Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Becke Turner!

Today we’re welcoming another of the Omegas: Becket Turner, whose manuscript MURPHY’S DEBT is a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist in the Best Short Contemporary Romance category.

Becke Turner spent many years honing her story chops—many years. A native of southern Illinois, Becke and her husband of over forty-seven years were on the move for the first ten years together, including a three-year stint operating her family cattle ranch in Missouri. But two kids, 300 cows, ten horses, four dogs, and enough snow to scare Frosty wore thin. In 1996, the family and dogs, minus the hooved animals, moved to sunny South Carolina. Although by this time Becke had completed five ranch stories, she hadn’t found RWA. With the help of her CRW and GRW sisters, her stories improved. Today, her stories feature sassy, independent women learning how to love.

When she’s not wrangling her five rambunctious grandkids, you’ll find her on some grand adventure or writing her next story.

Here’s a blurb for MURPHY’S DEBT, accompanied by a picture of the clock tower that sits atop the Newberry, SC Opera House. Newberry is the inspiration for her fictional small city of Sunberry, NC, the setting for Murphy’s Debt and her two WIPs:

Five years ago Ava Robey lost her husband and nearly lost herself. But life will not suck this Marine widow under. To help her four young children, she’s going to win the lease in her hometown’s historic district and open a business to honor her husband.

 For Ryan Murphy, ‘leave no man left behind’ are not words. They are his code. And that includes the widow of the best man in his unit. Only problem is a fellow officer needs help securing a location for his retirement business. As a native of the Carolina community, Ryan has plenty of contacts. But to get the best site, he’ll have to win a competition—against the widow.

 As a Marine widow, Ava understands their code. But she’ll only give her heart to a man who is looking for a partner. Not a man driven to protect and make decisions for her. She’ll teach her impressionable children the pride of attaining a goal because of hard work and she won’t let Ryan throw the contest because of his misplaced guilt.

 Ryan harbors his own demons. His Afghanistan decision resulted in the loss of Ava’s first husband and the need to give back wars with his desire for a family. But his southern roots taught him good relationships are built on love not guilt and he must prove his worth to Ava and himself.

 With the competition in full force, Ava and her children soon show Ryan they are a fair match for one love-sick Marine. But how does he convince the independent mother of four, his feelings stem from love and not guilt, and her rambunctious tribe are the family he believed he’d never have?

Oh, I LOVE that “she’ll only give her heart to a man who is looking for a partner. Not a man driven to protect and make decisions for her.” What a great way to modernize that familiar trope! Fabulous emotional dynamics going on here!!

Okay, folks—I’ve got some questions for Becke!! I have fond memories of visiting a friend in North Carolina in the heat of summer and sitting on his old wooden back porch eating watermelon and spitting the seeds through the cracks between the boards. Grab a seat and a slice of ice-cold melon….spitting seeds is purely optional!


Welcome, Becke! Lovely to have you here today!

Thanks to you and the Ruby Sisters for the opportunity to share my GH final and writing journey.

It’s truly our pleasure! So, tell us a little more about your Golden Heart finaling book and the process of writing it.

I wrote the short contemporary as an opener for my single titles (ST). The ST had done well in contests, but this little story took off like a rocket! Note to self: maybe you’re better at short contemporary.

That’s awesome! (And I’m betting you’re great at both short and long!) Tell us about the phone call telling you you were a finalist!

I had traveled to MS to take care of my mother when Priscilla Oliveras called. Although I’ve known her since I started with RWA in the 90’s, we’d never talked on the phone. I knew when her name populated on my screen what was coming. Because of the circumstances, the experience was bittersweet.

Oh, Priscilla is the best!! Your call was blessed! And…yes, bittersweet. I’m still struggling to accept that this wonderful yearly anointing of super-talented unpublished writers is coming to a close. (And I still don’t understand WHY.) But I now the Omegas are making the best of the amazing opportunity! For you, what’s been the best thing about being a GH finalist?

Everything about the experience, the other finalists, the recognition, the validation I can actually write. Woohoo! This is like a 6-month Cinderella moment.

“6-month Cinderella moment.” Yes!! That’s truly what it is. And so many great parts are still to come! Has anything happened yet that you didn’t expect?

The Golden Heart Sisterhood was totally unexpected.

It’s powerful, isn’t it? Nobody who hasn’t experienced it can quite understand how wonderful the GH community is. (Sigh.) Usually at this point I ask how long my interviewee has been writing, how many manuscripts they’ve started, and how many completed….

