More Book News!
The complete Jordan trilogy will be published by Ambassador International! This will happen one book at a time, of course.
Actual release dates for "Jordan's Arrow" and "Jordan's Deliverance" are still to be determined. "Jordan's World" will premiere Summer 2019.
As I get more information, I will keep you updated.
Writing To Heal
Writing can fulfill many purposes. Obviously, people create fictional stories and relay facts in books but that only shows you the end product. It’s what goes on “behind the scenes” during the writing process that can truly be fascinating. “The pen is mightier than the sword” has a degree of truth to it. Writing can be a weapon, if one chooses to use it that way. Or it can heal the deepest wounds.
I was born with amblyopia, a medical condition better known as “lazy eye.” Left untreated, it can lead to blindness. My parents had me undergo multiple corrective surgeries and physical therapy from shortly after birth through the age of twelve to strengthen that eye. Until that was remedied, I had poor depth perception, which made me terrible at sports. I experienced a lot of bullying from other kids, especially boys, particularly when I made any attempt to play sports.
Not wanting to be insulted or hurt, I isolated myself from most kids. I even taught myself not to react emotionally. My parents had taught me that fighting was bad and not to fight. So instead, I controlled my emotions as best I could. Between the ages of six to perhaps ten, I would come home from school and watch cartoons like most kids but I challenged myself to not laugh or get excited. Even with Saturday morning cartoons, which I really enjoyed, I made myself not react. I showed my emotions with my family and closest friends; otherwise, I was quiet, usually just observing situations. I wasn’t even aware that I had become a quiet student. No one prompted me to do any of this. I instigated it myself, probably to protect myself from even potentially being hurt.
Not surprisingly, I developed a lifelong disdain for sports of any kind (with a mild exception being soccer). Time and the Lord have lessened this feeling but I have no illusions about ever becoming a sports enthusiast.
Back on topic, I started reading and enjoying superhero comic books when I was eight years old. By the time I was ten, I had actually become something of a critic, knowing what I liked and disliked. One friend remarked “if you don’t like them, why don’t you make your own comics?” And at that time, in my little kid brain, I decided that was a great idea! I wrote and drew a comic book with original characters that formed a superhero team and fought supervillains. Then they began having relationships. In time, they even got married and started having kids.
In a unique way, I started living vicariously through my comic book characters and their experiences -- their triumphs, their tragedies and everything in-between. I started calling my comics my “therapy.” And in a sense, it was. By the same principle, if I was going through something challenging in my own life, some version of it would often find its way into my comics.
When I gave my life to Christ in January 1996, I had been married for a little under a year and was a new father. It gave me a new perspective. By 2007, my wife and I put together the “Due East” Christian webcomic about a multi-racial family trying to come back together and heal after a separation and divorce. While I had never experienced divorce, I knew plenty of friends and even a few family members who had. I understood some sense of how damaging it was, especially to the children. Because of the sensitive nature of the story, my wife and I had to lean on the Lord through prayer to tackle such a topic. We also sought His help with how to share our faith through a webcomic.
In 2013, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and make my first 50,000 word rough draft in less than a month. Through prayer and persistence, I took many of the characters from my first superhero team comic and some of the early stories and re-tooled them to work together to create Mindfire (coming Summer 2019 from Ambassador International). Along the way, a lot of elements of my personality and even my life ended up in that novel. It was exciting, terrifying and cathartic, all at the same time.
I think this is true in everything I write. Whether intentional or not, I imbue each novel with bits of myself. And in doing so, it is also a healing and release, opening my words up to intrigue as well as criticism.
But now, I don’t write just for myself. I try to reach people with a message of hope in the salvation and deliverance that Christ freely offers. I want to share the Healing only He can bring. I know what the Lord has done in my life. Now I want to pass it forward.
Maybe I’m strange but I’ve never minded working on multiple stories at the same time. That may have started with my years developing comic and webcomic stories, always planning ahead. Since becoming a novelist, I find that some of it is necessary.
Unless you intend to only write standalone short stories or books, an author must have some idea where they are going with their works. Is there room for a sequel? Should this be a trilogy? A series? Just how much story is there for this set of characters and any new supporting characters you may introduce later?
Between 1980 and 2000, I developed many (homemade) comics series, limited series, annuals and special editions, just like Marvel and DC Comics. I just never sold them. They were hand-drawn and lettered on copier paper and made into twenty (or more) page issues, stapled together and collected in a folders then boxes. I would look back through them from time to time to maintain consistency in the characters’ look, story and development.
Sometimes, I would get burned out on one series and deliberately switch to working on a different one for a while. Or I would deliberately make a crossover story, mixing-and-matching elements and characters from different series. This would inspire me to try new things and give me new ideas for existing series and characters. I would later experiment with this, coordinating between not only mine but others' webcomics in what would become the award-winning "Off Hours" webcomic. It was a series I developed with two other writer friends that ran from 2007 to 2010 and involved 26 comic creators from four different countries.
