The Book is Finished!!


The end? Or is it? 

I typed the final sentences of SHOT one month ago today and felt an exhilarating rush as I packed up my laptop and headed home from the coffee shop. I did it. After two years of research and fifteen months of writing, I had finished my very first book.

The high lasted for several days, and then I realized that this was actually just the beginning. 

Over the last month, Pete, Dara and I have hired a cover designer, bought ISBN numbers, hired a copywriter to create a description for the back cover, and began planning our release parties. We will be releasing the book at the end of June and cannot wait to share it with you all.

Stay tuned for further details about the public book launch party in Long Beach, California, AND when it will be available for pre-order on Amazon! We may even have a sneak peak of our cover coming soon . . . ;)

Until then,

Christy, Dara, and Pete



A Change of Plans + Some Exciting News . . .

Hello friends,

We have exciting news!

Although, it may not be what you are thinking . . . 

After seven months of working long and hard to land an agent or a publisher, those doors simply have not been opened for us. We’ve gotten a lot of valuable feedback along the way, and Pete and I had the opportunity of meeting in-person with a literary agent who has been in the business for decades. He listened to Pete tell his story, gave us some sound advice, and broke down the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

He said the biggest benefit of getting a traditional publisher isn’t necessarily that they will help the book reach a larger audience, as most publishers just don’t have the budget for marketing these days. What they do have is the ability to finance the book and bring it to life. They’ll pay for editors, cover designers, etc. and in return, the publisher gets to keep a hefty portion of the profit once the book starts selling.

After explaining all of this, he looked at Pete and me and asked, “If you’ve already got your book financed through Kickstarter, do you really need a publisher?”

A fair question. And one we have thought long and hard about. On the one hand, our book budget was a basic one, and did not account for certain added bonuses a publisher could provide. For example, an audio book, or a Spanish translation.

Perhaps we will be able to finance those things ourselves, in time. But at this point we had to question whether it was worth postponing the release of SHOT so that we could continue pursuing traditional publishing. After much prayer and consideration, we decided that it wasn’t.

We are returning to Plan A and publishing the book ourselves! That means pulling up our bootstraps, hiring designers, and gearing up for an awesome, exciting book release in:

JUNE 2017!!!

 Summer reading, anyone?

I’ll be spending the next month finalizing the manuscript, and from there we will be following a schedule similar to this one recommended by veteran publisher, Jane Friedman. Please stay tuned for exact dates of the book release, launch party, and thank you dinner. 

We cannot even begin to express our gratitude for your patience, your prayers, and for journeying alongside us every step of the way. This book would not be possible without you guys. 

Much love,
Christy, Dara, & Pete



The Road to Publishing


For those of you observing Advent, you’ll note that this week is all about being hopeful. It’s about pausing to recognize the hope Jesus brings to our lives and the world. I don’t know about you, but when I look out at our divided country, I would say hope is exactly what we need—now more than ever.

The other place I’ve been needing hope lately is in the bumpy, crazy road to publishing this book. I’ll tell you honestly, it hasn’t been easy and there has been lots of waiting involved. We are still in the process of waiting on two particular agents who have expressed interest.

In the waiting, Pete, Dara, and I have been praying and we thank you guys for all of your prayers, as well. The notion of hope has been keeping me grounded and letting me focus on how this is God’s story, ultimately, and all I can do is steward it well. The rest is up to Him. If He wants to open doors to traditional publishing, then I know He will. If not, He has already paved the way for us to publish it on our own. What a blessing it has been to rest in that :).

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing to write. While I may not be totally finished, as we originally projected in December, I am definitely in the home stretch. I’ve completed the Intro, Prologue, Part I, Part II, and Part III. All I have left is to finish is Part IV and then do a revision of the Epilogue.

Once that is complete, we’ll do one more round of editing/fact checking, and if we haven’t landed an agent or book deal by that time, we’ll send it off to the presses! Either way, we couldn’t be more excited.


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Kickstarter Anniversary + Updates

shot the book kickstarter anniversary

Here we are again -- the Friday before Labor Day weekend. It was this day last year that Pete, Dara, and I held our breaths and clicked on the button that made our Kickstarter campaign live. Pete was rather zen-like about the whole thing, having previously led a handful of successful crowdfunding campaigns. He assured me everything would be fine, as I paced around my apartment praying we might actually get a donor or two.

