Marilyn Turk is currently writing inspirational historical romance. Her stories take place during the Civil War era and feature lighthouses. She loves doing the research and discovering interesting facts to work into her tales.
Niceville, Florida, in the state’s panhandle, often called “paradise” by locals due to its snow white sandy beaches, turquoise water, and abundant marine life and waterfowl, is where Marilyn lives with her newlywed husband and their blended family of his dog, Buddy, and her cat, Leia. Marilyn and her husband are empty nesters.
Marilyn received a degree from Louisiana State University (“Geaux Tigers!”) in Journalism with a minor in Advertising and worked in food service sales for thirty years. When she’s not writing, she enjoys tennis, walking, reading, swimming, gardening, and kayaking. When she and her husband were dating two years ago, he taught her how to fish, and now she can be found in the boat with him most Saturday mornings.
I asked Marilyn what yummy treat she enjoys, and here’s what she said.
During the holidays, my husband and I vie for position in the kitchen where he makes his banana bread recipe and I make my banana-pineapple bread. They’re both good, but I like mine better. 🙂
Marilyn shared her recipe, which you can find that the end of the interview. For now, I have a warm-from-the-oven pan of her banana-pineapple bread (virtual variety) for her visitors, so grab a piece, sit back, and munch out while you learn more about Marilyn and her writing.
Marilyn Embarks on Her Journey
•With your penchant for words and your degree in journalism, I’m guessing you’re one of those people who was born with a pen in her hand. Am I right?
Not sure I can say “yes” to that, but English was an easy subject for me in school. Even though my degree was in journalism, I pursued advertising after graduation until I changed career fields.
My desire to write began when my first child was born many years ago, but I needed to keep my fulltime job, and couldn’t find time to write besides journaling. It’s only been in the last five years that I began to pursue that dream seriously, attending writers conferences, taking a creative writing course online and a college creative writing course.
Now, in this new phase of my life, after moving to a new location (Niceville really is nice), becoming an empty-nester, and marrying the man God chose for me, I believe that God wants me to use my experience and my ability to spread His truth in writing.
•Writers conference experiences have played a major role in launching your journey as moving it forward. Please tell us about those.
I never thought I would be able to write a book or even fiction, for that matter, but while attending conferences, especially the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, a book began to form in my mind based on research I had done in my area about the Civil War.
I have attended this conference for the past five years, and each time I am inspired and instructed by wonderful teachers.
At the last conference I attended in May, I met with a couple of publishers, and one showed enough interest to ask for the manuscript plus a list of the next three book titles. Needless to say, I have new incentive to finish my book. I pray God will direct me to discover what the next three will be about.
So, that is where I am with my WIP. I have no deadline but my own, which I have given myself as Christmas.
•You joined some writers groups and made some great connections. How did this come about? In what ways has your involvement helped you grow as a writer?
The main writers group I have joined is ACFW and the historical fiction writers loop. The faculty at conference encouraged us to join ACFW. I have been so excited and thrilled to hear from so many fellow writers and learn more about the craft as well as wonderful research tidbits.
It’s so encouraging to know there is a resource and wealth of information available from those who have already “plowed the path.”
Marilyn’s High Points
•Before you started your first story, you saw your byline in magazines. What can you tell us about that? How have your experiences served you as a novelist?
I started out by writing devotionals and children’s stories. Due to meeting editors at writers conferences (and divine intervention), I have been published twice in The Upper Room and once in Clubhouse Jr. I was also published in a local magazine, Coastal Christian Family. Being published has not only given me writing credits, but it has also given me great encouragement and affirmation that I am on the right path.
•You won a trip many writers would love to take. How did this come about, where did you go, and who else was there?
I have been blessed by having a dream come true – I was selected as one of the winners for the Guideposts Writers Workshop this year! My story, as well as those submitted by the other 14 winners, was selected!
As winners, we were treated to an all-expense-paid trip to Rye, New York in October for the workshop taught by the Guideposts staff. This included editors from each of their publishing imprints – Guideposts magazine, Guideposts Daily Devotions (book), Guideposts Books, Guideposts Online Magazine, Angels, etc. In addition, our special keynote speaker was Debbie Macomber.
The experience was incredibly enriching and wonderful, even more so because my first dream of being a writer began with a desire to be published in Guideposts magazine. I hope I can remember the valuable information that was shared. I never realized until now how far-reaching their presence is in the publishing world.
•The setting for your current story has led you to some interesting discoveries. What are some of the thrills you’ve experienced while doing your research?
It seems that while the story is developing in my mind, I am led to research for a particular thing. I am so surprised to find what I’m looking for – almost as if God put it there for me to find!
