Author Interview With Carrie Turansky

Carrie Turanksy, author of The Governess of Highland Hall, has been gracious enough to answer some question for me! You can read my review of The Governess of Highland Hall here!

CT- Carrie Turansky   AS- ME

CT- Hi Anna, thanks for inviting me over to your blog!

AS- Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for me! I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Governess of Highland Hall and can’t wait to keep reading the rest of the Edwardian Brides series! I stayed up until 3 am the other night after I sent my email to you, to read it! I will just jump right in here.

Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have any thing in particular you like to have with you? Tea, specific music, candles, outside etc…

CT- I have a corner desk in our dining room that serves as my office. Sometimes I sit at the desk to write, but I often take my laptop and sit in other more comfortable places around the house. I also like to sit outside on our back patio when the weather is nice so I can enjoy a view of my garden while writing. To block out noise and provide inspiration, I to listen to instrumental music or movie soundtracks while writing. I have some favorite Pandora stations that I listen to as well. I’m a tea drinker, so you’ll find me drinking a cup of Earl Grey in the cool weather, and when it’s warm, I like to enjoy iced Passion Tazo tea.

AS- Faith takes a relatively important role in your books; what made you decide to incorporate that aspect into your writing? Did you find that it hindered your opportunities at all?

CT- My faith is central to who I am, so it is natural for me to include faith elements in my novels. I believe God’s Word has practical answers and wisdom for any problem or circumstance we face. Good stories include conflict and problems that the characters have to overcome, so I like to think of how God helps me or others I know through similar issues and include that in my novels to encourage readers. I hope they will see faith and God’s work in their lives in a new light when they read one of my books. There is a need for well-written stories that include faith elements, and there are publishers who come from that perspective and are looking for authors who can write inspirational stories.

AS- What is the best advice you have been given as a writer thus far?

CT- Keep learning and growing as a writer. Read widely and write every day or as often as you can. Connect with other writers and those in the publishing industry to glean from them and learn all you can. Attend writers’ conferences. Keep writing and never give up.

AS- What training/education do you have when it comes to writing?

CT- I have a degree in fine art from Oregon State University and graduate diploma in Bible from Multnomah University. My training for writing has come through attending writers’ conferences, reading writing craft books, networking with other authors, being in critique groups, and writing.

AS- You are a Oregon native, which is cool because I lived in Washington State for a time, but are now in New Jersey, right across the river from me in Pennsylvania! Neither are very close to England. Where did your interest in England come from?

CT- I’ve always loved history and reading classic novels, many which are set in England. I homeschooled my five children and read many historical novels aloud to them. All that stirred my interest in writing historical fiction. In 2012 I attended a conference and asked an editor what type of book she was looking for. She said she’d love to see a story set in England during the same time period as Downton Abbey since that series was just becoming popular. She even suggested the heroine be a governess and the hero have a brooding personality with a secret past, reflecting some elements from Jane Eyre. I loved the idea, but I wasn’t sure I could write a story set in England in the early 1900s. It’s hard enough to write a story set in the US in a previous time. But I had a good friend who had just published a book set in England in 1912, and she encouraged me and gave me several research books. I jumped into the research and fell in love with Edwardian England.

AS- I truly appreciate your love of Edwardian England, since I am a bit of a time period snob myself. What about that era drew you in and made you decide to set your series in that time?

CT- When I started researching the time period I watched both seasons of Downton Abbey and a lesser-known series called Manor House. Manor House is an English reality series where people take on the roles of servants and wealthy, titled family members and live on an English country estate like they did in the Edwardian period. The division of the classes is very interesting. The homes, fashions, and lifestyle are fascinating, but there are many modern inventions that make that time period similar to today – trains, cars, telephones, etc. It’s a great time period, and there aren’t too many authors writing books set then, so it was a good time to do it.

AS- I just finished reading The Governess of Highland Hall, the first book in your Edwardian Bride. Where did your inspiration for these characters come from?

CT- The heroine, Julia Foster, is inspired by missionary Amy Carmichael, who traveled to India and served the Lord there for many years. I took pieces of Amy’s back-story and wove them together in my imagination to create Julia. There is also the influence of Jane Eyre’s story in the hero, heroine, and some of the situations in the book.

AS- I love your author website, it’s one of the best I’ve seen. The recipes that you have to go along with your different books are a great touch! Where did you get the idea and the recipes!?

