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The Dream Defenders
by Neal DenHartog
Genre: YA Fantasy

A vivid, dangerous dream world. Real-life consequences.

Better ready your defense.

When fourteen-year-old Nolan Erling wakes up with a headache for the
fourth straight day, he suspects the likely culprit to be any number
of things—from his annoying baby brother, to vehicular crashes with
his elderly neighbor, or even his questionable late-night food
choices—not his dreams.
Aeryn Sandman knows the true cause, though. She is a junior agent with the
DREAM Institute, a secret organization tasked with protecting the
world’s population while they sleep, and she’s on her first assignment.
Her mission: infiltrate Nolan’s life—and his dreams—and keep him
safe, all while persuading him to join their protective force.
But recruitment missions are no walk in the park, and Aeryn’s goes
horribly wrong when Nolan’s powers unwittingly unleash two dream
creatures locked away in a restricted area of the dream world. While
Aeryn and Nolan search for ways to contain the escaped beings, they
uncover a much greater conspiracy.
For these dreams can kill, and someone is orchestrating their actions in
the dream world. If Aeryn and Nolan can’t figure out who is behind
it, no dreamer will be safe, and neither will the organization that
defends them.
Discover a book with a fresh voice, genuinely humorous characters, and a
compelling, original storyline. The Dream Defenders will
appeal to readers of all ages.
★★★★★ – “A spectacularly imaginative story.” – Indies Today
**FREE July 29th – 31st!!**

Guest Post by the Author

My writing process, start to finish


It all starts with an idea or concept. I keep a composition notebook full of ideas to use for these stories, and I’ll focus on one and begin to ask a lot of “what if” questions to flesh out the idea. Once I have a general concept in mind for the story I turn to the characters. At this point its crucial to develop a character arc for my main characters because this is what ultimately drives the story. All the fun, twisty plot stuff is great, but if I don’t know what sort of change the characters are going to go through the story will go nowhere fast. Once I have the arcs in place, then I can start weaving plot points around that.


The plot solidifies into a basic 3 act outline, with all the major plot points determined beforehand and roughly coinciding with the points along the character’s arc. Then I start to flesh that out into a rough sequence of chapters, and I’m ready to write. Up to this point I’ve spent weeks with the ideas and characters, but even I know this outline won’t hold. I’ll use it as a reference to bring the story back on point, or revise the outline if the story heads in a more logical direction. I like to think of this as having the best of both worlds, being both a plotter and a pantser.


Writing the first draft takes anywhere from 2-3 months and once it’s done, I set it aside for at least two weeks before revisiting. Then I print it and read it once to get back on track. I read it again after that and for the second read through I break out the colored pens and start taking notes. Each color on the page denotes an issue with either plot, character, setting, grammar/spelling, or what I categorize as miscellaneous. Using these notes, I attack the second draft. Once that’s done it gets set aside again and then I repeat the process.


After the third draft, it’s time for beta readers. I’ll evaluate their feedback and make changes if necessary. At this point I feel the story is pretty solid, and now it’s time to focus on phrasing and wordsmithing. I’ll use some editing software to help with that, but try not to rely on that too heavily as I find my unique voice can be lost quite easily.


So now I’m 5-6 drafts in and after a scouring proofread it will go to my editor. The next draft will correct any issues she finds and once I give it a good once or twice over it’s off to my formatter who puts both the print and electronic versions together. He does the cover too. Undoubtedly, I’ll find a few more mistakes when I get proofs back, but it’s basically done at that point and ready to find its way into the world.


Gee, that makes it sound way easier than it is. Looking at that description I should crank a book out every 2-3 months 😉

Author Bio

Neal DenHartog was born, raised, and currently resides in Iowa. After a
fifteen year career in the sciences he decided to rekindle his
childhood passion for writing. Now, when he’s not donning a lab coat,
he writes stories about dreams.
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