Thursday, September 20, 2012

SOFIA'S SECRET - Sharlene MacLaren - One Free Book

Welcome, Sharlene. I love your new picture. How did this book come about?
It is the third in a series, so while writing the first two, my mind had already spun the tale for the final book. That’s how a writer’s mind works I guess.

Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.
I love the cover, especially the bike parked outside the little house, as this is my main character’s primary source of transportation – even though she’s 7 months pregnant at the story’s onset. I have loved every cover the very talented graphics department from Whitaker House has designed, so I feel especially blessed.

I know what you mean. Charisma Media does such good covers for me, too. Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.
This story takes place in 1930, just a year after the stock market crash, so The Great Depression has set in, and many in the story have fallen on hard times, my main character in particular. Her tale, of course, is fictional.

How much research did you have to do for this book?
There is always a good amount of research going into most every book I write, and this one was no exception. The difference was that since it is the third in my series, I had already done a lot of the “homework” ahead of time. It was more a matter of crafting the story.

What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?
The basis of this story is about a young girl who is raped while under the influence of a sleeping drug. (She later becomes pregnant and, thus, shunned by many of the townsfolk for her unmarried state.) With my wonderful editor’s help, we discovered a number of drugs that were used in the 1930s to aid people (primarily women) in getting a good night’s sleep. These drugs were easily accessible then but would be considered barbiturates, not to mention illegal without a prescription, in this day. In the story, her attacker confiscates a specific drug from his mother’s “stash” when she is absent from the home, and mixes it with a drink to put his victim to sleep before attacking her.

What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
 Grace! I was surprised by GRACE – specifically God’s! I was quite ill throughout the writing of most of this book, in and out of the hospital for numerous tests and three different rounds of fluid replacement; thus, I was weak and depleted. God carried me through and literally “wrote” this book for me while I sat at my computer in somewhat of a dazed state! My lovely, wonderfully talented editor also aided GREATLY in bringing it to its final stages so it could go to press. Thank goodness for her amazing abilities to spot the minutest details that I am prone to overlook. Phew!

What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
As always, my heartfelt desire is that my readers will come away from my books with a longing to seek out more of God. I want them to seek Him first above all else. My heart rejoices when I hear from readers who report that something I wrote challenged them in their faith or convicted them in a particular area of their life, maybe even caused them to go back to church or work on a broken relationship. That is why I write – so that God might see fit to use me as an avenue for pointing people to Him.

What is the next project you’re working on?
Currently, I’m working on a series titled Tennessee Dreams. It’s set in the late 1800s in the small (actual) town of Paris, Tennessee. I’m already well into the writing of the first book and having a blast getting acquainted with everybody in the town. As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I often don’t know myself what’s going to happen from page-to-page, so I’m feeling like the reader here as more and more people wander into my story uninvited! (smiles)

What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
Gracious, that’s an easy question! I run to Facebook! Doesn’t everybody? (Seriously, I tell my friends at Facebook that they are my “teacher’s lounge”.) As a former teacher, I went to the lounge during recess breaks just to kick back for a few minutes and talk and laugh with my colleagues. However, there is much to do besides going to Facebook. When I need to get away from the business of writing I often catch up on laundry, visit my grandkids, make a grocery run, answer emails, take a brisk walk with my dog, or watch a little TV. Of course, I start my day with scripture and quiet time, but after that, it’s anybody’s guess what kind of interruptions I’ll encounter on any given day. By the way, I usually welcome interruptions! It’s that undiagnosed A.D.D.!

Please give us the first page of the book.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
—Psalm 51:17
June 1930
Wabash, Indiana
The blazing sun ducked behind a cloud, granting a smidgeon of relief to Sofia Rogers as she compressed the pedal to stop her bike in front of Murphy’s Market and, in a most inelegant manner, slid off the seat, taking care not to catch the hem of her loose-fitting dress in the bicycle chain. She scanned the street in both directions, hoping not to run into anyone she knew, then parked the rusting yellow bike next to a Ford truck. These days, she dreaded coming into town, but she couldn’t very well put off the chore much longer if she wanted to keep food on the table.

Her younger brother, Andy, had won the race to their destination. His equally corroded bike leaned against the building, and he stood next to it, his arms crossed, a burlap sack slung across one shoulder. As she approached, a smug grin etched his freckled face. “Didn’t I t-tell you I’d b-beat you?”

“That’s because you had a full minute head start on me, you rascal.” Sofie might have added that her present condition did not permit the speed and agility she’d once had, but she wasn’t about to make that excuse. “Just you wait. I’ll win on the way back home.”

“N-not if I can help it.”

She pressed the back of her hand to her hot, damp face and stepped up to the sidewalk. “We’ll see about that, Mr. Know-It-All.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Please join me at my website at:, request my Facebook friendship at, check out my blog at, or feel free to email me at: I love hearing from my readers and promise to respond to each one as time allows. Thank you for this opportunity to engage with all of you. May God grant you His richest, most glorious blessings!

And thank you, Sharlene, for once again sharing your stories with us. We love them all.

Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Sofia's Secret (River Of Hope, Book 3)

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


collettakay said...

