Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve published something—it’s been even longer since I’ve written something! For some reason, I haven’t written very much this past year. Yes, I’ve gone back to graduate school, but to be honest, I didn’t enroll until August and my writing had ground to a halt long before that.
The weird thing is how not bothered by this I was. Writing suddenly and inexplicably went from being one of the most important things in my life to being one of the least—and I still have no idea why. I was totally fine with it though. Well, not totally. I had promised several people that I would write several things and I am still dealing with the guilt of not fulfilling those promises.
So I’ve learned two lessons: #1 – you can’t force writing, and #2 – Don’t ever promise anybody that you’ll write something, because (refer to #1). James 4:13-15 says this: Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.”
One of the projects I’ve NOT been working on for the past year is a novel entitled Taken. The idea for Taken came to me eleven years ago this month. Even though the plot was fully formed in my mind, I struggled with the voice that I wanted to use. As most of you know, I’ve been working with Jenn Faulk on several projects since the spring of 2016, and I asked her if she wanted to help me bring Taken to life. She said she would, and the story quickly came alive. Once we were finished, all that needed to be done was for me to go through it one more time, tweak it here and there, and make sure it was perfect. And so it sat there on my computer, untouched, for months and months. (Have I mentioned that I haven’t written very much this past year?)
I promised myself that I would get it finished over the summer, but I never even looked at it. (Have I also mentioned that I need to quit making promises?) Then school started, and the months continued to roll by.
Last week, however, I finally located the file (it was lost on my computer due to neglect!). I think part of me was worried that it was a horrible story and that I was going to hate it (it had been so long since I’d read it that I honestly had forgotten most of the details!). Fortunately, I loved it! It was exciting to reread it and relive all the fun that Jenn and I had putting it together. And now—11 years after its conception—I am so thankful to God to be able to share our story with you!
This novel is a companion novel to the Chop, Chop series, but it didn’t start out that way. While I was finishing book 7, Alone, I found myself wishing that Taken could be tied in to the Chop, Chop series somehow. The plot for Taken was pretty set and tight, however, and I knew that I couldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) manipulate it just to make it fit in with another series. Suddenly, however, I wondered if I could manipulate Alone instead. The answer was that yes, I could, and so I added a character and several scenes to Alone to tie Taken in with the Chop, Chop series. The funny thing is that I can’t imagine Alone without those changes—even if Taken had never been written.
But I’ve already said too much. I don’t want to give away any spoilers for Taken. Those who have very recently finished the series along with the most rabid fans of Chop, Chop (those of you who are best friends with these characters who live in my mind!) may immediately see the connection between Taken and the Chop, Chop series. The rest of you, however, probably won’t “get” it until the very end. Whichever category you fall in to, I hope that you will love it.
Oh, and one more thing—getting Taken ready for publication this past week has kind of flipped a switch in my brain or something and I’ve been back to writing for the first time in about a year. Hopefully I’ll have some other things to share with you during 2018 . . . but no promises!