Please call 801-870-2070 to order

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Upcoming Signings// Free Item for Calling Direct Continues

Hey Tennis Shoes Fans!

Here's a number of signings scheduled for Costco (and BYU-I in Rexburg) in the next upcoming weeks. All Costco signings are scheduled for 3-6 PM unless otherwise indicated. I hope this time works well for parents who may want to bring kids after school. More dates may be added to this calendar, but this is what we have for now. Hope to see you there!

Sandy Utah Costco--Nov. 19 (12-3PM)

BYU Idaho--Nov. 20 (4-7 PM)

BYU Idaho--Nov. 22 (12-3 PM)

Lehi Utah Costco--Nov. 24

Ogden Utah Costco--Dec. 4

Lehi Utah Costco--Dec. 8

Sandy Utah Costco--Dec. 11 cancelled for illness

Ogden Utah Costco--Dec. 18

For those who still wish to order Tennis Shoes 12: Drums of Desolation directly from me (book or audio book), I'm pleased to report I can still provide a free item with every order. Choose from the following: 1. DVD for Passage to Zarahemla 2. book for Passage to Zarahemla 3. book of Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-Day Soul, or 5. "Whispered Visions" song CD from the movie Passage to Zarahemla. All items are free with your order. ($3.00 is added for shipping.) You can also receive a copy of the Audio Book for Escape From Zarahemla for $15.00 (normally $28.00). Call 801-870-2070.

I love my readers! Thanks for all your support!

Chris Heimerdinger

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Upcoming Signings (So Far)

Hey Tennis Shoes Fans,

So I'm currently scheduled to sign books, including Tennis Shoes 12: Drums of Desolation, right now over the UEA break while I'm in Idaho (since that's where our family was headed anyway. Killing two or three birds. You know how'tis.) So:

Thurs. Oct 16, Pocetello, ID Costco---11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Fri. Oct 17, BYU Idaho Bookstore, Rexburg, ID--11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Undoubtedly more signings will appear on the docket shortly, but this is all for now. THANKS SO MUCH for all of the Pre-Orders of the book and audio book for Drums over the last couple months. While supplies last I will still offer customers one of the free items that was offered during the pre-order. See previous postings (about two posts ago) for more details and call 801-870-2070. If I don't answer, send me a text and I'll call back ASAP.

Stay Close to the Lord,

Chris Heimerdinger

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Gala Affair: Premier of "Meet the Mormons"

Greetings Tennis Shoes fans!

I'm nearly out of breath with sending packages, but I'm happy to report that all pre-orders of Drums of Desolation book and audio are in the mail. The audio didn't arrive until Oct. 2 so it took a few days longer for those who ordered the audio or audio and book. If your order doesn't arrive in the next few days, better call 'cause there might be an error of some kind. I'm not immune and perfectly willing to fix a mistake. I'm looking forward to reading reviews posted here, on Amazon, on Facebook, and wherever else! I thoroughly enjoyed writing Drums of Desolation, but that infamous phrase "To be Continued..." pops up at the end, which I know drives some fans crazy. Thus, for the record, the next volume is "under way" and the interim between books should be much shorter. So when will Book 13: Thorns of Glory come out??? I wish I could say for certain. Hmmm. How about next fall or the spring of 2016? If I have no serious distractions, this goal is very achievable.

Last night I attended the premier of Meet the Mormons at Jordon Commons in Sandy, UT. Theatre 13 in that facility only seats about 500 people (if anyone knows the exact number, lemme know). I think it's fair to say that if a black hole had opened and swallowed up the premises around 7:00 PM, about 75% of all the well-known Latter-day Saints would've disappeared, not to mention two Apostles, Elder Holland and Elder Bednar. I've been to many events where famous Latter-day Saints peppered the landscape, but NONE had the sheer saturation of LDS celebrities that I witnessed last night. I touched base with many old friends and acquaintances in this business and met many other famous Saints for the first time. It seemed everyone was there--many whom I wouldn't have recognized if they hadn't introduced themselves or if I hadn't seen their names mentioned later in articles and on Twitter accounts. In that sense I'm kinda stuck in my own generation. For example, I wouldn't have recognized the face of someone like Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragon (although I like their songs!) or internet sensation ShayCarl Butler. But aside from that, my wife, Emily, and I made the rounds pretty efficiently.

The greatest honor of the night happened at the very outset when Elder Jeffrey Holland walked up to us and introduced himself personally. He practically insisted that we take our picture with him, telling my wife to stand between us because, "It makes both of us look better." I don't think he had any idea who I was, but he was so gracious and kind that this hardly mattered. Shucks, I've found that my name doesn't usually provoke recognition. Only if I mention the the title of my first book--"Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites"--do folks respond, "Oh yeah! I've heard of that!" Yet most of the time it's rather awkward to just come out and say that, so I spent much of the evening anonymous.

Regrettably, I didn't have a chance to shake the hand of Elder Bednar. The crowd that surrounded him was unrelenting, as if the aura of destiny that this man will one day be President of the Church is all around him and places a high demand on his presence. No one seemed more pressed by the crowds than Elder Bednar. Perhaps if we'd been more forward we could have met him, but the opportunity never quite materialized. Admittedly, I might have been a bit shy.

Still, the range of individuals we did meet for the first time--or catch up with after (sometimes) many years--was notable enough. In fact, I seriously began to wonder why I'd even been invited! I believe the guest list was designed for LDS personalities who possessed some ability to "spread the word" about the movie. Thus, it was an incredible honor that I somehow made that list, especially since my "celebrity reach" has ever been restricted to Latter-day Saints. Okay, I have a few modest exceptions like A Return to Christmas, but for the most part all of my readers are Mormons. I'll talk more about the movie itself in a "Part 2" of this blog entry. For now I'll delight in recounting events and observations from premier night. Perhaps that wasn't the intent of those who invited me, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.

During the reception we sat at the same table as Diego and Carolina Muñoz Marin from Costa Rica. We didn't know it at that time, but Carolina was a featured personality in Meet the Mormons in a segment called "The Fighter" as a mother and amateur kick boxer. Sort of a "duh!" moment for me, but the truth is that Emily and I went with very little knowledge of exactly what we were attending. Also at the our table was an old friend of mine, Garrett Batty and his wife. Garrett put together the "Making of" documentary for my DVD Passage to Zarahemla and has now become a very successful LDS director with The Saratov Approach and another upcoming LDS missionary adventure that he recently finished shooting in Africa.

I think I've finally met every member of the Osmond family, except Donny. He may have been the only Osmond not in attendance last night. My wife informed Jimmy Osmond how big of a crush she had on him as a little girl (which surely dates us tremendously) and I had to tell Marie how much she meant to my childhood. I added to her, "--even though we're about the same age," to which she replied, "You mean 29??" I should have replied, "Trust me. Age looks a lot better on you than it does on me," but I wasn't quick enough on my feet. After the movie we stood right behind Marie Osmond and her husband, Steve Craig, as we went through the gauntlet to meet the "stars" of the film. It was enjoyable to watch Marie take a selfie with every cast member. I confess that the most humorous moment of the evening had to be when I watched Marie pose with Shawn Bradley. Despite her very high heels, the differential was hilarious.

