Friday, October 18, 2013


1. Lane Hill House (Kathleen)
2. Kellie Wood
3. Josanne Glanz Moore
4. Diana De Gram Jager

Yes, I did decide to throw in one more winner because I had so many entrants! Thank you so very much to everyone! Would you four winners please contact me?


Monday, October 14, 2013


Okay, darling peeps, my ARCs are in - that's "Advance Reader Copy" for those unfamiliar with the term. An advance reader copy is typically intended for review purposes only, is not for resale, and has not been fully edited. Therefore, there might be a few typos not yet caught in the initial editing process.

My release date for Heart of Mercy isn't until January 1, 2014, so I've decided to give away three, yep, THREE, copies of my ARC. What do you have to do to enter this little contest? Simply sign my guestbook below and tell me your favorite thing about the beautiful season of fall. Easy, eh? After that, you're entered ... wa-lah!

On Friday, October 18, I'll compile all the entries, throw your names in a "hat" and pick three winners. If I pick your name I'll let you know and then you can send me your mailing address.

Easy enough?

I love you all!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Yep, that's exactly what I'm doing - taking a break! From blogging, that is.



Monday, February 18, 2013


When deadlines loom, I may as well "eat" my coffee as drink it for all the sleep I miss and energy I need to make it to the finish line.

God's grace and mercy never cease to amaze me when I draw near the end of a manuscript. I always doubt myself, thinking I'll never make it, and truth is I probably wouldn't were it not for the strength the Lord ALWAYS provides me as I crawl toward that finish line.

Last night was one of those "night-before-the-exam" all-nighters. You remember them, don't you? The trouble is I'm about 44 years older than I was in college, so all-nighters aren't nearly as easy as they used to be - if they ever were easy, even as a youngster.

I just said to someone the other day, "I wish I would write just half as fast in the middle of my manuscripts as I do at the beginnings and ends. I would complete a book a whole lot faster if that were the case."

At any rate, this book I'm drawing very close to sending off to my editor with a looming deadline of March 1 is the first in a new series called "Tennessee Dreams", setting: Paris, Tennessee, 1890s. I'm excited about it, but I'll be even more excited once I pass that deadline date. But what am I thinking? After taking off a couple of days I'll be jumping into book two, and then after a September 1 deadline, jumping headlong into the third and probably final book with yet another deadline.

All I can say is - It's a good thing I'm still WILDLY crazy about writing. God gave me a passion for it, and so far, it hasn't let up.

( to get some sleep.)I love you all!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Have you ever heard that one before?

If you have, then chances are you have a talent for storytelling or you lead an interesting life that somebody thinks you ought to share with the world. Whatever the case, maybe you should give it serious thought. All you need, besides a little talent and subject matter that will interest somebody besides your mother, is passion. Yep, that's all it takes, talent, a story that will sell, and passion.

What is talent, you ask? Well, it's something you're born with, but it's also something you can develop. You can be born with a talent, but if you never use it, that talent could well lie dormant for a lifetime. Is it possible to have a talent you're not even aware of? I suppose, but more likely you know it's there; you just don't have the gumption, interest, drive, or determination to develop it. That's where passion comes into play, but more about that later.

What about that interesting story? It could be a plot that nobody's ever pitched before (every publisher's dream), or it could be somebody's intriguing life story. Unfortunately, a lot of people (countless numbers) think their story is the BEST IN THE WORLD, and wouldn't everyone want to read about it, when really it's not nearly as unique as they may imagine. No, this story's got to be gripping, heartrending, life changing, impacting, and the kind of story that won't let its reader go. Do you have that kind of story to tell? Then, what are you waiting for? Sit down and write it.

Now, for that earlier mentioned word - passion. And, no, I'm not talking about the sort that happens between the sheets, so get your minds out of the gutter. (giggle) Instead, I'm talking about the sort that burns a hole in your soul, that never lets up, that eats at your core, that steals your sleep, and sometimes keeps you from remembering to eat and drink. In other words, it consumes you. That's passion.

I'M PASSIONATE ABOUT WRITING, or I wouldn't have a dozen published books. I had to wait till half my life passed me by before I discovered this passion, though, so don't be surprised if you're 35 and you still haven't learned what makes your heart pound out of its chest.

Let me tell you a secret. If you are passionate about something - whether it be working on motors, building houses, drawing or painting pictures, dancing, cooking, designing rooms, sewing, scrapbooking, fishing, hunting, gardening, studying languages, or - or WRITING, whatever it is that gets your heart to pumping, makes your blood start moving, gives you that "alive" feeling in the center of your being, then that, my friends, THAT is God's gift to you. He loves you so much that when He formed you in the womb He started making plans for your life, planting tiny little seeds called talents. Some of those talents he gave you will never amount to much, but some of them will evolve into PASSIONS. Take care that you nurture them when they show up.

Where does your passion lie? Ponder it, play with it, and PRAY about it. Then surrender that passion to God and ask Him to show you the direction He wants you to go with that passion. If you do this, you can turn that passion into positivity and make a lasting impact on others' lives. Yes, you can!

So, get moving. Discover your God-given talents, choose the one that truly makes you bubble up with joy, and then get passionate about developing it so that God can use it for His glory!

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


I have never done well with New Year's Resolutions. I think my running record for keeping one is about four days. I don't like that I fail so soon after making them, so I avoid them like I do bad germs. I do, however, LOVE taking down my old calendar and hanging up my bright, shiny new one with the big bold number "2013" at the top. This year my calendar is one my daughters made for me with love. Each page contains precious photos of grandJOYs and other family members. I take delight in new calendars, and I love flipping the pages to the next month. Every month feels like a brand new start.