One year later, I can hardly believe what an adventure writing this book has been. Within five days, we raised 75 percent of our goal, and a few weeks later we surpassed it. Since then, I have traveled to El Salvador, read numerous books about the country, conducted upwards of 20 different interviews with the DeSotos' friends/family/acquaintances, and written 200 pages of the manuscript for SHOT. Whew!

In July, I began speaking with freelance editors, as our plan was to self-publish the book this coming December. I sent out a chunk of sample pages and got feedback from two potential book coaches that I highly admired. Both of them wrote back to me and said variations of the same exact thing: "Your writing is strong, the story is strong, so rather than self-publishing, why not write a proposal and try to get a book deal?"

Why not, indeed. We began to pray and think about this advice, and the more we did, the more it made sense. Why not give it a try? If it doesn't work, we can always self-publish, as that option will always be there. But if it does work . . . ?

How amazing would that be?? The story would have far more reach and it would even be on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.

I have spent the last four weeks learning about the publishing industry, researching literary agents, and hammering out the best book proposal I could possibly write. I also had the privilege of being mentored through this process by three of the most awesome and supportive women ever: Kate Watson, Claire Bidwell Smith, and Jenna Birch. I owe boatloads of gratitude to all three of you for your guidance and advice. No matter what happens, this book has grown leaps and bounds in the last month.

Next week, I will begin sending my proposal out to literary agents, as that is the first step toward getting a book deal. Yet another milestone in this journey! 

As always, we would love it if you guys would partner with us in prayer. Please pray that God would open doors and lead this story, HIS story, wherever it's meant to be.

Thanks so much, and we'll be sure to keep you posted!

~ Christy, Dara, & Pete

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The LA Times Festival of Books

As a self-proclaimed literary nerd, I must admit that one of my favorite events of the year is the LA Times Festival of Books. It's held every April at the USC campus and offers a wide range of activities from trolling the bargain book tents, to watching cooking demonstrations, listening to live jazz, and attending author Q&A sessions.

This year, my experience at the festival was less casual and more studious as I took full advantage of all the breakout sessions they offered. I attended a panel discussion on the future of the publishing industry and another on creative storytelling. Although I have never read any of her books, I went to a Q&A session with author, Anna Quindlen, because she was a former columnist for the New York Times, has written 18 books, and won a Pulitzer Prize. All of which made me fairly certain she could teach me a thing or two about writing. And I was right.

But my favorite talk of the whole day was one called "Struggle and Strength in Memoir." It featured a panel of four authors who had written books about surviving cancer and overcoming grief. They gave me a richer understanding of what it's like to experience trauma and share it in a way that is honest, vivid, and bold. Exactly what I am hoping to do with Pete and Dara's story :).

I left the festival feeling inspired and more excited than ever to finish my first draft of Shot: A Journey Into Risk, Tragedy, and Faith.  We're getting a little closer every day. Slowly but surely.

Until next time,
~ Christy ~

P.S. For all you bookworms out there looking for something new to read, I heard about several yesterday that I'm looking forward to picking up:

1. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante (a 4 book series)
2. Away by Amy Bloom
3. The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
4. ______________?????? What would you add to this list? Read any good books lately?



Video of Peter DeSoto Hours Before He Was Shot

For those of you who met Peter sometime after the shooting incident in 2007, the voice you have always known him to have is a deep, raspy whisper. It’s the voice you expect to hear when he opens his mouth, and its the same voice you would recognize and ascribe to him if you overheard him speaking in another room. 

Last November, however,  when I was chatting with Absalon Rivas, one of Pete's friends and former co-workers at the Enlace offices in San Salvador, he made a statement that caught my attention. "Sometimes it's hard for us to hear Pete speak now," he had said, "because we remember what he used to sound like before he was shot."

I asked Absalon to elaborate, and he said  he could actually show me what he meant.

Earlier in the afternoon, only hours before Pete was shot, they had taken some video footage of him explaining the construction of a medical clinic Enlace was helping to build in the village of Los Abelines. “I have to find the video first, but once I do, I'll send it over,” Absalon had promised.

Sure enough, he found it last week, and after watching it, I was shocked at how Pete’s original voice was quite different than I expected. Even his mannerisms were different because he was able to get the words out much quicker than I have ever seen him speak, and with little effort. I told my husband it seemed like I was watching a skit and Pete was doing an impersonation of someone else. 

