Monday, November 17, 2014

Humans aren't as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were 'reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.'
 
 

This last week I felt like I have been put through the proverbial literacy wringer. I have always heard that "we are our own worst critic."  This I believed to be true, until I joined a critique group. It was one of the best things I ever did. Then as I started reading through their critiques, and change requests I became skeptical.  
I looked forward to the writing conference this last weekend to better myself, my story, and my writing. I got a call to go into work, which made me miss the conference. I was disappointed.
As my week went on, I would check my email almost hourly, expecting to see an email from the publishing company that promised to get back within this timeline, I have been hoping with my heart and soul they would pick up my novel.  (still no word) Then I was explaining to a family member that I couldn't do something they were asking of me because I was too busy with edits, chapter meetings, my own writing, not to mention my own kids to take care of.  This seemed to upset the family member.  To them, it plainly was not a good enough excuse.
Then as if the literary universe hadn't thrown enough at me, another phone call with an upset person came.  And as I explained the same thing to them, they couldn't care less. Not only were my feelings hurt, but I started to question my own value as a writer.
Am I really my own worst critic? 
 
I decided I would push through and continue editing and writing.  One thing after another would pop up, or get in my way of doing what I truly love. I felt myself faltering onto a slippery path of self doubt. 
This is when avoiding social media is a good idea. One author friend after another started announcing books being picked up and being published, cover reveals, and offers towards their writing. That's when the slippery slope, became a mud slide.  A constant dirty converging of thoughts, self doubt and wanting to quit, started drowning me. I was no longer an author, just a struggling writer. 
More often than not, I feel that those around me don't understand me. I know that our interests are different, but just asking once how the writing is going, or saying "good job" is enough. I have noticed that we don't get noticed or appreciated among others unless they are in the same community as us. 
I finally broke down and confided in a friend. She explained that people don't understand the value of what people in our community do. This was her response, and I could never have said it better myself.

"I think we forget that we have a divine inheritance, right, and duty to create instead of destroy. Over time evil has pushed us to consume, consume, consume. We tear down those who create. We undervalue creative works. Maybe it is time to show that art, music and lit has equal value to the $150 dollar football game ticket. Maybe it time to stop letting Amazon under price authors. Maybe it is time to babysit for a friend who needs the once a week writing group to ease her soul and allow her to find her center. Maybe it is time to show your inner creative soul and allow others the same."
 
I may not be an amazing author yet, but without the encouragement and support of those around me I would never be able to get there. I am blessed to belong to a very supportive community. I love what I do.  It is a passion, and an addiction. No matter how hard I try to stop, I can't.  The stories and ideas won't stop coming.
What I learned this week is this. There will be times when I feel discouraged, and that quitting is my only option. IT'S NOT! I do it because it makes me feel good. My creative outlet is not the same as others. I love what I do. Criticizing myself is just another way of challenging myself.  Not only do I have to overcome all the other discouragers out there, but myself.  I need to get out of my own way and just write!
My solution, I put aside the critiques and decided to finish the story before looking at them again. I decided I can't please everyone, so someone is going to be upset, but I refuse to give up the one thing that stave's off the depression and will continue to ignore the persons request and do what I want.
I can only be happy for my author friends that are succeeding. I know that when my time does come, they will be just as thrilled for me.  If  you have a passion then share it, and don't ever let anyone under value your gifts.
 Now go be creative!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Dream Keeper interview with Author Mikey Brooks!!

 

 

 

Presenting, Author Mikey Brooks!

The Dream Keeper


This week I had the wonderful opportunity to interview my dear friend Mikey Brooks.

He has written an amazing book called "The DreamKeeper".  It recently came out on audiobook as well, narrated by the talented Anthony Bianco!

Everyone that reads books and enjoys one in particular, would love at some point to have an opportunity to sit down with the author and find out what made their recent book adventure what it was. I got to do just that!  I read the first book The DreamKeeper, and was immediately enchanted.  I was swept up into a dream world...literally.  I became very fond of the character Cerulean, I felt that I related to her in some way.  This book takes you on an adventure never before "dreamed" of.  I had the pleasure of delving into Mikey's point of view on being the author of this book.  I hope you enjoy the interview, as I had so much fun coming up with the questions to ask this amazing writer. 


E. I love the name Cerulean, where did you come up with it?

M.  "I patterned Cerulean’s character off the blue fairy from Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. When it came to naming her I wanted to have a word that described her. There are 65 shades of blue, a little more than gray. *wink-wink. I went with cerulean because it was not only a beautiful color it had a nice sound to it."

E. How did you think of Dreams as an alternate universe that we visit in our sleep?

M. "It was strange. It all came to me when I was trying to fall asleep. I kept thinking it would be great if there was some kind of guide that could just lead you to and from Dreams. Suddenly—boom, there was Gladamyr. Then it all just made sense. So many other authors had written about a dreamland (L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, even Shakespeare) but none of them called it what it was: Dreams." 



