Let’s Chat! Featured Favorite: Jamie Langston Turner

Welcome, Everyone!

Jamie Langston Turner vies with a couple other authors for #1 in my hit parade.

Recently I decided I want occasionally to veer off my usual trail on “Let’s Chat!” to highlight certain authors—Featured Favorites–whose works have impacted me and my life. I love all my author friends (and lots I haven’t met), but if I must pick one for top billing today, it’s Jamie.

My favorite of Turner’s novels? No Dark Valley.

My giveaway this week: $5 Amazon gift card to someone who joins the chat below. (Winner can apply to any of Jamie’s ebooks)

Why Turner? And why No Dark Valley?

I’m drawn to any novel’s important themes. Well-drawn and memorable characters and storyline. Emotions. Beauty of the language. Take-away messages. Intrigue and/or surprise and more. I found all of this in No Dark Valley. So much so that I’m including it in the boxes of keepsakes I’m creating for my children and grandchildren.

I read all of Jamie Langston Turner’s books a few years ago and will never forget them. Call it a “soul mates” thing. Touching dim memories from my distant home and church past. Speaking to a tender place in my heart where regret and shame lurk. All of those are true. 

If mind-blowing adventure, crime, death and destruction, sex, and violence aren’t your thing . . . Rather, if you’re looking for beautifully written, touching, meaningful fiction that captures your imagination, whirls you into unexpected crevices, and thrusts you out into new landscapes with a chuckle or two, all the while leaving its mark on your heart . . .  If you’re looking for fiction that enthralls you now and stays with you always, Jamie Langston Turner is your gal.

No Dark Valley: Beyond the Remorse, Forgiveness Beckoned


A Little Something From the Front and Back Covers:

She had bolted shut the door of her heart . . . Now she held the key in her hand . . .

She had expected to feel angry. Anger was the kind of emotion that could carry you through a funeral with perfect composure. She hadn’t expected to look down at her grandmother and be flooded with this strange conglomeration of guilt, regret, curiosity, sadness . . .

Jamie Langston Turner

Her grandmother’s funeral meant Celia Coleman must return to the small town she had hoped never to see again. The memories of that long ago home and church–and of her own behavior there–are not happy ones But now the floodgates are about to open.

Bruce Healey is struggling with guilt over his own past, and Celia wants nothing to do with this neighbor of hers. But when God lifts them each from their dark valleys of shame, their hearts could indeed be ready to give and receive love.

Excerpt from Chapter One: “The Birds Hush Their Singing” in which Celia arrives in Dunmore, GA

Jamie Langston Turner

‘We been hoping you’d come,’ Aunt Beulah called. She stepped out onto the porch, letting the screen slam behind her. ‘Come on inside before you freeze to death. Everybody’s here eating.’ Her words came out in little white puffs. She was wearing a nubby black sweater over a navy blue dress and pink terry-cloth slippers on her feet.

Celia felt a wave of panic. So that explained all the cars parked up and down the street. If she had known about this, she would never have agreed to come. She had expected only Aunt Beulah and Uncle Taylor, not everybody. ‘Come on by the house first,’ Aunt Beulah had said over the phone. ‘We can have us a little visit before we go to the funeral home.’

Jamie Langston Turner

‘Now, tell me again which cow this is,’ Al said as they started up the sidewalk. On the drive here Celia had told him the names of her grandmother’s five sisters–Clara, Bess, Beulah, Elsie, and Molly–to which Al had replied, ‘They sound like cows.’ He had then laughed, for what seemed to Celia a little too long, at his joke. He was right about their names, of course. And her grandmother’s name had fit right in with the rest: Sadie.

‘This one’s Aunt Beulah,’ Celia said. ‘She’s the only one of them who ever liked me.’

‘Watch out for that icy patch there!’ Aunt Beulah called. ‘Molly nearly slipped on it earlier. I got Taylor to sprinkle some salt on it, but it might have refroze.’ She shaded her eyes as she watched Celia and Al approach. ‘I’m sure glad you could come. I told them you would.’ The implication, clearly, was But nobody believed me.

Aunt Beulah stepped back and opened the door again. Behind her Celia could see a roomful of people, all jammed together with plates of food balanced on their laps. Somebody cried out, “Mercy, you’re lettin’ the cold in, Beulah!”

Celia felt her knees go weak as she started up the steps, Al at her elbow. “I don’t think I can do this,” she said to him. “These people are perfectly capable of violence. There’s no telling what they might do.” She could picture herself in the middle of Aunt Beulah’s living room, surrounded by all her Georgia kinfolk coming at her with their knives and forks.

