Sunday, August 24, 2014

Author interview: Davalynn Spencer

Last week, I interviewed Melissa Tagg about her life as a former newspaper reporter turned novelist. This week, I’d like to introduce you to another former journalist who is now a successful author and speaker. Davalynn Spencer is her name and she has a wealth of wisdom and creative words to share with you in this interview feature on my blog today. So read on and enjoy!

Alexis: You are a former journalist! Tell me about your journey from the newsroom to becoming a novelist.

Davalynn: I started writing by telling the stories of people’s lives. When my husband was rodeoing full time, our children and I traveled with him across the United States, and I wrote feature stories and interviews for the Prorodeo Sports News, the trade paper for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. I also wrote for Western Horseman, American Cowboy, The Upper Room, Christian Standard, Power for Living, and The Line Rider which I edited for the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, Inc. while my husband worked as the president and general manager of the nonprofit organization. All this led to my employment as a crime-beat reporter for the local newspaper. Funny how those things work out. Yet through all the years of writing, my goal was to be a novelist. I decided one day that it was time to pursue that dream so I did. Attended writers’ conferences, met with agents, followed agent/editor/author blogs, signed with Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary, honed my craft, and wrote novellas and novels.

Now that you’re a novelist, what genre do you write? Do you specialize in novels or novellas?

I write inspirational romance, both historical and contemporary, because I’m interested in relationships and happy endings. Everything isn’t pretty or perfect in my stories, but when a romance reader picks up a book, he or she knows that the situation will eventually work out. It’s the process of getting there—through the gunk—that makes the journey exciting and the ending worthwhile. I write both novellas and novels.

Is all of your work as a novelist fictional? Why or why not?

All novels are fictional, but they are woven together with threads of truth. There is a bit of myself in all of my stories, especially the contemporary books. Though it sounds ridiculously obvious to say, the human condition is universal. People everywhere experience the same emotions of anger, jealously, sorrow, pity, joy, love. Circumstances are different, but the emotions are the same and they are very real.

Where do you get the inspiration for your creative stories?

Sometimes a situation in my own life will spark a story. Or a location; setting is important to me. I wrote a novella based on a woman I saw sitting in her car in a parking lot talking on her cell phone. The story has nothing to do with a woman on a cell phone, but it was the germ to which my imagination attached. News stories also prompt ideas. And actual events in close friends’ lives that I have to “adjust” because readers would not consider the tales plausible otherwise. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

What would you say were the unique challenges of switching your writing style from print journalism articles to creative fiction stories?

One challenge is finding your writer’s voice. Journalistic writing has a distinct tone. But even as a journalist, I’ve always leaned toward feature writing which is warmer, less cut-and-dry. I prefer the “story” feel, and that may be what has helped me transition from reporter to author.

Melissa Tagg and Stacy Hawkins Adams who are now successful Christian fiction authors, used to be journalists too! What would you say to journalists who dream of making the jump from being in the newsroom to becoming a novelist like you?

I found encouragement from Mark Twain who was first a journalist and then a novelist, and so I would point those journalists to him and others like Tagg and Hawkins and many more—surprisingly many. But I would also share the words I read every day on a poster above my desk: “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and fight for your dreams.” Learn the craft, don’t give up, and get used to using the serial comma. (They’ll know what I mean.)

How has your relationship with God helped your writing career?

One day I read the story in II Kings 4 about the widow and her jar of oil. She basically had nothing but the capacity to obey. When she chose to do so, miracles poured out. As I read, I related to her situation because I wanted desperately to write, yet at the same time, I was afraid I’d run out of things to say. The Lord impressed upon my heart that, like the widow, if I continued to pour it out, He would pour it in. Obedience is an act of faith. I have to trust Him to provide.

I have nothing of any value or worth apart from God. Jesus has walked with me through every valley, fire, and torrent and over every mountain, hillock, and verdant meadow. The one thing in my life that has been constant and true is His presence and faithfulness.

How has your award-winning work as a journalist played into your fictional stories?

Those many awards were confirmation that I was headed in the right direction at the time. A couple from which I took a great deal of encouragement were first-place awards from the Colorado Associated Press: the story of a police negotiator who caught a woman mid-air as she jumped from a ledge near the Royal Gorge, and the story of how the Columbine School tragedy affected our local high school students. Recently placing second in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards with my contemporary romance, The Rancher’s Second Chance (Heartsong) has had the same effect: encouragement that I’m headed in the right direction.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

On my website, readers will see the phrase “faith and fresh hope.” My goal is to write a story that brings faith and fresh hope into a reader’s life. Nothing beats hearing from someone who was comforted/encouraged/inspired by one of my stories, or who related to one of my characters so much that they want to read more about that individual and his or her life.

Did you always know you’d grow up to be a professional writer? Share the story of how and when you knew “This is it!”

I have written stories all my life, whether in my journal that no one else ever read, or for a newspaper, or as novels. There have been many moments of feeling that I’ve made it home at last. However, the journey never ends. There is always more to learn, more to experience, and more to write.

