Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Epic Blog has Moved to!

Lee Stephen's official blog has moved to!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prepare Ye The Way

It is March of 0012, and change is on the horizon. President Carl Pauling nears retirement. Nightman control of Novosibirsk is reaching new heights. And in the depths of The Machine, a revelation about the Alien War has put the Fourteenth on a collision course with the truth.

Embarking on a mission that threatens the very fabric of the war, Scott and his comrades seek to reveal an enemy far more dangerous than any they've faced on the battlefield. Far more sinister than anything from the stars.

Stone Aside Publishing has announced a Q1 2012 release for Epic 4: The Glorious Becoming. Continuing the story of Scott Remington and the Fourteenth of Novosibirsk, TGB picks up several months after the events of Epic 3: Hero. Additional plot information will be revealed as the release date draws near.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Epic Bloggers Wanted!

Epic is looking to hire 3-4 individuals to write articles for the Epic Universe blog and Facebook fan page. Bloggers can earn up to $15 per article. Applicants must demonstrate series knowledge, grammatical proficiency, and creativity, as freedom will be granted in choosing blog topics.


1. Contact Lee Stephen via

2. Explain why you’d be a good Epic blogger. Flatter yourself!

3. List five potential topics for your blogs. Bloggers will be allowed to blaze their own trails. It’s important to be able to come up with creative and enticing subject matter, be it about characters, specific scenes or situations, theories, or even author interviews on blogger-chosen topics. Flex your creative blogging muscles!

Slots will be open until filled. Applications are being accepted now!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Vote for the Epic TGB Preview!

ttention Epic fans...this might just be the year! Progress on Epic 4: The Glorious Becoming (hereby shortened to TGB) has been soaring, and though there's still much to be done, a release in 2011 might just be in the works.

Between now and the release, I'll be taking opportunities to preview some of the TBG's characters—both old and new. In addition to discussing some of the burning questions revolving around the characters, I'll be offering a unique author's perspective on their importance to the series, the process of writing them, and what one can expect from them in the future. I might even tease you with a few "sneak peeks" of them in action in TGB!

The best part? You get to vote for who gets previewed! The official poll is located on the Epic Universe Forum, at Just look for the newly added "Epic 4: The Glorious Becoming" forum. YOU MUST REGISTER TO VOTE IN THE POLLS! Once the votes are cast, the previews will be posted in the forum.

Each round will consist of four characters, so make your vote count. Some of these characters might only be coming around once!

2011 is going to be an exciting year for Epic. I can't wait to experience it with you!

See you on the boards!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Writing 301: Dynamic Characters

*Lee Stephen is contributing blog entries to #The-Sci-Fi-Universe group on Those entries will also be posted here.


The citizens of New Dallas pointed to the rooftops, where the escaping band of thugs had fled minutes before. An emptied bank, a city block ablaze, and a dozen dead police officers in their wake. It was one of several large-scale criminal strikes that August--and it was only the seventh.

"Look!" a citizen shouted. "Over there!" The crowd's focus shifted to the new figure on the rooftops. It was a masked man New Dallas knew well. Their faces uplifted, the citizens shouted in jubilation. Their hero had come again, as he had so many times before.

The Paladin.

Silver cloak flowing, the Paladin leapt from rooftop to rooftop as the crowd cheered below. They lifted their hands triumphantly as he landed on the criminals' very rooftop, disappearing out of view beyond its ledge. They knew their city would be safe again.

Stopping in their tracks, bags of loot in hand, the criminals stared as the Paladin charged toward them. In the illumination of helicopter lights, the hero dove at the villains, knocking them backward into a roof shack. They were out of the media's view.

Rising from the dusty floor of the shack, the Paladin glanced back at the door behind him. Giving it a solid kick, he slammed it shut. His attention returned to the three thugs, who had now risen to their feet. The Paladin approached them.

"We got twenty thousand," the head criminal told him, "but we also got this." Handing the Paladin a document, he brushed off his knees. "I snatched it from a security folder. It's a manifest of every armored truck in the city. You know how much we can get for this information alone?"

