Books

A Visit With Carol Stratton, Author of Lake Surrender

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Blog, Books, Uncategorized | 6 comments

When I met Carol this past May at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference it was like meeting an old friend. We share the same publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Some years back I was intrigued when I found an advertisement for Changing-Zip-Codes, Carol’s devotional for folks who move often. Having moved many times myself, I thought her book would be an encouragement for my daughter-in-law, now living the life of a career Navy wife. As Carol and I visited at the conference, we discovered that we both lived in adjoining towns in the San Francisco Bay area during our teens in the sixties.  

Tell us a little about yourself, Carol.

Currently, I live in North Carolina with my husband and literary muse, John. We are the proud grandparents of eight grandkids.

I grew up in Palo Alto, in the San Francisco Bay Area, with three siblings where I learned how to sneak out of chores and fight to the death to see my favorite television program (only one television). I lived in Mexico City when I was thirteen as an exchange student and learned Spanish which now is very rusty but it taught me to be independent and to appreciate other cultures. In college, in Fresno, I majored in English until the head of the department suggested, on my papers, that I might want to find another major. (Never listen to the experts).

After college, I lived in New Zeeland for about four months while attending Capernwray Bible School in, Auckland. It truly is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

How and when did you begin to write? 

I had my first essay published in sixth grade in our town newspaper in a column called, Youth Said It, in the Palo Alto Times. Later, I got the bug and started sending things out to women’s magazines with no success. But it wasn’t until my four children were almost out of the house that I decided to revisit my desire to write. My first big article was published in a little paper in Zionsville, Indiana and described my view of 9/11. I’ve now written over five hundred articles.

Can you give our readers a short description of Lake Surrender?

My first novel is about a career editor who loses her marriage, house, and job. As a single parent of a precocious pre-teen and an autistic son, she’s forced to find a more inexpensive place to live instead of the San Francisco Bay Area. She ends up in Northern Michigan working as a cook at a dilapidated Christian camp. She can’t cook and right-wing religious types really irritate her. But God woes her as she discovers her journey ends where her life begins. I really put this girl through the wringer!

What led you to write Lake Surrender?

Of all random and curious things, I have a degree in Recreation Therapy. I found I love working with all kinds of disabled children. A few years ago I was a teacher’s aide in an autistic classroom and saw the rewards of being able to enter their private worlds. I also observed the difficulties these parents face every day.

What are you working on now?

I have just finished Dread of Winter, a sequel to Lake Surrender. It’s a darker story where my heroine, Ally, stumbles into a crime while working at her new job as a reporter.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

I have found writing to be humbling. It took me twelve years to get my first book, a devotional, published, and I still have a novel with thirty-three rejections! But here’s what I learned along the way.

  • First, realize that you aren’t your best editor. Don’t think you’ve arrived after one or two drafts. Have a trusted, objective person (or two or three) give you feedback. Better still, have a paid edit of your book.

 

  • Second, share your ideas in a blog or newsletter. Yes, share them for FREE. All writing that points to truth is precious to God whether it be a best seller or an encouraging email to a friend. It’s exciting to have my novel out there but I’ve enjoyed the journey and especially the fellowship of other writers.

 

  • Third, support other writers. Write reviews of books you love, send encouraging emails and show up at FB book launch parties. Writing in the Christian realm is all about networking… just like the local church should be.

 

I found Lake Surrender to be a story of reality, resilience, renewal, and redemption. Carol has created a tender story that doesn’t ever disappoint. Thank you so much, Carol for being my guest.

How can readers find out more about you and your work?

I have a blog on my website, carolgstratton.com. My claim to fame is I’ve moved 22 times and lived to write about it. I have a devotional for movers: https://www.amazon.com/Changing-Zip-Codes-Christian-Community-ebook/dp/B01IFSFACG/

And of course, Lake Surrender: https://www.amazon.com/Lake-Surrender-journey-where-begins-ebook/dp/B01DCJBFMM

I’m on Facebook: Carol Grace Stratton (Author page), Carol Stratton, and Changing Zip Codes. Or Twitter: @Carolgstratton. I’d love to hear from any of you.

Carol’s motto:

We are only a short link to eternity during our time on earth

but with Christ, it can be a strong link.

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The Sequel to A Heart Set Free

Posted by on Aug 6, 2017 in Blog, Books, History, Uncategorized | 12 comments

I’m thrilled that Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas has offered me a contract for the sequel to A Heart Set Free.

 

It’s a stand alone story that follows the characters introduced in A Heart Set Free.

 

The Stewart’s dream of building an ordinary will be realized. However, storm clouds of conflict will escalate between Britain and the colonies. Like so many other families, the Stewarts will struggle with the prospect of a war that will divide friends and families. The story continues in the second book of the trilogy.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Set-Free-Janet-Grunst-ebook/dp/B01MQK0SXR/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1501186375&sr=8-1

 

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A Visit With Karla Akins, Author of A Pair of Miracles

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Blog, Books | 6 comments

A story of autism, faith, and determined parenting

Karla Akins’ sons, her pair of miracles,

are proof of what is possible through God

Karla is a multi-published author I met a few years ago at a writing conference through our mutual agent, Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency. While Karla is a mom of five, A Pair of Miracles addresses the challenges and blessings she and her husband have experienced raising their two autistic sons.