Just as it was hard to get near Elder Bednar, it was also difficult to get near Mitt Romney. Only because Emily and I found ourselves within a few feet of him as we departed the reception did I stand my ground and insist upon shaking his hand. After all, I'd voted for this man to be POTUS! The question on my mind, of course, was "Are you going to run again?" Thankfully, I resisted asking as I'm sure this question is so oft-repeated it would have come off as droll or offensive. I even considered being a cheerleader and saying close to his ear, "Run! Run! Run!", but I also resisted this urge. I was surprised how hard it was to meet him even standing three feet away. Latter-day Saints can be bold competitors and hands were constantly thrust in front of ours to draw his attention. I listened to him discuss everything from moving into his newly-built Utah home by Christmas to his support of Walden Media (or maybe he was just expressing his familiarity with others who support Walden Media). It wasn't like there was a line to meet Mitt or others. We were standing amidst tables and chairs and food. Folks simply pressed the Governor on all sides, meaning we often had to change positions to face him. Then he'd turn again, convincing us we should have just remained where we were. After about the tenth person jumped in front of us I finally whispered to my wife, "Maybe we need to be more aggressive." Shortly thereafter I found his hand and introduced myself. At first I wasn't sure how to address him. Should I call him Mitt? Mr. Romney? Brother Romney? I settled with Governor Romney and was happy that I did, adding, "It's a great honor to meet you." He replied, "Thank you," and "Good to meet you," although again I'm sure he had no idea who I was. Afterwards, his attention was quickly yanked in another direction and I was forced to listen to my wife gush, "I don't care if he's almost 70 years old. That's a good-looking man!" Near the Governor's side the entire time was his son, Josh Romney, who looked more like a movie star than practically anybody else in the room--exactly like a mild-mannered Clark Kent/Superman. I believe Governor Romney and his son were only in attendance for the reception/open house prior to the movie and scooted out shortly thereafter as I never saw him after that.

I was impressed that Richard Paul Evans recalled the first time we'd met doing a mutual book signing at a certain Seagull Book in the early 90s. Michael McLean was his usual inspiring and charming self and told me about his new children's book that he intends to transform into a musical. Years ago Michael told me he was a big fan of my first song album, Whispered Visions, so I reminded him that one day we'd planned to create some kind of musical presentation for "The Tennis Shoes Adventure Series." Few LDS artists I've met are quite as personable as Michael McLean. During the movie itself we sat beside Larry Gelwix and his wife, Cathy. Larry runs Columbus Travel and is also famous for having coached the rugby team at Highland High School featured in the film Forever Strong. My wife also had a connection with Larry Gelwix because Brother Gelwix had taught and baptized Emily's mother while serving as a young missionary in Missouri. Small world!

Before the movie began Elder Holland pointed out where David Archuletta was seated. Brother Archuletta had sung the movie's theme song, "Glorious." This allowed us to home in on his location on our way out of the theatre. Like many other fans we rambled on about how much we loved his voice and his albums. He was very composed and professional for a young man, even when there was a lull in conversation and no one quite knew what to add.

Finally we met the people featured in the movie and their families, who quite honestly seemed a bit overwhelmed by the attention. I heard Marie Osmond tell Bishop Jermaine Sullivan and his wife, Kembe, (someone mentioned that Bishop Sullivan was now Stake President Sullivan) that because of this movie, it would "change their lives forever." I'm not sure Marie was right about that. Marie comes from the perspective of being famous everywhere. My own experience is that being a celebrity among Latter-day Saints doesn't really change one's life much. Unlike Donny or Marie or someone like Mitt Romney, I suspect President Sullivan and his family will never have to avoid a trip to the park or grocery store for fear of inciting a mob scene. For the most part I think Latter-day Saints are fairly low-key about their famous personalities. Or perhaps they just don't readily recognize them in public.

There was another reason I think some of the film's stars were overwhelmed by the attention. This whole premier was one of the most unique events I've experienced in the Church. It was obvious that many of us (invited guests) were there to see and be seen. Not sure I can claim to be so much different, except that I honestly went having no idea what to expect. This seemed to be a social event as much as a movie premier. It was fun and interesting to watch various well-known Latter-day Saints and how they dealt with public recognition and scrutiny. I watched one LDS author present a beautiful gift bag to Elder Bednar with his books inside announcing, "Please accept this for yourself and your grandchildren." Not sure if I'd have had the hutzpah to do something like that. Why should I think Elder Bednar would even be interested in my stuff? Photos were constantly being snapped and reporters with microphones were positioned everywhere. A lot of money and success was apparent in the crowd and many attendees were dressed to the nines. It was curious for me--so I wondered if it was also curious for such individuals as Bishnu Adhikari, featured in the film as the Humanitarian from Nepal--to discover that sometimes Latter-day Saints could play the role of "peacocks" the same as in any other culture. Honestly, Brother Adhikari and his family looked exhausted by the time we met them. When I asked when he'd be flying home to Nepal he replied with enthusiasm, "Saturday!" As I expressed thanks for his life's work he simply put his hand over his heart and mouthed "thank you" with utter sincerity. For someone like Bishnu Adhikari and his family Meet the Mormons will likely change their lives very little. Come Monday he'll go back to work quietly building the infrastructure of the communities of Nepal while simultaneously building the Kingdom of God.

As for me, I was taking photos (or at least my wife was) much more than being photographed. Only a handful of people recognized me or my books or wanted my picture. One was the son of Michael Ballam and another was the Armstrong family from the movie. Dawn Armstrong, featured in the film as the Missionary Mom, made me feel very good as she gushed about how much she'd enjoyed my audio books over the years and had already purchased the most recent volume. The only person of the film's six personalities not present at last night's premier was Ken Niumatalolo, the coach of the football team at Maryland's Naval Academy, which is certainly understandable considering the season.

A great thrill for me was meeting the candy bomber, Gail Halvorsen. I'd first heard his story years ago, but the movie went into more detail about his role in helping to liberate East Berlin from the Soviets by dropping chocolate candies by parachute during the Berlin Airlift in the late '40s. I asked him a couple historical questions and was impressed at how sharp he still was at more than 92 years old. Here was a man who had truly changed the world, right from the front lines, and having my picture taken with him was an extraordinary honor.

As I've already alluded there were numerous people of an extraordinary caliber on hand last night, successful Saints from virtually every field of endeavor. So with that in mind, what did I think of the movie? I'll tell you more about that in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned...

Chris Heimerdinger

Copyright @ Oct. 2014 by Chris Heimerdinger

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Extraordinary Comfort" Accepted by Costco!// Last Chance to Preorder "Drums"

Hey Readers and Fans!

The short book I co-wrote this summer called Extraordinary Comfort will be on sale as early as Friday in Costcos across the Wasatch Front, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. Those who shop at Costco may have noticed that the shelf that sells books has decreased in size by almost half. Costco has become very picky about which titles they will now carry. In that spirit we are proud that Extraordinary Comfort has passed all their strict standards of quality. It really is an extraordinary little book. Those who might be expecting a typical Near Death Experience book will be pleasantly surprised to see how this story integrates the personal tragedies that David Asay suffered and overcame to highlight the overall theme of the eternal nature of families. It's a powerful message that I hope comes through in a powerful way. Just as with pre-sales of Drums of Desolation, those who would like to purchase a paperback version of Extraordinary Comfort can call me directly 801-870-2070. Those interested in the ebook are invited to go here.

