When Everything You Thought You Knew Changes

Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

I didn’t plan for this

Hello World,

The last six months have been the most intense and difficult of my entire life. Yes, more difficult than when my three-month-old baby had to have skull reconstruction surgery. Yes, more difficult than when I had to have a spinal procedure the day after my youngest was born and I couldn’t see him because he was in the NICU. More difficult than learning that my husband’s porn addiction had resurfaced one year into our marriage. You get the idea.

What happened?

I guess I’ll go in chronological order for the sake of simplicity. I never finished ‘March Madness’ which was me attempting to write three books in the month of March. I almost finished the first draft of one, ‘Gaze at the Stars,’ a Sci-fi Rom-com based on my favorite movie ever. But then terrible things dominoed all over me and I had to stop. Everything. I stopped writing. I stopped reading (Gasp! I know… you know how much of a reader I am. It’s in my blood). The first step in my life falling completely apart was learning that we would not get our Residence Permits to remain in Greece… and that it was for literally no reason because we followed all of the requirements to… a… tee. So we started praying and trying to figure out what the next step was. As in, where were we going to move our very established family. Then, two weeks after we figured out that answer, Travis’s father—Allen Edward Spencer—got into a random and survivable skiing accident. Several days later, on March 6th, he died from a complications no one could have helped.

Photo by David Becker on Unsplash

I have never gone through such grief. I literally collapsed onto the floor and began sobbing uncontrollably. The problem was I was already at work, and the other woman who was there had never seen me so uncomposed and it scared her. My dad, or FIL if you want to be technical, was my biggest cheerleader. He didn’t understand my writing, but he helped however he could. He also told me—every single time he talked to me—that I am an amazing mother and wife and he loved me. On the many days I feel like a failure, I can still hear his voice encouraging me to keep going and keep trying.


So that was the inciting incident in my life. Lots of complicated and messing things came after that. We packed up our entire life in Greece in two days an left on flight with a promise our things would be shipped to the US. Then came probate. Probate is still happening. If there is any practical advice I can give you for the loved ones that will deal with your departure from this phase of life it is this: keep $10,000 in a bank account JUST for burial and service expenses (if you are ok with cremation… add $10,000 to $20,000 more if you want a plot and casket) and pay the $2,000 it costs to create a living trust. Because death is literally the worst, and dealing with probate on top of all the feels and details death brings in addition to dealing with governmental crap and lawyers doesn’t help. (Christine, I love you. You are the best probate lawyer ever. But you know what I mean.) Then we bought a house. Yes, that was insane. I never thought we would be able to buy a house, but the perfect place came on the market for under $100,000 and we totally went for it.

I’m grieving Greece and my FIL at the same time. It’s a lot. At some point I thought, forget it, I’m never writing again. I had a total identity crisis. I felt like a worthless lump. I had to go back and re-read my own book on godly confidence! I’m not even kidding.

But Rox Said

And on our cross-country journey from California to Pennsylvania (my new state of residence btw) we stopped to see our wonder friends in Kentucky and my friend Rox said, “When are you going to write about all this? I know you deal with things by writing about them.” I said I didn’t know and some vague comment about how I don’t feel like writing anymore and she just looked at me and said, “Well, whenever you write it, I want to read it.” That sentence keeps echoing in my mind. After a lot of prayer and just waiting on God to tell me what the next step in my life is (besides being a wife, mom, and lady that ministers to other ladies) I realize that I have to keep writing. I have so many stories left in my heart that are important to tell—not because I’m an awesome author—but because God wants me to tell them.

That To Which I Hold On

I’ve realized that my prayers have changed dramatically through all of this. I don’t pray for people to stay safe anymore. I just pray for God’s will, and if that means safe, if that means alive, then yes. That. But I’ve come to realize that whatever happens, literally whatever, that God has a plan. The best thing for me to do is lean on Him, knowing things will only progress to the point at which He wants them to progress. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still randomly weep in public (which is getting less annoying and embarrassing), but it means that after I’m done crying I remember that I’m still here because God wants me here. I don’t know what the plan is, but I can make it through because when I’m weak—and I’m so, so very weak—He is strong.