He wasn’t, of course. He was just being his normal self before the shooting, and in that moment I recognized how much our voices are tied to our identities. Not just the pitch and tone, but the cadence and rhythm of how we emphasize words and syllables is such a unique, distinctive attribute of who we are.Think about it: When comedic actors play the parts of Obama or Donald Trump, much of why we can identify who they are impersonating lies not just in how they look, but how they SPEAK.

For Pete's voice to have changed completely overnight must have been intense. And that's one of the topics I'll be discussing with him in detail as we plan out the second half of the book . . .

Until next month,
~ Christy ~

Want to see/hear the video for yourselves? Check it out below, or click on this link.



The Writing Process: Month One

Is it too late to begin this post with the words, “Happy New Year??”

I know I’m a month behind on that one, but man oh man did January fly by! It’s been a crazy but beautiful time filled with transitioning, experimenting, and questioning what it looks like to write a book and develop a daily writing routine. Through a massive amount of trial and error, here is what I’ve boiled it all down to:

Writing is a constant ebb and flow. A mishmash of researching, brainstorming in journals, praying, transcribing interviews, and then translating it all into typed pages that meet a daily word count. As technical as it sounds, I really am loving the process. It's challenging, surprising, and rewarding to be sure.

This past weekend, I experienced all three of those emotions by participating in my very first Write-A-Thon. It was held at Epiphany Space, which is a gathering place for artists in Hollywood to collaborate and work. The space itself is bright and homey. It has a conference room, a kitchen, a prayer room, an outdoor patio, and a comfy living room area with a couch, piano and fireplace. Top it all off with unlimited cups of coffee, and what more could a writer ask for? 

In all seriousness, the best part of the weekend was meeting and working alongside such a fun and talented group of people. On a stormy Sunday in Southern California, we hunkered down through the rain, taking mini-breaks to chat and share ideas over steamy bowls of soup. The Write-A-Thon lasted from 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday, and by the end of it, I had written a little over 3,000 words! 

It’s been an awesome first month, and if you have any particular questions about the writing process, or some of the books I’m reading/facts I’m learning about El Salvador, please write them in the comments below, or send an email and I would be happy to cover them in a future post.

Until next time, 
~ Christy ~



Merry Christmas From Peter & Dara

shot the book research trip el salvador 2015

Dear friends,

As we look back on 2015, we are feeling so blessed because of you! The Kickstarter campaign for Shot: the Book was successful beyond our imagination, as our story of hope and redemption in the face of fear has resonated with many people. We are encouraged and grateful be able to share it on a larger scale through this book project. 

We began the writing and research process last month by taking the writer, Christy Krumm Richard, and her husband Paul to El Salvador for their first trip. We recounted the season of our family's life in El Salvador for over 5 years, and met up with some dear friends along the way. We were also able to retrace the steps of the day of the shooting. We shook hands with the security guards in front of the prison where I was picked up, then traveled to the first medical clinic where I was able to hug one of the nurses who was there that day. Lastly, we viewed the spot where I was shot on the windy road to Abelines. Every place we went there was a sense of redemption and God's love. 

One of the highlights for me was seeing truck loads of people going to an outreach event from the first church we worked with in the Abelines region. The shooting, nine years ago, could have ruined the work of the local church. Instead, God worked through it and the work of ENLACE has exploded ever since. ENLACE now works with almost 40 churches in the area, and the dramatic improvement was evident during our trip. God can take the worst of situations and turn them around for good. Amazing.

In 2016, the next step in this journey is the writing. Christy has done an incredible job researching the events of the shooting, and now has first hand experience in El Salvador. Over the coming months she begins writing the book with the goal of being finished by Fall of next year. Please pray for her as she does this work.

Again, we can't thank you enough for your support and are excited to celebrate with you in this upcoming year as the book is published.  We will continue to keep you updated on our progress. 

Thank you, and Merry Christmas!
Peter & Dara



The Research Trip to El Salvador Was More Than I Hoped for

All images courtesy of Paul Richard

All images courtesy of Paul Richard

When the Kickstarter campaign for Shot: The Book got funded, and I realized I could  actually travel to El Salvador on a research trip, my goal was to absorb every bit of the country and culture I could cram into one short week. I hoped to interview all the key people. I wanted to see the houses Pete and Dara lived in, the playgrounds where they took their kids, the streets they walked on, the food they ate, the weather they experienced, the hardships, the beauty. Any and every detail that could help me bring their story to life. I ended up getting all that, for sure, and in addition, I ended up being changed by everything I saw. 

Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about embracing the mystery of life. The whole post was a bit abstract -- an idea, a concept that made sense in my head but was difficult to pin down and make tangible. Then I went to El Salvador and suddenly it wasn’t. Trusting and letting go became very practical, as the opportunity to do so was in front of my face like twenty times a day. 

In El Salvador, rule number one is to expect that everything you do will be challenged. Cars will break down, mosquitoes will bite you, accomplishing small tasks will take longer than anticipated. Torrential rains will arrive with little notice, your breakfast will be infested with bugs because you failed to wrap it properly. The toilets will stop flushing and need to be filled with buckets of water. Showers will be cold because hot water is unavailable. Illnesses will occur at the most inopportune times. Traffic will be a mess; streets will be shut down.

This is all on a good day.

On a bad day, you will be challenged by witnessing or experiencing violence, getting into a car accident, seeing a dead body on the side of the road. Of course, none of the above are specific to El Salvador. All of these occurrences are a part of life and could happen anywhere at any time. But in most places, that list of challenging events might take place over the course of months, years, or even lifetimes. In El Salvador, all of the above might happen in three or four days. The hits keep coming and are woven into the ebb and flow of everyday life. 

Pete encountering the first of many car problems....

Pete encountering the first of many car problems....

In the US, I often find my comforts and conveniences are so plentiful I begin to expect and rely upon them. They make me feel safe and secure and even lull me into a place where I am confident I have control of my life. In El Salvador, however, there is a pervasive sense of lawlessness. Little makes you feel secure other than God, and the illusion of control is laughable. 

But that is precisely what’s so beautiful about it. 

When I asked my husband Paul what his big take away was from our trip -- if he could pick just one theme that stood out --he said it was the value of relationships. Indeed, much of our time revolved around the many beautiful friendships Pete and Dara had forged over the five years they spent in El Salvador. We rode in the back of pickups with locals from the agricultural communities. We ate bean soup and corn on the cob with pastors, we sang worship songs in English with a group of American expats, and drank beer with old friends. We exchanged memories with Dara’s former Spanish teacher and shared tears with others who were instrumental in saving Pete’s life. 

peter and dara desoto el salvador abelines

When rumors emerged that one of the men involved in the shooting was now attending the local church and had given his life to Jesus, Pete even went so far as to invite him into relationship. Yes, that’s right. We showed up on this man’s door step while his kids were playing barefoot in the dust. Whether or not he was actually involved with the shooting, and what transpired over that afternoon, I will not say. I have a book to write, after all, and what fun is it if I ruin all the surprises?

What I will share is that my takeaway was a bit different than Paul’s. For me, the trip was marked with moments of freedom and clarity. I was able to recognize some lies I had been believing -- lies that had been holding me back and causing me stress for quite some time. I’ve had these really narrow ideas of what my life as an adult is supposed to look like. I’ve felt pressure to have a stable job, to buy a house, to build my savings account and have kids by a certain age. To chase the American Dream, essentially. Of all the American expats we met in El Salvador, none of them seemed to care much about any of that. They just cared about following Jesus and figured he would cover all their major needs. It turns out buying a house is NOT a major need. Neither is having kids when everyone else says it’s time. 

I was also faced with the reality of my own apathy. Prior to El Salvador, if you were to ask me if I was an apathetic person I would have said, “Of course not! I’m a passionate person; I care about fighting for things.” Yet, by the end of our trip, I realized my passions don’t always run deep. I scare easily. I doubt. I tend to flee from discomfort, throw my hands in the air, and conclude that certain problems are just too big to be solved. Gang violence? Extreme poverty? What could I ever do to combat any of this? Very little, I assume. Then I shut down, block it out, and walk away.

What I learned about Peter in El Salvador -- and about Pastor Miguel and the entire staff of ENLACE (the nonprofit Peter worked for) -- is they don’t do that. No matter how crazy, far-fetched, or insurmountable a project seems, they are willing to try it anyway. And a lot of times they fail. Little about their work is perfect and much of it has been trial and error. This didn’t work, they say? Let’s go back to the drawing board then and try this. Or this. But they don’t seem to give up. 

