Please welcome this weeks guest Davalynn Spencer for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
Strange, but my spiritual vision tends to be closely related to hindsight. I look back and see—as Pilgrim did in his progress—how God has led me, directed me, carried me, and waited on me as I’ve rabbit-trailed it off and on His path.
But in that momentary over-the-shoulder view, I am awed at His wisdom. Nearly everything I have done or learned has prepared me for what I write today, including previous jobs. Where better to learn about writing tight, clean, and on deadline than as a reporter for a daily newspaper? Where better to learn to write about cowboys than for the Prorodeo Sports News, the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, and American Cowboy magazine?
Yet preparation began long before my days as a journalist. In the sixth grade I penned a fat-hand cursive story on binder paper—a bare-bones tale of someone looking for a life partner. Who knew I was setting out on the path of writing inspirational romance?
With every horse book I picked up and drooled over, I pressed toward a lifestyle I didn’t live but wanted to. The leaning, the “bent,” the longing all played into part of what I believe was God’s purpose and design.
And then one Sunday a few years later, a dark-eyed cowboy walked into church and I saw what I’d been waiting for. I was a senior in high school and had just written a love story about a cowboy come home to heal up from a rodeo injury. That’s exactly what happened to Mike Spencer. When he came home and walked through the church doors, he met me and our paths didn’t just cross, they twisted into a tight mecate-like rein. Because of Mike, I learned the cowboy way of life, met people who have become my closest friends, and bloodied my knees in prayer during his rodeo bullfighting days. Now I bloody those knees for our son.
After winning several awards and publishing credits as a journalist, I turned toward fiction—that deeply buried goal I finally decided to study and pursue. I earned my Master of Fine Arts degree which allowed me to teach writing at the community college. I followed blogs of writers and agents in the know, where I really learned about writing. I attended conferences and signed up for a Writer’s Digest webinar with literary agent Joyce Hart. Joyce liked my sample writing so much she gave me her home phone number and asked me to call.
Even though I was pursuing fiction, I had submitted a completed manuscript for a devotional book I called Sometimes Life’s a Rodeo. Joyce wanted to know what else I had, so I told her about that old cowboy love story I kept tinkering with. She gave my name to one of her agents, Linda S. Glaz, who asked for the first three chapters.
My days as a reporter under a red ink-bleeding editor had toughened my skin, or so I thought. Linda responded with a few comments and corrections that stung my journalistic hide. But through her, God tossed the head loop and waited to see if I’d pick up the heels and dally so we could make a catch. It took me a couple of days to admit that this agent knew what she was talking about. Finally, I made the edits and sent the manuscript back to her. She said yee-haw, offered to sign me on as a client, and we’ve been riding hard ever since. That was December 28, 2011.
In 2012 I sold a Christmas novella to White Rose Publishing and a contemporary romance to Heartsong Presents that released in 2013. A three-book historical series released from Heartsong in 2014 and I signed with Barbour Publishing for a historical novella in their 2014 The 12 Brides of Christmas collection, as well as a summer novella collection for 2015. And this summer my 2013 Heartsong book finaled in the Selah Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and the Holt Medallion.
Several more manuscripts are milling around in my head waiting to crack out. They help remind me what a crusty ol’ first century preacher said about looking back: Press on. So I try to look back only with gratitude and praise, realizing that all the hard places, badger holes, and dry spells brought me to where I am today.
The deepest hole opened up in December 2010 and forced me to make a choice: resentment or trust. I had never been lower and spent a lot of time in Psalm 37 and Job 3-5. Fear was so close it woke me up at night on a regular basis. I realized that when God told us we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against the powers of darkness, He was giving us a leg up. His faithfulness and trust-worthiness saw me through that hard place and out of that dark hole. Now, because of that dry spell, I have even more confidence that He will see me through anything and everything.
Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer began her writing journey in the national rodeo market, winning awards in the process. Today she writes inspirational western romance – both historical and contemporary – and teaches writing at Pueblo Community College. She and her handsome cowboy have three children and four grandchildren and make their home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with her online at www.davalynnspencer.com, www.Facebook.com/AuthorDavalynnSpencer.com and on Twitter @davalynnspencer.