The Future

To everyone that wrote to me and/or reviewed ‘Plunge Into Darkness’, you are the best. I love you! Even if you didn’t like it, I appreciated every word of feedback. With that in mind, it is my pleasure (and my horror) to announce that I will be working on the second book of the series this November for NaNoWriMo. The working title is ‘The Knotted Woman,’ and it is going to be a bumpy ride. It is also part of my plan to get my hot co-writer/husband to finish going through ‘The Introvert Time Traveler’ so we can start writing ‘Were in Time,’ which I know is going to be amazing. He is obviously going through a lot, so if you remember, please pray for him. Before we met, his father was his best friend and losing him has been harder than hard.

For everyone that still reads these things, thank you. You are awesome.

Happy reading,

Kristin N. Spencer

Compassion Expert, Reader Extraordinare, Writer

Plunge Into Darkness – NIEA Finalist & Blog Tour

Hey everyone,

I have two exciting things to share. First, ‘Plunge Into Darkness’ was a Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in the ‘Friendship’ Category. Yay!

Second, I wanted to let you know about the ‘Plunge Into Darkness’ blog tour. I’m so excited to read all the reviews, and in case you are too, here is the list of participating bloggers. Happy reading!

A Baker’s Perspective, June 5

Rebekah’s Quill, June 6

Blogging With Carol, June 7

Multifarious, June 8

Bigreadersite, June 8

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 9

Two Points of Interest, June 10

Reading is my Super Power, June 10 (Interview)

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 11

Janices book reviews, June 11

proud to be an autism mom, June 12

Texas Book-aholic, June 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 13

Carpe Diem, June 14

Pause for Tales, June 15

Margaret Kazmierczak, June 16

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 17

For The Love of Books, June 18

Book Review: Fine Print by Chautona Havig

Hey there. I haven’t had an opportunity to read this book yet, but I’m so excited to! Just to prove how awesome this series is, check out my reviews for Sweet On You and Such A Tease. As soon as I finish I’ll post my review.

About the Book

Book Title: Meddlin’ Madeline Fine Print

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Historical, Mystery

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Budding detective, Miss Madeline Brown, has gained quite the reputation for “meddling” in the circa 1900 city of Rockland. With two successful “cases” under her belt, it was only a matter of time before she found something new to interest her insatiable curiosity.

This time, however, the “curiosity” found her.

Challenged by Edward Gastrel, to prove her deductive prowess, Madeline embarks on riddling out the puzzle of a journal left to him by his grandfather. If she can decode the contents, the local gentleman may find himself in the possession of something quite valuable.

As usual, however, things aren’t as they seem, and Madeline finds herself in a race against more than time and ambiguity.

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert where she uses story to point readers to the Master Storyteller.

Guest Post from Chautona

Denny’s. “America’s Diner.” It’s also my “office away from my office away from home.” Most nights I write at our local prayer house. But on Wednesday nights for a few hours, and then all night on Saturday, I sit in booth 14 and write.

It was a cold, frosty Wednesday night. With thoughts from Bible Study still swirling in my mind and heart, I ordered my loaded baked potato soup and began brainstorming with my writing and podcasting buddy, April.

She left around midnightish—as usual. And another evening regular began chatting.

Look. I like this guy. He’s a fascinating conversationalist. We have a lot of fun talking books, movies, politics, history, computers… He’s even given me a great idea for a book (without meaning to, but still).

But… that night, I needed to get a bunch done on Madeline and didn’t have time for chatting. So, when he started talking about his evening, I wanted to bang my head on the table. I kept repeating, “People are more important. People are more important. People are more important,” over and over in my head.

I can’t tell you how often this has happened at Denny’s. Employees stop to chat. Regular diners stop to chat. This guy starts a long conversation and always on nights I can’t afford to spend… chatting!

But everything shifted in an instant.

The man said something—what, I can’t remember—and my brain started churning.

I asked a question.

He answered.

The next thing I knew, he’d moved into my booth and began firing questions at me. Suggestions. Most of what he suggested wouldn’t work with the story, but he had no way of knowing that. Still, every time he did I got a new idea. And I’d ask a question. He’d answer, suggest. I’d counter—ask or answer. Ideas blossomed and exploded into seeds of even more ideas.

And right there, at two o’clock in the morning, with Angela the wonder server keeping me in fresh glasses of Coke, Fine Print went from not only my favorite of the Madelines (thus far) but also became much more exciting.

