Hello Sara and welcome to my blog.
It is so very nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?
I enjoy a great many things – reading, painting, music (singing and piano), crafting, decorating, scrapbooking…but who has the time for all of that???
How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create?
I have always written in some form or another – short stories mostly. Then one day I was inspired to write a longer story, it grew and became a novel. Then I wrote another…and another… I am inspired by relationships between people, and by historical events and time periods. History fascinates me.
Who is your favorite author, is there anyone out there that inspires you?
Melanie Dickerson and Tamara Leigh are favorites of mine. I love how they draw you back into their respective time periods. I also love Joanne Bischof for her expert deep point of view. You really feel like you are in the story, feeling what the character feels…it’s amazing.
What genre do you enjoy reading? What’s your favorite book and why?
I love clean historical romance. My favorite book has to be “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. It spoke to me on so many levels. The story is just so well written, but on a deeper, more spiritual level, it brought me a better understanding of myself.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It gave me a reason to invest in myself, in my education of the craft of writing. I started going to writers conferences and learned a TON! My writing has grown tremendously. I was purely a pantser (write “by the seat of my pants”, without an outline (like a “plotter”)), for example. Now, I would call myself a PLANTSER. I do planning/plotting/development for my characters beforehand and then I pants the rest. I have also learned more about writing that flows, but is tight. Before I was a bit concise, unnecessarily tight.
If you’ve published a series, what is the series about?
I have two series:
The Lady Bornekova Series – about the Hussite Wars in what is today the Czech Republic. It was their religious civil wars. It follows a handful of characters through the events leading up to the wars and during the wars (and, of course, each book is driven by a romance)
A Convenient Risk Series – set in the late 1800s small-town Southeastern Arizona, the first book follows a marriage of convenience with a cameo by Billy the Kid; the companion novella, “An Inconvenient Christmas”, picks up a story thread from the first book and develops it further.
What was it like creating back to back stories that link?
Interesting…I loved staying with the same characters, telling more of their stories, developing them further, and seeing what happens in the “next chapter” of their lives, so to speak.
Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could, what genre would you like to dabble in?
I have thought about it. My first love growing up was Science Fiction. But I don’t think I have the drive for it. I have a devotional book almost ready to go. It is with a licensed counselor now for review so she can endorse it.
What has been your most proud moment as an author?
Some of the reviews and feedback. One of the reviewers said something to the effect that my book “renewed her love for historical fiction” and another reader sent me a note and told me that one of my books helped her enjoy romance books again after a difficult divorce…reaching people in a meaningful way is more important to me.
Was there ever a time you wanted to pick up your laptop, and then launch it out the window with frustration?
I dabble in historical research and have to hunt down sometimes difficult to find details…of course I have! And when the historical timeline won’t work out with my fictional timeline, it drives me crazy until I can figure it out…
Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantster” as a writer?
I am in-between – a PLANTSER. I do a LOT of character development/planning in the beginning, before I ever write anything. Once those characters are firmly established in my mind, I pants everything else.
Am I the only one who gets hung up on commas? Do they make you go blah! when you’re writing?
I have learned a lot more about commas since starting to write seriously, but they still catch me up a lot. Thank God for good editors!
What three tips would you give any aspiring writer?
- be determined: no one is going to care about your work as much as you are, so if you don’t feel like working and you don’t, no one is going to make you.
- you are the captain of your ship: even if you have a publisher, even if you have an agent; you need to realize that this is YOUR career, you need to have an idea where you are going, what your goals are, and manage that plan; don’t hand your career over to anyone else; they don’t care as much as you do about you.
- continue your education: you will never “arrive”; there is always more to learn; some of that will come from classes (online or at conferences), some from other authors through critique groups (online or in person), some through reading others’ work (in ALL genres, not just yours), and some from just doing and learning by creating and editing.
What are you working on now? What will you release next?
I am working on two books:
“Among the Pages” – a time slip set in contemporary period about a freshman in college trying to find who she is; she discovers a diary in her parents’ attic that belonged to her great, great aunt, who was a part of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the early 1900s; so the story is part in the contemporary period, and part in the historical period.
“Trail of Fears” (working title) – this is about a missionary to a Cherokee village; he arrives shortly before the passage of the Indian Removal Act; so, through his eyes and the perspective of a Cherokee maiden, we experience the happenings in the village and around them between the passage of this Act and the forcible removal of the Cherokee through their trip along the Trail of Tears to their new home west of the Mississippi River – **this will likely be the next release.
So… where can we get your books?
