UPDATED: The Cover Reveal event for Jordan's Deliverance (Book 3 in the Jordan of Algoran series) is coming Friday, May 29, 2020 at 2:00 pm Central Time/3:00 pm Eastern Time. Parker J. Cole and I will discuss the book and cover in a BeLive session.
Here is the link to the Facebook Event page.
Jordan's Deliverance is scheduled for a Fall 2020 release. I'll give you the exact date once I have it!
This is an excerpt from the first chapter from my new Christian fiction slice-of-life novel. It's still in edits, release date to be determined in the future. But I wanted to give you a quick glimpse.
In the following scene, the main character, Sean, was training with his coworker, Keith, at a Call Center during a severe thunderstorm. Their supervisor is named Jessica. She is mentioned but does not appear in this scene. The training was interrupted when the building lost power. When they heard a tornado unleashing destruction very close to their building, Keith said a prayer at what he thought was a low volume, but Sean heard him and was offended. With tensions understandably high at the Call Center (with everyone stuck where they are until the danger passes), Sean and Keith try to maintain a civil dialogue to pass the time.
This is told from Sean's point of view in first person narrative.
(Beginning of excerpt)
“Yes, I am a Christian,” Keith replies slowly. “What about it? Why does that bother you so much?”
I release the armrest and clench my fist in my lap.
“It bothers me because I don’t see how anyone can believe in a fairy tale like that.”
Keith waits to respond again. In a way, I’m grateful. It gives me a chance to calm down a little. The tornado sounds are gone now. All I can hear is the rain lashing against the sides of the building and occasional thunder. Most of our coworkers are out of sight, probably still under their desks. I can hear some of them whispering now and then. I don’t see Jessica. She must be out of the Call Center. At the same time, someone must have a live feed from a news station, a female meteorologist is telling people how dangerous this storm is and to stay inside or get into a storm shelter. That’s not doing us a lot of good right now, but maybe it’ll help someone else.
Just then, Keith slowly leans forward in his chair. He’s actually pretty calm.
“You’re an atheist then?” he finally says.
“If you don’t believe in God, that’s your choice,” Keith continues. “And I respect that.”
That’s surprising to hear.
“But let me ask you something, Sean: Why does it matter to you if someone else does believe in God?”
What? Did he really just ask that? Is he stupid? This is making me madder.
“It matters to me if I see someone is choosing to be a mean, selfish hypocrite, yeah.”
“So all Christians are mean, selfish hypocrites to you?”
I stare at him, my irritation simmering. I take a few deep breaths.
“There is no evidence of any supreme being ever existing,” I tell Keith. “But there is plenty of evidence to support rational and scientific explanations for what used to be attributed to superstition, gods, and other silly belief systems.”
“Science has helped us understand a lot of things,” Keith acknowledges. He’s serious at first. Then he smiles, amused. “We know the Earth isn’t flat, for example.”
I sigh. “We know a lot more than that.”
“Do we know everything about everything?” he asks.
If the power ever comes back on, I’m asking Jessica to sit me with someone else.
“No, of course not,” I reply. “But we’re learning more all the time.”
“Granted. Will that be enough?”
What is he talking about? “Enough for what?”
“Enough to satisfy human knowledge and curiosity. Will we ever know it all?”
He’s carried this debate further than I thought he would. Maybe this isn’t such a bad way to pass the time.
“No, I doubt we’ll ever know it all,” I suggest. “Humans will always have questions and seek knowledge.”
“I agree,” Keith adds. “But is intellectual knowledge enough to satisfy us humans? Can we live off of knowledge alone? Or do we need more?”
That’s an interesting question, I have to admit.
“I suppose we need emotional satisfaction also,” I answer.
“How do we attain that?” Keith inquires.
I give that some thought.
“By accomplishing goals we set for ourselves.”
“Like what — school, work, marriage, and family? Things like that?”
“I guess. I mean, not everyone wants to get married or have kids. But there are all kinds of goals people can set for themselves.”
He looks as intrigued by this discussion as me. It’s also relieving to hear the rain finally dying down outside.
“And what if a person fails to achieve their goals?” he asks me. “Are they a failure and doomed to be miserable for the rest of their life?”
“Obviously not,” I counter. “If one goal doesn’t work out, a person can always make up new dreams to follow.”
“New dreams,” Keith repeats, nodding. “What’s your dream, Sean?”
(End of excerpt)
My apologies for going almost a month without a new post. Despite the craziness affecting the world during the COVID-19 virus crisis, I have actually been busier than ever!
