Today I welcome Carol Stratton to my blog. She has written for several publications, including InTouch magazine and Kyria. Carol is a contributing writer for Forsyth Woman magazine and has been published in two anthologies, Writing so Heaven Will be Different and Extraordinary Answers to Prayers. She speaks to women's groups such as MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and at national writers’ conferences. Carol and her husband live in North Carolina and have four children and two grandchildren.
Thank you for stopping by, Carol.
It's my pleasure to be here.
Tell us a little about yourself. I lived in Mexico City when I was thirteen as an exchange student and learned Spanish which now is very rusty. I also lived in New Zealand for about four months as I attended Capernwray Bible School in, Auckland. It truly is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Finally one more fact- I was majoring in English in college when the head of the department wrote in red pen on my essays that he didn’t think I had what it took to be an English major.
How and when did you begin to write? I had my first essay published in 6th grade in our town newspaper in a column called, Youth Said It. I got the bug and started sending things out to women’s magazines with no success and soon quit. It wasn’t until my four children were almost out of the house that I decided to revisit my desire to write. My first honest to goodness article was published in a newspaper in Zionsville, Indiana and described my thoughts on 9/11. Since then I’ve written hundreds of articles and currently work as a reporter.
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 than 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 woos her as she discovers her journey ends where her life begins. I really put this girl through the wringer!
What led you to write it? I have a degree in Recreation Therapy and love working with all kinds of disabled children. A few years ago I was a teacher’s aide in an autistic classroom and was able to get a glimpse into their world. I also observed the difficulties their parents face every day.
What are you working on now? I am planning a small novella called, Lake Surrender Christmas.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers? Writing is humbling. It took me 12 years to get my first book, a devotional, published, and I still have a novel with 33 rejections! But here’s what I learned along the way.
First, I had to realize that I’m not my best editor and my masterpiece hasn’t arrived after one or two drafts! I had to allow trusted, objective people give me feedback.
Second, I learned I needed to share my ideas in a blog or newsletter. Yes, give them away. 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 the fellowship of other writers.
How can my readers find out more about you and your work?
• I have a blog on my website called, ChangingZipCodes.com. My claim to fame is that I’ve moved 22 times and lived to write about it. I’m also on once a week on 7Christians.blogspot.com.
• I have a devotional for movers: http://tinyurl.com/cuwrcokdefault
• And of course, Lake Surrender
• 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. We are only a short link in time but with Christ it can be a strong link.
Today I welcome Ann Tatlock, author of ten novels, to my blog.
When asked what she is trying to do through her writings, she replied, “Tell the truth. I’m trying to tell the truth not as I might happen to perceive it, but as the Bible reveals it. Fiction—telling a story that isn’t true—is an excellent vehicle for talking about what IS true.”
Her book Promises To Keep was a Christy Award winner in 2012.
Her latest book, Sweet Mercy, is set during the time of prohibition, gangsters, bootleggers, and Alcapone. In that tumultuous summer of 1931,the owners of a lodge offer Eve Marryat and her destitute family a place to live. She later discovers it is a liquor transport station. Does she obey the law and turn the people in who have shown her family a great kindness? “Things are not always black and white,” Ann says, “not for Eve and not for us either.”
Some Things Never Change
by Ann Tatlock
Sometimes, I can scarcely believe all that’s changed in the almost 30 years since I wrote my first novel. I wasn’t published until 1998, but when I started writing fiction in 1985 I penned my first drafts by hand on cheap unlined paper. I had a computer, but I didn’t dare entrust my ideas to a machine, especially one that might randomly gobble up my work and refuse to spit it back out.
To research my novels, I’d go to the library to gather up books and read old magazines. Books were generally found after a good hour of ruffling through dozens of typewritten cards in the catalog files. The magazines were preserved in bound copies, a dozen or so issues in each weighty volume, kept in storage in the lower regions of the library’s basement.
Also as part of my research, I interviewed people over the phone, our voices traveling through a coiled wire that disappeared into the wall, since cordless phones were in their infancy and, much like the computer, I didn’t trust them either. How on earth would our voices reach one another without traveling through a wire?
Once I completed the handwritten copy of my novel, I’d type it into the computer. Then I’d print off a few chapters and mail them to publishers via the U.S. postal service. Once a novel was accepted, I’d send off the entire manuscript in a box. After publication, the book was promoted largely through print media.
If 30 years ago someone had told me I’d be promoting my books by Tweeting about them, I’d have pictured myself a big-headed yellow canary singing annoying songs to Sylvester the cat.
And yet it has happened! Technology exploded and everything changed. Which means today I dare to write on my computer (with Carbonite to back me up), do much of my research on the Internet, send my books off via email, and promote those books through all the various means of social media. I have even recently begun to tweet.
I marvel because these changes didn’t come about over the course of my lifetime, but over the course of my adulthood. Though I’m not yet a senior citizen, my life began in a world in which all phones were rotary dial, many televisions were still black-and white only, and hardly a home had so much as a microwave oven.
Such incredible change over such a brief span of time!
And yet, one constant remains. The reason I began writing novels 30 years ago is the reason I write today. I do it to glorify our unchanging Lord, to speak of his goodness and grace, to show his perfect love at work in a perfectly broken world. I want to offer hope and to help make sense of these lives of ours that too often appear to be senseless and even cruel. I want my readers to come to the end of one of my stories more at peace with themselves, with their lives and with God than they were when they started.
Jesus was himself a fiction writer who poured out God’s truths in parables. The unchanging desire of my heart is to do the same.
Today I welcome an award-winning poet and artist, Betsy Thorne, to my blog. Her poems have been published in the Medical University of South Carolina’s Poetry Chapbook; Family Reunion by Chicory Blue Press; Yemassee; Anthology of SC Poets by the University of South Carolina; and The Squaw Valley Review, among others.
Her past prizes include Best of Issue for poetry in Horizons; anthology of SC Writers’ Workshop and as winner of USC’s Poetry Initiative of South Carolina’s Single Poem Contest.
She was also the illustrator for two of Carole William’s novels, By Wonders and By Wars and Brightness Remembered.
Thank you for joining us today, Betsy.
Thank you for inviting me. I’m pleased to be with you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Except for work and travel, I’ve lived a short-tethered life in Columbia, SC. I’ve called seven houses home and graduated from four schools, including USC, all within a five-mile radius of the hospital where I was born. If I don’t have a strong sense of place for my own life story, I should find a vocation other than writing.
How and when did you begin to write?
My father was a natural born story teller. In the 1920s he regaled (a favorite word of his) classmates with tales, passed-down or made-up, from a cafeteria stage at lunchtime. I grew up hearing those stories, desiring from an early age to create and share my own. I found my voice in poetry.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Write and write; then write some more. Patience and doggedness are your two best friends.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a collection of poetry. The overall theme is my son’s service to his country. Tucked in throughout are poems that offer a glimpse of individuals whose impact on his life is far reaching and long lasting. There are also poems that speak to the effect his service has had on me.
Would you share one of the poems with us?
Yes, of course. The opening piece is entitled “Words”:
I’ve glimpsed the folded, yellowed paper
tucked in your wallet – the one I curled
your fingers tight around when you deployed
Words to tease a smile, tap the roots
of remembrance, remind you who you are
loved beyond all telling
We carry them with us
the old and the young those with no legs at all
letting bad ones slip at times
Some abide with us
pebbles embedded in the soles of our shoes
silent lodgers whose names we’ve forgotten
Ours, the love of words, son
strung like lights in the Japanese maple
lines of brightness in the night
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