All of my books are on Amazon.
Many are also on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.
How would you define what being a successful writer means?
Writing what you want, when you want, and how you want; getting your intended message or question out without it being diluted.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I think it CAN hurt, but not necessarily. I think there’s something to be said for having an eager and humble spirit about yourself.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I use solid sources. So, not Wikipedia…for example. But, Wikipedia can be a good place to start (not for info), to look at their bibliography and find resources to go to. I’ve found wonderful books to read for research using this method. I usually do enough research to have a basic idea of the subject matter; then I start writing; when I hit a wall or a question, I do more research, as much as I need, before going back to writing. I’ve heard it said about historical writers: “When the history runs dry, throw in some fiction; when the fiction falls flat, throw in more history.” So true.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do. I don’t always advise this. And certainly not for newbies. The only reason I read them is to get a gauge on what my audience thinks are my strengths and weaknesses. If a review is just nasty, it is not helpful in any way and I chuck it mentally. If it is appropriate, but has some critique points, I take what I can from it to try to improve. I’ve had a lot of “high feedback” jobs and I see the value in using feedback to improve myself and my work. Likewise, I read good reviews to see my strengths, what I’m doing well, to continue to work those strengths.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Fight scenes. I am better at it. But I do not really enjoy reading fight scenes or battle scenes, so I include only what is necessary and minimalize details. Emotionally speaking, some of the scenes in “Trail of Fears” have been very hard to write. To know that people endured such treatment and that what I’m writing, though fictionalized, is based on reality, is hard.
What’s your writing schedule like?
I usually write in the evenings or in the middle of the day when my 4-year-old is in “quiet time”. He doesn’t nap anymore, mind you, but my kids have all had “quiet time” in their rooms. They don’t have to sleep or lay down…they can play, but they need to be quiet and in their rooms. I think some alone time is good for them.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My writing mentor, who constantly encourages and inspires me, is best-selling author Hannah R. Conway. She has taught me so much and given me my biggest push into this world of writing. She is amazing!
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
Idea to birth of the story is very short for me…my mind/imagination works very quickly. My husband, who is also a writer, helps me brainstorm if I get caught on details and we have the story idea down pretty quickly after the idea/spark has hit me. The process is almost the same for every book. Time to write has varied, but my books usually come together (first draft) in about 3 months. Then it’s edits. A novella can take as little as 3 days for first draft.
How have your family and friends accepted your career as a writer? Are they supportive?
My family is so thrilled. They have been supportive. But they are waiting for audio for all my books as my dad doesn’t read and my sister is SUPER busy. My mom read everything I wrote, but she passed a year ago April. She was probably my biggest fan in the family.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I took a class once at a conference that suggested that even in our imagination, the characters are made up of pieces of other people (or other characters we’ve seen or read) brought together. And I tend to agree. So, I will say they are based on real people or on other characters I’ve seen or read. Not intentionally, mind you. I believe I am imagining them. The female leads probably all have a piece of me.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
The two I’m working on now was actually written about a year ago. I am in the editing phase. The most recent work I wrote was the Christmas companion for “A Convenient Risk”. The inspiration was the characters from “A Convenient Risk” and the Christmas season itself. I wanted to do a Christmas novella and that was it!
Where would you like to travel to and why?
I have been to the Czech Republic multiple times, but I would go back in a heartbeat. I fell in love with the people and the culture. And now that I have done so much research, I would like to visit some of these historical sites.
Tell us about how you develop your characters?
I use Susan May Warren’s SEQ (Story Equation) Method and her LINDY HOP outline. I don’t want to divulge too much because it’s in her book “The Story Equation” (available on Amazon) and she also has a workbook “How to Write a Brilliant Novel” (also available on Amazon) – I highly recommend both.
Which one of your characters is your favorite and why?
I really like Karin…she has risen above so many obstacles and she has that stubbornness in her that keeps her true to her goals.
What would you like readers to know?
I love what I do. I just enjoy writing stories. And I appreciate every single person who picks up one of my books and reads it. And tries to see the meaning in it. Or just enjoys the story. I write for both reasons.
Contact and Buy Info:
Sara R. Turnquist – http://saraturnquist.com
Author, Domestic Engineer, & Super Mom
Twitter: @sarat1701 https://twitter.com/sarat1701
Facebook Author Page: AuthorSaraRTurnquist https://www.facebook.com/authorsararturnquist/
BUY LINKS – “A Convenient Risk”
Barnes & Noble:
BUY LINKS – “An Inconvenient Christmas”