This is the last chance to preorder the book or audio book of Tennis Shoes Book 12: Drums of Desolation directly from me with a free item valued at about $15 or $16. Why is this the last chance? Well, because the book itself will be on bookstore shelves the first week of October! But the best advantage with pre-orders is that I am able to continue to offer a free item while supplies last. Call the same number as above. If I don't answer (for some odd reason), send me a text (my voice mail is not set up. Hey, who has time to listen to voicemail messages?). All free items have an additional $3.00 shipping cost.

The list of free items remains the same:

1. A DVD of the movie Passage to Zarahemla.
2. The 9 songs I wrote for Passage to Zarahemla called "Whispered Visions."
3. The book Passage to Zarahemla.
4. The sequel Escape from Zarahemla which is also prerequisite reading for Drums of Desolation since these two stories now intersect.
5. For $10 those who pre-order can also get the audio book Escape from Zarahemla. Normally $27.98.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has preordered so far. LDS authors are never rich and every extra dollar helps feed my family. My sincere appreciation to everyone!

Stay Close to the Lord,

Chris Heimerdinger

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Snippet of "Drums" Chapter 3//Free Item Still Offered With Pre-Orders

Hey Tennis Shoes Fans!

As long as supplies last I've continued to offer a free item (described in this link from another post) to everyone who pre-orders directly from me (Chris Heimerdinger) at 801-870-2070. If I don't answer for some bizarre reason, send me a text and I will reply ASAP.

Pre-sales on Tennis Shoes 12: Drums of Desolation have been wonderful, far snappier than I might have expected. I wonder if it's because I'm the last LDS author right now who has an ongoing series. Granted, "The Tennis Shoes Adventure Series" has been ongoing for a looong time, but there really isn't any other "Work and the Glorys" or "Prelude to Glorys" out there presently. My book series is the only LDS series with more than one or two volumes still going strong.

I wanted to offer a shout out/special kudos to Christy Steadman, one of the registered members of this blog, who--because of a glitch on Amazon--became the very first person to purchase and receive a Kindle copy of the book Drums of Desolation. The glitch was fixed very quickly, so I presume that Christy is ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD who has already purchased and possibly read the latest Tennis Shoes book. You're the envy of all my readers and fans, Christy!

The official release date for Tennis Shoes 12: Drums of Desolation is confirmed for Oct. 1st. Paperback, Audio book, and Kindle version should be released simultaneously. This is also when I will ship the Paperback and Audio to all those who have pre-ordered through me directly. (Or within a day or two, depending on bureaucracy.)

I STILL hear from folks who are shocked that I actually answer the phone. Maybe I should feel embarrassed by that. If I was that rich or famous, I guess I'd have a secretary to take pre-orders. I'm not, so I don't. Gotta deal with me. :)

Remember, you can also order Gift Sets for all the Tennis Shoes Books and just about every other book I've written, including the paperback for Extraordinary Comfort, by calling the same number as above.

Chris Heimerdinger

Here's a snippet from Chapter 3, which is narrated by Marcos.
Chapter Three

I was among the first soldiers of King Omer to emerge from the cavern. King Omer, Queen Elorah, their newborn child named Prince Emer, and most of the women of Omer’s followers had remained behind as seven of us reconnoitered the passageway to the exit.

All of the warriors of Omer had rejoined us in the recesses of the cavern the previous night. There were about a hundred of these defenders still alive, about a third of them wounded and of little use as fighters. Fewer men had returned than mothers, wives, and children had expected. Many were slain in savage battles with Akish, Nimrah, and Akish’s sons by his second wife, Mizerath.

Sometime during the last few weeks or months, Akish and his estranged sons had reconciled. Elam and Hathrom had doubtless kissed their father’s feet with the ultimate goal to once and for all exterminate the rightful monarch of the Jaredites, King Omer. Perhaps Elam and Hathrom had no choice but to cede to their father.

Years of warfare across Jaredite territory had ravaged the population. The struggle between Akish and his sons had devastated the once-thriving kingdom. Suddenly King Omer’s army had become a bona fide threat. So Elam and Hathrom had surrendered to Akish, if for no other purpose than to preserve their lives. If this twosome was anything like their father, they were already plotting how to turn the tables against him. Heck, Elam and Hathrom were likely hatching secret plots against each other. Murder was such a way of life among these men it was unlikely the penchant could ever be cured.  

Maybe there was another relative of Akish presently consumed by this disease. I happened to be there when Nimrah, the youngest son of Akish and Asherah, had shouted across a fire-engulfed plain that his uncles, Prince Esrom and Prince Coriantumr, had been murdered. The grief of Omer’s daughters-inlaw, Princess Hearthrah and Princess Kimnah, had been inconsolable. Their husbands had been betrayed and their murders witnessed—or committed—by someone they’d trusted. For Akish, such double-dealing was nothing new—it was par for the course. But Nimrah’s betrayal had demoralized Omer’s followers severely.

I wasn’t quite sure why anyone should have been so surprised. After the deception of Asherah and her oldest daughters was revealed, the treachery of Nimrah should have been a foregone conclusion. Still, for the oft-times sentimental King Omer, the betrayal of his great-grandson hit him particularly hard. He’d come to think of Nimrah as one of his most loyal subjects and had hoped that he might once again be known as Prince Nimrah. It was a title the king had seemed eager to re-confer. For the elderly Omer, the losses of his beloved relatives—by treachery or murder or accident (as was the case of his beloved relatives—by treachery or murder or accident (as was the case of hs first wife, Ahi, who’d fallen into the flood)—had taken a substantial toll on his spirits. After his warriors had rejoined us in the cave, I’d heard King Omer mumble that all his efforts to salvage his kingdom had been in vain.

He wondered if these last few years hiding out in the desert had been “a fool’s exercise” and a “waste of irretrievable energy and time.” But even murder, treachery, and accident didn’t exhaust the list of methods employed to bring about his loved ones’ deaths. There was also execution. I had shot Asherah, the first wife of Akish and the granddaughter of King Omer. I’d pulled the trigger as she was about to slay the newborn Prince Emer. Asherah’s oldest daughter, Teshebel, was also dead. After Asherah’s demise, the women of the encampment turned on Teshebel like a pack of wolves, showing no mercy. This brand of savagery was something I’d never witnessed among women. Teshebel’s end was violent and barbarous. Her broken corpse was thrown into the river, as was that of her mother, the former queen.

Uguleth, the second daughter of Akish and Asherah, had escaped. She’d fled into the hills before any of the women loyal to Omer could tear her apart. The death of Teshebel and the escape of Uguleth struck me as unjust and unfortunate. I’d never felt certain that Teshebel was truly a traitor. Her first loyalty did seem to be to her mother, but I’d witnessed more than one moment of hesitation and regret. Maybe Teshebel could have changed. Maybe she’d have eventually granted her allegiance to King Omer, like her younger sister, Hamira.

Uguleth, on the other hand, was a hardcore subversive. She’d conspired directly with her mother and brother to flood the encampment of the king. She’d supported her mother’s plan to murder Prince Emer, hoping to assure the coronation of Nimrah. Uguleth was every bit the same species of viper as her mother. What she lacked was her mother’s beauty and affected grace. Instead, he’d inherited the masculine, vampirish features of her father. As far as I knew, Uguleth was still out there, plotting the destruction of King Omer, Prince Emer, and me--her mother's assassin.

