Tips from My Own Writing journey

My debut novel Secrets & Charades released in 2017, ten years after I wrote the first draft and completed a fiction writing course. I received 21 rejections as I pitched that book to 21 different publishers. Each time I’d rewrite and improve the content based on what I was learning at writer’s conferences and on the suggestions I received from the publishers (if they gave any.)

I entered contests to get more feedback. I won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014, which earned me coaching and edits to hone my story. That lead to publication. Since then, I’ve published two other novels with two more to release this year. And two more that have yet to find a home.

I learned a few important things during that ten-year journey from rough draft to publication.

  • Never give up on your dream.
  • Stay teachable, so you are approachable.
  • Network with other writers, editors, and publishers, you never know when the door will open for you.
  • Share what you know with novice writers.
  • Humbly receive critiques and advice from other writers.
  • Be thankful for all those willing to share their knowledge of publishing.

I discovered all these valuable tools while sitting in writer’s conference classes and workshops. I listened to the author’s journeys and found inspiration. I paid attention to changing trends and gained the encouragement to go on.

Authoring a book is hard work, getting it published is harder and marketing for good sales is the hardest of all. I went into this novel writing thing very naïve of those facts. I assumed because publishers requested my manuscript after my pitch that they would scoop it up. Had I known these same publishers review hundreds of manuscripts a month and may only choose a handful, I might have been less devastated.

If you are just starting your writing journey, learn all you can. And for the published author, never stop learning.

Hope this bit of encouragement benefits someone today.

Do you have a word of encouragement for other authors? Share in the comments.

Coming soon!!!

Rescuing Her Heart, book #2 of the Healing Heart Series releases July 6, 2021 and is available for pre-order.
https://www.amazon.com/Rescuing-Her-Heart-Healing-Hearts/dp/1645263193

A visit with Carol Grace Stratton and a Giveaway

Headshot session for Carol Stratton

I am excited to have author Carol Stratton on my blog today. I love her work and hope she inspires you as a write and piques your interest as a reader.

Welcome Carol, let’s start this off with a bit about your writing journey.

When I was in sixth grade, our town paper published an essay in their “Youth Said It” column. That was a thrill and seeing myself in print planted a desire in me to be a published writer. In high school I lived through a hilariously humiliating first date. I submitted it to McCall’s magazine and of course was turned down, but it started me thinking about writing. In college I started to major in English until the head of the English department (himself, a Pulitzer prize winning poet) would write snarky comments in red pen on how I might want to find another major. I put writing aside.

What a horrid man. Obviously, he was wrong.

It wasn’t until 9/11 that God turned a key inside of me and released my passion for communication. I typed up my thoughts on the national tragedy, walked over to our local newspaper, handed the editor my piece and held my breath. He skimmed through it, nodded, and said those magic words – “I’ll take it.”

When my babies grew up and left the nest, I remembered my earlier desires to write and attended Write to Publish in Wheaton Illinois one summer. I wrestled with believing I really was a called writer and prayed for a sign. After the conference I attended church with one of my friends and in the middle of worship, I began to cry. Well, I’m not a crier so I knew God was speaking to me. Suddenly He told me, “Pursue joy and comfort others.” That’s all he said. Not, “Become a novelist,” or “Write devotions.” But I knew it was His way of pushing me forward because it’s truly a joy to share my words with readers.

How wonderful.  

Expand on your calling to create words on paper to share with the world.

It took a while to realize I wanted to write. My creative outlet as a young mom had always been music, especially writing songs. But writing music became frustrating. When I figured out I could express myself better with words, and there was a pathway to sharing my stories, I was one happy camper.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Yes, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3.

I love that one. 

Now, let’s talk about your latest project.

Deep End of the Lake. It’s a sequel to my first novel, Lake Surrender.

How did you research for this book?

I lived in Michigan and worked with autistic children so most of my story is from memories of life up north.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

Working in an autistic classroom I wanted to write about my students. I also wanted to show the struggle that parents have with a child on the spectrum. These families tugged at my heart.

Next I’d like to ask tow of my favorite questions.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

 Write for the love of it, for the ministry of words. Don’t wait for family or friends to get on board and encourage you. Often they won’t understand.

So very true. Now, Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband. At first didn’t understand my intense desire to keep on writing even when I had so many rejections (33 on a middle grade novel I’ve never published but who’s counting?) but now he’s my cheerleader and my literary muse as he helps me with my book titles.

That’s so sweet.

As a writer I’m an avid reader. What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Cozy mysteries and chick lit (humorous).

And my last question comes from the curious minds of new writers. Where is your favorite place to write?

I’d love a warm July day where I can stretch out on a lounge chair overlooking a Michigan lake. Anyone want to offer me a rental? Me too.

More about Carol Stratton:

A novelist, reporter and freelancer, Carol has penned 500 articles, and four books, Changing Zip Codes, the award-winning debut novel, Lake Surrender, (inspired by her work with autistic students), The Littlest Bell Ringer and the sequel to Lake Surrender, Deep End of the Lake. She loves to connect the modern woman to the truths of the bible through her stories.

An avid hiker and baker she also speaks to women’s groups such as Mothers of Preschoolers. Married to her literary muse, John, they have four children and eight grandchildren and reside in Clemmons. She loves to encourage new writers and readers who have moved.

