Interview & Book Give-Away with Marilyn Turk

Marilyn Turk headshot 2Friends, you’re in for a special treat today as we talk with Marilyn Turk, author of Lighthouse Devotions. Marilyn and I met about 10 years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and we’ve kept in touch all these years. Interestingly, her first book is about lighthouses and my first book had a lighthouse prominently featured in the story line!

Remember to leave a comment for Marilyn and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her book, Lighthouse Devotions.

So, welcome, Marilyn. Let’s get started with an easy question: Have you always wanted to write a book?

No, I never even considered it until I attended writers’ conferences. I had planned to just write devotions, or maybe some magazine articles, but not a whole book! So when I attended Blue Ridge CWC several years ago, I took Susan King’s course on writing devotions, which was a wonderful course! As a result of that conference, I had some devotions published in The Upper Room. I also pitched a story idea to Jesse Florea of Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, and he liked it! That story was published also.

Yes, you’re another success story that shows how to get published: Go to writing conferences and follow through by doing what you’re taught! So if you started with devotions and articles, how did you end up writing books?

Once again, the idea took root at Blue Ridge. It seemed like everyone was talking about a book they were writing and when they asked me about mine, I was stumped. Was I supposed to be writing a book? Then the genre question came up and I had no idea what that meant. But I had been doing some research about the history of my area and somehow the “What if” question came to mind and a story began to take root, which grew into a book.

And this is the first book you had published?

No, it turned into a series and I’m not finished with that yet. Meanwhile I wrote another novel, The Gilded Curse, that will be published in March by Heritage Beacon of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The first book to be published (other than some anthologies I’ve been in) was the collection of devotions called Lighthouse Devotions.Marilyn Turks Lighthouse Devotions cover

Congratulations your newest book, The Gilded Curse! I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out in March. But since we’re talking about Lighthouse Devotions today, would you tell us how it came about?

Blame it on Edie (Melson). Actually, it was Edie and others who encouraged writers to blog to develop their platform. And again, it was at Blue Ridge – where would I be without Blue Ridge? Anyway, at the time, I found many blogs I read to be boring unless they were about writing. Well I didn’t know enough about writing to write about, so I prayed and asked God what I should write about. My interest in lighthouses was growing and I read about them quite a bit. So God told me to write stories about lighthouses. So that’s what I did. But a funny thing happened. Each time I wrote a story, a Bible verse that related to the story came to mind. I wasn’t sure if I just put the verse in the story because I wasn’t sure if my audience would all be believers, but then I felt God say, “Why do you think I’m giving you those verses?” Since God uses the word “light” 263 times in the Bible, He must see a connection to lighthouses. So the stories became weekly devotionals. Some of the readers asked me when I was going to put them in a book, and finally I did in Lighthouse Devotions.

Sounds like you think conferences are worthwhile.

Did you notice? For me, they’ve been invaluable. Although I went to college and graduated with a degree in journalism, I never intended to have a writing career. I went on to a career in sales and marketing, but always felt I could write if I had time. But when I retired and had time, I felt very rusty and wanted to refresh my skills. Attending writers conferences introduced me to a different world, one I didn’t know existed, and one which I needed to learn a lot about. I highly recommend attending writers conferences if writers want to develop their skills, not to mention network with other writers, another very important aspect of writing. I only attend ChristiaPastor’s Shrimp and Corn Bisquen conferences now. When I first started on this journey, I attended a couple of ABA conferences also and found that I belonged in Christian publishing, where people are honest, supportive, and believers.

In fact, I feel so strongly about conferences that I wanted to expose the writers in my geographic area to their benefits, so I’m hosting one April 20-23! I’m very excited about the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat. We have a wonderful faculty of award-winning authors and publishing professionals. The setting is a quiet conference center in a national forest, not as grand as Blue Ridge or some of the larger conferences, but the quality of the teaching will be first-rate. I hope that writers in the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Georgia can take advantage of its proximity. For more details and registration, check out the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat website.

So which are you writing now, novels or devotions?

I’m writing both! After five and a half years and almost 300 posts, I still write my lighthouse blog, which is mainly nonfiction, so I still do a lot of research for it. It’s funny that I’ve been asked if I might run out of stories for it, since it’s based on real lighthouse stories. My answer is that there are hundreds of lighthouses and even more Bible verses, so I don’t think I’ll run out any time soon. And the blessings that have come from it are amazing. I’ve connected with people all over the world who are lighthouse lovers and read my blog, my devotional blog!