There is just something exciting about starting over, isn't there? So far, I have had 64 New Years in which to start over, and every one of them has been an adventure!

God gives second chances, you know. And third and fourth and fifth. His patience never runs out and His mercies are new every morning. Isn't that a beautiful thing?

So, on this January 1, 2013, I'm not making any New Year's resolutions, BUT...if I were (and I did say IF), my list might look something like this:

1. Memorize more scripture.
2. Try new recipes.
3. Get on that elliptical machine!
4. Lose ten pounds. (Why do I always have 10 pounds to lose???)
5. Walk the dog more.
6. Spend more time at the beach.
7. Be deliberate about "playing" with family and friends.
8. Write notes and mail them, as in put them in the "real" mailbox, the one the US postal carrier stops at every day.
9. Stick to my writing goals.
10. Read books for fun--not work!
11. Publish a new blog at least once a week! (I have a hard time keeping up with this blog I have to say!)

See? This is another reason I don't make resolutions. My list gets too long. (I could easily have added more items.) It's hard to narrow it down to one thing, which I suppose says something about me. There are lots of areas in my life that need improving. Thankfully, we serve a patient God who gives us many chances to make things better. I like that worship song that says, "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me."

All that said, tell me, do YOU make New Year's resolutions, and if you do, are you able to keep them? Regardless if you do or don't, have a blessed, God-kissed 2013. May this be your year of years - in a good way!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Born and raised in western Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. After graduating, she traveled, then married one of her childhood friends, and together they raised two ldaughters. Now happily retired after teaching elementary school for over 30 years, “Shar” enjoys reading, singing in the church choir, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren—and, of course, writing. Her novels include Through Every Storm, Long Journey Home; the Little Hickman Creek series, the acclaimed historical trilogy, The Daughters of Jacob Kane, and the first two books in her latest series, River of Hope: Livvie’s Song and Ellie’s Haven.

Visit the author's website.


 The River of Hope Series, set in the 1920’s, continues with the story of Sofia Rogers who is pregnant, unmarried, and guarding a secret. Nobody in Wabash, Indiana seems to know her real story and Sofia isn’t about to share it. She’d rather bear the shame than face the threat of consequences. When Eli Trent, the new doctor in town, gets involved, trouble escalates in the form of thievery, arson, and death threats. Nevertheless, Eli remains determined to break down the wall of silence behind which Sofia hides her secret. He is out to convince her she is not alone and to help  her come to the realization that trusting him—and God—is the only thing that makes sense.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (October 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 160374214X

