Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Dear Readers, today I’m introducing you to a debut novelist. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is fresh, unique book. The cover looks like a chicklit book, and I don’t read many of those. I’m glad I checked it out to see if I would like it. The storyline drew me in, and the characters grabbed my heartstrings so I experienced what they did, right along with them. There are many humorous events and serious depths in the story. You won’t want to miss this one.

Bio: Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado.

Welcome, Bethany. Tell us a little about The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck.
Sarah is the author of some bestselling romance books that are so provocative and steamy her name becomes synonymous with the genre. But when Sarah becomes a Christ follower, she must try and maneuver away from her scandalous reputation—easier said than done since the books are still selling like wildfire, and she’s being hounded for the film rights. Sarah is determined to start a new life in which she can actually spread good and light to the world, but of course the darkness of the past isn’t going to go away easily. Things get even more complicated when she begins falling in love with Ben Delaney, who happens to be her new pastor.

Why did you decide to write about an author?
Writing a book is not an insignificant thing for most people. It’s a labor of love, and in most cases authors put so much of themselves into the creation of their work. And then for that work to go on and become a cultural phenomenon—that’s a major thing! I was fascinated by the idea of an author putting in all of that blood, sweat, and tears only to undergo a heart-level change that turns the work and all it stands for into an obstacle for the author as she tries to live the life she believes God is calling her to live.

Do you see yourself in Sarah’s character? 
I do! In so many ways. For one thing, we can both be counted on to contribute an applicable film or television reference to every situation. And we both believe that almost all things worth knowing can be gleaned from The Sound of Music. But more seriously, although Sarah is a brand-new Christ follower and I accepted Jesus into my heart thirty years ago, we share many of the same struggles in our faith—most notably when it comes to letting go of our hard-won control and letting the Lord take the lead.

That was a hard thing for me, too, Bethany. What inspired the relationship between Sarah and her pastor? Are you a romantic?
As far as the world is concerned, Sarah’s and Ben’s careers are on opposite ends of the morality spectrum. I was intrigued by the possibilities that existed as they each attempted to understand the world the other had lived in—in Ben’s world, people don’t think Sarah is worthy of him; in Sarah’s world, it’s difficult for anyone to think their relationship isn’t either (a) illicit or (b) dull. I loved creating a relationship that is sexier than you might expect for the pastor and much more innocent and pure than anyone would see coming for the steamy romance novelist. And yes! I am absolutely a romantic! Too much Jane Austen throughout my life has seen to that. (Though is there really any such thing as too much Jane Austen?)

What was your favorite part of this book to write?
I feel okay saying this because my husband is aware of my feelings for my fictional characters . . . I fell madly, deeply in love with Ben Delaney, more than any other leading man I’ve ever written, and my favorite part of writing this book was watching Sarah fall in love with him as well. Sarah is such a goofball in so many ways, and she just couldn’t help but get herself into embarrassing situations and say embarrassing things she didn’t mean to say. So that was fun! But what really made it so great was helping Sarah realize that, with Ben, she didn’t have to be embarrassed. He gives her a confidence she’s not used to feeling, and it was very powerful for me to watch Sarah grow as a person and in her faith, there in the safe place Ben provided.

I loved that part, too. What lesson(s) do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?
One thing that was really important for me to communicate was that just because a man and a woman in a romantic relationship have chosen to put their faith and their relationships with the Lord above all else doesn’t mean it will always be easy to honor those beliefs and commitments. Ben and Sarah face temptation and find themselves in situations they should have tried harder to avoid. And I thought it was important that it be reflected every bit as much in Ben’s spiritual journey as it is in Sarah’s. Sarah’s faith is new, but Ben’s is not. Not only is he a longtime Christ follower . . . he’s a professional Christ follower! But he’s every bit as human and flawed as she is—and as we all are. I believe Christians do a disservice to our faith when we act as if we’ve got it all under control, rather than keeping our focus on the Savior who wants nothing more than for us to relinquish control to him.

