At Highclere Castle-Downton Abbey

At Highclere Castle-Downton Abbey

Hi Friends,

In January of 2012 I had a short conversation with an editor and asked her, “What are you looking for?” She smiled and said, “I wish I could find a novel set England at the same time as the popular British TV series Downton Abbey, with a brooding hero and a loving governess heroine. Sort of like Jane Eyre.” I returned her smile and nodded, wishing I could write a story like that. I loved Downton Abbey and Jane Eyre, and I had a desire to write historical fiction, but writing a story set in another country, one hundred years ago, would be a challenge and take a lot of research. Still  . . . I couldn’t get that editor’s words out of my mind.

I shared those ideas with my friend Cathy Gohlke, who had recently published a beautiful novel, Promise Me This, which is set in the Edwardian Era. She encouraged me and loaded me up with research books, and I set off on my journey to research and write The Governess of Highland Hall, book one in the Edwardian Brides Series. Here is the trail I followed as I researched The Governess of Highland Hall.

Starting My Research

I started by looking online at the big picture to get general background information about England and the Edwardian Era. Many of these articles referenced books and other articles. I followed that up by visiting the library and checking out several of these books. I focused on the lifestyle of wealthy aristocrats who lived on a grand estate and the loyal servants who worked there. I wanted to get to know my characters’ corner of the world so well that I could move around there in my imagination, and I could picture them walking down a street or sitting at a table in a restaurant and know exactly what they would see, hear, feel, and smell. I wanted to research until the historical part of the novel becomes almost second nature so I could focus on the story.

The Difference between Primary and Secondary Sources

History books and biographies can be very useful in research, but they are what are known as “secondary sources.” I always try to track down “primary sources” when possible. A primary source is something that was created during the time period itself, such as a newspaper, magazine, journal, diary, historical document, movie or radio broadcast, or a firsthand account from someone who actually lived through the moment and recorded an oral history, interview, or autobiography. Historians and biographers build their works by examining primary sources. As an author of historical novels, I  try to go directly to the source when possible, so I get an unfiltered view. I found the diaries and biographies of servants very helpful. I also read a collection of letters exchanged by a wealthy aristocratic family.

Contacting Experts

When I was working on the Governess of Highland Hall, I was hoping to find someone who lived in England and had knowledge of the Edwardian time period. I found another author who loves the time period and has done a ton of research. She was an excellent source of information, and she answered several questions for me. Then I found a reviewer who gave another novel set in that time period a low rating because she believed there were many historical inaccuracies. That sent tremors through me. I knew no matter how much research I did, I was bound to make a few mistakes. I contacted her and asked if she would be willing to read my book before it was published to help me spot any mistakes. She agreed and helped me find some phrases that sounded too American and questioned a couple historical points. I was able to check and change those, and I was very grateful for her help!

Carrie and Scott at Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed

Carrie and Scott at Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed

Taking a Research trip!

Last summer my husband and I traveled to England and toured the area where the Edwardian Brides Series is set. I wanted to absorb the atmosphere and see England first-hand. We enjoyed touring historical country estates and beautiful gardens. We stayed in the Berkshire – Oxford area and visited Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. Then we visited the Costwolds, which has some lovely little villages that look like they did 100 years ago. And finally we toured The Peak District, taking in a grand English country fair. What a great way to carry out my research!

Are you the type of person who enjoys research? When you’re choosing a historical novel to read, what’s your favorite time period?




Shellee Kennedy, Carrie Turansky, and Cindy Bowling in Hawaii at the PIBC Anniversary Reunion

Shellee Kennedy, Carrie Turansky, and Cindy Bowling in Hawaii at the PIBC Anniversary Reunion

Hi Friends,

There is an old Girl Scout song that goes like this: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.”  There is a lot of wisdom in those lyrics, and that song has stayed with me for many years. Maintaining long time friendships can be a challenge, especially when you or your friends move and there are many miles that separate you from each other. But I’ve found that working to maintain those friendships is definitely worth the effort.

Shellee Kennedy and Cindy Bowling are two of my special long-time friends. Our friendship developed when we were young brides living in Hawaii over 25 years ago. We were all raising young children at the time and we worked on the staff of our church. We did all kinds of crazy things together as girlfriends and as couples.

It was a real joy to see them not too long ago when we all returned to Hawaii for the anniversary celebration of our church on Oahu. What a treat to be together again and hear how God has been working in their lives and enjoy that bond of love and friendship again. Hearing Shellee’s special laugh, and watching the caring way Cindy interacted with her family touched my heart deeply. Our time together reminded me once again that long time friendships should be treasured . . . like pure gold.

Do you have a long time friend who is special to you? Please tell us about her.

Tea Time with Terri, Carrie, and Cathy in Jim Thorpe, PA.