However, the editing and publication of The Gilded Curse has re-energized my fiction brain cells. I can’t wait to get back to my works in progress, but I also have a couple of other book ideas simmering on the backburner of my brain waiting to be developed.Marilyn Turk Guilded Curse cover

Have I told you how much I love the cover of The Gilded Curse? It’s beautiful! We only have time for one more question, so I want to know if you still write for magazines.

Only one – and a very important one near and dear to me – Guideposts magazine. I’ve been a reader and fan of the publication for many, many years, and it was a dream come true to win the 2010 Guideposts Writers contest. As a result, I’ve been writing for them ever since. And another dream came true recently. I signed a contract to write some devotions for Daily Guideposts 2017, an annual devotional book that I’ve used daily for many years and always wanted to be in.

Wow–another thing to celebrate! Thank you for being with us today and sharing your writing journey. I think we all can see that your hard work is showing!

Readers, remember to leave a comment for Marilyn and you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of her book, Lighthouse Devotions. And be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Marilyn Turk is director of the brand new writers conference, Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat, to be held April 20-23, 2016 in Andalusia, AL– a perfect location for writers in southern Alabama and the Gulf Coast. She has been published in Guideposts magazine, Guideposts books – A Joyful Heart and A Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Upper Room, Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Lighthouse Digest magazine. Her Coastal Lights Legacy series features stories set around lighthouses. Her book, Lighthouse Devotions was published in 2015, and in March 2016, The Gilded Curse, a historical suspense novel, will be released by Heritage Beacon, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Her weekly lighthouse blog can be found at http://pathwayheart.com. She lives in Florida with husband Chuck and enjoys boating, fishing, tennis, and gardening when she’s not climbing lighthouses or playing with her grandsons.

Happy writing, everyone!

Vonda

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  • Dee Dee Parker

    Marilyn, thank you for sharing you encouraging writing journey. Blue Lake Christian Writer Retreat sounds wonderful! Vonda, thank you for sharing your inspiring friends with us.

    • Marilyn Turk

      Thank you, Dee Dee. Would love to see you at Blue Lake!

    • And thank YOU for inspiring all of us!

  • Nan Jones

    This was such an encouraging and inspiring interview. I always enjoy reading about another author’s writing journey. Thank you Vonda and Marilyn.

    • You’re very welcome, Nan. You’re always so encouraging. 🙂

    • Marilyn Turk

      Thank you, Nan!

  • Patti Miinch

    Writing is hard work that requires a willingness to make yourself vulnerable, open to the reactions of others. Thank you, Marilyn and Vonda, for stepping out as writers and sharing yourself with the rest of us through your words.

    • And thank you for stopping by and sharing your encouraging words for us! Yes, it’s often a solitary process, but writerly friends make it a lot more fun!

    • Marilyn Turk

      Thank you for letting me share my journey with you!

  • Marilyn, thank you for sharing your journey. So inspiring!

    • It is, isn’t it, Cathy. And you have an inspiring story as well! 🙂

    • Marilyn Turk

      Thank you, Cathy!

  • Marilyn, thanks for showing by example it is possible to write in multiple areas successfully.

    • I love that truth, too, Marilyn. I’ll be forever grateful for my years of writing magazine articles. They went a long way to help the writing budget all those years!

    • Marilyn Turk

      Sandy, many novelists stick to novels, and sometimes, that’s all you have time for, but I like to write a variety as long as I don’t overcommit and underdeliver.

  • So, so, so thrilled for you, Marilyn! Loved reading the background to your success.

    Blessings~~~

    • Marilyn Turk

      Thanks, Julie, my fellow Guideposts writer, whose devotions I’ve admired for years!

      • And welcome aboard to DGP! xoxo

        • Marilyn Turk

          So happy to join you esteemed bunch of writers, Jules!

      • I had totally forgotten that y’all had that connection. Duh!

    • You’re always so encouraging to all of us, Julie. 🙂

  • Elaine Carr

    Many thanks for the encouragement! Like you, I’m “too busy” to write, and dying to get down to it!

    Blessings,
    Elaine Carr

    • Marilyn Turk

      Thanks, Elaine. Sometimes we have to choose our “busyness.”

    • Elaine, I feel like I’m constantly saying, “When such-and-such is over, I’ll have more writing time.” But when such-and-such is over, something else just takes its place. :-/ We can’t wait til the calendar says we have time. That’ll never happen!