Friday, October 25, 2019

When You Kick the Devil, You Better Be Wearing Your Armor (A Seriously Write blog)

(Please read 1 Samuel 28.)

In the mid-’90s, I pastored a small church in Des Moines, Iowa. When we moved there, images of “The Heartland” came to mind. Cornfields lined the roads as we neared the city. Stories of commitment to family, country, and honor were regaled. It was where the true America lived.

One December, our daughter came home with a letter from the principal of her elementary school informing us of an upcoming Winter Festival. When I inquired about the nature of the festival and my willingness to donate time and resources, if needed, I was told that because of our ever-increasingly diverse population, symbols denoting the season—in this case, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.—were not allowed per board policy.

That’s when my gloves came off.

For the rest of the story, click HERE!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Davalynn Spencer

Fall is upon us! Well, on the calendar anyway. I envy the folks up north this time of year. I see people in the stands and coaches on the sidelines wearing sweaters and jackets at college football games. Must be nice to be able to enjoy outdoor events without feeling like you're crawling across the Sahara, looking for an oasis.

It was over ninety degrees here in Florida this past Saturday. ESPN's College Gameday was at the University of Florida (Go Gators!).  Kirk Herbstriet mentioned how he had a river running down his spine while having to stand in the sun, wearing a suit and tie.

Welcome to Florida in the fall.

But enough about how the grass is drying up down here due to the lack of rain.

We're going to switch gears from talking about Florida, football, and fall, to talking about bullfighters, cowboys, and...romance?

Pull up and chair on our Florida front porch. The iced tea is cold. The ceiling fans are on high. And let's welcome award-winning author Davalynn Spencer!

Welcome, Davalynn! Let's start in out traditional way by having you give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Davalynn Spencer?

I am the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and spent many years with bloody knees praying for these men in my life (as well as my daughter who did not run in front of bulls). I’ve also been a crime-beat reporter, sixth-grade history teacher, and college professor. Now I write books. About cowboys.

Oh. I expected that to continue...something like, "Now I write books. About cowboys. Solving crimes while teaching middle school. And moonlighting as professors. Who write books." :-)

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

In the sixth grade, my teacher gave us a story-writing assignment. I wrote a now-embarrassing science-fiction romance that my teacher insisted I read as a play in between “commercial skits” put on by other members of the class at our science camp in the California foothills. It was my first (and last) sci-fi experience.

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.

Favorite Song of All-Time: “Someday Soon” When my cowboy was courting me, he played this song, sung by Judy Collins. I was hooked.
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard – This is an insightful look at the 23rd Psalm.
Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 16:11  I connect this verse to verse 8. When I am at God’s right hand and he is at mine, we are facing each other.
Favorite Movie: Last of the Mohicans  I have many favorites, but I return most frequently to this one.
Favorite Actor or Actress: Gerard Butler . I don’t like all of his movies, but I like his capacity to speak volumes via his facial expressions.
Favorite TV Show: NCIS. What’s not to like about Gibbs? The man uses a flip phone. (So does Raymond Reddington, by the way. Interesting.)
Favorite Novel (other than your own): The Far Pavilions by MM Kay. This was an early novel for me and perhaps holds a spot in my heart like a first love.
Favorite Author (other than you): Laura Frantz. I don’t even like early American fiction, but if Laura Frantz writes it, I’ll read it and love it.
Favorite Sport: Rodeo. I was not a participant, I merely supported my husband and sang the National Anthem, but I’d still rather watch rodeo than any other sport.
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Denver Broncos (See what I did there?)
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: Not math. Anything but math. Numbers are not in the alphabet.
Favorite Subject Now: Biblical history. I wouldn’t say I’m a history buff, but I love studying the Bible, investigating the ancient cultures, and seeing God’s faithfulness to His people.
Favorite Teacher in School: Mr. Lublin, sixth grade. He’s the one who liked my science-fiction story.
Favorite Time of the Year: Fall. I live in Colorado where gold trickles down the mountain ravines and valleys every autumn in the form of brilliant aspen leaves. (See? Other states do experience a difference in the fall.)
Favorite Drink: Coffee with canned milk and honey. On a chilly fall morning, it makes me feel like I’m in the land of milk and honey.
Favorite Food: I don’t have a favorite food. But my leading non-favorites are liver and sushi. (Those are at the top of my trash can list, too.)

For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any? 