E. When you were writing the book, did you intend to have three love stories in one book?

M." That’s funny you should ask because I don’t think I focus much on the love stories but they are there. So no, it was never intentional. Sometimes characters create their own side plots. The one love story I did want to explore was that of Gladamyr and Cerulean. Here we have a good dream and a nightmare falling in love. I like to play with the idea of opposites and how when they are brought together magical things can happen."

 
E. Did you intend for the children to have magical powers when you first started writing the book?

M. "Yes! The reason I write middle grade books is because I love that kids still believe in magic. With the story taking place in a dreamland I knew right away that I’d have to give these kids special powers to overcome the nightmares. I think that is part of the appeal that it has for some of my readers."


 

E. How does this book relate to you and why?

M. "I relate a lot with Gladamyr. He wasn’t just a nightmare in his past, he was the worst. He tortured children as they slept. Yet, he found redemption. He changed and became a better individual. It didn’t stop there though. He still longs to better himself. I like that about Gladamyr and I relate to that. We all have made mistakes—probably not as harsh as Gladamyr, but even so, we can change and find forgiveness. I think we could all be a little better in who we are."


E. If you could have any magical powers of your characters what would it be and why?

M. "I’d love to shape shift! Man to be anything I wanted? Now that would be cool. If I couldn’t have Gladamyr’s powers, I think I’d go with Kaelyn. She heals and helps people and I think her power is noble."




E. When you go to sleep do you go to Mare or Favor?

M. "It really depends on the night. Most of the time I enjoy my visits to Dreams. Other times they get a bit scary. I’ll let you in on a secret. All the nightmares that are mentioned in Dreams came from my own childhood. I guess I spent a lot of time in Mares when I was a kid."

  

E. Do you feel that you have created a bond between you and your characters?

M. "Oh yes! I can relate with probably every one of them. They have become my friends. I find myself as I am writing trying to get the words out as fast as I can to see what is going to happen next. I laugh. I cry. I hope that everything will turn out in the end. That might sound crazy to anyone is isn’t a writer."



E. As you continue this journey in the dream keeper series, how many books are you planning?

M. "There is just one more left. It is called The Dream Makers and it will available this fall. However, I’ve had several requests for a prequel. A story comes out in book 2, The Dreamstone, that really does ask to be told. I might explore sharing that in the future. Who knows? Maybe Gladamyr will find another reason to call on the aid of two teenagers."



E. If you could change anything about your book, what would it be and why?

M. "I don’t think there is anything I would change. I believe, like life, things happen for a reason. In book 2 lots of bad things happen. In book 3 there’s even more. Each time a new obstacle presents itself I wonder how on earth the heroes are going to overcome it. Then I am surprised when they find a way. They grow from each challenge. I think we as humans should learn that lesson too."

This book is definitely worth the read!  Your kids will love exploring these new places and characters.  I got to know more about this book that I enjoyed so much.  We all have a super power of some kind and Mikey's is bringing these books to life, and creating magical worlds for our minds to explore!  I am honored that I got to read this, talk to the author, and that I can call  Mikey a friend!  Go and check this book out, you won't regret it!

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Don't forget to check out the GIVEAWAY
at the end of this post for a chance to 
WIN some fantastic prizes!

We are thrilled to announce that The Dreamstone, book two in The Dream Keeper Chronicles is now available in audiobook. If have never had the opportunity to listen to an audiobook before, now is your time! An audiobook is a wonderful way to enjoy a book. It brings a level of richness and art to the book you can't get with just words alone.

Dorothy called it Oz, Alice Called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME.

There is a world inside our own, 
but we can’t see it when we are 
awake—only when we sleep. 
It is then we find ourselves in Dreams.  

Synopsis for book 1: The Dream Keeper

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 for book 2: The Dreamstone

When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. When they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem.   


Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

Check out what people are saying 
about The Dream Keeper Chronicles!
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"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

“A wild stallion of a story: fast, thrilling, and unpredictable. If this one isn’t a kid-pleaser, I don’t know what is.” ~Michelle Isenhoff, author of the Taylor Davis Series 

"I listened to The Dream Keeper on audiobook and absolutely loved it! Anthony Bianco did an outstanding job of bringing each character to life." ~L.R.W Lee, author of The Andy Smithson Series


"My heart hammered and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page. I felt every emotion the characters did, I laughed, I cried, I felt fear while reading this book." ~Amazon reviewer

"If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you'll love this!" ~Amazon reviewer

Check out this interview 
with the


What have you enjoyed most about narrating The Dream Keeper Chronicles?

Bringing the mythology that Mikey has created to life. There is a sense of innocence, wonder, and possibility on the world of Awake and Dreams. Our dreams are one of the nearest things we still have to magic. And discovering the story has helped remind me to continue to look for the magic in the world around me.

