Monday, May 27, 2013

Author Interview with Mikey Brooks

I've become virtually acquainted with a very interesting and talented young author. I think you'll find him and his writing interesting too. Please check him out.

Mikey Brooks

1. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming book.
Mikey: I am excited to share! THE DREAM KEEPER
is a middle-grade adventure with a toe in both the real world and the fantastic. It’s inspired by the classic tales that I loved when I was a kid, The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. It’s filled with suspense, action, and of course nightmares.
“When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world?”
It comes out June 1st and is available at any bookstore. You can also find it online on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com as well in ebook. Here are the links:
Paperback Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/4260677
2. You are a multi-talented young man. If you had to pick a turning point in your life that spurred your creativity, what would it be? 
Mikey: Thank you! Since I was little I used to dabble in art and writing but I never thought of doing it as a profession until I had kids. So I’d say they were my turning point. My daughter was the inspiration behind one of my first picture books, BEAN’S DRAGONS. One day she was telling me to tell the dragons in the living room it was time to go home. I promptly opened the front door and sent them on their way. Dragons never leave for long and I’m glad they came back. Children have a way of bringing magic into every home. I think it’s something that should be encouraged. The imagination children have is more than enough fuel to spur any artist’s imagination.
3. You write and illustrate children's books, but from what I read you have won some awards for more literary writing, which do you love to do more and why? 
Mikey: I wrote a lot of my literary work while I was getting my degree in Creative Writing. I’ve personal essays published in literary magazines and even some poetry, but they have never been my passion. Not that I don’t enjoy that side of writing, but my heart lies with the kids. I think there is something unique about storytelling to children that surpasses any type of award or recognition that comes from literary works.  

4. Tell us how you got into sewing and how it relates to your writing (if it does). 
Mikey: My mother taught me how to sew when I was young. By the time I was in high school I was designing all the costumes for the shows. I had a lot of fun doing it. Costumes can tell the audience more than one story about a character. I think it helps me to keep that in mind. Clothes are important in a story. After high school I worked for the Utah Shakespearian Festival and then Ballet West. I even designed several wedding dresses. Now I just make costumes for fun. Halloween is my favorite holiday. What writer wouldn’t want a day dedicated to pretending to be someone else?

5. What authors living and dead have influenced your life and your writing?
Mikey: The most influential have been C.S. Lewis and Frank L. Baum. I grew up in a very rural part of Missouri and had little to no friends. I loved how these authors wrote of escaping the mundane of this world and finding the fantastic somewhere else. I can’t even count the number of times I tried climbing through a wardrobe or clicking my heels together. I never went to magical lands but I did have fun making up stories about them. 

6. What do you wish you had known about writing before you began your career?
Mikey: I think that every writer comes into their craft in their own way. I don’t know if I had changed anything if it would have spurred my career forward or not. I think the only thing I can offer to other writers wanting to turn this into a career is to obtain a support system right off. Without the love and compassion of my wife, family, and friends I would be nowhere. Too often writers get discouraged and we need these wonderful people to help boost our spirits. I am certainly grateful for the angels in my life.

7. What do you like to do besides writing, illustrating and sewing?
Mikey: My favorite thing to do is spend time with my girls. In one afternoon I can be an explorer in Africa, a spaceman on Mars, the king of my own country, even a wizard able to conjure whatever I wish. Most of all they make me feel invisible. Being an author/illustrator is pretty cool but my greatest title in life has been a father. 

  

Thanks Mikey for taking the time to be interviewed for my blog. You seem like a very imaginative person. I also really loved Frank L. Baum books. I read every book of his that I could find. They made my childhood even more interesting. 

Take time to find out more about Mikey and his book. I'm sharing a bio, a synopsis and an excerpt from his book. 

TEASER: 
Dreams: Dorothy called it Oz, Alice called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME.

When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world?