Autism is a neurological developmental disability that appears early in life and covers a wide spectrum of potential abilities and handicaps. It’s different for everyone.

Karla, please share a bit of your own educational background and how Isaiah and Isaac joined your family.

Thanks for hosting me, Janet!

My educational background: I have a doctorate degree in Christian Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education. I’m pursuing a Master’s in Education & Technology.

I have a step-daughter and two biological sons, all grown, and seven grandchildren.

Isaiah and Isaac came to us through the foster care system. We had applied to adopt another foster child but the social services agency we were with only allowed adoptions to childless couples. After a heartbreaking separation from a baby we had from birth to eleven months, we very much desired to adopt. God blessed us with the twins and we were thrilled.

Being the parent of special needs children can be an isolating and overwhelming experience. What are some of the issues you faced and how did you deal with them?

Oh wow. Yes, it’s very hard not to get bitter and to feel forgotten. People have no idea what you go through. The stress is through the roof. Did you know that studies have shown that mothers of children with autism have the same stress levels as combat soldiers? There are too many of us out there feeling alone. Friends fall away, not knowing how to help. And honestly, we don’t know how to have them help us. Not just anyone can care for our kids with autism because the behavior is so challenging. We also had a difficult time getting our church to understand what we were dealing with. In the book, I share how I worked through these issues with the Lord’s help.

You are a multi-published author of a variety of genres, what motivated you to write A Pair of Miracles?

I was at a writer’s conference where we could display onesheets for book proposals. Right before I left for that conference, I had a strong unction to create a one-sheet for a book about the twins. An editor saw it and asked for a proposal. One thing led to another and here we are! But really, I wanted to tell the twins’ story because it’s about love and overcoming. It’s about hope. I want people living with autism or any disability to be encouraged and to know that God hasn’t forgotten them. He is up to something good. He really is.

Isaac and Isaiah seem to be thriving. What are their abilities and what activities fill their days?

Isaiah has a part-time job at a convenience store/gas station. Isaac does odd jobs such as yard work and mowing. They both help take care of their grandmother who lives with us and has dementia. They are so good with her. I love watching them and listening to them instruct her on how to walk to the car or what to eat. They have a golf cart that they tool around town in and use to get to work and church. They require supervision because they’re easily taken advantage of, but they also do much more than doctors told me they would. We are grateful. The last couple of days they’ve enjoyed swimming with friends. They’re very good swimmers!

I was appreciative and impressed by the many tools and resources you included for parents raising special needs children. There is a lot of practical wisdom in A Pair of Miracles that’s helpful for raising ALL children.

Thanks, Janet! I wanted to include practical help. I know I relied a lot on practical help when my boys were little.

Do you have a current work in progress?

I do. I have several projects I’m working on, including a book for middle grades, a suspense and a nonfiction. They only have working titles at this point. I’m also working on my Master’s Degree so a lot of my writing time is taken up writing papers. I am looking forward to getting back to having more writing time!

I also have a YouTube channel where I am producing some videos about how to work with children with autism. My YouTube channel is called Sparrow Song Radio. I have other videos there, too, as I interview authors, too. I hope your readers will check it out!

And I love meeting readers, too.

Where can people find out more about you and your books, Karla?

My online home is www.KarlaAkins.com, and I am also on Facebook (KarlaKAkins) and Twitter (@KarlaAkins).

Akins is the author of four other books. Her first novel, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots.

Karla has graciously offered to give away a book to one commenter. A winner will be selected July 31st.

 

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A VISIT WITH CLARICE JAMES~ AUTHOR OF PARTY OF ONE

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Blog, Books, Uncategorized | 22 comments

            Clarice James

I met Clarice a few years ago at the American Christian Fiction Conference (ACFW) and have enjoyed our friendship ever since. She’s entertaining whether in conversation or in print. I’m so excited about her latest book. Make sure when you read it that you are in a location that laughing out loud won’t disturb others.

  1.  Please tell us something about yourself, Clarice.

I grew up on Cape Cod—before it got crowded. The second oldest of six children, my days were spent playing make-believe with my siblings and friends in the backwoods of our rural neighborhood. We had the kind of family who was poor but didn’t know it.

My dedication in Double Header says a lot about my upbringing. “I credit my father for showing me the power of dreams and my mother for teaching me the value of working for them.”

During those formative years, I learned about the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in church, but I hungered to know God better. That happened when I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior in 1980.

After three children and 20 plus years of marriage, I was widowed. Eight (long) years later, I was blessed to remarry (Ralph) David James. My dedication in Party of One says a lot about our relationship. “To my husband, David, who every day shows me he loves me, makes me laugh, and keeps me out of trouble as best he can.”

David and I live in Southern New Hampshire, where we are connected to a wonderful church family. Together, we have five married children and ten grandchildren.

 

  1. I know Party of One is based somewhat on your experience as a widow. Please share the journey of how you came to write this story.