How did you go about finding a distinct voice for each character?

Many times Mikey provided some kind of description of the character that would inform the choices I would make. Age, gender, body size/ shape. I imagine how the voices sound when I am reading and do my best to apply those changes when I get in the booth. I would like to think that all of the choices that I made were informed by the text. I did my best to fully imagine what Mikey created and trust that when he is satisfied with the result I have done my job.

You work as a professional actor; do you find your profession helps you in narrating books?

I find it incredibly helpful. The fact that I am not in front of an audience doesn't make a lot of a difference to me. The act of storytelling is the same no matter what the medium. Many of the skills needed: articulation, breath support, vocal flexibility, emotion (to highlight a few) all come into play when recording. When you are in the booth you have to be hyper aware of every movement and sound. Even though nobody can see what you look like, any extraneous movements can cause sounds which can be picked up by the mic. It is essential to have the physical and vocal awareness to keep those sounds to a minimum. At the same time you can't allow that to keep you from bing expressive and energized when telling the story. It can be a tricky balance sometimes. But the years of training help to balance those factors.

Is there a character in the book you related to the most and why?

I think Gladamyr was the easiest to relate to, even though he is a Dream keeper. I love the tortured heroes. Plus, Gladamyr's powers are the coolest! Many of my favorite fantasy characters have been Shape-shifters or have had an ability similar to Gladamyr. It probably appeals to the actor in me, being able to shift and morph would be like the ultimate costume change.
narrator, Anthony Bianco!

narrating books?

I find it incredibly helpful. The fact that I am not in front of an audience doesn't make a lot of a difference to me. The act of storytelling is the same no matter what the medium. Many of the skills needed: articulation, breath support, vocal flexibility, emotion (to highlight a few) all come into play when recording. When you are in the booth you have to be hyper aware of every movement and sound. Even though nobody can see what you look like, any extraneous movements can cause sounds which can be picked up by the mic. It is essential to have the physical and vocal awareness to keep those sounds to a minimum. At the same time you can't allow that to keep you from bing expressive and energized when telling the story. It can be a tricky balance sometimes. But the years of training help to balance those factors.

Is there a character in the book you related to the most and why?

I think Gladamyr was the easiest to relate to, even though he is a Dream keeper. I love the tortured heroes. Plus, Gladamyr's powers are the coolest! Many of my favorite fantasy characters have been Shape-shifters or have had an ability similar to Gladamyr. It probably appeals to the actor in me, being able to shift and morph would be like the ultimate costume change.

If you were to dream up a nightmare what would it be?

Absolutely terrifying. Probably something similar to Minion, a monster made from a swarm of spiders. When I have nightmares they are the worst. I am usually being chased by a dark formless, shifting shadow (not unlike Gladamyr now that I think about it). There are always lost of teeth and it is fast; constantly changing throughout the dream. The worst nightmares know when to change and get worse when you think it can get any worse.

How do you manage to smoothly accentuate the “voice” of the different characters? 

Breath, breath, breath. You can't transition from voice to voice without the proper breath support to fuel the instrument. If it sounds smooth it is a combination of quality editing and quality vocal control by the narrator.

How did you become a book narrator? Did anything specific prompt you to undertake this career?

A friend encouraged me to pursue it. He made the transition from actor to narrator full time and thought I would also be good at it. So, he gave me the initial push. I haven't been able to make that transition fully, though. I am still working and audition for gigs in bother careers. As well as working at a coffee shop and doing odd work as a ranch hand and landscaper to make ends meet. I am still at the begging of my narrating career but what has prompted me to continue to pursue it is the flexibility to create my own hours, work from home, and the complete artistic control of the storytelling.


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Narrator Bio:

Anthony Bianco is a professional actor living and working in Denver, Colorado. He is a native Oregonian and has been acting and storytelling for the past eighteen years. He   


time and thought I would also be good at it. So, he gave me the initial push. I haven't been able to make that transition fully, though. I am still working and audition for gigs in bother careers. As well as working at a coffee shop and doing odd work as a ranch hand and landscaper to make ends meet. I am still at the begging of my narrating career but what has prompted me to continue to pursue it is the flexibility to create my own hours, work from home, and the complete artistic control of the storytelling.


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Narrator Bio:

Anthony Bianco is a professional actor living and working in Denver, Colorado. He is a native Oregonian and has been acting and storytelling for the past eighteen years. He received a BFA in Acting with a minor in Shakespeare Studies at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. Anthony then went on to receive is MFA in Acting from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Anthony moved to Denver five years ago and has worked for three seasons with the Denver Center Theatre Company, one season at Colorado Shakespeare Festival and most recently appeared as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities.

Author Bio:

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Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of the best-selling middle-grade series The Dream Keeper Chronicles, The Stone of Valhalla, and The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (www.emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com
 
Check out the books!

The Dream Keeper

The Dreamstone