Friday, October 19, 2018

Final Post, But It's Not Really Goodbye...

Well friends, this is the last post here, but it's not really goodbye, because I'm just moving everything to a single site.

Thank you for hanging out with me, and I hope you'll join me over at my NEW BLOG: where I hope to continue rambling about books, writing, family, and when I remember -Flashback Friday posts- my favorite posts from this blog. See you there!


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: The Lightning Road Series by Donna Galanti

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

Welcome to Donna Galanti today to show off her AWESOME new covers for her Lightning Road series! My 12 year old LOVES theses books. SO. MUCH. I'm so excited to help reveal her amazing new covers. 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 shares what stories affected her childhood and writing plus read an excerpt from Joshua and the Arrow Realm!

What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on Joshua and the Arrow Realm? by Donna Galanti

My love for writing and reading went hand in hand right from the beginning. I began writing plays and acting them out with the neighborhood kids when I was seven years old. At the time I lived in England, where I attended a Harry Potter-like castle school.

Progressing from plays to stories, my first short story was about a flying ship, wizards, and Dodo birds. At that same time I vividly recall the first book I fell in love with: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I read the entire Narnia Chronicles curled up in a nook in my gray and pink woolen school uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). I then gobbled up all of Roald Dahl’s books and especially loved Mr. Fantastic Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

After England, we moved to rural New Hampshire where my parents owned and operated a campground and along came Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House Books. We had barns and hogs and chickens, and how I loved gathering the rotten apples in the orchards to feed the hogs.

One fall day we rounded up the hogs for slaughter and I dreamt of being Laura Ingalls blowing up the pig’s bladder like a balloon and tossing it about and roasting the pig’s tail – just like Laura did! 

Although, my mother was not so thrilled with scooping out the eyes to make head cheese as Laura’s mother did!

When I became a teenager, Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings came into my life and I was swept away to Middle Earth. One Halloween at school I even dressed up as Aragorn (what I envisioned he looked like at the time) and of course no one knew who I was in my cloak, boots, and dirt-grimed face.

As a child, fantasy was my reality. I read fantasy and also created fantasy worlds living out my favorite books so it’s no surprise that I write fantasy! From that first story about a flying ship to Joshua and the Arrow Realm, fantasy has always claimed me.

Growing up on a mountain as an only child, I spent much of my time roaming the woods with my notebook in hand, putting stories on the page in hidden glens and the nooks of trees. My love of the woods and fantasy both fueled the wooded world of Joshua and the Arrow Realm, where Joshua must survive the hunt and discovers a hidden tree world of other kids!

Rain streamed down and the wind whipped at me, driving the stinging pellets. Charlie and I ran on, leaving our enemy behind. We held each other up as we staggered through the storm.
“Joshua, stop! Can’t. Go. On.” Charlie gasped out the words as he dragged me back.
I tugged his shirt, ripping it. “We’ve got to!”
Oh, where was this Grand Tree and could these Wild Childs help us?
When my lungs threatened to explode, a howl behind us pushed my aching legs to full throttle. Claws swiped at us and a blast of rotten meat stench hit me. Anger at this world choked me into a fury. For sucking me up into its danger and death again. For turning my friend against me. For having to run for my life again. For wanting me to be their hero.
I skidded to a stop, riding wet leaves. Charlie’s eyes blinked with surprise as I shoved him aside and turned to face the unleashed creature. It flew over my head—an exploding mountain of fur and legs and tail—and slammed onto the ground. It turned to face me, panting. Pacing back and forth, its massive paws glinted with curved nails as it smashed the mud. Steam bellowed from its giant nostrils and horns protruded from a head covered in a shaggy brown mane. Tinted burnt orange, the beast raged part lion, part bull. I backed away from the monster, hauling Charlie with me.
“What now?” Charlie stuttered.
I carefully nocked an arrow to my bow, keeping my eyes on the beast as it snorted and pawed the ground, spewing up clomps of dirt. The rain spiked harder.
“Let us go,” I said.
The beast churned up the ground and shook its giant mane, groaning low in its throat. “Hungrrrry.” I must’ve imagined him speaking. Without my lightning orb, I didn’t have powers to understand animals on Nostos.
Charlie pulled me back. “What did it say?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Well, I think it said ‘time to eat’.”
He had no idea how right he was.
With each step the beast inched toward us, we took one back. I pulled back my arrow, the tension scorching my arm. The lion-bull shuddered; loose skin flapping against its gigantic, bony frame. Its swollen tongue hung from its mouth, and its ribs outlined sharp against its skin with each desperate pant. Red-rimmed eyes burned into mine.
“It’s starving, Charlie,” I whispered.
“And we’re dinner!”


