Mikey Brooks’ “Stone of Valhalla” Release Tour

Welcome to The
Stone of Valhalla
Blog Tour!

A middle-grade fantasy-adventure by Mikey Brooks.
Don’t
forget to check out the
GIVEAWAY at the bottom this post
for a
chance to
WIN a $25 Amazon
Gift card
and other great prizes!
Synopsis:
Aaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of losing his own.
Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town…literally. The good news: Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his own?
Check out what these talented authors
are saying about it:
The Stone of Valhalla is one of those books that only comes along once in a great while. Brooks doesn’t just create a world, he puts you inside of it, allowing you to experience the wonder in a way that only he can. His characters are likable and fun. His twists leave you asking ‘Why?’ Treat yourself to an exciting adventure through a beautiful new land. Make new friends and be a part of the magic. This is a book that you will not be able to put down!”
—J.R. Simmons,
author of Ragesong: Awakening.
 The Stone of Valhalla drew me in from the get-go. Aaron’s journey is reminiscent of Dorothy’s trek in The Wizard of Oz. Magic, sword fights, danger, and more danger, sprinkled with humor and unexpected twists. This is one of the ‘best’ fantasy adventures I’ve ever experienced!”
—BBH
McChiller, author of The Monster Moon
Series
.
The Stone of Valhalla is a riveting mystery revealing true friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Brooks engages the curiosity of middle graders and older sleuths alike, until the very end.
Fantastic!”
—L.R.W. Lee,
author of The Andy Smithson series.
 
Excerpt From: Chapter Two: The Penalty of Witchcraft
Aaron thought he’d been transported to some kind of renaissancefair. People milled about in the street, all dressed like they belonged on the set of some medieval movie. Most of their faces were stained with dirt, and they wore soiled clothing. Large, wooden buildings, held together by plaster, loomed overhead and all around him. Some had signs announcing specific trades and goods. The sweet smell of bread came from one shop, clearly a bakery. A rotund man stood out front, arguing with an old man who had a silvery-white beard and a long, purple cloak. He was telling the baker that the rolls he had purchased tasted ‘day-old’ and he required a reimbursement.
Several passersby gave Aaron odd glances. One little girl with a group of women dressed like nuns pointed at him and giggled. He thought he heard her call him a buffoon, but she was quickly shushed by one of the women and pulled into a shop.
This is so unreal.
Aaron couldn’t figure out what had happened.
How did I get here? Who are these people?
Aaron waited for someone to jump out and yell, “Surprise, you’re on camera!”
It never happened.
The seconds drew on like hours, and Aaron stood unmoving like a statue in the middle of the dirt road. The sweet smell from the bakery was drowned by the stench of a sweaty mule pulling a cart packed full with what had to be manure. The wind blew and the wafting smell of poo filled Aaron’s nose. He coughed and tried to cover the reek with his shirt.
“Witchcraft! Witchcraft, I say!”
Aaron turned around to see a middle-aged woman with only three teeth shouting hysterically. She pointed directly at him. He looked over his shoulder to ensure no green-skinned, broom-commandeering, warty-faced lady in black stood beside him. There wasn’t anyone there. The noise on the street stopped dead except for the woman. She grabbed a small wooden crate from a cart filled with fresh flowers and stood on it. “Fetch the constable! Don’t let him get away, or he’ll set a curse on our town.”
Five large men formed a group behind the woman and advanced toward Aaron. He didn’t know what to do.
Where to Find The Stone of Valhalla:
Exclusive price for the eBook
release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)
And only $9.99 for the paperback!(List Price: $12.99)
On April 12th 2014 the price will return to the List Price
Another special offer:

During The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour

Mikey’s other great middle-grade eBooks will also be set to the low price of just $0.99!
The Dream Keeper:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo
The Dreamstone:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo
You’re Invited to PARTY!!
The online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 4pm (MST). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime.
The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have slew of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event: http://goo.gl/Q2Fd3r.
What’s that? Another Party!
That’s right! If you’re local to Utah you don’t want to miss this kickin’ party. We are having a launch party to celebrate the release of this awesome new book. Of course there will be plenty of giveaways there too, but what’s even better are the guest authors! Just check out these fabulous names: J. Scott Savage, Chad Morris, Lisa Mangum, Jenni James, Ali Cross, and many more. The Launch Party is: Friday, April 11th from 6-9pm at The Viridian Center in West Jordan, Utah. Follow this link for a map: http://goo.gl/dqVc0u
About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey 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 several books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. 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 fulltime 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’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.

The Giveaways!

 

Enter the giveaway below to be entered to win one of the following prizes:
$25 Amazon Gift Card
The Stone of Valhalla Necklace
Autographed Paperback of The
Stone of Valhalla 
Autographed 11×17 Poster

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Unbridled Joy

I’ve spent too much time in front of the television lately.