‘Don’t worry, I’m here,’ Al said. ‘I won’t let them do anything.’ He put his hand on her back. Celia knew he was looking forward to meeting her relatives, to see for himself if they were as weird as she had claimed.

The hum of talk stopped as they entered. Celia glanced around at the cricle of faces and nodded. She didn’t actually look at the faces, but at the wall slightly above their heads. She could sense that they were all looking her up and down, that she was being weighed in the balances of their narrow minds and found severely wanting.

From Chapter 25, “One Holy Passion,” in which Bruce Healey observes Celia:

Jamie Langston Turner

On a Sunday afternoon in late October, Bruce Healey was sitting at the patio table in the backyard trying to carve a jack-o’-lantern to surprise Madison when he saw Celia pull into the driveway next door and park her red Mustang. It still surprised him that a woman like her, so efficient, sensible, and reclusive, drove a red Mustang instead of, say, a dark brown Volvo 280.

He had already gotten all the stringy goop and seeds out of the pumpkin and was working on the second eye–a simple triangular design, which was turning out to be larger than the first eye and a little lower on the face, down toward the middle of its cheek actually. So it would be a freak, but who cared? Nobody expected perfection when it came to jack-o’-lanterns.

Jamie Langston Turner

He paused for a moment to watch Celia get out of her car and walk to her front door. He opened his mouth to call to her but for some reason decided against it even though he had a legitimate question already framed and ready to ask: “How many trick-or-treaters usually come around this neighborhood on Halloween?”

In fact, he knew in his heart that he was sitting here in the backyard with the express hope of seeing her. But something about the brisk, beeline way she was moving toward the door kept him from speaking. Not that it was much different from the way she normally walked to the door–as if she had just remembered she’d left a cake in the oven. After watching her disappear inside her apartment, he turned his attention back to the jack-o’-lantern’s enormous misaligned eye.

Bruce Healey had met a lot of women in his life. All shapes and sizes, young and old, all kinds of dull and fascinating personalities, faces that made you look twice, others that made you wish you hadn’t. When he was in college, he used to say he could never get married because he’d always be wondering about all those other women he hadn’t had a chance to meet.

From an email written by a reader from Dover, PA:

Thank you for sharing your gift with us. Thank you for allowing God to speak through your words. Your work has blessed me abundantly.

Ditto from me! 

Jamie’s Books

Jamie Langston Turner_https://www.amazon.com/Moon-Again-Jamie-Langston-Turner-ebook/dp/B00IOE4L0O/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=To+see+the+moon+again&qid=1550612611&s=books&sr=1-1

How to Find Jamie Langston Turner

Website

Facebook

Jamie Langston Turner was born and raised in the South—Mississippi and Kentucky. She has lived in South Carolina for 45 years and in 2016 retired from teaching creative writing at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.

She began freelance writing in the early 1980s, and over the next ten years she wrote short stories, articles, plays, and poems for a variety of magazines as well as material for reading, science, history, music, and literature textbooks.

I
n 1992 she received a phone call from an editor of Moody Magazine, who had read two of her short stories and urged her to consider writing a novel. Within weeks she started her first novel, Suncatchers, which was published in 1995 by Thomas Nelson. Then she published her second novel, Some Wildflower in My Heart, with Bethany House in 1998. Thereafter, five others, also with Bethany: By the Light of a Thousand Stars (1999), A Garden to Keep (2001), No Dark Valley (2004), Winter Birds (2006), and Sometimes a Light Surprises (2009). Her eighth novel, To See the Moon Again, was released by Penguin/​Berkley in September 2014.

Awards

Four of her novels have been finalists for the Christy Award, and two were named winners of the award in the category of contemporary fictionA Garden to Keep in 2002 and Winter Birds in 2007. Also, Winter Birds was named as a best book for the year 2006 by both Christianity Today and Publishers Weekly

Jamie has been married for 47 years to Daniel Turner, who is on the music faculty at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC, and they have a son, Jess, who is a composer living in Indiana, and two wonderful grandchildren, Carolyn Svana, 9, and Charles Kjell, 5.

` ~ ~ ~

What wonderful gifts You give, Lord. And when the recipients of Your gift of writing like Jamie use them as You intend, what glory they bring to You and encouragement they provide to readers.
We pray You’ll bless each word Jamie writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake

16 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Featured Favorite: Jamie Langston Turner

  1. Chloe Flanagan

    I’m not entering the giveaway, I just wanted to say that it’s so great to read this post about Jamie Langston Turner’s work, especially No Dark Valley. It’s such a great book that I think about parts of it even now, several years after reading it. I also loved To See the Moon Again. Her work really overturned my preconceived ideas and definitions of Christian Fiction.