About six months after I was widowed, I returned to the diner my late husband and I had frequented for decades. While seated at the table we had called ours, a server approached and asked if someone would be joining me. When I told her no, she asked me to move to the counter because their tables were reserved for two or more.

I drove up the street to another restaurant. The staff there treated me like they’d been awaiting my arrival all week. That restaurant was the inspiration for Cranberry Fare, the one featured in my book.

In the midst of one person’s insensitivity and another’s warm welcome, a seed for Party of One was planted.  Originally, it began as a non-fiction book about the struggles and surprises of the middle-aged single life. When I remarried in 2006, my husband, David, suggested I turn my manuscript into a novel. Although based loosely on my life, fiction has its advantages; with a few keystrokes, I could make the protagonist younger, thinner, and richer!

 

  1. God often teaches us something through our writing, particularly if it is based on our own personal experiences. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Party of One?

Since my marriage had been a happy one, I was not opposed to remarrying one day. When I finally decided I was ready, I discovered God’s timing was not necessarily the same as mine. Patience took root once I tired of fighting it.

During those eight years of widowhood, I became aware of other lonely people, which resulted in my sharing my home at different times with four single women. I also prepared Tuesday night supper for the young adults in my church. My plan was to start Party of One, “a fellowship for those tired of dining alone.” Ironically, that didn’t happen until after I’d written the book and happily remarried.

 

  1. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

As I learned for myself, it’s not about me or my timing. It’s about God and his perfect plan for my life. Look around and see how you can help. You are his eyes and ears, his hands and his feet.

 

  1. Your novel Double Header, a stand-alone story, is the sequel and is also available so your readers won’t have to wait to continue learning about some of your characters. Where can readers find your books?

Ask at your local bookstore or order both Party of One and Double Header on Amazon.com and/or Barnes & Noble.

 

  1. I believe you have a third story written. Has it found a publishing home yet and if so when will it be available?

My third novel is titled, Manhattan Grace. Per my readers’ request, I continued the story of Gracie Camden, the aspiring actress/hostess you meet in Party of One. However, as are all my books, it’s a stand-alone story. Elk Lake Publishing has first dibs. I’ll be sure to let you know!

  1. What are your social media sights?

Website & Blog  https://claricejames.com/

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/clarice.g.james

Twitter  https://twitter.com/ClariceGJames

A signed copy of Party of One will be awarded to one commenter.

AUTHOR BIO: Clarice G. James writes smart, fun, relatable contemporary women’s fiction. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, encouraging fellow writers, or involved in home decorating projects. She and her husband, David, live in New Hampshire. Together, they have five married children and ten grandchildren.

PARTY OF ONE: When a widow breaks through grief, she falls flat on her face into loneliness. In a bold move for this private woman, she founds Party of One, a communal table for single diners. Outside of these weekly gatherings at a local restaurant, she has no intention of getting involved in the diverse lives of the people who join her. But God …

DOUBLE HEADER: A rising Boston sports columnist fears losing the unblemished memories of her father when she learns she has a brother no one knew existed. In her search to identify this walking insult to his memory, she learns that God’s playbook is less about her well-ordered plans and more about His.  

 

 

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A HEART SET FREE ~ Selah Award Winner

Posted by on Jun 6, 2017 in Blog, Books, Uncategorized | 6 comments

I have attended three American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) conferences in the past six years but this was the first year I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) in Ridgecrest, NC.

BRMCWC is an annual conference billed as a premier training and networking event for both seasoned and aspiring writers and speakers. Classes covering a multitude of subjects for every imaginable genre of writing are held throughout each day of the conference. Interesting Keynote speakers address the hundreds attending each day and evening. It’s a rich opportunity to learn and meet with other writers, speakers, agents, and publishers. Each year various awards are given in recognition for a variety of published and unpublished work. 

About a month ago I mentioned that A Heart Set Free was selected as a finalist in the Selah Awards for Historical Romance. This year the other finalists in this genre were multi-published, multi-award winning writers so I was honored just to have my debut novel considered. Imagine my surprise and delight when A Heart Set Free was awarded the Selah for Historical Romance.

 

With DiAnn Mills & Edie Melson

With Eva Marie Everson

What a special week it was to study and connect with so many people, some friends whom I’ve only known online before the conference. I’m still digesting all I’ve learned. And like most other attendees, I’m energized and motivated to continue to pursue the craft of writing.

 

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A Very Special Day

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Blog, Books, History | 4 comments

It’s been five months since the release of A Heart Set Free. I wanted to thank all those readers who have graciously taken the time to post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

In these days when authors are the primary source of marketing their books, posting reviews of the books is of critical importance. The positive reviews for A Heart Set Free have really touched my heart and been such an encouragement. If you have read the book and haven’t yet posted a review I would truly appreciate it if you would. The more reviews, particularly at Amazon, the more visibility the book gets.

 

 

Moments ago I learned that A Heart Set Free is a finalist for the Selah Award for Historical Romance. My friend, Elaine Cooper, is also a finalist in the same category for Saratoga Letters. I’m over the moon for both of us.  

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