Blue, the Cowdog, is a Queensland heeler that couldn’t care less about cows. Squirrels and other people’s cats, however, are another matter. Annie and Oakley are our cats, and Oakley is quite fond of hanging out with Blue. He tolerates her.

A "Cowdog" that has no interest in cows. There's a children's book in there somewhere...

Do you have a favorite line from a movie or book? If so, what is it and explain why it is special to you? 

“We and the world, my children, will always be at war. Retreat is impossible. Arm yourselves.” - Leif Enger in the novel Peace Like a River. For me, this line encapsulates our spiritual walk and what we should be teaching our children about it.

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?

I sing, play the piano and guitar, and have done so for years on various church worship teams or for cowboy church services at rodeos. Pianos don’t do so well behind the chutes, so I stick with the guitar at rodeos. 

Tell us about what project you are currently working on.

I am anticipating the November release of this year’s Christmas novella, Just in Time, an 1800s romance set in the shadow of Pikes Peak, while finishing Book 3 of my Front Range Brides series scheduled for a spring 2020 release, An Impossible Price.

Tell us about your writing day. How do you go about writing?

Writing has become my full-time job. Therefore, I treat it as a job, writing five to six days a week with breaks for things like family, grocery shopping, playing on the worship team at church, teaching a Bible study at church, and splitting firewood for kindling. I go to work at 9 a.m., break for lunch, then continue until 5 or 6 p.m. I don’t write late at night or super early in the morning. And I don’t write on Sunday. I think God knew what He was talking about when He said, “Take a break.” Having that day off refuels me for the next week.

Knowing what you know now about writing, publishing, etc., what piece of advice would you give to the person thinking about writing that novel they have always wanted to pursue since they were young, or the person who believes they have a non-fiction book in them that would be helpful to others?

There will never be enough time to write. No one is going to write the book for you, and someday never comes. So write the book. Even if you have only twenty minutes a day, sit down, set the timer, and pound it out for twenty minutes. Don’t give up on your passion.

Has your writing crossed over into other areas? If so, how? If not, will it? 

I was a journalist for several years, writing for professional rodeo trade papers as well as for daily newspapers. I also freelanced inspirational pieces to Christian publications and interviews to national magazines. But I always wanted to be a novelist. Writing on deadline in a newsroom taught me to write tight and clean and helped me develop thick skin, editorially speaking. I still freelance and have sold several pieces to Guideposts and other publications.

If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be? 

I’d like to visit with Will Rogers and experience his wit and wisdom firsthand.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus?

I want to meet David – the youngest son who was kept out of the way of the older brothers. The one with a poet’s heart and ruddy cheeks, the one who knew God was bigger than the enemy, the one who failed at parenthood and fidelity but loved God with all his heart. I want to meet him.

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

One summer my husband Mike had a contract to work his comedy acts and fight bulls at the Estes Park Night Rodeo in Colorado. The second night, a bull rider went down “in the well” and hung up to his bull. Mike ran in to free his hand and took a brutal blow to the chest that knocked him down. After breaking Mike’s ribs, the bull ran over him and shredded his right ear with its hoof. The plastic surgeon who restructured Mike’s ear told him he was not to go back to the rodeo grounds due to the high risk of infection, so we got a motel room rather than stay in our camper/horse trailer rig. However, three nights remained in the contract which Mike had agreed to. A second bullfighter took over during the bull riding, and in the spirit of “the show must go on,” I dressed up as Mike and worked the acts with the other clown as the straight man. Trying to be funny was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

Did your husband tell you to stop clowning around? (buh-dum-psst)

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

I don’t care to be preached at in fiction, so I don’t want to do that in my novels. I want my stories to show people doing life and how God interacts with them. It’s all about redemption to my way of thinking. God is out to rescue us, lift us, give us a second chance. Sometimes we don’t let Him, sometimes we do. I want my stories to give people hope and the opportunity to discover that God has been right there beside them all along.

Davalynn, I couldn't have said it better myself. Not a fan of preachy fiction either. 

Thank you for being a part of our Author Behind the Story blog series! I know you're busy with all that you do, and we appreciate you taking time out of your day to help our readers get a glimpse into your life behind the writing.

Readers, if you wish to connect with Davalynn online, her various online sites are listed below:

Thank you, everyone, for stopping by!

Until next time, may God bless America, and more importantly, may America bless God!


