Tuesday, June 25, 2013

To Split or Not to Split Infinitives

To split or not to split infinitives? That is the question posed in an informative post by Bamasaltydog on The ABC Writer's Guild. What is an infinitive you may ask? Well, it's the basic form of a verb, ie: to + verb. To run, to jump, to sleep, to eat, etc. For a more detailed explanation go to:


Before reading the blog post below on splitting infinitives, I'd never thought much about it. After reading it, I decided to scour a sample of one of my novels to see if I'd been guilty of the hideous crime. I didn't find any of the dasterdly devils. To me splitting infinitives sounds a little funny, old fashioned, or just plain unnatural. It also involves using more of those taboo "-ly" adverbs. Gasp!

For example:

       She wanted to lazily lie on the grass and simply watch the clouds float slowly by.


What do you think? Read the blog post below and decide for yourself whether or not to split infinitives. Then please leave me a note. Thanks!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I've been taking a little break from writing to research agents while I'm waiting to hear back from an editor on some revisions she suggested on a novel I sent her. (Fingers crossed that she loves the changes enough to offer me a contract!) Anyway, I've been writing everyday for almost 11 years now and it's a little strange not writing. I feel sort of lost, but it feels good to take a little breather for a month or so while I let some stories and ideas percolate.

In the mean time I'm still reading and critiquing my writing groups' novels and having them read and critique chapters of my novels. So, I'm not just twiddling my thumbs. Even though I'm chomping at the bit to send my novel out to agents, I'm holding off on it for now because I want to make sure it's the best it can be and feel like I need some more feedback on it.

Last time I sent a novel out to agents I got a lot of interest. Half the agents I sent it to requested pages, and although they had positive things to say about it, they said it wasn't quite right for them. I think it just wasn't quite ready. I've done another rewrite on it after having it critiqued by an author who gave me great feed back and said it was almost there but not quite. She was able to pinpoint the problems for me and hopefully I fixed them.

If I sell my novel, I'll be busy with edits for a while. If not, I'll concentrate on finding an agent for my other novel and maybe start a new project. I'm just not ready for that yet, because everything is so up in the air at this point in time. I feel suspended. Things could take off here pretty soon or I could come crashing down real quickly and have to recalculate and head in another direction. Patience and flexibility in this industry is a must.

Where are you at in your writing? Are you editing, writing a new story, or submitting, or doing all those things at once? Good luck with whatever step you're on.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Blog tour interview with Mikey Brooks, author of The Dream Keeper

Today I have the privilege of hosting Mikey Brook's blog tour for his book The Dream Keeper. I've only known Mikey for a short time, but he is one of the funnest, nicest, most positive people I know, and I'm thrilled to be able to help promote his book. I asked him a few random questions about his book so you can get to know him a little better, too. You'll find his answers below, along with other interesting info about Mikey and his book, including an excerpt. Enjoy!

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.


Website: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/ 
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Mikey-Brooks/e/B00B8ICZ4W
Blog: http://writtenbymikey.blogspot.com/
Podcast: http://www.foreverwriters.com/category/podcast/
Goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17727253-the-dream-keeper  
Facebook at: http://facebook.com/writtenbymikeybrooks 
Twitter as: @writtenbymikey 
WattPad: http://wattpad.com/MikeyBrooks

Hardback: http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Keeper-Mikey-Brooks/dp/1939993016
Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1939993032
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/The-Dream-Keeper-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00CPE0PT0 
Paperback Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/4260677
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17727253-the-dream-keeper
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1115262781?ean=9781939993014 
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dream-keeper-mikey-brooks/1115262781?ean=2940016761121
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Dream-Keeper/book-HNZTMBHSwEmQvFtnDTAvbQ/page1.html?s=PgMlaS-n_kWtXFq9rPCQMg&r=2


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.

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 Artisans of Albia series.


Parker was about to assassinate the general of the goblin army. I 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.

