Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Finding Balance and Paying it Forward with Sara R. Turnquist + Giveaway

Welcome back to the Diamond Mine. Are you settling back into your routines after the holiday break?

This week our guest is someone who lives less than 100 miles from me but we met at an ACFW conference in Dallas, TX a couple years ago. Please welcome Sara Turnquist.

First, an introduction

About Sara Turnquist

I'm a coffee lovin', word slinging, clean Historical Romance author whose super power is converting caffeine into novels. I love those odd tidbits of history that are stranger than fiction. That's what inspires me. Well, that and a good love story. 

But of all the love stories I’ve read, mine is my favorite. I live happily with my own Prince Charming and our gaggle of minions. Three to be exact. They sure know how to distract a writer! But, alas, the stories must be written, even if it must happen in the wee hours of the morning.

I have authored some enticing historical fiction with meaningful romances, including: The Lady Bornekova, The General’s Wife, Hope in Cripple Creek, Off to War, A Convenient Risk, Leaving Waverly, The Lady and the Hussites, and An Inconvenient Christmas.

Connect with Sara: 

Twitter: @sarat1701 -
Facebook: AuthorSaraRTurnquist -
Pinterest: SaraVTurnquist -

Welcome, Sara. We're so glad you could join us this week. Let's warm up with a few easy questions.

SW: Ballpoint, Uniball, or fountain pen? 

ST: Ballpoint

SW: Early bird or night owl? 

ST: Night owl most of my life…but I worked in zoo education for a while and those shifts start EARLY

SW: What are three things you’ve used as a bookmark? 

ST: Pen, receipt, movie ticket stub

SW: Fill in the blank: Some day I want to... 

ST: return to the Czech Republic

SW: Tell us a bit more about Sara 

ST: Sara is a bit quirky. But she is outgoing, friendly, and a strong leader. She loves nothing more than sharing her gifts and talents to edify others. And she’ll do almost anything for a laugh.

SW: We’ve talked before about one of your former jobs, so share with us what the worst job you’ve ever had was. And the best one? 

ST: THE WORST: I’ve really enjoyed most of my jobs…perhaps the worst was waiting tables. I don’t handle “on the spot” stress very well. And when you have 12 people all wanting 3 things from you and NOW…that gets stressful. And some people can be so rude. It seemed like the roughest tables were the ones who left you a handful of change. 

SW: I have always known I wasn't cut out for the food service business so I never aspired to waiting tables :)

Me with Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Education Team – I’m on the back row, third from the right
ST: THE BEST: I loved working as a Zoo Educator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was so much fun. Sharing my love and knowledge of wildlife and wild places…okay, and Disney…was amazing. And making a difference for wildlife. If some of my guests listened to half of what I said and took me seriously, they went home and did something toward conserving our world.

Do you have any secret talents? 

ST: Okay…I always get strange looks…but I can unwrap a starburst in my mouth in under 20 seconds. Yeah…that’s totally going on the resume.

SW: Hahaha! That's a great secret talent! 

Name a place you would like to visit that you haven’t been to yet. 

ST: I’d love to take one of the Historical Tours of the Biltmore Estate. I hear they are just fascinating.

SW: Yes, they are. I've been on one (at Christmas) but would love to go again!

As a mom of three children, how do you balance writing and home life? 

My three kiddos: Audrey, Aiden, and Andrew
ST: It is not easy…when all three of my kiddos were at home, I did most of my writing during quiet time/nap time (even when my kids outgrew naps, we still insisted they have “quiet time” in their rooms…perhaps more for our sake than theirs) and in the evening after bedtime. Now that two of them are in school, the time to write is much more…plentiful. You just have to write when you can. If it’s important, you will make time.

SW: Who makes up your tribe (supporters, mentors, uplifters, prayer warriors, etc)? 

 Me and my number one fan, my husband, Greg
ST: I am part of a MOMs group that has moms who are further along the journey than us of younger kiddos. They are praying for me I know. My husband is a big supporter for me. My family is, too. As well, my critique group encourages me along the way. My beta readers are pushing me along, kindly critiquing my work. And my writing mentor, author Hannah R. Conway, offers unending support.