ISBN-13: 978-1603742146


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.”
Andy pointed at her and laughed. “Now your face is all d-dirty.” 
She looked at her hands, still soiled from working in the garden that morning, and frowned. “I guess I should have lathered them a little better when I washed up.” She bent over and used the hem of her skirt to wipe her cheek before straightening. “There. Is that better?” 
He tilted his face and angled her a crooked grin. “Sort of.”
“Oh, who cares?” She tousled his rust-colored hair. “Come on, let’s get started checking those items off my shopping list.”
They headed for the door, but a screeching horn drew their attention to the street, where a battered jalopy slowed at the curb. Several teenage boys, their heads poking out through the windows, whistled and hollered. “Hey, sister! Hear you like to have a good time!”
At their crudeness, Sofie felt a suffocating pressure in her chest. With a hand on her brother’s shoulder, she watched the car round the bend, as the boys’ whoops faded into the distance.
“Who were those guys?”
“Nobody important.”
As if the baby inside her fully agreed, she got a strong push to the rib cage that jarred her and made her stumble.
“You alright?” Andy grabbed her elbow, looking mature beyond his eleven years.
She paused to take a deep breath and then let it out slowly, touching a hand to her abdomen. Even in her seventh month, she could scarcely fathom carrying a tiny human in her womb, let alone accept all of the kicks and punches he or she had started doling out on a daily basis. She’d read several books to know what to expect as she progressed, but none of them had come close to explaining why she already felt so deeply in love with the tiny life inside of her. Considering that she hadn’t consented to the act committed against her, she should have resented the little life, but how could she hold an innocent baby accountable? “I’m fine,” she finally assured her brother. “Let’s go inside, shall we?”
Inside Murphy’s Market, a few people ambled up and down the two narrow aisles, toting cloth bags or shopping baskets. Sofie kept her left hand out of view as much as possible, in hopes of avoiding the condemnation of anyone who noticed the absence of a wedding band on her left ring finger. Not that she particularly cared what other folks thought, but she’d grown weary of the condescending stares. Several women had tried to talk her into giving the infant up for adoption, including Margie Grant, an old friend who had served as a mother figure to her and Andy ever since their parents had perished in a train wreck in 1924. “The little one growing inside you is the result of an insidious attack, darling. I shouldn’t think you’d want much to do with it once it’s born,” Margie had said. “I happen to know more than a few childless couples right here in Wabash who would be thrilled to take it off your hands. You should really consider adoption.”
Because Margie had long been a loyal friend, Sofie had confided in her about the assault, including when and where it had occurred. As for going to the authorities and demanding an investigation—never! Margie had begged her to go straight to Sheriff Morris, but she had refused, and then had made Margie swear on the Bible not to go herself.
“That is a hard promise to make, dearest,” Margie had conceded with wrinkled brow, “but I will promise to keep my lips buttoned. As for adoption, if you gave the baby to a nice couple in town, you would have the opportunity to watch it grow up. That would bring you comfort, I should think, especially if you selected a well-deserving Christian couple.”
“I can’t imagine giving my baby away to someone in my hometown, Christian or not.” 
“Well then, we’ll go to one of the neighboring towns,” the woman had persisted. “Think about it, sweetheart. You don’t have the means to raise a child. Why, you and Andy are barely making ends meet as it is. Who’s going to take care of it while you’re at work?”
“I can’t think about that right now, Margie. And, please, don’t refer to my child as an ‘it.’”
The woman’s face had softened then, and she’d enfolded Sofie in her arms. “Well, of course, I know your baby’s not an ‘it,’ honey. But, until he or she is born, I have no notion what to call it—I mean, him or her.”
“‘The baby’ will do fine.”
Margie had given her a little squeeze, then dropped her hands to her sides and shot her a pleading gaze. “I sure wish you’d tell me who did this to you. It’s a crime, you know, what he did.”
Yes, it had been a crime—the most reprehensible sort. And it was both a blessing and a curse that Sofie couldn’t remember the details. The last thing she could remember was drinking her habitual cup of coffee at Spic-and-Span Cleaning Service before starting her evening rounds. She’d thought it tasted unusually bitter, but she’d shrugged it off at the time. Half an hour later—at the site of her job that night, at the law offices of Baker & Baker—she’d been overcome by dizziness and collapsed. She’d teetered in and out of consciousness, with only a vague notion of what was going on. When she’d awakened, it had been daylight, and she was sore all over. Fortunately, it had been a Saturday, and the offices were closed; no one had discovered her lying there, nauseous and trembling, her dress torn, her hair disheveled. A particular ache had given her a clue as to what had gone on while she’d been unconscious. As the sickening reality had set in, she’d found beside her the note that had haunted her ever since.
Breathe one word about this and you can say bye-bye to your brother.
It had been typed on the official letterhead of the sheriff’s office, making her even less inclined to go to the authorities. Whoever had assaulted her had connections to the law, and she wasn’t about to risk her brother’s life to find out his identity. Plus, without a name, and with no visual or auditory recollection, she had nothing to offer that would aid an investigation.
By the time she realized she’d gotten pregnant, two months had passed—too late to go crying to the authorities. Not that she’d planned to. Her attacker’s threat had been enough to keep her quiet. She could bear the scorn and the shame, as long as he left her alone. And the only way of ensuring that was to comply with his demands. No, she couldn’t say anything more about it to Margie.
“Margie, we’ve been over this. It’s better left unsaid, believe me.”
“But, don’t you know people are going to talk? Who knows what they’ll think or say when you start to show? If they learned the truth, perhaps they’d go a little easier on you.”
“No! I can’t. No one must know—not even you. I’m sorry, Margie.”