Tea Time with Terri, Carrie, and Cathy in Jim Thorpe, PA.

Hi Friends, Our guest post today is written by author and special friend Cathy Gohlke. I hope you will follow the link at the end of the post for an amazing giveaway at NovelCrossing that includes 25 novels, 4 author gift baskets, and Starbucks Gift Cards!

Research tripping is one of the highlights of three-day writing retreats with girlfriend authors Terri Gillespie and Carrie Turansky, or during visits with my girlfriend/sister Gloria Delk.

Band of SistersOne research jaunt led us to a proper English tea set in a Victorian hotel in historic Jim Thorpe—dainty tea sandwiches, warm scones dripping in strawberry jam and Devonshire cream, served with steaming pots of Darjeerling.  We may have rattled the young waitress with our talk of awkward romantic interludes versus smooth talkers, faith arcs amid historical tragedies and mayhem, and whether or not to kill off important characters, but we left refreshed and with our brains a stirring.

She Does Good Hair by Terri Gillespie

Each of these discovery sessions have contributed to our books—everything from Terri’s soon-to-be-released She Does Good Hair, to Carrie’s October 2013 release of The Governess of Highland Hall, and my Promise Me This and Band of Sisters released last year.

Carrie and I look forward to joining Liz Curtis Higgs’s Scotland tour in May in search of stories yet to be written.  Based on current research needs, we just might slip into England for a few days of sleuthing.  It’s absolute joy to share writing and the wonder of friendship. Tongue in cheek, we call this “work!”

governesshighlandhall To enter the giveaway follow this link to NovelCrossing!

Treasure MapHi Friends, here’s a great verse for us to consider:

“. . . that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
-Colossians 2: 2 – 3

I love to read a good mystery! And a novel that includes finding a hidden treasure is always intriguing. Even when I’m tired, I find myself tempted to stay up late and continue reading until the villain is captured, the mystery is solved, and the treasure has been returned to its rightful owner.

In Colossians 2 the apostle Paul describes another type of valuable treasure, and he assures believers they can understand the greatest mystery of all time: the mystery of God, which is in Christ. We can know Him in deeper and more intimate ways by reading the story of His life in the Gospels, meditation on and memorizing His Word, and by experiencing the life-changing power of His Spirit working in our hearts and minds.

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. When we know Him and grow in our relationship with Him, we tap into the greatest source of wisdom and knowledge available anywhere. Now that’s a treasure to get excited about!

“Turn your ear to wisdom . . . look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2: 2, 4 – 5.

I’d love to hear what “treasure” you’ve discovered in your relationship with Christ.


The final cover design

The final cover design

Hi Friends,

Did you know it takes a team of people to create a beautiful book cover? I never realized how many people were involved, but I am grateful for each one who contributed to the process of designing the lovely cover for The Governess of Highland Hall.

I was an art major in college, and book covers are important to me, especially my book covers! So I was pleased when the team at WaterBrook Multnomah asked for my input. They allowed me to choose the model to represent the heroine from a group of three. Then they invited to give input about her clothing, hairstyle and hat. I sent in photos of the manor house that I had in mind as I wrote the book, and the designer was able to use that exact house on the cover!

GovernessGoverness 1



Governess_Comp_7Photographer Mike Heath of Magnus Creative did the photo shoot of the heroine last January, and he sent all those photos to WaterBrook Multnomah designer Kristopher Orr who did an awesome job pulling all the elements together in the final design.


The final cover design

The final cover design









The design on the left looked great, but I asked for a few changes, and they were kind enough to consider those ideas in the final version on the right.

Can you spot the changes that were made to the final design?  There are at least eight. Some are quite small, so click on the cover to enlarge it and look closely. The first two people who correctly list those changes in their comment will receive an Advanced Reader Copy of The Governess of Highland Hall. US addresses only. Good luck!

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India with two of the children in her care

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India with two of the children in her care

The Inspiration for the Heroine in the Governess of Highland Hall
By Carrie Turansky

As a young believer I often wished I had a mentor who would take me under her wing to guide me and help me grow in my faith. But as the years passed, I never seemed to connect with an older woman who could instruct and encourage me in that way. One day I was bringing that need to the Lord again, bemoaning the lack of mentors in my life, when I suddenly realized I had been blessed and mentored by many women through reading the books they had written. My moaning turned to thanksgiving as I reflected on the lessons I had learned from my unlikely mentors.

I especially love reading missionary biographies, and one missionary I admire is Amy Carmichael. When I read her biography, A Chance to Die, written by Elisabeth Elliot, I was inspired and touched by her faith and commitment to God and her whole-hearted service to the children of India, many of whom she rescued from being temple prostitutes.