On March 5th, I was inspired to start a new Christian fiction novel. It is not related to Mindfire, the Jordan of Algoran series or my upcoming steampunk trilogy. I didn't expect it, but I was compelled to undertake it immediately. Fortunately, I have had plenty of time to write and concluded the first draft of the story on April 8th. Now it is going through edits and revisions before I send the manuscript to my publisher Ambassador International.
This last Monday (April 13, 2020), I began a Christian science fiction short story. It is part of an upcoming anthology from my publisher. It has been planned for some time, but my editor contacted me and asked if I still wanted to be a part of this project. After some thought and prayer, I decided that I did want to do it. I completed its rough draft yesterday (April 17, 2020). It is also going through edits and revisions before being submitted.
I ask my wife, Angel, to read through all of my stories and offer her input before I submit my work to the publisher. It is important to me to include her in every part of the author process, from first draft to publication. She does not co-write with me, but she provides insights that I find extremely valuable.
Besides all this, I have been collaborating with the Design Team at Ambassador International on the cover for Jordan's Deliverance, Book Three in the Jordan of Algoran series. Once that work is done, I will make an announcement for its cover reveal. Believe me, you're going to want to see this one!
Once I send in the manuscripts for the new stories, I will resume work on the Christian steampunk series.
I am giving more detailed updates and personal messages in my newsletter, which I have decided to update weekly, starting Monday April 20, 2020. If you haven't signed up for the newsletter yet, you can do so at this link! You'll get a free short story just for subscribing.
Thanks for reading this! I'll update again as soon as I can.
A new update regarding my live readings days and times:
I will be doing Facebook Live readings on the following days each week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
The planned time right now is 10:00 AM Central Time/11:00 AM Eastern Time. However, these times may need to change. If that happens, I will let you know as close to 24 hours in advance as possible. I will also post a reminder the day of the reading.
The order of reading is still the same:
MINDFIRE (Chapters 3 through 5 starting Monday March 23, 2020)
Jordan's World (Chapters 1 through 5, starting Saturday March 28, 2020)
Jordan's World (Chapters 1 through 5, starting Monday April 6, 2020)
A surprise bonus reading (possibly in two parts)
All of these videos will remain on my Facebook feed and the full series will be on my YouTube channel.
Starting tomorrow March 21, 2020, I will read a chapter from my books every other day at 10:00 am Central Time (11:00 am Eastern Time). It will be a Facebook Live video which I will then post to YouTube and Twitter. I may do separate Instagram Live readings, but I haven't decided that yet.
Below is the order in which I will read:
Chapters 2 through 5
Chapters 1 through 5
Chapters 1 through 5
This will provide thirty days’ worth of book reading (with breaks in-between) and give you a feel for each book.
If we’re still dealing with COVID-19 social distancing/stay home issues after a month's time, I will see where the Lord leads me. I’m happy to read to y’all and I hope you enjoy my stories.
The entire series will be available on my YouTube channel. The first video in the series is below (and on my Videos page).
I interviewed Ariel Paiement, an author of Christian speculative fiction (including fantasy and science fiction). She tells us about her life, her faith and her new novel On Twilight's Wings in the video below.
Her social media:
The following is an excerpt from the Prologue of Jordan's Deliverance, Book 3 in the Jordan of Algoran series.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO ON EARTH
Kayla Lewis stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at her husband, Mark, with some concern. He was carrying two stacked and very full moving boxes in his arms as he carefully descended the stairs. And he was obviously straining.
“Mark, put one of those boxes down! You’ll throw your back out again,” Kayla warned.
“I’m using my legs. I’ll be fine,” he answered.
Neither impressed nor persuaded, she walked over and grabbed the top box. She angled her lips and blew a long strand of brown hair out of her face as she walked past him towards their minivan. The rest of her hair was pulled back into a long ponytail.
“You’re not twenty anymore, Mark, and you don’t have to impress me.”
“I wasn’t trying to impress you, honey. I just thought I could do it.”
“My point is you don’t have to. I’m right here. I can help.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied with a hint of sarcasm. They’d had this conversation more than once before.
Kayla Lewis was forty-eight years old and her husband was a year older than her. They had been married for twenty-eight years and owned a graphic design company called Markayla Designs. She was the artist while he managed the business. It had been profitable enough over the years, allowing them to buy a house, own two vehicles, pay the bills, and provide for three daughters.