Margie had rubbed the back of her neck as if trying to work out a kink. A loud breath had blown past her lips and whistled across Sofie’s cheek. “You know I love you, and so I will honor your wishes…for now.” Then, her index finger had shot up in the air, nearly poking Sofie in the nose. “But if he so much as comes within an inch of you again, I want you to tell me right away, you hear? I can’t abide thinking that he’ll come knocking at your door. You must promise me, Sofia Mae Rogers!”
Sofie had hidden the shiver that had rustled through her veins at the mere thought of crossing paths with her attacker again. Why, every time she went to work, she couldn’t get the awful pounding in her chest to slow its pace until she was home again. She’d stopped drinking and eating at work—anywhere other than at home, really.
“Show me your list, Sofie.” Andy’s voice drew her out of her fretful thoughts. She reached inside her pocket and handed over the paper. When he set off down an aisle, she idly followed after, her mind drifting back into its musings.
Dr. Elijah Trent parked his grandfather’s 1928 Ford Model A in the lot beside Murphy’s Market. As he climbed out, he was careful not to allow his door to collide with a bicycle standing nearby. Another battered bike leaned against the building. It looked as if it could use some serious repair work. He closed his door and took a deep breath of hot June air, then cast a glance overhead at the row of birds roosting on a clothesline that stretched between two apartment buildings across the street.
When he pulled open the whiny screen door, an array of aromas teased his nostrils, from freshly ground coffee beans to roasted peanuts in a barrel. As he stepped inside, a floorboard shrieked beneath his feet, as if to substantiate its long-term use.
“Afternoon,” said the shopkeeper, who glanced up from the cash register, where he stood, ringing up an order for a young pregnant woman. Beside her, a boy dutifully stuffed each item into a cloth bag. The young woman raised her head and glanced briefly at Eli, who sensed a certain tenseness in her chestnut-colored eyes. Then, she shifted her gaze back to the clerk.
“Say, ain’t you Doc Trent’s grandson?” the man asked.
“That I am, sir. Elijah Trent. But most people call me Eli.”
The clerk stopped ringing items for a moment and gave him an up-and-down glance. “Heard you’re takin’ over the old fellow’s practice. That’s mighty fine o’ you. I understand you graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, an’ you worked at a Detroit hospital for two years, but you were itchin’ for small-town livin’. Timing’s good, since Doc’s retirin’. S’pose you two been plannin’ this for quite a while now, eh? Hate to see Wilson Trent retire, but most folks seem to think it’ll be good to get in some new blood. Get it? Blood?” He gave a hearty chortle, causing his rotund chest to jiggle up and down.
Eli smiled at the friendly man. “It sounds like Grandfather’s been keeping everyone well-informed.”
“He sure has. Plus, the Plain Dealer wrote up that article ’bout you.”
“Yes, I heard that.”
The woman shifted her narrow frame and fingered one of her short, brown curls, but she kept her eyes focused on the counter. Beside her, the freckle-faced youngster poked his head around the back of her and met Elijah’s gaze. They stared at each other for all of three seconds, but when Eli smiled, the boy quickly looked forward again.
As the clerk resumed ringing up their order, Eli reached inside his hip pocket and grabbed the short list his grandfather had scrawled in his somewhat shaky handwriting. In Detroit, he’d taken most of his meals at the hospital. Helping his grandfather in the kitchen would be an entirely new experience. At least it would be only temporary, until Grandfather’s housekeeper of twenty-odd years, Winifred Carmichael, returned from her two-week vacation out West.
“You lookin’ for anythin’ in particular?” the clerk asked.
“Nothing I can’t find on my own, sir.”
“Pick up one o’ them baskets by the door for stashin’ what you need. Name’s Harold, by the way. Harold Murphy. I’ve owned this place goin’ on thirty years now.”
Eli bent to pick up a basket. He hadn’t thought to bring along a sack in which to carry the items home. The store he had occasioned in Detroit had offered brown paper bags, but the trend didn’t seem to have caught on in Wabash just yet. “Yes, I recall coming here with my grandmother as a kid.”
“And I remember you, as well, with that sandy hair o’ yours and that there dimple in your chin.”
“Is that so? You have a good memory, Mr. Murphy.”
A pleased expression settled on the clerk’s face. “You used to ogle my candy jars and tug at your grandmother’s arm. ’Course, she’d always give in. She couldn’t resist your pleadin’. Seems to me you always managed to wrangle some chewin’ gum out o’ her before I finished ringin’ her order.”
“It’s amazing you remember that.”
“Well, some things just stick in my memory for no particular reason.” He glanced across the counter at the freckle-faced boy. “Young Andy, here, he’s the Hershey’s chocolate bar type. Ain’t that right, Andy?”
The lad’s head jerked up, and he looked from Mr. Murphy to the woman beside him. “Yes, sir. C-c-can I g-get one today, Sofie?”
Her slender shoulders lifted and drooped with a labored sigh. “I suppose, but don’t expect any other treats today.”
“I won’t.”
The brief tête-à-tête allowed Eli the chance to disappear down an aisle in search of the first item on his list: sugar. He found it about the same time the screen door whined open once more, with the exit of the young woman and the boy. Next, Eli spotted the bread at the end of the aisle. He picked up a loaf and nestled it in the basket, next to the box of sugar.
“Well, I think it’s plain disgraceful, her coming into town and flaunting herself like that. My stars, has she not an ounce of decency? And what, pray tell, is she teaching that brother of hers by not keeping herself concealed?”
“I must agree, it’s quite appalling,” said another.
Eli’s ears perked up at the sound of female scoffs coming from the other side of the shelving unit at the back of the store. He stilled, slanted his head, and leaned forward. If he could push a few cans and boxed goods to the side without creating a commotion, he might manage a partial view of the gossips.
“I always did wonder about her and that pitiable little brother of hers, living all alone on the far edge of town. No telling what sort of man put her in a motherly way. Why, if I were in her place, I’d have gone off to stay with some relative in another state. One would think she’d have somewhere she could go. She could have birthed the child, given it to some worthy family, and come back to Wabash, and no one would’ve been the wiser.”