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: 

Barnes & Noble: 
Apple iBooks:

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: 

Barnes & Noble: 
Apple iBooks:

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, 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 Visit her at



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Monday, October 8, 2018

My Monday Mind: Newsletter Edition

Hello Monday! The day of the week when my mind rambles. Really that's every day, but I like how Monday Mind sounds, so we're going with it for now. This week, I'm sharing my newsletter, which went out yesterday. Did you know you can subscribe to my newsletter? The link is just as the bottom of the post - so easy.

Oh hey, did you have a chance to check out my new blog and the pumpkin soup recipe I posted? Since I made a double recipe, I'll be eating it all week, and I'm not complaining! It freezes well too. In case you missed my last post, this blog is making a move to my website - I hope you'll come visit!

Focus, mind, focus … we're talking about the newsletter! Yes! For those of you who missed it here it is:

Hello Friends!

Happy autumn! If you’re like me, you’re ready for pumpkin-everything, cozy flannels, and the beautiful colors on the trees. Even my 12-year-old has autumn fever, insisting shorts weather is over despite the return of 80-degree weather. His exact words were, “now that I’ve switched to pants, I’m invested.” Have I mentioned how much I love this child? And while we usually think of spring as a time of rebirth and new beginnings, I especially love autumn because it’s when I first became a mom. (Happy birthday to my oldest!!)

Now, twenty-one years later, I’m excited to announce another new beginning, or rather a new venture. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that writing is hard! I’ve been blessed with so many people guiding me, helping me develop my craft, and teaching me how best to strengthen my own abilities through thoughtful and constructive critiques and workshops.

This past year, I had the good fortune to work with critique partner, Sarah Clayville, on multiple projects, and now we’d like to officially announce our new venture, PA STORY STARTERS, a developmental critique service offering help with all phases of stories from idea generation through submission, and I’d love for you to check it out.

Maybe you're thinking: but I'm not a writer! That's what I thought too back in 1997, when a nugget of a story idea first popped into my head. It lurked there for years until finally in 2010, after meeting several encouraging writers, I decided I'd try to put my thoughts to paper. Whether you've got a story idea or are at the querying stage, Sarah and I are here to help develop your materials through analytical and supportive eyes.

Please visit our website at for a complete list of services and follow us on Twitter: @PAStoryStarters for your chance to win a free critique!

Let us help you get your story started!


Friday, October 5, 2018

I'm Moving!

Hello All!

Happy Friday! I'm doing this crazy thing where I'm trying to get more organized (told you it was crazy) and I've decided that *maybe* if my blog were on my main website, then *maybe* I might actually blog more. I'm not making any promises, but I'm feeling hopeful! I'd love for you all to join me there!  Where is it? I'm so glad you asked! 

My new blog can be found at

I've already put up my first post and - spoiler alert - it includes one of my favorite fall recipes!

As for this blog, I plan on keeping it live for a few more weeks as I've some exciting stuff coming up including some fun cover reveals and a giveaway that I'd hate for you to miss!

Thanks as always for your continued support and I hope to see you on my new site!


