Novelist and speaker Davalynn Spencer is an award-winning journalist whose background spans the city crime beat and the national rodeo circuit. These authentic experiences help her craft fictional characters who face struggle and heartache but find faith and fresh hope along the way. When she’s not writing inspirational western romance or teaching as an adjunct professor, she enjoys speaking and leading worship at women’s retreats. She makes her home in Colorado where she continues to be amazed by God’s creative splendor.
If we have at least ten people to leave comments, Davalynn will give away a free book. So leave her a comment and make sure to leave your email address too. Continental US only.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in California as the “ours” of a “yours, mine, and ours” union. I don’t remember not knowing who Jesus was because of the way I was raised. But I came to a point in life where I had to decide if I would follow Him or not. That decision to choose Jesus and His way deepened and matured as I grew and His faithfulness is my testimony. I don’t have a black-to-white story, a tale of living on the edge of the pit, or a flashy, miraculous conversion—other than the fact that God is who He declares Himself to be and He does what He says He will do.
That’s a beautiful story! Tell us three things about you that would surprise your readers.
I was on The Price is Right and was called to “Come on down!” Didn’t win the big prize but took home a lot of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.
As a high schooler, I once showed up at the wrong church to sing and sat in the front row with my guitar waiting to be called on. Never happened and I sneaked out during the prayer.
I filled in for my rodeo clown husband after he was seriously injured by a bull in Estes Park, Colorado. Makeup, baggy pants, the whole deal—during the acts, that is, not during the bull riding!
Okay, all three of those little tidbits about you are AWESOME! Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
My parents had a set of Bible story books that I loved. I also read anything to do with a horse.
What is your favorite genre to read now?
My all-time favorite is romantic suspense, contemporary or historical, particularly if there’s a cowboy involved (M.M. Kaye’s Far Pavilions qualifies by the way). But beyond that I have a fairly eclectic menu—anything by Randy Ingermanson, Frank Peretti, Gayle Roper, Lauraine Snelling, Susan May Warren, Julie Carobini, Joel Rosenberg.
I love Gayle Roper. As a writer and a person. She taught a class at the Christian Writers Guild conference I attended in 2003 and she was so encouraging! As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author
One of my life goals was to be an author. And marry a cowboy.
When did you first begin writing?
In the sixth grade I wrote a strange little piece that my teacher turned into a play during the science week camp out. Let’s just say I don’t write science fiction.
Why do you write?
I am addicted to words. I have this inner craving to find the perfect words to describe what I see, hear, feel, believe. That desire has not waned over the years, but intensified.
I’m an addict too! A word addict, that is. Tell us about the journey to getting published.
During the years my husband worked the rodeo circuit, I sold a piece to the Prorodeo Sports News and then another and another. My limited skill with a camera added value to my writing and I learned that a photograph plus a good story was almost a sure sell. My first award came from the PSN—a gold and silver trophy buckle for a two-part story I did on cowboys as racetrack horsemen. Over the years I sold pieces to several secular and Christian publications, including The Upper Room, Standard, Power for Living, Western Horseman, American Cowboy, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. But my inner, secret goal was to be a novelist. It wasn’t about seeing my name in print. I got my fill of that as a crime-beat reporter and editor for a daily Colorado newspaper. It was about writing, expressing the story, creating in the reader what Randy Ingermanson calls P.E.E. – a powerful emotional experience.
I showed Joyce Hart some of my inspirational nonfiction and she liked it. I was astounded and encouraged. She asked about my fiction and passed my name on to one of her agents, Linda Glaz, who signed me in January 2012 based on a romantic suspense manuscript. In the last year and a half I’ve sold a novella, a contemporary romance, and contracted for a three-book historical series set in Cañon City, Colorado. That first manuscript is still house-hunting, but I didn’t stop writing and have since sold everything I’ve written.
In The Rancher’s Second Chance, a contemporary romance for Heartsong Presents, Eli, the hero, is a composite of wounded veterans I know. The story deals with his issues of feeling less than whole. The heroine, Laura, struggles with emotional loss—that gutted feeling after everything goes wrong. Each of them wrestles with God’s offer of restoration and second chances. Key to the story’s premise is a scriptural promise that the Lord will make all things new. Sometimes suffering is involved, and in Eli and Laura’s case, they must decide if they trust God—and each other—enough.