 However, as I emerged from the cave at the base of the corridor of cliffs leading to the ocean, I faced a more immediate threat. Five enemy warriors were poised on the rocky platform just beyond the mouth. These men wore the black uniforms and markings of Akish as well as the red uniforms and markings of Elam and Hathrom. It was the final confirmation that our adversaries had united against us. In fact, one of the soldiers beside me—a son-in-law of King Omer named Rihah—pointed toward one of our adversaries and announced that it was Hathrom himself.

The fearsome son of Mizerath turned to face us. However, my attention was drawn more keenly to the figure of a man dangling by the neck from a rope. The rope had been tossed through a cleft of the moss-encrusted rocks and tied off to a waterlogged trunk. My heart thudded with horror. It was Joshua!

@ Copyright August 2014 by Chris Heimerdinger


Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Extraordinary Comfort" on Mega-Ebook Sale!

Hi Tennis Shoes fans!

In all the hubbub of pre-orders for Drums of Desolation, I may have allowed my other release of the summer of 2014 to be overshadowed! Extraordinary Comfort is the first time I have undertaken a so-called "ghostwriting" project. I did so because the story touched me. Normally I would steer away from near death experience-type themes because too many of them discuss shady doctrine or are just downright hokey. The story behind Extraordinary Comfort was different. In this book I helped Dave Asay to complete a project that he had been promising to complete for more than a decade, i.e., his mother's personal experience of slipping into a coma, passing beyond the veil, and being greeted by a son who'd been stillborn many years earlier--a brother whom Dave didn't even know he had! I felt I was able to take this simple and honest story and bring out some critical details that helped emphasize themes about the eternal nature of families, and particularly (as the title implies) to offer comfort to those who have lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth. I hope I helped Dave actually take the story much further than it's initial concept, and I'm very proud of the work.

JUST FOR THIS WEEKEND Extraordinary Comfort is being offered on Amazon Kindle for $2.99 (normally $9.99). If you're an ebook reader, you won't find a better opportunity to own this wonderful true story. Go here to order.

ALSO for those who need an additional Heimerdinger fix (assuming there are a few of you out there) I'm offering my book Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-Day Soul on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. I still proclaim that this is probably my finest piece of writing. Go here to order. (I just changed the price so I hope it's updated.)

Lastly, there's still time left to pre-order an autographed copy of Tennis Shoes Book 12: Drums of Desolation (book or audio CDs) and receive a free item with your order: Choose from: 1. A DVD of Passage to Zarahemla 2. A book of Passage to Zarahemla 3. A book of Escape from Zarahemla 4. A CD of Whispered Visions: songs from the Motion Picture Passage to Zarahemla. 5. A discount of the audio for Escape from Zarahemla to only $10.00. (Free items will charge $3.00 extra for shipping.) Just call me directly at 801-870-2070.

All my love and best regards!

Chris Heimerdinger

Monday, August 25, 2014

Audio for "Drums of Desolation" Done!// Skip Amazon, Order Directly From Me

Hey Tennis Shoes Fans!

The audio recording of Drums of Desolation is complete. It's always a monster to record a book of this length and complexity.


Fortunately, I was able to pull together all the familiar voices from recent volumes. Summer Naomi Smart plays "Steffanie." She also performs "Sakerra"--the same character that she played in the movie Passage to Zarahemla. Summer is a very successful stage actor/dancer/singer in Chicago these days, so I managed to catch her during a brief visit to her family early in June.

My sister, Carlyn Blake (sometimes I have her name printed as Carlyn Heimerdinger Blake so folks know the relationship), also reprised her role as Meagan. She also reprised her role from Sorcerers and Seers as young Rebecca. Carlyn's talent is miraculous to me. Few people realize how hard it is to find someone who can narrate a novel. The trick is to do so without sounding like you're reading. The second trick is to be able to do it with some fluidity--reading for at least a few paragraphs without making a mistake and having to restart the same sentence. So the fact that I've been able to utilize my sister for all these years has been wonderful. In her "normal" life she's an entrepreneur for a non-profit company, so narrating the "Tennis Shoes" books has been a fun change-of-pace for her.

Lastly, I managed to talk Dave Walker into reprising his role as Marcos--a character that has a fairly substantial part in this audio book. For those who have purchased other audio books from Covenant Communications over the years, Dave is probably a familiar voice. The trouble is, he had to quit narrating a few years ago for financial reasons. Honestly, the gig doesn't pay very much money, and Dave found a more lucrative way to support his family. Nevertheless, his talent is undeniable. He's the only one who attempts to do different voice characterizations besides me--also not an easy thing to achieve.

Years ago I listened to Jim Dale's narration/dramatization of the "Harry Potter" series and I was blown away by his talents and versatility. Ever since I've tried to match the number of voices and personalities he is able to generate. I'm certain I fall short, but I do my best. Not many authors can even read their own books (most publishers won't allow them to) so I'm grateful that I have this opportunity. It allows me to offer just the right nuance to characters and emotions. Who'd know better than the author, right?

Over the years I had managed to sell one audio for every four books. However, because Deseret Book used inferior downloading technology (or else didn't make the audio book available at all) those numbers fell off somewhat. Deseret Book is now promising that by year's end they will have a brand new App for downloading audio books. Honestly, I've been hearing this for a number of years, so I'm not holding my breath, but I do have a secret hope that this time it may actually happen. Otherwise, the best quality for the audio is still to purchase the CD set and then, if desired, transfer them one at a time to your computer or audio device for listening. So, with any luck, DB will catch up with new technologies before the end of 2014. (Please, please.)

HOWEVER, I've noticed that many folks pre-ordering either the book or audio for Drums of Desolation are still doing it through Amazon. I put it up on Amazon because I recognize that for some buyers it may seem more convenient, but Amazon "do take a chunk" of the retail price, so I encourage those who pre-order to ORDER DIRECTLY FROM ME! Just call 801-870-2070.

I realize that some people are frightened by the prospect of speaking directly with the author. And I admit there is anecdotal evidence that authors have been known to swallow their victims whole. But for the most part we're harmless creatures who love talking with our readers. I have a secure Merchant Account for Visa or MC, so don't be afraid to call me directly. You can also ask me any question you've ever wanted to ask, such "How come you've taken so darn long to finish this series??!!" I doubt anyone could come up with a question I haven't already heard, so feel free.

Remember, you can still get a free item for the next couple weeks--either a DVD of the movie Passage to Zarahemla, a book of Passage to Zarahemla, a CD of the album of 9 songs I wrote for the movie called "Whispered Visions", a book of Escape from Zarahemla or--finally--a discount of the audio book of Escape from Zarahemla for $10 (normally $27.98). Pay only $3 dollars extra in shipping for the freebies.

I try to keep my phone with me all day, but if I don't answer, send a text and I'll call back ASAP.

Oh, and here's the best news of all! I can now begin work on Thorns of Glory--the next and last installment of the series. (Well, at least it'll be the conclusion of the story that began with Warriors of Cumorah. I suppose I can always conjure new adventures for the Tennis Shoes characters.) In any event, I promise that the wait for the next volume will be significantly shorter. No projects in between. My goal is a year. We'll see if I can make it. :)

Stay close to the Lord!

Chris Heimerdinger

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Drums" Full Chapter 2/ Pre-Order Notice

Greetings Tennis Shoes readers and fans!