The whole thing taught me a couple of lessons. First, I always say that people are more important than the “stuff” I do. Sometimes, that’s not so easy to live. But the Lord is always faithful, like He did that night, to remind me that it sometimes helps me, too.

Second, sometimes a mid-book brainstorming session is just what I need to keep my excitement high. And, if that means a “wasted” Wednesday night in booth 14, then I’d say it’s worth it.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, March 6

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 6

Bigreadersite, March 7

proud to be an autism mom, March 7

Pause for Tales, March 8

Multifarious, March 9

Blogging With Carol, March 9

Bibliophile Reviews, March 10

Connie’s History Classroom, March 10

A Greater Yes, March 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 11

Lots of Helpers, March 12

Janices book reviews, March 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 13

Carpe Diem, March 14

A Baker’s Perspective, March 14

The April Journal, March 15

Kristin’s Book Reviews, March 15

Mary Hake, March 16

New Horizons Reviews, March 16

Simple Harvest Reads, March 17 (Guest post from Mindy)

Among the Reads, March 17

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 18

Pursuing Stacie, March 18

Aryn the Libraryan, March 19

Have a wonderful Day, March 19

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize package worth over $50 that includes an antique journal, Pilot fountain pen (gold), Pilot refill cartridges, and a print copy of Fine Print!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cc14

‘Plunge Into Darkness’ Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to share this with you! I was blessed to work with the talented Paraskevi Kourmpeti, who created the illustration of Ever for the cover. Her amazing illustration inspired this wrap around cover–a style that I hope to use for all the covers in this series.

I can’t wait for you to read this book. If you are interested in receiving an Advanced Reading Copy, there is still time. Email me at Kristin.n.spencer[at]gmail[dot]com ! And stay tuned for a video blog later in the week to explain why I wrote this book and to enter for a chance to win a free copy!

Happy reading!

Kristin

A Note To The Weary NaNo Participant

I remember before I went through the organized insanity that was my first National Novel Writing Month (now you know why we abbreviate) I thought I wouldn’t finish all 50,000 words. In retrospect I realize how stupid that was because I’m very goal oriented, and I would have rather died than not finished. I have a very supportive husband that made sure when I needed to write, “Just 2,000 more words today…” that my children didn’t starve or my undone laundry pile reach Matterhorn like heights.

Don’t Quit Before You Start

If you’re expecting a pep talk along the lines of, “I have three kids, a full time job, and I still did it. What’s your excuse?” you are obviously new to my blog. Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. Also, I’m not mean like that. What I will say is that you shouldn’t be afraid to start because you think you won’t finish. So, so many people ‘lose’ NaNoWriMo every year. But you know what? They have more words than when they started. That’s the whole point, to add more words to the words you already have. Maybe you have zero. Even one sentence should be considered a victory.

Go-on Girl. Do Your Thing. (Or Boy)

I mean, we all know that the first few pages are the hardest to write. “But I have to fit the very soul of my work into the first few lines or the reader will get bored and return my book!” I’m not opposed to a stunning opening line, ok? But give we readers some credit. Tell me a story from your heart. Find a good editor so that I don’t get lost in a swamp of mistakes (post-NaNo), avoid having the protagonist say the same three things over and again as inner dialogue (a current peeve of mine), and I promise I will make it all the way through your book.

You can do this!

Whether this is the first time you’ve ever written something or you are a weathered, tenured author challenging yourself to do something for the first time, welcome. Insanity will ensue. Yes. But the crazy people are all in this with you. Let’s make more words, worlds, and characters that will get stuck in someone else’s brain forever. Shall we?

Whether you are a planner, pantser, plantser, or don’t know what any of those are, what plan do you have to help you beat discouragement into a bloody stump this November? Comment below. If you don’t have a plan, may I invite you to participate in my #nanopropel2017 challenge? Check it out. It’s easy and helpful. I promise.

Without further ado… let the battle for your right to write begin!

Almost naively optimistic,

Kristin

#nanopropel2017 – A Personal Mission to Inspire

I’m annoying.