In 2013, “Mindfire” was created as a standalone novel. It was also a test to see if I could actually complete a 50000+ word book. And I did. My next project was “Jordan’s World.” I created the Jordan as a series, specifically a trilogy. By the time I finished the first book, I had the title for the second and some idea where I wanted it to go. As I wrote the second book, I went through several titles for the third until finally reaching a satisfactory one. Once I finished the first draft of the second Jordan book, I had a good idea what I wanted to do in the third.
Along the way, I was inspired to try writing Christian steampunk. I developed an idea and characters, somehow already knowing it would become a trilogy.
Once that my (and my wife’s) personal editing on the second Jordan book was nearing completion, I was feeling that old ambivalence towards the third book. I wasn’t quite burned out but was getting there. So, I switched gears and threw myself into the first steampunk book for a solid week and that really helped accomplish two things: I got to delve into a new set of characters and story elements, building a new world, if you will. And at the same time, it gave me just enough of a break and diversion to inspire me anew for the third Jordan book.
What’s more, I instinctively know I can switch back and forth between these two books at any time and not lose focus on either. In fact, I’ve been developing an idea for another book! Quite frankly, it’s exciting.
One might ask “how do you keep track of all these characters and story elements? Wouldn’t that get confusing?” I make a point to keep detailed notes about my stories and can refer back to them at any time. Also, once I’ve begun writing a story, I can use it as reference. These things tend to build on one another. Another thing I’m grateful for is having a photographic memory. It’s not as pinpoint as it was in my late teens and twenties but it still allows me to visualize a scene or remember something I’ve written or said before and work from it.
Every author has their own way of storytelling. I realize mine is somewhat complex but it’s surprisingly fun and what ultimately matters is how it comes across to you, the reader. I endeavor to make stories that are worthy of your time and attention -- or at least will entertain you. Time will tell.
What makes a story "Christian?"
What makes a fictional work "Christian?" Is anything off-limits or "taboo?" Now, I realize this is topic is subjective, but I will share my opinion. I think any work that declares itself “Christian” should have a few things in common:
It should glorify God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. This should be the motivation for any Christian writer. A Christian book can be elaborate, exciting, funny, thrilling or even touch on things considered “dark,” but in the end, it should point to the Holy Trinity and give praise. There is hope, love and life in them.
They are not fairy tales or moral equivalency stories, somehow no different than any other religious or principled figure on planet Earth. They are alive with power and holiness, moving and shaping not just this world but the entire universe. They are not limited or finite. They simply are. And they deserve praise, worship and devotion for what they have done (and continue to do) for us. As Christian writers, we should be seeking Their Will for our lives and how to best represent it through the talent we have been given.
It should acknowledge Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. There are many ways to write a story. But a Christian story needs to point to Christ and what He did for all of us. He was born into this world, suffered temptation and persecution, was tortured and then nailed to a cross for the sins of the world. He died and was buried in a tomb. But on the third day, God raised His Son from the dead. He was seen of many witnesses over many days before He ascended back to Heaven. Now, He sits at the right hand of God awaiting the day of His return.
To a Christian, these should be indisputable facts. And not only according to the Bible, but the living power of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit working in our lives!
It should convey that the only way to attain salvation and eternal life with God the Father is through His Son, Jesus Christ. In this world, there are many people claiming to have the solutions to life’s problems. Every year, new trends and philosophies develop. Humankind has always been inventive, seeking answers to all kinds of questions. But whether someone (or a group of people) provides technological, psychological, medical or intellectual remedies, they cannot provide a permanent, all-in-one explanation for the only questions that have persisted throughout time:
How can I find true, lasting peace?
What happens to us when we die?
Will anyone ever love me?
The answer is the same to all of these questions: salvation through accepting Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit into our hearts and lives provides that love, peace and the confidence that we will be with Him in the presence of Almighty God when we die.
In Romans 10: 8 -13 (KJV), the Bible says “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
A writer doesn’t have to quote the scriptures all the time to make this point. They can use the actions of their characters or paraphrase through their words or the general direction or outcome of the story. As creative individuals, the Lord can show us how to best glorify Him. We just have to let Him. And that also means listening to the Holy Spirit, which will guide us and let us know if something is not edifying to the Lord.
I am no preacher but I know these things to be true in my life. I am a Christian who is also a writer. And these are the principles I live by when I write.
Thanks for reading this.
Summer fun 2019!
Another short update: I have learned that both "Jordan's World" and "Mindfire" are tentatively planned for ab Summer 2019 release. They will be published by Ambassador International either on the same day or within a short time of one another.
I will continue to give what updates I can as I get them. I'm just delighted to see both of these books on their way to print, eBook and audio formats!
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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