What is your favorite topic to write about as a novelist? Why?

I’m partial to cowboys and the western way of life, whether present day or historical. If I could, I would go back and live in the 1800s. It was hard, sometimes even brutal. But life was simpler, not as noisy. I like that.

Are you traditionally published? Do you have an agent? If yes, please share the name of who represents your work and share the story of how that happened.

My agent is Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary. I connected with her via the agency owner, Joyce Hart, whom I met through a webinar in 2010. Joyce liked my writing and gave my name to Linda. My first novella was published by Pelican Books, my four novels are published by Harlequin’s Love Inspired | Heartsong Presents, and I have two novellas in two Barbour collections, one releasing this November, Christmas Wedding Bell Brides, and one coming out summer 2015.

Are you married? Do you have children? Give my readers a glimpse into your personal life.

When a certain handsome, dark-eyed cowboy walked into church one Sunday morning, I knew my hopes of getting past him unscathed were slim to none. I’m so glad. Today we have three children, four grandchildren and a Queensland heeler named Blue.

You call Colorado home. What do you love about living there?

We live on the Front Range, on the lip of the mountains – there’s a word picture for you. It’s like straddling two worlds: the present and the past. Within a few miles of our home, I can be up in the parks (cow country) walking through an old square-log cabin on a homestead, leaning in close to pictographs left on rock face by early Native Americans, or waiting at a red light in town. And there’s nothing quite like watching a massive storm roll in off the plains and slam up against the mountains only to dump lightning and rain and then clear out leaving brilliant blue sky behind.

How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?


I love to read, to move into the story worlds of other authors. I also play the piano and guitar and only recently stepped down from playing on our church’s worship team. Walking is a favorite pastime as well.

You’re also a speaker. What topics do you cover and what’s your main message?

My messages all focus on one key idea: God is faithful. Sounds trite, but it’s true. The fun part comes in sharing the stories of how I know He’s faithful. One of my favorite topics is “Sometimes Life’s a Rodeo.” Everyone can relate, because who hasn’t found themselves face down in the dirt wondering what just ran over them?

What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

That’s almost like asking me which child is my favorite! I have many favorites, depending upon what’s happening around and within me at the moment, but one I return to as a life verse is Psalm 16:8 – I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken (NIV). Several years ago I published a book of thirty devotions for women titled Always Before Me. The devotional thoughts are stories from my life and have often served as the basis for speaking topics. Who but the Lord can be both ahead of us, leading us, and beside us, comforting us at the same time? He has it all covered.

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want my legacy to be that when I’m pushed up against the wall, Jesus comes out through the cracks in my life.

Thank you for the interview, Davalynn! Do you have a question for my readers you’d like answers to in the comment section? If you do please share! It’s been a joy hosting you on my blog! God bless you!

I’d like to ask readers how important the story’s setting is to them as they read.

~ End of interview ~

Author bio: 

Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer began her writing journey in the national rodeo market and as a newspaper journalist, winning awards in both arenas. Today she continues to win acclaim with her inspirational western romance placing second in the 2014 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and finaling for the Selah Award and the Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College, and with her handsome cowboy has three children and four grandchildren. They make their home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue.

Connect with Davalynn online at www.davalynnspencer.com, www.Facebook.com/AuthorDavalynnSpencer and follow her on Twitter @davalynnspencer and become her fan and/or friend on Goodreads.

Davalynn’s books can be found:

On her website and blog, www.davalynnspencer.com

Amazon's Davalynn Spencer page, http://amzn.to/1nqzskB

Christianbook.com (http://bit.ly/1nbYdRw)


6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome! Thanks for sharing your story, Davalynn! :)

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  2. Alexis, thank you so much for the fantastic interview with one of my all time favorite authors, Davalynn Spencer! Isn't she an amazing lady! I love her work. And when she said "I want my legacy to be that when I’m pushed up against the wall, Jesus comes out through the cracks in my life." it brought tears to my eyes! I can only wish that I was a devout as she is.
    To answer her question, the setting to me is the whole story! and without the right setting, the whole story is off, therefore no matter how good it is, it is just something to read. Something with no meaning. Not being a writer, it is hard to explain what I mean but I think you can understand what I really want to say. Keep up the superb work you do Alexis with your interviews and thanks also to Davalynn for sharing a wonderful part of your life with us readers that follow you! God bless both you lovely Christian ladies.

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    1. Thank you, Ruth, for your kind words, and for sharing what you value about setting. I'm so glad you enjoy it!

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    2. Yes, I do understand what you mean about the setting being vital to the success of the story! :) I'm happy you enjoyed my interview of Davalynn! :) Thanks for your kind and encouraging words! :) God bless you! *Jeremiah 29:11*

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  3. Wow A true American thanks for sharing this.
    I've just started having you as a member on my g+ page.
    Look forward to seeing more about you and Great Books.

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