Anyone that has participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) knows that moments of discouragement will come. It’s like an evil troll magically appears on your shoulder whispering, “Wow… that’s what you wrote… ok. It’s your literary career’s funeral. Excuse me while I go barf up a rainbow on your kitchen floor.” You never know when that annoying troll is going to show. For some it’s during the first week. For others, it emerges the last day chanting, “Lo-ser, lo-ser!” Some NaNos the little annoyance surfaces every single day. But this year I have a plan.

I’m not personally that inspirational as a writer. My books haven’t been selling very well and I’m still only three years into my career. So… I’m turning to the big guns, the experts in our field for inspiration this NaNoWriMo. I have selected inspirational NaNo-spirited quotes from “The Little Black Book of Writers’ Wisdom,” from the big guns. Joseph Conrad (I have such a crush on his style), Ralph Waldo Emerson, E. B. White… etc. So check out the hashtag on Instagram for this NaNo-themed Insta-challenge. In addition to all your wonderful posts, I’ll keep the quotes coming daily.

My history with Insta-challenges is sketchy. I’ve never finished one. So this challenge isn’t your typical “Post this thing every day” type of challenge. You can post these items in whatever order you want, and there are only 10 challenges for the whole month! See… I’m setting both of us up for victory. I hope you join the #nanopropel2107 challenge. If it doesn’t propel you to victory, at least it will propel your Instagram account to a new level of awesomeness.

I hope I didn’t spend all my saved up NaNo juices on writing this post. Oh well, that’s what the inspiration quotes are for, right?

Yours lovingly,

Kristin the Troll Slayer

Worldbuilding and Anticipation – NaNoWriMo 2017

We are T-Minus 12 days from the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2017 and this year my NaNo prep has been super intense. Why? I am a making a multiverse!

That’s right, my very own space themed wonderland complete with different beings, cultures, religion-run time travel, and unrequited love (I consider myself an expert on the latter). At first the task seemed daunting. “I’ll just work on it a little each day,” was my mantra as I attempted not to feel overwhelmed about being responsible for creating different solar systems, universes, and complex characters who needed both physiology and personality. I can confidently say I am finished with the backbone of the story. The 3D characters are mapped out. I still need to create a stunning cast of 2D characters to make my 3D beings shine even brighter… (or not shine… even darker? This parenthetical statement turned confusing) but I will not fret a thing. A steady viewing diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, The Orville (an amazing Sci-Fi in its own right… you MUST watch it) and a year of reading old and new Sci-Fi/Fantasy has me anticipating all the aliens I can create.

Worldbuilding What Exactly?

So… what exactly is the Space Fantasy baby I’m birthing into the world this November? It’s called ‘The Introvert Time Traveler’ and follows the life of Ezeit Traginus, an amphibious humanoid from the planet Krigrag in the Septum Majoris system who is chosen to be this century’s Traveler by the panfamous Tigd. (Did you notice the made up word? Yeah, that’s going to happen a lot in this book)

The problem is, Ez, as his friends (wait, does he have any?) call him is super introverted and also insecure. When his selfish ambition causes two unsteady worlds to go to war, again, he must discover a way to fix what he has done… without manipulating the rules of the Aanving, the Tigd book of laws and ordinances, or his ship’s companion Vitality, Jotie.

I’m so excited about this project. I can’t wait… as in, I want to write it now! But I still need to figure out a few things (like what is the fan convention called where Ez attends to meet fellow fans of his beloved graphic novel series turned Exo-net video sensation).

My kids are not cooperating with me writing this post… sigh. Sorry if it makes little sense. I don’t write well with screaming/yelling/insanely loud talking in the background (contrary to popular belief).

What projects are you looking forward to this fall?

Happy reading (writing, sewing, whatever),

Kristin

Kerfuffle the Tour

Today marks the beginning of the official Kerfuffle Blog Tour through the lovely and amazing Celebrate Lit Group. Here is a rundown of the the awesome bloggers that have read and will be reviewing Kerfuffle, the 3rd book in the Desires & Decisions Series. I’m mostly excited to read their reviews, but there is also the twinge of nerves that this cartoon perfectly illustrates:

But since I can’t stall forever… here is the list.

