get?” over and over, as they brought me book after book to add.

The kids pick their books in all different ways, too. Some kids want every book on the shelf, hardly able to make any sort of choice. Some browse through each book very carefully before they decide whether to add it to their list. There’s no right way to do it—they always end up with a good list.

The Book Fair began Monday, and will wrap up on Friday. But my Bookish Week doesn’t end there.

I have my first book event of the season this weekend!

On Sunday I will be at the New Providence Book Festival. I enjoyed myself the first time I was there in 2017 and look forward to hanging out with the authors in the pretty area around The Salt Museum in New Providence. The weather seems like it will be quite nice, so I’m hoping for a good crowd of book lovers.

New Providence 2017

I will undoubtedly be exhausted by the long week of bookish events, but I revel in it anyway. Spending time with book lovers, whether they are in Kindergarten or are fully grown, is always a pleasure.

Please support your school’s Book Fair, and if you are in New Providence, stop in and say hello!

Beating Imposter Syndrome: Don’t let it hold you back

While preparing this week’s Top Picks Thursday blog post for The Author Chronicles site, I read Joan Stewart’s blog post 9 inexpensive revenue streams for broke or struggling authors. One of her ideas was to write “special reports” that you then sell individually. That sounded like a good idea, and I started playing with ideas of what topics to consider. And then it struck: the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.

Every topic I thought of, I wondered what gave me the right to think I could speak authoritatively on that topic. There were certainly other people out there who knew more about it than I did. People who are true experts in that topic—and topic—every topic. Who did I think I was?

This is how Imposter Syndrome holds us back. By making us believe we are not good enough, don’t know enough, don’t have the right credentials. By making us feel this way, Imposter Syndrome robs us of our voice, causes us to pass up opportunities, and makes us doubt our value.

There will always be someone who knows more than you, who is more of an expert. But that does not mean you can’t bring value to the discussion. Perhaps your information is available and accessible in a way the expert information is not. Perhaps your information approaches the topic from a different angle than is usually presented. Perhaps you synthesize two viewpoints not normally seen side-by-side. Perhaps you simply have such a passion for the topic that you want to share it with everyone.

Your interest in the topic will be unique simply because you are unique. In much the same way that a story you write will never be the same as anyone else’s, even if the premises are the same, your take on the topic will be different than anyone else’s. So don’t feel like an imposter. As Darren Rowse reminds us, you can write on a topic without being an expert.

So don’t let Imposter Syndrome paralyze you. Write about topics you love. Explore them and take your readers along with you. And the more you write on the topic, the more expert you will become. Soon you will be an imposter no more!

Has Imposter Syndrome ever gotten in the way of your life? How did you overcome it?

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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?

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