Posted in Uncategorized

Research is Critical to your Work In Progress

This photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after taking a blogcation. I needed one because I had a whole week of Classroom Visits to do and I wanted to concentrate on those. I have to say, I enjoy getting in front of my readers and talking about writing and what inspires my stories.

I’ve just finished my coming of age story, “Gideon Lee.” I can’t release details yet, but I’m excited about it. I did speak about it during my visits last week and there were sparks of interest in the story. That certainly did my heart good!

In writing my novels, I’ve found that research is critical. I’ve found that my readers, even though they know they’re reading fiction, want the stories they’re reading to be authentic. They want them to have the ring of truth echoing throughout them.

That’s why research is so important. Whether I’m writing a mystery where I must research police procedure, or a story that has musical inclinations and I’ve got to research different types of music it has to resonate authenticity.

I enjoy research immensely because I love to learn something new. I’m a firm believer in the concept that we never stop learning and I try to learn something new every day.

I do a lot of research on the internet. There’s an incredible amount of information at your fingertips, all you have to do is search for it. However, occasionally, I like to talk to a real person. When I was researching police procedure for my first Super Spies novel, “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer,” I spoke to a sergeant at my local police post. I received invaluable information and made a new friend. You never know when knowing a police sergeant will come in handy! 😉

When I first called down to the post, the officer that answered the phone wanted to make sure that my request was legitimate. Here’s how the conversation went.

“Hello, I’m Lisa Orchard and I’m writing a story about three young girls finding a dead body and I need to know about the procedure police follow at a crime scene.”

I heard some fumbling around and I imagined he was turning on a recorder, the officer said, “This is fiction, right?”

“Yes. This is definitely fiction.” I laughed, because he was being cautious. However, he needed to be, you just never know when you get a phone call like that.

After he felt confident that I wasn’t planning anything dangerous or illegal, he transferred me to the sergeant and she answered my questions. I’ve established a great relationship with her and she has been my source for most of my mystery stories. She has answered questions ranging from police procedure at a crime scene, to bombing questions, to inquiries regarding pings of cell phones. I must say it has been quite an education.

Research gives your story authenticity and that’s incredibly important in today’s book market, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today and thanks for your patience during my blogcation. If you have any humorous stories you’d like to share regarding your research antics, please leave a comment! I’d love to read them!


Thanks for stopping by!







Posted in Uncategorized

I’m taking a Blogcation! :)


Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I just wanted to let everyone know that this week, I’m taking a slight vacation from my blog. I’ve got classroom visits scheduled all week so I’ll be back next Monday to chat with everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and I hope you have a great week! 


I’ll be back Monday! 🙂

Posted in reviews

Book Review of “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with a review of “Fangirl” written by Rainbow Rowell. This one is going to be quick because I’ve made a change to my manuscript and I’m back in the editing cave. It’s too bad this little nugget of inspiration didn’t come to me until I was almost ready to send it to the publisher, but that’s the way it happens sometimes.

I liked “Fangirl” very much, not as much as I liked “Eleanor and Park,” but it was still worth the read. It’s the story of Cath and her twin sister Wren and how their relationship changes when the go off to college. Cather is more introverted than her sister. Therefore, when Wren gets a little too involved in extra-curricular activities it’s a source of conflict between the two sisters.

I liked how their father who struggles with bi-polar disorder took control of the situation, confronted Wren, and forced her to get some help for her out of control partying. This can be a problem for young teens that are experiencing their first taste of freedom.

I also liked how Cath and Levi’s relationship developed slowly over time. I think the best relationships do. If you read my post from Monday, you’ll know that I don’t buy the idea of instalove. 🙂

Here’s the link:

Overall, it was a great read and I enjoyed it. Rainbow Rowell does a great job of illustrating the anxiety of that first year of college very well. Below is the cover and blurb.

Thanks for stopping by, I’d love to hear from you, so if you know of a great YA author or book that would be worth my time to read, leave the title or name in a comment! 🙂


In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Posted in Parenting, Teen

Is the Instalove in YA books setting our teens up for Disappointment?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a three day Writer’s Conference that I thoroughly enjoyed. It gave me the extra incentive I needed to tackle a couple of projects that I’ve been thinking about and I’m going to start on those soon.

I’ve finally finished my personal editing process for my fourth novel and I’m excited about it. It’s a coming of age novel and it’s grittier than my past work. I’ve branched out into new territory and that’s exhilarating for me.

I’ve also been reading more too. I’ve just finished Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl.”


It was a great story; however, I didn’t like it as much as “Eleanor and Park.”

The main thing that I enjoyed about “Fangirl” is the fact that the love story between Cath and Levi wasn’t instalove like you find in other young adult books. This is important, in my opinion, because it gives a more realistic view of what love is supposed to be like for our young people.

Instalove or love at first sight is unrealistic and if the stories that portray it are the first glimpse of what love is like for our young girls, I think it sets them up for disappointment. They’re looking for something that doesn’t exist.

