Interview with Carol Grace Stratton: Author

Hey gang!

(I had to say that. 80’s for the win!)

8592575So it’s time for another exciting author interview. I love interviewing people, hearing about their experiences, and getting some good food from thought.

Please welcome, Carol Grace Stratton! Carol is an author of contemporary and Christian fiction. As a Christian myself, I appreciate works that are faith promoting and uplifting and admire writers who undertake the task. Carol recently released her first novel, Lake Surrender, which won this year’s Illumination Award Medal for Inspirational/Romance Fiction.

Wow, congratulations!

Official Plot Summary:

29853421Quicker than you can say “downsized, unemployed, and divorced,” Ally Cervantes finds herself with the Pacific Ocean in her rearview mirror as she and her two children head to Lake Surrender in rural Northern Michigan to live with her aunt. The dry hills of California are a metaphor for her empty soul, but she can’t afford to wallow in self-pity with an autistic son who can’t make eye contact and a precocious twelve-year-old daughter counting on her to get it together.

With no other available jobs, Ally steps through the only open door for employment, working as head cook at a dilapidated Christian camp. Problem is, she doesn’t cook and doesn’t like religious fanatics.

But despite everything, she finds herself strangely hopeful as she learns her journey ends where the lake begins.

Find it on:

Amazon | Goodreads

On to the interview!

 

Q. Tell us about your journey to authorship. When did you decide to start writing books? Have you always been a writer at heart?

A. I’m not sure I wanted to write when I was young, but I was a voracious reader, reading in the bathtub at night while the rest of my siblings banged on the door. I had my first piece published as a sixth grader in the local newspaper, which was very exciting. I really liked English and song writing but didn’t become serious about writing until I was middle aged. 9/11 had just happened and I felt moved to write about it. I walked into the Zionsville Sentinel two days later, handed them my piece, and asked if they wanted to print it. Yes, just like that…boy was I green. And to my astonishment, they did!

What I have learned about myself is I love to communicate (just ask my family).  I did have a personality test done recently and came out as someone who likes to entertain people, which is what a good story does. If you find yourself drawn to telling stories, you might be a fiction writer too.

Q. Lake Surrender begins with your protagonist, Ally, in a rather dire but all too real situation. Why did you decide to begin the story like this? Was it inspired by real life events?

A. James Scott Bell, a wonderful author, taught a fiction class that changed my life. One thing I remembered him saying is that readers love to see the protagonist in trouble. Think about it! We want to emphasize and cheer on some one who is struggling. And a good story starts off with a lot of conflict. I felt a single mother with an autistic child is someone who fights against the odds in life. I appreciate and applaud them. Although I’ve been married for years, I have a lot of single friends and I’ve taken bits and pieces from their lives.

Q. Ally’s son is autistic. This always hits home for me with two autistic brothers. What experiences do you have with autism? Do you know an autistic person? Why did you include this in the story?

A. My degree is in Recreation Therapy and even though I don’t have a special needs child, I have friends that do. I also have a nephew who is on the spectrum. Although Lake Surrender isn’t my first book, it’s my first novel. I worked in an autistic classroom for 2 1/2 years and knew I had to write about my kids.

One of my goals while writing the book was to introduce an autistic child, describe, and show some of their behaviors (i.e. spinning and hand flapping) so that those who haven’t been around them can understand them better. I make Benjie a likeable kid and give him a starring role in solving a mystery so that he is a hero at one point in the story.

Q. Ally becomes the cook at a Christian camp. You yourself went to camp. Any funny camp stories you’re willing to share?

A. I have a funny camp story about my youngest daughter who went to Bair Lake Bible Camp in Michigan. When I drove down to pick her up, the entire camp was preforming some songs. I was far back while watching the show and saw my daughter with what looked like a tumor growing out of her head. When I met up with her I saw she had a tangle the size of an orange on the side of her head. She told me she couldn’t get it out the first day so just decided to not comb it all week. I ended up cutting all of her hair short. Ahh, ten-year olds!

Q. Your faith is obviously very important to you. How does your faith affect your day to day life?

A.  I have had a personal faith in Jesus Christ since I was a teenager and love to write about living out one’s faith in real life. As I have raised four children, lived through my parents’ divorce, the death of a grandchild, 22 moves, job layoffs and rebellious teenagers, I can say I don’t live in a Christian Bubble. Because I have the comfort and friendship of the Lord, I want to share my faith naturally through my life, conversations with others and writing. If Christianity was fake, I would have dropped it years ago. I have a long track record with Jesus and He is worthy to serve.

Q. And last but not least, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A. As someone who has 33 rejections on my first novel, an unpublished children’s story, I had to learn to persevere through a lot of failed attempts. My advice, if you want to be a published writer, is to start wherever you are at and write. Write for a school newspaper, letters to the editors, or for freebee magazines in  your community who are looking for content. If you cut your teeth on articles and smaller pieces, you will learn how to write tight, cutting out unnecessary words. Those clips will open doors to new opportunities.
As you develop confidence, you will discover your voice and your genre. And when you get that first published piece, frame it and go out to dinner to celebrate! You’ve accomplished a lot.
If you have any questions about writing, please feel free to contact me at contact@changingzipcodes.com. Please stop by my website too, at carolgstratton.com.

Thanks again, Carol, for the insights and advice! It was a pleasure working with you, and we here at Fictional Fox wish you continued success!