For example, I needed to find out where and how slaves were allowed to worship during 1861 in the town where my story is located. I contacted a still-existing pre-Civil War church there and found out they had a slave gallery! That’s just one example. There are more. I also needed a hurricane for that area during the summer and discovered there was one on August 16, 1861! It’s almost like God is rewriting history just for me!
Marilyn’s Education and Experiences
•Which books and blogs have your found most helpful in your quest to learn the writing craft?
I believe my favorite is Jerry B. Jenkins Writing for the Soul. It’s very nuts and bolts, down to earth advice for writers. I also liked Stephen King’s On Writing, and Sally Stuart’s Guide to Getting Published, which contains a wealth of information.
•You’ve been blessed to take workshops and attend conferences. What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned?
Oh, there’s so many! Probably the first is expecting rejection as part of the process and discovering that most published writers have been rejected at one time or another.
Secondly, the encouragement to try again because, even if one or more publishers reject your work, it’s not necessarily your work that is the problem, but that it just didn’t fit with their needs.
Also, and most importantly, is knowing that as Christian writers, our work is dedicated to the glory of God and not ourselves, and that we are following the Great Commission by going out into the world, teaching God’s truth through our writing.
•Some writers, like you, have formal education in writing before they embark on their journeys as romance novelists. What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned from your coursework?
There are basic rules to writing, no matter whether it is nonfiction or fiction. I am grateful for my journalism courses that taught me to write pithy, that is, give the five W’s and the H – what, where, when, why, who, and how. I try to make sure I cover all these in my writing, whether it’s in devotions or stories. Journalism also taught me to write on deadlines, something publishers really appreciate.
My most recent formal education was a college course in Creative Writing last year. That course taught me that 1) you can teach an old dog new tricks and 2) how to survive critique sessions without suffering severe depression.
Marilyn’s Sources of Inspiration
•What inspires you when you’re writing? Music? Motivational sayings on your office walls? A hefty dose of caffeine?
My husband is a great encourager, but God keeps me inspired by little reinforcements that I am on the right track. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” (Psalm 119:105). For example, I wrote a few devotionals for a publication our church put out a couple of weeks ago. The other day, someone came up to me and told me how much one of them meant to her. Another source of inspiration is what happens when I write as the story unfolds from my fingertips in ways I hadn’t expected, as if someone else is telling the story through me.
•Who or what serves to spur you on, lift you up, and keep you moving forward with dogged determination in pursuit of your dream of publication?
Since my writing has yet to produce any significant earnings and I am no longer employed outside the home, I feel responsible to my husband to show sincere effort in this endeavor. I also take commitment very seriously, and now that I’ve made my vocation public, I have many people expecting me to follow through and cannot let them down.
Marilyn’s Journey Continues
•You’re nearing The End of your first story. What will you work on after that?
The next one! As I mentioned before, the publisher wants to know the titles of the next three in the series, so there better be a series lying dormant in my mind, waiting until the right time to present itself.
In addition to the books, I intend to use the information I learned at the Guideposts workshop to write stories for their various publishing venues.
You can check out my blog, Pathways of the Heart, which I’ve just launched.
Five Things That Inspire Marilyn
~ God’s Word – “Commit Your Plans to the Lord and You will Succeed.” Prov. 16:3, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
~ God’s Blessing – God has answered so many prayers for me. I trust Him to bless my writing as well.
~ God’s Provision – I asked God for time to write, a place to write, and a husband who would support my writing. He has provided all of this in the last two years.
~ God’s Promptings – Whenever I have felt a nudge to write something, God has seen to it that it got published. I’m always looking for His reason behind my experiences.
~ God’s People – God has provided me with “such a cloud of witnesses,” fellow-writers on the web, faculty at conferences who have shared their knowledge, friends who encourage and share my excitement, and my husband, who shares my vision.
Marilyn’s Question for You
The Bible is full of verses about light. How has God shed light on you or an experience you’ve had?
Marilyn has generously offered to give away a $25 Starbucks gift card, so you can enjoy some coffee with your Banana-Pineapple bread!
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Marilyn by midnight November 2 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)
On November 3, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)
Congratulations to Jillian Kent, winner of the Starbucks gift card.
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Learn More About Marilyn
Visit her blog ~ Pathways of the Heart
Friend her on Facebook ~ Marilyn Turk
Marilyn’s Banana-Pineapple Bread Recipe
3 C flour
2 C sugar
1 tsp. Each baking soda, salt, cinnamon
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 C chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 ½ C veg. Oil
2 C mashed bananas
1 8-oz. Can crushed pineapple
1) Combine dry ingredients, stir in nuts.
2) Combine remaining ingredients; add to dry, stirring just until moist.
3) Pour into greased loaf pans (makes 2 large, 4 small, or 8 mini)
4) Bake @ 350 degrees for one hour (less for smaller loaves). Check for doneness with toothpick in center.
Yummy! Great with coffee!