SYNOPSIS:
Loser—the most frightening word to ever be uttered in junior high school. Even the coolest kids are afraid of being associated with it. 14-year-old Parker Bennett is no exception. He can’t even be himself around his friends for fear they might not accept who he really is. When circumstances force him to team up with Kaelyn Clarke, the biggest loser in the ninth grade, Parker has to decide what is more important; protecting his social status or saving the world. Nightmare named Fyren has taken over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, with the intention of controlling mortals, and it falls on Parker, Kaelyn, and Gladamyr – the Dream Keeper – to stop him. They learn being called a loser is no longer a fear, when compared to the terror of real nightmares.

In Praise of THE DREAM KEEPER:
“This really is a cracking novel. Action-packed and spellbinding!”—Cas Peace, author of The Artisans of Albia series.

EXCERPT FROM BOOK:
Parker was about to assassinate the general of the goblin army. It wasn’t murder, it was an assignment. He tried to justify what he was about to do as he jumped from the rooftop and landed just above the battlement wall. It was the perfect spot to scout the camp. The goblins filling the keep were everywhere, sharpening blades and axes or gathering weapons for the impending battle. Parker noticed a large troll in the right hand corner of the space below, hammering solidly on a sword large enough to split three men into six. He spotted his target. 
The general of the goblin army was a large brute with golden braids hanging down his chest. He was the one who had ordered the burning of Parker’s home village. The one who had ordered the death of Parker’s family and friends. This monster, this villain, was the reason Parker had set out on his journey to seek vengeance upon the unjust. This was the creature responsible for Parker swearing allegiance to the Mightercore army, who quickly gave him the role of assassin-scout.
Parker maneuvered his way down the wall, careful not to move too fast or his invisibility cloak would lose its power. He placed his foot in one crevice, then his hand in another. After a few moments of skilled climbing, Parker found himself precariously positioned just behind the golden haired brute, leaving only a small distance between him and his foe. In a quick session tactic, Parker could ignite his blade with the magic of the Mightercore and his target would be no more. He positioned himself to strike, raising his sword and whispering the incantation that would release the blade’s power—.
“Parker.”
He ignored whoever was calling his name; they did not matter. All he saw was the villain before him. The completed spell ignited Parker’s sword with a blazing haze of blue fire, and he had to act fast.
“Parker!”
The loud call startled him and he swung too late. The goblin general had already turned and he struck, forcing Parker back against the rocky battlements. Parker parried the attack and thrust forward with a low slash. The general sidestepped and lunged forward again. Parker parried and rolled away from the wall. A lightning spell was the only magic he had left. If he could find enough time to call out the incantation, he could have the general radiating electrons from every appendage. 
He rolled until he was a good ten feet from his opponent, then quickly stood. Lifting his hand into the air, he called down the lightning. The sky filled with a brilliant white light, and the crack of thunder reverberated off the walls. Parker briefly closed his eyes then opened them, praying he had hit his target. As the white dust began to clear, he made out an image before him. He peered at it, his heart thumping.
The screen went black.
“Parker, I’ve called you three times. Now get off that machine and go do your homework.”

BIO:
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including BEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURES series, and author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel, THE DREAM KEEPER. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.

EMAIL: 

AUTHOR LINKS:
Twitter as: @writtenbymikey 

BOOK LINKS:
Paperback Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/4260677

TITLE: 
THE DREAM KEEPER

ISBN: 
Hardback: 978-1-939993-01-4, Paperback: 978-1-939993-03-8, EBook: 978-1-939993-02-1 

PRICE: 
Hardback: $19.95, Paperback: $12.99, EBook: $4.99.

Monday, May 6, 2013

You Can't Put A Price On Everything

It goes without saying that "the best things in life are free," and that's true with being an author. There are a lot of perks to writing that I hadn't couldn't on. While the money I've made so far is somewhere between working as a child laborer in China and working at the lowest entry job at Walmart, the rewards are endless. Here's a few from the last month. On April 12th, I had a fantastic time at Deseret Book for Ladies Night. I signed a stack of books for customers and looked like a real author. The next week I had a launch party with my friend Cami Checketts at the Book Table in Logan. There I signed a   pre-paid book for one of my high school English teachers Melodee Lambert, one of the people who contributed to my becoming an author. She started a class at Orem High where we chose our own subjects and created our own units on the subject. Writing and reading were big parts of the class. Then she would write comments all over our papers. Stuff like, "way to go," "love this," "keep it up" and so on. I haven't seen her in about thirty-five years. The book was mailed to her. I hope to see her in person soon.

