Dancing in Coffee Shops and Other Hobbies.

The coffee shop is one of my favorite places to write. And I love listening to music while I type away. Every so often, I’ll catch my foot tapping along, head bobbing, and sometimes fingers rapping out the beat on the table.

Then I pause. And remember I’m in public.

But when things are as exciting as they have been, it’s hard not to hum along with the catchy songs of summer.

So what are all these exciting things?

THE RUNNERS OF ABRA, my serial novel, is live and kicking. If you’ve been searching for a crazy ride of a story that never lets up, this is definitely the book you’ve been looking for. Every Saturday a new episode is released, and soon the first entry in the series, THE LAST RUNNER, will be complete and available in print format.

It’s been a fun world to play in and explore, filled with strange monsters, narrow escapes, and a mystery spanning worlds…

My first two THRONES novels have been picked up by Crimson Pulse Media, who have signed me on for a six book series in the world of Jack and Molly! Book one, SECRET OF THE LOST KING, will be releasing very soon with all new content! SWORD OF THE BROKEN SON will release sometime this summer, and I’m already hard at work on book three, SKIN OF THE DRAGON LORD!

So needless to say, things are exciting here. I look forward to catching up with all of you, and seeing you deep in the spine of a good book.

New Series Coming! The Runners of Abra

I am so excited to announce that I have signed on with Crimson Pulse Media to author a serial story in 2017! THE RUNNERS OF ABRA will debut on January 7th on BrockEastman.com!

THE RUNNERS OF ABRA:

When Eric was only thirteen, he was taken from his family and the peaceful rice fields on the island of Jedros to become a Runner. Roaming the five islands of Abra, Runners are tasked with jobs — jobs they must see to the end. Either finish the job or die.

And then a mysterious benefactor arrives with a bag of gold and Eric’s first job: find the girl spotted somewhere in the northern islands responding only to the name Bella. Simple enough. But this job is not what anyone thought. Others are searching for the girl. Others who will kill to keep Bella a secret.

But Bella has her own secret to keep. And if it gets out, the very fabric of the known world will change forever.

Join the launch party on Facebook!

Happy reading!

-Shaun

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow Chaser by Jerel Law

Back for a third entry, Jonah, Eliza, and Jeremiah Stone face their biggest trials yet in Shadow Chaser, book three in the Son of Angels series by Jerel Law.

Shadow Chaser takes off right where Fire Prophet, book two, left off with Jonah and his siblings at Angel School in New York City. Something evil is lurking in the shadows of the convent where the Quarterlings, part humans, part angelic Nephilim, have been living, studying, and growing closer to God. And coming up next? Mid-term exams that will test the Quarterlings in their skills and faith.

But Jonah Stone has other problems: he keeps hearing strange voices in the dark of night. A shadow seems to creep about in every corner. Not to mention that his face has now been covered in zits and all the other kids in the convent want nothing to do with him. Can Jonah figure out what’s happening in the dark before it overtakes them all?

This entry in the Son of Angels series is not necessarily my favorite of the three so far, but it’s still a good, fun read. Some readers may feel that this book is like an extended add-on to Fire Prophet, with a lot of the action centering around the Angel School in the convent. At times I kept wondering if things would get shaken up a bit, but they stayed pretty much on course until near the end. I won’t give anything away, but something happens at the end of this book that was truly shocking. I’m very interested to see where this story goes in the final book: Truth Runner.

Although parts of the plot feel like a redux, Jonah definitely has the most character development in this book. His life begins to resemble that of an Old Testament prophet, complete with the trials and temptations that came to many of those men and women of God. Jonah’s struggle with his friends feels very real to life, and he grows through the things happening to him rather than becoming vengeful.

Those who have followed Jonah thus far will enjoy Shadow Chaser, but newcomers would do best to go back to book one, Spirit Fighter. Jerel Law remains a solid author with some very different stories to tell. Definitely worth a read.

You can purchase this book on Amazon.com.

5 Fantasy Authors You Should Be Reading

I’ll admit it: I love reading fantasy stories. There’s just something about the adventure, excitement, quests, monsters, and worlds that are so fascinating and fun to read. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I grew up reading L. Frank Baum’s Oz books from the early 1900’s. Maybe it’s the 1980’s fantasy movies like The Neverending Story and Return to Oz I grew up watching. Either way, fantasy stories are undeniably a good time.

So here are five of my favorite Christian fantasy authors (in no particular order!) that you should be reading:

1. Wayne Thomas Batson

Mr. Batson has written a lot of novels, from epic high fantasy stories like his The Door Within trilogy, to high seas piratical adventures in The Isle Chronicles books, you can’t go wrong with a Batson novel. If you’re looking for rollicking good adventures, I recommend starting with Isle of Swords or Curse of the Spider King. Currently, Batson blogs regularly at Enter the Door Within.

