Friday, May 22, 2015

Davalynn Spencer: On Writing and Control

Everyone's Story welcomes author Davalynn Spencer. I've had the privilege to get to know Davalynn the past couple of years and she has been a blessing and role model of inner strength. While you check out her excerpt for her upcoming novella and read her special message, and I hope will be uplifted by her words, would you please offer a little prayer for this very special woman? Consider sharing this post with others in hope of encouraging a friend, relative, or special someone. Davalynn and I look forward to hearing from you!

Davalynn's novella, The Columbine Bride, will be out in a Walmart's exclusive, Old West Summer Brides in stores July 15th, and in the ebook collection 12 Brides of Summer releasing September 1st. Enjoy this excerpt:

Excerpt from The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer

Lucy lay awake between her children, their shallow breath rising together as one. She rubbed calloused hands over her face, her muscles aching from the unaccus­tomed work. But these moments of predawn peace were priceless, for in them she heard the Lord’s soft whisper again: “Trust me.”
The storms made it difficult.
Every afternoon for a week they had rolled in over the mountains, each thunder clap and lightning strike reminding her of what she’d lost and how. She could bear the hard work, her dried and cracked hands, even the pain in her neck. But the storms mocked her, delivering again the blow of losing William.
Slipping from the bed, she checked each angelic face before padding to the stove and stoking the fire for coffee. Water flowed freely into the pot, and Buck came to mind, his bulk filling the kitchen corner as he primed the pump. As he sat at the table’s head. As he chucked Elmore under the chin and tugged Cecilia’s braids. If a body were to judge by outward appearances, one would think Buck Reiter liked being around her family. If a body were to judge by hidden feelings, one would think Lucy liked having him around. Somehow his presence lessened the drudgery.
Thin light seeped above the eastern ridge, and she quickly dressed and pulled on her boots. As she tied off the end of her braid, a wagon rolled into the yard and stopped at the barn. Elmore would be thrilled.
After returning the second and third day as Elmore had requested, Buck had since been gone for four. Each morning the child hung from the porch railing, dangling his feet off the edge, waiting for the familiar wagon to drive up the road. And each morning it did not come he’d gone about his chores like a lost pup. Yes, Elmore would be happy. So would Cecilia.
Lucy’s insides fluttered as she ground the coffee and added it to the pot. Glancing at her sleeping children, she slipped out the back door, surprised that she hadn’t yet adjusted to the altitude. She couldn’t quite get her wind.

Control Freak or Freaking Out of Control By Davalynn Spencer

“If things would just go my way, I’d be fine!”

Years ago, my mother didn’t realize what she’d said, but I did. And I never forgot the overtones.

For the past five months, circumstances have gone anything but my way. I’ve been dealing with ramifications of a serious fall by a family member. Hospitalization, paralysis, confusion. Rehab, bills, the day job. Writing.


“Isn’t it stressful for you to keep writing?” a well-meaning friend asked.

“No, it isn’t. I have to write.”

She didn’t get it, so I explained. I have to write for the same reason I have to breathe, eat bacon, and sleep on flannel sheets in the winter. Writing is therapeutic. I can self-medicate with words.

You see, about the only thing in my day-to-day life over which I truly have control is my response to God, people, and situations. However, when I write, I am in complete control of everything. Every single detail can “go my way.”

That’s what we want, isn’t it. Just like Mom, we want everything to go our way. Yet as an author, I must remember that no one wants to read a story where everything goes the hero or heroine’s way. B.O.R.I.N.G.

As I’ve told my writing students, if there’s no conflict, there’s no story.

When I write—whether therapeutically or not—I get to decide what goes wrong and right in my characters’ lives. It doesn’t matter if what I’ve written wouldn’t make good shoe-box liner. I can edit later and I always do. What matters is that I’m getting a break from my life and all the necessary things that need to be done—things over which I have no control. I am escaping for a minute or two or ten, the same way readers escape when they pick up a book in their favorite genre.