Last month, I also drove down to Ogden and had dinner with three older sisters originally from Grouse Creek. Two of the three had an experience that I used as a springboard for my book Sun Tunnels and Secrets. After Dinner, we went to a book club. Most of these delightful women were of a certain age. Besides one or two I was the youngest there. Each and everyone of the women had read Sun Tunnels and loved it. I got to sign copies for them at the end. I got to hear the real story that started my mind churning from the women who had lived it. It was fun to hear the sisters quibble about the details and it reminded me of the fictional characters in my book. All of them wanted to read my other books. I received a beautiful hand-crocheted bookmark from the hostess. The women made me feel like the book was one of their favorites of all time.
 Then on April 19th, I had a slightly uncomfortable experience which ended up being pretty great. I arrived at a bookstore in SLC for a signing, only to find out that they did not realize I was coming, had not ordered the books, and I had tweeted and put it on Facebook. My editor hurried and brought me some books. It was fun to visit her. And I got to see my kids who hurried up with dinner so they could see me at the store. Then I only had one person come from my advertising and that one person was worth the trip and the humiliation. I taught junior high for one year in Pleasant Grove. Rebecca Liddle Smith was one of my students and recently found me on Facebook. We've exchanged a few letters and she showed up at my signing and bought Poaching Daisies. It's been so much fun to meet her, all grown up, talented, and beautiful. I had to admit to her that I only remembered one student's name from that difficult year and that was the name of a student who had given me trouble. I remember saying to him, "I'll never forget you," and I haven't. I guess the moral of that story is to be exceptional if you want a teacher to remember you. Either be exceptionally rowdy or exceptionally good. Funny though, that year I only remembered one disruptive student. After the one person signing, we went out for ice cream with our son's family.
 Then last but not least, about ten years ago I began a book club. The group has changed some faces over the years, but some have been with me from the very start. They are a sensational group of smart and interesting women and for the most part of similar political bent. For a while, I was the youngest in the group, but then we invited my cousin and she is five years younger. Anyway today we met to discuss my book. It was fun to hear how much they enjoyed the characters, the setting (Yellowstone) and the twists in the story. My cousin read me an email her mother Emma Lou Thayne. "Dear Carole, You make me very proud. Last night I read until 2 am to finish your powerful story of believable people in Yellowstone in on high adventure. What an accomplishment, dear talented niece, to bring them into settings so real and obviously intimately known to you where they become characters we care about and root for even as we turn from page to page to find what in their wild world is going to draw them into what. To manage such tension as well as inviting caring for 300 plus pages is a praiseworthy feat. I send happy congratulations to you and hope for more, more. I wish we ever had a chance to really talk. My love to you and "old Aunt Lou" wishes for great success in your obviously well grounded and more than promising career as a fine writer. Emma Lou. I've received letters over the years from people who have read my books and believe me that writers really appreciate letters from readers. This one means a lot to me because Aunt Emma Lou is 87 and is one of the best writers on the planet, plus she's just one great woman and I've pleased to share her name if not her genetics (she's married to my dad's brother.) Last year she spoke to my group and it was so good. One of the best times our group has ever had. This photo is missing a few. Sometimes, I think life couldn't get any better. 



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Mick

On Sunday we celebrated my husband's birthday. He turned sixty. Our daughter flew in from NYC for the occasion. Our son, who also celebrated his birthday, and his wife and kids drove up from SLC for the occasion. Three of my brothers and my mother and other relatives drove up from Utah county. Lots of friends came. My children and I prepared most of the food and some great friends pitched in too. Gracious friends Dale and Erin Major, Chris Mortenson, and Irv Nelson played guitars and sang. It was a day to remember how grateful we are the wonderful people we know and love. I tried to snap photos all day, but I missed a whole lot of people. And the intense glare through the windows ruined some too. But here's a glimpse into a lovely day.