Dear Gentle Friends ~
I'm glad you paused today at Gifts by Grace to welcome my friend, Marilyn Turk. If you love the sea, especially lighthouses, you're going to enjoy Marilyn's interesting writing journey.
Sit back, breathe in the salty sea breeze, and sail with us today!
Barbara, thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog! I remember when you first asked me, I told you I didn't have much to talk about, but thankfully, I do now.
I have a confession to make. I haven't always wanted to be a writer. I didn't spend days on end sitting in a tree writing stories in my composition book like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
However, I've always written and did well in English. I earned a journalism degree because I wanted to go into advertising, which was in the journalism department. I took courses in both, and while I thought the journalism courses were boring then (news reporting), I admit I learned a couple of things that help me now, like working on deadlines and editing my work.
Upon graduation, I worked in advertising, but learned after a few short-term jobs that there wasn't much income for entry level people. Sales was where the money was. Someone I interviewed with suggested I get a job selling consumables for five years, then come back and she'd hire me. Well, through the grace of God, I landed a job with Kraft Foodservice where I stayed for the next 25 years.
Fast forward -- Marriage, children, divorce, job layoff -- I moved to Florida as a single empty-nester. I had read Guideposts magazine and Daily Guideposts devotionals for years, so I began to think in terms of devotions and believed I could write them someday when I had time. However, it wasn't until after I moved that God nudged me and said, "Now you have time." Since I'd been out of school so long, I first enrolled in an online writing course, then I began attending writers conferences and learned about the craft.
At the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I took a class on writing devotions by Susan King of The Upper Room. With her encouragement, I submitted to them and was published in their magazine. Since my online course was writing for children, I pitched Jesse Florea of Focus on the Family's Clubhouse magazine a story based on a mission trip I had taken. He liked the idea, I wrote the story, and they published it.
In 2010, I entered the Guideposts Writers Workshop Contest and won, making my dream come true to write for Guideposts. Since then, I'm considered one of their writers and have had several stories published.
Also at Blue Ridge, I met Vonda Skelton, and through her I heard about Chicken Soup for the Soul. I submitted to them and have so far been published in four of their books.
At conferences, people would ask what genre I wrote. I didn't have a clue. It seemed like everyone else was writing books and I never entertained the idea of writing a book, just devotionals. However, I love to do historical research, especially about the South and the Civil War, so in doing that in my new surroundings, a story idea popped into my mind. That's when I met Cecil Murphey at Blue Ridge. I told him my idea for the book and he said, "Where is it?" And I said, "It's in my head?" And he said, "Why haven't you started writing it yet?"
I told him I didn't think I was ready, that I still needed to do more research. At that point, he took both my hands and clasped them in his and said to me, "If you need permission to start, I'm giving you permission. Write your book."
As God would have it, I met and married my second husband that year. After a year of marriage, my company was bought out and I was laid off. My dear husband, who knew the desires of my heart, told me I should start the book. So I did.
When an editor at Blue Ridge asked me what I was writing, I told her about my book. She was interested and wanted to see it when I finished plus synopses for three more in a series! Three more? I had barely thought out one. However, in the course of writing the first book, ideas for three more took root.
Also, almost three years ago I started a blog. I wanted it to be enlightening, inspiring, and encouraging, so I prayed about it. God knew I had a newly discovered passion for lighthouses, so he told me to write about them. Since I love history, I loved researching stories about all the different lighthouses. But a funny thing happened when I wrote a story. A Bible verse would pop into my head that related to the story. At first, I was afraid to include them, afraid someone who wasn't "religious" would be offended. But God convicted me and told me He had a reason for giving me that verse as well as my subject matter. So I obeyed him and the stories turned into devotionals. The website is called Pathways of the Heart, and can be found at www.marilynturk.com. Click on Lighthouse Devotions.
God has blessed that blog beyond belief. It goes into countries all over the world, into many countries where the Word of God is not allowed to be preached. God has used my blog to be a missionary to reach those places. I've been totally amazed, and I know that it is only because I obeyed God that the blog has reached such success. As a result of my blog, I've written a book called Lighthouse Devotions, scheduled to release later this year.
So, it's been a great ride so far. I'm trying to follow God's leading and trust Him with the results. There's also A Writer's Path blog on my website where I share some of my journey, but I don't post on it as regularly as I post on the lighthouse one, which is once a week.
My novels are in a series called Coastal Lights Legacy. Each one takes place in a different place in Florida where a lighthouse is a significant part of the setting. The first book, Rebel Light, takes place in 1861, the first year of the Civil War and is about Kate McFarlane, a rebellious young woman whose disobedience lands her in a strange place with an eccentric aunt. She attracts the attention of a handsome Con-federate officer, but a hurricane washes a shipwrecked Union sailor to their shore, and Kate learns a valuable lesson about trust.
Bio: Marilyn Turk has been published in Guideposts magazine, Guideposts books - A Joyful Heart and A Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Upper Room, Clubhouse Jr. magazine, several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and Lighthouse Digest magazine. The first book in her Coastal Lights Legacy series, Rebel Light, as well as her Lighthouse Devotions book, will be published in August 2014. Fascinated by lighthouses, she writes a weekly lighthouse blog @ http://marilynturk.com. She lives in Florida with husband Chuck and enjoys fishing, tennis, and gardening when she's not climbing lighthouses or playing with her three grandsons.
Marilyn, what an amazing story! I've loved learning about your journey and passion for lighthouses. Please let us know when your book is published. I'm looking forward to devotions with a lighhouse theme. Thank you for visiting today, and I send you asail with blessings for your wonderful books!
Friends, please feel free to leave a thought or two for us. We love hearing from you! Until next time. . .
Sailing by Grace,