 Uh-oh, I think I might win the prize on this series of questions. Not sure if that’s such a good thing. Another clue is I had to check my files to accurately answer the question. I finished my first romance in 1980. I’ve written fifteen and revised many of them at least five times each. Of the fifteen, one was a historical. The rest have been long or short contemporary depending on which version you open. Of those, I’ve written romcoms and angsty emotional stories.

Wow!!! I’m sure you’ve learned a great deal in the process! And what a great back catalog of books ready to go when you publish!!! When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Was it always Romance you were interested in?

I decided to write my first book when I was pregnant with my first child. Must have been a quirky hormone thing. I didn’t know I was writing romance and had little knowledge about genres. Silhouette ran an ad in the WSJ for authors. I had never read a short romance. I went to the bookstore, bought a few romances. Ah-ha, I wrote long contemporary romances. Before that time, my favorite read was Robert Ludlum, spy books.

Lightning round: What’s your biggest source of inspiration? Where do your story ideas come from?

The shower! 😊

LOL! There’s just something about flowing water and the subconscious imagination! What about people in your life? Who are your biggest supporters?

My husband. He always encourages my endeavors and never complains.

Sweet! What about inside yourself? What aspect of your personality is most valuable to you as a writer?

Tenacity. I’m like a starving junkyard dog with a bone.

Tenacity for the win!! I think NOTHING is more valuable for making it in the crazy unpredictable world of publishing. What about obstacles? What aspects (if any) of your personality make the writing life more difficult?

I’m a perfectionist and I fear being called or thought of as stupid.

Oy. I hear you on that one. If someone could come up with an Inner Editor Volume Dampener, that would be great. Are you going to Nationals (and have you ever been before)?

I’ve attended every RWA conference since 1996 and would NOT miss my GH conference for love not money—well depends on the amount of money.

Fantastic! What are you looking forward to the most this time?

Meeting my GH class in person. Enjoying my Cinderella Conference!

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry so far?

Working with an agent showed me how much a pre-published author needs a professional. I thought I knew the ropes. I didn’t know squat.

What’s the best tip you can give other writers?

Women need to support women!

 Amen!! What’s your dream for where you’ll be in five years?

Enjoying a healthy life and writing 2-3 romances a year that readers will love.

Do you have a new Work-In-Progress?

I’m deep in the weeds revising a second chance at love ranch romance—in case…

Do you have a tag line for your work overall?

 Sassy independent women finding love

 Love it!! Okay, end of lightning round. Now for a question that may take more time to answer: Aside from re-writing a lot, what is your writing process like?

 Schedule: When I was working a day job, I often got up at 4am, ran three miles and then wrote until it was time to leave. Since retirement, I write every morning after my 1.5 hour exercise routine. I typically write 1,000 words a day. I can usually accomplish that goal in the hour before lunch. On weekends, I’ll write all day when my DH is on the golf course. When we travel, I write on the plane or in the car.

Story: I try to plot the protagonist’s wound and then focus on the turning points. I’m an organizer so I must limit process time and focus on story. I find process very soothing. My first drafts are probably average. But since I strive for perfection, I must limit OCD tendencies and put a deadline on the finished product. I did NaNo a few times and learned to write fast. When I’m in the groove, any unknown story element gets an XX, followed by full speed ahead.

Wow! The very thought of running three miles before dawn and THEN writing and THEN going to the day job…I bow down. Obviously, you have tremendous discipline to go with your tenacity. You say your wrote five books before discovering RWA. Were you a lone wolf? Do you have a CP or writing critique group now?

I’ve worked with the same CP for 20 years and have complete trust in her opinion. I also have other close writer friends who read for me and give me feedback. All are trusted friends. We read. We comment. We brainstorm. We have one another’s backs.

 Fabulous!! Aside from writing and ranching and raising kids and grandkids (which is already an epic bunch of undertakings!!), have you done other things in your professional life?

I’m proudest of the Molecular Diagnostic program and the unit drug program I developed. The two programs saved several billion dollars in incorrect Medicare billing. However, I’m an RN and worked in ER, labor and delivery, and for a temporary agency where I floated to every department in a large teaching facility. Once burnout hit, I worked for an insurance company and retired from IBM Watson Health as a medical analyst developing anti-fraud software.

In addition to my professional training, I trained Arabian and Quarter Horses, and am a certified all-breed dog groomer. These skills have given authenticity to my medical and rancher stories. To me, the more experiences you bring to the table, the more fodder for the story grinder.