In my opinion, love at first sight should actually be called attraction at first sight. I agree we can become attracted to someone just by his or her physical presence, but this should never be mistaken for love.

As parents and educators, we need to teach this to our girls. Boys need to learn it too, but many of them don’t read the instalove books that young girls do, so they don’t receive the same misconstrued message.

In my opinion, we need to teach our teens communication skills that will help them negotiate the turbulent emotions they’ll feel when they embark on that treacherous trail of love. Especially that first love. Nothing will burn as deep as this first one.

Both of Rainbow Rowell’s books do this. Another book that shows us that love starts out as friendship is “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green. Real love always starts out that way.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What are your thoughts on instalove in our books for teens? I’d love to read them, so leave a comment!



Posted in promotion

Ask Away Friday with Mrs. Tee!


Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! Today I’m working with Mrs. Tee on Ask Away Friday. 🙂 She sent me these questions to answer and I sent her some questions that I’d like her to answer and we’re posting this information on our respective blogs. So below are her questions with my answers and her’s are available here!


You list The Nancy Drew series as one of your first encounters with mysteries. I use to read every one…I know this may be hard but what was your favorite one?

Ohh. Hard question. I would have to say “The Secret of the Old Clock” mainly because that’s the only one that I remember.


As an avid reader and lover of books I can’t wait to introduce some of my favorites to my Kiddies. What books have you shared with your children from your own childhood?

I have two boys and they’re nine and seven. So, I’m still working on them, but some of the ones I’ve shared are Hardy Boys, The Boxcar Children, and Encyclopedia Brown. They’re interested in my books though, so when they get a little older I’m sure they’ll be reading the Super Spies.


Do you see any signs of your writing skills in your children?

My youngest seems to enjoy creating stories. When he was home sick one day from school, he wrote a thirty two page story about Tornadoes. I was pretty impressed. 🙂


When you have a day just for YOU what is your favorite thing to do?


Pick 3 words to describe yourself that start with these letters: S, P and L.

S is for spontaneous. I love to be spontaneous and just pick up and go sometimes!

P is for perfectionist. I can be a perfectionist in my writing.

L is for Laughter. I love to laugh and have fun, especially with my boys.



If you could meet any author in the world (living or deceased) who would it be and why?

It would be a toss-up between Harper Lee and Stephen King. Harper Lee because I’d love to find out why she only published one book. And Stephen King because I’d love to find out where he gets his ideas from.

Would you rather …

Receive $10,000 in Cash or Gift Cards?

$10,000 in cash

Would you rather…

Have a rewind or pause button for your life?

Hmmm…good question. Probably pause, so I could push it when I need to slow down and make a major decision.

Thanks for reading my post today! Don’t forget to stop by Mrs. Tee’s and check out her answers to the questions I gave her!

Here’s the link!



Posted in Parenting, Teen

Distracted Driving


Hello everyone! I’m in the editing cave today so I thought I’d repost a blog that I wrote a year or so ago. It’s on distracted driving and since this month is Distracted Driving Awareness month, I thought I’d share it again! Thanks for stopping by!

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you!

Today I’m discussing the issue of distracted driving. It seems that this has become a major problem especially for the younger crowd. J You know who you are!  Read on and check out some pretty scary statistics.

Distracted drivers cause about 6,000 deaths and a half a million injuries every year. Now, for the teenager, that means texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Did you know that while young drivers are texting, they spend 10% of their time outside the driving lane that they’re supposed to be in? Pretty scary!

Did you know that talking on a cell phone while driving could make a younger driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a seventy-year-old?

Did you know that answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds? That’s enough time to travel the length of…

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The Stone of Valhalla Blog 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!



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

Kindle | Paperback

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:

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:


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:

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

Click the link below to enter via Rafflecopter!

Posted in reviews

Movie Review for “American Hustle!”

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with a movie review. I watched “American Hustle” with my mom a couple of weeks ago and I must say it was an awesome movie even though it didn’t win an academy award.

It’s the story of con-man Irving Rosenfeld and his accomplice Sydney Prosser who poses as Lady Edith Greensly. They are happily conning people out of their money in a low-scale Ponzi scheme.

Enter FBI agent Richard DiMasco who entraps them and you’ve got quite a movie. DiMasco coerces Irving and Lady Greensly into working with him. They plan on taking down congressional representatives who accept bribes and they get a number of them, too.

Nevertheless, the FBI man wants to make a name for himself and decides to go after the mob as well. However, all this time, Irving and Sydney are conning the FBI man. I won’t go into any more detail than that, but I will say it was a great movie.

Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence did an awesome job perfecting their characters and I must say I’ve become a fan of both of these actresses.

Christian Bale did an excellent job portraying Irving Rosenfeld, with his paunch and weak comb over. Irving is a sleaze in the beginning and I didn’t like him very much, but toward the end he redeemed himself. He was the perfect anti-hero!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today! Do you have any thoughts on American Hustle? If so, leave a comment! I’d love to read it! 🙂