Friday, 24 May 2013

The Dream Keeper - Guest Post and Giveaway!

Hello friends! Today I have the honour and pleasure of hosting a guest post and GIVEAWAY by my lovely friend and wonderful author MIKEY BOOKS!

For those who don't know Mikey, here's his author 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.

I had the great privilege of meeting Mikey at Rhemalda Publishing's first ever Got Stories? conference in Salt Lake City in June 2012. We got talking, and once I returned home to the UK, we carried on the friendship through email and Facebook. When he was looking for a copy-editor to help him prepare The Dream Keeper for publication, he came to me. I was honoured to work with him, especially as The Dream Keeper is such a brilliant book!

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?

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.

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

So you see, I am already a fan of Mikey's work. Below you will find links to where you too can connect with Mikey, and also links to The Dream Keeper on Amazon. Oh - and don't forget the GIVEAWAY! You'll find the entry form at the bottom of the post. But now Mikey would like to share some of the thoughts that were going through his mind while he was planning and writing The Dream Keeper. Over to you, Mikey!

The Darker Side of Dreams

By: Mikey Brooks


I am excited to announce the release of my middle-grade fantasy THE DREAM KEEPER. It is an action-packed adventure with a toe in both the real world and the fantastic. 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?

One of the most thrilling things that came from writing THE DREAM KEEPER was being able to delve into the nightmares of children. It was fun to explore the realms that scare kids. One thing that I’ve been asked is, how do you know when the ‘scary stuff’ is too much?

I believe kids can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. Look at the Harry Potter books; there is some scary stuff in there that kids didn’t pick up on because they think differently than adults. They don’t worry, like a parent, about losing a child to a dark wizard. Adults fear tangible things that may or may not happen, like death, an attacker, a break in, a terrorist act, and natural disasters. All these things have happened and we as adults fear they could happen to us. That is what is scary for adults. Sure kids have similar fears too, but it is the unknown that is scary for kids. Not knowing is worse than knowing. They fear the dark intangible things.

When I write to scare kids, I try to emphasize the dark hidden things. I try to look at what kids are afraid of and set that as my goal. While I was writing THE DREAM KEEPER I did a lot of research into what kids are afraid of. What I found interesting is the number one thing kids are afraid of is the dark. Kids are afraid of the unknown. They fear what might be there hiding. I built off that fear in creating the nightmares for my book. I did find myself pulling back on some of the scenes in the book, but only when I found myself questioning if that was just too freaky or not. Mostly I ignored it, knowing I’m a wimp compared to most kids.
Thanks for sharing that, Mikey, it's always fascinating to hear the mechanics of how an author decides what to write. And now that everyone's read your guest post, and heard so much about the book, I think it's time to read an excerpt! And people, below the excerpt are all the links you'll need to buy The Dream Keeper. Please don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY to win a SIGNED COPY of The Dream Keeper!

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—
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.
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.”

Goodreads at:  
Facebook at:
Twitter as: @writtenbymikey

Paperback Create Space:

Hardback: 978-1-939993-01-4, Paperback: 978-1-939993-03-8, EBook: 978-1-939993-02-1
Hardback: $19.95, Paperback: $12.99, EBook: $4.99.
Paperback: £852, EBook: £3.30.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Alchemy of Song.

I adore being a writer. I love it for so many different reasons, but one of the strongest is being able to use something I’m good at for helping other people, or making them smile.

Of course, I hope that my fantasy series, Artesans of Albia, connects emotionally with my readers. I like to think I can feel them laughing, crying, getting angry, feeling sad, experiencing the first pangs of love, grieving, and all the other human emotions that keep us alive, along with me as I write. I have always written from an emotional viewpoint, and I have a hard time imagining how you could NOT write from an emotional viewpoint. I invest every bit of my heart and soul into what I write – be it fiction, non-fiction, or songs. I know from the wonderful reviews that King’s Envoy and King’s Champion have received that many readers are able to feel what my characters feel, and this is something vitally important to me. I know I have succeeded as a writer when that happens.
The other aspect of my creative life, however – song writing – is different. The addition of music to the words heightens or changes the listener’s responses, because there are two different connections going on. First you have the meaning conveyed by the words of the song. This, generally, is unambiguous, although some song writers do seem to delight in producing words that confuse and puzzle! With those who don’t, the listener immediately knows what the writer is trying to say.
Then there’s the more visceral, maybe even spiritual, connection formed by the music, which is a far more subjective and fluid medium than the written word.

With written words, readers can impose their own ‘voice’ or imagination over that of the writer, and this can sometimes alter the meaning of those words beyond anything the writer envisaged. Written words can be fickle, even misunderstood. Think of those texts or emails sent in haste, whose recipients took umbrage over what was meant as a joke. It is nigh-on impossible to convey tone of voice with a few bald words, and emoticons must be used instead, to provide a visual key.

With music, however, it is so much easier to convey emotions that everyone can instantly relate to. Even people who don’t like music can hear the mood the composer intended to create. And when you put both together! – well, an alchemy occurs unlike any other, instantly transporting the listener to a unique place inhabited only by that song.
This is what I have tried to do in my own song writing. The songs I am creating for my Artesans series are steered by each book – some exist in full within the book itself, in poem form, such as The Wheel Will Turn, from King’s Envoy, used here in the book trailer from Rhemalda Publishing. Others exist as snippets, or are only mentioned by title. Creating these is a challenge I relish.
A completely different challenge, however, comes into being when you decide to create a song for someone else. It becomes a beast with dual nature, because there is someone else to please – someone else’s feelings and desires to consider.
When I read Mikey Brooks’ soon-to-be-published MG novel, The Dream Keeper, I immediately wanted to create that alchemy by writing the lullaby that eases young sleepers into the Land of Dreams. Mikey’s prose enabled me to hear the song so clearly, and the more I thought about it, the more I found myself humming a pleasing and soothing melody. In his book, the lullaby exists only as a hummed melody – there are no words. However, my creative juices had started to run and I simply had to add some words. Once this was done, of course, I had to face the hardest part of all – I had to let Mikey hear it! What he didn’t know – and won’t know until he reads this blog post – is that I have never written a song for anyone else before. I have written songs with people, and I have worked with others on my own songs, but I have never actually created a song completely and totally for someone else – let alone without their knowledge! Plus, I had to record it on my computer, with just my voice and my rusty old guitar that I haven’t played for years!
Thankfully, the recording came out well enough for Mikey to imagine how the polished lullaby would sound. I was so relieved he liked it! I recorded it to a lovely sound track created by my wonderful song-writing partners: David Snell (my brother) and David Shepherd (collectively known as Nex’t’Nothin). I will be adding it to my website as a free download, and I’m sure it will feature on Mikey’s website too. Maybe even on a trailer for The Dream Keeper, so why not watch out for it? And while you’re at it, why not buy The Dream Keeper when it is published? It’s a wonderful book, well written, with lots of tension and action. It’s classed as MG, but it’s a great read for adults, too! I will be hosting a Giveaway and a guest post by Mikey on this blog on May 24th. Hope to see you then!