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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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Some Observations About The Movie Dunkirk

Posted by on Aug 1, 2017 in Blog, Commentary, History, Uncategorized | 11 comments

I thought the movie Dunkirk was well done.

  • Each facet of the battle seemed to be well represented by the characters; the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and British civilians.
  • The actors, most not particularly well known, did a great job.
  • For a recent war or action movie, I appreciated that there was far less gore than usual.

Some facts added could have made it better:

  • The background of the British call to prayer which likely led to the civilian involvement. Too many viewers aren’t familiar with the historical facts and they weren’t emphasized in the movie.

The British were aware of the probable disaster that was forming at Dunkirk. In a moving broadcast to the British people, King George VI asked his people to commit their cause to God and that a National Day of Prayer be called on Sunday, May 26, 1940.  The members of the Cabinet joined the King at Westminster Abbey, while millions joined in prayer throughout the Empire. Photographs outside Westminster Abbey on the National Day of Prayer showed throngs of people who could not get into the Abbey.

Many people believe the heartfelt prayers of so many British subjects to God played a big part in the evacuation of Dunkirk. God’s provision, power, and presence certainly seemed evident in the battle and evacuation. It was widely known as the Miracle at Dunkirk. Some of the factors that led to its success:

    • Against the advice of his generals, Hitler stopped the advance of his armored columns ten miles away, at a point when they could have destroyed the British Army. Possibly Hitler thought the Germans had enough air superiority to prevent a large-scale evacuation by sea that would be required.
    • German Luftwaffe squadrons were grounded due to a fierce storm over Flanders on May 28th, 1940. Darkness and the cover of the storm allowed the British Army to move toward the coast without being detected by German aircraft.
    • When several hundred men were systematically being machine-gunned and bombed by many enemy aircraft, many of the soldiers were amazed that more men weren’t killed.
    • While the violent storm provided cover, the English Channel was unusually calm in the days that followed which allowed nearly 340,000 British and Allied soldiers to be rescued by a hastily assembled of over 800 boats made up of 40 Royal Navy ships and an armada of civilian boats and merchant ships.
  • More focus on the vast numbers (hundreds of boats and ships) of civilians and commercial boatmen who risked all to aid in the rescue of their army. (Some were commandeered by naval crews when owners were not found. The movie made it appear that only a few dozen made the crossing.

“Operation Dynamo”

By Strait_of_Dover_map.png: User:NormanEinsteinderivative work: Diannaa – This file was derived fromStrait of Dover map.png:Information on shipping routes from Thompson, Julian (2011) [2008]. Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory. New York: Arcade. ISBN 978-1-61145-314-0. Map, page 223., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28440418

There were so many ships and boats involved in the evacuation across those 18 nautical miles that the fighter ace, Douglas Bader who helped to cover the operation, described the scene:

“The sea from Dunkirk to Dover during these days of the evacuation looked like any coastal road in England on a bank holiday. It was solid with shipping. One felt one could walk across without getting one’s feet wet, or that’s what it looked like from the air. There were naval escort vessels, sailing dinghies, rowing boats, paddle-steamers, indeed every floating device known in this country. They were all taking British soldiers from Dunkirk back home. You could identify Dunkirk from the Thames estuary by the huge pall of black smoke rising straight up into a windless sky from the oil tanks which were ablaze just inside the harbour.”

  • Churchill’s June 4, 1940 speech seemed almost an afterthought in the movie.

“. . . We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

  • The fact that the British people acknowledged God’s role in the evacuation.

The British people recognized the many signs of God’s deliverance from the German Army and Luftwaffe at Dunkirk. On Sunday, June 9, 1940, a Day of National Thanksgiving was celebrated. In an article in The Daily Telegraph, C. B. Mortlock stated: “The prayers of the nation were answered’, and that ‘the God of hosts himself had supported the valiant men of the British Expeditionary Force.”             

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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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My Visit at 2Me From Him with Norma Gail

Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in Blog, Book Reviews, Books, Uncategorized | 2 comments

 

Stop by 2Me From Him with Norma Gail for my interview about writing A Heart Set Free. Make a comment and there’s a chance to win a free book.

 

It has been fun getting to know Norma Gail. She is also a Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author who has a heart for all things Scottish.

 

 

 

In her book, Land of My Dreams, Norma takes us on a journey through the high desert of New Mexico and the lush hills of Scotland.

Bonnie has traveled from New Mexico to Scotland to teach at a Christian school and to heal from the death of her parents and a fiancé who deserted her. There she meets fellow teacher and sheep farmer Kieran who is still suffering from the death of his wife and baby. As a result of their human losses, they have also both lost faith in God. This is a tale of their growing relationship, with its pitfalls and misunderstandings, and addresses the theme of being equally yoked. They each must address their journey with God, which has its own challenges. Land of My Dreams will keep your attention to the very end. 

 

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