Yes, today was a landmark day. I just finished the first draft of the novel Tennis Shoes Adventure Series, Book 11: Sorcerers and Seers. Don't get too fixated on whether the word "Sorcerers" comes first or "Seers." My publisher is still toying with that. Maybe they'll insist on another title altogether. Never can tell.
In any case, I just wanted to report that there is no greater feeling for an author than finishing up a book. Especially a book of this caliber and magnitude. The research was dizzying. The plot is mind-boggling. The book's length is actually 30,000 words longer than any book I have ever written. That means that it's 30,000 words longer than Kingdoms and Conquerors. But not so fast. I wouldn't take any initial report of the book's length too seriously. I still have several weeks of polishing on this puppy before I turn it over to the publisher. Usually a book ends up shrinking a bit during that process. But with all the polishing that I've done along the way I wouldn't expect it to shrink too much. This means the book will be one-fifth thicker than my previous "Tennis Shoes" volume. Yeah, so everyone is going to get one-fifth more story and suspense and action than they've gotten from any other TS adventure. Do I expect this to moderate the complaints about leaving characters in various binds and predicaments and not getting the next volume out quickly enough? Absolutely not. My readers are welcome to haunt me to the high heavens. The only thing worse than anxious readers is silent readers who don't care one way or the other. So feel free to complain, to vex, to torment, and to keep me on my toes and writing the next volume as swiftly as possible.
So I already know what everyone is wondering: When will the book be on the shelves? This Fall. That's the best estimate I can give you. And even that's just my best estimate. I gave the publisher all my suggestions for a cover months ago. I'm hoping it will involve a mammoth motiff. I don't care if its an entire mammoth, just the head, or even just a tusk. But mammoths are a fairly important part of this story. So the image seems appropriate. We'll see how the cover artists at Covenant end up executing such a concept. Maybe they'll go a completely different direction. Again, you never can tell.
I just wanted to take a moment at this late hour and revel in a massive feat accomplished. It's been five long years since I've released a "Tennis Shoes" novel. It seems like a lifetime ago. SEVERAL lifetimes ago. I know that many readers have born this burden with incredible patience. Some with not-so-incredible patience. But that's okay too—so long as you haven't given up on me. Many will feel a need to go back and re-read Volume 10 before diving into Volume 11. Maybe you'll feel a need to re-read the whole series! (I know that recently on family trips I've offered that opportunity to my own children, and I've been surprised at how many details I've forgotten!) To aid readers with the challenge of re-acclimating to the story I am including in this newest volume an exhaustive list of characters—at least of the characters who are mentioned in Sorcerers and Seers. That way it'll be easier to keep track of all the crazy Hebrew, Nephite, Roman, and Jaredite names—to say nothing of keeping track of all the modern characters, many of whom have been a big part of the story since the beginning. This quiet time-travel tale has become an epic unlike anything I could have ever imagined. (Okay, it was never that "quiet.)" But the challenge has been so indescribably rewarding. I've had the opportunity to explore subjects that no novelist has ever dared to explore. Did you realize this is the very first attempt ever to dramatize the setting for the battle of Cumorah? And yet I'm most proud of the way I've tackled events surrounding the last week in the life of the Savior. The moment I lose the courage to explore those kinds of things, I suppose it's time to hang up my keyboard (so to speak) and find another career.
Everyone already knows that this is not the end of the series, right? There will definitely be a Volume 12, tentatively entitled Thorns of Glory. So does Volume 11 leave the reader hanging? You betcha. Even the final sentence will drive readers nuts. Hey, it just wouldn't be a "Tennis Shoes" novel if it did anything less. But does Sorcerers and Seers contain some of most intense scenes and sequences I've ever written? Man, I sure hope so. I know many scenes were a bear to design and incorporate. And as for the cliffhanger thing, just remember my promise: I will be diving almost immediately into Volume 12. No five-year breaks. No in-between movie projects. I may spend part of the summer doing a sequel to Passage to Zarahemla, but this will be a breeze compared to the complexities of a Tennis Shoes volume. And there will a few surprises in all of these novels that I hope will thrill readers to the core.
I'm just so happy—SOOOOO happy!—to finally have it done.