Saturday, March 25, 2017

Author interview with Carrie Turansky

Carrie Turansky is the best-selling author of 17 inspirational romance novels and novellas. She is the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, The International Digital Award, and The Crystal Globe Award. Carrie is married to Scott, and they have five adult children and five grandchildren. When she’s not writing you’ll find her working in her flower gardens, walking around the lake near their home, or cooking healthy meals for family and friends. Carrie loves to connect with reading friends through her websiteFacebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

Shine Like the Dawn: In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event shattered their idyllic family life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart as she begins to wonder if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident. 

When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his
son and Maggie’s estranged childhood friend, Nathaniel, returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll, and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate—and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?

Carrie, welcome! The first work of yours that I read was Snowflake Sweethearts, which I loved. A few years later I met you at a writers’ conference, you have such a sweet spirit! Thank you for joining us today and congratulations on your new novel, Shine Like the Dawn. I love the cover! Both Nate and Maggie have such a deep back story, what was the inspiration for these characters and this plot?

The plot and characters sprang from my research. A photographer from the U.K. told me about a beautiful estate in Northumberland, England, called Cragside. I did a Google image search and Pinterest search and was intrigued by that lovely home. I read the biography of William Armstrong, the man who built Cragside, and decided the Armstrongs could be the inspiration for the hero’s family. Armstrong was an inventor and engineer, and Cragside was the first home to be lit by hydroelectric power. I used some of the events that happened to his family in the plot. The heroine, Maggie Lounsbury, mainly comes from my imagination. I decided to make her and grandmother milliners, because I love the hats of that time period. I always wanted to write a story where the hero and heroine were childhood friends who later fell in love, so that was a fun plot element for me as well. The idea of adding a mystery came from my enjoyment of reading Julie Klassen’s novels. She often includes a mystery or a secret that keeps you turning pages, so I decided to try that in Shine Like the Dawn.

I love that even published authors still learn when they leisure read, she's another awesome author. So, Carrie, what’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?

Maintaining a balance is definitely a challenge. I have to say no to outings with friends as deadlines come closer, and that’s always hard. I have a book due in one month, so it’s really crunch time! But good friends understand and pray for me as I work hard to finish up a book on time. Making time to exercise and prepare healthy meals can also be a challenge in the final couple months. I use a weekly word count goal to help me stay on track, and that’s a great help.

Exercise. Healthy meals. Those are hard for us all! How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

My faith is central in my life, so it naturally has a huge influence on my writing. I want my stories to entertain and carry people away to another time and place, but I also want them to be touched emotionally and inspired by my characters’ spiritual journeys. I love weaving God’s practical principles for life into my stories. It’s wonderful to hear from readers who find those principles encouraging.

I love plotting and am always looking for tips. How do you plot a novel? How close to the final version does the first draft read?

I outline my novel using techniques I’ve learned from Susie Warren, Michael Hauge, and Stan Williams. I do quite a bit of work on my characters first, and as I get to know them I develop the plot. I like to know the key turning points in the story and how it will end, but I like to discover how I am going to get there while I’m writing. That makes it more exciting for me.

Susan May Warren, Awesome author and amazing craft teacher. For fun, if you could take a plane to ONE place, where would you go? If you could bring one person with you, who would it be? And if you could eat only one kind of food during your trip, what would that be?

I would love to go to England for another research trip and visit Kent, the area where my next book is set. Kent is called the garden of England, and I love gardens. The beautiful white cliffs of Dover are also there. It would be fun to travel with my good friend and fellow author, Cathy Gohlke. We’ve traveled together before, and had such a great time touring the Lake District where her next novel is set and then on to Scotland with Liz Curtis Higgs and her tour group.
Wow, that sounds like fun! On your website, I saw that you and your husband helped planted a church in New Jersey. What’s it like being the wife of a pastor?

It’s exciting, challenging, and rewarding. We love the ministry God has given us. Seeing people grow in their faith and meet the challenges in life is a huge blessing. My husband is a very gifted pastor, teacher, counselor, and author, and I feel blessed to partner with him at Calvary Chapel Living Hope. You can learn more about our church on the website.

That sounds like such an interesting and fulfilling life! Finally, tell us what your next novel is about and when it will be released.

My next novel is titled Across the Blue. It’s set in 1909 in Kent, England. This is the dawn of aviation, and the hero is a young aviator who wants to be the first to fly across the English Channel. The heroine is the daughter of a wealthy newspaper owner who is offering the prize for that race across the channel. She is an aspiring journalist, and she thinks covering the hero’s adventures will help launch her career. As their romance develops questions about the hero’s past and her choice to keep her writing a secret from him create obstacles for them, but I always promise a happy ending! Across the Blue releases early in 2018.

