Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m so thrilled to have interviewed Davalynn Spencer, a writer who chops wood to break writer’s block and has her own encrusted belt buckle award. I enjoyed this article very much. Read on to the end to see how you can enter to win a copy of The Cowboy’s Bride Collection, a 9-book historical romance collection featuring Davalynn’s “The Wrangler’s Woman”.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I will eat almost anything that has peppermint in it. Or bacon. Other than that, I drink a lot of coffee and tea, teach creative writing at our community college, take my Queensland heeler, Blue, on long walks, and read every evening. I have a background in journalism and photography, and followed the professional rodeo circuit for years when my husband worked as a clown and bullfighter. My first writing award was a silver, gold, and ruby-encrusted belt buckle from the Prorodeo Sports News for a two-part special feature.
Tell us about your current release. “The Wrangler’s Woman” is one of nine historical novellas in Barbour’s The Cowboy’s Bride collection. For me, it’s a story-of-the-heart. The characters were as real to me as any I’ve written, and I’d love to step into their 1881 lives, sit at their table, and meet their challenges alongside them. Widowed rancher Josiah Hanacker hires spinster Corra Jameson as a lady-trainer for his young daughter, Jess. He fears losing Jess to his wife’s sister if the girl doesn’t meet her aunt’s ladylike expectations. Turns out, Corra has everything Josiah needs for his daughter. He just never figured she’d have what he needed for himself.
With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? I’m a binder babe, which means I have a binder for every book, complete with a cover I create for the front. In each binder I keep notes, research, maps, questions, character sketches, synopses, taglines—anything and everything to do with the story. I can’t write fast enough to get it all down, but I can jot down ideas, write reminders, and slather on the sticky notes for later reference.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher (or agent or audience if you self-publish)? Feelings of inadequacy always lurk in shadowy corners. Victory comes in knowing they are there and ignoring them. But sometimes, ignoring them is hard to do, especially when I’m tempted to compare my work to other authors’ creations. It helps to remember what my mother told me right before my sixth-grade talent show in which I played a piano solo: “There will always be people not quite as good as you, and there will always be people who are better than you. Do your best.”
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? I go outside and split firewood for kindling. A little tricky in the summer.
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I write because I have to. It’s right up there with breathing and eating. Since I was twelve years old, I’ve journaled and been compelled to put down on paper/computer screen what I see, feel, hear, smell, experience. Words—is there anything better? Even God started with them. (John 1:1)
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I wrote my first novel as a seat-of-the-pantser. That means I sat down and started writing what I saw playing on the movie screen in my head. Four novels and four novellas later, I plan more. I still leave room for the characters to surprise me, but I pretty much have a flexible roadmap of where we’re headed. It’s easier to get someplace if you know where you’re going.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Don’t stop writing. You’ll be discouraged, disappointed, and disgruntled. But if you are meant to write, then write. Even if it’s not perfect.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea? One winter’s day I pulled into the parking lot of a gas station/café/convenience store and parked facing another woman in her car. She was on her cell phone. I watched her for about a minute and an entire story came to me. I hurried home and jotted down everything I had in mind for a contemporary Christmas story. Several weeks later, I bumped the story back 150 years and sold it as a historical novella to Barbour’s collection, The 12 Brides of Christmas, an ECPA bestseller in 2015-2016.
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