The other gossip cleared her throat. “Perchance her ‘lover’ won’t hear of her leaving, and she doesn’t dare defy him. She always did come off as rather defenseless, wouldn’t you say?” 
“Yes, yes, and very reclusive. Never was one to join any charity groups or ladies’ circles. Why, she doesn’t even attend church, to my knowledge. As I said before, the whole thing is disgraceful.”
Eli shuffled around the corner and stopped at the end of the next row, where he picked up a couple of cans of beans, even though they weren’t on Grandfather’s list, and dropped them into his basket with a clatter. The chattering twosome immediately fell silent. Eli cast a casual glance in their direction, and he almost laughed at their poses of feigned nonchalance. One was studying the label on a box, while the other merely stared at a lower shelf, her index finger pressed to her chin.
When Eli started down the aisle, both of them looked up, so he nodded. “Afternoon, ladies.”
The more buxom of the two batted her eyelashes and plumped her graying hair, then nearly blinded him with a fulsome smile. “Well, good afternoon to you.”  She put a hand to her throat. “My goodness. You’re Doc Trent’s grandson?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Well, I’ll be. I overheard you talking with Harold, but I didn’t lay eyes on you until now.” She perused him up and down. “You sure are a handsome devil.” 
“Oh, for mercy’s sake, Bessie, mind your manners.” The second woman bore a blush of embarrassment. “Don’t pay her any heed, Doctor. She’s such a tease.” She extended a hand. “I’m Clara Morris, the sheriff’s wife, and this is Bessie Lloyd. Her husband owns Lloyd’s Shoe Store, over on Market Street. Welcome to Wabash, Dr. Trent. We read about your impending arrival in the newspaper. I hope you find yourself feeling right at home here.”
“I’m sure I will.” Eli shifted his shopping basket and extended a hand first to Mrs. Morris, then to the annoying Mrs. Lloyd. He would have liked to remind them that two upstanding women in the community ought to put a lock on their lips, lest they tarnish their own reputations, but he hadn’t come to Wabash with the intention of making instant enemies, so he restrained himself. “Nice meeting you ladies. You have a good day, now.”
He glanced to his left and, seeing a shelf with maple syrup, snatched a can and tossed it into his basket. Casting the women one last smile, he headed down the aisle in search of the remaining items.
“My, my,” he heard Mrs. Lloyd mutter. “I think it may be time for me to switch physicians.” 
“But you’ve been seeing Dr. Stewart for years,” Mrs. Morris said. “What about your bad knee?”
“Pfff, never mind that. I’d much rather look into that young man’s blue eyes and handsome face than Dr. Stewart’s haggard mug. Why, if I were younger….”
Eli picked up his pace and made it out of earshot before she finished her statement.
Several minutes later, he’d rounded up everything on his list, so he made his way to the cash register. As he did, the voices of the two gabby women carried across the store. Evidently, they’d found a new topic of conversation. “I went to McNarney Brothers yesterday,” Mrs. Lloyd was saying, “and would you believe they raised the price of beef by five cents a pound? Don’t they know times are tight? Before you know it, folks won’t be able to afford to eat.”
“She could afford to go a few days without eatin’,” Harold Murphy muttered. His eyes never strayed from his task, as he keyed in the amount of each item before placing it back in the basket.
Eli covered his mouth with the back of his hand until his grin faded. He decided it was best to keep quiet on the matter. Something else bothered him, though, and he couldn’t resist inquiring. He leaned in, taking care to keep his voice down. “That girl…er, that woman, who left a bit ago, who is expecting….”
“Ah, Sofia Rogers? She was here with her little brother, Andy.” Mr. Murphy rang up the final item, the loaf of bread, and placed it gently atop the other goods. Then, he scratched the back of his head as his thin lips formed a frown. “It’s a shame, them two…well, them three, I guess you could say.” He glanced both ways, then lowered his head and whispered, “Don’t know who got her in that way, and I don’t rightly care. When she comes here, I just talk to her like nothin’s different. Figure it ain’t really my concern. I know there’s been talk about her bein’ loose, an’ all, but I can’t accept it. Never seen her with anybody but that little boy. She takes mighty fine care o’ him, too.”
“She’s his guardian, then?”
“Sure enough, ever since…oh, let’s see here…summer of twenty-four, it was. They lost their ma and pa in a terrible train wreck. They’d left Andy home with Sofie for a few days, whilst they went to a family funeral somewhere out West, little knowing their own funeral would be three days later.” The man shook his balding head.
The news got Eli’s gut to roiling. Even after all those years of medical school, which should have calloused him to pain and suffering, his heartstrings were wound as taut as ever. He needed to learn to toughen up. Needed to accept that, thanks to Adam and Eve’s fateful decision in the garden, bad things happened to innocent people; that he lived in an imperfect world in which evil often won.
“Where do they live, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Somewheres out on the southwest edge o’ town. River Road, I believe, just off o’ Mill Creek Pike.”
Eli didn’t know Wabash well, but his grandfather certainly did, having driven virtually every street within the town limits to make house calls. But what was he thinking? He ought to bop himself on the noggin. He knew next to nothing about this woman, and the last thing he needed upon taking over Wilson Trent’s medical practice was a reputation for sticking his nose where it didn’t belong.
Eli paid the shopkeeper and took up the basket. He had a good feeling about Harold Murphy. “Nice to see you again, sir. I’ll bring this basket back next time I come in…or shall I return it to you tonight?”
Harold flicked his wrist. “Naw, you bring it back whenever it’s convenient. You give ol’ Doc a hearty hello from me.”
“I’ll do that.” Eli turned and proceeded to the door, shoving it open with his shoulder. The first thing he noticed when he stepped outside was the absence of the two bikes, and it occurred to him then that Sofia and Andy Rogers had ridden to and from Murphy’s Market on those rickety contraptions. A woman in what looked to be her seventh month of pregnancy, riding a bike clear to the edge of town? In a dress? And in this heat?
This time, he did bop himself on the head.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