Holy moly!!! Do you ever sleep??? You’ve got story fodder to last your for decades to come!! You say you like adventures. What are some of your favorites so far?

I’m horse nut and there’s no cure so we’ve combined our love of travel with horseback riding. We’ve ridden the Alaskan Tundra, the Italian vineyards, the Canadian Rockies, and all over the US West. However, the cherry on my ice cream experiences was a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti during our safari in Tanzania.

I love most kinds of action: biking, swimming, snorkeling, horseback riding, hiking, ziplining. You name it, I’m game—Except for skydiving. I’ll pass thank-you.

Wow—you are NON-STOP!!

 Okay, it’s time to let our readers get in on the conversation now. What’s your question for commenters today?

What romance story pet-peeve causes you to throw the book against the wall?


To learn more, visit Becke Turner’s website at or follow her on Facebook:

and Twitter:



52 responses to “Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Becke Turner!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Becke!

    It’s wonderful to have you with us today! I’m so impressed by how much you’ve done with your life, and how much you’ve clearly still got planned! You’ve got incredibly energy!

    As for your question…hmmmm. I’m pretty trope-tolerant, and don’t mind almost any shenanigans as long as the writing’s good and the characters remain consistent. (Also, I’m such a narrative junkie, I have trouble leaving a book unfinished, even if it’s not really working for me. Gotta find out how it ENDS.)

    That said, unmotivated character behavior is a huge pet peeve. I need to believe that the character as I’ve seen them so far would reasonably make the choice to do whatever it is the book is having them do. Of course people can be irrational and behave inconsistently, but I need to feel it’s triggered by something that’s happening, and not just the author’s need to make it happen.

    And I’m in danger of going on another Game of Thrones final season rant…so I’ll just stop right there.

    • Becke Turner says:

      I’m with you on the undetectable motivation. The talented author who waits until just the moment I’m ready to close the book gets the prize. I had that experience reading The Night Olivia Fell. Since patience is not one of my virtues, I’d love to sharpen the ability to suspend the reader for one more…breath.

  2. Welcome Becke and congratulations on your final! I hope you enjoy every second of your Cinderella Season!

    For me, the biggest pet-peeves are probably when characters seem to be doing mental backflips to avoid thinking about or acknowledging things because the author is trying to manipulate the plot. For example recently I was reading a book and the villain was SO OBVIOUS. Their interference was literally the only explanation for what had happened and the hero and heroine just kept flapping their hands and saying “How could this possibly have happened?” UGH! Characters bending in service of the plot is a huge pet peeve. 🙂

    Good luck in New York! I hope it’s an amazing time for you!

  3. Fenley Grant says:

    Hi, Becke!

    I loved hearing more about my Omega sister’s background and I’m jealous of your writing speed. My turtle tendencies frustrate me no end.

    When reading romances, I have two major pet peeves: “Too stupid to live” characters and cliffhanger endings. Okay, I lied–I have a third. Sex scenes for the sake of sex scenes. I once judged a book in a contest where the hero and heroine were on the run, but stopped to have sex in the bushes during the escape. This book combined two least favorites: gratuitous sex AND too stupid to live. I kind of wanted the antagonist to win at that point.

    Can’t wait to meet you in NYC and congrats on your final!

    • Becke Turner says:

      Sex scene in the bush. I can see the bad guy shooting someone in the bottom in that one. My bet it wasn’t a romcom. But hey, there’s a thought.

      I attended an excellent workshop where the speaker pretended to be the good guy with a gun. He’s sneaking up to the hideout–and he stops for introspection! The entire class got a laugh out of it.

      I’m looking forward to meeting my Omega sisters too.

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      LOL, that’s hilarious, Fenley.

  4. Jennifer Whitney Bray-Weber says:

    Whoa, Becke! You are my new inspiration—tenacity and all. So. Much. Energy. I thought I was disciplined, but I pale in comparison to you. I need to up my game. LOL!
    So jealous of your horseback riding adventures. I adore horseback riding. But it has been ages.
    Murphy’s Debt sounds amazing! Good luck and have fun in NYC! I wish you all the best!

    • Becke Turner says:

      Thanks for dropping by. NEVER give up your love of riding. It’s pixie dust for life. Lease, rent, whatever it takes. We love Eaton’s Ranch in Wolf, WY. You are assigned a horse and can ride on your own. We’re heading there and to Glacier in late August.