SW: Tell us a little about your reading and writing habits.

ST: I am a fast reader. I alternate between fiction (mostly clean Historical Fiction/Romance, but I try to read in other genres as well…Science Fiction being my early first love) and nonfiction (usually craft or spiritual growth books). And I always have one of those Barbour Collections of novellas in case I just want to consume a story in an afternoon. (Novella is generally a 2 hour read for me.)

SW: Those Barbour novella collections are great, aren't they. I'm actually reading one right now. A novella here and there between my other reading.

ST: Writing…I have always been a pantser (write by the seat of my pants…no planning or outlining). But I have become more of a “plantser”. I do stop and do some preliminary character planning/development. I find that taking the time to do so creates more three-dimensional characters and deepens the story. Some of the novel is outlined based on what kind of historical event/person I am involving. Then I pants my way through the rest. 

And I have come to love Scrivener…especially the “compose” mode, which blocks out the whole screen except your word processor and puts an image you pick in the background. Great for distraction-free writing. I have also come to love the set up my husband designed for me – two monitors! I use one for my writing and one to pull up research as I need to.

(image courtesy of
SW: What is the first book you remember reading or the first one that made an impact on you? 

ST: I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. I was so drawn into the story. I fell in love with her life and the trials they faced and it so captivated me I read the whole series. (Though I have never watched any of the TV series.)

SW: Share some of your writing habits. Do you have a favorite place to write? A favorite time? Must-have snacks or drinks? 

ST: I have a great set up for writing in my office at home. I have my storyboards there, my two monitors, and all my tools. But I love being able to get away to the local coffee shop and sit in a booth with a cup of coffee and tap away on my laptop. At home sometimes the things that need to get done in my other job (housewife and mother) nag at me. So, getting away from the house helps. I generally do most of my writing mid-afternoon or in the evening. But whether at my house or elsewhere, I have to have the coffee…always the coffee.

SW: What is your writing kryptonite? 

ST: Facebook…ahhh….

SW: You are not alone in that one! 

You’ve worked with a small press and independently and now have signed with an agent. Give us the highlights of each of those avenues (per your experience).

SMALL PRESS: I so enjoyed working with Clean Reads, a small press. They were so personable and really did the right amount of hand holding to ease me into this step of my journey. The owner is just amazing. I cannot say enough good things about her. But I wanted to try things on my own.

PUBLISHED INDEPENDENTLY: My husband and I decided we wanted to get our feet wet with indie publishing. And it worked well for us. The amount of marketing you do for publishing with a small press and publishing independently is pretty much the same. And publishing independently, you retain your rights and don’t split the revenue. I would not recommend it for someone fresh out of the gate though. I think the lessons I learned from my time with the small press were so valuable and I will maintain my relationship there as much as I can. 

AGENT: I love having someone who really knows the industry to bounce ideas off of. And who is looking out for me. It is a new partnership for me, so I haven’t gleaned as much as I can yet to really speak to this.

SW: In addition to writing, you also speak at writing conferences and women’s groups. Tell us what you love most about sharing with others? 

ST: I am all about passing on your knowledge and experiences. I believe that is why you go through things. Positive and challenging…so you can touch others’ lives with the things you learned. For some, that is having coffee with a hurting friend or a lunch with your cousin who is an aspiring author. For me, I have a strangely loud voice and good stage presence and command. So, I speak.

SW: Share with our readers more about your books.

Who was your favorite character to write?

ST: I loved writing Katherine from “Hope in Cripple Creek”. She had some of my personality in there, but definitely more spunk, you know? She had a fire in her that I admired.

Order Hope in Cripple Creek at Amazon

SW: Historical fiction requires a lot of research and detail. What is the craziest/most interesting/funniest thing that’s happened to you while researching a book. 

ST: I was in the prep for Hope in Cripple Creek and I was planning the major details of the story. Namely, the location. My husband had spent some time in Colorado, where I wanted the story to be set. We were driving and I didn’t have internet on my phone at the time, so I asked him “What sounds like a good name for a town in Colorado? Just make one up.” He thought and said, “Cripple Creek…sounds like something I would hear around there.” Well, later, when I was researching gold mining and mining strikes, a key component of the novel, I found that the last gold rush to Colorado, preceding a major, rather well-known strike, was in Cripple Creek, Colorado, a REAL town. He had probably heard the name somewhere along the way and forgotten that it was a real town. At any rate, I found it interesting…the town name he “made up”.