2. Brock Eastman

Although The Quest for Truth series is technically a space opera, there is plenty of sci-fi/fantasy action to keep readers entertained with any of Brock Eastman’s books. Along with his four-part space series, Eastman is also the author of Howlsage, a super fascinating take on spiritual warfare. I couldn’t stop reading Howlsage once I had picked it up. It takes the idea of what if all these different monsters we read about in popular mythology are actually demonic? And what if a group of people were tasked with fighting those spiritual forces of wickedness? He’s also working on a series with author Travis Thrasher (one of my all-time favorite authors), so how can you go wrong?

Brock is very active on social media, and can be found on Facebook.

3. P.W. Catanese

If you’re looking for an author who’s plot twists pull no punches, then look no further than P.W. Catanese. I first read his book Happenstance Found, book one in The Books of Umber series, and I have not gasped out loud so many times in my life. There is an incredibly shocking twist near the end that left me floored and clamoring for the next two books in the trilogy. His other books also tie in loosely to the world of Umber, and I recommend his Further Tales Adventures highly.

Find out more about Mr. Catanese on Facebook.

4. Brandon Mull

One of my favorite authors, Brandon Mull is the author of multiple amazing series, including Fablehaven, Beyonders, and Five Kingdoms. Although some of his more recent books have become slightly formulaic, his earlier books are sure to please with fast-moving narratives, exciting adventures, and oftentimes some of the most aggravating situations for characters in all of fiction. So many times I have sat reading a Mull novel and asked myself, “How are these characters ever going to escape this?” And Brandon never disappoints when he does answer that question.

Mull hangs out on the Internet Webs here.

5. E.J. Patten

Okay. This last author on the list is also one of my favorites, but also is one of the most aggravating. Not because his books aren’t good. Because his books are amazing. Return to Exile still remains one of my most memorable reading journeys ever. It’s because there are not enough books from Mr. Patten! You can’t do wrong though to check out this incredible author and the crazy imagination he has. Literally. His imagination is awesomely crazy. Some of the things he has put into his novels boggled my mind with their inventiveness and sheer creativity. I know I am eagerly waiting for the day when book three releases. Did I also mention that he’s hilarious?

E.J. Patten blogs away at Patten Pending.

BOOK REVIEW: Death Weavers by Brandon Mull

A year was a long time to wait for Five Kingdoms: Book 4: Death Weavers, but, a year wait does not disappoint when it comes to Brandon Mull. Mull’s signature high stakes fantasy adventure fills the pages of this next installment, and definitely leaves a few surprises for the very end that had me gasping at the last pages.

Cole and his friends have been through three of the five kingdoms in the Outskirts: Sambria, Elloweer, and the futuristic kingdom of Zeropolis. And now, they have finally ventured over into Necronum, the land of the dead. Apparitions appear frequently with slippery deals and valuable information. Hunters lick up their trail. And a mysterious fiery horse named the Mare has been sighted roaming the vast lands. When Cole’s friends fall prey to an evil entity, Cole must travel to the land inbetween the Outskirts and death and try to rescue his friends before they are separated from him for good this time.

Death Weavers felt very different from Mull’s other books, but also very similar in some ways. At this point, we have arrived at a bit of a formula for these Five Kingdoms books: find a princess, rescue the princess, and reunite her with her run-amuck power. While that structure is truly at the heart of this fourth book, there are also some other pieces at play. We finally discover more information about some of the evils lurking throughout the Outskirts, and we also learn more about what exactly has happened to bring Cole to these kingdoms. As usual, Mull is quite innovative when it comes to twisting up the typical fantasy tropes and make them into his own creations, giving us some of the most unique places in the five kingdoms yet.

However, Cole continues to remain something of a flat character. This is something I noted from previous installments in the series, and it is definitely true here. Cole has a bit of a character arc, but he feels much more typical than Seth and Kendra from Fablehaven or even Jason from Beyonders. There is something about Cole that seems to keep him stunted in character growth. Is the story still entertaining? Yes. Is it a page-turner? Oh yes. Is Cole someone worth rooting for? Sure…?

Fans of the previous books will love Death Weavers. Newcomers will definitely feel lost entering the series here, and it is really best to go back to Sky Raiders and start from there. Mull has set up some great conflicts for the last book in the series coming in another year, and it will be interesting to see how he ends up wrapping things up.

You can purchase this book on Amazon.com.

Church and Chess

The chess board sat between us. Brown and beige plastic Queens and pawns sat scattered across the playing field. My granddad’s wrinkled fingers gripped the knight. He hopped diagonal and up a space, putting my King in checkmate. I leaned back and sighed as Granddad laughed.