      I’ve often wondered if it was discipline or OCD that drives me. At any rate I’m productive. Now the product? LOL

  5. Great interview, Becke! I learned a few new things about you. I’m so happy for you and that you get to enjoy the excitement surrounding being a GH finalist.

    One of my pet peeves is arguments taking the place of any real conflict or because it serves the plot. I also prefer main characters who act like adults (says the author whose heroine just stuck her tongue out at the hero’s closed door) and are able to discuss things. Simple misunderstandings between the H/h can be fun but the plot can’t rely solely on them.

    Looking forward to seeing you in NYC!!

    • Becke Turner says:

      Thanks for stopping by. I can’t wait to meet up with old friends and find new ones.

      And I kind of like your sassy heroine who sticks out her tongue. Can’t wait to read that one.

  6. Hey Becke! I’m so glad we have had the chance to meet through GRW and PAALS. You are certainly a successful dynamo in everything you tackle!! … Cheers! Cathy

  7. Great interview! I’m looking forward to seeing this book between covers.

    Romance pet peeve? Secret babies! For me, there is a very, very narrow spectrum of acceptable reasons for keeping a baby a secret, and I’ve read too many stories where the reason is petty and, to me, unsympathetic.

    • Becke Turner says:

      Hey Nancy,

      Thanks for stopping by. You’ve drawn the line in the sand. Now, romance writers need to find a darned good reason for a secret baby! LOL

  8. Wow, Becke! What a great interview. I’m so proud of you. Congratulations. I learned a few new things about you. It also explains your determination and focus on the yoga mat!

  9. Becke,
    You are a role model for living your best life. I can’t wait to meet you in NYC.

    • Becke Turner says:


      Thanks for the kind words. This has been a fun ride and I’ve met so many amazing women authors. Can’t wait for July. We will have a fantastic conference.

  10. Roxann Pearson says:

    I’m so proud and excited for you, Becke!!! You’ve always been a role model for me. 🙂

    Pet peeves? Ummm, let’s see. I get irritated when it feels like a writer has decided to take on an “issue” for the pure sake of, say, its status as a current media topic. Domestic abuse is one that comes to mind. You don’t have to have personally lived it, but it needs to feel like more than stats and figures. Does that make sense?

    But, really, I’m pretty open-minded to anything as long as the author can make me believe in the world they’ve made for us. Which, of course, is wherein the crux lies, right? 😉

    • Becke Turner says:


      Glad you stopped by. Your nearly twenty years of support has helped me on this journey.

      I agree. I think readers can hear the unauthentic tone to the writing. The story needs to come from author passion. Without it, everything comes out flat.

  11. What a great background (and outlook on life) you have!

    My Romance pet peeve is when I can “see” the author manipulating the plot to make things work out the way they want them to — it’s so inorganic that it stands out, and I have trouble immersing myself in the story, again.

    I’m on my fourth retry of a book I *really* wanted to read but found so full of inorganic plot-stirring, I kept putting it aside. Ugh! I may have to give up on it (even though I really like this author!)

    • Becke Turner says:


      Mercy, I feel your pain. How patient you are with this author. I was not born with the patient gene. Although I used to be stubborn and had to finish the book, that habit it gone. Grab me by the throat in the first chapter or I’m on to bigger and better.

      There are so many talented authors to read. No way am I going to waste my time with a book that doesn’t touch me–quick.

  12. Diane Kelly says:

    Sounds like your muse showers with you. ; ) Great interview!

  13. C.R. Grissom says:


    Great interview, you’ve done so much you are an inspiration.

    I have to agree on secret baby tropes. I have an extreme margin for what’s acceptable, too.

    Villains drawn in such painfully obvious tones that Vaudeville music plays when they make their way onto the page.

    Becke, I couldn’t be happier for your Golden Heart final. Good luck!

  14. Becke,

    Loved reading this and learning more about you. I agree you have enough experience to channel into so many GOOD stories. So excited we are GH finalists together.

    My romance pet peeve, hmm? I have two. 1) Love triangles. They drive me crazy. It’s a trope I run far, far away from. 2) When most of the conflict centers around one person not telling the other person some secret and the revelation of said secret would literally solve all their problems in one conversation.

    • Becke Turner says:


      Glad you could make it. Nationals will soon be here and the group will have some great stories to swap between the many activities.

      So don’t you love the author who can take a trope we aren’t thrilled with and create an awesome story? I want to be one of ‘those’ authors. Where’s that Omega pixie dust?