CT- Thanks for your kind words about my website. I love to cook, so I enjoy including food in my books. I thought it would be fun to share those recipes with my readers, so I added them to my website. Some of the recipes are family favorites, so that’s a special nod to my family members.

AS- You are a very busy author/mom/grandmother/speaker/writer/gardener and involved in ministry! How in the world do you keep it all straight? Do you have a super awesome planner that we should all invest in? Where do you find the time to write!?

CT- I am blessed to be at the stage of life where it’s just my husband and I at home, so that frees me up to plan my days and spend a good amount of time on writing. But my life is more than writing. My family, our ministry, and my friendships are all important to me. I try to start each day spending time in God’s Word, writing in my prayer journal, and making a list of goals for the day. When I am working on a book I set a weekly word count goal, and that helps me finish my books on time.

Great questions, Anna! Thank you!

I love to connect with readers on Facebook, Pinterest, and through my website. I send out an email newsletter every other month to share book news, recipes, book reviews, and encouraging articles. I also blog at my website. The sign up for the blog and newsletter are on the home page of my website: http://carrieturansky.com/

Blessings and Happy Reading!

-Carrie

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Along with visit Carrie’s website, you can also find her on instagram @carrieturansky to keep up with what she is reading, writing, her beautiful gardens and travels! She is also an active Pinner with some great stuff!

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The Governess of Highland Hall- Carrie Turansky

I have a Pinterest problem. Like….a 16,000 pins Pinterest problem. In the midst of pinning, I pinned the book Daughter of Highland Hall, by Carrie Turansky. She happened to see that I had pinned the book and commented on it. One thing led to another, and I ended up buying the first book in her Edwardian Brides series, The Governess of Highland Hall. I then read the whole thing in a few hours, it just happens….

Julia has spent the last 12 years in India, the daughter of two missionaries. She has returned home to England with her family due to her father’s poor health and she must find a job. As luck would have it, a local family with two young women as their wards and two children are in need of a governess. Though she has never been a governess, or helped polish young ladies for their debut into society, she has a great work ethic, experience with children and a steadfast faith in the Lord to help her through.

Nothing beats a good romance to help kick off summer reading. There were a few webs of love spun and woven together throughout the course of the book. Some were able to weather their storms while others were not so lucky. Either way, when an author can make me fall in love with the characters, that’s really all that matters.

The story takes place in Edwardian England, very Downton Abbey. These are two of my other favorite things, England and a time period piece. There is an added air of romance to the culture and lives of people from that time and place. There have been many days where I wish some of those ideologies were still prevalent, I think our literature and culture would be a better place.

Turansky has an eloquent ability to make the words come alive off of the page. Her vivid imagery and detail made this book an absolute joy to read. My favorite scenes were Christmas, as she described the Christmas tree, swags with bows and cinnamon and the decorations. I could smell the cinnamon and fresh-cut tree right in my room. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I had just been smelling holiday candles at the Yankee Candle Outlet the other day….but I’d rather give the credit to her.

Her characters are quirky, honest, intriguing, real, mischievous, relatable and fun. I am a very interactive reader, it is not uncommon to hear me yelling at the characters as I go. More than once did I find myself laughing, rooting for, and shaking my head at the antics and choices of the members of the family and household. Julia Foster was a very endearing main character that was a perfect counter to the Darcy-ish William Ramsey.

If you are a Downton Abbey fan, you should read this book. If you want a light summer read, you should read this book. If you are a sucker for a romance, you should read this book. The second book in the series, The Daughter of Highland Hall, is currently available. The next book, A Refuge at Highland Hall will be available October 20, 2015!

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When the Music Stops- Paddy Eger

84 Ribbons was my first read and book review for NetGalley. You can find that review HERE.

I have waited ALMOST an entire year for the sequel When the Music Stops by Paddy Eger. It was well worth the wait. I read the entire book in one sitting today…my Kindle app says that it took me about 3 hours. I am obviously off my game reading that slow. haha.

Since it had been a while between books, it took me a little bit to re-acquaint myself with the characters, but it was not really much of an issue. Being a sequel, it is REALLY hard to talk about the book and what choices are made and how Marta continues on her journey without giving anything away. I mean, I can’t tell you about her relationship with Steve, I can’t tell you about her professional dance career choices, I can’t tell you about teaching- I CAN’T TELL YOU ABOUT ANYTHING! It is insanely hard to write a review on a sequel. They don’t teach you how to do this in college.