Thursday, August 30, 2018

School Daze

It's 90 degrees out here in Pennsylvania and many of the kiddos have headed back to school. Summer seems a million years past already. For me it flew by despite my attempts to hold on tight. Normally, I'm okay with the start of school. I'll even admit that by the end of August, I'm usually looking forward to it. But not this year.

This year I was kind of dreading it. My youngest son was starting 7th grade, which for us is the beginning of middle school. I don't know why this affected me so much. Maybe it was because it meant two years until high school and driving and graduation and … wasn't he just two years old? Yes he was! And today, TODAY, he turned TWELVE. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I love you infinity plus infinity even though you don't want me walking with you to the bus stop anymore.

As if that wasn't traumatic enough, this year my daughter graduated high school, and she was accepted to her dream college. The one that checked all of her boxes, the one that barely squeezed into our budget, the one that was ELEVEN hours away. It was the one that started in the middle of August. I knew the goodbye would be hard. I did. But I didn't think it would be so hard. As a divorced mom, she lived with her dad part of the time. I was used to her sometimes being away. But "away" had meant around the corner, and I still saw her on my "off" days when I picked her up from high school.

I'm not going to lie - the first few (several) days after she left were really hard, and I cried (a lot.) Nobody prepares you for hard it's going to be. At least nobody prepared me. But a few things got me through:

1. Knowing my daughter was/is so happy in her new home. Thank you FaceTime for letting me see her smiling face!

2. My friends who put up with my daily crying updates. I owe you!

3. The timing of having to revise my manuscript for my agent. Nothing helps take your mind off the blues like a hairy-handed, piano-playing, white-van driving, werewolf alien kidnapper!

Both kids are now settled into their school routines and my school daze is starting to lift. We are adjusting to new normals with our own unique and creative spirit … going after dreams and navigating new territory. And we're celebrating milestones. We have back to back birthdays in my crew. Yesterday my daughter turned 18. And yes, I cried. Happy Birthday!!! I love you and am in awe of the strong, independent woman you've become.

Hugs to all the caregivers lost in a school daze, and I hope all of the big and small children in your life have an awesome school year!


Monday, July 23, 2018

My Monday Mind

All day I've been itching to blog. There are a million things swirling around in my head, all trying to push their way to the front, demanding attention on the page. In the past, I wrote a blog feature called the Friday Five. It was organized and concise and limited to five things. But that's Friday's deal. Mondays are so very different. 

For starters, did you know I've been blogging on and off for seven years now? I realized this when it occurred to me that my daughter is leaving for college in three weeks. You may be wondering how that's related. Welcome to my Monday Mind...  Seven years ago when I started blogging, my kids were little, and I was blogging about toddler diets and boy bands and the possibility of keeping a zebra in my front yard as a pet. But on Saturday, I took apart my eleven year old's race car bed and replaced it with a standard wooden frame. I spent the entire afternoon building it. Thank goodness for power tools ... and ice cream, especially the kind with the crushed peanut butter cups. Am I rambling again? Monday Mind. Maybe I do need that concise and organized list after all.

1. College Bound

I am not going to be sappy, I am not going to be sappy, I am not going to be sappy ... but people, my daughter leaves in three weeks!! Yes, I'm totally counting. And she's going several states away. As sad as I am to have her be so far, I'm even more excited for the adventures and opportunities she's about to discover. The world awaits, and I truly hopes she finds what makes her heart sing. 

That was a little sappy, right? Okay, what if I tell you I'm going to take up some of her empty closet space. Does that help? Ugh, I'm going to miss this child!! 

2. New Bed

As if having my daughter leave for school isn't bad enough, the other day, my BABY, my eleven year old, told me he was TIRED of his race car bed. Okay, I might have asked him. (What was I thinking?!) He's had it since he was a toddler. It's one of those ones that fits both a crib mattress and a twin mattress. Anyhoo... I waited until Prime Day and then went on Amazon and bought the one bed that WASN'T on sale because, whatever. I put it together over the weekend. My son slept in it last night, and he looks five years older, and I don't want to talk about it anymore.

