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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

Bound and Determined Sneak Peek #2!

Well, I am ashamed to admit that whilst every other author in the entire world has been churning out books left and right during quarantine and social distancing and all that mumbo-jumbo, I've been...nothing. It took me a week to write Chapter 10 of Bound and Determined at the end of April, and I've only made it eleven more chapters since then. Yeah. I'm behind. It only took me six months to write 90,000 words while I was also in my first semester of college last year, but as soon as I get a nice, long summer break, I decide to take my precious time writing.

Oh, well. At least I've not been entirely unproductive. I've read a slew of books in the last several months--free eBooks, library books, print books, birthday books, I-should-not-have-bought-that-when-I'm-broke books, old books, new books, bargain-outlet-haul books, etc. Granted, I still haven't finished The Cost of Discipleship, which I began sometime last year. And I've only made it, like, two pages into The Hobbit, which I was supposed to have read earlier in the spring. And I still haven't fully immersed myself into the world of Georgette Heyer like I'd hoped to. But that's okay.

Because I have, thankfully, made it to the 71,000-word mark in Bound and Determined (which is looking eerily like the halfway mark), finished up Chapter 21, and finally--FINALLY--made it to the exciting part. I know, I know. I should have made the exciting part come somewhere in the first four or five chapters, right? Because I know my mom won't be able to muddle through 70,000+ words to get to the "good part."

Point is, I wanted to share with y'all a wee bit of my progress and some of my more spiritual moments, all in (yeah...I knew you couldn't guess it 😉) Xavier's POV. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it yet, but, yes, I am bringing back Xavier's point-of-view as he embarks on an adventure of his own. (An adventure that has annoyed me to no end, being that 'tis long and drawn-out and not quite that adventurous at all...but this is Xavier Bennet we're talking about.)

I think that, so far, my best "come to Jesus" moment was in Chapter 17, which is well on its way to being one of my best moments period, but I don't want to spoil anything just yet. Instead, I'm going to share an excerpt from one of the first few chapters and something I just wrote the other night. Something that I think we can all relate to. (Please note that these excerpts are currently unedited and subject to change.)

Chapter 5:

"Jeremiah 29:11 rose up to me again, alongside the Great Commission and Joshua 1:9. Again, I piped up, feeling like a child speaking out rather than an adult answering a question. 'Go, and do not be afraid; I will be with you even there, for I know the plans I have for you.'

Rina looked at me and smiled—which only served in making me seem more like a child who had said the right thing and was adored by their mother. 'Xavier is right. I sense a storm, but there is also calm.'

There is always calm in Christ. No matter where it is that you go or what it is that you do. He will be glorified. He will watch over you. His will shall be done. In Him, there is peace."

Chapter 21:

"I had listened to the words I’d pieced together solely for me own benefit. The go! The assurance that He would be with me. The prodding of peace. The calm of confidence. The certain verses that suited me. Had it been the Spirit I’d listened to…or my own wishes? my own hopes? my own assumptions? my own perverted flesh?

No matter where it is that you go…

Whether I’d gone with God and His Spirit’s call or not, He was still with me. Wasn’t He? Though it may not seem like it, feel like it—though I may not see His hand in the sudden loss of an innocent young man—He remained by my side. Always.

'When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.'

These words…I breathed them in, lifting my head as I groped for the book beside me, flipped to Isaiah with an urgency that nearly tore the pages. They were a promise.

But the question was this: did God speak of the body or the spirit? Did He guarantee that He would always deliver my body from the waves and the streams and the flames? Or did He promise everlasting protection, an unending covenant, the guarantee of eternity? That no matter where I went or what foe—earthly or spiritual—I faced, my spirit remained bound to His, my heart consecrated to Him, my future in His hands, His grace sufficient, and my salvation constant and true?"

This verse from Isaiah recently touched the heart of an acquaintance of mine, and I do hope that it--and this message, the lesson Xavier learns--will touch yours.

At times, I get discouraged during the writing of Bound and Determined--which I lovingly call BAD 😋--because I don't have the same salvation story in it as I do Held Captive and Prisoner at Heart. In HC, Rina has two moments of belief--the first in God's existence and the second in God's love. I go through the motions of reiterating the story of the Bible and having her mother lead her to Christ. In PAH, both Crimson and Elliot get saved--both off-screen, but you watch them struggle with their unbelief and see other characters pour into them throughout the book. In BAD, all of my POV characters are already saved. Granted, their situations aren't always configured to make them look like Christians--in fact, anything but--but, yeah, deep down, all four are saved. Of course, two of those four are Rina and Xavier, so we kinda expected that, right?

But, in the end, there is no sinner's prayer, no altar call, no real epiphany moment for my hero and heroine. So, sometimes I think, "Okay, well, all I've got is plot. Drama. Action. Romance. Where's the spiritual? I don't have Lilith casting out demons (PAH) or Rina falling to her knees in repentance (HC). All I have is a bunch of people doing stupid stuff that they'll regret later."

Then Rina says this:

“You stopped looking, like Peter out on the waves. The moment he took his eyes off of Jesus, doubted His power, His love, and His grace, he began to sink. Cease looking at the storm around you, the water beneath you, the sky above you. Stay your course and focus solely upon the foundation of your faith, the path upon which you step, the hand that you know will always catch you, the eyes which will forever be brimming with love.”

This is what Bound and Determined is about. Matthew 14:3-31. Sure, both myself and my readers may never get to see what happens within the heart of the character(s) who hears this, but we see what happens in our hearts, and even in Rina's as she becomes the witness she (and some of us) never thought she would be.

I have so many little messages in BAD. So many little moments, short verses, realizations that only last a scene or two, lesser situations that inspire a greater message. The greatest message. Faith. Belief. True salvation.

Sometimes, it's the simple message of continually walking the straight and narrow. Other times, it's trusting in His plan, in His love, in His sufficient grace, in His constant presence. Sometimes, it's just understanding. Or resting in His hands when you don't.

Anyway, I share all this to share a wee bit of my progress and one of the many focal points of this book. I'm sure y'all were all looking forward to some interesting, passionate, suspenseful excerpt that'll keep you on the edge of your seat until I finally finish and publish this story...I know I was...but sometimes this is better. And less of a spoiler. 😉

Don't worry, the closer I get to The End (or, better yet, the release day), the more fun things I'll share! ❤

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