by Yvonne Lehman
Dr. Hensley and Diana Savage seriously challenge the stereotypical phrase coined by George Bernard Shaw in 1903, “Those who can, do and those who can't teach." This amazingly creative duo does both—write and teach. The good doctor, more affectionately known as Doc Hensley, chair's the Department of Professional Writing at Taylor University. While Diana Savage, in addition to speaking and providing professional writing, editing and website management assistance through Savage Creative Writing Services, LLC is also director of Northwest Christian Writers Association.
NOTHING LIKE ANYTHING…
I suppose anyone in the writing profession knows of Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, affectionately called “Doc Hensley,” or simply “Doc.” If they don’t, they should. He has the reputation of being about the best writing teacher there is, and writes with excellence. My first meeting with him was a couple of decades ago when I introduced him at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference as a man who had four university degrees. That was inhibiting, until I quickly discovered he was as nice as he is smart. And now, I want to introduce you to his latest book, Pseudonym, co-authored with Diana Savage, and released by Whitaker House in January 2016.
“Nothing like anything that has come before,” is what Cathy Shouse said about this book in her Indiana Marion Chronicle-Tribune article. “The book, simply entitled Pseudonym,” she wrote, “is being described as a suspense and mainstream drama.”
No experience is lost on writers. They can make a story from any idea, and Doc Hensley’s idea for this book came 20 years ago. His speaking engagement had ended and he was eager to fly home. But being the kind soul he is, he gave up his seat to a woman desperate to get to California to see her husband before he left for his military assignment overseas. While waiting for a later flight, Doc Hensley wasted no time, but did what writers know makes a good story and began to ponder, “What if?”
What if…two people secretly swapped tickets. What if…one of the planes crashed and the person killed aboard that flight had the wrong ID? He wrote that story in a year but publishers did what they often do and said, “Um, not for us.” They all thought it too much too edgy. After all, it contained elements of insurance fraud, divorce, casino gambling, and deception, to mention just a few of the mature, realistic themes of the novel.
Twenty years later Doc pulled out that manuscript and shared it with Diana Savage, who had worked with him as his web master. She said he’d done a terrific job with the story, but for the situations he’d put his character in, he could use some updated female perspectives. He agreed, and she became his co-author. Doc Hensley believes that together they have become a great team in presenting this tale of real life and the choices people make.
“Some characters choose wisely, others foolishly, and that, of course, is what creates plot conflict in a novel,” Hensley said. “The fact that early reviews in secular publications and Christian publications have both been extremely positive makes us feel that we hit the right balance of examining strong values without having to lecture or criticize anyone.”
What happens when a high school English teacher submits a student's paper to an award winning contest without her knowledge and the essay wins the Golden Quill Award for Writing Excellence? For eighteen-year-old Sheila Gray, the award verified...her dreams of becoming an author weren't all that far-fetched. However, for her suspicious, domineering father it meant trouble and she wasn't surprised when he said, "Writin' won't put food on yer table the way gardening and canning will."
It wasn't until Sheila mentioned the $500 cash award, the $100 savings bond and six-week college writing program scholarship that her father grabbed the envelope from her hand, studied the contents with disbelief and said, "What's the catch?"
Sheila knew there was only one "catch." Who would cook, clean and take care of her father and brothers while she was away? She had once said, "I'd give my life to become a best-selling author." What Sheila couldn't know was that her off-the-cuff remark would cost exactly that—her life.
Thus begins a riveting suspense tale with such true-to-life characterizations, so many twists, turns and continual surprises, the pages almost turn themselves. Add naiveté, an upper classman's diabolic agenda, a whirlwind summer romance and proposal of marriage attached to a deceptive promise, and you have an emotionally charged mystery-suspense impossible to put down.
“I kept telling myself,” says Gail Welborn of the Seattle Examiner, “just one more page. But I couldn't stop. The true-to-life characterizations, intricate, in-depth and well-developed plot captured me up to and through the rocket-fueled ending. Narrative themes of submission, dominion, and the cost and drive of creativity, complicated by the wily hand of fate, will make readers question if they too might have "a date with destiny.”
“If you're looking for a book that prompts bursts of laughter, ‘Oh no's’ and outright cheers, Pseudonym belongs on your bookshelf, especially the shelf of anyone who harbors dreams of writing! When I reviewed Hensley's Jesus in the 9 to 5 December 2013,” states Welborn, “I saw he not only told a good story, but did so with a quirky dash of humor. Together these authors do that and more with Pseudonym.”
Dr. Hensley and Diana Savage seriously challenge the stereotypical phrase coined by George Bernard Shaw in 1903, “Those who can, do and those who can't teach." This amazingly creative duo does both—write and teach. Doc Hensley chair's the Department of Professional Writing at Taylor University. While Diana Savage, in addition to speaking and providing professional writing, editing and website management assistance through Savage Creative Services LLC is also director of Northwest Christian Writers Association.