SW: I've actually made up a town for a state I've never visited before only to find it on Google!

Tell us a little about your most recent release. 

ST: This past December I released my first Christmas novella and a companion to “A Convenient Risk”: “An Inconvenient Christmas”. I call it a “companion” because it’s not really a sequel. I didn’t leave any “loose ends” to be tied up at the end of “A Convenient Risk”. I went back and found a thread that could be continued and enhanced. Either way, “An Inconvenient Christmas” is a peek into Amanda and Brandon’s happily-ever-after. Christmas will be a time to share with their little family and maybe experience some much needed peace on earth. But that’s when the letter comes. And everything is turned upside-down. Nothing is as it should be and tensions mount. Will they make it through this holiday season unscathed? Or will they be torn apart by the time Christmas Day comes?

SW: What are you currently working on? 

ST: You might laugh…I am currently working on four books. Yeah…I am notorious for working on multiple projects at a time (usually one in editing, one writing, and one resting). But this is a bit much even for me. I have two that I am processing edits on: “Among the Pages”, a time slip that focuses on the Woman’s Suffrage Movement and “Trail of Fears”, which follows a white missionary to a Cherokee village and what transpires from the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830 to their forcible removal in 1838. I am researching and writing the third installment to The Lady Bornekova Series. And I am researching for a book set during the Biblical era.

Order The Lady Bornekova Series on Amazon

SW: Wow, I'm worn out just thinking about keeping all of that straight. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking time out from all of that to visit with us today.

About the Books

He never imagined her heart would be so hard to reach.

Forced into a marriage of convenience after her husband dies, Amanda Haynes is determined she will never love again. Not that it bothers Brandon Miller. He needs her husband’s cattle. She needs financial stability and long-term support for her son and herself. But she never expected to care so much about the running of the ranch.

Butting heads over the decisions of the ranch, adding to her frustration and grief at her loss. Her wellbeing is soon threatened as their lives become entangled with Billy the Kid and his gang. What has she gotten herself into? What kind of man has she married? Is there any way out?

A companion novella to "A Convenient Risk"

Brandon and Amanda are ready for their “Happily Ever After”. This Christmas will be a time to share with their little family and maybe experience some much needed peace on earth.

That’s when the letter comes. And everything is turned upside-down. Nothing is as it should be and tensions mount. Will they make it through this holiday season unscathed? Or will they be torn apart by the time Christmas Day comes?



Sara is graciously giving away a fabulous prize pack that includes:  Signed  paperback copies of The Lady Bornekova and The Lady and the Hussites with bookmarks, an ebook copy of Leaving Waverly, a notebook, and some swag (Continental US address only)

To enter, comment below and tell us what historical period you love to read about. You'll get a bonus entry if you follow Sara on social media and tell us you did so. Be sure and leave a way for us to contact you if you win.

***The legal stuff: Contest is not valid unless five (5) unique individuals leave a comment. Ends Tuesday, 1/16/18 at midnight EST. Valid only for those with a continental US address.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Perfect for Publication. . .Author Megan Besing!

   I couldn't be more excited if I drank a gallon of Mountain Dew while parasailing behind my own speedboat waving at family and friends on the dock of my own beachfront home! (Yellow, please.) Slap me and call me silly, my very own daughter is publishing! (Can you tell it's a proud Mama moment? If not, rewind and read above one more time.)
  If you don't believe dreams come true, cast your mind back to 2014 when I first interviewed this lovely lady. ( now, also a bone fide author. (I can almost hear her blush. LOL) All right here. Switching to professional mode (for your safety), I have a super interview for you, our faithful readers. Let's dive in!

