Hey, I'm about to polish off yet ANOTHER chapter of this latest Tennis Shoes book! So things are coming along swimmingly, and I'm still able to post the occasional philosophical/spiritual blog. But this post is more for fans than philosophers.
By comparison the latest Tennis Shoes Adventure is right now as long as many of the other adventures that have been published. I might compare it to the length of The Golden Crown. And yet I know that I still want to add five or six more chapters before I can make an end, which will make it as long or longer than Kingdoms and Conquerors. How exactly does an author decide the length of a book? Well, in my case, I've never had a master plan for such things. I've just set out to write a story and however long that story ended up being, well, that's how long it was. My intention when I began Thorns of Glory was that I would finish up the story that began with Warriors of Cumorah. However...it now appears that this may not be the case.
So here's my announcement: There will be at least two more books before I complete the story that began with Warriors of Cumorah. It will mean that the tale that began with Warriors of Cumorah will be five full volumes in length. Why am I doing this? Well, it's kinda like when we make lasagna around our house. I always want to serve myself more than I can eat. And in the case of this latest adventure, the plot has become a bit more interwoven and complex than I originally anticipated.
See, I knew that this latest book would deal with the last week in the life of the Savior. I also knew that it would address the world of the Nephites in the days of the final battle at Cumorah. What I did not anticipate was that this latest volume would also deal with the third mass destruction that is documented in the Book of Mormon.
What? You didn't know about the third destruction??? Most people could easily name two of the mass destructions. The first is the end of the Jaredites as recorded by Ether, and the second is the end of the Nephites as recorded by Mormon. Most readers forget the third mass destruction. This is because it's passed over by the chroniclers rather hastily. But you'll read about this destruction in the 8th and 9th chapters of the Book of Ether. It was the destruction that took place in the days of the sorcerer, Akish. In Ether 9:12 we are told that only thirty souls survived.
Many of my fans have requested the first chapter of the latest Tennis Shoes book. If you haven't, you are welcome to do so. Just send me the request via my regular email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will then reply with an attachment that includes the Prologue and First Chapter of the current book. Those who have read this opening chapter are well aware that Akish plays a vital role. Sooooo, in the course of telling my story, I suppose I should have realized ahead of time that I might find myself entwined in the details of the third mass destruction. But I didn't realize it in the beginning. See, I make this stuff up as I go along. And this fact didn't register until I was about eight chapters into the current novel. Then it became obvious, especially after I began to realize just how complex and fascinating this particular story in Jaredite annals actually is.
These events chronicle one of the most compelling royal "soap operas" in the history of the world. We begin in Chapter 8 of the Book of Ether with the story of Omer, son of Shule, ruler over all the descendants of Jared. Omer was only the fourth king since Orihah, the son of Jared. But the life of King Omer is one of the great (nearly forgotten) tragedies and triumphs in the Book of Mormon. He had many sons and daughters (Eth. 8:1), but one of those sons, a pesky fellow named Jared, rebelled against his father. He conquered half the kingdom and then finally gave battle unto his father, Omer. After defeating Omer, he placed his father into captivity. Ether tells us that Omer was in captivity "half of his days (8:4)". But the nature of that captivity was such that he was able to have two more sons, named Esrom and Coriantumr (a different Coriantumr than the one who is significant during the last battle of the Jaredites at Ramah/Cumorah). These sons won the kingdom back for their father. They were about to slay their oldest brother, Jared, but in the end they had mercy upon him. Jared then became very depressed, which earned the sympathies of one of his daughters. Although this woman is unnamed, she is one of most influential and conniving women in history. She resurrected the evil oaths and combinations contained in the records carried across the ocean by Jared. Why Jared and Mahonri Moriancumr would even bring such evil records is unfathomable. Perhaps such records were simply part of the overall "history of the world" that the brother of Jared (Mahonri) later compiled into what is considered the greatest book ever written by the hand of man. This record is contained in the "sealed" portion of the Book of Mormon. It comprises fully two-thirds of the breadth of the entire stack of gold plates. As far as we are aware this sealed portion has never been translated, and to this day mankind has not been judged worthy to receive it. However, one day we will receive it, which will certainly be a great day indeed.
