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