    Thanks!

     
     
    1. Ditto, Chloe! And you’re welcome 🙂 I’m the same way about No Dark Valley. I’m leaving it in a keepsakes box for my children and grandchildren. (One day when they remember their crazy ol’ Mama D, I think that story will resonate.)

       
       
  2. Melissa Andres

    I love learning about new-to-me authors! Jamie’s books sound wonderful. I’ll definitely try to get my hands on one! Thank you!

     
     
    1. You’re welcome, Melissa. It’s my joy and honor to feature Jamie.

       
       
  3. Judi Marshall

    From just the snippets that I read here her books sound wonderful. I am so glad you choose to do something like this

     
     
    1. Hi, Judi. Great to see you in our circle. I think you’ll love Jamie’s books. Needless to say, I do. 🙂

       
       
  4. Lelia (Lucy) Reynolds

    I have not heard of this author. I look forward to reading her books. Thank you for sharing.

     
     
    1. Welcome, Lucy! I hope you get to read Jamie’s work. I think you’ll love her too.

       
       
  5. Faith Creech

    I have read some of Jamie’s books and I love them. Thank you for highlighting her!

     
     
    1. I’m so glad you’re in our circle, Faith. Jamie’s books are truly memorable.

       
       
  6. Thank you for sharing about Jamie Langston Turner. I am glad to learn about her and now, I want to read her writings.

     
     
    1. Hi, Melissa. Welcome to the circle. You’re entered in the drawing, girl.

       
       
  7. Paula Shreckhise

    I love stories about quaint towns in the south. This sounds right up my alley! Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

     
     
    1. Hi, Paula. I love having you here in the circle. I hope you get to read Jamie. She’s fantastic.

       
       
  8. Kim G.

    I absolutely love Jaime Langston Turner books!! I wish she would write another story. I really enjoyed this Linda, it’s rare to find someone who’s read her fabulous work.

     
     
    1. Hi, Kim. You and I are soul mates I guess. Jamie’s stories stay with you, don’t they? You’re right … It’s been awhile since she’s released a new one. Let’s pray she’ll do so again before too long. Too wonderful to miss.

       
       

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Author Chat: Marissa Shrock

 

A chat with author Marissa Shrock 

Welcome to this online chat with author Marissa Shrock. Jesus has given Marissa a part in His own story. He’s made her a character who tells of His goodness through writing.

Recently Marissa’s The First Principle placed as a finalist for ACFW‘s 2016 Carol Award. (Tweet That!) Gather ’round as Marissa responds to three questions: What was your pre-author life? How would you describe your debut novel experience? Where are you on your writing journey? (Add your own question to the Comments section below and qualify for a giveaway.)

Marissa Shrock’s Journey to Publication

shrock_marissa
Marissa Shrock, middle school teacher and author

First of all, my journey started with voracious reading. When I played outside as a girl, I read on the swing set—while swinging.

As a middle school teacher, I didn’t consider writing until I’d taught a few years. I toyed with the idea of a novel but had no idea where to begin.

Later, I signed up in 2008 for the Christian Writers Guild’s Apprentice course. I wanted a mentor who would hold me accountable.

In addition, I took the Journeyman and Craftsman classes while I wrote the story that eventually became The First Principle. The skills I learned and the people I met paved my way to publication.

Publication for Marissa Shrock

thefirstprinciple_author_Marissa Shrock
Marissa’s debut novel, a Carol Award finalist and the first novel in The Emancipation Warriors series

The First Principle is the futuristic story of a teenager who refuses to comply with her country’s pregnancy termination law. (Tweet That!) In time, she seeks the help of the Emancipation Warriors who are plotting a revolution. They plan to restore a government that protects its citizens’ rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The First Principle debuted as the first in my three-book Emancipation Warriors series. The Liberation released in February, and The Pursuit will be released in October. The Agitator, a companion novella, presents a different perspective of the Warriors’ battle for liberty.

liberation_author_Marissa Shrock
Marissa’s second novel in The Emancipation Warriors series

From the beginning, writing this series has been an adventure. I found an agent and publisher very quickly. But my road hasn’t been easy since. Surprisingly, book blues set in after my books arrived from the publisher. My grumpiness and mild depression shocked me because my dream had come true.

pursuit_author_Marissa Shrock
Marissa’s third novel in The Emancipation Warriors series

However, mounting pressure replaced elation. How would my book be received? How would it sell? For months, this burden crushed me as I prayed and promoted. The First Principle received many positive reviews and was a finalist in the debut category of the ACFW Carol Awards. But sales did not meet my publisher’s expectations. They opted not to publish the other books in the series.