What happens if I’m under a deadline? Contracts are signed and kept, regardless of what is going on in the real world. Unless I break all my fingers at once or fall over dead, I have to fulfill the agreement.

So during this season of heart-twisting grief and frustration, I’ve recommitted on that response thing I mentioned earlier, particularly where God is concerned.

Will I respond to Him with trust? Will I let Him do what He does? Will I spend time with Him, worship Him, and praise Him even especially when my real life isn’t so fun?

When it comes to problems, I doubt that Jesus would say, “I told you so,” though He could, you know. He told us we’d have trouble down here, yet he beat it. We can take heart.

He said He’d give us His peace—different from world peace.

He said He’d never desert us. Ever.

That’s where I am these days of writing-because-I-have-to and trusting God to take care of me. He’s the one in control.

How about you? What does God do for you when everything falls apart and nothing goes your way?

“The peace of God which surpasses our understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” –Apostle Paul

Davalynn's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Inspirational Western Romance author @davalynnspencer asks: control freak or freaking out of control? (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: @davalynnspencer Do authors self-medicate with writing? (Tweet This)

Author @davalynnspencer: how to keep writing when life gets tough. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Davalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. Her work has finaled for the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the Selah, and the Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College and at various writing workshops. She and her handsome cowboy make their home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue.

Places to connect with Davalynn:

***I'll love for you to take a moment and take this month's short poll on the right-hand sidebar. Thanks so much.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sandra Orchard: Lessons A Published Author Still Learns

Everyone's Story welcomes back multi-published suspense author Sandra Orchard. Sandra is proof that guests don't wear out the welcome mat on this blog--I love hosting her, watching her career grow, absorbing vicariously her energy and drive, and sharing this author with my viewers. This week Sandra discloses lessons from writing, yet I'm thinking that book readers may appreciate them as well. Do check out Sandra's surprise for everyone below. Both Sandra and I look forward to hearing from you.

Instead of a BookGiveaway, Sandra offers a book for everyone:

The first book of the Port Aster Secrets series, DEADLY DEVOTION, is offered by Revell as a free Ebook download at all major retailers. Here's the link for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook. Enjoy!

By Sandra Orchard

As I daily claw words out of my brain in an attempt to break through the impasse in my current work-in-progress—the book that will be number 12, if it doesn’t kill me first—I can’t help but wonder why we writers torture ourselves. 

Then the UPS guy arrives on my doorstep with a brand-spanking-new copy of Desperate Measures—book number 9—and I share my excitement with my Facebook fans, who… (and how heartwarmingly humbling is this?) can’t wait to read it!  

And I’m so glad I didn’t give up when I was so frustrated with that particular book that I killed the heroine.

Yes, it’s true. I did. It was extremely satisfying, I must say. She’d been giving me nothing but trouble for weeks. Of course, afterwards, I had to take a lot of grief from the hero, but he got over it.

Since writers’ emotions seem to be on one continual roller coaster ride that can wreak havoc on our sanity if…well…we don’t kill off the occasional character, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share five life lessons writing has taught me.

     1. Things could be worse.

Writers are taught to send their characters headlong into trouble. Then, when things look as if they are finally getting better, make it worse.

Of course, my characters should count themselves lucky, because I can think of a lot worse things that could’ve befallen them than what I subjected them to. The upswing of that, is I can also imagine a lot worse things that I could be dealing with besides unwieldy characters and a brooding muse.

(And a copy editor who will have a conniption that I ended that second to last sentence in a preposition. )

The moral: Buck up, things could be worse.

     2.  What you think you want is probably not what you really want.

Characters tend to think: “if I could just ‘fill in the blank’ I’d be happy.” When really, what they think they want is just how they think they might get what they really want. Or maybe they don’t even know what they really want.

But in the end, if the story isn’t a tragedy, they figure out that what the author wants to give them is even better.

The moral: God is the author and perfector of my life’s story.

