Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quick Review: The Dream Keeper by Mikey Brooks

If you guys haven't seen it yet, Mikey Brooks has come out with his latest book, The Dream Keeper.

Mikey and I have gotten to know each little a lot more the last year. We are both hosts of the Authors' Think Tank podcast, we are both active in the ATT group, we are in the same critique group, and we shared a room at LTUE back in February.

But this is where things go crazy: he is my brother-in-law, a fact we didn't know until after we had become friends. After realizing this, it turns out that we've been to a few family events and weddings and didn't even know each other. Seriously, what are the odds?

While chatting over story ideas, I was excited to pick up The Dream Keepers when I got a blurb from Mikey. Here is the book description:
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? THE DREAM KEEPER is an upper middle-grade fantasy-adventure that will keep you turning the pages.

It is right about one thing, it WILL keep the pages turning. The pace of this book is very fast as it seems like a lot of things is happening all at once. The characters do take little pauses to reflect on the events that are happening, which is nice because we get a chance to catch our breaths, but then excitement ensues again. I think this is a great book if you are looking for a good way to pace an adventure novel.

I found the book to be a fun and humorous middle grade read. I know, I know, you are thinking I'm a little biased because Mikey is family. Well, I might be, but here are what others are saying about the book:

"The Dream Keeper is a fun, fantastic ride through both Dream and Nightmare. Brooks has written a book that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Bravo!" —Michaelbrent Collings, bestselling author of The Billy Saga and Hooked: A True Faerie Tale

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

"If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you'll love this!" -Brooklyn

"Mikey spins such a magical tale that will sweep you off your feet." - Konstanz Silverbow

You can pick it up at Amazon by clicking here. You can also visit Mikey's website to get to know him better and to find out his other projects by visiting http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I haven't had a contest in a long time, it's due. On today's Authors' Think Tank podcast we had Adam Sidwell join us on the show (YAY!!). Adam is a blast! He has written Evertaster and The Buttersmiths' Gold and hope we can have him visit the podcast again in the future.

I have an extra *SIGNED* copy of his first book, Evertaster, and thought that a giveaway would be an excellent tie-in to the show.

So check out the show at:


And enter below for your chance to win your own copy of Evertaster*. Contest ends this weekend, but you can tweet about it every day for extra entries. May the cupcakes be forever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Apologies to my friends outside of The States, but I can only afford to make this available to people within the United States. Enter more legalese here for any exploits that hasn't occurred to me yet. (If you have a question, I'm easy to find so ask away).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Character Growth Through Trials

I'll explain why some other time, but due to my latest focus of writing projects, I find myself looking at people and thinking, "I wonder what their story is. What hardships did they have to endure in order to get where they are." Every interesting person in life has a history of trial they had to overcome in order to be great.

I love stories of overcoming hardships like this one. It's so beautiful, it brought a tear to my eye:

So, my advice to you is that while you are writing your characters who are AWESOME and INTERESTING, it is rarely that they were born that way. Usually, they have to overcome hardships in order to be the character that your readers want to cheer for and care about. Ask yourself what hardships they had to overcome.

An example is this video. I don't know who this mother is, but I have no doubt that the hardships she has had to ENDURE and OVERCOME (two things that build great characters) since having her son have made her a better person. But so much of that is choices. She could have chosen the easy way "out" in so man cases. Not just the abortion, but she could have put Christian up for adoption, or drop the waddled baby at the steps of the corner church, or just ignored him and make him society's problem. I think taking the baby out of the picture would have broken her. Destroyed her. Made her a lessor person. She choose the hard road and her choices has lead to a blessed  family and a child that knows love. For those we care about this in this story, it is a win!! Who here is still hung up on the woman who came over and said, "You should have aborted that thing when you had the chance."? Who remembers her. Who cares about such a heartless, uncaring person? I'm sure she has had hardships in her life as well, but her hardships has led her to saying this to somebody who held a beautiful, giggling child in her arms.

Find a character in all of your stories who has to choose this type of life, a life path that leads them to excellence. Even better, get a few of these characters.  And, you've got a story on your hands that people will cheer for and not want to put down.

Just for fun, have two or three such characters with the same goals but different means in order to achieve them. Get them to fight about it. In their own minds, the choices they make are the most correct ones. Look at The Council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings. They are all great and powerful people who have had to overcome hardships, and they all had one goal, and that was to keep the ring of power out of the hands of the enemy. Some wanted to use it, some wanted to hide it or protect it, while others wanted to destroy it. Gimli wanted to--and tried to--take an axe to it. Ultimately, the bravest and more interesting choice, was to give the ring to the most humblest creature of all so he could simply walk into Mordor and destroy it. But, didn't you love that conflict? Didn't it put you on the edge of your seat?

Same with The Avengers. All of the Avengers were pow-wowwing in the science room talking about what should be done with the tesseract and the Avengers and I think there was a second of disagreement between Coke and Pepsi. All great heroes with phenomenal backstories of trial, endurance, choices, and not taking the easy road. All of them had the same goal. They all had different approaches on what to do next.

You don't have to tell your readers what those hardships are, but you really should SHOW it in one way or another. Let those experiences shine in their eyes. Let the reader know what they went through, even if you never, ever have the character come out and say, "My Dad chopped off my hand and I had to convert him to my religion without getting angry." (Spoiler alert: The was Star Wars episodes 5 & 6)