Usher

Usher, from The Voice website

Shakira

Shakira, from The Voice website

I posted a while back on how my daughter and I became addicted to The Voice. A new season began a few weeks ago and I was immediately sucked in. The show strikes a perfect chord (pun intended) with its combination of terrific performers, background stories, and friendly banter among the coaches. In addition, does anyone in the world possess a more beautiful smile than Usher or Shakira? Seriously, those two should be used as instruments of mass peace. IMPs to counteract WMDs. I mean who could stay angry and hostile with Usher or Shakira smiling at them?

But, even above all that, my favorite moments on the show are seeing the families’ reactions when a coach turns around for their singer. Screams burst forth. Tears of happiness flow. Exaltation abounds when these people see the realization of a dream fulfilled for their loved one. Watching the first few shows of this season, an oft used phrase came to mind as I saw one family cavort and hug each other when that magical moment of a chair turn happened.

Unbridled joy.

Then, March rolled in — though you wouldn’t know it from the weather — the month when the most overused word in our lexicon immediately becomes “bracket”. Everyone has one, is making one, or is agonizing over one. Even people who don’t follow college basketball get involved in the madness. And beyond that, you see other types of brackets pop up: brackets for the best books, pets, TV shows — the list is endless.

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Mercer players showing their joy after defeating Duke in a huge upset.

Beyond all the hype, however, are the games themselves. I’m not a big fan of college basketball myself, yet the drama of the tournament is compelling. The David versus Goliath match ups are intriguing to me, as a storyteller, as well as the emotional roller coasters the players, coaches, and fans ride during the games. Having coached youth soccer for many years, I can relate to many of those feelings and my heart goes out to those kids who put everything on the line, only to realize, when that final horn sounds, that their everything wasn’t enough in this particular instance. Fortunately, for every bench of disappointed and distraught players, there’s another bench at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. Those who survive to play one more game — especially those who weren’t expected to in the beginning — leap and shout and hug each other in the shared happiness of their accomplishment.

And that phrase popped into my head again: unbridled joy.

These people experience it and we watch as they do, with a smile on our face and possibly a tear in our eye, and in some small way we get to experience a piece of it along with them. It’s a part of being human that we can all relate to and desire to feel ourselves again and again. It’s why sports and competition captivate us, whether we’re participants or spectators. We want to touch that unbridled joy, just one more time.

Then, the writer in me pondered the words. Unbridled joy. The negative implies a positive. Who ever speaks of bridled joy? Why would joy ever be bridled?

I thought back to some of my own experiences of joy: winning soccer teams I’d coached, a state champion Knowledge Bowl team I’d been a part of in high school, the birth of my daughter. All were occasions of happiness that I’ll never forget, yet I realized they were all examples of bridled joy. Yes, during some I whooped and hollered briefly, but then decorum and embarrassment aggressively stepped in and lassoed my emotions, bridling my joy. In some cases, this was likely a good thing. Wanton jumping and fist pumping in my daughter’s delivery room would have been frowned upon at the very least. At worst, I could have accidentally punched a doctor or nurse in the close quarters. I might have experienced a literal bridling in the form of hand cuffs or a straight jacket in that instance.

But other times … why did I restrain myself so? We all crave that feeling, yet when I upon approaching it, I backed away. Reined myself in.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that what I feared most was losing control. It’s the reason I don’t drink alcohol, the reason I drive the speed limit, the reason for many aspects of my life. I don’t regret any of those decisions, but I do regret my fear tempering the moments of pure happiness I’ve been a part of. Unlike the characters in my stories, I can’t go back in time and make changes. I can, however, make different choices in the future, so when that next moment comes to revel in a major accomplishment of my own or a loved one, I’m determined to not hold back. And I apologize in advance for any potential black eyes that may come as a result!

Unbridle your joy.

Faery Swap Blog Tour

I’m pleased to be hosting Susan Kaye Quinn and her new MG Fantasy novel, Faery Swap today on the blog! I had the pleasure of reading this book a short time ago and it’s a terrific example of adventure and fun for a middle grade audience. Be sure to enter her giveaway below for an Amazon gift card, signed paperback copy of the book and two Faery wands!
March 3rd – March 21st
A little about Faery Swap
 KindleNookPrint

Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body.
Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services–an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father’s reckless plan to repair the Rift–a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn’s body to fight off his father’s seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body… and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.

NOTE TO TEACHERS: Check out the Virtual Author visit video and Common-Core-Aligned Teacher’s Guide for Faery Swap here.

2 minute book trailer

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Signed Paperback of Faery Swap

Two Faery Wands

**Click the link below to enter**

ENTER TO WIN


Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist” and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she’s up to.
Faery Swap
Kindle | Nook | Print
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut. 

The Power of Yes (YVM 33)

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Photo by Jaymarr from stock.xchng

Years ago, soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs, I coached a soccer team of eleven-year-old girls. I had them working on some basic dribbling and juggling skills one day when I decided to show them some different ways to pick the ball up without using their hands. They practiced pulling the ball back so it rolled onto the top of their foot and followed by lifting their foot and the ball into the air. After just a minute or two, each of them could at least pop the ball up enough so they could catch it with their hands.

