Years ago when my son, Joshua, was four we’d like to sit on the front stoop together at twilight under a tree and watch the stars come out. It became story time too. That’s where I would spin wild and silly tales for my son.
From that tree and those constellations came one story in particular that grew over many summer evenings. It was about a boy who finds adventure in the mountain forest above his home when he encounters fantastic, talking animals created from their magical ancestors that roamed the earth long ago. He bands together with unlikely friends – a bully, a bear, and an old man – to fight a power-hungry fox who creates an army to rule the forest.
I spun this tale for my son as fantastical as could be where anything could happen – and did. It appealed to my desire to create new worlds where we could live out magical and heroic adventures. The story was that place for my son and I to dream. A place where friendships were forged, loyalties were made, courage was tested, and fellowship ruled the woods – all led by a hero who came into his own, Joshua.
Those summer nights under the stars faded but the story didn’t. A few years later that story became my first novel, Joshua and the Fantastic Forest. I began writing it one fall to focus on something other than the grief of my mother recently passing away.
The story from a stoop swelled in my imagination and became the book of one boy, Joshua Cooper, who finds out how a walk in the woods could change his life – or end it.
And I vividly recall a cold February the 14th when I pounded THE END of Joshua’s tale and shouted, “Happy Valentine’s Day to me!” And then whispered “Thank you, Mom.” Her gifts were left behind and her vibrant colors were long gone, but remain with me still.
This is my one novel that remains unpublished. It sits in a shoebox buy ativan unseen, unread – but not unloved. Just this month I dusted it off to re-visit one battle scene from it and blend it into Joshua and the Arrow Realm, book 2 in my Joshua and the Lightning Road series (book 1 out May 19th!). Finally, in this series, the real Joshua Cooper comes to life.
And it was the love for my son, Joshua, that filled my heart to create that very first book that remains hidden. And it was losing the love of my mother that broke my heart and drove me to finish it. And it is the discovery of my love for writing books that keeps me going. It began with love. It endures with love.
A giant, magical beating heart that breaks and mends itself over and over. A heart that propels us to find our power and change our world – and keep enduring.
I hope you have love – past and present – in your world today on Mother’s Day.
Please stop in to see where else I’ve been chatting this week!
Drawing the world for my book! How my amateur drawing to help me with my story went from sketch to illustration to poster.
Getting your manuscript past the gatekeepers on Literary Rambles. Learning how to improve your writing to reach a literary agent.
From adult thrillers to kid thrillers: my 10 steps to writing scary for kids.
There’s only one week left to pre-order Joshua and the Lightning Road and enter to win an iPad Mini, B&N gift card, and a map poster of the Lost Realm in the book!
“Imaginative, vivid, and dazzling…Richly atmospheric…From the initial flash of lightning to the book’s electrifying end, Galanti’s eerie Lost Realm of Nostos is fresh, scary, and deep. JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD is a juggernaut of a thrill ride, hurling the reader through chills, thrills, horror, and hope—perfect for the young adventurer in your life!” –Amazon Reviewer
I ran away last week.
It’s okay. I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.
In a twist of fate I had two book deadlines due February 1st. As if one wasn’t enough! Yup. I had to review final proofs for book one in my fantasy middle grade series coming out in May, Joshua and the Lightning Road, and hand in edits to go to print (cowabunga!) and I also had to hand in book 2 in the series.
A storm was coming. There would be snow days. There would be laid-off husbands clunking around and a son wanting to hang out (usually a good thing!) and cats jumping on my lap and laundry piling up and meals to be made. There would be no white space just a space of many colors.
And I needed chunks and chunks of white space to create my own colors.
And I do mean white as I raced ahead of the BIG STORM I-shall-not-name that was-not-to-be to a teeny tiny town called Boyds Mill, PA. This is where the Highlights Foundation runs a fabulous retreat center with author-run workshops and cabins for writers who need to run away (apparently it’s a writerly phenomenon).
In another twist of fate all the cabins were closed for the winter except the big lodge and I had it all to myself. Did I say ALL TO MYSELF? I did.
Through the arctic tundra I traveled. Down snowy roads to my haven in the woods.
Now if you haven’t heard of Highlights you should! They’ve been producing children’s magazines and books for decades. And what a treasure it was to find these old magazines from the 1940s in the lodge.
And this was my view all alone in this lodge.
Surrounded by framed illustrations and authors all around the world who’ve created pictures from writers’ imagination inspiring kids to dream.
And this was my white space from my desk. But in that white space was movement and color and joy. For every day, far across the snow on the hill, two kids played. A big brother pulled them on a sled behind his ATV as their dogs ran about. Up and down they went. Back and forth. The dog tumbling along. Their laughter bounding off the snow to me.
And I remembered the days when I would sled all day with my dogs. Down the hill to slide across the pond, yelling as loud as I could, my dogs racing with me. Then to run up and do it all over again – and again.
And that memory and the scene before me blended into one. I grasped my own child-like wonder (that can be so often lost in the drudgery of line editing and the writing business) and the wonder of these kids before me, and looked at the pages in my book – and I felt it there. I felt it so deeply that I picked up the phone to call my mother and share my excitement. We once shared every day. And in that brief child-like wonder my mother was alive again to me. Then the loss of six years hit me all over again. Her gifts were left behind and her vibrant colors were long gone.
But my white space was now colored with my own paint of childlike wonder.
And eventually I ran away back home to a world of different colors.
One of my own making as well.
And that was just fine.