In any case, we are not told how the daughter of Jared got her hands on these evil oaths and combinations. What we are told is that the daughter of Jared conjured a scheme whereby she could reinstall her father to the throne. To acheive her ends, she enlisted the help of one Akish, son of Kimnor. NOW we begin to see how the story comes together! Akish was promised that if he killed Omer and put Jared back on the throne, the daughter of Jared would marry him (apparently she was one foxy mamma!) (8:12). Akish used these evil oaths to introduce secret combinations among the Jaredites. He called together all of his kinsmen and made them swear allegience to Akish and promise by heaven and earth never to divulge whatever secrets Akish made known to them.
However, despite the death plot that was brewing against Omer, Omer was forwarned by the Lord in the dream and fled to safety. Despite Akish's failure to actually kill Omer, Jared's daughter nevertheless followed through and married Akish.
It then seems that the daughter of Jared got more than she bargained for. Yes, Akish did install her father, Jared, back to the throne, but then Akish got jealous, and like so many tyrants, he decided he wanted all the power for himself. He had Jared beheaded while he sat on his throne (9:5) and then laid claim to the kingdom. Not only that, but Akish later became jealous of his oldest son, tossed him into prison, and had him starved to death (9:7). One can only imagine how the daughter of Jared now felt about her husband. In any case, another son of Akish named Nimrah became angry with his father, gathered up a small army, and fled to dwell with his great-grandfather, Omer in a land called Ablom. But the court intrigue doesn't end there. Akish's other sons also rebelled against Akish. The whole kingdom erupted into years of bloody civil war, a situation that finally ended with a great battle between Akish and the sons of Akish, destroying all but thirty of the kingdom's original subjects (9:12).
Now how can a historical fiction writer resist such an intense story of court intrigue? Besides, the destiny of Akish is something very much demanded in the Tennis Shoes Adventure Series. It is in my effort to fulfill this demand that I have made the decision to split the remaining story into two volumes. So here's the other bombshell: The next book in the Tennis Shoes Adventure Series, which I expect to complete sometime early next year, will not be entitled Thorns of Glory. This title is much more appropriate to the final volume of the story that began with Warriors of Cumorah. (If you notice, I'm always careful to say "story that began with Warriors of Cumorah". This leaves open the possibility for more Tennis Shoes Adventure Volumes in the future, but as part of a new and unique storyline.) I'm not quite sure what Volume 11 will be titled. I'm toying with the notion of calling it Seers and Sorcerers but I'm not yet certain.
So here's my promise: I'm fully aware how annoyed and impatient my readers have become waiting for the next Tennis Shoes volume. Therefore, after the publication of Volume 11, I have no intention of making my readers wait so long for the next volume. I will continue with Volume 12 uninterrupted and hopefully Vol. 12 will be released 6-12 months after Vol. 11.
Is that acceptable? I hope so.
I don't think anyone will be disappointed with the story itself and the intriguing, heart-pounding, and fascinating events that take place. Hey, if the author genuinely enjoys the story that he is creating, he can only hope that the readers will feel the same. In any case, I have the opportunity to bring to life aspects of the Book of Mormon that no other author has attempted. This is an incredible honor, and I can only hope that my efforts will be judged worthwhile by my readers.
By the way, if my current plan with this series comes to fruition, it will mean that the storylines of the Tennis Shoes Adventure Series follow a perfect Fibanacci numbers pattern. I assure everyone, this was not my intention. But it's kind of cool nonetheless. I'll leave it up to the readers to look up what a Fibanacci sequence is, in case you don't already know.
Copyright (c) 2009, Chris Heimerdinger
For those who are interested in signed Tennis Shoes and Passage to Zarahemla stuff there are still a few available from Ebay. See: http://shop.ebay.com/liahona10/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p4340.