Okay, this might be the last chapter or segment I'll post before the book is released in October. Many have pre-ordered a signed copy directly and are surprised that I'm the one who answers the phone. Trust me, LDS artists aren't that famous. We do our own legwork, and it's fun to talk to fans. The free item offered along with a pre-order of Tennis Shoes 12: Drums of Desolation as a book or audio book is still available until the end of August. Those free items include a DVD of Passage to Zarahemla, the book of Passage to Zarahemla, or the book of Escape from Zarahemla (which are now part of the Tennis Shoes universe and pre-cursors to Drums of Desolation.) I 'spose I could also offer a free music CD of Whispered Visions (songs from the movie Passage to Zarahemla) to those who would prefer this. There is an additional $3.00 in shipping for a free item. You can also get the audio book for Escape From Zarahemla for $10.00.

You can call me directly at 801-870-2070 or pre-order the book or audio book from Amazon. If I don't answer my phone right away, send a text and I'll call back ASAP. By the way, all other Tennis Shoes books and audios and gift sets (1-5 and 6-10) are on sale as well. 

I hope this chapter keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Chapter Two


Hamira lunged forward, away from the stone where she’d been sitting. She was grabbing the back of her thigh, just above the knee joint, as she spun around to look for the thing that had attacked her.

I heard the telltale sound before I saw what was causing it. Oddly, the sound reminded me of the peaceful, musical hum of a tropical rainstick. This illusion was accentuated by the cavern’s echo. Then all sounds were drowned out by the echo of Hamira’s shriek.

I peered into the shadows between the stones where Hamira had been sitting. Something slithered into a tight crevice that my torchlight couldn’t illuminate. But I caught a glimpse of the black rattle, vibrating like a child’s toy. The snake was gone, although the rattling sound persisted.

“It bit me!” Hamira screeched. “It burns!” She spun around again, as if she might move those boulders with a superhuman surge of adrenaline and strangle that scrawny reptile. She staggered, and I caught her in my arms.

“Calm!” I said. “Be calm!”

I helped her lie softly upon the ground and turned her onto her side so I could see the wound. There were two punctures, about an inch apart, blood red and swelling before my eyes. Fury raged inside me. I felt angry at nature. Wasn’t a rattlesnake supposed to warn you with its rattle before it struck? This creature had offered no warning. It just sank its fangs into her flesh and slithered off. I wanted to follow through on Hamira’s impulse and gouge the blunt end of my torch—or even the flaming end!—into the narrow space where it had disappeared in hopes of exacting revenge, but I couldn’t leave Hamira’s side.

“Cut it!” she commanded. “Bleed it. Drain out the poison.”

I used my dagger. My hands were shaking as I tried to cut two small X’s into the back of her thigh, one for each puncture. You’d think living in ancient times for so long I’d have heard some kind of official instructions for how to deal with a snake bite. I’d learned no such procedures. The general consensus among the Nephites was that anyone bitten by a serpent was dead. It was God’s will. Somewhere in the distant memory of my youth, I’d heard that one should suck the poison and spit. As Hamira clenched her jaw to stop wailing in pain, I set my lips against the places where I’d cut the X’s and sucked her wounds like a vampire. I tasted blood and immediately spat it away. I sucked and spit again, and then again.

Finally, I did what I should’ve been doing all along. I prayed for help. I prayed as I worked, sucking and spitting. I paused and looked again at the wound. Hamira was writhing in anguish. She bit the collar of her mantle for all she was worth, trying to squelch her sobs. The wound was turning purple. If I received any inspiration at all, it was to stop what I was doing. These actions weren’t helping one little bit.

Another consequence came from all my sucking and spitting. My mouth was tingling. I felt like an imbecile. Over the last several days I’d been punched, thrown, beaten, and bruised over virtually every inch of my body. There was a cut on my lip and several cuts inside my mouth that had turned into canker sores. I was feeling nauseous. It occurred to me that in my effort to save Hamira, I’d envenomated myself!.

“What should I do?” I asked aloud. I couldn’t say if it was a prayer or if I was asking Hamira for advice. Tears were streaming down her face. If she’d understood the question, she wasn’t willing to stop biting her mantle long enough to answer.

I heard voices. Hamira’s screams hadn’t gone unnoticed. Our presence had been revealed, undoubtedly to the forces of Nimrah and the sons of Mizerath. The echo of scrambling footsteps and shouts was drawing closer. What was happening? I didn’t understand. We’d been following the directions provided by the Liahona. Why was this happening to us?

And then I heard the laughter. Surprise, surprise. It was the sword of Akish.


Poor Joshua. Poor, naive, silly, ignorant Joshua. I tried to warn you, and what did you do? Nothing! You ignored me. You ignored everything I tried to tell you. Now my advice is spent. I have nothing more to offer. This is the price you must pay. The cost of misguided faith. All I can now advise is that you sit and wait for your enemies. Any other action is futile and will not change your fate. And it certainly won’t change the fate of your sweetheart.


“Shut up!” I said aloud. “Heavenly Father, make it shut up!”

Despite my prayer, I swore I could still hear the sword’s laughter. Hamira’s wound looked worse. The flesh around the twin punctures was darkening, the swelling increased. I wasted no more time.

“We have to keep moving,” I told Hamira. “I’ll carry you.”

She shook her head, as if nobly refusing my offer. It was insanity. I ignored the gesture. Hamira had dropped her torch as soon as she was bitten. The flame would have to be abandoned. I set down my own torch momentarily and heaved Hamira over both shoulders, careful not to skewer her with the sword of Akish. She was trembling, eyes pinched shut, jaw still clamped. Honestly, she felt as light as a feather; I had no trouble bending down to raise my torch again. I did have some difficulty seeing the top of the Liahona. I maneuvered her body out of way. The pointers still indicated a clear direction. I drew a deep breath, shaking off my own nausea and lightheadedness, and tromped toward a passage beyond the dusty shafts of sunlight, at the far end of the room.

The voices may not have been as close as I thought. Or they may have entered the chamber with shafts of light seconds after Hamira and I departed. The sores burned inside my mouth; I wasn’t thinking as straight as I should’ve been. I ignored this and fought my way through the passages. Instead of fading into the background, the voices seemed closer than ever. Was I carrying Hamira in a circle? No, that couldn’t happen. I was following the Liahona! I was on the correct path.

I staggered once and had to lean against the wall to catch my breath.

“Joshua,” said Hamira. “What’s wrong?”

She could tell I wasn’t operating at full capacity. Still, I denied it.

“Nothing,” I said. “Just needed to catch my wind.”

“I’m s-so cold,” she half-whispered. “Water. I need t-to drink.”

I untied the water skin from her belt and set it against her lips. I caught another glimpse of her bitten leg. Holy mackerel! It had swollen to almost twice its normal size. Panic engulfed me. What should I do? What would my father do? He’d use the Priesthood. He’d anoint her and bless her. I didn’t have the Priesthood. I’d never been worthy to receive the Priesthood. I could only pray. So pray I did, with all my might. The sword interrupted.


Leave her, it said. With her you have zero chance. Without her your chances remain slim. But with her you’re a dead man for certain.


“You’re a liar,” I said under my breath. I repeated the word like it was a chant. “You lie and you lie. You lie and you lie again. A moment ago it was futile. I had no chance at all.”


You’ll have to pardon me. I was gloating. I was angry that you felt I had nothing to offer. The truth is . . . I do. I have far more to offer than that cold metallic sphere on your hip. Your God has abandoned Hamira, Captain Josh—just as I told you He would. Yet He still wants you to rescue that obscene sack of Gold Plates. That’s the irony. He cares more about those plates than He cares about you. And I think you already know that He cares nothing for Hamira. I tried to tell you.