PT: Welcome to the mine! Make yourself at home, here on this Adirondack at my yellow beachfront home. We always have to get the particulars out of the way, as usual. So, what genres to you write in, Megan?
MB: I think the genre I'm being published in is perhaps a less complicated question. But if I’m completely honest, my absolute favorite stories to create are YA Fantasies…which is close to polar opposite of my debut which is Historical Fiction. I’ve dabbled in a bit of everything, however as long as there’s a thread of romance, a message of hope, and I like my characters, the worlds I find them in whether past, present, or make-believe isn’t as important for me.

PT: And where did the inspiration come from for your debut novel?

MB: When my publisher sent out a call for mail-order bride stories, the first thing that popped into my head was the hero. I knew I wanted the star of the show to be a preacher. Between my husband and my extended families, there’s a lot of preachers. But if you stop and think about all the main heroes of different books, preachers don’t usually get drafted very often, which I thought was a shame because they have such potential.
Then I started thinking what would provide conflict… a bride whose background was less than stellar, and a congregation that was bent on keeping them apart quickly rounded out the story. And that’s the super short run down of how Perfect for the Preacher came to be. 😊 

PT:  All the readers want to know if this is based on reality or totally made up?

MB: This Historical Fiction is completely made up. However, growing up around preachers and my husband and mine’s numerous military moves, which meant many, many different church homes…I felt confident in my ability to portray the inner workings of a church. In most books you have two main characters, but Hilltop Chapel, the church in Perfect for the Preacher, became a character all its own. And I hope they are a realistic portrayal of a congregation that isn’t perfect, yet of course is very redeemable.

PT: Of course! Now let's get to food. You have to have something that fuels you, lifts you, inspires you! Share your favorite snack for the writing room.

MB: Crunchy Snacks! Whether they actually help my brain become more creative, or if it’s just my imagination that they do, I seem to work better with some kind of crunchy food. My current favorite is Traditional Chex Mex and of course a Vanilla Coke is my drink of choice.

PT: Speaking of fuel for your creativity, let's get to the ultimate spiritual food. What is your favorite Bible verse?

MB: As long as I can remember, Proverbs 3:5-6 has always been my go to verse. It has so much truth and application packed inside those two short verses. Got problems, doubt, fears—Trust—God’s got this, whatever the ‘this’ may be.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” –(NIV)

PT: I think that covers it all. Now, lets take the readers on a little trip here on my make-believe deck. Tell a favorite place you visited.

MB: #Ihearttravel I have had lots of opportunities to visit lots of cool places. My go to answer is always: THE BEACH. Love it! Been to several, several beaches. But I think my favorite vacation was when my husband and I went to Puerto Rico, but our visit to Washington DC was a close second. However, we’re planning a trip to Ireland that I imagine will soon take the top spot. 

PT: Ahhh, well there you have it! And now nothing better than to show you the cover. Let me remove my virtual sunglasses. There. What do you think?
Oh, did I fail to say there were nine total mail order bride stories? Oh, my. It must have been the imaginary sun affecting my brain. Yes, you read that right. Nine authors and nine mail order bride novels all bound within one cover. And a gorgeous one it is. As my granddaughter would say, Bam-What???

I am happy to give you a little blurb as well. (PS: I've read it and it's AWESOME!)

Perfect for the Preacher by Megan Besing
1897, Indiana
Fresh from seminary, Amos Lowry believes marriage will prove to his skeptical congregation that he's mature. If only his mail-order bride wasn't an ex-saloon girl, and worse, pregnant.

Short and sweet. And very tempting! Just like my spot here, sipping fictional lemonade and enjoying the mythical breezes of the salt sea wind. But this book isn't imaginary! And you can win a copy right here on the faithful ole' Diamond Mine. Here's the drill, if you're unfamiliar-become a reader to catch all the giveaways-leave a comment and your email, and we'll get in contact with one of you lucky readers! If you will excuse us now, we must grab our towels and be off to the fabricated white sands of the beach! Thanks for reading!

Megan Besing adores reading, writing, and reviewing stories with happily-ever-afters. She’s received many awards, including being a multi-category finalist in ACFW’s Genesis and a winner of MCRW’s Melody of Love contest. Her debut Perfect for the Preacher releases February 2018 in Barbour’s Mail-Order Brides Novella Collection.

She lives in Indiana with her husband and their children, where she dreams of the beach and drinks way too many Vanilla Cokes. Connect with Megan at