Just a little background on Amy Carmichael. She was born in Ireland in 1867 to loving Christian parents, and though she did not have good health, she was determined to become a missionary. She served in Japan first for a short time, and then in 1895 she followed God’s call and traveled to India, where she spent the rest of her life. She went first as an evangelist, but soon started a home for abandoned and rescued children. She also wrote several books and taught many the truth of the Gospel through her example of love and faithfulness.

The Governess of Highland Hall - Carrie TuranskyAs I began preparing to write The Governess of Highland Hall I wanted to weave faith elements into the plot and the lives of my characters to make the story as meaningful as possible. Part of my research involved reading about Christians who lived during the late Victorian and Edwardian time period in Great Britain. As I scanned my bookshelves, I remembered Amy Carmichael and pulled down her biography again.

As I reread her story I knew her life would provide a wonderful background for my heroine. I began jotting down notes and thinking how I might weave some of Amy’s faith and life lessons into my heroine and novel.

As The Governess of Highland Hall opens, my heroine, Julia Foster, has recently returned to England after spending twelve years in India where she and her parents were missionaries and ran a home for abandoned and rescued girls like Amy Carmichael. Julia’s father is ill, and needs medical care, so the family must return to England. One of the issues Julia faces in the story is whether she should stay in England to help provide for her parents and be near them, or return to India and carry on their missionary work alone. As she develops a deep love for the hero and his children, this becomes and even more difficult question for her to face.

How can we understand God’s call? Is the calling to foreign missions a higher calling than staying in your own country and taking on the role of wife and mother? How do we determine the best path to follow in life? These are all questions Julia must face, and I hope as she seeks her answers readers will be challenged to consider their own lives and how they can follow God’s call and have a greater impact on others.

What about you? Have you ever gone on a mission trip or felt called by God to a particular ministry? How did that impact your life? If you haven’t gone yet, where would you like to go, and what would you like to do?

Governess of Highland Hall

The Advanced Reader Copies of The Governess Of Highland Hall have arrived! Would you like a free copy?

Hi Friends,

I am very greatful for the response I received to this post!  Carrie’s Reading Friends is full now. I’ll announce here when I can expand the group to include more friends. Thanks very much!

Carrie’s Reading Friends will receive an Advanced Reader Copy of my book, The Governess of Highland Hall, in early August, two months before it releases. If you enjoy the book, I’m asking you to write a review and post it at one or more of the places listed below and help spread the word about the book through social media and in other creative ways as you are able. You will also be invited to join a private Facebook group where we will connect and share ideas for promoting the book, starting on September 22 and running through launch week, October 13 – 19. This will be a fun and encouraging group, and I look forward to connecting with you there.

Here are some ways Carrie’s Reading Friends can promote the book:

  • The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie TuranskyWrite a review for Amazon,, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, NovelCrossing, Books A Million, or any other online review site.
  • Talk about the book on social media sites, adding links to my website.
  • Blog about the book, including cover, summary, and purchase links.
  • Share the book video trailer on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Share the 6-minute podcast about the book on social media or a blog.
  • Ask your local library or church library to order the book, or donate a copy to them.
  • Write an article about the book and submit it to an online magazine.
  • Suggest the book to your book club.
  • Write a review for your local newspaper.
  • Purchase copies to give away as gifts to friends and family.
  • Pin the cover on Pinterest and link back to my website.
  • Suggest the book on reading forums, like those on Goodreads.
  • Share your favorite quotes from the book online. If you purchase an e-book, highlight your favorite quotes.
  • Promote the giveaways connected with launch week on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Information about all these ideas will be available through the Facebook group.
  • If you live locally, you’ll be invited to be an honored guest at the Book Launch Tea Party on Sunday October 13th.

Please visit The Governess of Highland Hall page at my website, read the summary, and listen to the 6-minute podcast.

If you like what you see there, and you have time and are willing to commit to reading and reviewing, checking in with the Facebook group, and promoting The Governess of Highland Hall, then please copy and paste the following questions into an email, fill in the information, and send it to:




Email address

Have you read any of my books? If so, which was your favorite and why?

Have you blogged or posted a review of my books in the past? If so please post a link to that review.

Have you recommended my books on social media or personally in the past? If so, which titles, and where, or to whom?

Do you have time to read The Governess of Highland Hall and participate in promotion prior to the October 15th release date?

Would you be willing to participate in a private Facebook group for a few weeks around the release of her new book?

Thanks for your interest in joining Carrie’s Reading Friends. Space is limited in the group, so get in touch soon. Because of the cost of mailing books, the free advanced reading copies will be available to US residents only. But those living outside the US are welcome to join with us and participate in the Facebook group. Thanks so much! I appreciate you and look forward to getting to know you more as we spread the word about The Governess of Highland Hall.

Blessings and Happy Reading!