Here’s the link to order her book:

You can connect with her at:

Carolgstratton.com. (website)

Twitter: @carolgstratton

FB: Carol Grace Stratton

Carol is offering a Kindle giveaway for her new novel.

Here is the back cover copy:

Who Says Giving Up Dreams Isn’t Success?

Ally Cervantes has all she wants in life—an upcoming wedding, a chance to prove herself with a writing gig, and two great kids. But her life turns for the worse when the unexpected happen and she soon finds herself struggling with a rebellious teen daughter, a shaky job, and a shakier engagement. With her newfound faith acting as a life preserver, Ally discovers if you’re in the deep end of the lake, you’d better learn how to swim. Although fiction, Deep End of the Lake, is written from the authors’ personal compassion for families who have the privilege and responsibility to care for a child with a disability. Having worked with autistic students, Carol has seen first-hand the stress and demands these parents face and wanted to capture in a story those pressures, all while providing the encouragement that a beautiful hope and faith can bring into the struggles.

It’s simple to enter the giveaway. Comment below and your name will be put in the drawing. Carol will draw a name Friday, April 2nd and contact the winner.

Click on the cover for a sneak peek.

Scots-Irish, Saint Patrick’s Day, and historical research

My family coat of arms

In March we find green decoration and clothing in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and Corn beef and cabbage on the menu in restaurants. And for those who live in Chicago, they dye the Chicago River green. Just so you know, the Irish do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day eating corned beef and cabbage. That’s an American thing.

By the way, not all Irish are Catholic. My ancestors came from Ireland in the 1840s. They came through the port of New Orleans and they were Presbyterian. More specifically, they were Scots-Irish. Presbyterian Scots who immigrated to Ireland centuries earlier after William of Orange (Protestant king of England) conquered Ireland. Irish lands were awarded to those Scots who fought for the crown.

From the study of World History we see monarchs of different faiths moved their people into the conquered country to spread their religious beliefs. And those beliefs take a variety of forms, which is why a great deal of immigrants, even today, come to America for religious freedom.

Scots-Irish Presbyterians were no exception. The Irish did not embrace the interlopers. They were passed over for better jobs. (Sound familiar) Many Scots-Irish left Ireland for a better life in America.  They believed America offered them the opportunity to break through class barriers.

 Any immigrant from Ireland who came to America however, be they protestant or catholic in the 1800s were spurned and considered less than human by some. Most could only get the least desirable jobs, at least in the colonized part of America. Many became law-enforcement or entered the military.

 Moving away from New York and other large cities gave them the opportunity to better provide for their families. In the book The Other Irish: the Scots-Irish Rascals who made America, by Karen F. Mc Carty traces the history of the Scots-Irish in America. I discovered they were often offered homestead opportunities in areas that had problems with the Natives or during the time of colonization by the French. The Irish were the barrier between the wilderness and civilized people. Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Andrew Jackson were among some of the notable Scots-Irish who made a difference in America’s early history.

Pictured above is Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson.

During the Civil War, any Irish immigrant who got off the boat was offered citizenship, in exchange for fighting in the war. There were Irish units on both sides of the cause. New immigrants didn’t care about the reasons behind the war, only the reward of citizenship. Many died before they achieved their dream of a better life.

When I think of St. Patrick’s Day I don’t think of green beer and rabble rousing but a man who cared deeply about the Irish people and God. That same deep faith came with the Scots-Irish when they came to America.

As a writer, I find the faith element important in my stories. As a historical writer, I want it to reflect the time period of my setting. And as one of Scots-Irish descent, I want to honor my heritage by getting the facts right.

Although they claim everyone is Irish in St. Patrick’s Day, where do your ancestral roots lie?

Who is your biggest encourager for your writing success?

My mother died a few weeks ago. She was my biggest supporter and fan from the very first poem I wrote in third grade until the day she died. Until she could no longer see well-enough to read, she read every word I wrote. Her encouragement kept me pressing forward, crafting words.

Mom loved her kindle she could make the words extra large
and enjoy reading once again. She loved a good story.

Writer’s need to surround themselves with encouraging people. I am grateful for my writer friends and my sister, Linda, who fill the void my mom left. Building a fan base is hard, stepping out to gather them in is an even bigger challenge.

That’s why I need my cheering section. I need my Word Weavers and ACFW critique partners. Without their input, I wouldn’t be publishing my fifth and sixth historical romances in 2021.

The writer friends I’ve met at conferences and in writer groups on social media make me feel less like an odd-ball while crafting fiction. I need the Serious Writers Family Facebook group and Serious Writer Club to give me additional tools to market my work. I need my editors who have such a gentle way of helping me polish my novels.  

Everyone one of these wonderful writers has become like family to me. And after losing my mom, they are more precious than ever. Some have so much more experience and can offer me wisdom and insights into writing craft. Others are like younger siblings. They look to me for help and encouragement.

Writing is a lonely endeavor. And if I had isolated myself, I’d have become weary and my words stale. And I am confident, without their support, that my mother’s passing would have derailed me and I would have given it all up.

Because of this wonderful support, I’m getting my writing legs back and doing a slow plod toward the goals I need to reach before my next book releases. My creative juices are finding their flow.

I know my mom is looking down from Heaven able to once again see every word I am writing. The thought makes me smile and empowers me to keep writing.

Who is your biggest supporter?

Check out my upcoming historical romance newest release. It’s available on Amazon for preorder.