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Thursday, April 9, 2020

TAKE TEN with author Doris H. Dancy

by Cyrus Webb

1. Doris, you and I have had a great chat on Conversations LIVE the radio show, so I am glad we get a chance to catch up here.  Let’s talk about the reflection first. What has it been like for you to write your books and to see the way that readers are able to relate to them?
Writing my novels has been one of those unexpected joys…the joy that comes with the unpredictability of life.  I have spent my career teaching the skill of writing, but one day God whispered in my ear that He wanted me to embark on this awesome journey of sharing my special messages with the world through Christian Romance…and what a journey it has been.  Often, my readers bring tears to my eyes when they tell me how much my messages have made a positive change in their lives.  One young man said to me, “Mrs. Dancy, don’t tell my boys that I read a romance novel, but I loved it, and I learned a lot of important things that I’ll never forget.  Don’t stop writing and helping us learn to value one another.” For me, having this kind of impact on the lives of so many has been invaluable.

2. Did you know when you began the journey that you wanted to entertain readers as well as inspire them?
Yes. As a lifelong educator, I have always wanted to inspire; however, for me, entertainment was secondary. My goal in life has been to enlighten … to help others see the best path for them to take and to encourage them.  I enjoy helping people become the best that they can be.  That’s the teacher in me.  In my Christian novels, I don’t preach, but through the twists and turns of events, I hope my readers understand the value of overcoming the many obstacles that life puts in our path no matter how difficult they may seem at their inception. In my writing, I consistently demonstrate how available God is and how He never leaves or forsakes when we trust Him.

3.Your characters have always been so real. What has it been like for you to travel the world with them and to see the world through their eyes?
Traveling the world with my characters and seeing the world through their eyes has been intriguing, incredible, and life changing. I’ve felt their pain, learned their inner secrets, enjoyed their triumphs, accepted their weaknesses, and marveled at their outstanding walk through a maze to find redemption.  It’s always fascinating for me to view the unfolding of characters, and watch them become “real” as they reveal their voices, set their tones, create their moods and dive into the action that brings them to authentic life.  When I finally completed my second novel, Shattered Pieces, I had no idea where that end would lead me until I heard my character, Summer, say, “I have a story to tell.”  …and what a story she tells!   She cautiously reveals why she allowed herself to be abused by the man she claimed to love and why she felt such a strong desire never to forgive so many people in her past.  Writing her truth was amazing.  It was like watching the layers of her life unfold, displaying a story so many women in our world never find the strength to tell.

4. Recently you have been promoting the book ALL OTHER GROUND. Tell us about what inspired it?
Several things inspired this novel… Women for one!  So many women who have been strong, but weak against the men who claimed to love them inspired this novel.  Betrayal inspired it.  Understanding the devastation of betrayal and the sense of loss that can take a lifetime to overcome inspired All Other Ground.  So many people who refuse to forgive inspired it.  I wanted to give the world a sense of how important it is to forgive if you want to lift the weight from your own shoulders and live your best life.  That idea is what inspired, Summer, my protagonist.  Women in my family, young high school girls I have taught, and just women I have met along the way have some heartfelt stories to tell.

While there are some differences, they all seem to have very similar broken threads refusing to be strong enough to mend them back together again.  I wanted to give these women a pathway to mend the broken heart.  Alcohol cannot mend it. Sex cannot mend it, and  drugs won’t do it either.  I believe a close relationship with God is the Way, but “ALL OTHER GROUND is sinking sand.”

5. Social media, Doris, is one of the ways you have been able to share the message of your books. It’s the way that you and I were introduced. How has it helped you to connect with readers?
I think allowing my audience to see the real me has been the way I have connected with my readers.  I share what makes me happy, what makes me sad, the events of my life, and I participate in their lives as well.  One of the things I love about Facebook and Instagram is being able to connect with friends far and wide…just staying in touch.  A word or two now and then goes a long way to create a smile, and I love seeing their smiles.

6. Being an author, putting your work out there, is not an easy thing. I’m sure aspiring authors will want to know how you have gotten over the fear?
For me, it was prayer…knowing that this is the plan that God has for me gave me that blessed assurance that I was not alone.  I did not have to do this thing by myself.  Also, I remember listening to a Kirk Franklin song entitled  “Hello Fear” and I can honestly say that looking closely at the words to that song helped me throw caution to the wind. It helped to build my faith that I could do more than teach the skill; I could make an additional positive impact on the world by sharing powerful messages.  I think you just have to get to the point where you believe in yourself and believe you have something very important to say, and then be determined to say it.

7. It’s hard to choose which one of your children is the favorite, right? Out of the books you have released, though, is there one that has really felt extremely close to you?
This is a VERY HARD question.  I love all three of my novels because of their powerful messages: the devastation of betrayal, the self destruction of failing to forgive, as well as the result of having children before one might be ready to take on the awesome responsibilities children demand. However, I choose All Other Ground because I believe that its message ties all of the others together.  In All Other Ground, youthful rebellion creates some devastating events that just didn’t have to be.  When I speak with young people about this novel, I try to help them realize how important it is to hold on tightly to their own goals and dreams…never to allow anyone the power to destroy what they want for themselves. This theme reminds me of Langston Hughes’ poem, What Happens to A Dream Deferred.”  His imagery is profound because it depicts the hopelessness and the agony of defeat that results in relinquishing the desires we have for ourselves.

All Other Ground places this theme at center stage and it is the message that encompasses each of the three novels: sex is not a toy, children resulting from careless behavior are not toys, and raising them is no easy task.  I want kids to understand that there is a time for everything, and their youth is a time to go after dreams and goals… to value themselves enough to be a little selfish about what they are willing to sacrifice.  I try to encourage them to be careful with infatuation, go after their dreams with passion, and built a life on solid ground.  For these reasons, I choose my novel All Other Ground as my favorite.

8. Success is such a personal thing. I’m curious how your idea of success in your writing career has evolved from the time you started. 
Success is a funny word.  It all depends on how you view it.  For me, I have had a very successful life as an educator where I never stopped writing or teaching writing.  From childhood, writing has always been my passion.  It is what inspires me, motivates me, and creates that thing that you can’t stop no matter what.  My success comes when I feel that I have done my best, and I’m willing to share my ideas with the world.  If people enjoy what I write, I’m elated.  If I enjoy what I write and believe in its truth, I am elated and satisfied.  That has been my measure of success from my childhood to this very day.

9. Any advice you would give to those looking to get started on their own literary journey?
Yes.  Think BEFORE you write. Write what you know.  Research things that you need to verify.  Write often and never be afraid to share your work. TALK about your writing with someone you trust and will give you an HONEST opinion.  That is the only thing that will really help you improve.  Never hear that this is something you cannot do, and never publish without first getting an editor.

10. Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey with us, Doris. How can our audience stay connected with you?
My email is ddancy.pen2paper@yahoo.com
My website is www.dorishdancy.com
Instagram : instagram@dorishdancy
Facebook: @dorishdancy

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