3.  I’m living a lie.

This came home to me at a ladies’ retreat I recently attended, in which the speaker was sharing about her troubled childhood and the lie about herself that it caused her to believe—she’s unlovable—not a lie she’d consciously recognized so much as she’d made life choices based on it.

She used the exact same language I use when messing up my characters’ lives. I dig deep into their pasts to figure out how they were emotionally wounded and what lie about themselves or the world they believe as a result.

Intuitively, I knew that to a certain extent the concept was true of all of us, but personally, I wasn’t interested in digging too deep to root out my own. I like my emotions on an even keel, remember?

Now … let’s just say I have new empathy for my characters.

The moral: The truth will set you free.

4.  It’s okay for the first draft to be…ur…there’s no indelicate way to say it… they can often be crap.

But that’s okay. We can learn a lot from our mistakes, whatever “endeavor” our first draft might be in.

One thing is for certain, we’ll never get anything done if we never start. And just as you could write an entire novel in a year by writing only one page a day, you can take daily baby steps toward whatever you yearn to accomplish—improving communication with your spouse, getting in better physical shape, learning how to knit, leading a Bible study.

The moral: The only failure is in not persevering.

5.   If you don’t like someone, you can kill them off.  

Oops, sometimes the line between the fictional world and reality gets a little blurred, but of course, I would never kill off a real person. What I meant to say was…

Hmm, okay, maybe I’ve only learned 4 life lessons so far.

Desperate Measures, Book 3 in the Port Aster Secret series, releases June 1st.

But be sure to read Blind Trust first, too, because although each book is a standalone mystery, there are lots of elements that build through the series to the final culmination.

About Desperate Measures:

Kate won’t be safe until all of Port Aster’s secrets are revealed.

Researcher Kate Adams has finally pinpointed the supposed “miracle plant” that tore her family apart years ago. She’s certain that discovering its secrets is her only hope of solving the mystery surrounding her father’s disappearance. She’s willing to risk anything to find the truth, including her relationship with Detective Tom Parker. But with so many people in pursuit of the plant, going it alone might be a fatal mistake
Award-winning author Sandra Orchard pulls out all the stops in this breakneck and breathtaking conclusion to the Port Aster Secrets series.

You can visit Sandra's past Everyone's Story's guest appearances: First, Second, and Third.

Sandra's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Suspense author Sandra Orchard: 5 Lessons Writing Has Taught Me. (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: Sandra Orchard shares lessons for writers and readers. (Tweet This)

Check out multi-award-winning author Sandra Orchard’s free novel bonus. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense with Revell Publishing and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren. Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at or connect at

***I'll love for you to take a moment and take this month's short poll on the right-hand sidebar. Thanks so much.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ace Collins: When The Dedication Page Inscribes The Heart

Everyone's Story welcomes back author Ace Collins, finalist for the Christy Award for his novel             THE COLOR OF JUSTICE. Congratulations, Ace, on your achievement! Perhaps because I'm a writer and a Christian, I admit I think a lot about life and death. Perhaps we all do. When the two elements collide in an author's life, what impact does it have on the writer? This week Ace shares with us the life and loss of a most beautiful young woman who was called home by our loving God, and what it takes to compose a dedication. Please take a moment for reflection, consider lifting Shelby, her family, and Ace in prayer, and share your thoughts. Also, check out Ace's BookGiveaway and intriguing book trailer. Both Ace and I look forward to hearing from you.

Ace is offering 1 copy of either HOLLYWOOD LOST or THE COLOR OF JUSTICE to 2 randomly chosen commenters. Winners will be announced here on Friday, May 15th between 5-6 PM EST. To enter the Giveaway, please include contact information within your comment.

Dedications by Ace Collins

The dedication page…

When it came to my latest novel, Hollywood Lost, there was absolutely no problem identifying the person I wanted to cite in the dedication. So while “the who” was easy, the real issue was how to adequately paint a word picture of this remarkable young woman in just a sentence or two.

