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Mikey+Pic+1.jpgChildren book authors are some of the most fun people on the planet. They know how to connect with young readers with words and illustrations.  But very few authors can illustrate and write their books too. Mikey Brooks is right near the top of the list of talented authors. Here are some fun facts about him. Mikey Brooks has a degree in English from Utah State University. His love of art is his passion. He works full-time as a freelance illustrator and cover designer.  He has had several awards for his work. In 2014 he won the Huge Howey Award for Best Children’s Book Author and recently won the Best of State 2016 for his artwork in Ice Cream U.S.A. One other fun fact about Mikey is that he was an indie author for a few years before he landed an agent at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC. He is also a member of The Emblazoners – http://embazoner.com/. A website devoted to writing on the hearts of children.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

“Definitely energizes! If writing ever exhausts you then you might be doing something wrong (maybe working on the wrong project? wrong genre?). I feel empowered when I write. I do it first thing in the morning (I wake up at 4:30am well before the kiddos get up) and it really starts my day off on a high note.”

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

“The biggest one is comparing yourself to other writers. We’re all on different levels. Some writers can crank out book after book, month after month, and some seem to trudge along at a snail’s pace maybe finishing one manuscript in a year or two. Both are great! Both are writing. Never compare yourself to others. Write at your own pace. Write the way God intended you to write. He meant you to be YOU, not someone else.”

If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

“Just write, Mikey. And write what you love!’ I could’ve saved myself years (and thousands in tuition) if I’d just headed these words back then instead of writing to please my professors. It doesn’t take a degree in creative writing to write creatively. I’m not saying school is bad, but universities have a tendency to try and make you the type of writer they think you ‘should be’, instead of allowing you to be the writer you are meant to be.”

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

“It didn’t change it much. I mean I had deadlines, which I never had before, but I pretty much wrote the same way. I’ve tried different approaches to try and speed up my writing process but I always go back to what’s familiar.”

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

“I’d have to say, The Stone of Valhalla. It’s a standalone so it doesn’t get the hype that some of my other books get because of their sequels. It’s my favorite because it was actually the first story I ever wrote. I started it when I was 17 and it was written as a YA fantasy. After finishing it, I sent it out to several publishers but never got any offers (except some interest from Harlequin Romances who was disappointed in the lack of adult themes—yikes!). I put it in a file and forgot about it for ten years or so before I pulled it out, rewrote it, and published it as an MG book.”

What’s the best way to market your books?

“The best way to go directly to my readers, which are kids, so I do a lot of school visits. My favorites are to do classroom sizes because it’s a little easier to keep them involved, but I also enjoy doing large assemblies. Visiting schools is the best part of my job as an author. I love kids. I love working with them and seeing how reading can bring magic into their lives.”

How many hours a day do you write?

“I’m a stay at home daddy and work part-time as an illustrator and cover designer so I have to really make time to write. I get up super early and get about 2 hours a day, Mon-Sat. I take Sundays off to sleep in (if you call sleeping in until 6:30-7am sleeping in). Sometimes my wife will take the kiddos to their grandma’s and I can get more writing time in then.”

What is your favorite childhood book?

“I’m super jealous of the kiddos nowadays—they have so many awesome children’s books to choose from. When I was a kid there wasn’t a middle-grade genre (oh, how I wish there would’ve been). The first book I ever read cover to cover was Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon, which is a YA fantasy and probably as “children’s book” King ever got. It was illustrated and I was drawn to the pictures in the book. It was that book that gave me my love of fantasy books.”

Could you give us a list of your books?

                    The Dream Keeper         The Dreamstone        The DreamMakers

 

 

 

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The Stone of Valhalla

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The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis (book 6 in the Atlantis series written by 6 other authors).

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Museum Adventures: The Maya Mystery    Museum Adventures: A Night in Nottingham

 

 

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The W.H.O. Files: Potions in the Pizza

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“I also have picture books. 3 which I author/illustrated and 9 more I illustrated for other authors. Ice Cream USA won 2016 Best of State as well as a finalist in the 5th Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards. Princess Pricilla Enough is Enough took finalist in the 6th Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards.”

What can your fans look forward to next?

“I have several projects in the works and one book with my agent right now. As of now, I don’t have anything scheduled to release this year but I hope that changes soon. I am transitioning from an indie author to a traditional author and I have come to find the traditional route a lot slower than I’m used to. Don’t worry, everyone, I have books coming—I promise!!”

For more information on Mikey Brooks and to see his complete portfolio please visit his website at http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/

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Source: Getting to the Top of the Charts on Amazon Kindle

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How many writers do you know who do freelance work? 1? 2? Or none?  Well if your like me most writers do their writing as a second job and don’t get paid. So to any untrained eye this would appear to be a hobby. What? No way! I work too hard and long for my writing career to be considered a hobby.

So how to break the mold and make a career out of writing? Easy… get published! Well okay enough with the sarcasm. It is not easy to get published, let alone get an agent to even LOOK at your work. So the alternative is to become a freelance writer.

The website Freelance Writing Jobs at http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/ is a good place to begin.

This website can help you locate the job that is right for you. Everyone has to start somewhere, because we can’t all become famous authors with our first book.

