The Writer’s Desk with Allen Brokken
Allen Brokken is a teacher at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. He began writing the Towers of Light series for his own children to help him illustrate the deep truths of the Bible in an engaging and age-appropriate way. He’s dedicated 15 years of his life to volunteer roles in children’s ministry and youth development. Now that his own children are off to college he’s telling stories and sharing clean humor on social media. Connect with Allen on his website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, BookBub, and sign up for his newsletter!
Q&A with Allen Brokken
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
AB: The very first thing I do EVERY morning is make coffee, have a very brief bit of hygiene, when the coffee is done I take a walk. Pretty much every day between 5:30 am and 7:00 am even on the weekends.
TG: Where did you get the inspiration for Light of Mine?
AB: 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 the 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 at 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.
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
AB: I’m blessed to be a fast writer, I can compose about 1000-1200 words an hour. However, that’s the hyperfocus superpower I get from having ADD. That said, I don’t control when I get hyperfocus. So I have to have a fairly structured process for corralling the chaos of how my brain works. If you check my social media you can see the “burn down chart” I use to track finalizing things. Without deadlines and publicly shared micro-goals, I would get nowhere, but inevitably there are days I need to “catch up.”
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
AB: I feel like we all need a tribe. My tribe is the Realm Makers consortium which is a group of Christian Writers of speculative fiction. Within that group, there’s a small critique group the Iron Sharpeners that I just rejoined after taking a break while my day job was in flux. There’s nothing better than getting the point of view of half a dozen people on a particular theme. There’s also just an act of bringing diversity to your thought. For example, I’m not, nor have I ever been, nor ever will be a 12-year-old girl or a mother of 3. Having my characters critiqued by women makes them so much more believable. Plus going back to my “chaos” writing style having to submit content every two weeks keeps me writing.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
AB: Coffee … lots of coffee. I don’t know that I have a particular food. I find myself eating a lot of celery lately, but that’s more New Year’s resolution than anything else.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
AB: I write something else and or work with other people’s content. I have some other content I’ve started and may produce in the future, but the other thing is I do daily videos on social media. Mostly Dad Jokes, occasional Star Wars humor, or writing-related posts. I read a lot of other people’s jokes for inspiration for my channel and read a lot of other authors as well.
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
AB: That’s a tough question. For the first draft, I do a lot of “blast” writing where I get on, tear and just write. When I do that I turn off Grammarly and ignore anything else. But if I’m not in a blast I like to keep the grammar prompts on just to keep the words tighter. Also, the bi-weekly critique group adds some discipline to the grammar because you don’t want bad grammar to distract them from the conceptual questions you might want to make.
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
AB: I made this mistake and most people do. There is a huge desire to promote and sell your book on social media and a lot of pressure to do so either from publishers or from your own pocketbook. After six years of doing it wrong, I realized that people expect your social media to be you and not just an ad for your stuff. So, find a thing you enjoy that’s part of you…I’m a Dad telling Dad Jokes it’s just part of who I am and there are people who resonate with that. Over time people get to know the real you and want to see you be successful. Then if what you write fits their preferences they’ll buy.
I’m not saying you don’t advertise on social media, I use paid ads all the time. But I leave that to the ad engine and my channel is just me as much as I can…unless I’m having a huge sale. 😉
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’re ever received?
AB: When you ask for writing advice, and someone with experience gives you writing advice, actually do what they say. In 2018, I was in a session at Realm Makers where a smaller publisher was talking about getting published. I later had a pitch appointment with her, and her feedback was I needed to take a break from my project, for a while, and really rethink it because in her opinion at the time what I was doing was unmarketable. That hurt. However, I listened to her, took time off, wrote in a completely different world for about 6 weeks, and then came back and with the help of some amazing people transformed … Darkness Cloaks the Land into Light of Mine.
TG: What is coming up next for you?
AB: Book 5 in the series Wellspring of Life is launching right here on Tricia Goyer’s show in November. Then the final book 6 Demolishing the Stronghold will be out in 2023. After that, I’m looking to make single-character early-reader chapter books in the same world.
Click on the graphic below to watch my interview with Allen Brokken on Light of Mine
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More about Light of Mine
After their parents’ mysterious disappearance, Lauren Aiden and Ethan discover the Armor of God.
Will their faith be strong enough to keep dark forces from destroying the Tower of Light?
Alone on the farm, twelve-year-old Lauren and her brave little brothers, Aiden(9) and Ethan(5) must guard the Tower of Light that will guide both parents home. But when a hooded stranger is caught trespassing the farm, and a new bishop claims the church, confusion pervades their close-knit community. Will the children be able to recognize who is a threat to the Tower and who is there to help them protect it?
With little else but the aid of a trio of blessed pets, three holy weapons, and their growing faith, the children find it is up to them to stop the agents of The Dark One from putting out the Light and dooming the heathlands to Darkness.
“Every child who can read chapter books has read this book as quickly as they could because the next child was ready to snatch it from them! We highly recommend this book and can’t wait for the rest of the series.” – Erin Slocum Home School Mom, For Him and My Family
Fans of Little House on the Prairie will feel at home in the series’ classic farmstead setting, and the sincerity of the children’s love for one another— nurtured by the example of their parents—will bring a smile to readers and listeners of all ages.
Light of Mine helps teachers and home educators enhance their student’s learning experience. It contains a reading comprehension section with questions from throughout the book. This provides educators with potential reading assignments and discussion topics. The section also provides access to a downloadable four-week unit study from Towers of Light Christian Resources.