Across the Blue sounds very interesting. Carrie, thank you for your time today, it was fun! And congratulations again on your newest novel, Shine Like the Dawn.

Friday, March 24, 2017

California’s Polar Queen By Shirley Raye Redmond

If you’ve ever studied a map of Greenland and wondered how Miss Boyd Land and Louise Glacier got those labels, you may be surprised to learn they were named for a spunky American socialite named Louise Arner Boyd. Born in September 1887, the only daughter of millionaire mine owner John Franklin Boyd, Louise was always a tomboy. She loved riding ponies with her two brothers on the family’s large horse ranch in the foothills near San Francisco Bay.

As a girl, Louise studied photography, botany and geography. She was particularly fascinated by tales of Alaska and the daring fortune hunters who were still rushing to the Yukon Territory in search of gold. She was also intrigued by haunting descriptions of icebergs, polar bears and Eskimos. More than anything else in the world, the plucky California girl wanted to see the frigid Arctic for herself.

In 1920, at the age of 33, the attractive, blue-eyed spinster astonished her San Francisco social circle when she unexpectedly chartered her own seal-hunting ship. She hired an experienced crew and acquired the best photographic and scientific instruments her vast family fortune could buy, and set sail for the ice-packed Arctic regions. Putting aside her chinchilla cape and lavish ball gowns, Louise donned heavy boots and a parka and headed for a six-week journey to the Arctic. She took photographs and drew maps. She collected botanical specimens for botanists friends back in California and was “amused by the puniness of the vegetation, compared to the giant redwoods back home.”

In the summer of 1938, Louise planned her usual polar journey, despite the war raging in Europe. With her expedition concluded, she left her cameras, measuring devices, radios, canoes, polar clothing and scientific equipment in Alesund, Norway, fully intending to return the following year to continue her explorations.

Louise was in New York when she learned that the Nazis had impounded her equipment after invading Oslo. The spunky heiress was furious. She immediately sailed for Norway, took repossession of her belongings and brought them home to the United States aboard a luxury liner.

Unable to publish her new scientific findings, for fear that the Germans would use the information to invade Iceland and Greenland, Louise returned to California. She was resigned to spending the war years experimenting with her prized camellias and raising money for the San Francisco Ballet Company. But the United States government had other plans for her. When she was asked to head up a secret mission in the Arctic Sea for military intelligence, Louise readily agreed.

Louise was proud to serve her country. Upon completion of the secret mission, she was hired as a special consultant—for a dollar a year—for the military intelligence division of U.S. Government. She was the first woman to ever serve in such a capacity. When World War II was over, the Army gratefully presented Louise with a Certificate of Appreciation for “outstanding patriotic service to the Army as a contributor of geographic knowledge and consultant.”

Back at Maple Lawn, the aging heiress continued to fascinate her frequent guests with exhibits of Arctic photographs and memorabilia. But before retiring from exploration, Louise had one more polar dream to pursue. She wanted to reach the North Pole. In 1955, at the age of 68, Louise chartered an airplane and became the first woman to fly over and around the North Pole.

She accepted numerous awards for her contributions to geographic exploration, such as being named the first female member of the American Polar Society. But her generosity and costly polar expeditions eventually took their toll on the Boyd fortune. She died penniless in a nursing home ten years later on September 14, 1972. She was 85 years old. Her ashes were scattered in the Arctic regions she had always found so alluring.

An award-winning writer and frequent conference speaker, Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of three inspirational novels, PRUDENCE PURSUED, VIPER’S NEST, and AMANDA’S BEAU, as well as two dozen children’s books, including LEWIS & CLARK: A PRAIRIE DOG FOR THE PRESIDENT (Random House), which was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. Shirley Raye holds an M.A. in literature and teaches through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been married to her husband Bill for over forty years. They live in New Mexico and are blessed with two grown children and three adorable grandchildren. Touch bases at or Facebook.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners--like her. Lydia won't let that get her down, though. All will be well when she's reunited with her fiancé. But when she discovers he has disappeared--and that he left behind a pregnant wife--Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

Bestselling author Amanda Cabot invites readers back into Texas's storied past to experience love and adventure against a backdrop of tension and mystery in this first book in a brand-new series.

Heidi here. A Stolen Heart was an awesome read! For starters, I really liked the premise of why Lydia went to Cimarron Creek and how she handles herself when she discovers that her fiance has disappeared AND is married to another woman. Great conflict from the start. I also fell in love with Aunt Bertha, such a gentle and generous woman. She was the voice of reason for both Lydia and Travis.

The backcover copy doesn't make this historical novel sound like a mystery, but it is! Of course, it is more romance than mystery, but the mystery behind some unsolved crimes adds more depth to this novel and allows for a spectacular ending. If you haven't read A Stolen Heart yet, pick up your copy today! And stop by our blog to read a recent interview with Amanda.