My interview with Mikey: 
  • How did you come up with the idea for your novel, The Dream Keeper? 
The idea for came when I really didn’t want it. It was late at night and I had to be up the next morning at 4am. I turned over and looked at the clock and it was ten after eleven. I moaned to my wife and she said, “Just wait and it will be 11:11—wishing minute.” I waited and wished to fall asleep. I remember thinking that it would be cool if there was someone in charge of escorting our minds to dreams. Trigger book idea: a story about a dream world where there are keepers responsible for escorting mortals to and from Dreams. When an idea pops into my head, that I love, it’s hard to put down. Let me just tell you I didn’t get to sleep that night; neither did my wife. I had to brainstorm a plot. So be ever open to inspiration because you never know when it’s about to strike. (Alice: Very cool. What a supportive wife you have!)
  • What made you decide to self publish? 
I have a quote that I read pretty much every day because it’s mounted next to my computer screen. It’s from the talented James Owen. “Never, ever, sacrifice what you want the most, for what you want most at the moment.” When I received an offer to publish The Dream Keeper traditionally there were things about the contact I didn’t like. I kept sending emails back and forth trying to negotiate some of the things in the contract and the whole time I had this quote popping into my head. I realized that what I wanted most at the moment was to sign this contract so that I could tell everyone I was traditionally published. How awesome would that be? But what I wanted most was to get this book done right—I had concerns about the publisher and in the end I made the decision to go on my own. I don’t regret my choice, although it’s a lot harder doing it this way. I believe there are great opportunities for authors now that weren’t available a few years ago. I believe a highbrid author, being published both traditionally and self-published, is the way of the future. (Alice: That would be a tough decision and take a lot of courage. Good for you for not sacrificing what you want most for what you want now. I love that quote.)
  • How do you capture that MG voice? 
It’s kind of funny because I don’t try to sound like a kid when I am writing my characters. Maybe it’s because I am a kid myself that it comes out so well. I have a fabulous critique group who at times will say, “Now, Mikey, a fifth grader would not say this.” Lucky for me I have them. I think the voice for middle grade readers needs to be fun, informative, and likable. How I do that, I don’t know.

(Alice: You're just a natural. No fair.)
  • Who are some of your favorite MG authors and why? 
I have so many! I will forever be a fan of J.K. Rowling. I used to have Harry Potter parties—HUGE ones. I was one of those crazed fans that wrote her letters and got replies. It was crazy—yes, I am a Geek. I loved her writing because I connected so much with Harry. I love Rick Riordan because he is funny. I love Jennifer Nielsen because her books always surprise me, and I love Brandon Mull because he writes the books I would have wanted to read when I was a boy.

(Alice: Those are some of my faves, too.)
  • How have they influenced your writing? 
I believe that any writer who wants to write a good middle grade book should read a lot of great ones. I have learned soooo much from reading other author’s works. For example, Jennifer Nielsen wrote The False Prince. The first chapter alone got her in a bidding war with several publishers. They all wanted her book because of the first chapter! So I read that book right away. I read and read that first chapter and took notes on the things she did to hook her readers. Its stuff like that I look for when reading. I love the pacing that’s done in The 39 Clues books so when I need to work on pacing, I’ll read some of those. You can take so much from others just by seeing what it is they are doing that makes there book shine so brightly.

(Alice: You were influenced by some of the best. I'm sure it shows in your book.)
  • Have video games influenced your writing, and if so, how? 
It certainly did for The Dream Keeper. Parker, my main character, is a gamer. I had to think back on some of the games I played when I was Parker’s age when incorporating them into my book.  He and his friends are into this game called Medieval Assassin. I remember when I played games like this you sort of become a part of it. I tried to imitate that into the book.

How do you work around your physical challenges with pain and stay so positive?

It’s not easy to stay positive, but luckily I have a great support team. As some know, I have Chrones Disease and Inflammatory Arthritis which can be very painful at times. I just have to keep pushing myself to stay positive. When I get down—I do have my moments—my wife is always there to offer me a glass of pickle juice (her way of saying, “get over it.”) I believe we all have the trials in our lives personalized for us. We are supposed to learn something from them. Take your trial and try to make a positive out of a bad situation. I do and it helps make it seem worth it.

(Alice: You're a great example and inspiration!)
  • How do you include humor in your stories? 
I think the moment you are trying to be funny is when you’re not. I like to poke fun at the little things. And it never hurts to add a fart or two in there—kids laugh at the silliest things.

(Alice: Ha! Ha!)
  • How do you plan to promote your book? 
Promotion is the hardest part about self-publishing. I am my own marketer and advertising campaign. Lucky for me I have lots of great author friends that help blog about my books to their friends. Thank you Alice! I also set up lots of giveaways on blogs and goodreads. I tried to get in as many places as I could. The best thing you can do for your book is to get people talking about it. The more excitement you can show the more excited they will show and then it will catch fire. Really how to the big publishers do it? They get people talking.

(Alice: You're welcome! I'm happy to help.)

Anything else you’d like to add? Advice for aspiring writers? 

I know that people hear this all the time but I am going to say it again because it is soooo true. NEVER , EVER GIVE UP!! Too many talented and gifted writers called it quits because they didn’t have the staying power. It is a hard journey but it is so worth it. It doesn’t matter if your book sells a million copies of just a few. What matters is that you book is out there and being read by someone. I am a firm believer that a book does not exist until it has been read. So make it happen!

(Alice: Excellent advice and so true!)

Thanks so much Mikey for sharing your insights. I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know him a little better. Now, if you haven't done so already hurry and buy his book!