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.
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:
Amazon Author: https://amazon.com/author/davalynnspencer
Thank you, everyone, for stopping by!
Until next time, may God bless America, and more importantly, may America bless God!