“I told you to shut up! Why aren’t you shutting up?”


Ask yourself that question? Maybe I don’t have to shut up. Maybe I never had to. Consider your own state of mind. You’re desperate, Captain Josh. You’d do anything to save Hamira. Anything to save yourself. And . . . curiously . . . anything to save that sack of metal. Why, I think you’d finally accept a bit of advice from me.


“Not on your life. Heavenly Father, please! Please shut it up!”

The cavern opened up again into a larger room. The voices still seemed to be moving toward us. I’d thought the Liahona was leading me down original pathways—tunnels that my pursuers wouldn’t normally choose. Yet the army of Nimrah, Elam, and Hathrom was drawing relentlessly closer. It was time to admit to myself: Hamira was becoming heavier and heavier. Was my adrenaline wearing thin? She was starting to feel like a sack of granite. Movies I’d seen as a kid . . . they always showed the hero carrying the wounded heroine mile after endless mile on their shoulders, across mountains and deserts and finally to safety. They were fairy tales. The human body had its limits. Besides, the rescuer wasn’t normally fighting snake venom that had penetrated cuts inside his mouth.

I laid Hamira down. I had to rest my shoulders. She was shaking like a leaf. I raised the torch to see her face. She was having difficulty holding up her lids, squaring her pupils. Her eyes rolled up and back, side to side, and her breathing was becoming ragged. The second I laid her on the ground, she vomited up all of the water I’d given her as well as the food inside her stomach.

“Dear God,” I prayed. “Help us! Help me to know what to do!”

I was sure the warriors of Nimrah and the sons of Mizerath would appear behind us at any second. I briefly stepped away from Hamira and strode twenty paces toward a passage at the far end of the room. It didn’t seem to me that this was the main tunnel. The primary passage went toward the left, climbing higher. I studied the pointers on the Liahona. My eyes weren’t cooperating. It was difficult to focus. Somehow I verified that the Liahona approved of the idea of taking this more obscure passage. With God’s support, maybe this route would finally throw off our pursuers.

I walked back to Hamira. I won’t say “staggered” because my wits were still about me. Nevertheless, I almost tripped several times as my focus continued to give me fits. She was barely conscious when I reached her, just conscious enough to beg for more water, despite having just vomited a third of our supply. I helped her to drain the remaining liquid from her pouch. When she asked for more, I untied my own water skin and set it to her lips.

“It’s time to get moving again,” I told her.

“Yes,” she agreed.

I looked at the Liahona.

What in—? What was happening?! The pointers weren’t together. The Liahona was suddenly on the fritz.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. The question was directed toward heaven. “What did I do wrong?

I abandoned Hamira again and stepped back toward the tunnel that the Liahona confirmed that I should take just a moment ago. I fought again to focus my eyes and read the tiny pointers. I shook my head violently, as if jogging my head to force my eyes to focus. It seemed to work. Again I perceived the pointers, but the message baffled me to the core.

It was working again. The Liahona was functioning properly. I wasn’t wrong about the direction. So what was the dilemma a moment ago? I walked back toward Hamira. Just to be sure, I glanced at the Liahona one more time. I shuddered, horrified, as I confirmed that the pointers were again indicating separate directions. Once more the Liahona was kaput. Non-functioning. Just the act the walking back toward Hamira had thrown the compass out of whack.


You have to face the truth, Joshua. You must go on without her. You have to let her go!


“NO!” I cried. I didn’t care if my voice was loud enough to alert my enemies. “I left my sister. I let Becky die. I won’t let Hamira die.”


Noble sentiments. Even admirable. But you didn’t leave your sister, Joshua. She was already dead. Don’t you remember? God didn’t give a lick about your sister. And He cares even less about Hamira. Hamira: the daughter of Asherah. The offspring of my maker. Did you really think your God would ever support you in saving her life?


“Yes!” I said bitterly, grinding my teeth. “She’s good. She’s not one of them.”


The apple never falls far from the tree. But you’re good, Joshua. Yes, your wonderful God might yet support you. Try allocating your devotion strictly to the plates of Mahonri Moriancumr. Then watch and learn. Your God will always favor these bloodless, inanimate sheets of gold over human life. You see that now, am I right? Do you finally believe me?


“I can’t leave her. I won’t leave her!”


They’ll enter this chamber in the next thirty seconds. So you’d better decide hastily. If you try to carry her, you’re a dead man. If you leave her, only Hamira will die. You will live to fight another day. That I can promise. Yes, me, another hunk of inanimate, breathless metal. I can promise that you will live to wield me against your enemies another day. Just leave!


“I’ll never touch you again.”


Fine! But leave her! You must go! Look once more at your oracle. Do you doubt what it’s telling you?


“God, please,” I prayed. “Shut it up. Shut it up! Talk to me!”


He is talking to you. He speaks through the oracle on your hip. And you have only seconds to accept His instructions. Haven’t I made myself clear? I agree with its instructions!


Was this sarcasm? Was the sword being sincere? I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t make sense of anything. “I can’t do this.”


Yes, you can! Rise up. Stand tall!


I stood up straight.


Walk toward the tunnel.


I studied Hamira’s sweet face, drenched in perspiration, eyes sealed shut, breathing shallowly. She was dying. A snakebite! After all that we’d been through together. Would it really end here? Would I really lose the only girl I’d ever kissed—ever loved—because of something as senseless and horrid as a snakebite? “God why? WHY?!”


Move! Move! Save His precious plates!


And then I heard Nimrah’s voice. “Over there! Kill them!”

His men were entering the chamber. Swords rasped from scabbards. Arrows were being loaded into bows. I turned and bolted. My vision remained blurry, but not with snake venom. Just tears. Tears of anguish and failure. An arrow whipped over my head as I ran toward the tunnel indicated by the Liahona. My thoughts were jumbled; my legs were powered purely by the instinct of survival. All the while, as my feet were moving, I fought the urge to return. I wanted to remain with her. I wanted to die by her side. Yet I was running. I was doing what the Liahona seemed to want—what God seemed to want. I was saving the book of the brother of Jared. And I was saving my own skin.

Except for the arrow that whistled overhead, no other arrow came close. The last thing I heard—or thought I heard—before I fled down the tunnel was, “It’s my sister!”

The words gave me a pebble’s worth of hope. Nimrah wouldn’t slay his sister.

What was I saying? Hamira was already dead. Any mercy that Nimrah might show would be rendered null and void by the venom of the rattlesnake. I was sick inside. I was delirious. I wanted to blame it on the poison, but I was no longer having trouble focusing my eyes. The tingling in my mouth never became the kind of gut-wrenching agony that afflicted Hamira. Whatever venom I’d received, the effects were not worsening. If I felt any nausea or delirium, I decided it had nothing to do with the rattlesnake. It was because of what I’d done. Because, for the second time in my life, I’d abandoned someone that I loved.

I’d told myself that I was a different person than I was on the day I’d left my sister on that windy hill near the city of Salem in an ancient year I couldn’t have named. I’d told myself that I was a better soul. My father said I was better. The Prophet Mormon said I was better. It wasn’t true. I was still a weak, warped, cowering vessel. I was still a servant of selfishness. I was never a servant of God, and I felt ashamed for ever believing that I could become one.