But I wanted to tell my readers the rest of the story. So I published the remaining books independently and am thankful that option exists. 


Marissa Shrock’s Current Journey

Ultimately, God holds my career in his hands. It will be what He wants it to be. Now that the Emancipation Warriors series is finished, I no longer have obligations to a publisher or literary agency. But I’ve arrived at a crossroad.

agitator
A companion novella to The Emancipation Warriors series

Presently, God is leading me to a phase of rest. The soil of my creative life has been depleted. It needs to remain fallow for a season. Afterwards, I pray I will emerge restored and ready to face the next step God has for me.

Finally, I encourage every writer to seek God’s will for his or her life and obey it, no matter what everyone else is doing.

~~~

Thank you, Marissa, for joining our chat and sharing your story. We pray the Lord will bring a hearty harvest from your work. 

Readers may reach Marissa through her website: http://bit.ly/2db1rrs. Sign up for her newsletter and get a free short story!

Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for a *free copy of The First Principle, Shrock’s young adult novel in either print or ebook version. (Tweet That!)

*Update: Congratulations to Clarice Gregoire James, winner of the drawing!

~~~

Dear Lord, we stand in awe that You would stoop to write faith in our hearts, that You would use us, feeble and crumbling flesh, to tell Your story. Lift us up. Strengthen us. For Jesus’ sake.

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13 thoughts on “Author Chat: Marissa Shrock

  1. Marissa, sometimes God has us rest for a season so when we return, we are stronger, spiritually and mentally. I love your writing!

     
     
    1. Marissa Shrock

      Thank you, DiAnn! That is what I hope to get out of my season of rest.

       
       
  2. Kudos to you, Marissa, for your perseverance and your faithfulness. Publishing is such a tough business. Your willingness to be still and wait upon the Lord will be rewarded. Prayers going up!

     
     
    1. Marissa Shrock

      Kelly,
      Thank you for the prayers!

       
       
  3. Katie Briggs

    I am excited to read The Pursuit soon! It has been really cool reading along with you and watching your stories and characters grow so much. I’ve always enjoyed seeing that in authors. It encourages me. Thank you for the reminder to seek God’s will in our lives, not looking aside to anything else. And for your example of determination and humility. I needed that. It reminds me so much of a keynote Brandilyn Collins gave, one of the most powerful I’ve heard. A season of rest is probably great but really hard, but you’re wise to follow God’s lead in that. He definitely knows best, and it helps me to look back on even really little ways He’s blessed that. Not enough of us do that, bowing to productivity instead, and then suffer from it :(. Which means it is time to grab a book you’ve been wanting to read, get a chai latte (or your equivalent!) and sit outside in the hopefully awesome weather to rest and enjoy. And we’ll be ready for your time to start a new writing season!

     
     
    1. Marissa Shrock

      Katie,
      Thank you for your wise words and encouragement. I do have a big pile of books I’m looking forward to reading! I’m excited to have my readers experience The Pursuit and know the end of the story.

       
       
      1. I get goosebumps when I think about that week in 2012 with you and the other Craftsman students in Manitou Springs, especially being in the small group with you two and Lizzie and Given, our little group of “4 young ones + 1 young-at-heart” 🙂 You inspired me then and you inspire me now. So thankful God grouped us together!

         
         
        1. Katie Briggs

          Those are such great memories. God knew what He was doing!

           
           
  4. Hi Marissa, your journey through the publishing process has been colored by both success and heartache. Many of us experience the blues, especially in our highest points. During this period of rest, give it all over to the Lord. He’s gifted you, and he will not let your talents lay dormant forever.

    “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~ Dt. 31:8 (NIV)

     
     
    1. You have lifted up me, too, Clarice. Thanks for commenting. Marissa is busy teaching middle schoolers at the moment 🙂 but I’m sure she’ll reply later on. Bless you, friend.

       
       
  5. Teresa Brooks

    I am grateful you persevered and published independently! If one person is changed for the better and drawn closer to Christ, your efforts are not in vain! You may never know (until you get to heaven) how your words impacted lives! May God meet you in your rest, hold you close, and renew your spirit and give you more words to share in the future!

     
     
    1. So true, Teresa! Marissa simply is a sterling example for Christ. Her middle school teaching experience led her to write for young adults. Such a blessing to young readers.

       
       
    2. Marissa Shrock

      Teresa,
      Thank you for the kind and encouraging words!

      Clarice,
      Thank you for sharing the verse and the encouragement!

       
       

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