Then, I showed them something a little more difficult. I placed the ball between my feet, applying pressure with the insides of my heels. I jumped, lifting the ball with my feet behind me, and twisted. Once the ball was in motion, I released it and landed again on my feet. My twist repositioned me so that I faced the ball in the air and collected it with a raised thigh and began to juggle. The girls all grinned and immediately began trying this new trick.

Most accomplished it after a few tries, or after a couple of pointers from me. One girl, however, quickly grew frustrated and stomped her foot.

“I can’t do it!”

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“The ball keeps hitting my butt when I jump. I can’t do it.”

“Here’s one thing I know,” I said. “If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you’ll always be right. But if you tell yourself you can do something, chances are you’ll still be right most of the time.”

That’s the first time I remember uttering those words — I’m still not sure where they came from — but I’ve used them many times since with soccer players, kids I tutor, and my own children. We positioned the ball a little further back between her heels and she performed the trick after only one or two more tries. I still remember the enormous grin on her face.

Positive self-talk is more important than we realize. Which brings me to the power of “Yes.”

Marian Bechtel is a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College studying geology, physics, and gender studies. At age 13, Marian had her eyes opened to the horrors of landmines. She met a group of international scientists working on a device that utilized holographic radar to detect buried landmines (RASCAN), and was inspired by their work. The one weakness in their device, they said, was that it was rendered useless in wet environments.

One day while playing the piano, Marian noticed that the strings on a nearby banjo resonated when she played certain notes or chords. This gave her an idea — she realized that using acoustic or seismic waves to excite a buried landmine could allow for its detection, even in wet soils. Thus, she joined her newfound passion for humanitarian de-mining with her love of music, and embarked on a long scientific journey, going through three different projects to further this idea, and eventually creating a simple prototype of an acoustic detection device on the frame of a scrap metal detector.

Marian’s research projects took her across the country to many science fairs, including Intel ISEF and I-SWEEEP, and even around the world, to the Royal Society’s 250th Summer Science Exhibition in London. Marian was a 2011 Davidson Fellow, and a finalist in the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search, where she was awarded the Glenn T. Seaborg award for passion in communicating science to the public. She was also featured in the August 2012 issue of Popular Science Magazine as one of their Top 10 High School Inventors.

Marian published her work in the Summer 2013 issue of the Journal of ERW and Mine Action.

The above is from this year’s TEDxTeen event and Marian tells her own story in the video below. It would have been easy for Marian to say to herself, “No, I could never do this. I could never make a difference.” And she would have been right. But, by telling herself, “Yes, I’ll give it a try and who knows what might happen!” she put herself on a path of discovery and invention she never imagined.

What can you accomplish by saying YES today? Age, education, gender, race — none of these matter. What does matter is opening ourselves up to possibilities. And your voice — Your Voice Matters.

 

Choose Your Own Adventure: Tony the Phony and the Cursed Mansion

There was a time in my youth that I lived for Choose Your Own Adventure books! I devoured every one I could get my hands on. When fellow author and Emblazoner, Michelle Isenhoff, told me her kids were creating their own CYOA story and wanted to make a blog hop out of it, I was instantly hooked. How could I say no to such an awesome idea?

Cursed MansionThe story’s title is Tony the Phony and the Cursed Mansion, written and hosted by T. Isenhoff and M. Isenhoff on their Storyboys blog. T. is in 3rd grade, and M. is in 6th grade. This story was their winter homeschool project. Travel over to their blog to start at the beginning. Have fun!

“Let’s get out of here!” Ed whispered.

The boys dashed to the door, but it was locked. “This way!” Tony whispered, leading Ed through a doorway and down a hall.

They found themselves in an old-fashioned kitchen with a giant fireplace taking up one wall. A cast iron stove stood before it, covered with dust and grime. A tarnished copper kettle stood on top, still waiting to make tea.

An antique sideboard stood at one side of the room. Ed shone his light on it. On top rested a bag of potato chips, a package of Oreos, and a three liter of root beer. “Did they have this kind of stuff in Silas Walker’s day?” Ed asked.

“Of course not, idiot.”

“Do ghosts eat this stuff?”

“I don’t think so.”

Ed picked up the Oreos and opened them. The cellophane crinkled in his hands. A voice growled from the hallway. “Who’s in there?”

Ed froze and spoke through a mouthful of cookies. “That means that’s a real dude chasing us. Hide!”

They opened the doors on the sideboard and ducked inside. They heard footsteps in the kitchen. “I know someone’s in here. I’m going to find you and smash your face in, punk.”

“It sounds like Meatloaf,” Tony whispered. Meatloaf was the meanest kid in school. He’d been held back so many times he was the only seventh grader with a driver’s license. An encounter with his fist meant a hospital visit.

“Um, Tony,” Ed whispered.

“Shut up. He’ll hear us.”

“But, Tony,” Ed persisted, “cupboards are supposed to have back walls. This one doesn’t.”

Tony reached behind him and felt only darkness. He clicked on his flashlight and shone it down a long, black tunnel.

Should Ed and Tony crawl down the tunnel or face Meatloaf? If they should enter the tunnel, click here. If they should face Meatloaf, click here.