But maintaining and growing the business had been very stressful. Kayla had barely kept it together when Mark suffered a mild heart attack at the age of thirty-nine. Her own vision had suffered from her habit of working late into the night with less than ideal lighting. She ate when she remembered to, though it was at irregular intervals. That had been fine when she was a teenager. But time and having children had altered her metabolism, causing her to steadily gain weight.
Still, Kayla was more concerned with her husband’s well-being than her own.
The back hatch was already open, and their storage area was half-filled with boxes. The vehicle hovered a foot above the ground using magnetic propulsion technology which hummed quietly. Virtually all transportation had been clean, electric, and wheel-less for over a decade. The van was slightly oval-shaped, large enough to accommodate up to six passengers with room to spare for hauling items.
Kayla put her box on top of one of the others. Mark put his next to hers, but it slipped from his grip. Falling to one side, its lid popped off and she heard him sigh in frustration.
“What’s wrong?” Kayla inquired, pushing her glasses back up her sweaty nose. She knew his sigh was about more than a moving box. She was beside him now, one hand resting on his left arm while observing his wistful expression and furrowed brow.
“I just can’t believe they’re both gone,” Mark lamented. “First Mom...now Dad. They lived together in this house ever since Mom...got back.”
“I know,” Kayla replied, nodding in understanding. “Your dad was a father to me a lot longer than my own. But they had a long life.”
“At least they got back together,” Mark added. “That was the best decision they ever made.”
“And they got to know their grandkids,” Kayla remarked with a sad smile.
Kayla decided to grab the moving box that had fallen to the side and lined it up with the others. Grabbing its lid, she glanced inside the box and something caught her eye: a gray, metallic shoebox-sized object which looked extremely old.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Hm?” Mark turned to look at her.
“This metal, um, container. I think I’ve seen it before—”
“Oh, that? It was Mom’s. She kept it on the mantle above the fireplace with the family pictures.”
“What’s in it?”
“I don’t know. I thought it was just an old jewelry box or something. I’ve never looked inside it.”
“It looks sealed or something.”
Mark nodded. “Yeah. Mom and Dad both tried to open it a few times over the years but never managed to. I think I even attempted it once. But there’s such a long family history with it, we kept it.”
Kayla picked up the old plated box and looked at it with fascination. She smiled.
“Seems a shame to put an old keepsake like this in storage. I doubt we could sell it if we don’t know how to open it,” Kayla noted, looking at Mark. “Do you think your mom would mind if I held onto it?”
Mark paused and then made a slight shrug. “Knowing Mom, it would probably make her happy for you to have it. Go ahead, keep it. Where do you want to put it?”
Kayla held the box close to her chest. “For a family heirloom like this? Your mom kept it on the fireplace, so I guess I’ll do that, too!”
Mark smiled. “Sounds good. Now, let’s go get those last few boxes and take all this to the self-storage facility.”
“You go on up and get one of the boxes — and I mean only one!”
She put the family keepsake on the front passenger floorboard of the vehicle. As she exited the passenger front seat and stepped onto the driveway, she paused to watch her husband enter the house.
“I’m gonna call Jo and have her meet us to unload this stuff,” Kayla stated.
“Won’t she be studying for midterms?”
“This is our oldest daughter we’re talking about. She’ll either be gaming, eating pizza, or writing a new song.”
“Right. Then she’ll cram the night before and probably ace it.”
“Exactly,” Kayla answered with a proud chuckle.
Kayla pressed a button on her wristband as Mark went back inside. A holographic interface appeared.
“Call Jo Lewis,” Kayla told the device.
While the holo-interface on her wristband was attempting to contact her daughter, Kayla looked towards the front of the van. She was surprisingly captivated by the idea of that ancient artifact. Just then, the holo-screen flickered and displayed the words “Connection Established.”
Kayla’s daughter appeared in the waist-up holo-display. She was twenty-three years old and a junior in college, working on her Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. She was tall and average-sized, wearing a dark blue t-shirt. Her hair was shoulder-length, frizzy, and half of it was covering her eyes. The apartment, which she shared with another female student, was only lit by the small amount of sunlight peeking through the blinds of one window.
“Oh, hey, Mom!” Jo smiled in recognition. “Sorry, I just got up.”
“It’s two in the afternoon,” Kayla replied with measured patience.
“Izzit? Oh, wow. We went to see Eventually Watermelon in concert last night. After we got home, we binge-watched a bunch of sci-fi.”
Kayla pushed her glasses back up her nose again. This time, it was more to show her annoyance than to be functional.
“Your Dad and I have been packing up stuff from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We’re about to take the boxes to storage. Can you help us unload? I don’t want your Dad doing too much.”