Shame is not necessary. I hope you finally understand. He is cruel. Your God is unspeakably cruel and single-minded. I am generous and kind. I never would have demanded such a heartless sacrifice. I would have saved you both, if only you had asked me. You didn’t kill Hamira. And you didn’t kill your sister. He killed them. You know it’s true. He killed them.


I paused. Footsteps continued to reverberate through the tunnel. Would-be assassins were still on my trail. I paused as something registered in my brain. It was a keen desire to defend history. Not to allow it to be rewritten.

The sword thought I’d forgotten. I think it literally thought that I no longer remembered the details of that dark, rainy night in the land of Israel so long ago. The fiery blue lightning bolts that delivered death.

“You’re right,” I said. “I didn’t kill my sister. But neither did He. You killed Becky.”

Each of those jagged lightning bolts that had blasted into the chests of a dozen horsemen, blowing them out of their saddles and driving their animals into the trees, had been discharged from the silver sword. Yes, I’d been holding the sword that day, but I didn’t call down the lightning. Becky had been a victim of one of those bolts. The sword had controlled the destiny of each white, fiery blast. It had been the sword all along.


Now who’s rewriting history? She asked you to drop me. Don’t you remember? You refused to let me go. You controlled the destiny of each of those lightning bolts. You were the author of destruction that night. Just as you are the author of today’s tragedy—and all because you refused to listen. All because—


I dropped my torch. I reached back and yanked the sword of Akish from behind my shoulder. With all my might I threw it, two-handed, into the throat of the tunnel. It spun once, clashed with the stones of the ceiling, emitted a few sparks, and then ricocheted into the left wall. I swore that I saw one of the rubies embedded in its hilt fly away before the sword finally came to rest, nearly thirty feet away, spinning once or twice on the tunnel floor, and then rotating slowly to a halt.

I was trembling. The nausea in my stomach had become unbearable. Whether the poison of the rattlesnake or the surge of emotion that had finally—once and for all—divorced me from the silver sword, I wasn’t sure. The contents of my stomach lurched into my throat. I leaned against the side of the cave and vomited. I remained there several moments, throwing up until only dry heaves remained. I wiped my mouth, leaned down, and clenched my fist around the handle of the torch. I shined it one final time back toward the sword of Akish. I saw the crimson reflection of its surface.

There were no more voices in my head. Why had I brought it? It actually took a moment to remember that I had brought it to bargain for the Gold Plates of Mormon. I’d brought it in hopes of making an exchange with Akish. What was I thinking? What kind of insanity had possessed me? Did I really believe that sword would bring about an honorable exchange? Nothing about that sword was honorable. Nothing about Akish was honorable. So what had I been expecting? Why did I put myself through—?

A man stepped into the torchlight. He’d wandered almost aimlessly into view, as if in no particular hurry, as if he wasn’t trying to catch up with me or anyone else. I knew right away that it wasn’t Nimrah. Nor was it Elam or Hathrom.

The figure wore a battle mask. This mask had narrow eye slits. He wore a black mantle with black arm band and rings of black tattoos around his legs, his arms, and even his fingers. There were spikes atop his helmet. I perceived that these spikes ran behind the helmet and down his back, like spikes on the back of a reptile.

He paused about thirty feet away, at the foot of the sword. He seemed to study it by the light of his own torch. Then he crouched, slowly, collectedly, and raised the faceplate of his helmet. It was the face of Akish.

The sorcerer wasn’t looking at me. He was still staring at the sword. He carried another sword in his free hand. Calmly, he slipped this second sword back into a sheath at his hip. Before he took the silver sword into his grip, he raised his eyes and looked at me. He grinned. Or at least the corners of his mouth turned up. It was neither a grin nor a smile—just an adjustment of his face muscles. Those eyes remained fixed on mine as he curled his fingers around the silver sword’s hilt. He straightened again into a full stand.

“Captain Josh,” he said, drawing out the “sh” sound in my name.

Other warriors started arriving behind Akish. They wore black armor like their leader. I didn’t recognize them. Was this an entirely different company of soldiers than the one led by Nimrah and the sons of Mizerath? Had Hamira’s cries alerted more than one army?

“You brought it back to me,” said Akish, taking several steps closer.

His skin was no less pale than it had ever been, his eyes no less beady. He still wore a short red beard, but the creases in his face had deepened substantially. Akish had aged. He seemed to have aged more than his years, although only a week had passed since I’d last laid eyes on him. Was it a week? Maybe a day or two longer. Nevertheless he’d aged a decade. Maybe two.

He stopped ten feet short of where I leaned against the cavern wall for support. He handed his torch back to one of his men; then he stroked the blade of the silver sword. I realized there were tears in his eyes. “You brought it back to me,” he repeated. “My glorious sword. Oh, my glorious sword! How I’ve missed you!”

He wasn’t speaking to me now. He was talking to his wretched blade. His fingers stopped stroking the silver momentarily as he noticed the space in the hilt where a jewel was missing.

“A ruby is missing. Have you been abused? Has Joshua abused you?” He wrenched his gaze back toward me. “It says you have abused it. It says you have treated it despicably. Is that true?”

I let go of the wall and stood upright. I was a fool, but I decided to test him and see if somewhere in Akish’s black heart there was some shred of honor.

“I have kept my bargain,” I said. “Now keep yours. Give me back the plates of Mormon.”

Akish didn’t really have visible eyebrows, but whatever eyebrows he had were drawn together in a pretense of confusion. “Plates of Mormon? Oh, oh, oh, oh. You mean the gold plates that I took from you atop the Hill Ramah. I’m afraid they’re not here.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Why am I not surprised?”

Akish drew a little closer. “But they’re close. Yes, Joshua, they’re not very far away at all. They’re secure at my encampment on the beaches of Ablom. You’re almost there. A few steps farther and you’ll begin to hear the surf crashing against the cliffs. Come. I’ll let you lead the way.”

I glared down the tunnel and promptly felt something hit the back of my head.

I never went entirely unconscious. I remember being dragged over stones and boulders, inflicting many additional bruises to my legs. I remember smelling fishy, salty air, and hearing the screeches of seabirds. I’m not sure if it was attributable to the snake venom, but I also saw hallucinations. It seemed to me that Akish’s henchmen all had hairy, misshapen faces, like the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. These faces smeared, dissolved, and then reformed. Despite the bruises being inflicted on my knees, I’d have sworn that I was flying.

I remember when I saw the orb of the sun through thick, gray clouds and heard the roar of the surf. There were rugged, mossy cliff walls around us and a rock formation with a gaping hole, like Delicate Arch near Moab, but the eyelet was considerably smaller. It was also upside down. Or more accurately, it leaned sideways. It hung from the mossy ceiling like a large tree root and then curved back, connecting into the face of the rocky cliff. Seaweed hung limply from the stone in several places.

I remember Akish’s vibrating words as he commanded, “Make a noose!”

I was lying on the ground, but the soldiers weren’t taking any chances. Two hairy gorillas pinned my arms and torso in case I resisted. I realized the plates of Mahroni Moriancumr were gone. So was the Liahona. I’d lost it all. Just as I’d sourly prophesied, I’d lost everything important that the Lord had ever entrusted to me. But how? I was merely following the course indicated by the Liahona. Was it because I’d spoken to the sword? It didn’t seem just. I’d prayed that it would shut up. It hadn’t shut up. Not the second time. Was all of this because I’d paused to heave the sword down the tunnel? It didn’t make sense. I’d been faithful. I’d been obedient. Dear God—I’d abandoned Hamira! I’d left her because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. None of this should’ve been happening!

