January 19th, 2019

How Danny Morton Changed My Life

I remember the night I created Danny Morton. I needed a strong Christian role model who Tyler Stevens, one of the main characters in The Lauren Drake series, could become friends with. Tyler was in the early stages of his faith, still worldly in his thinking. It was evident the only Christian he’d befriend was someone with a jaw-dropping testimony. Danny was a twenty-three-year-old clean-cut, Christian kid. At least that’s what Tyler thought until he saw the track marks on Danny’s arm. I prayed and typed and typed and prayed. The more I wrote of Danny’s testimony, the more I was encouraged although my heart broke. I know the pains of being a prodigal, yet I also know the same victory in Christ that Danny found. And Tyler? Well, Danny quickly became one of his closest friends.

About six months later my editor told me she wanted me to write a book about Danny.

“I’m intrigued by his testimony,” she said.

I was still writing the Lauren Drake Series so I told her I didn’t have time. Three months later I woke up in the middle of the night to Danny’s voice in my mind.

I liked Danny when I first created him, but I fell in love with teenage Danny when I first heard his voice at two am. His biting remarks made me laugh and cringe at the same time. They also made me jump up to take notes. Maybe because once upon a time I was a sarcastic teen who lived too much in my own mind. Or maybe because I had a lot of questions about God at his age too. Like Danny, I yearned for a close relationship with God even though I felt surrounded by hypocrites.

Yes, I fell in love with teenage Danny from the very beginning. It was impossible not to. His passion is inspiring. Even as young as he is, he has a dream he’s determined to pursue. All he wants is to write, which is also something I can understand.

As soon as I began writing his story, two questions came to mind. Why do teens raised in the church fall into drugs and alcohol and fall away from the Lord? Is there a way to prevent it? Finding no simple answers, I cried out to the Lord to help me understand. I asked Him to give me Danny’s story to teach and inspire others. That’s when not only Danny but his entire family came alive to me.

I thought the most disturbing thing about The Deceived might be Danny’s drugs and alcohol abuse. Yet with each revision of the book, something else became more disturbing—the way his family treated him. This novel became a personal reminder that lukewarm Christianity can destroy those we love the most.

I pray this young adult novel will be picked up by all generations. Parents should examine their own relationship with the Lord, how they treat their teens, and the pressures their teens face every day. My prayer for teens is that they’ll find a friend in Danny as well as the determination to seek their dreams and stand against the temptations they face.

One of my favorite scenes in The Deceived is when Danny goes to a party the day after Thanksgiving. Not being a very social guy, he comes up with a hilarious way to identify people. You might need to search different types of trees while you read the scene but you will laugh out loud. While Danny has a lot of great one-liners, the conversations I enjoyed writing the most were those between him and his sister, Lydia. I was blessed with a great relationship with my older brother in our teen years, and those conversations remind me of our late-night talks.

The Deceived will make you laugh, cry, and consider family dynamics and your faith in a new way. And when you get to the last page, remember, there’s more to come.

Preorders your copy of The Deceived before January 29 and you will receive the first chapter of my companion Bible study for FREE! Click HERE to preorder Book 1 of the Once Lost series.

Deceived full cover

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