In the summer of 2000 I first got the "bug" to write a novel. Of course, I didn't start out thinking, hey, I'm going to write a novel. No, I started out thinking, hmm, let's see if I can write the first page. (That's how most novels begin.)

Back then, I knew nothing about font size, spacing, how to set a paragraph or do page numbers. Word processing meant nothing to me. However, I did know how to type, so, I sat down at my computer and my passion was born! God did plant a deep love for reading in my heart at a young age, but I didn't know He'd also planted a seed of passion for writing until much later in life - age 52 to be exact! It's rather ironic I think that 12 years ago I began this writing journey, and JUST TODAY my 12th PUBLISHED BOOK released and is hopefully filling store shelves even as we speak.

Listen, if I could tell you just one thing about walking a Christian life it would be this: Living for Christ is EXCITING! I'm not kidding! Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." What a promise, my precious friends. God makes a pledge to us that if we place our full hope and trust in Him He will NOT fail us. He has plans for you. You've all heard the phrase, God has a wonderful plan for your life. Well, I beg to differ. He doesn't have "A" plan, He has MANY plans. I'm coming down the hill (sort of fast) on the second half of my life, and I'm here to tell you that God isn't anywhere near done with me yet, not as far as I know anyway.

Do you trust Him with all of your life? Do you want to know what His next steps are for you? Are you standing in the window watching with expectant eyes - waiting for Him to round the bend, come up the drive, knock on your door, and give you your next life assignment? Do you have a willing heart for whatever that might be? If all of the above resonates with you, then get ready because HE HAS PLANS FOR YOU - plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Step out in faith and watch, wait, listen...and obey! THE LORD OUR GOD IS FAITHFUL TO COMPLETE WHATEVER IT IS HE HAS BEGUN IN YOU. He is a good and faithful Father.

Now, just because you were so sweet to indulge me by reading this sermon, ur, blog, I'm going to give you a chance to win my newest release, Sofia's Secret. All you have to do is make a short comment below. Easy-peasy. It can be as short as "Hi! Enter me in the contest." Or it could be something like, "Hey, you're awesome. Can I send you a pie a month?" Ha. Just kidding. Sort of.

Anyway, I'm going to give away THREE copies!!! So, yep, three blessed winners will be receiving a signed copy in the mail! I'll draw three names from a hat on...

READY. SET. GO! Leave a comment. Now. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


For many, editing is their least favorite aspect of writing. I’m probably the weirdo in the bunch because it’s one of my favorites. I love the rereading, revamping, revising, reviewing, reconstructing, rewriting, re-, re-, re-, but perhaps the hardest “re-” of all for me is relinquishing. No writer ever feels quite “done”, but there comes a time to move on to your next project. In fact, a couple of years ago, I penned a poem on this very topic, and here it is:

Inside This Writer’s Head…

The second draft, oh what a blast!
The editing is here at last!
Crossing ‘t’s, dotting ‘i’s,
Reread, rewrite, rethink, revise.

The road to “Finish” takes awhile,
Research, outlines, setting, style,
Files full of worthless news,
Stuff I’ll never even use!

All this for that first, sweet copy,
Who cares if it’s a wee bit sloppy?
Because—guess what— no need to whine,
The editing will make it shine!

Some writers really hate this phase,
Fine-tune, tighten, trim, rephrase.
But me? I find it sheer delight
It means the end is within sight.

I approach it with an eye for fun,
Remembering it’s almost done.
And, then, I’ll finally stop my stewing.
But wait! Another story’s brewing!

Everybody’s looking for a shortcut. When you’re traveling from one place to another you want to know the shortest route, but sometimes taking the shortest route can lead you into unfamiliar territory—which can also lead to roadblocks—which ultimately slow the process even more. It’s best to know where you’re heading and how best to get there, even if it takes a little longer. This will mean researching the market, learning who publishes the genre you write, and what types of stories they’re looking to publish. Don’t send your work of fiction to a house that only publishes Bible studies. Read their requirements for submission then follow them. You’ll find them on their websites. If I could recommend just one book on this very topic, it would be The Christian Writers’ Market Guide. Here is a resource book that will teach you everything you ever needed or wanted to know about how the publishing industry works.

SO, YOU’VE COMPLETED your first novel—or maybe even your second and third! And you’ve gained enough confidence to start submitting your work to an agent or directly to a publisher. (Again, know the publisher you want to submit to and note their requirements pertaining to solicited and unsolicited materials. Many houses will not accept your manuscript without an agent’s recommendation.)

Remember that seed we talked about nurturing? God planted it, but it’s your job to bring it to fruition. If you never water, feed, or care for it, it will wither away and never amount to anything. CARE FOR THAT GIFT OF PASSION GOD PLANTED IN YOUR HEART – and then WATCH IT GROW!

***Thank you for coming with me on this writer's journey. Be on the lookout for an upcoming session on "character development"!

Enjoy your journey, and make it count for God's glory and honor!***

Monday, October 01, 2012


7. READ, READ, READ! (And not always in your genre.)
WHEN I FIRST acquired the bug for writing, I couldn’t read enough about honing my craft! I read books on writing fiction, how to publish your first novel, books on punctuation and grammar, books about the publishing industry itself, and my library grew to the point that my husband had to build more shelves. And that doesn’t even include the books I purchased pertaining to my story plots and themes.

Abbie Ann, the third in my Daughters of Jacob Kane series is about sailing and shipbuilding in the early 1900s, so I went in search of books about shipbuilding and sailing and bought a huge volume called Seamanship and Small Boat Handling. I think it’s about five inches thick, not to mention heavy. And when I wrote Maggie Rose, the second in that series, I had to find books about the orphan trains that ran for 75 years beginning in the mid-1800s. Most of my series are historical, so I have books about 19th Century clothing, Everyday Life in the 1800s, and I even have a book about the origin of hymns because if I write a church service into one of my scenes set in, say, 1850, I can’t have my congregation singing, My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine...because the writer of that old hymn, William R. Featherston, would’ve only been four-years-old at the time, and while he did write the poem at the ripe age of 16, it didn’t appear in The London Book of Hymns till the year 1864. So, beware, somewhere out there in the Kingdom of Readerdom there will be a reader or two who will catch a mistake like that and say, “Hmm, this author isn’t very versed on her facts. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing any more of her books.”

UGH! DID I just say, “Do your homework!”? I don’t know about you, but that word conjures up a whole slew of bad memories! Let’s change that to research. Research can be whatever you make of it, pleasant, unpleasant, interesting, grueling, time-consuming or, well, time consuming, fun or plain old hard work. The fact of the matter is whether you enjoy it or not, you can’t get around it, so live with it! In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Our readers are not dumb; they are well read, well versed, intelligent, and sometimes, dare I say it, critical to the point of hurtful. But we learn from them; they teach us through their critiques and reviews when we’ve messed up. Yes, we write fiction, but that doesn’t give us license to change historical facts. So, in whatever era you happen to be writing, be sure you know who the president of the United States is/was, whether it was an election year, and whether something significant happened in that timeframe that would affect your story. If you’re writing in a contemporary genre, then know the lingo, stay up with the newest, latest and greatest fads and trends, know what’s happening in current affairs, not that you have to address politics per se, but if you want to keep your audience engaged you have to write from a contemporary viewpoint. This is one reason I enjoy writing historical fiction. At 64, I’m having a tough enough time learning to hit the right keys while texting, let alone write about everything else going on in the world of technology.