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Becke, Thanks for joining us on the blog.

    My pet peeve is for one of the heroes to learn or see something that they don’t understand… and not asking. “I saw X kissing you. I’m kicking you butt to the curb.”
    instead of
    “Please explain to me what I saw. I want to believe the best in you.”

    • Becke Turner says:

      Thanks for commenting.

      The art of communication. I keep preaching that sermon to my newly married son!

      But our romances should be better.

  16. Gracey Evans says:

    Becke! I am so happy for you. I can’t stop smiling. They may have to escort me out of the ballroom during the GH. I will not be silently cheering.
    I loved how you WOW’d Elisa, of course you did; it’s what you do.  I am looking forward to your book birthday.

    Rubbing my hands together -hmm pet peeves? When the character landscape is bland. I need a good troublemaker.

    Standing ovation Becke! Great guest blogging.

  17. Anna Collins says:

    Wow so many balls in the air! What an interesting life!

    One of my (several) pet peeves is unlikable alpha male heroes with no redeeming qualities and yet the heroine swoons anyway because he’s hot. Yuck! I want smart heroines who would incinerate such a guy with a pointed look. 🙂

  18. Great interview, Becky. Really in awe of all you’ve accomplished. Get those ranch stories published! Love to read about horses from authors who know them.

    Congrats and have fun at the conference!

  19. Lisa Heartman says:

    Wow, great interview! Your “Cinderella Conference” I love that. I had the pleasure of meeting Becke a few weeks ago while I was traveling through the east coast. She is an absolute love, and I am so pleased to have her as a GH sister.

    I’m really enjoying reading all of these interviews and blogs. Thank you!

    • Becke Turner says:


      Thanks for stopping by. This has been an incredible experience. I can’t wait until we get together in mass. Look out NYC, determined women on the move!

  20. Janet Dean says:

    Becke, as long as I’ve known you, I still learned a lot from this interview! Great job with the questions, Elisa. I’ve always been impressed with your energy and commitment! I’m thrilled about your GH final. I’m pulling for a win and a contract! Congrats on all you’ve accomplished on so many fronts!

    • Becke Turner says:

      This was my first time as a blog guest and Elisa made it seamless and me look good. What a talent!

      Thanks for the many years of support. Wish you were coming. I’ve missed you at the National conferences.

  21. Jilly Wood says:

    Wow, Becke! When you finally reach the pearly gates, and your life flashes before your eyes, you’re going to be there a while! I’m in awe of your daily routine, your energy, and your accomplishments. Can’t wait to meet you in person!

    There are some great pet peeves in the comments – Big Misunderstandings, gratuitous sex scenes, triangles, stupid heroines, alpha asshats, cliffhangers, arguments in place of conflict. One thing I hate is when a h&h are perfect for one another, they follow a satisfying romance arc over most of the book, and then, right at the end, Something Momentous happens to change their relationship, just in time to launch the reader into the next book of the series. The only time I tolerated this was Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate. Usually, I’m walking away, no matter how invested I am.

    • Becke Turner says:


      You would make the perfect critique partner to prevent an author from falling down the contrived romance plot rabbit hole.

      And the final scene, the villain ties the heroine to the railroad tracks with the approaching train rounding the bend!

      See you in NYC.

  22. Tracy Brody says:

    So proud to be a GH sister with you Becke! That tenacity is going to pay off and I’ll be there rooting for you because you WILL be published. I can say with confidence that you are smart and sassy and strong.

    As for pet peeves, I’ve judged too many contests so I have a few. Kids that aren’t written anywhere close to true to age, too stupid to live, or everything happening by coincidence to bring people together so that it’s not believable. There are others, but I’ll stop there as I’m trying to be more positive because it’s easy for me to go down the complaining trail.

  23. Becke Turner says:

    We’ll hang in there together until we have a printed book in our hands. Then, we’ll celebrate! And we’ll have our party even if the dream escapes our grasp.

    I’m thankful to have so many talented women on the journey with me.

  24. Janet Raye Stevens says:

    Wow, Becke, what a journey! I’m in awe of your energy and enthusiasm and starving dog going at a bone tenacity. I will be cheering you on at the GH ceremony! Thrilled to be your Omega sister and can’t wait to meet you in NYC!

  25. Martha I Gruenkemeyer says:


    So impressed & proud of your writing skills & accomplishments, wow! Seriously, the excerpt from book is great, you have become famous! Who knew this was your destiny back in the day – little girls riding horses & our other childhood escapades!


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