I love the cover of this book!

collettaskitchensink [at] yahoo [dot] com

I'm in PA!


Judy said...

The excerpt of this book sounds like it will be a good read. The opening setting takes place in Wabash, Indiana. (Not too far from where I live!) I can't wait to read this book. I enjoyed the interview with Sharlene.
Judy B from Indiana

Katie said...

Sounds really good! Please enter me! I'm from NC.

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

karenk...from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Nancee said...

Shar is not only a "neighbor" but a wonderful writer! All of her books have been so beautifully written and descriptive. I'd love to win a copy of Sofia's Secret!
Nancee in Michigan

Patty said...

I have read Sharlene's series set in MI and the ones set in KY. I have not read any of the books in this series, I'm looking foward to reading them all!

Patty in SC

Melody said...

I love the fact that Jesus is the theme she points to.

From Donna, TX

monica said...

I love stories about God's grace!

Monica Ontario

Nise' said...

I can't wait to read Shar's new book! Shar is my neighbor as well! We live across the Bridge from each other in West MI ;o)

ASC Book Reviews said...

This sounds VERY intruguing and I LOVE the way Sharlene MacLaren writes. Thanks you SO much for posting the first chapter!

Amada (pronounced: Chavez, NM

Unknown said...

My parents both talk about the 'dirty thirties' on the prairies of Canada. i would love to read this novel set during that time. Thanks, Sharlene and Lena for a great chance to win

Marianne from northern Alberta


SHARLENE said...

Hi, everybody! Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by to read my interview with Lena! Guess what - I'm at the American Christian Fiction Writers' Convention in Dallas right now and just saw Lena today! She's such a dear, and I love her to pieces. I also love each one of you! Just love hearing that some of you have already read my books and others are excited about the chance to win a copy of Sofia's Secret.

I'll check back again tomorrow!

Big "Texas" hugs to each of you!

VT21 said...

What a great author. I have already preorder this book but would love to pass on the book I win to church in Vermont. I have all of Sharlene's books. They are just so amazing and keep you thinking. Thanks for writing Sharlene. And a teacher at heart. Love it.

Melissa K. Dalman said...

I love Shar MacLaren. Not just the author, but the friend she is. I haven't had the opportunity to read her books, but I know her heart and look forward to getting one of her stories into my hands! Love you Shar!

Kristen McLaren said...

Oh! I do so hope I win! I just love you Shar - and your inspirational writings! God bless!
Kristen McLaren

Norma S said...

Hi Sharlene,
Thank you for giving me a chance to win your book, i can't wait to read it. Hope you have a great weekend. God bless you
Norma from Ohio

SHARLENE said...

I know I said I was going to wait till tomorrow to respond, but over on my FB page I've received lots of comments from people saying they're having a hard time posting a comment here. I think it has a lot to do with having to enter the "code" below - to prove you're not a robot. Haha. Don't forget you do have to include the "photo" if the number as well as the letters next to the box when copying the "code" into the space. I know, it's kind of confusing. If you've tried and failed a number of times, well, thank you for at least trying.

And thanks to the ladies above who managed to leave your message. More love to ALL of you!

June said...

Sharlene's stories always leave me feeling like I have a new set of friends. I miss them when the book is over! Always happy to see them again in other books. Thanks for all the wonderful books, Shar. Need this one to finish out my set :)

Anyone who is not on her Facebook friends list is really missing out on a dynamite woman!!!

June in Utah

Katie said...

Sounds like a great book! Please enter me! I'm from NC.

apple blossom said...

thanks for chance to win

live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Patricia said...

I look forward to reading this book. Please include me in the giveaway.

I am from Texas!

Sarah Rebekah Richmond said...

Enter me!
Sarah Richmond

Abigail Mitchell said...

Enter me!
Thanks and God Bless!

Blanch, N.C.

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me this book looks great!!
Sharon Richmond

Faith's Grandma/Ohio said...

Would love to win this book, have not read any of her books yet.Faith's Grandma

rubynreba said...

I'd love to be entered. Thanks!
Beth from IA

Lourdes said...

Great cover.

Lourdes in Dix Hills Long Island

Judy Cooper said...

I would love to win. I immediately did some research on Sharlene and will begin to look for her earlier novels. Thanks for the chance to enter. Judy C. in Louisiana.

Shopgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shopgirl said...

This sounds very interesting! It's fascinating to think what some women have to go through. I'm in MN.

Jackie Tessnair said...

Sounds like a great book.I love the cover.Thanks for an opportunity to win it.Please enter me.Jackie Tessnair from N.C.

Diana Gardner said...

Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks! Portsmouth, VA

Nancee said...

I'd love to win a copy of Shar's new book, Sofia's Secret. Thanks so much for offering this contest!
Nancee in Michigan

SHARLENE said...

Hey, everyone! What a treat it was for me to see so much enthusiasm over winning this book! My best to each of you! (((Hugs)))...Shar

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great read!

Kelly from CA

Jes said...

Liked the excerpt! Thanks for the giveaway!

Jes (CA)
jswaks at gmail dot com