Journey to Allen Brokken’s Towers of Light Series

K.A.:
Allen Brokken is on the blog today, talking about his upcoming release, Light of Mine! It’s the first book in his Towers of Light Series, a Christian fantasy series aimed at middle-grade readers.

It’s good to have you here, Allen! Before we launch into all the behind-the-scene fun, tell us about your series.

Allen:
The Towers of Light series insightfully examines childlike faith from the perspective of three small children, facing insurmountable problems… and succeeding, by faith and grace alone. It introduces Lauren (12), Aiden (9), and Ethan (5) who bear the responsibility of keeping their Father’s newly constructed Tower of Light shining in his absence. This become more imperative when Father goes missing, and Mother goes to find him. The children are left to fend for themselves as trusted family friends begin to disappear and strangers take control of their rural enclave. The children must use their wits and the wisdom of scripture to shine their light to defeat the evil threatening to extinguish the tower of light.

K.A.:
Facing a situation like that would be daunting enough for an adult, but three kids? Wow. What an adventure! Where did the idea for this series come from?

Allen:
When my kids were young there was really nothing better than getting out of my car at the end of a long day at work and having my three little kiddos run up to me and give hugs because Daddy’s Home!  As a Father of three young children I was very concerned about the direction society was taking.  I wasn’t sure that with how things were going that I had the knowledge or the skill to train them up in the way they should go, as the Bible directs.

Then in 2008 I took a new job that had me traveling four days a week.  It was one of the hardest times of my life, the stress of a high pressure job, the loneliness of being on the road, and uncertainty of being a young parent really brought me to the end of myself.  However, all of the travel gave me a lot of time to study the scriptures and learn from the writing of great bible teachers. 

It was during this time that I began to write stories for my children.  At first I brought my children’s stuffed animals to life for silly adventures.  But then one day while we were putting together a play fort in our back yard I saw a sunrise pattern in the wood in the top of the tower.  I thought:

“What if there was a Tower of Light shining God’s goodness over the children and their animals?”
“What if the children experienced the indwelling of the holy spirit in a real way like Sampson or David?”
“What if the full armor of God was physical armor they could use to defeat the darkness?”  
As I shared my story with my children, they loved it. 

K.A.:
How special for them—to have their father connecting with them through stories while traveling. And including their stuffed animals too.

Tell us about the research that went into writing this story.

Allen:
For me novel writing and book publication were the research topics. The setting is really based on old prairie mid-west architecture, dress and customs. I was surrounded by all of that growing up. Although I did visit Historic Williamsburg Virginia, Silver Dollar City and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Missouri and the Old Threshers Reunion in Iowa to get specific on things related to horses, and 18th and 19th century technology for later books.

K.A.:
What’s the most interesting discovery you made?

Allen:
That writing a novel isn’t like writing software. I’ve been in Information Technology for almost 25 years. My whole professional career has been about getting stuff out that’s “good enough” and reworking to better in the next iteration. Apparently books don’t work like that. I figured that since I originally published an eBook I could just iterate on it until it was good enough. That’s not really how it works. In the end I do have three major editions of what has become Light of Mine, but the 3rd is the last. I got an amazing editor, S.D. Grimm, and creative team Loriann Weldon of Magpie Designs, Gen Gavel, Teddi Deppner, J.J. Johnson and my son Ethan Brokken helping with the end-to-end marketing, promotion, cover design and all that. But it took three years to get here.

K.A.:
Very true. I’m a huge fan of Easter eggs. Any hidden references, details, or tidbits readers should keep an eye out for?

Allen:
So if you are paying attention there are a number of non-English words in the book.  There’s a code to them.  If you break the code it gives away who is on the dark one’s side very early in the story.

K.A.:
Cool! I’ll be on the look out for the code. Is there anything you can tell us about your plans for the series?

Allen:
Book two, “Still Small Voice” is at the 50% content edit point and should be ready for release in June of 2020. One of the characters from Light of Mine, the Acolyte of the Dandelion Order has a big role to play in “Still Small Voice”. I’m going to put on a contest to name that character in December.

Along with that God, willing I’m going to be doing NanoWrimo for the to be named third book in the series. So if you decide to get invested in Light of Mine the series will be coming quickly. Since I’m a bit of a discovery writer I’m not sure if Book 3 is the end of if it’s going to 4 or 5 books just yet. I’ll know more at the end of November.

K.A.:
Light of Mine, the first book in The Towers of Light Series, releases November 3rd and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

And to celebrate the release…

Every Friday in November, Allen will be doing a #FollowFriday post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. He’ll select one random follower from each and send them Limited Edition 3d printed Lego Compatible weapons so you can make your own “Lego Me” like the kids in the book!

K.A.:
Allen, thanks for giving us a backstage tour of your Tower of Light Series. Looking forward to reading it!