Build up your skills writing for different companies. Learn new talents and make connections and get a great looking resume. Every literary agent and publisher wants to see a little writing experience behind newbies. Then when your book is published you can give credit to your experience as a freelance writer.

Not every path to glory is set in stone. Take the road less traveled and become richer for it.

Happy writing!download

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Recently I participated in the #Pitmad in September.  If you do not know what it is here is a brief explanation.  You have the great opportunity to pitch your manuscript to editors and agents on Twitter with just 135 characters.  This also means that for those next eight hours on Twitter you are watching the feed like a mad person, hence the Pitmad.  I tweeted about two of my manuscripts every hour and knew that more than three of the pitches had more than 400 engagements.  I had four agents favorite my tweets and I was very excited.

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This meant that they were interested in my pitch and wanted me to query them.  Out of the four agents I have heard back from three and one of them sent me this very personable rejection letter:

 

Hi Jessica,
Happy Sunday. I hope you’re enjoying your weekend so far. I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I know waiting is the hardest part. I finally had a chance to read over some of the requested material for AN OCEAN OF SECRETS. I’m a lover of mermaids, and I loved the premise of this story. However, after reading, I didn’t feel a real connection to the main characters. In the first six pages we’re introduced to an underwater magical kingdom, but we have no idea who are characters really are. Getting to the action quickly is so important and I feel like you’ve done just that. But doing so while introducing our character’s personalities is important as well. 
I’m so sorry I don’t come with better news. I do encourage you to pursue other agents because their views may differ from my own. I wish you the best of luck with your writing/publishing journey. 
Good luck. Keep writing, you’re good at it! 
Warm Regards,
A really nice agent
Give me a Break!
I took this letter to heart and I am now revamping this manuscript to this person’s specifications.  After I cried for like hours.
Some writers would say that I shouldn’t rewrite anything and just try another agent, but what if she was right. Either way I was very impressed with the time this agent took in sending  me such a detailed letter about her likes and dislikes.
I can say I have close to a hundred rejection letters and out of those hundred there are probably ten or so that were personable like the one above.  When you have been working on your craft as long as I have (which is going on eight years) you can start to see what really works and what doesn’t.  I know some writers get discouraged by the time they hit year three of querying but truly it takes as long as it does because of the wait time.  One author I am friends with has an agent after eleven years of trying. Read about her story : http://theitsybitsywriter.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-got-my-agent-steven-chudney.html
Share your success stories.  Everyone can learn from each other.
Have a great writing day!

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BookEditing

 

 

Earlier this year I hired an editor from My Two Cents Editing to help me with my middle grade manuscript.  There were months of waiting and biting fingernails.  When I did receive my manuscript back with the editorial comments and revision suggestions, I saw that this was the best thing to help my manuscript move into the final stages.  I know some writers feel that critique groups are where we can get help for free.  But in my experience the saying “you get what you paid for” is exactly what I got with critique groups.  Now there are good critiques too.  But an editor will see more than just the writing style and voice.  They see the plot, character development, dialogue, pacing and structure of the manuscript. Other writers are not paid to see all of these things.  They are critiquing your work for free.  Plus other writers are more interested in what their work sounds like to everyone else.

For the last few months I have gone through the critique I received from the editor and I have been revising like crazy.  The final process to any manuscript is to check grammar and punctuation. After this the manuscript is polished into a beautiful piece of work.  Then it is time again to have friends to read this new masterpiece and hope they are as excited about reading it again as you are. Now I am revising my query letters and plan to participate in #Pitchwars.

If anyone is at the stage where they cannot decide if their critique group is working for them then branch out and try something new.  For me it was getting an editor. You can find editors on http://www.the-efa.org .  Also look for editors through Writers Digest publications.  There are great people who want to help writers take their work to the next level. Don’t you think it’s time your work shined?

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I was doing some reading and found this article to help my writing.  Hopefully it will help anyone else out there in the revision stages.

 

WFMAD Day 18 – Revision Roadmap.

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After months of waiting, I finally received my manuscript back from an editor in California.  He was really nice but direct.  I loved it.  He gave me the highlights of the book and told me what I needed to work on.  Which is everything, more or less.  So, I have a lot to work on.  But that’s okay because summer break is right around the corner and I can’t wait to have the time to just revise the manuscript.  There will be revisions with the plot, characters and writing style.  The whole process could take months.  But will be worth it in the end.  “Good things come to those who wait.”

Writing by a beach somewhere might be the one thing to inspire me for great works.  Or it might be the biggest distraction in my writing process.

 

crw-beach

 

 

Next on the list, after this huge undertaking of revising is to look for a new literary agent.  It’s a daunting task.  And one I feel that I have tackled so many times before in the past.  Acquiring the right agent is such a tricky business. I feel I might just reach out to some friends to see who is hunting for their next dream author.  I recently saw a fellow author post on Facebook that she finally signed with an agent.  It only took ELEVEN years!  Yikes!  This is a little too long for me to wait.  But I’m glad for her.

Maybe I should just make it to one of the big writers’ conferences held by Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators in L.A.  There would be a lot of opportunity to meet-and-greet lots of potential agents and publishers there.  We will see.

Have a great summer, fellow writers!

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