Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Carrie Turansky’s The Governess of Highland Hall

Carrie Turansky’s The Governess of Highland Hall is set in the Edwardian time period and is quite appealing! I enjoyed my mental vacation to 1911 Berkshire, England. The heroine, Julia Foster, is strong yet feminine – in a perfectly balanced way. Though Julia is young, she emulates amazing character and steadfastness, which is believable because of the missionary lifestyle that she and her family unwillingly left behind. I enjoyed how the skills she’d developed in her beloved India came in handy with her charges in Highland Hall.

Sir William Ramsey, the master of Highland Hall, is a wonderful hero who is dealing with complications that are overwhelming. His fascinating personality and intelligence along with his great heart add much to this story.

This author provided her characters with relational and situational challenges that had me flipping pages and looking forward to what would happen to the characters long into the night. This might sound cliché, but I see that as perfect truth.

The main characters Julia and William along with the other characters such as: Sarah, Clark, Katherine, Andrew and Millie are exactly the type of personalities in which I love to dedicate reading time. This novel is a favorite, which I will enjoy reading again and again. These pages are well written and spiritually, romantically, and historically wholesome and intriguing. Carrie, I applaud you for this delightful and difficult to put down read!

 If you’re looking for clean, entertaining, and uplifting fiction, then let me point you in Carrie Turansky’s direction! Though this is historical fiction there are issues involved in this story that modern day people face each day.  In my opinion—Carrie Turansky is highly recommended!

Questions for Carrie:

1.   Carrie, I love how beautifully you depicted Julia’s spirituality and her struggles. What inspired you to write this character?

Early in 2012 I had a discussion with an editor at a conference, and I asked her what kind of stories she was looking for. Downton Abbey was just becoming popular, and she said she’d love to see a story set in England in the Edwardian Era with a feeling similar to Downton, and perhaps the heroine could be a governess. I liked the idea, but was intimidated by the idea of setting a story in England 100 years ago. But an author friend encouraged me and loaned me some books about that time period. I jumped into the research and fell in love with Edwardian England. The editor’s comments about making the heroine a governess reminded me of Jane Eyre’s story, so I included some elements from that novel. I wanted Julia to have a missionary background, so I remembered reading A Chance to Die, Amy Carmichael’s biography. I reread it and used some of Amy’s experiences as part of Julia’s back story. So Julia is a mixture of ideas and people, and she is one of my favorite heroines.

2.   The historical solutions to problems, whether they are handicaps or hyperactivity, are interesting. Did you know individuals who struggle with these challenges and did you in a way give them voice through the characters of this story?

I’m the mother of two boys and three girls.  They are all grown now, but when they were young we homeschooled them, and four of the five had learning differences that made schooling a challenge. I wove some of those experiences into the story. My husband is also the author of 14 books on parenting, and I’ve been blessed to learn many things from him over the years. The techniques Julia used to help Millie and Andrew come from the Bible, our family, and his books.
3.   What do you like to treat yourself to when you are writing—coffee, chocolate, or something else?

I am a tea drinker and enjoy hot tea on cold days and iced tea in the summer months. My favorite tea right now is Stash Meyer Lemon Herbal Tea. Delightful! When I want a treat I make some delicious homemade chocolates using coconut oil, almond butter, and stevia, with a dash of salt. You put it in the freezer to harden up then break it into pieces. Yum!

4.   What was the most difficult novel or novella to write that you have written? Was it an award winner?

I’d say my most challenging novel to write was A Refuge at Highland Hall, which is my latest and the third in the Edwardian Brides Series. It is set during World War One, and I loved the characters and plot, but I had some health challenges that made it difficult to write for a few months. I was really pushing hard to finish all the revisions on time.

5.   You wrote your first story at the age of twelve, did you ever re-write it for publication?

That question made me smile. No, my first story, Passport to Paris, will always stay in the drawer. But it’s a fun to remember coming up with the first story and imaging the two friends on their trip to Paris.

6.   What is the most exciting message you desire to share with your readers?
I always weave spiritual themes into my stories because I want to touch people’s hearts with God’s truth and love. In each book the characters face different challenges, but I do often come back to the healing power of forgiveness and God’s ability to take painful and difficult circumstances and turn them around for good in our lives when we trust Him. Those are wonderful truths that are meaningful to me, and I hope my readers find them exciting and encouraging. 