AND, YES, I do mean for Heaven’s sake, because if you are called by God to write, then it is your responsibility to persevere.

I may have a passion for writing, but that doesn’t mean I wake up every morning and say, “Oh, goody, I get to write today! Yea!” No, some days I crawl out of bed and think to myself, I’d rather go catch snakes than write a single stinking word today. Of course, that’s a huge exaggeration, but you get the idea. Some days are like that. I tell myself I don’t have an ounce of creativity in me, I’m not especially motivated, I lack inspiration, and I’m feeling downright lazy. The thing is, when that happens there’s usually a reason behind it. You either do truly need to take a day off, or you’ve hit a great big roadblock that needs addressing. Maybe you’re stuck and can’t figure out where to go next, so instead of writing your way out of that tough spot, you quit for several days and tell yourself you’re “thinking”. By the time you finally get back to your computer, you’re no further ahead of the game than you were when you quit. Some call it writer’s block, some call it hitting a wall, and some call it brain freeze. Here’s what I call it – are you ready for this? A big – fat – excuse! When I find myself in that position, what helps the most is talking to someone. Brainstorming is an awesome way to pull one’s self out of a hole. Go over that scene you’re struggling to complete with your spouse, your best friend, a family member, or a fellow writer. Few people can write, but lots of people have great ideas! Don’t quit! Quitting leads to discouragement, discouragement leads to despair, and before you know it, you’ve lost your momentum. Don’t let that happen. Remember, you’re called to write, so persevere – all the way to the end! I ran across a quote just the other day that said this: Write from your heart; write from your soul; make the most of your talent, and don’t ever let it go – not for anything!

***Be sure to check back on Wednesday, October 3 for the fourth and final installment in this series of lessons***

Sunday, September 30, 2012


TRULY, MY WRITING did begin with a dream. I had no idea what it meant at first, this dream that I’d written a novel, and only years down the road did it finally make complete sense to me. I knew I was drawing near to retirement from teaching, and I prayed, rather, pled with God to give me a new direction for my life, something that would not only fulfill me, but would hopefully impact others. I didn’t know what that would look like, but I knew I wanted to complete my final years on earth making a difference in others’ lives.

Well, one night in the summer of 2000, I dreamt I’d written a novel. At first, I tossed it aside as perhaps one of the silliest dreams I’d ever had. But when it recurred three or four more times over the course of the next several nights I began to wonder if the dream had credibility. I don’t normally take much stock in dreams. They’re usually disjointed and nonsensical, but this one kept repeating itself, and when I recalled having asked God to give me a plan and a purpose and to lead me into something fulfilling for the second chapter of my life, I started taking the dream seriously.

GOD NEVER DIRECTS us to do something without first equipping us. Listen to what 2 Chronicles 20:12 says. “Oh, our God . . . we are powerless . . . nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” Keep your eyes on Christ. If you’re feeling a call to write, then act upon that calling, start! Don’t just sit on it. Do something. Yes, there are times you and I feel utterly inept, worthless, incapable, even inferior, but we can do all things through Christ who not only gives us the strength, but provides inspiration, clarity of thought, guidance, encouragement, and support—everything we need to fulfill the task He has set before us. Pray about your plot line, your characters, your theme, the scriptures you can weave into your story, and what you want your readers to walk away with after having read your story. Don’t necessarily write to publish, because what you’re writing might not be the book that goes before an editor’s eyes, but write for God’s eyes—always God’s eyes. He will see to it your book reaches the right publisher at the PRECISE right time—when HE sees fit.

EVEN IF IT’S just a little corner of the house, let it be known to your family that this is your spot for writing then warn them what will happen if they cross over into your territory! For instance, I’m fortunate enough to have my own office – with a door! And on the outside of my door is this sign: WARNING! NOVELIST AT WORK. BYSTANDERS MAY BE WRITTEN INTO THE STORY.

Of course, everyone knows it’s a joke, but it’s my subtle way of saying, “Hey, I’m a real live author, and I have a job to do, so please take me seriously and realize that I need time and space so that I can accomplish the goals set before me.” In time, your family and friends will begin to catch on that this ‘writing thing’ is more than just a hobby. I remember the day very well when shortly after starting to write I said to my husband, “This is not one of those things that I’m going to delight in for a while but then grow tired of doing. Nope. This is here to stay, and if I live to be 90, and God sees fit to bless me with a sound mind all the way up to the end, I will sit my little old wrinkled behind on a chair and write — crippled fingers and all!”

When creating your space, whether it’s an office or just a little corner somewhere remote, make sure it’s big enough to house a desk then try to surround yourself with things that inspire, a vase of flowers, a candle, familiar photos, your favorite mug, and all the supplies you will need so that you don’t have to keep getting up and running through the house in search of it. Then put a “Hands Off” sign on your desk—with a smiley face so people won’t start thinking of you as the grump of the household.