“Oh! Um, which storage place?”
“The one at Milea and Condor.”
Jo looked unenthused, so Kayla gave an insistent stare. After a moment, her daughter gave a surrendering shrug.
“I can be there in twenty minutes. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Thanks, Jo! Love you.”
“Love you, too, Mom.”
Kayla pressed another button on her bracelet and the holo-interface dispersed. As she walked inside to see if her husband needed any assistance, she couldn’t help but reminisce for a moment. She thought about Mark’s parents, memories with them in that house. And then suddenly, Mark’s older sister came to mind. It had been over thirty years since she’d last seen Jordan. Sometimes, she still wondered how her sister-in-law was doing on that faraway world of Algoran.
I have recently done some redecorating at my YouTube channel, rebranding basically. I've also consolidated quite a few short videos into combo videos, editing them together, adding music as well as the intro/outro segment above.
Please feel free to check out my channel below. Like and share the videos and subscribe to the channel. There are plenty of new videos, too, and I'll be adding more content soon!
Allen Steadham's YouTube Channel
On January 4, 2020, I wrote an article for LinkedIn which shares detailed information about my histories in work, not-for-profit, and more!
I'd prefer to direct people to the original article instead of just copying the text here. The link is below. Please feel free to check it out.
Who Is Allen Steadham (and Why You Should Care)
Ilsketh Jartaf did not choose to be the leader of the Gulstaa. A daughter among eight other male siblings, she was the only one born with the Clansign, a long red birthmark on her pale-yellow right cheek, roughly the shape of a scythe’s blade. She was taken by members of the Ruling Council to be educated and trained when Ilsketh reached the age of four. Her parents were well-compensated for their sacrifice.
The rulers, governing factions, and warriors lived separate from the rest of the Gulstaa. They resided in a harsher, more difficult to reach region named Kamethla. It was there that the Ruling Council devised elaborate strategies while the warriors forged their strength and increased their prowess in the art of battle.
Ilsketh spent most of her childhood in Kamethla. As future leader, she had to learn the thousand cycle history of the Gulstaa and their many laws. She also was required to sit in on tactical sessions with the Council. Furthermore, she was expected to become a military leader and the fiercest warrior among their people. As a result, Ilsketh went through more stringent mental and physical training than anyone else.
For fifteen years, she endured a punishing schedule which began before daylight and went well into each evening. She held the title of Heng Da or “High One” in the Gulstaa language — but absolutely no disobedience was tolerated. Any signs of rebellion were quashed immediately. And under the guidance of the Ruling Council and the Warrior General, Ilsketh was molded into a tempered, perfect sword: their beloved future leader. Outside of the Ruling Council itself, she was the most powerful person in the region.
One morning, as she was finishing some stretches, a scout ran towards the village, his feet kicking up pebbles, dirt, and snow as he approached. His uniform was torn and disheveled from the long trek. Intrigued, Ilsketh walked towards the front gate, her dark brown bangs blowing into her eyes by the icy winds. Observing the scout’s short, lean stature and bald head, he appeared to be in his late twenties to mid-thirties. In contrast, while the back of Ilsketh’s hair was short, even severe, it was shorn in line patterns demarking her position. She was tall for a Gulstaa, reaching about six feet, athletic but trim. She had grown accustomed to seeing the dark yellow circles beneath her incredibly sharp eyes, which were the color of lavender. In front of her, the short and thin scout was panting, clearly exhausted from traveling far. His bulging eyes declared his fear, haunted and unsure. The imposingly strong guards helped him remain on his feet and catch his breath.
“The battle — did not go well,” the scout gasped. “The Leader took four squads . . . but it wasn’t enough!”
“What happened?” one guard demanded.
“The Leader fell . . . so did most of the squads,” the scout lamented.
“Only a few warriors made it back . . . to tell of the battle before taking Final Sacrifice. The last of them sent me.”
The guards nodded with dire certainty.
“You did well. We will alert the Ruling Council,” one guard told the scout.
“Thank you. I request Final Sacrifice,” the scout said, eyes lowered.
Only warriors could perform the task, either for themselves or anyone else.
“For your service, I will grant your request,” the guard landed a killing strike with his sword.
The scout fell to the ground, relief frozen on his face. Both guards gave a slight bow.
“I will go inform the Ruling Council,” one guard said. “When I return, perform the death rites for the scout.”
“It will be done,” his counterpart acknowledged.
Ilsketh saluted the guard as he neared her. He returned the gesture.
“Heng Da?” the guard asked.
“I will accompany you,” she said.