What inspired you to write this particular book?
The Rancher’s Second Chance is set on a California foothill property where my family lived for several years. In the bottom section at the fence line stands a burned-out valley oak—hollow but alive. I realized some people are like that and I crafted the story around that idea.
That’s really cool! Where else do you get ideas for your books?
If I am paying attention, ideas are everywhere. They have come to me while sipping a hot cup of jasmine green tea, looking through old photographs that belonged to my parents, or recalling emergencies I responded to as a crime-beat reporter. I think I may have seen just about everything during that job.
Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?
Several vignettes in Rancher are drawn from similar experiences I had while living in the heroine’s house. But the one that is most meaningful to me is Laura’s realization while watching the hummingbirds pitch and dive around the feeder on her front porch. The Lord calls us to mount up with wings as eagles. Hawks and eagles soar. They rise on thermals, rarely flapping their great wings. Hummingbirds whir so frantically we can’t even see their wings. I’m glad God didn’t call me to beat myself silly like a hummingbird, but instead, encouraged me to rest on His current as He carries me.
I love that analogy! If you could interview any character in one of your books what might that character say? Why?
Eli, the wounded warrior, would say he’s not so sure about God and His promise to heal, His offer of a second chance.
What are your favorite themes to write about?
Love is my favorite theme. It shows itself in so many ways, catching us by surprise and pointing us back to the Personification of unconditional love.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing book three in a three-book historical series set here in Cañon City, Colorado, in the 1800s. There is such rich history here along the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range. It’s not hard to close my eyes and journey back.
I treat my writing like a job, and it’s easier to do that now that my children are grown. My goal is 2,000-3,000 words a day, five days a week. I also teach at the community college twice a week, so the word count fluctuates from day to day, but usually averages out. My current office is a tiny bedroom that also houses my keyboard (I play on the church worship team), bookshelves and other office equipment. But praise God, we’re moving in a month and I get to spread out!
Your days sound much like mine. I write and work three part-time work-from-home jobs and serve with the women’s ministry at church. It’s tough to keep up the writing schedule but when you love it, it flows no matter how tired you are. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help readers feel as though they know you a little better.
Jesus is the first person I talk to everyday. Please don’t interpret that to be some hyper-spiritual accomplishment. He’s simply that close and that willing to hear from us. Mornings are my favorite time and I start with His word. On days I don’t teach at the college, I take our Queensland heeler, Blue, down to the Arkansas Riverwalk which is probably my favorite place on the planet. The Lord is there, too, and often soothes my heart with His creative beauty.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Without my faith I would have no writing. As a columnist for both the local newspaper and also the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, I must consistently produce. Years ago when I first considered the column opportunity, I told the Lord that I was afraid I’d run out of things to say. He led me to II Kings 4 and the story of the widow and the oil. He assured me that as long as I was obedient in pouring out the words, He would pour them into me. He’s still pouring, both in my fiction and my nonfiction.
That is amazing and so inspiring! Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
Psalm 16:8. Only God can be before me and beside me at the same time, and that’s exactly what I need.
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
Friends would say it was donning my husband’s rodeo clown garb after his injury and carrying out the contract acts at the Estes Park Night Rodeo in an attitude of the-show-must-go-on. But I believe it was standing a few years later at the surgical-unit door as it shut me out, knowing my daughter with the dog-torn face was beyond my reach and help and trusting God to hold and heal her as the doctors sewed her nose back on.
Oh, I know that walk so well. When our daughter broke her back and we had to wait to hear if she was going to walk again—and they wouldn’t let us back there with her, we could do nothing but give her over to the Lord. Okay, if you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I’d love to see Ireland and Scotland, the lands of my ancestry.
What is your number one spiritual gift?
Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Where can readers find you or your books on the internet?
All of my books can be found at my website: www.davalynnspencer.com as well as Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble. The Ranchers Second Chance is currently on my website and the following links:
Christianbook – availability Aug. 20/Release date Aug. 6