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Kevin's Podcast Interview with Stacey Horan of "The Bookshop at the End of the Internet"

I have to admit, I've done a podcast interviews in the past. one was with a group of authors on a conference call with the interviewer. I did a little talking, but the pressure was off as I listened to the other writers answer questions of the host.

However, when you are "the author," and there are no others to fill in the gaps, it can be a little nerve-racking. I have to admit, you hear it in my voice. The consummate introvert taking a calming breath before launching into an answer, hoping he doesn't sound like an introvert. :-)

Nevertheless, Stacey did an excellent job, asked some great questions, and was able to pack a great deal into a half hour.

My interview is episode #40. There are 39 more you can check out after you listen to mine. :-) Most of these authors I do not know, but it's cool to "get to know them" and find out more about them and their works (just like the interviews I do here on this blog). I did meet one of the authors, Mark Wayne Adams (episode #18), at a book awards festival in Miami, Florida, back in 2013. We both received awards that night. Small world.

So, grab yourself a cuppa, sit back and listen as Stacey interviews me about my Blake Meyer Thriller series!

(Oh, and by the way, Book 5 was sent to the publisher last night!)

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Inheritance of God (A Seriously Write blog)

(I encourage you to read Numbers 18:20 & 1 Peter 2:4-12 first.)

You see it all the time. You even hear stories about it. People sitting around tables with bated breath in some lawyer’s office. Or family members staged in a personal library in a magnificent mansion. Steely eyes focused on every other relative in the room.

Waiting. For the reading of the will.

Everybody wants to know the answer to the question on everyone’s mind: What am I going to get? Usually, in these scenarios, we get a real, clear picture of the human condition under the spell known as greed. Very few people ever walk out of those little family get-togethers in, shall we say, their right minds. And the higher the stakes, the less “right” people’s minds become.

Aaron and the rest of the Levites were a unique tribe amongst the Israelites. God, speaking to Aaron, said, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them” (Numbers 18:20a). The Levites already had to rely on sacrifices for food. They were not allowed to work for money. Their funds came from the Atonement Tax. So, this “no inheritance in their land” business seems pretty harsh, if you don’t read the rest of the verse: “I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites” (Numbers 18:20b).

God was to be Aaron’s inheritance. He was to be the Levites’ inheritance, too.


That beats an Italian villa on Lake Como, a Ferrari, or a million-dollar stock portfolio any day.

Or does it?

You can see the rest of the article HERE!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Author Behind the Story - Anita Agers-Brooks

In light of Hurricane Dorian, getting ready for a direct hit, seeing schools cancel school days in preparation, waiting for the turn, watching the decimation of the Bahamas, seeing the eventual turn, watching it steer away from our peninsula, only to see it hit North Carolina.

This last week or so has been hectic, to say the least. And to let you in on a little secret, this blog post almost became a casualty. It got to our guest author late. Then, she had people for whom she cares affected in the Bahamas and NC. Needless to say, the fact that it is here at all on time is somewhat of a miracle of its own, as several other things happened that created, ultimately, more work for us both.

But we're here. On the Florida front porch. In the sweltering, post-Dorian heatwave we've been experiencing since he left our shores.

So, let's welcome out next guest before something else happens! She's a speaker, a writer, and a child of God. Welcome, Anita Agers-Brooks!

Anita, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Anita Agers-Brooks?

I’m a passionate speaker who inspires, teaches, and encourages global audiences with stories and practical takeaways. I’m a dedicated coach, guiding businesses and individuals to make fresh starts with fresh faith. And I’m an award-wining author with a heart to help people. What I do is about souls not sales.

I like that. "About souls, not sales." Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

As an adult who’d forgotten I had the notion as a child, I was the general manager of one of the largest river resorts in the country. I still do consulting for Ozark Outdoors Riverfront Resort on a regular basis.

What educational background do you have?

I went to high school in a tiny town called Viburnum, Missouri. I have certifications from one of the first accredited coaching agencies in America. I’m also a certified personality trainer, a certified training facilitator, and a certified communications specialist. Though I’ve taken several college courses, I’ve never gotten a degree, but I’m still asked to speak to students and administrators, many with master’s degrees and doctorates, frequently. I’m teaching a leadership team at Missouri’s largest university next week. Only God!

 Are you married? Single? Have kids? 

I’ve been married for thirty-six years, and we still have a blast together. We have two grown sons, and four gorgeous grandchildren.

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite. 