In the process of being utterly relentless over the past twenty years, beautiful miracles have sprung forth. Rural villages now have electricity. Violent gang members are being rehabilitated. Change is occurring, but not in a flourishing and dramatic way. It’s more like watching a glacier melt, or watching an established oak tree continue to grow. You can’t see it at first, but if you stop looking and then come back to it years later, the before and after pictures are striking.

So, I guess my one big takeaway is this: It is worth it to not be apathetic. It’s worth it to care and to try and to fight. 

Brene Brown puts it this way: “If you are brave enough to love people, you’re going to get your heart broken. If you’re courageous enough to care about something, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re creative and innovative enough to try new things, you’re going to fail. So the bravest among us are always the brokenhearted because they took a chance.”

Yet, being brokenhearted doesn’t last forever. It’s a temporary state. And if we stick around long enough and continue pushing forward, what we’ve been striving for may finally emerge.



El Salvador, Here We Come!!

flying to el salvador

I can hardly believe it, but my husband Paul and I will be flying to El Salvador TONIGHT!! We're packing those bags and getting ready for what is sure to be an incredible research trip. If you'd like to follow our journey, I'll be posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram. Otherwise, see you all back here in another week when I'll be sharing stories of our Central American adventures with Pete and Dara.  

Until then,
~ Christy ~




Sharing the Story of Shot: The Book at Franklin Middle School

Last Friday afternoon, I was invited to be a guest speaker at Franklin Middle School in Long Beach, California. My audience was a mixture of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders (about 120 of them in total), all of whom were part of the Long Beach Scholar's Program, which helps them prepare for college and begin the process of brainstorming and dreaming about their future careers.

I talked about being an adjunct college instructor and a freelance writer, and although I worried that I might not know how to speak to middle schoolers, I soon found they were a fun and attentive audience. When I mentioned that I was a Millenial, one student was quick to raise his hand and ask, "What's a Millenial?" They also oooohed and aaaahhhed and giggled when I talked about meeting and dating my husband.

Of course, we discussed Shot: The Book, the Kickstarter campaign, and my upcoming trip to El Salvador this November. I gave them an overview of the DeSoto's story and they were very excited to hear that Peter would be coming to visit them too in the near future to talk about his career and life. It was an awesome afternoon and I felt honored to be there. 

Now, back to campaigning! :)




Dara's Journal: Entry #3

"The following excerpt is an edited version of the journal Dara kept while living in El Salvador.

"The moments after I found out Pete had been shot ebbed and flowed like waves in the ocean. 
Michelle, Ron, and our other friends, David and Jenny, were now inside our apartment. Calls needed to be made to both our parents. The boys needed to be picked up from school. Hannah needed a snack. The paperwork for Peter's insurance needed to be retrieved from the office. But I felt like I was floating farther and farther away.
I grabbed the first thing I could find, which was a broom leaning against the wall in the kitchen. I picked it up and began sweeping. I could hear Ron and David in the other room making one phone call after the next, their soft voices fading in and out as though I were dipping my head under water. 
Suddenly, a blue van drove up and my boys jumped out and started running toward the house. Alison, a family friend and one of the teachers at their school, offered to drive them home so I wouldn't have to. Clearly, no one had told the boys yet because their little bodies were filled with energy and their faces carried a mixture of both elation and confusion. I could tell they were excited to see all these people at our home. Watching them is what broke my spell because I knew in that moment I couldn't waste any time. 
'Come here, you guys,' I said, forcing a smile and gesturing for them to come sit with me on the wooden bench in our hallway. The words came tumbling from my mouth before I could even think of a better way to tell them. 'There's been an accident and your daddy has been shot, but he's in God's hands and everything is going to be OK.'
I looked into P.J.'s brown eyes and watched as they turned to anger, confusion, and fear. He was 9 years old, and in the year and a half we had been living in El Salvador he had witnessed a lot. There was the stabbing down the street, the times I had been robbed in the park. Each moment had made it's mark, and this one was the tipping point. He ran outside the house, hopped on his bike, and began riding around the plazuela in furious circles. 
Isaac was two year younger and began to cry. I didn't know what else to do, so I wrapped my arms around him and we sat together for what felt like a very long time."



