Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview Friday with Illustrator & Author Mikey Brooks

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.

VSG: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today.

Mikey: It is my pleasure. I am happy to be on a show that helps promote writing for mommies and daddies.

VSG: What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Mikey: The best thing for me to do is remember that have more than one role in life and each of those roles requires my attention. Having balance means to give everyone of those roles an equal portion. Never let writing come in the way of being a good parent.

VSG: Can you share with us a little about your current book(s)?

Mikey: Of Course! I started out writing and illustrating picture books. I have several out including BEAN’S DRAGONS and ABC DAVENTURES. My newest book, THE DREAM KEEPER, is my first novel. It is a middle-grade fantasy-adventure with a toe both in the real world and the fantastic.

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?

VSG: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book(s)?

Mikey: The biggest challenge in writing for kids is keeping their attention. With picture books you can do it with art, with older kids you have to do it with action and humor. The struggle with writing THE DREAM KEEPER wasn’t keeping up with the action—it’s got loads of it. Keeping it funny was the challenge. It’s hard to find something funny in a nightmare chasing you through an eerie world—unless that nightmare is a psychotic clown throwing hungry rubber chickens; that makes it a little better.

VSG: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?

Mikey: The one thing that came away from this book is the idea of acceptance. The story is about three completely different people all wanting to find acceptance. Parker and Kaelyn are teenagers trying to be themselves in a social world that doesn’t promote such views. And Gladamyr is a reformed nightmare always trying to overcome his dark past. Finding acceptance is always a struggle for teens and I think this book speaks to that.

VSG: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Mikey: I have several! The sequel to THE DREAM KEEPER, THE DREAMSTONE has been sent off to my editor. I just finished up a wonderful action-adventure book THE STONE OF VALHALLA which I am now starting to pitch, and THE PRINCESS AND THE HOG, a picture book twist on a fairytale. And ABC ADVENTURES: COOKING WITH KIDS, a collaboration with my wife, comes out later this year. It’s been busy, but I like it busy.

VSG: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?

Mikey: It is very important to take time for all your roles in life. Take time to be the best daddy or mommy you can be, take time to be the best husband or wife you can be, and take time to be the best writer you can be. If you want to write make it an important part of your life. If it becomes important to you, then you will make the time you need. You’ll also find that if you try not to sacrifice one important role for another you will be happy in all of them. Set goals and stick to them. And never, ever, give up!

VSG: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?

Mikey: Well you can find me hanging about just anywhere online. My website is and my blog is For writing tips I recommend listing to The Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. We have weekly episodes with special guests including Top Literary Agents and New York Times Bestselling Authors. Check that out at:

VSG:  Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama or Dad”?

Mikey: Just remember who you are doing it all for and try to include your kids in your writing too. Whether you brainstorm with them by sharing part of your story, letting them help you draw characters, or giving their opinion on your cover. You will find that kids are honest and intelligent in their choices. And they don’t care if you are a big time author or a closet poet as long as you are a good mommy or daddy. Happy writing!

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.”

Twitter as: @writtenbymikey

Paperback Create Space:


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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review Tuesday: Blast of the Dragon's Fury (Book 1 of the Andy Smithson Series)

About the Book:
Ten-year-old Andy Smithson is magically brought to the Land of Oomaldee while he is doing dishes one night. Unbeknownst to him, he is there to break a 500-year-old curse.  Andy learns that his quest is the Dragon’s Lair to find an ingredient critical to breaking the curse - the scale from an elusive red dragon, the fiercest of all dragon species. Andy nearly destroys the castle amidst adventures battling fire-breathing dragons, fighting vicious vulture attacks, escaping people-eating giants and more.

A middle grade (5th & 6th grade) fantasy adventure that entertains while teaching uncommon life changing narratives.

Publisher: Createspace
ISBN: 978-1482312645
ISBN -10: 1482312646
Available in eBook and Print
Publication Date: April 2013
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure

Overall Thoughts:
Those who follow or know me already understand my love of fantasy novels, especially middle grade and YA. I have always found myself drawn to these types of storylines since I was little, but if you add a hint of mystery…I’m your new biggest fan. I love solving puzzles and trying to guess what will happen next, and I certainly got both in the first book of the Andy Smithson series. You not only have your typical fantasy with magical creatures, wizards and castles, you also have a bit of paranormal with a pinch of mystery as well.
I found as I reached chapter three of the book I had a hard time putting it down. Last time this happened was when I read the Harry Potter series. These are two very different types of books but I was drawn in the same way. I enjoyed the little hints given but where I could totally guess the outcome. The magical world created by L.R.W. Lee is vivid and the words easily painted a picture in my mind. 

I feel L.R.W. Lee has a possible winner here for middle grade readers. Teachers and homeschooling parents will be able to use this book to help teach core lessons about values, and the author has study guides/worksheets on her website for such a task.

You can find out more about L.R.W. Lee, her middle grade fantasy adventure series and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Twitter: @LRWLee

Places where available:

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit