By Brock Eastman Article first appeared in Family Fiction Edge Magazine in January 2014
I hated reading. I really didn’t enjoy writing, and my grades reflected it. I wasn’t exactly the prospect for becoming an author. Why did I need to read when I had Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis? There was always a new Sonic game and a more enhanced Dr. Robotnik to beat. I’d sit for hours in my blue video rocker chair glued to that black controller, connected to my character through a five foot black cord.
Occasionally I’d venture outside with my friends, but that addictive little blue hedgehog always called me back. I remember one of my friends trying to get me to read Louis Lamoure, I think I made it halfway through a chapter. I’d skim the required reading books, and the grades on my book reports would prove it. In High School, my streak of ‘not reading’ continued and my writing reflected the minimum page or word count required to get a B or C.
It wasn’t until college that I read a book because I wanted to. The series I chose is the oft hated, but mostly beloved Harry Potter series. Now some of you reading this are already averting your eyes, and that’s okay; that’s your choice, like reading the books was mine. But let me tell you something the series did for me and many other kids like me; it got me excited about reading. We could debate the magic of the Harry Potter world as good, bad, etc. but the real magic about the books was the creative world that drew young readers in. My imagination was opened and the characters felt like friends. In fact, it inspired me to become a writer, which I now am. Before I talk about the writing thing, let’s take a bit of a tangent first.
Now why did I decide to pick this series up? Well I met this beautiful girl, and we challenged each other to see who could finish the entire book series first. The only title not out was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The only reason I was able to catch up to her was because we both had to wait for the release of the final book. So when it finally came out, we sat in a Borders bookstore (sadly they went the way of the dodo bird) and waited for the midnight release.
The next few days were devoted to reading as much as possible and I am proud to say I won. Now it is debated if my winning was completely above board or not and here is why. Early on in our competition, we went to a friend’s house for a nice home cooked Italian dinner. As we ate, I excused myself from the dinner table to use the restroom. As I passed my girlfriend’s purse I slipped out her copy of The Half Blood Prince and took it with me. Then I proceeded to read it for the next half hour, needless to say my absence in the restroom for so long, was causing everyone else some concern, but no one checked and I made quite a bit of ground on my reading. Now with that confession over, you can judge if I won or not. But I did indeed win in the long run, because the girl married me!
So Harry Potter inspired me to read and it also inspired me to write, but the writing thing is twofold. One I thought how cool would it be to create my very own world, or at least my very own characters. And two I want to write a book series that is a bit more ethical than Harry Potter. You see my real beef with the Harry Potter series is not the magic, because, sorry to burst your bubble, but magic isn’t real. My opposition to the series is the lack of an honorable hero. You see, though Harry appears to be a great hero, he sort of got there through a whole lot of lying, disobedience, and arrogance at times. To tell kids that Harry is a hero, when he overcame evil by committing many wrongs of his own, seems wrong. Sure little Billy, steal that candy bar as long as in the end you overcome a great trial. NO! WRONG!
I wanted to give readers characters they could really look up to, characters they could learn from and trust. Something else I wanted to do, specifically for The Quest for Truth, was provide a story without unnecessary death. This wasn’t in reflection of Harry Potter, but of many series for kids and young adults, and not just in the secular marketplace. How often do our kids read of a sword slicing through someone, or a gun fight? We probably wouldn’t let them watch it on TV, so why would we let them read it in a book? So with the desire to provide authentic moralistic heroes and a storyline without unnecessary death, I began writing The Quest for Truth. And though this kid who hated reading and writing, hadn’t read anything until he was in college, and hadn’t written anything larger than a few thousand word research paper, wrote a 100,000 word manuscript with no prospect of getting it published. After all I was a college student in the middle of the cornfields of Illinois getting a degree in Marketing. It wasn’t until later that God opened up some pretty amazing doors.
The fact is God has His plans for us. Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) says; ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’
So what are you waiting for? You just read this nearly 1000 word article; go read some books. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to write a story of your own!
A directly indirect approach to teaching your kids character through fiction.
By Brock Eastman Article first appeared in Family Magazine in August 2015
Stories are powerful tools that can awaken a reader’s imagination and inspire them. Have your kids ever pretended to be a character from a book you’ve just read; acting out the scenes, dressing in costumes? Maybe your kids wrote their own story or shared ideas of what came next in the book. Reading fiction to your children is a great way for indirect teaching and opens a world of possibilities for inspiration.
With four kids six years old and under, my wife and I look for great books that teach our kiddos lessons. Sometimes this is simply through the themes of the stories or bright illustrations. For our preschool-aged children, a lot of the books are directly teaching something: ABCs, 123s, Potty Training, Sharing, Being Kind, Colors. At their age, our kids accept this teaching and results are relatively immediate. As kids get older, they see through this sort of direct teaching, and it’s time to change tactics to help guide them along on life’s journey.
Your pre-teen or teen probably rolls her eyes when you hand her that nonfiction book about dating or having strong moral character. (Of course, you may have those perfect kids who never do anything of this sort.) When I was a teen and my parents tried suggesting what I should do with my spare time, I generally went the other direction whether they knew it or not.
There is a solution to getting these often direct lessons in a nonfiction book into the minds of your kids through the power of fiction. Generally perceived as entertainment, fiction books can provide the exact same values and lessons you wish your adolescents to pick up on. The genres and stories run the gamut, from what authentic love looks like to Biblical allegories, powerful character traits, epic tales that shine light on deep friendship, heroic feats that teach kids to stand up for what they know is right even in the face of adversity, or telling the truth no matter the consequences.
