Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sharlene Maclaren

I'm happy to once again welcome Sharlene Maclaren to our blog. She has a new release this month.

Shar, why do you write the kind of books you do?

I am a lover of both historical and contemporary romance, but I don’t care for mindless
romances, if I can use that word. I like a story that goes deep, strikes an emotional chord, takes the reader to another level, and challenges them to think about the story and how they might apply it to their own lives. When someone comes away from one of my books, I don’t want them to say, “My, what a great writer.” I want them so say, “Wow, what a great God.” I want to point them back to scripture, create in them a desire to step closer to God.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

Oh, my goodness! (I can’t choose just one!) I’d have to say the day I married my sweetheart, which, by the way, was almost 32 years ago, is the single happiest day of my life. But raising two beautiful daughters, handing them over to two wonderful sons-in-law, and finally enjoying the fruits of our labors by way of a handsome 18-month-old grandson is another HUGE blessing.

Don't I know it? How has being published changed your life?

Since retiring from 31 years of teaching school and jumping headfirst into a “second career” – writing – my life has been busier than ever, but extremely rewarding and fun. Although I loved teaching right up to the very end, I actually think I’m more passionate about writing. The recognition has taken some adjustment. I’ve had radio/newspaper/and television interviews that have reached into the millions in terms of listeners and viewers. I’m positively humbled to teeny smithereens whenever I think about God using me in this way. I want nothing more than to bring Him all the glory and honor.

What are you reading right now?

Besides my Bible, I’m finishing the 8th book in Jan Karon’s Mitford series. I love her easy, humorous, down-to-earth manner of writing.

What is your current work in progress?

I just finished polishing off an old manuscript and preparing a proposal, completed my three-book historical set, The Little Hickman Creek Series, and am now working on research for my next series, which will have a West Michigan setting, 1900ish. Lots on my plate.

What would be your dream vacation?

Ooooh, weeee, take me to Hawaii! We thought we’d do it for our 25th, but a Mediterranean cruise took precedence, then we thought Hawaii for our 30th, but we wound up taking our kids and their spouses to a Tennessee mountain cabin. Now we’re saying the 35th for sure, but we’d also like to do the Holy Land, so who knows? Hawaii is still my dream, though.

Mine, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?

Through Every Storm has a suburban Chicago setting. Midwest is easy for me, since I live in West Michigan. My Little Hickman Creek Series is set in Kentucky, though, the reason being my daughter and son-in-law lived in the Lexington area for six years, and I absolutely fell in love with the landscape, the rolling hillsides, the miles of white wood fencing, the horse farms. It’s simply lovely country.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

I would love to spend an evening with Beth Moore. She’s an amazing writer and speaker, so in love with her husband, her family, and her Lord. I’ve learned so much from attending her live conventions as well as her taped Bible studies. She’s funny, full of life and wisdom, and a real person who’s suffered heartache and trial and isn’t afraid to talk about it. If ever there was a woman of God, it’s Beth Moore.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I’m not terribly athletic (like my dear, sweet hubby is), so I always say my favorite sport is shopping. One day I woke up on a Sunday morning and dressed for church. I noticed the muscles in my right arm were so sore—not my left, just my right. I told my husband about it, and we wracked our brains trying to figure out what I’d done the day before. Well, I figured it out. I’d been shopping for just the right dress, and it was that time of year when the clearance signs were everywhere! So, I marched from store to store to store. All day. How did I get a sore right arm? You know that fast, repetitive motion you do with your arm when you’re pushing clothes aside on those round racks? Well, I did it for five straight hours and got shopping arm. There are many other things I enjoy doing besides shopping, but for lack of time and space, I’ll save you the boredom of reading on.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

I used to say writer’s block was my biggest obstacle, but I’m not sure it’s writer’s block as much as it is lack of direction. When I’m not sure where I’m going next with my story line, I come against a big, thick wall. Most writers call that writer’s block. I call it brain freeze. Stops me dead in my tracks. But as soon as the ideas start flowing again, and I’ve had some time to pray and think about where God wants me to go, my fingers start thumpin’ away on those keys and I’m back in the saddle.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

DON’T QUIT! If you feel a passion to write, something nagging at you to sit down and put some words on paper, then you have the gift. Pursue it, nurture it, test it, train it, play with it, have fun with it, cherish it. And most important—pray about it! Then commit it to the One who gave it, and watch Him work through you.

Shar, tell us about the featured book.

Sarah, My Beloved is the second in my Little Hickman Creek series, but unlike many series, you don’t have to read the books in any specific order. Although the characters intermingle from one book to the next, the plots do not rely on each other to tell the story. They are stand-alone novels. The first in the series, Loving Liza Jane, released in April ‘07. “Sarah” releases in October ‘07, and Courting Emma, third and final book, will hit store shelves in March of ’08. Each tells a story of a woman living in Little Hickman, Kentucky, a ramshackle, dirt trodden settlement, in the years 1895-96. They are full of wit and whimsy and, of course, LOVE, but they’re not your everyday, predictable prairie romances, either. You might shed a tear or two, depending on how involved you become with each character; you might find yourself laughing aloud; or you might even sigh a time or two. As I said before, I enjoy developing an emotional dimension to all my characters, men and women alike, and as I said before, I want my plots to go deep. Because of that, there will be plenty of tension and conflict, enough, I hope, to make my readers keep the pages turning.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I love hearing from my readers and always respond to anyone who writes. Here is my contact information:
Email: smac@chartermi.net
Web site: www.sharlenemaclaren.com
Blog: www.sharlenemaclaren.blogspot.com
Web site #2: www.shoutlife.com/sharlenemaclaren

I look forward to hearing from you! May God bless you with abundant HOPE and JOY.