7.   If you could travel anywhere in the world where would that be?

I love to travel, and I’ve been blessed to travel many places for ministry and for fun: Hawaii, Kenya, Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, and all around the US. If I could go anywhere, I’d return to England and search out some more lovely settings for my novels. I enjoy visiting historical homes and gardens and learning more about how people lived in the past.

8.   What type of fiction is your favorite to read? To write? (Since you write contemporary and historical.)

I enjoy reading historical and contemporary stories. I think it’s the quality of writing that draws me back to particular authors. I didn’t think I would enjoy reading novels set in the American Colonial period, but I loved Lori Benton’s Burning Sky and Laura Frantz’s The Colonel’s Lady. I like romance and happy endings, so I didn’t think I would like WW2 novels, but I loved Cathy Gohlke’s Saving Amelie and Secret’s She Kept. I’m always looking for books set in England, and I enjoy Julie Klassen’s Regency novels. Right now I’m reading and enjoying Judy Christie’s YA novels, Wreath, A Girl, and Wreath in Summer. It’s the power of the story and quality of the writing that makes the difference for me rather than the genre or time period. I enjoy writing contemporary and historical. And right now English historical seems to be a good fit for me.

9.   How do you wish your readers to contact you?
I enjoy connecting with readers through my website, blog, and email newsletter. I’m active on Facebook and Pinterest, and I pop into GoodReads and Twitter as well.  I hope to meet you there!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Guard and Edit
Susan M. Kinney
Above all else, guard your heart,  for it is the wellspring of life. 
Proverbs 4:23
The first order of business for writing eye catching and desirable prose, in my opinion, is guarding your heart. “What?” You might wonder if I’ve jumped to a new and unrelated topic. Let me provide an example and explanation.

I heard about an author who knew how to plot and write powerfully. But, try as she might,  she was not selling her story. A friend of hers read the manuscript. At first she couldn’t put a finger on what didn’t sit well with her, when reading those pages. Then realization hit…her dear friend had gone through trials and a divorce. Taking another look at the story she could see powerful words, but they revealed the bitter anger and unforgiveness her friend was experiencing. When a reader came away from those pages, they were left feeling unfulfilled and negative.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 

What fruit do you love? What do you want to share with others? Do you want your writing to affect another’s life in a positive life-giving way?

Trying in our own strength to be good, to think right, and offer grace to the graceless can be challenging and frustrating. Thankfully, we are not alone for the Lord God Almighty, the Lover of our Souls, has provided aid for our every need. When we look to Him like Moses, Joseph and David as well as Paul, John and Mary we see that their successful journeys were not achieved alone. He was with them, His very presence offering words of encouragement, inspiration, and miracles.  

He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:45 

Everyone experiences trials and pain and disappointments. There are a lot of situations and people we could be bitter and unforgiving toward, but what has our Lord and King make available for us? King David asked, 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 
Psalms 51: 10 – 13  

Your choice is yours of course, but desiring excellent fruit and a clean heart can only be found when resting and listening and laughing with our Lord, our Bright Morning Star! You may wonder how we guard our heart. We edit attitudes which are not His fruit with His help. The invitation is for all who will receive. So, how is your receiver lately?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Next meeting -- Monday 6:30—8:30 p.m.  February15th

2201 42ND Street, Manitowoc, WI  54220
Faith Church is located next to Festival Foods
Not far from the Manitowoc exit off Interstate 43

Our teaching for Monday, February 15 is called Edits taught by Deborah Ann Erdmann and Kate Jungwirth. Edits are a painful—yet necessary—part of the writing process. However, they polish our writings, giving them a glow we would not have otherwise seen.

The prompt you are invited to write to is called, Short and Sweet! You are invited to write a short and sweet story to savor and possibly share with our group. (Only if you want to!)  A page or two would be sufficient. We will also share the Uganda orphans’ writings that Debby acquired during her visit.

Disclaimer: Warning you may end up loving to write!
Visit a local shop and bring your coffee or cappuccino with you.
Let us know if you’re attending so that we can save a seat just for you.
If you have questions or concerns let us know.

God’s blessings upon you as you write for His glory!