“Gotta pay attention to those knights. They’re sneaky,” he chuckled.

I laughed too. And then Granddad grew more serious. “You still speaking to those kids at church?”

“Yep. It’s a lot of fun too.” I told him about the latest talk I had given to the group of grade schoolers at church. He sat back, French doors behind him, both hands clasped over his bald head. After I was finished, he leaned forward.

“You know, there’s something important you should remember. Always be careful when people talk about Jesus’ death on the cross, but don’t talk about the resurrection. That’s the most important part of the story.”

We would sit and talk like that for hours. About God, about life, about church and chess. We talked about so many different things over the years, I can barely remember them all. But that one day he told me to always remember the resurrection is one that has stuck in my mind for years.

Whenever you talk about the cross, talk about the resurrection too. Because it’s the most important part of the story.

When I sat down to work on Sparrowhawk, I knew I wanted to write about Easter. I also knew I wanted to write something that took place in the Middle Ages, and so I dug in to the research. I discovered that a certain Pope in the fifteenth century loved falconry. Because this Pope loved his falcon and took him nearly everywhere, the nuns throughout the Catholic Church took to falconry as well, bringing their birds into churches across Europe. The falcons, owls, and hawks became such a problem that the leaders of these churches had to tell the nuns to leave the birds in the convent.

A fun tale emerged with the adventure, danger, and settings I love. But something else began to emerge as well: the theme of resurrection. Jesus died on the cross so long ago in Ancient Rome, but that isn’t the end of the story. Jesus came back to life three days later, and now Jesus is alive. That’s what the Easter story is all about: the fact that Jesus defeated death and pain and suffering in that moment of triumph.

So when it came time to dedicate the book, only one person seemed to be the right option: William H. Stevenson, my granddad. He and I spent so much time together talking about Jesus and the Bible, and those memories are the ones I love holding on to.

Granddad passed away in 2014, but he didn’t pass into nothing. He passed into glory as the old spirituals used to say. He’s living in the presence of Jesus and soaking in the rays of His everlasting light.

This Easter, remember: the most important part of the story isn’t death. It’s life.

Updates & Novels

Editing a novel is a big undertaking. Have I mentioned that before? Well, trust me, it is. Trying to comb through a 71,000 word middle grade fantasy novel is tough stuff. I want to make sure the plot threads are tied together correctly before I start sending this thing out to the wonderful world of agents. I’ve spent quite a few hours working through each chapter, taking time to make notes and try to answer the new questions I keep bumping up against. I’m hoping to have this thing edited by the end of the month.

In other writing news, I feel like I’ve been generating so many ideas for stories and novels lately that I’m having a tough time keeping track of all of them. As soon as an idea comes to me, I’ve rushed to my computer to type it out or if I’ve only got my iPhone handy, I’m busy tapping up a new Note. Some of the projects I’m currently working through:

  1. An Arabian Fantasy Novel. Back in 2008, I wrote a novel set against the backdrop of ancient Arabia. I loved that book a lot, but as I spent time working on it after that initial draft or two, I realized some fundamental pieces of the book were broken. It had been written as a middle grade fantasy novel, but the protagonist was a 20-year old Arabian Prince. The general rule for lead characters is to make sure they are at the most 2-3 years older than your target audience. Since the rest of the book was geared for middle grade readers, I realized my main character would have to change ages, but that would affect so many other threads throughout the book that I decided to start from scratch. So I’ve gone back to the drawing board, and I’m about 20,000 words into the story, and loving it.
  2. An Adventure Novel. Way back in the day, I created a character named Chip Fields. He was a favorite of mine and appeared in a few short stories I had written, but I had never done much else with him and the menagerie of supporting characters that filled his world. Well, the other night, an idea came to me as I was working on some scripts, and I knew that the world of Chip Fields had finally found a home. Right now, I’m in the plotting phase (I’ve realized I love outlining books and writing from the outline), and hope to start on Chip after I finish the Arabian novel.
  3. A Pile of Novelettes. I’ve got a bunch of old scripts that I’ve written that I’m currently in the process of converting into novelettes and novellas that will be released exclusively through Amazon.com. First up, my personal take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos, and then I need to write the third Dack & Zara novella.

In the business side of things, I now have three ebooks available on Amazon.com for download. Stars: A Viking Christmas Tale, has been my most popular ebook yet, with over 400 downloads since it was released on Christmas Eve. It’s been so much fun to watch the progress of that little novelette and see the response it’s been getting. If you have read Stars, please take the time to leave me a review on Amazon! I would greatly appreciate it.

That’s all for now. If you write, keep writing. If you read, keep reading.

Until the next story,

Shaun Stevenson