In typical Anna Reading Fashion, I had at least 3 mini-meltdowns where I shook my iPad in my hand going “GAHHHH DON’T DO THAT! PICK THIS NOT THAT!!!!” Eger easily kept me on my toes throughout the book. I actually thought I had guessed the ending, told my mom, got to the ending and was pleasantly surprised that I was WRONG! This is a very important fact because reading has been dry for me of late. You can read about THAT soap box HERE. So kudos and thank you Paddy for throwing me off of my book predicting game!

There are a few tweaks I would have done, had I written the book. There is a build up with her addiction to diet pills. I was expecting a different outcome with the issue. It was such a huge part of the first book and even in the second, it was a steady line in the plot. I was just disappointed for some reason.

I got kind of annoyed with Steve. I mean, he was a nice guy and everything, but I felt like her relationship with him had way too many issues for it to all end the way that it did. I’ll say it, I am 100% team Sam all of the way. 

I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. She could have easily continued on a bit longer and I would have been completely satisfied. After having invested so much into these characters, I didn’t want the book to end. One minute Marta is dancing; the next she is sending a wedding announcement. I needed an in-between, an epilogue….SOMETHING to feed my curiosity!

Reading these two books has made me wish I’d never left dancing. I also rarely have the itch to find an adult class and sign back up the way I have with these books. It was like I was able to live vicariously through Marta with the barre exercises and pirouettes. I loved this book for the same reasons that I did the first, the ballet, the time period component and the ability to so easily relate to the characters. I played field hockey for 10 years. After walking off of the field my senior year of high school, I really had not had the opportunity to play since. Last summer I had the chance to play on my mission trip in Northern Ireland and the feeling was remarkable. I understood Marta in a way that so many others can easily identify with as well. For a time, it was like the music had stopped in my own life. I was unsure of how to fill my time and space. But, as Marta, I learned how to adapt.

I have already recommended both books to a few of my dancer friends since finishing the second installment just a few short hours ago. Though I am sad that the third installment will not focus on Marta and her adventures, I am super excited to follow Lynne through her next steps in life in Letters to Follow (Coming Soon). Both 84 Ribbons and When the Music Stops would be perfect additions to any summer reading list, for girls of (almost) any age!

To learn more about Paddy, her other works, upcoming pieces etc, visit her website at http://www.paddyeger.com.

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Oops I Did it Again

I hope you thoroughly appreciate that awesome early 2000s flashback to Brittany Spears. I may have known the whole choreography to that song at one point in my life….anyways….

I got more Pura Vida Bracelets. I can’t even help myself. They’re so cool. I love the two that I got so much that I had to get….4 more…and I have many more sitting on my wish list.

As with my previous purchase, I bought all of my bracelets from the Charity section. A portion of the price goes to the corresponding organization/research. There are so many options and categories and organizations to support, it is easy to just buy from that section.

The first one is the Cystic Fibrosis Awareness. One of the munchkins that I babysit was born with the disease and is a superhero. She has been blessed in her almost 12 years of life with very few flare ups and relatively good health.

The second one I purchased is the Thyroid Disease Awareness. There are a number of people in my family that have struggled with thyroid issues, as well as so many of our friends. It affects so many people and yet it is so rarely talked about.

I also purchased the Prostate Cancer Awareness bracelet. Again, I have had a number of people in my life diagnosed with cancer, specifically prostate cancer. The amazing professor that I worked for at school for 3 years was diagnosed fall of 2013. After treatments and surgery he is cancer free and in good health.

Last but not least, I purchased the U.S. Army bracelet to go along with my Forgotten Warriors. As the daughter of an Army vet, this bracelet was an obvious no-brainer.

I love these just as much as my first ones. My arm is slowly but surly looking more and more like a rainbow. They are conversation pieces, and getting to tell people the story behind each one makes them that much more special.

If you would like to begin building your own bracelet collection, use the link HERE to get 50% off of $20 or more. You get 4 bracelets for the price of 2 and it is FREE shipping! What do you support? If you purchase any charity bracelets, show me on Instagram using the hashtag #BWBPVCharity

IMG_0469The collection!

 

It’s Only Been A Week

It’s been just over a week since we planted our garden. We have had lots of growth and some death thus far.

IMG_5609Our strawberries are the only ones to have seen death. Out of all of the plants I put in, 2 have died. We specifically put so many in for this exact reason. It is still early, there may still be some loss, but as of now, the rest of them look like they are doing well. 