“Yes, Heng Da.”
The Ruling Council was in a state of chaos that Ilsketh had never witnessed before. She sat in the Council Chamber, a circular hall hundreds of cycles old, built with large gray stones and having wooden pillars throughout. At the center of the room was a long, wide and sturdy table crafted from the same rock as the walls. A bright fixture resembling a timbered, candle-lit chandelier was suspended from the ceiling. Fresh air permeated from two small bay windows, one on the eastern wall as well as its opposite.
Normally reserved and deliberate, the eighteen members were loudly arguing with each other, following the news delivered by the guard. Most seemed to be in shock while others were clearly vying to increase their own political power. Anger and disgust rose from within Ilsketh.
She went and grabbed the ceremonial war hammer from its honorary place on the northern wall. She took its hilt firmly in both hands and slammed it into the middle of the ancient stone deliberation table.
“ENOUGH!” she screamed. “I will have order in this room!”
She succeeded in getting everyone’s attention. They turned and faced her, stunned by her audacity and display of authority. However, she was Heng Da. Legally, she was the only one with the right to command them, especially now. But they had not expected her to do so.
“I know I have seen only nineteen cycles and have much to learn,” she growled, pacing the room like a cat, occasionally looking at various council members. “But even I know that now is not the time to fall apart.”
“Heng Da is wise!”
That voice belonged to Segim Artol, the Chief of the Ruling Council, an elder who had presided since before Ilsketh’s birth. Tall and stout, he appeared astute but weary — and perhaps wary as well.
His hair was long, gray, and well-groomed. Like the rest of the Council, he wore a midnight blue robe and ornamental jewelry made of local crystals and refined metals.
Ilsketh looked at him with contempt but kept her speech respectful.
“Who were we fighting?” she said.
“The Mountain Mokta,” Segim replied.
“I had heard that the Mokta were good fighters,” Ilsketh affirmed. “Did our people die well?”
“Their Chieftess offered them the chance for peace, to retreat.”
Ilsketh made a low murmuring sound, her expression twisting into one of disgust.
“That is not our way,” she demurred coldly.
“Yes, Heng Da. Our people fought to the last warrior, including the Leader.”
Ilsketh knew Segim was not one to miss an opportunity and was clearly still upset by the Heng Da embarrassing the Council. He cleared his throat and looked her in the eyes expectantly.
“You are now Leader, Heng Da. What shall we do?” Segim asked.
“Do?” Ilsketh repeated.
“I will explain. Should your people punish these Mokta for their arrogance or should we set our sights on new territories?”
His tone had been splendidly reverent but Ilsketh had participated in enough Council meetings to see the trap he had laid for her.
Fortunately, she had anticipated his actions before entering the chamber and devised a plan of her own.
“The Mokta acted within the confines of their laws and traditions; they were not arrogant,” she uttered slowly, even defiantly. “However, I will not let our people — and our former Leader — go unavenged. In the Early Days, did we not learn from the example of Daltath? Her father, Kintosh, surrendered four provinces to the Wendana to wage peace. The Wendana returned a cycle later and attempted to take all of the Gulstaa lands.
“But Daltath, also born with the Clansign, slew Kintosh and took command. Her cunning and savagery not only repelled the invaders but she spent the rest of her life hunting them down. Now there are no more Wendana. Daltath taught us that surrender is never an option. So, do not ask me if I will act in a way that sounds or looks like surrender. If I ignore what the Mokta did, it says we are weak and invites them to attack us, to believe they can conquer us. Obviously, that is not so!”
It was sickening to see Segim smile at her. Did he believe he had snared her? They both knew a battle now would not go well. The warriors would still be demoralized by the death of the previous Leader.
They also would not have much good will or rapport built with Ilsketh. Following this path would force her to rely on the Council more. It would increase Segim’s influence over her future decisions. And Ilsketh would not be so easily manipulated.
“But now is not the time for renewed conflict,” Ilsketh continued, addressing the entire Council and making eye contact with each member as she turned. “We will bury our dead and heal from this loss. We will grow our forces and properly prepare for battle. I will show you that your efforts in training me have not been in vain. We will attack in overwhelming numbers from all sides, striking down their defenses and use their own people as hostages. When we take the Mokta Mountain, it will be they who surrender — or die!”
Segim’s expression burned with indignation at the ease with which Ilsketh had evaded him. She had actually turned the situation to her advantage. Her words were met with praise and thunderous applause from the Council. Not only that, but she knew her plan was sound.
She could tell he knew that too. And he was not happy about it.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. 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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