Q&A With Peter DeSoto

peter desoto and pastor miguel, el salvador, enlace

1. What was it about El Salvador that made you want to move there?

Sometimes I hear people say they feel "called" to a particular place, and I think that's great. For me it wasn't the place but the people and the relationships that drew me to El Salvador. My first trip in 2003 opened my eyes to both the extreme poverty, as well as the people that fight against it through the local church. I worked with a pastor named Miguel who inspired me to see the church and it's people as powerful forces of change. I wanted to join the effort to support them and learn from them . . . Oh, and the pupusas, haha

2. Can you tell us some basic information about ENLACE?

Enlace is the Spanish word for "link." The organization's main purpose is to support local churches by linking them with partners and resources so they can better reach their communities. ENLACE is made up of some of the most dynamic and committed followers of Jesus who desire to see God work in the lives of the most vulnerable people in El Salvador. They humbly provide support behind the scenes, so the local people, pastors, and leaders can be the face of change in the community. For example, they have teams of specialists (doctors, engineers, planners, businesses, etc.) as well as church coaches that walk with them day in and day out. When we started to serve with ENLACE in 2005 they were working with around 6-10 churches. Today they are working with close to 100. I can't say enough great things about their ministry. 

3. What advice do you have for people who feel called to move overseas to volunteer or do missionary work?

Pray. Pray. Pray. Make sure that your motives are right. Check this by taking time to think through WHY you feel called and what specifically you feel called to do while you are in the country. Identify how you are gifted and how those gifts can be used to serve a specific cause or ministry. Bring in trusted friends and advisers to look at your decision. Don't be afraid to take in other points of view. After you have gone through that process, you will still need to take the step of faith. When you do, do it boldly and trust God to bring the outcomes He desires. 





Dara's Journal: Entry #2

el salvador

The following excerpt is from an edited version of the journal Dara kept while living in El Salvador:

"'Dara, are you at home?'
It was Michelle Bueno. My cell phone had been ringing a few times already, but it was our nap time and I never got phone calls, except from Peter. I knew it wasn’t him, so I’d been ignoring my phone. 
'Hi, what’s up?' I finally asked. I was not accustomed to Michelle calling me. 
'We’re outside your door. Can we come in?' 
I rolled over and rubbed my eyes. The last lingering bits of sleep were still upon me and I was in that blurry middle ground between reality and dreams. Did she just say she was outside my door? 
'Yeah, of course,' I mumbled. 'I’ll be right down.' 
I tiptoed past the girls who were still sleeping and headed down the stairs. This entire day had been very strange. It started out just like every other day -- cooking, cleaning, playing with the girls, walking around our plazuela, and taking our naps. However, all day long I had felt a heavy urge to pray. 
It wasn’t because I was fearful or anxious, but because it just seemed right to be praying. I prayed for Peter, our family, El Salvador, everything and everyone that would come to mind. At about 2:30 in the afternoon, I began seeking the Lord on the idea of Mercy. What did His mercy look like? I kept poring through my Bible to find passages about Mercy, and finally wrote in my journal, 'Show me your mercy Lord. Show me what it looks and feels like.' 
I had no clue He actually would that very day -- in the most real and tangible way."


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Q&A With Dara DeSoto

Dara DeSoto

1. What was your favorite part about living in El Salvador? 

To be honest, at the time I was living there it was very hard for me to have a favorite part.  I was so engrossed in the reality of being a young mother of four, that it was  hard to walk in gratefulness for the opportunity we had to be over there. In reflection, my favorite part was the people that I was able to befriend -- that our family grew to love and share time with -- as well as the adventure of living  in faith everyday. 

2. What was most challenging about living there? 

For me, everything! From the language barrier, to cooking and cleaning our many different places of residence (we moved five times in five years!), to driving, to mothering, to going to the grocery store, to making friends, homeschooling in isolation, then trying international school and being a part of the PTA in Spanish, to choosing faith rather than fear when I would be faced with the reality of armed guards at every grocery store or gas station, my kids getting super sick, my husband being attacked, getting robbed or witnessing robberies or harmful assaults.

 It was the most challenging five years of my life, and even though it may sound strange, I would not trade them for the world!  The day I stood in the customs line at Los Angeles Airport to depart for our red-eye flight to San Salvador, with baby Kaya strapped around me, Hannah wrestling beneath my care, and my boys bravely standing with duffle bags in their hands and backpacks on their backs, was the day the Lord took the veil down between Him and me.  I truly met Jesus that day when I was invited to walk in faith! 