 

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IMG_5614Two of our 12 potatoes have busted through! There is evidence that at least 3 more will pop through in the coming days. This is the first year we are growing potatoes in this garden. I am excited to see how well they do.

IMG_5613Our mixed greens and leafy lettuce are flourishing. Fresh lettuce grows like weeds, and lasts FOREVER. We were giving it away last year because it lasts 3-4 weeks when stored properly. 

IMG_5612Our radish patch is doing quite well. We only planted in half of the area because we are going to rotate them out. So next week we will plant another 2 rows of radish, just in time for our first ones to be done in a few days time. They have a quick germination/maturity time. 
IMG_5611This is our singular bush cucumber plant. We planted 5 in the little plot. We’re hoping that by the end of the week we’ll have a few more. Mom wants to make pickles…even though she’s the only one that eats them.

IMG_5616I like to call this the “Mater Forest.” I feel like we have so much more than last year, and I know that once they really start growing up, it’s going to look like one as well. They haven’t had much vertical growth, but it’s still early. They’re more busy rooting that growing.

IMG_5610We planted about 8 sunflowers and 6 of them have already started popping! I took a shot of the two biggest ones. I will harvest the seeds in the fall and bake them! 

IMG_5608We are most excited for the green beans…ok….it might just be me. I LOVE green beans. I like them raw, I like them blanched, I like them sautéed in butter with garlic and onion, I like them fried. I haven’t met a green bean I didn’t like…except casserole. They are bursting forth in their little rows and I could not be more excited.

IMG_5618This little guy is not in our back garden, but I like it anyway. We planted 4 lavender plants in our front/side gardens this year. Lavender is not only pretty once it blooms, but it also smells good and is a natural bug repellent. It is also a perennial so we will not have to worry about having to replace it every year.

We are still waiting for the onion, peppers and carrots to pop. They should be showing up to the party in the very near future. The cosmos and zinnias that we planted around the vegetable garden are barely showing above the mulch. Our marigolds are thriving. Those 3 were planted as bee attractors and bug repellents.

From here out, I will post garden updates once the plants start producing or something super super exciting happens!

Happy planting!

Spare Time Writers

I am SO excited to finally be student teaching in the fall. I was blessed to have an incredible field experience teacher who let me teach a unit on my own. That alone is an experience most students do not have before their student teaching. Another blessing that is coming with student teaching in the fall is that I have the entire summer to prep. I have already met with my co-op and she is in the same hallways as my field experience co-op so we already know each other!

I will be teaching 9th and 10th grade honors. When I first started college, I thought that I wanted to be a college professor. I wanted to run to that position as fast as humanly possible. Then I got into a classroom. I was spoiled with an amazing group of 9th graders, and I fell in love.

Writing can be a struggle and at times very boring, especially for high schoolers. Unlike elementary ed, secondary teachers usually don’t walk away with baskets of goodies at the end of their student teaching…or holidays…or at all really. I have come up with a way to get both.

I scoured pinterest, blogs, books and the internet for pictures and writing prompts. Some of the writing prompts are as simple as captioning a picture. Some are personal, asking the students to write about a mentor or a favorite book. Others require the students to write a scene or short story using a provided sentence, setting, character or phrase. Some are silly while others are serious and heartfelt.

I am going to be putting these prompts in a bucket. Students will be able to grab one if there is time at the end of class, if they need/want writing inspiration-whenever. They then write and return both the prompt and their writing to a bin. If there is time at the end of class, I will open the floor for students to share what they have written through the week, if they so choose. I will collect their writings throughout my 16 weeks of student teaching in a binder as my keepsake and memento of my time with them.

You can use these writing prompts for your own creative writing to aid writers block. You can use them in a classroom. I have done the work and I am now sharing it with the world, because, sharing is caring.

I suggest printing these spare time writers, cutting them, and pasting them on index cards for extra strength. To really make them last, laminating them might not be a bad idea either!

Happy Writing!

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Spring Gardening

In March, in the midst of a snow storm I spent the day planning our garden. This weekend, the snow has been gone for a few weeks, the sun has been shining and we were finally able to get stuff in the ground!