In what way would you say your faith is worked into the book?
Sarah is in her mid-thirties when she becomes a Christian, and she really does feel as if she’s experiencing a rebirth—which makes it all the more jarring for her when her pre-salvation past doesn’t go away the moment she says, “Amen.” As I was writing Sarah’s story, the Lord was allowing me to experience a bit of a rebirth as well. He led me to give up the career I had devoted my entire adult life to, and in addition to putting wind in the sails of my career as an author, he guided me toward full-time vocational ministry. Though my faith is not nearly as new as Sarah’s, I feel like I was given the opportunity to fall in love with Jesus all over again, through Sarah’s eyes and my own.

This is your first published novel. What did you learn about the publishing process as you went along?
I learned that I don’t know half of what I thought I knew, but that’s okay because publishing is such a collaborative effort. Whatever I don’t know, someone else does! I also learned that you should never, ever complain (even to yourself) about the moments in the process when you have nothing to do—because before you know it, the whirlwind will take over! (I also learned that I love the whirlwind.)

What are you working on next?
I have another romantic comedy completed—this one about a woman whose entire life is set on a completely different course by a brief, relatively uneventful interaction with a stranger. Over the course of ten years, she works her way back toward the stranger who by then, she is convinced, is actually one of the most famous movie stars in the world.

How can readers connect with you? 
Through my website, www.seebethanywrite.com, readers can find all the various ways to connect, but I love Facebook and Instagram most of all! I’m @seebethanywrite pretty much across the board, so I’m quite easy to track down, and I’d love to connect!

Thank you so much, Bethany, for allowing me to share this wonderful book with my blog readers. I know they will love it as much as I did.

Readers, here are links to the book. 
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck - Christianbook.com
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck - Amazon paperback
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Anonymous said...

Live in Wasola, Mo. Would love to win and review jrs0350@yahoo.com

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like it will be a very good book. I would love to read it.

Linda in CA

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Melanie Backus said...

I am intrigued by this book and would love to read it. Thank you for the opportunity.Melanie Backus, TX

Dianna said...

I love the cover -- very modern and fun. I'd love to read this!
Dianna (TN)

Paula Shreckhise said...

I’ve head a lot about this book and would like to win it. Paula from Missouri.

Elly said...

I can't wait to read this book!
Elly -Indiana-

Vivian Furbay said...

With struggles this couple face, this sounds like a good book to read. Vivian Furbay of Colorado

Beth Gillihan said...

Sounds like a great book!

Beth in Montana

Kay Garrett said...

Think you for the information on both THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH HOLLENBECK and author Bethany Turner. I didn't realize this was her first book. I've wanted to read it since I first read what it was about. Loved reading the interview. Thank you for the chance to win a copy!
Kay from Mountain View, AR
2clowns at arkansas dot net

kim hansen said...

Sounds like a good read. North Platte Nebraska.

VanG said...

I have not yet read any books by this author and would dearly love to win a copy of her book. It sounds like a great story. Thanks for the giveaway. Merry Christmas! ๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ
VanG in NC

Pam K. said...

I love to read romantic comedies. I've read a lot of very good reviews for The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck so it's been on my "want to read" list for awhile. Thanks for this interview with Bethany and the chance to win a copy of the book.


Connie Porter Saunders said...

Fascinating interview and Bethany's book sounds intriguing.Thank you for sharing.
Connie from KY

Danielle H. said...

I've read so many excellent reviews for this book and can't wait to read it for myself. Sounds emotional and great to snuggle up with here in cold Michigan. dhammelef(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.

Karen said...

I've been hoping to read this for so long, but my budget is limited, and our library system here in South Dakota is the smallest one that I've seen in my life! lol mylittlebirdiebooks (at) yahoo (dot) com

Jorie said...

Hallo, Hallo Ms Dooley,

I do appreciate a wicked good Contemporary Women's Fiction and/or Romance - sometimes I find I lean outside of Contemporary stories because of how they're developed - INSPY or mainstream as sometimes they seem less realistic to me. I liked how the author said she wanted to develop an authentic portrayal of a real couple's journey to build their relationship but also to honour the truths of their walk in faith. Life is rocky, that's for sure - and seeing how couples work through their adversities yet remain together as a team who works through things is something which interests me. Definitely will seek out this author, I appreciate the nod!

Blessings to you,

Jorie in FL