3. Are there any Bible verses that got you through the time when Peter was shot? Can you share one or two with us and why they were significant? 

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.  Therefore, I will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the see." Psalm 46:1-2
I lived by this passage and still do! 
When We arrived to El Salvador, I was still homeschooling our boys.  On our white board was a scripture passage that we were attempting to memorize.  It was from the book of James, chapter 1.  I had no idea how real that book would become to me over the next season of my life.  
"Count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect way, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

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Dara's Journal: Entry #1

abelines el salvador, #shotthebook

The following is an excerpt from the journal Dara DeSoto kept during their time in El Salvador:

"As we entered the country and arrived on the tarmac, our dear friend, Jaime Huff,  leaned across the aisle and asked me, 'Are you ready, Dara?'    
My heart sank and my stomach churned. I was sleep-deprived and nursing my 7-month-old while my restless and distraught toddler was struggling to get control over the situation. Am I ready? Absolutely not. What I wanted more than anything was to go home.     
But we had sold our home a year before leaving for El Salvador. And then our cars. And then all our things. Peter had left his job. Home? There was no home to go back to. 
I smiled, gathered all the courage I could prayerfully muster, and said, 'Yes, I am ready.'”  

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Q&A With Author, Christy Krumm Richard

christy krumm richard

1.What interests you in telling the story of the DeSoto family?

The first time I heard Pete speak at church, I didn’t know anything about him, but I kept wondering what was wrong with his voice. It was so raspy and quiet and I thought, Maybe he’s sick? Maybe he’s a chain smoker or an ex-lung cancer patient? The writer in me started crafting all these narratives, and then when he gave his first sermon and told his story, I was so humbled and floored by what he and his family must have gone through. The mere idea that he had a bullet lodged in his throat and lived to tell about it -- that he was here today, smiling, and still loving the Lord -- it impacted me in a major way.

2.Why tell this story now?

Last November I was teaching college writing full time at two different campuses and I was required to grade an average of 70-100 essays every single week. Between commuting in traffic, planning for classes, attending staff meetings, responding to student emails, and keeping on top of all that grading, I felt so burned out that I just started crying in a coffee shop. My poor husband was sitting across from me at the time and didn’t know what to do.

We agreed I should take the rest of the night off, so I went home and did a little praying and soul searching and eventually found myself reading through a book that had a quote by Anais Nin. It said, “And the time came when the pain it took to remain tightly in a bud was greater than the pain it took to blossom.” That’s when I realized I had been running from my desire to write because it scared me too much. An actual career in writing seemed frightening and risky. But not writing, not even trying? That was more painful.

So, I made a decision then and there it was time to make some changes. Six months later, I had cut my work load down to one class and gone back to the job I had in grad school as a server at a restaurant. That was when Pete approached me to see if I would be interested in writing their story, and it just felt right. I immediately related to the way his family gave up so much to go to El Salvador and pursue something they were passionate about because I had just done the same thing. I had given up a lot, too.

3.Which books have had the biggest impact on your life and your writing?

The memoir, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed is a big one because of her fearlessness and honesty. She didn’t hide behind her heroine usage or white wash her sex addiction in order to make herself seem more noble than she actually was. Instead, she put everything out there for the sake of the story and showed a level of vulnerability and humility that has really challenged me in my own writing to stop playing it safe and to get raw and real.  

Another is the novel, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. The main character/narrator is a hermaphrodite who was brought into this world through incest. Right away, it addresses some of the most taboo subjects, but does so with grace and through the vehicle of a confused and lovable narrator who is on a quest to find self-acceptance, identity, and love. In other words, readers quickly realize this narrator, who represents a group of people that are generally misunderstood and condemned by society, is actually just like the rest of us. That recognition alone has the power to open up a dialogue and give voice to a group that is normally not allowed to speak.

Lastly, I love any and everything written by Shauna Niequist. I’ve been reading her essay collections for years now, and tend to think of her as like an older and wiser sister who totally gets me and who always encourages me to grow deeper with God, to remember what’s most important in life, and to be the best possible version of myself.

Learn more about the book and the Kickstarter!