Bound and Determined…
What if we added more?
What if we totally ditched what I was going to do, and completely redid everything?
I’m liking this idea.
Say Xavier did indeed decide to captain another ship.
Say Rina is tested to the max.
Say we still don’t give up on Keaton.
Say we slap in a couple of slave traders, slaves, pirates, naval officers, and temptations.
What do you think?
I’m liking this.
Three years and six months ago, I opened up a document and started typing. I took my circa 2017 ideas and meshed them with my new inklings (one of which I owe to my dentist at the time, who brainstormed a few story suggestions up for me), creating - over the course of 10,000 words of brain-wracking, scene-crafting, and character-developing - an intense high-seas adventure.
Three years and three months ago, I opened up another document and started typing. This time, my high-seas adventure took me for a wild ride as we braved global pandemics, college classes, new people who are now my best friends, crushes, many emotional breakdowns, and literally no sleep until the inkling grew to the exponential length (at least for me) of 209,000 words.
Over three years later, and my big BAD baby (as I have affectionately dubbed it) has been released unto the world.
My friends, the day hath arrived.
The waters unto my soul are come, O God, me save.
I am in muddy deep sunk down, where I no standing have:
Into deep waters I am come, where floods me overflow.
I of my crying weary am, my throat is dried so;
Mine eyes fail, I wait for my God.
They that have hated me without a cause,
than my heads hairs they more in number be:
Also mine enemies wrongfully, they that would me slay,
mighty they are: then I restor’d what I took not away.
O God thou knowst my foolishness;
my sins not hid from thee.
Today is the long awaited release day for the book that has driven me n u t s...and closer to God. Bound and Determined is now out in the world, in people's hands, r e a l and physical and so blessed huge. *hugs her toe-crushingly heavy copy to her chest* I simultaneously love and hate this baby.
But instead of complaining about all the heartache this story put me through (and, lemme tell ya, this is just the beginning), let me tell you about what God has done in and through it.
When I first began writing Bound and Determined, I had no idea what I was doing. I rarely ever do, but this was worse than usual. This time, I was at the point where I wanted to put this story off until I felt capable of telling it, until I knew what the purpose was, until I knew I could handle it. (One reason why I'm grateful it took me three years. I needed the time.)
But the truth is, you can’t be prepared to handle something unless you’ve actually gone through it. You can’t be capable until you’re conditioned.
So I free-fell into this story and trusted God to catch me.
Even though I’d like to claim some partial ownership of this manuscript, it quite honestly belongs to God. The characters, the themes, the messages—they’re His. They’ve always been His. He took my harebrained ideas of a story for Keaton and turned it into something beyond my wildest imagination, and I know He has a reason.
For the longest time, I had no idea what in the world that reason could be. What could anyone get out of a story like this? It’s too convoluted to present a clear message, and yet too blunt to incite conviction.
I tried so hard to weave in so many messages and themes—from “you can’t lose your salvation” to “grace is enough”—all of which are biblical, and all of which are only a small piece in a bigger puzzle. A single chapter in a love story between God and His wayward bride.
A love story only He could write.
A love story I pray you are—or will become—a part of, because, as Mrs. Clarke would say, it is the most beautiful and yet mysterious intimacy the world will ever know. The intimacy between God and man.
If you get nothing else out of this story, know this, that we are not worthy, but God, in His immense love for us, has deemed us so.
And because of that, we receive His grace, His new life, His holiness, and His pure, incorruptible love.
Because of that, we are new.
But I in an accepted time to thee, Lord, make my prayer:
Me, Lord, in thy salvation’s truth, in they great mercy hear.
Deliver me out of the mire, and me from sinking keep:
let me be freed my haters from.
O’erflow me not let water floods, nor me let swallow up
the deep, also let not the pit her mouth upon me shut.
Jehovah, hear thou me, for good is thy benignity:
turn unto me according to greatness of thy mercy.
I've never doubted a story like I've doubted BAD. I mean, I practically hated Held Captive for two years (story for another day), but I never doubted it. Not like this. And yet, literally every time I started doubting and disparaging this book, God showed up and showed out and shouted to me that this was His story and that He wasn't gonna let it fall apart.