Eyes poring over the document, the Paladin nodded. "I'll be in touch. We're going to need a major diversion to pull this off." His eyes narrowed. "Now stab me, right here. Not too deeply." The knife was inserted, and the Paladin winced. He addressed them through his pain. "I'll hold onto the manifest, but in the meantime, one of you has to come with me. I'll say the rest of you escaped. Don't worry...the twenty thousand will more than cover bail."

Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. That's not how it's supposed to happen! I mean, this guy is the Paladin, right? The champion of New Dallas! The shining beacon in darkened times! He doesn't, gasp, work with the bad guys!

Get your pencils out, everybody. Class is in session.

One of the biggest struggles of writing is creating dynamic characters that readers will want to read about. And unfortunately for us in the land of space aliens and killer robots, no genre is more susceptible to poorly-written characters than science-fiction. Why is this?

In my experience, most science-fiction writers have zero trouble coming up with strange worlds, new creatures, and shockingly in-depth military structures and social systems. Heck, we even write up ten-page histories for every single starship in our fleet. We agonize over the finest, minutest of details, until we know our created universe inside and out, backwards and forwards, down and up. Wonderful! This is fantastic. We're ready to write our story!

So Captain Bob is a brave spacefarer. Then he comes this awesome planet with three-eyed blue creatures that talk in odors and see in sounds, and they carry huge metal spears that can somehow channel power from other dimensions--

WRONG! Back up the shuttle craft and forget for a moment that you just wrote an encyclopedia of sci-fi facts and figures for this universe you created. The plain truth of the matter is that nobody cares. Nobody cares that Earth was destroyed by a species of insects four thousand years ago, or that when Wakatoids and Bozanoids get jiggy, they produce hybrid monsters that eat metal and puke bullets. It's sad, I know, but true. The good news, though, is that there is something readers care about! And its name is...


We have a maddening tendency to create unique, fantastic worlds and situations, only to toss in boring and cardboard characters to take the readers through them. We spend so much time and effort on nitty-gritty details that will never matter that by the time it's time to create our protagonist, we're tired, drained, and cranky, and end up with sort of a "aw hell, just throw whoever in there" mentality. Then when our "whoever" isn't doing anything for us as writers, we conclude that we'll never write anything, that we can start things but never finish them, etc. etc. etc., insert every "I haven't written anything" excuse here.

The Paladin was an ordinary superhero story about a guy in a cape leaping from building to building, blah, blah, blah, is anything else on TV? It wasn't until the character, not the setting, threw us a curve ball that our ears perked and we said, "hey now, this is different."

The same thing could happen with Bob. Why is he a captain? Well, because he happened to be good at it. Kind of like people who have jobs not because they like them, but because they were always able to do them well. Sound boring? Dig a little deeper. Because Bob's reason for being a captain is skill-based and not passion-based, he wrestles with a ton of self-doubt, putting up a front to his crew that he's some sort of brave, driven leader. Guilt overwhelms him, because he knows that just because he's capable of being a captain, that doesn't mean he deserves to. His blood pressure is through the roof because his inward struggle is severely stressing him out, and his frequent visits to the med bay have caused his crew to wonder if their beloved captain is all right. But he can't bring himself to tell them the truth...that he doesn't want to be their captain at all.

And NOW we drop him onto this awesome planet with three-eyed blue creatures that talk in odors and see in sounds, and they carry huge metal spears that can somehow channel power from other dimensions...and so on, and so on. The point is, none of that other stuff really matters if Bob isn't completely interesting and real. Real is the key word. If people can relate to Bob, they won't care what kind of planet his ship crashes on. They'll want to read about Bob wherever he goes.

And just like're writing a story. Not a sci-fi encyclopedia, but a story. Now when you get to all the fun stuff that we sci-fi guys love to get to, we've got a protagonist who can not only exist in the confines of them, but also make the setting itself more interesting just in how he reacts to everything around him.

I don't know about you guys, but I already want to know what happens to poor old Bob. Does something give him a change of heart? Does he quit on his crew? Does he confide in anyone about his feelings as a captain? And if so, what's...(here it comes)...HER name?

Ahhh, now it's getting fun!

So write on, sci-fi junkies. Create some dynamic characters, then do what you love to do best. Let your imaginations go wild. You might be surprised at how much you can write.

Got a question about an aspect of writing? Fire away and I'll discuss it next time!