***Please check back on Tuesday, October 2, for Part 3!***

Saturday, September 29, 2012


On September 25 I had the wonderful privilege of teaching a couple of workshops on the writing craft at the 35th annual Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. I'd like to share the information I taught and will break it up into segments. The first class is titled "From Seed to Sprout" and takes us on the writer's journey from the very beginning stages when God first plants that tiny seed of desire in your heart for writing to the final stages where one feels ready to publish. Ready to go on the journey with me? This class was broken down into 12 main points, so I'll teach this class in four stages, sharing three points per session.

And away we go!

Sharlene MacLaren

MY LOVE FOR writing began with a seed of passion. I don’t know exactly why God chose to plant that seed deep within the pit of my soul, but He did. In fact, He planted it at a very early age, but it didn’t truly begin to grow until I began to nurture, feed, and care for it. God did the planting, but I had to see to its care. It’s that way with any sort of gift God gives. It begins as a tiny seed, and we can either choose to ignore it, allowing it to waste away, or recognize it for what it is—a gift.

I recognized my gift in high school around 11th grade and began writing silly teenage romances, but after filling three or four spiral notebooks with stories, the school year came to a close, and my love for writing waned as fun-filled summer activities took its place. I then entered my senior year of high school, then college life, followed by a teaching job, and shortly thereafter, marriage, family, and church activities. On top of that, I had a great love for vocal music, another seed of passion God had planted in my soul from birth. Thus, God, family, teaching, music, and a myriad of other things completely washed away all time for sitting down to pen a story of any kind, although I loved reading it!

I ALWAYS KNEW I had a gift for writing. While in college if the professor announced at the beginning of the 10-week class period that we would be required to write a term paper I sighed with relief. This I could do. Or, given a choice of finishing out any given class with a multiple choice test of, say, 100 questions or writing a fifteen-page research paper, guess what I chose. I knew I could write my way to an “A” or “B” overall grade. Why was that? Because God had given me something others lacked, and that was a deep passion for words.

Yes, I had been given a passion, but I wasn’t much into feeding it yet. Far too many other things took precedence over cultivating my passion. So, I let it simmer on a back burner, mostly ignoring it and delving into other interests that also captured my heart, like falling in love, getting married, buying our first home, raising children, involving myself in church activities like choir and worship team, weekly Bible studies, teaching Sunday school, working in public education, planning family vacations, carting our children to and from school activities, and the endless list goes on. I had a passion for writing, don’t get me wrong, but like anything, if you fail to feed it, care for it, nurture it, it will just sit there and tarnish like an old piece of silver.

I DIDN’T TRULY recognize my writing passion as a gift from God and something that needed nurturing till I drew near to retirement from teaching. Yes, I had already lived out 50+ years of life before I began to see that God didn’t want me thinking that retirement from one career meant putting my feet up on a stool and lounging away the rest of my days. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Simply put, God ALWAYS has a job for us to do. He didn’t put us on this earth without a map so that we could wander aimlessly, never knowing our purpose. I love what The Message says about this in Proverbs 16: 1-3 “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place.”

So, embrace your passion! Watch what God does with it when you fully surrender that passion to Him.

***Stay tuned for the next installment on Monday, October 1!***

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


It's a mystery why God heals some and not others, but the fact of the matter is 100% of us WILL die, so it goes without saying that He doesn't always choose to heal us...BUT...sometimes He does.

My Experience...

I was in my early twenties and still living at home when I became violently ill in the middle of the night. Extreme nausea and a raging fever awakened me and I quickly leaped out of bed and made for the bathroom. Halfway there, I fell into a dead faint. My dad heard me hit the floor and came running. Helping me up, he and my mom both guided me toward the bathroom, but before reaching the door, I fainted again with no warning. In the bathroom I spilled my stomach contents (no nice way of putting it, sorry), and then because my bedroom seemed a million miles away, my folks told me to lie in their bed and Dad would go to my room. In their room, though, I collapsed into another dead heap before making it to the bed, this time ramming my body against a cabinet and scraping up my elbow when I hit the hard tile. Awaking on the floor, I recall mumbling, "What's wrong with me?" I was so sick, and I've never experienced anything like it since.

I lay in the bed next to my mother trembling and shaken, my body so hot with fever I could hardly think straight, my temples reeling with pounding pain, and my stomach roiling with sickness. I couldn't get comfortable, as I tossed and turned. After a few minutes, I attempted to settle my whirling stomach by lying on my back and staring at the ceiling. That's when it happened. A sensation came over me difficult to explain, but it began at the top of my head and moved slowly down my body - like a warm, comforting wave on the seashore - ending at the soles of my feet. Beads of perspiration popped out on my skin, my fever breaking that very instant, and I immediately noted how my head had ceased hurting and my stomach had calmed. Hardly knowing what to think, I threw the covers off my sweaty body and turned to look at my Godly mother. "Did you - by some chance - just pray for me?" I whispered.

She looked at me as well, her countenance but a shadow in the moonlight. "Yes, I asked God to heal you of this mysterious illness."

I'm now 64, and while I've sensed God's wonderfully sweet presence on many occasions since, that particular experience stands out above the rest. In times of doubt and worry I've been able to look back, reflect, and say, "God is REAL, God is RELIABLE, God is RELATIONAL, God is REDEEMING, and I REJOICE because He REIGNS in me!"

Sometimes, all we need is a reminder of His past faithfulness to know He will see us through whatever lies ahead. Do you have a "standing stone" or memory of a time in which God proved faithful? If so, share it here. I'd love to hear your story!