3. Books News

If you follow me on social media then you probably already know this news (and if you don't and you want to ... the links are above) but ... I'm thrilled to announce that I'm now a client of Olswanger Literary! Up until now I've published all of my children's titles on my own. Having a literary agent opens the doors to so many new opportunities. Stay tuned! I can't wait to tell you more and hope to do a blog post soon about my journey. Did I mention I'm super excited?

4. Shake 'n Break

By now you all know I broke both of my ankles last October in a not so graceful whirly twirly stumble down my bottom two steps of my staircase (that's all it took!!) In total there were three fractures and two torn ligaments. Some of you may also know that in January, apparently because I was walking funny #funnynotfunny I also wound up with a fracture in my left tibia. Nine months later, I'm finally out of my aircast! I still have a torn ligament, but that's like whatever! I'm in an ankle brace, but I can wear real shoes. And I'm allowed to take small walks. I've been going about a half-mile at a time. This is huge - all I have to do is NOT fall again. Oh wait that happened yesterday. Yeah,  but DON'T PANIC - I'M FINE. It was more of a slide and dive in a mud patch. Not a full on tumble. My pride was broken, but nothing else. Just a little bruise on the knee. Still, if anyone knows where I can order a bubble wrap jumpsuit, hit me up okay?

5.  Headlines

Don't worry, this isn't political, but ... one headline did ruffle my feathers a little yesterday. Forbes Magazine wrote an article about how Amazon should replace public libraries to save taxpayers money and well, Twitter (myself included) did its thing, thank goodness. I mean you just don't mess with public libraries. You just don't. My son has read over ten books just this past month. And I've read my fair share as well. I love to  support our local indie bookstore (Shoutout to Open Book Bookstore) but there's no way, I can afford to keep up with my son's insatiable reading habit. Not to mention the wonderful events, the quiet space for working, and the SMELL, oh the smell of all those books. I tried to find the article so I could link it here, but it looks like Forbes took it down... thank you.

Our latest library haul

6.  Speaking of Books  ... Yes! There's a #6 on this list. It's Monday after all!

These are three of my favorite new Middle Grade finds (from my local public library) that should be on your middle grade reader's must read list (and yours too!)

Oh yeah, I forgot about the ice cream. I guess that's #7. 

Hope you all have a great week!



Friday, January 26, 2018

Books and Baubles ... Oh My!

Hello Friends and Happy 2018!

If you've visited my blog before (thank you) you know that I usually post about books or my kids or some combination of the two. But today, I have something completely different, and I'm sure very unexpected. Today, I'm pleased to share with you my newest venture ~

Here are the deets:

You all know me as Karen Pokras Toz, author, but several months ago, I also began making bracelets.

It all began in October of 2017 when I had a not so graceful tumble down my stairs and broke both of my ankles - yup, major ouch! It was even more of a bummer, because as a writer I liked to start each day with a walk (when both the weather and my arthritis cooperated) to clear my head and get my creative juices flowing. After a few weeks, I was going absolutely NUTS and my writing stalled. I needed a replacement for my walks.

That's when I started beading. I beaded and I beaded, and I beaded some more. Soon, I was completely addicted and found myself with a hearty inventory and a new hobby -- again, when my Rheumatoid Arthritis permitted it. It's a frustrating disease, but I do the best I can to find ways around it.

So, I've decided to start a little side business, and since these bracelets were made with love by my swoopy arthritic fingers (yes, the actual words my doctor used), I've decided to donate 10% of my proceeds to The Arthritis Foundation.

Don't worry, I'm still writing, but now I'm both a book and bauble maker. I've put a small sampling below. All of my bracelets are listed for sale on Etsy at Feel free to stop by, browse, and if you're so inclined, click on the little heart to like my shop! I'm excited about the pieces I've created. I hope you are, too. And as always, thank you for your support!


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