First, He sent me Sophia. That random giveaway winner from Goodreads who actually liked my books??? what??? and one day slid into my Goodreads DMs to talk Prisoner at Heart and Unblemished. Bonding over Crimson and Elliot and Em and Ky led me to not only finding the most amazing alpha reader a girl could ask for...but also finding the loveliest, kindest, sweetest friend. Soph is literally a girl after my own heart, but better than that, because she saw potential in this story when I only saw a jumble of nonsense. She saw a hero where I only saw a villain (no, seriously *cuts eyes to Tomas*).
Then, He sent me Kristina and Vanessa. Two sisters, friends, and fellow authors who never, ever gave up on me or this story. Even though we don't have the same tastes (and they probably secretly hate this book; who knows), they have still supported me tremendously with patience, grace, and kindness. Their motivation, encouragement, prayers, and constant checking up on me are what helped me persevere to the end.
Then, He gave me Issabelle. One of the best fangirls in the history of fangirls and an even better friend, my twin sister (in spirit, if not by blood) has poured so much love and inspiration into this story and my entire life. (But let's face it. The only reason she likes me is because of Xavier.) She too sees the heart of the hero I hate (but am finally coming to love...maybe...) and the divine purpose in the words I give no thought to. Is, where I have inspired you, you inspire me. I wish the world had a billion of you. (And a Perry Mountain and Perry Camp.)
Then, He gave me Hannah. This girl who popped out of the literal nowhere and started reading my books soon became one of the best beta readers I could ask for. More than that, the girl God used to reveal the purpose of this story to me, for which I am eternally grateful.
And, y'all, the list goes on. Even though the miracles of Bound and Determined aren't of the same supernatural caliber of Prisoner at Heart (remind me to tell y'all about that), they are many. And they are marvelous.
Without them, without these girls, without God, without all the friends and family who have given a word, a thought, a prayer, a pat on the back...BAD wouldn't be here. If anything, it might still be about a chess game gone wrong and a pirate with violet eyes (long story).
“You’re a miracle, Keaton. You know that?”
Y'all, I think I could go on forever...but I know I shouldn't. Simply allow me to thank you all for absolutely everything - every comment, every smiley face, every virtual hug, every not-quite-real chocolate bar. In the words of Dave Barnes (but in a slightly less romantic sense), God gave me you. He gave me this beautiful little haven of people for this very reason - so that His stories would have readers (beyond me, who turns all of His stories into mushy romances with cute guys).
(And because I needed friends, but let's not go there.)
May He bless you all and give you a sign of His favor, and furthermore, may He fill you with joy, delight, and excitement as you read Bound and Determined!
“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.”
(And, yes, I know I'm outrageously behind on posts and reviews and basically everything on here. I don't even know what I've spent the last three months doing...I just know they're not here anymore and now I've gotta buy Christmas presents. Speaking of...)
Oh, yes. Here's the link. To BAD. Since you can, like, buy it now and stuff.
(As I was saying, stay tuned, peebles, because I have big plans of sharing more about BAD and bombarding y'all with posts!!! Keep in mind, though, that I make no guarantees. I may get buried in wrapping paper between now and then and be unable to do said sharing. We shall see.)
Also, I had fifteen preorders for BAD!! Like, y'all!!! That only translates to about $30 in sales, but fifteen is better than nothing, folks! Much better, considering in the past, I've only had 2-4 preorders!
On that note, if I can sell TEN COPIES on release day (which is today, in case you haven't heard), I will...do something cool. Like give away something or share something or...I don't know. I'm writing this in the middle of the night and I can't think straight anymore, so we'll see. It'll be a surprise.
A N Y W A Y.
If you're interested in a copy and you'd like to learn more about the book, go over the content, or just talk shop, feel free to comment with questions and thoughts (and celebratory chocolate) down below!
Love you all! *saunters away humming "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"*
yours in spirit and script,
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Bound and Determined quotes © 2022 Grace Ann Johnson
Excerpts from Psalm 69 on are taken from the Bay Psalm Book and translated by Grace A. Johnson.