Shar, thank you for spending this time with us today.

Readers, this sounds like a very good read, doesn't it? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. You might want to get your hands on the first book in the series as soon as you can, too.

There are three other interviews you can leave a comment on for a chance to win a free book:

Robin Caroll - Bayou Justice
Kim Vogel Sawyer - Beginnings
DiAnn Mills - A Texas Legacy Christmas


Two winners will be announced this weekend.

21 comments:

Caroline said...

Shar is a sweet and generous person. I so look forward to reading all her books! Thanks for having her as a guest on your blog, Lena.

MissBookworm said...

Shar is one of my all-time favorite authors! put me in the drawing please!! =)

Sherrie Ashcraft said...

Shar's books sound like wonderful reads. Now I wish I'd bought one at ACFW! I like characters that go deep, and I sometimes miss that in historical romances. Please make sure I'm entered in the drawing!

Janna said...

I absolutely LOVED the first book and have been anxiously awaiting the release of this one - please, please, please enter me!

Janna
ryanx6@msn.com

Marion Kelley Bullock said...

Sounds exciting. Put me in the drawing, please.

Thanks,

Marion
www.marionkelleybullock.blogspot.com

rebornbutterfly said...

she's an awesome author!
put me in please!!

rebornbutterfly

Deborah Vogts said...

Hi Lena,

Nice interview. Please add me to your drawing. :)

Sharlene MacLaren said...

Hello everybody! Just dropping by to say thanks SO MUCH for all the kind words! I wish I could meet each one of you face-to-face!

It's a beautiful day (80 degrees) here in West Michigan. Leaves are just starting to turn their bright oranges, yellows, and red. Quite a sight as you're driving down the highway. Hope the rest of you are enjoying a sun-filled day!

May God reign down His rich blessings on each of you.

Love, Hugs, and Prayers,
Shar

Melis said...

I love Shar and her books!!

sally reid said...

Shar writes from her heart and from her love for the Lord. When you start reading one of her books be ready for a reading marathon - you will not be able to put it down!! She paints her characters with a realism that allows the readers to "see" them as real people. Shar uses her gifts to point her readers to the real JOY in life:" Jesus and Others and You - what a wonderful way to spell JOY"! I am looking forward to many more marathon reading sessions!
P.S. Shar, Jan Karon is one of my VERY favorite writers - I had the privilege of meeting her at our local library - her next to the last book tour! Hundreds of people attended and she was so very gracious and greeted and spoke with each of us personally - allowing pictures with her fans! Looking forward to seeing you at one of YOUR book tours - keep us all posted!

ChristyJan said...

Shar's books sound wonderful. I enjoyed the interview.

My husband and I are thinking about Hawaii for our 30th anniversary next summer.

Sue H. said...

wonderful interview!! Please put me in for the drawing! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Lucky you, Christyjan. Hope Hawaii works out for you. I just think it'd be such a dream trip. Next year, I am turning 60, and my husband is taking me to London, England. I have a friend there, so we're all set for a place to stay--and she will make an awesome "free" guide! But, alas, I missed another opportunity to go to Hawaii. Oh well, London sounds pretty good to me.

And Sally! Hey, everyone, she was my college roommate! I can't believe she posted on here! Hi, Sally!

Thanks to all of you for chiming in on Lena's blog. This is fun.

Hugs and Blessings,
Shar

Carolynn W. said...

These books have been on my to read list for a while now. I can't wait to get my hands on them!
Thanks for the great interview!
carolynnwald at hotmail dot com

Abi Buening said...

Count me in. I hope this comes through. I keep losing it into cyber space when I click on the other box. I am from that area of the states. Sounds like a series that I'd like to dig into.

Sharlene MacLaren said...

Thanks, Carolynn and Abi!

Boy, I know what you mean about having books on your "to be read" list for sometime. My pile is growing!

Glad you were able to get through, Abi. I've been having a difficult time every day when I try to post comments. That little security box continually pops up, and won't allow me to continue. I've tried checking the NO box and the YES box, but neither makes any difference. It's working right now, though, so I'm crossing my fingers!

Many Blessings,
shar

ForstRose said...

Please add me to the drawing.

chefbos@hotmail.com said...

This series sounds wonderful to get into! I am excited to get my hands on her books. I deeply enjoyed the interview, may God continue to bless all that you are doing with this website. Have a great weekend.

pat davis said...

What a great interview with Shar. I met her over at ShoutLife where she gave me such a warm welcome. I hope to read her latest, but would love to be entered in this drawing. Thank you.

Sharlene MacLaren said...

Another HUGE thanks to everyone who stopped by Lena's blog to read the interview. May God bless each of you with HOPE for your tomorrows and JOY for the journey!

Happy Reading, one and all.

Love and Great Big HUGS,
Shar

Stormi said...

Shar is a real nice lady and I would love to read her book, please enter me.