Favorite Song of All-Time: Seasons in the Sun
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Unbroken
Favorite Bible Verse: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
Favorite Movie: It’s a tie between The Ultimate Gift and Far and Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
Favorite TV Show: I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, it’s mostly Dateline, 48 Hours, or 20/20—I’m addicted to true crime
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Just 18 Summers
Favorite Author (other than you): Jack Canfield
Favorite Sport: Volleyball
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): St. Louis Cardinals
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: P.E. (I was really athletic)
Favorite Subject Now: History
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Griffith (she spotted my writing talent in 4th grade)
Favorite Time of the Year: Fall
Favorite Place to Vacation: Belize
Favorite Drink: Turmeric/Ginger Golden Milk
Favorite Food: Lasagna

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?

Finding out that my dad was not my biological father at age forty-six certainly impacted me in deeply profound ways. Even using my maiden name as part of my pen name came into question. Finding out that I am the product of an unsavory moment made me question my ability to write for God. But eventually, I came to realize that I exist on purpose, with purpose, in order to fulfill an abundant purpose. I finally had the courage to write about all of this in my last book.

I’m also a living donor, I gave my kidney to my sister in 1997. These kinds of experiences give me a level empathy and compassion for people that comes across in my writing—or so I’ve been told.

Do you have a crazy, interesting, behind-the-scenes story about the publishing world you’d like to tell your readers without boring them to death with industry gobbledygook? 

Hmm, great question! When I was on the hunt for a literary agent, I was following all of the protocols they teach you at writer’s conferences and in writing books. A couple were interested in me at the time, but there was this one agency that I admired. I would never have queried them, because I didn’t think I was good enough. One day, however, I connected with one of their agents on Facebook. Turned out, she was born in the little Missouri community I still live in. We messaged for over an hour, then she asked to see my proposal, and I submitted it thinking nothing would come of it (remember, I wasn’t good enough). When I got the e-mail saying they wanted to sign me six days later, I cried for two hours. I’ve been with them since 2011, and they’ve sold multiple books for me. I still pinch myself!
Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story? 

Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over is by far my favorite. I poured my heart into this book. The title came one day when I heard myself say for the umpteenth time to a hurting person, “You know, there are some things in life we can get through, but we will never get over.” For some reason, that day it clicked, and I knew it would make a great book title.

Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them? 

Occasionally. Usually, because they are mad that I’m writing from a Christian perspective. I did get one online reviewer who said I was trite. That made me laugh—especially when I clicked on her profile and saw that she’s a serial sourpuss. But not everyone is going to love everything you write, that’s okay. Because when you get emails from strangers who said you saved their lives, because they were going to commit suicide, but instead, they are renewing their relationship with Jesus—well, that smothers any negative comments others make.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on. 

I’m working on two books actually. One is titled, Tending Your Dreams: Seizing Hope While You Create Your Turn, and I’m finally writing on the personality information I’ve taught for years.

If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be?

Wow! As I consider this, I realize I’ve actually met several powerful, wealthy, and very interesting people—some were even celebrities. A couple of them, like Jack Canfield and Pam Farrell, were writing heroes of mine. But let’s see, someone I haven’t met. I’d still love to meet Tony Robbins and have 2-3 days of one-on-one time to pick his brain. His energy and thirst for knowledge are inspiring.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus?

It would have to be the Apostle Paul. I think he’s an intriguing, wise, and complex character. I’d like to slow-walk some dusty roads with him and ask him questions about many of the things he wrote, but especially regarding some detail in the book of Galatians.

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done? 

I ziplined in the cloud forest of Costa Rica where you couldn’t touch the tree holding up one of the platforms, because of the Army Ants. That was pretty radical. I also sang lead in two high school musicals—even I think that’s crazy today.

The Army Ants make me think of that scene in the last Indiana Jones movie. Creepy. Why do you live where you live?    

I grew up in the country, so fresh air and Missouri hollers are in my soul. But I also adore living in the state that gave us the writings of Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Sometimes, I visit their home places here, and wonder what it must have been like writing back in their days.   

We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life? 

The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Other than a couple of small parts, I love that book. I’m reading it for the third time.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

I am passionate about encouraging other people to tend their dreams—to make them come true and maintain them when they do! My podcast, Tending Your Dreams, is all about providing tools, inspiring stories, and any other information that will help support people with a dream planted in their heart.

Anita, thanks for taking time out of your plane trip and being a part of our blog series! 

Readers, if you wish to get to know more about Anita and her ministry, you can find her here:

Until next time, may God bless America, and more importantly, may America bless God,