Welcome, Davalynn, to our celebration of the book launch, “Always a Wedding Planner”, and thanks for stopping by to share your story with us.
Thanks for hosting me, Leeann. And readers, don’t miss the opportunity to win a free print copy. Read all the way through.
I’ll begin with my characters. At twenty-eight, Saffron (Ronnie) Fare is too busy cooking for other people’s weddings to cook up romantic plans of her own. As the chef for Weddings by Design, she gives all her attention to making a bride and groom’s special day the most delectable it can be—and keeping the secret from her business partners that she’s lost her sense of taste and can’t smell a thing. Cooking has been her life and she’d hope it would be her future. But when her gas is shut off due to a leak, Ronnie fears she’ll not be able to afford the repair bill and keep her dreams and her end of the business going.
Rope-maker and rancher, Ty Ellicott, has long helped out friends with plumbing problems, thanks to his commercial license. When he’s asked to help a friend-of-a-friend, he agrees to check out a gas leak for Ron Fare. But when he arrives at the old Victorian house and is met by a young woman who smells like cinnamon rolls and claims to be Ronnie Fare, life takes a sharp turn toward romantic entanglement that he’s successfully avoided for years. He can’t resist adding Mr. Fix-it and official taste-tester to his resumé.
Now for the setting of the story. Pronounced “LOVE-lund” rather than “Love-LAND” by locals, the “Sweetheart City” snugs against the Front Range at the mouth of the Big Thompson River in Northern Colorado. The river originates in Rocky Mountain National Park and courses through Estes Park before tumbling down to the eastern plains. The area is rich in ranches and farmland, the perfect setting for confirmed bachelor, Ty Ellicott, who carries on the family’s rope-making business following the death of his parents and brother in a single engine plane crash.
Ellicott Ropes is home to a sprawling ranch house, barn, and roping arena. A long rope barn, pastures, pond, and cottonwood trees create an idyllic setting for the heart-broken cowboy who keeps his mind off his pain by keeping that mind busy.
Saffron (Ronnie) Fare grew up in Loveland, the daughter of schoolteachers. She is more familiar with city life and acquainted with the tree-lined streets of established neighborhoods, small downtown businesses, and outlying shopping centers. She had no desire to leave her famous hometown, and after culinary school bought a quaint yet rundown Victorian home on one of those shady streets. With a small-business loan, she invested in a commercial kitchen, an expense that left precious little for the rest of the house, and the paint and gingerbread trim on her classic home bear testimony to neglect as well as age.
And since you asked, let me tell you about how I came up with the story idea. When asked to be a part of this novella collection, I chose to represent the Director of Food & Beverage for the company Weddings by Design. What would be this young woman’s secret that threatened her friendships and career? What could she not afford to lose?
Of course—her senses of smell and taste!
This seemed like a perfect setup, one that I felt fairly confidant was not an overcooked obstacle in story development. Imagine my stunned silence when I discovered that one of my culinary advisors for the story had suffered the exact same malady as my cooking character.
From all three of my advisors, I learned a lot about cooking from experience, habit, and observation. I learned about the safety measures required in a commercial kitchen, and how stressful the job can be. Often pressure builds internally as well as on top of the stove.
I learned also that cooking for a family is not the same as cooking professionally in a commercial kitchen for the paying public. One of my advisors stayed very close to the frontline, sharing her experiences in the food-service industry and as a university’s Special Events Coordinator. Check out the dedication to this book and maybe you can tell who it was.
Takeaway is what stays with a reader long after the story is over. And if it’s a solid takeaway, the story never really ends. That’s what I like to write—stories that stay.
This novella’s scriptural connection came to me immediately upon deciding that I would write from the chef’s perspective. The verse is found in one of my favorite Psalms, and may, at first, sound like a contradiction:
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good:
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Taste and smell are the two physical senses so closely connected, not taste and see. Why are these two paired in this passage? Perhaps the verse could be interpreted as meaning “try God out and discover how good He is,” but I’ll leave translations up to the scholars.
My heroine, Ronnie Fare, had to choose to swallow the second half of the verse as well as the first half. Her back was against the wall. Would she trust God or would she not? Would she use the unusual provision God had supplied, or would she let fear take over?
The unexpected is something we all must face, and how we respond is a choice that each of us must make. It’s the letting go and trusting that is so hard because trust comes at the great, bloody expense of self-will.
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Davalynn Spencer is a Publisher’s Weekly and ECPA bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and the author of sixteen titles, both contemporary and historical. She blogs monthly for Christian Authors Network, contributes to the American Christian Fiction Writers blog, and writes her own weekly inspirational blog. She teaches writing workshops when not wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at https://www.davalynnspencer.com
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