Kerfuffle the Tour

August 15: Bukwurmzzz

August 16: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

August 17: Ashley’s Bookshelf

August 18: Blogging With Carol

August 19: Just the Write Escape

August 20: Carpe Diem

August 21: A Reader’s Brain

August 22: Remembrancy

August 23: Margaret Kazmierczak

August 24: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

August 25: Baker Kella

August 26:  Avid Reader Book Reviews

August 27: The Power of Words (Spotlight)

August 28: JosephineAnneWrites

I would love for you to participate by visiting each blog each day and reading what these wonderful readers (some of which are also writers) have to say. And hey, you can also enter a competition to receive the Desires & Decisions Series in their full paperback glory for free along with a free tee from my Threadless Artist Shop. Cool, right?

As always, happy reading!

-Kristin

The Book We Thought We’d Never Finish

Today is launch day! It seems like I’ve had a lot of those lately, but this one is different for several reasons. Holy Sex Reboot: My Sexual Identity in Christ was like an illusive beast, hard to catch and even more difficult to keep pinned down. Besides the fact that it was our first co-authored book together as spouses (one of many we hope), and my first co-authored book ever, it was on a topic that exhausted our brains and in many ways broke our hearts. There is so much confusion and misinformation when it comes to ones sexual identity, and that is just as true in the Church of Jesus Christ. Every time we sat down to work on this book, we shredded more and more away. For me, that is always a painful process. Then there were the arguments… What should we add? Who was going to write that part? Did that addition make the difference that we wanted it to make? Add physical injuries and illness into an already complicated mix and you get… a really cool book?

The Book We Though We’d Never Finish

I am excited to say that this is one of the best books I’ve written, and that puts Travis way ahead of me since it’s his first book ever. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what readers are saying:

“As a single person I have often been frustrated with the Christian community’s lack of guidance on this subject. There is often a sex is taboo until you say ‘I do’ mentality. This book changes the discussion by pointing out how, even in my singleness, God has a plan for my sexuality.

The Spencer’s have done a wonderful job portraying the truth about God’s plan for sexuality in all walks of life. Their openness about their own journeys in purity are honest and insightful. I am so thankful to have a book on sex that I can recommend to all my friends; whether single or married. This book has been a blessing to my life and it will be a blessing to yours.” -Tabitha Burns, Hip Single Lady (24 years old), Serving in Full Time Ministry

“Travis and Kristin tackle a subject that many Christians shy away from, but they do so with much finesse and with valuable Biblical and personal insights. Holy Sex Reboot helps in understanding the divine principles of sexuality and in averting some of our misconceptions.” -Árpád Horváth Kávai, Pastor, Husband, & Father

This review is my favorite. It comes from a friend who volunteered to read it, even though she’s not the target audience:

“As a reader, I can give a chance to all kinds of books. If I like the subject matter, I read them. If I don’t, I ditch them. This particular book was something I would never imagine reading. Mostly for two reasons. First, it is written by Christians, and it’s addressed to Christians. Second, I didn’t know Christians would actually bring themselves to discuss the S-word in such detail. The Spencers have amazed me with their openness, honesty, courage and deep knowledge of the scriptures. They both seem to know what they’re doing, and they base all their advice on passages from the Bible. I believe Christians will be relieved to know that questions that have been torturing them regarding sex, can actually find answers in Holy Sex Reboot.

Now, the reason I think non-Christians will want to read it as well is very simple. Either single or married, people from all walks of life have been struggling with sexual frustration for years. Reading this book will not “convert” them to Christianity, but it will definitely help them regard sex as something more than a matter of the flesh. Especially married couples can revisit their behavior towards sex and proceed to have a healthier and more intimate sex life. The authors have been counseling couples, so it is certain that they know a thing or two on some of the factors why husbands and wives don’t always see eye to eye about certain things. I bet the topic of sex must come up very often during their sessions.

I was genuinely moved by the two authors’ confessions about their own mistakes and shortcomings and, for that, I salute them. It isn’t easy to expose yourself in such a way to help others. I think these two did a very good job.”

I hope you will find that this book bridges the gap for you between what ideas the Church accepts about sex and what the Bible actually says. If you have any questions we would love to hear from you.

Get your copy of Holy Sex Reboot: My Sexual Identity in Christ now for 33% off the normal price, a launch day special!

Happy Reading,

Kristin N. Spencer on behalf of me and T. E. Spencer