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.


Boos Mum said...

I like to read about all kinds of history: medieval, ancient, regency, etc. I am not really picky on the time.

Thank for the giveaway. sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Phyllis - Among the Reads said...

I would have to say my favorite period of history to read about is the one I'm currently reading. Whatever period that might be. As long as the book is well-written, I enjoy all time periods. You can contact me at phyllis at among the reads dot net

Thanks for the giveaway!

DiAne N. Gates said...

What a great interview ladies! And I'm delighted to meet another pantser, Sara. Western mid 1800's is perhaps my favorite to read. Even though I write present day western adventure I'm all in for a great love story and would be thrilled to win this marvelous give-a-way.

Jennifer Hibdon said...

Thanx for the giveaway! I enjoy all historical times, a story that immerses me in a historical time is a winner! I have been looking into the time of America's Sufferage Movement. I cannot wait to read your novel set then. j4hibdon at yahoo dot com

Sara Turnquist said...

Boos Mum, I, too, am all over the time map in what I read (and write). It is more typical for a Historical Fiction/Romance author to pick a time period and stick with it, but I'm more of a "this thing intrigues me...I'm going to write about it"...regardless of time period. So, I've written medieval, American civil war, ancient Egypt, American gold rush, and more...

Sara Turnquist said...

Phyllis - Among the Reads,
I totally get it! Thanks for stopping by! I do love to hop around the time periods.

Sara Turnquist said...

DiAne N. Gates,
Thanks for visiting! I do seem to be honing in on that Western mid-to-late1800s period. My earliest clean Historical Romance inspiration was probably "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and Janette Oak's Western Canadian (Book) Series "When Calls the Heart"...and that is in that period. Best of luck with the giveaway!

Sara Turnquist said...

Jennifer Hibdon,
I feel totally immersed in the Suffrage Movement as that is the most "front burner" novel on my desk right now. The heavy research is done and I'm elbow deep in edits. Hopefully it will be coming before the year is out. I'm not sure how things will potentially slow down with an agent. The small press and indie publishing are great in that things move rather quickly.

Sara Turnquist said...

And, thank you again, Suzie, for having me on your blog! This has been great!!

Anonymous said...

I am all over the place, but recently discovered that I loke regency as well as most others. Thank you for terrific interview. Sara is one busy lady! I appreciate the giveaway opportunity.
perrianneDOTaskewATmeDOT com

Sara Turnquist said...

Now Regency is something I have not really written. But I love Jane Austen and am in the middle of Melanie Dickerson's Regency Series and loving it! Thanks for stopping by! And, on a side note...if I don't stay busy, I get myself into trouble ;-)

Suzie Waltner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzie Waltner said...

Boo's Mum - I agree that I enjoy them all, but I'm particular to Regency (It's the Jane Austen lover in me)

Phyllis-Good answer!

Diane-Pantsers unite! I like to be surprised by the stories and characters I'm writing.

Jennifer-I've only read a handful of novels set around the Suffrage Movement, but enjoyed them

Sara-Thanks for coming to my rescue at the last minute!

Y'all, Sara turned this interview around in a matter of days when my initially scheduled guest fell through due to circumstances beyond her control. So glad I get to introduce you to this wonderful lady1

Terressa T. said...

I love regency romance! But I like to read pretty much any historical period.
I follow Sara on Facebook.

Suzie Waltner said...

Kailey messaged me and said she wasn't able to leave a comment, so I'm adding hers.

Her favorite time period to read is Colonial America to post-Civil War. She also follows Sara on FB.

MH said...

I love all historical eras. I haven’t read a whole lot of historical fiction with Native Americans but want to remedy that this year.

Suzie Waltner said...

This commenter sent the following via the "contact me" link, so I'm sharing her answer to the question here too.

I found your titles to your book interesting. I love historicals the best
would love a chance to win Thanks

Anonymous said...

I am partial to historical England novels, but not limited to those!

Library Lady said...

I enjoy reading books from the Civil War to the present day.
Janet E.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading books from lots of historical time periods. I am not sure what first attracts me to them! :) I am writing a novel based in medieval times and researching for that is challenging.
Thanks for the chance at this giveaway! I enjoyed reading your interview and anticipate being able to read some of your works soon.

( Diane Buie

Anonymous said...

I just left a comment above and forgot to mention I am following Sarah on FB and twitter. Thanks again for the chance at this giveaway!( --Diane Buie

Susanne Mincer said...

I enjoy Civil War and Old West stories.
Follow on Facebook.

Faith Creech said...

Your books look very good. The book written about Cripple Creek, Colorado looks esp. good since we live not far from there, and have been to Cripple Creek countless number of times. I would esp. like to read that book since at love reading about Colorado history.

Faith Creech
faithdcreech at gmail dot com


Kay Garrett said...

Love to read in all historical eras. I think the time when our country was evolving is very interesting as well as during the two world wars because I can envision my parents and grandparents living during those times. However, I don't limit myself to any one period. If a cover draws me or I like the author or storyline, then I will read it. :)

I follow on Facebook - Kay Garrett, Twitter @arkieclown and Pineterst - arkieclowns.

Thank you for the chance to win this fabulous and very generous giveaway!
2clowns at arkansas dot net

Suzie Waltner said...

Congratulations to Janet E. You were selected as the giveaway winner at I will contact you shortly for your information.

Thank you, everyone for stopping by this week.

Peggy Trotter said...

This is a great interview Suzie. Loved meeting you Sara!