I had come up with beautiful plans and a beautiful layout, created with tons of research, love and care. screen-shot-2015-03-05-at-5-18-30-pmThen we got out there and my dad decided things needed more space. The really pretty garden layout that looked like the above, ended up looking like the below in reality. Which, is ok. It doesn’t look near as pretty in a chart like this, but it works. Sunflowers and cucumbers were added to the garden. The “walking path,” kinda disappeared for the most part, but there is plenty of space between plants so we’ll be just fine.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.26.29 AMWe also have an adorable little strawberry patch, I have claimed it as my own.10689423_10206003822511341_2734209453159910876_nAround the garden we planted marigolds, cosmos, and zinnias. Marigolds are natural (bad) bug-repellants, cosmos and zinnias are natural bee attractors. When you have a garden this big, with this much stuff in it, you want as many bees as you can get! 11206100_10206003822071330_2141622102369986064_n

11204480_10206003822311336_9176184884080786480_nWe have 24 tomato plants of 3 varieties, Roma, Celebrity and Brandywine. We planted red potatoes because we think they are better to cook/bake with. Mom wants to make pickles this fall so the cucumbers are small bush cucumbers. There are 15 strawberry plants in the box. I’m not sure that they’ll all make it, and if I do…well…if anybody would like some strawberry plants, hit me up. The rest of the garden is seeds, so I guess we will see in a few weeks how many of each we have!

Stay tuned for update posts and recipes throughout the summer!

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Pura Vida Bracelets

I had heard of this company last year some time. I finally decided to take the plunge and order some. I already wear Alex and Ani bangles, and have a friendship bracelet from Guatemala that a friend gave to me. I totally want to be one of those cool girls with half an arm of different bangles and bracelets. I am slowly working towards that goal. I knew that if I was going to justify spending the money on these guys they had to mean something.

Pura Vida helps by providing jobs in Costa Rica, thus helping their families and the economy. YAY! That’s reason #1 why they’re pretty cool.

Along with lots of “fun” sets and bracelets, they also have a TON of charity bracelets. A portion of those proceeds go toward different charities and organizations. Want to help save dolphins? There’s a bracelet for that. Want to support Premature Baby Awareness?

“In 2013 we were able to donate over $140,000 to 190+ charity organizations and we’ve only grown since then.”-Pura Vida

They have braided, mens, sets, beaded, charity, anklets, ones with charms– they seriously have a HUGE variety. There’s a bracelet for it! Seriously, you can go through by category, it’s pretty sweet.

For my first purchase, my mother and I each got a Breast Cancer Awareness and Forgotten Warriors bracelets. We also ordered a few extra Breast Cancer Awareness ones to share with friends in honor of our friend Shelly. You can read her story here. I am the daughter of an Army veteran, with many other friends and family that have served and are currently serving around the US and the world. These two causes are very near and dear to my heart. I certainly have a whole list of other bracelets to add to my collection.

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Reason number 3 is that they are both adjustable and don’t stay wet on your arm. I love my Guatemala friendship bracelet, but it is made of regular “friendship bracelet string.” When I shower or it gets wet, it stays wet for a bit. Not forever, but enough that it kind of annoys me. It’s also not adjustable. The Pura Vida bracelets are adjustable AND they dry pretty quickly. I have very tiny wrists, so it’s nice that I can pull them comfortably and not have to worry about them falling off.

Shipping is FREE within the US, which is AWESOME! Nothing is worse than paying more for shipping than the actual item(s) you are getting. The bracelets are all very reasonably priced. They do also have sale bracelets. On top of all of that, they have super cute accessories like hair bands, beanies, water bottles, phone cases etc.

Our bracelets arrived last week in a super cute turquoise package. Each bracelet comes in its own little canvas draw string bag for safe keeping, gift giving, yadda yadda.

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I was able to have a text sent to my phone when the package was delivered, which was definitely pretty cool, and way easier than checking online every 30 minutes. The package also included two little Pura Vida stickers. I am still trying to figure out where they will go, but they’re adorable.

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It seems kind of silly, to be writing about something so simple. I mean, there are quite a number of bracelets that are under $10, $5 even! It’s not like I broke the bank getting these guys. I’ve only had them for a little over a week and have already gotten compliments and questions about them though! It is so neat to be able to tell people what the bracelets support as well as what the company supports. They have a great rewards/points/referral program as well! WOOP WOOP!

I can’t wait to continue building my own Pura Vida collection, and see my friends and family start, and continue building theirs! Use THIS LINK to get 50% off your purchase of $20 or more!

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