About Allen Brokken

Allen Brokken is a pastor at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. Follow his endeavors @towersoflight, @twodadsandajoke, and http://www.brokken.net. Your children can grow their own faith and love of God by following the adventures of Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan (plus their pets!) at instagram.com/towersoflight.

 

 

*** View past features here. ***


Discovering the Wonder in S.E.M. Ishida’s Nick Newton

K.A.:
Excited to have S.E.M. Ishida on the blog today talking about her wonderfully inventive, middle-grade steampunk series about a boy named Nick Newton.

Welcome, S.E.M.! For those unfamiliar, please tell us about Nick and his story.

S.E.M.:
Nick Newton Is Not a Genius and its sequel, Nick Newton: The Highest Bidder, are both speculative fiction middle grade books.

S.E.M:
When you live with a family of geniuses, a normal day involves ancient robots, flying baby carriages, and mysterious millionaires. All before lunchtime. Meet Nick Newton, a merely average boy from the country of Thauma. Nick’s not brilliant like his mom and dad or a child prodigy like his sister, but he won’t let that stop him from uncovering the mysteries of a clockwork factory or revealing a war hero’s greatest secret. With help from two new friends and his butler named Jude, Nick embarks on an adventure that will change his life forever.

Nick’s mechanical friend, Plink.

K.A.:
In all of the story, do you have a favorite line?

S.E.M.:
“Always, always, always ask your mother before borrowing her welding torch.”

K.A.:
That’s an awesome line! Definitely solid advice. ;)

So what’s the story behind this story, what inspired you?

S.E.M:
As a child, I watched cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. When I got older, I read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. While I can enjoy stories with genius protagonists, I’m not a genius myself, and, thankfully, being a genius isn’t a prerequisite for fulfillment and making an impact on the world around you. Thus, I decided to write a “reverse boy genius” story in which the protagonist comes from a family of geniuses, but he is “average.”

K.A.:
Nick is such a fun character, and the world certainly needs more stories with everyday kids doing extraordinary things. More heart. More grit. It’s one of the reasons I love your series.

K.A.:
Tell us about the research that went into this story, did you venture into any new areas or topics?

S.E.M:
I’ve had an interest in science since childhood, but I still have so much more I want to learn about technology. Although the technology in the story is fantastical, technology is a field that continues to challenge and inspire me.

K.A.:
The ever changing landscape of technology is really something. In the process of writing this story, what would you say is the most interesting discovery you made?

S.E.M:
I originally sent a shorter version of Nick Newton to the publisher and pitched it as an early chapter book for younger readers. The editor suggested making it longer and for an older audience, which I did. I think seeing Nick Newton as a middle grade book helped me realize how much I enjoy middle grade. Although I’m exploring writing in other genres and for other ages, I also plan to continue writing middle grade stories.

K.A.:
Any Easter eggs readers should keep an eye out for?

S.E.M:
The winged toilet in chapter twenty might seem totally random, but it comes from my childhood memories of visiting the electronics store and looking at the computers. My favorite screensaver featured flying toilets flapping their wings across the monitor. It was delightfully bizarre.

K.A.:
So that’s where the winged toilet idea came from!

Any other behind-the-scenes information you didn’t already mention that you can share with us? :)

S.E.M:
I didn’t meet my illustrator, Dana Thompson, until after the completion of the book, but I think his art style and the finished illustrations fit the story so well! The illustrations for Nick Newton demonstrate the skill of the illustrator and also the importance of having a publisher and editor with the right understanding of the heart of your book. With this understanding, they can find the right illustrator and design the book in a way that complements your story.

K.A.:
Nick Newton Is Not a Genius is available from BJU Press, or on Amazon. Don’t forget to check out the book trailer below!

K.A.:
I’ve really enjoyed learning more about your Nick Newton series. Thank you for taking time to give us a backstage tour, S.E.M.!

About S.E.M. Ishida

Sarah Ishida enjoys good stories in a variety of forms, including books, graphic novels, and video games. With a Master of Science in technical communication, she is a technical communicator for a multinational technology company. Besides writing, she also likes to draw, sew, and collect toys.

You can connect with her at her website, or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

 

*** View past features here. ***


A Unit Study Inspired by “The Boy From Earth”

A unit study inspired by Darrell Pitt’s The Boy From Earth.” Topics include NASA, Space Exploration, and Space Camp. Suitable for students in 3rd through 6th grade.

“The Boy From Earth” Unit Study

Supplement the unit study with a list of discussion question from BookRiot.com.

A Side Note

Much the information contained within this unit study is provided by organizations based in the USA or about space exploration efforts in the USA. It’s where my familiarity lies as a writer based in the United States.

However, the author of “The Boy From Earth” is Australian. If you’d like to learn more about Australia’s space exploration efforts, their government agency website is a good place to start.

https://www.industry.gov.au/strategies-for-the-future/australian-space-agency

Other posts related to The Boy From Earth”

A Review of “The Boy From Earth”

Looking for more unit studies?

You can also find this unit study, along with other free teaching resources under Teaching Resources.