When I met her, Shelby was a freshman at Ouachita Baptist University. Barely five feet tall, this cute brunette was a force of nature. She walked in the door with an “awe shucks” attitude, and even though she did nothing to demand attention, you still couldn’t take your gaze off of her. In other words…she owned every room she entered.

I once described Shelby as squirrel because she would dart from place to place, idea to idea and project to project faster than anyone I’d ever seen. Yet she finished everything she started. She was a talented artist, writer, and dancer. She was imaginative, funny and compassionate. I have only known a handful of people with her drive, enthusiasm and character.

Courtesy of the Shelby Seabaugh family
Shelby was also the most giving person on the campus. She was constantly looking for ways to praise others. She lifted up the downtrodden and thanked everyone she observed doing any act of kindness or goodwill. She made people laugh, think and even sing. She was the caretaker of the misfits and yet the most popular kid too. She was known to say, “Smile away your troubles and they’ll burst like a bubble.” And she smiled away a lot of folks’ troubles, and if that didn’t work, she offered to carry their burdens.

Some folks are candles, some are flashlights, a few are spotlights and then there was Shelby…she was a beacon. By simply being herself she changed hearts, attitudes and lives. And then one night, when she was just twenty-one, she went to sleep and never woke up. And suddenly the world was a much darker place. For a moment it was as if the air had come out of life’s balloon.

I cannot begin to describe the sadness I felt as I contemplated this young woman’s death. A death that even an autopsy could not explain. It overwhelmed me and left me numb. Then I considered the profound affect she had during her life. I thought about all the people she’d had touched, inspired and motivated. As I looked around campus, as I observed those who had known this young woman, I saw Shelby everywhere. Because she lived every moment of everyday with the expressed goal of making a positive impact on others, she was not really gone. There were countless people of all ages carrying around Shelby’s remarkable spirit in their actions and attitudes. That’s how deeply she impacted everyone she met.

So how do you sum up a life like that in a simple book dedication? Perhaps, of the millions of words I’ve written, this was my biggest challenge. In truth, though I spent hours writing and rewriting that dedication, I never did do her justice. In the end I just wrote a brief portion of what she had stamped on my heart during her all too short life.

To Shelby Rebekah Seabaugh, whose spirit lit up every room she entered and who positively changed every life she touched. No one defined joy as completely as she did.

Writing a book is not that hard, but composing a dedication is impossible when it’s focused on a person who blessed me and countless others in ways beyond my abilities as an author to describe.

Check out Ace's first appearance on Everyone's Story, The One Thing We Don't Want An Editor To Say.

Ace's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: Visit with #ChristyAward Finalist @AceCollins #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Authors: @AceCollins asks which is tougher, writing a book or writing a dedication? (Tweet This)

@AceCollins: When writing an unexpected dedication can break you heart. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Citing his Arkansas heritage, Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. In that capacity, Ace Collins has authored more than seventy books for 25 different publishers that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play.

In 2014 Ace is releasing Man’s Best Hero, a book on dog heroes, a courtroom novel, The Color of Justice, that examines racial prejudice in 1964, and a groundbreaking ebook series, In The President’s Service, that provides readers with a new adventure each month. He has several more novels set for release in 2015 and one of his books was just optioned for a motion picture. His fiction writing has covered everything from value-driven plots, to adventures, mysteries, historical stories, sentimental tales and comedy.

Beyond his fiction and nonfiction books, Collins has penned more than 2000 magazine features, appeared on every network morning television show, as well as CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Fox. He also does scores of radio interviews each year. His speaking engagements have taken him from churches and corporations to the America’s Dog Museum in St. Louis and the National Archives in Washington DC. Collins has penned several production shows and speaks to college classes on the art of writing.

Collins’ hobbies include sports, restoring classic cars, Wurlitzer jukeboxes and running. He is married to the Chair of the Department of Education at Ouachita Baptist University. The couple lives in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and has two sons.

Places to connect with Ace:

***I'll love for you to take a moment and take this month's short poll on the right-hand sidebar. Thanks so much.

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