As an author, I not only look at the theme of my entire series and each individual book when I write, but I also try to provide examples within the details of the characters starring in my stories. Take Oliver for instance: he’s got great leadership skills, he’s strong, he’s confident, and he’s courageous—he’s everything a young man wants to be. But he’s also at times arrogant, quick to anger, impatient to listen, and not willing to work as a team. Oliver needs to be relatable to his readers, but he also has to grow right alongside them. We watch his character develop, and in the end, the readers see traits they wish to embody.
If you think back to the books you loved most growing up—or even now—you’ll probably find in some way you relate to a character, whether through their past, their journey, or who they become. Maybe it’s not that you’re just like them, but they embrace the traits you aspire to have. They may give you the courage to make a change in your life or conquer a fear. What characters in stories have done for you, they can also do for your kids.
When shown through the characters of an exciting adventure or emotional journey, character traits can connect with a reader without making them feel the lesson is being forced upon them. Your kids will find themselves relating their own lives and their own journeys to the characters of the story. Even vast epics like the Lord of the Rings teach character traits your kid will relate to such as you can accomplish things greater than yourself, being wealthy is not the most important thing in life, be honest with others and yourself, be courageous, and size doesn’t matter, having “heart” does.
And if your kids still resist a fiction book handed to them by you, enlist the help of a cool aunt or uncle, or perhaps an older cousin. Personal recommendations for books go a long way in engaging a reader. Often if someone likeminded has invested in reading a book or series, your kid is more likely to see the investment as worth their own time.
Readers can make all the difference to an author's success. If you've read The Quest for Truth and enjoyed it, would you consider doing all or at least a few of the below items. Reviewing a book lets others know that they should invest their time and money it the book! I'm hoping to get The Quest for Truth books up to 500 reviews each. Would you help?
Here is my list for awesome #Questers! Have you?
Told your friends and Family about The Quest for Truth?
Asked your local public library, church library, and school library to order The Quest for Truth?
Reviewed The Quest for Truth on these online retailers?
You can make a huge different in spreading the word about my books by simply requesting that your local library purchase any of my books. Using the tax dollars your family is already paying, your school or public library, will be happy to stock great new middle grade and young adult fiction as well as picture books. Simply print out the book list below (downloadable) and take it into your library to request they purchase and shelve these titles. Send me an email and let me know when the libraries have stocked the book or books and I'll send you something awesome!
I was recently in Little Rock Arkansas and had the opportunity to meet with two sets of #TQ4T readers. The first was a young man who writes for his school newspaper and also releases his reviews @ Quattro's Corner. Listen to the interview as we discuss two of my favorite things; space and dinosaurs. Would you like to interview me for your blog or school newspaper? Let me know.
I also met with an avid group of Questers. These kids knew everything about the series. They knew details I'd forgotten. (I suppose I need to re-read the series) Their passion for the series reinvigorated me to finish the final book and gave me some excellent insight into the depth of my characters and stories, especially the now beloved Drex. And maybe a bit about Midnight the cat. But it's readers like you, readers like the Hibbard and Choate families that make writing fun and exciting, and well not quite so lonely.
Finally, I love seeing how the Quest for Truth has inspired you. I recently received a kind letter from a reader and a poem inspired by Quest for Truth from another reader. So why not send me an email with your thoughts about the series or even some artwork. I love hearing from you the Questers. You're the ones that make this adventure possible.
Looking for fun resources to encourage your kids in learning and using their God-given, creative abilities? Imagination Soup gives you just that.
Melissa Taylor, a mom of two and former teacher, blogs weekly on ImaginationSoup.net, giving everything your child needs from engaging book recommendations to intriguing writing prompts and contests to multiplication songs and even coding.
Melissa has recently read The Quest for Truth series and LOVED it. You can read her review here.
FREE #Questers Membership NOW. All the awesome behind the scenes information on #TQ4T and exclusive sneak peeks at Hope. Add the br to your cart and use code: MERRYCHRISTMAS HURRY OFFER EXPIRES 12/25/2016
If you haven't listened to either Wasted Wood, Coming Storm, or Truthful Test you're missing out.You can find all three on Audible here. And with every new release (Coming Storm) I offer the first ten people a free download in exchange for a review. If you'd like a free copy of Coming Storm (An Obbin adventure from The Quest for Truth) fill out the contact form below.
If you're a subscriber to Clubhouse then you've probably already received your July issue and discovered my latest story Waste Deep. This fun story is about Grey Wikk and life in an undersea colony beneath the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
The story teaches a valuable lesson about serving others and features Grey, his parents, and 3 lovable penguins. I hope you'll consider subscribing to this awesome magazine.
If you've read the story I'd love to hear what you thought. I know I've had a few questions asking how Grey might be related to the rest of the Wikk family featured in The Quest for Truth.
If you want to catch future stories and articles be sure to subscribe to Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines right away.
Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. stories you might have missed: Coming Storm - January 2012 Clubhouse Carrying the Cure - March 2015 Clubhouse Mother's Day Mess - May 2016 Clubhouse Jr. Waste Deep - July 2016 - Clubhouse
Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. stories you won't want to miss: Christmas Story - December 2016 - Clubhouse Jr. Fizzlebop Experiments - 4 Issues in 2016 - Clubhouse Jr. More to come
Does your school, local, or church library have The Quest for Truth books? If not consider donating a set to the library so that other readers can find the series. After all if you're reading this then you probably liked the series at least a little, so why not share the fun and adventure with others. If you decide to donate leave a comment below, so I can personally thank you. And if you're library already has the series, do me a favor and take a picture of them and let me know the library name, city, and state. I might just be sending them a box of bookmarks.