A moment later there was a stir among the men of Akish. Fresh warriors had arrived. I heard the names of the new arrivals.

“Elam! Hathrom!”

“Where’s my son?” inquired Akish. “Where is Nimrah?”

“Behind us,” said Elam. “He’ll be along soon.”

“You left him alone?” asked Akish sharply.

“No,” said Elam. “He’s with Jugal and Kentor.”

“He found his sister in the cavern,” added Hathrom. “She was sick.”

Which sister?” Akish demanded.

“The youngest one,” said Hathrom. “Hamira.”

Akish seemed disappointed by this news. I think he’d have rather heard the name of one of his older daughters. Finally, he said, “What about King Omer? Where are Asherah, Teshebel, and Uguleth?”

Elam shook his head. “No sign of them. But Nimrah believes he and his followers are inside the cavern.”

“Omer and his warriors might already be ahead of us,” said Hathrom.

“No one is ahead of us,” Akish insisted. “When I cut the throats of Esrom and Coriantumr, the rest of King Omer’s fighters fled into the cavern to find their king. No other Jaredites have come back to Ablom since that moment.”

Hathrom and Elam nodded. They weren’t about to argue with their father.

“You said Hamira was sick?” said Akish.

“Snakebite,” said Elam. “There are poisonous serpents at the place where sunlight penetrates the ceiling. Nimrah felt certain of her fate. He said that she will die.”

“Then why did he remain behind?” asked Akish peevishly.

“I assure you, Lord King, he’s not far behind us,” said Elam. “They are carrying her body. They should arrive at any moment.”

“Then we shall wait for them,” said Akish.

One of the soldiers of Akish, a thin man who retained his apish features, even as my hallucinations were fading away, started to protest. “But your majesty, the tide. It’s coming in swiftly.”

“We will wait for my son!” Akish snarled. He straightened himself and seemed to address all of the warriors present, an army that only numbered about two hundred. “We will wait for my son and heir! If anything happens to me, Nimrah shall be your king. Not these two rebellious and simpering sons who returned to the true fold only two days ago. The offspring of my concubine, Mizerath, shall never rule among the Jaredites! It is only by an act of the most benevolent mercy that I spare their lives even now!”

Elam and Hathrom looked cowed and ashamed. Even their own warriors, wearing red breastplates and red tattoos gazed upon the sons of Mizerath with disdain, as if the loyalty of those who’d marched with Elam and Hathrom had always been with Akish, as if the only real traitors were these two brothers. I knew this wasn’t true, but in treacherous times like these, every man was looking after his own skin.

The skinny soldier who’d mentioned the incoming tide looked nervously toward the narrow canyon with high cliffs that meandered for a quarter mile or so out toward the open ocean. Every crashing wave seeped farther up the canyon, closer to the mouth of the cave. Closer to us.

King Omer had once told us that the cavern at the edge of the Great Eastern Sea was only revealed for short periods of time, when the tide was at its lowest ebb. He’d lost a beloved nephew and some other relatives because the water had rushed back with unpredictable swiftness, inundating the cave’s entrance. It had drowned his loved ones before they could reach higher ground.

“King Akish,” said the jittery soldier, “if we don’t depart soon, we will have to flee back inside the cavern.”

“Are you blind? Do you not see the weapon I am wielding?” Akish held aloft the silver sword. “With this blade I can conquer any enemy. I can destroy any force that stands against me. I can stay the tide of the Great Sea. Only those who lack courage and loyalty are vulnerable to the elements or to our adversaries. Are you a coward, Gothan?”

The nervous warrior shook his head. “I am eternally loyal to you, mighty King.”

“You’re still a coward!” snapped Akish. “If you’re so afraid, go back into the cavern and find my son!”

Gothan looked visibly relieved. With no hesitation, he crossed behind me and reentered the cave to search for Nimrah.

“Now,” Akish began again, “what shall we do until the Prince arrives?” His eyes seared into mine. “Where is the rope?”

Several men brought forward a ragged rope with a hangmen’s noose tied at one end. The men’s faces still occasionally transformed from humans to monkeys, but the noose was no hallucination. The murderous intention of Akish and his warriors was unmistakable.

“Toss it through,” he ordered, pointing at the eyelet in the rock formation above us.

He might have tossed the noose through this hole himself, but it seemed that his long lost sword was now a permanent part of his appendage. He wasn’t going to put it down.

After the rope was pulled tautly through the hole, Akish grinned at me again with yellow, broken teeth. “Well?” he said to his men impatiently. “Put it around his neck.”

“Do you want us to tie his hands?” asked a soldier with black tattoos striped across his face.

“No,” said Akish thoughtfully. “No need to rush. Let’s allow the Captain to savor his death. Just make the knot tight. Gravity will do the rest.”

Gravity. I wouldn’t have thought that such a word was even in the Jaredite vocabulary. It didn’t matter. Akish the time traveler knew it. His men looped the noose around my neck and yanked the knot until it bit into my Adam’s apple. I gasped for breath and tried to grab at the rope, but the warriors continued to pin my arms.

Akish pointed at a sea-worn log that the tide had brought in. It had several branches slick with moss and sea water. “Tie it off there. Hoist him high. Do it quickly! Now!”

Those Jaredites who’d forced me to the ground released me simultaneously. The rope tautened. I was yanked into the air by the neck. My fingers groped at the noose, but it was no use. There was no loosening the knot. The world started spinning: the turquoise-colored sea; the jagged, dark-stoned cliffs; the warriors of Akish; the gray-clouded sky.

I fought to draw air into my lungs. I managed to breathe a little, but I was dangling and jerking like a fish at the end of a line. The knot was tight—so tight that the weight of my body couldn’t draw it any tighter. I managed to dig my fingers between the rope and my throat. Still, the tension didn’t slacken. I reached around to the knot behind my head, but this didn’t help either. I was strangling, ever so slowly. Akish was right. No need to tie my hands. Gravity was doing the work. Gravity would end my life, here on the shores of the Great Eastern Sea.

I could hear gurgling in my own larynx as I fought to breathe. The men of Akish were taunting and applauding.

I heard the voice of the soulless sorcerer: “Farewell, Joshua Plimpton! Farewell, O Captain of the Nephites!” But was it Akish’s voice? Or was it the voice of the sword? I couldn’t make the distinction. Maybe the voices had always been one and the same.

The pressure inside my head was unbearable. I fought to close my eyes fearing my eyeballs would pop out of my skull. The hallucinations returned with a vengeance. The laughter became the snarls and cackles of hell. I was weakening. I still didn’t understand. Why God? How was it that I had lost? How was it that Heavenly Father would let me die? Where had I failed? How perfect did a man have to be to receive the protecting hand of the Almighty? Clearly, more righteous than me.
I was mildly aware that the laughter had ceased and that some sort of ruckus was occurring beneath me, but I hardly felt the need to be concerned about that. It was strenuous to even close my eyes. The pressure of the noose seemed to force them open. As I pinched them shut, the light of day transformed into a redness, like lava. Soon, all I could hear was the wheezing of my futile efforts to draw breath, reverberating inside my head as all other sounds faded.

The red changed to black.