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Ignite the Shadows by Ingrid Seymour

25903205Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: October 22, 2015

Series: Ignite the Shadows, #1

Genre: Science Fiction, YA

Rating: 3/5

I was given a copy of Ignite the Shadows in exchange for a review in prep for the upcoming sequel. I liked it. I wouldn’t call it particularly memorable, especially within the saturated genre of science fiction. I was excited to read it though as it’s set in my hometown of Seattle. The plot strongly reminded me of the Deaths of Tao as the two contain mainly similar elements: an unsuspecting hero, aliens that live inside the brain, two opposing groups trying to control the world using humans as their vessels, the evil group infiltrating governments and positions of power.

But that being said, I would be interested in reading a sequel. There was a great twist at the end, that left me going what, no! The book can’t be ending here!

I do like endings that leave me flabbergasted.

The book is definitely action packed and fast paced, beginning with a motorcycle chase as Xave and Marci spy on Clark’s dealings with a mysterious group called IgNiTe. For me, the book was almost too fast paced. I was just plopped right in without any clue what was going on and little exposition. In fact, I’d say most of the book went from 0 to 90 in seconds.

Our narrator, Marci, is spunky but impulsive. She read like a real teenager to me: snarky, over-the-top, and a bit bratty. But I appreciated that. I get sick of YA teenage characters that don’t act like teenagers at all. I could also understand where her frustration often rooted from, which helped me empathize with her.

I’m not really into sentient alien stories, but I will say the aliens in this story were pretty darn creepy. I don’t do tentacles. Bleh!

The thing about this book that didn’t jive with me was the so-called science used to explain the abilities of the aliens and certain characters. It didn’t sound real to me at all and broke my suspension of belief. It’s a problem I often come across in science fiction that completely jars me out of the story. I wish authors felt less of a need to explain every nuance in these instances.

Overall though, if you enjoy fast paced action books with a strong heroine and a little dash of romance (perfect amount in my opinion), then this is a read for you.

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Some Favorite Harry Potter Moments

So, I had three great posts planned for this week. Did I do any of them? Nope. Because I’m both busy and lazy. Sorry! I guess I’ll do them next week? Maybe I will write them now while Oliver is busy watching Big Bugs Band.

But! It did leave me with a chance to do this impromptu post! I’m glad it did because I would’ve felt foolish if I’d passed up this opportunity to gush about Harry Potter.

Happy Birthday to Harry and Neville! Here’s to these two heroes!

Continue reading “Some Favorite Harry Potter Moments”

The Ophelia Syndrome: A Character Analysis and Discussion

shakespeare_williamDespite the fact that few women of Shakespeare’s age had rights or social power, Shakespeare gravitated towards writing strong, developed, and empowered women, the writer seemingly having a modern opinion of the female sex. However, Ophelia from Hamlet, is often criticized for not being able to think for herself and her eventual decline into madness. Critics generally perceive her as weak and baseless. The criticism of Ophelia is so strong that there’s even a condition named after her called the Ophelia Syndrome, where a person relies upon another’s thoughts and opinions to form their own action.

Based strictly on the script, her role in the story and relationship with other characters, particularly Hamlet, come off as ambiguous. Her obedience to her father makes her seem passive, and whether or not Hamlet truly cares for her is unclear. Truly, the text is open for interpretation on Ophelia’s function and character.

What do you think Ophelia’s role in the story of Hamlet is? Do you think she is a strong, independent character or a weak one who solely does what she is told? Did Hamlet just string her along or did he truly care for her?

Continue reading “The Ophelia Syndrome: A Character Analysis and Discussion”

Alice Giveaway via Instagram

I’m working with the publisher Ace to give away a copy of Alice by Christina Henry, the first book in the Chronicles of Alice duology. I take a lot of pride in my Instagram account, and I will be hosting the giveaway there! I hope you’ll all consider jumping in!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY VIA INSTAGRAM

 

It’s a great giveaway for a great book! To read my full review of Alice, click here.

This giveaway is open to everyone and will call on your awesome photography skills! We’re looking for some awesome photos.

📕Prizes:
A paperback copy of Alice by Christina Henry to be fulfilled by the publisher and an Alice in Wonderland Funko Pop (I’ll give you some options to pick from) to be fulfilled by me via Amazon.
Giveaway closes July 31st


📖 Rules:
1. Must be following me
2. Take your best, beautiful creepy Alice in Wonderland inspired picture. Tag me in it and use the hashtag #fictfoxgiveaway
3. Leave your picture up till after the giveaway ends!
4. For an additional entry, repost this photo (you may add it in a collage with your original entry photo.) Mention me in the comments and also add the hashtag!
5. For additional an additional entry, tag up to three friends in on this photo. Each friend=1 extra entry.
6. For an additional entry, go to my blog (link in bio) and comment on my review of the duology. The post is entitled Magicians and Axe Murderers. Make sure you include your Instagram handle in your comment.
7. No private or giveaway accounts please

Magicians and Axe Murderers: The Chronicles of Alice by Christina Henry

Wow. I almost don’t even know where to begin. This retelling of Alice in Wonderland is one crazy, dark, wild ride. And I loved every minute of it. Even the parts that made me squirm. Continue reading “Magicians and Axe Murderers: The Chronicles of Alice by Christina Henry”

Why is Neverland Full of Hippies?: Never Ever by Sara Saedi

22840374Publisher: Viking Books

Publication Date: June 21st, 2016

Series: Never Ever, #1

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 2/5

Never Ever is a contemporary re-telling of Peter Pan. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take this book seriously, and me not liking something Peter Pan-related is just unheard of. It goes against the very core of my being. Continue reading “Why is Neverland Full of Hippies?: Never Ever by Sara Saedi”