Friday, April 02, 2010


This interview was posted on Lena Nelson Dooley's blog, so I thought I would post it here as well. To read it at Lena's blog, simply go to lenanelsondooley-dot-blogspot-dot-com.

ABBIE ANN by Sharlene MacLaren

As an author, I know it takes a lot of people to birth each book. Who were the people involved in the birthing of this book, and what were their contributions?

Well, with every one of my books I would have to say my beloved husband plays a huge part in my books coming to fruition. Without his loving support, I wouldn’t be able to spend so much time at my computer. My daughters are also key supporters. Sometimes when it gets down to crunch time they even bring meals. It’s so nice to “feel the love” when I working!

If you teach or speak, what’s coming up on your calendar?

I give a number of library talks in which I share my writing journey, a bit of the writing process, and give a few pointers on how to set and reach publishing goals. I have a couple of TV and radio tapings coming up but sadly don’t have airdates yet.

If you had to completely start over in another place, where would you move, and why?

Well, I was born and raised in West Michigan. Yes, cold winters, but summers, glorious. Think sand dunes, spectacular Lake Michigan beaches, gorgeous sunsets, swimming and boating—and GRANDCHILDREN!!!! IF I were ever to relocate, it would have to be to a neighboring city or state. My kids and grands all live within minutes of hubby and me. Now, I ask…how could we possibly leave when we have everything we could ever want or need right here in our little corner of the world? (Sorry, not the answer you were looking for, but, oh well. Grins…)

There is no right or wrong answer. If you could only tell aspiring novelists one thing, what would it be?

Never allow those rejection letters to discourage you to the point of quitting. Okay, you can quit for a day or so, but then jump right back into it. If you have a strong urge to write, and you believe in your heart God gave you a passion for it, then chances are good you’ll publish someday. The trick is to keep plugging away. Honing your skill takes hours of hard work and study, not to mention attending conferences, reading in your genre, joining critique groups, and learning the industry. Pray, pray, pray. If God wants you published, it will happen, but bear in mind, it’s all about Him and His perfect timing.

You’ve been asked to be in charge of a celebrity cruise. Who would you ask to take part, and why? (AS in what program, singers, etc. [it doesn’t have to be writing related])

Okay, this will probably sound corny to most, but I’ve never gone on a “Christian” cruise, so that would be my choice. I’d invite the Gaither Vocal Band to head up the music and I’d ask Mark Lowry (hilarious guy) to emcee the entire event from beginning to end.

You'd have to ask James and me to go. We love the Gaither Vocal Band and Mark Lowry. Tell us about the featured book?

Abbie Ann is the third and final book in my current series, "The Daughters of Jacob Kane". Here’s a very brief synopsis: Abbie Ann Kane, the youngest of Jacob Kane's three daughters, is a busy woman. Between running the Whatnot, the family's general store, being active in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and assisting the elderly citizens of Sandy Shores, Michigan, she has little time for frivolous matters. And those include matters of the heart. When the recently divorced Noah Carson comes to town with son Toby in tow to pursue a shipbuilding business, Abbie Ann tries to keep her distance—but God has other plans in mind.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Sandy Shores, Michigan
February 1907

Abbie Ann Kane marched through blinding snow on her way to Kane’s Whatnot, howling winds curling their icy fingers around the buildings of downtown Sandy Shores, hissing and spitting and stinging her nose and cheeks. She pulled her woolen scarf tighter about her neck, but the bitter air still managed to find a hole through which to pass, making her shiver with each hurried step.

The Interurban railcar rumbled past, its whistle alerting pedestrians and horses to make way for its journey up Water Street, Sandy Shores’ main thoroughfare. Through its frosty windows Abbie made out a scant number of passengers, even caught a glimpse of someone drawing letters on a foggy pane, probably some bored youngster, she mused.

Turning her gaze downward, she headed into the strong, easterly gusts, passing Joe’s Barbershop, Tim’s Shoe and Boot Store, Mildred’s Tailoring Shop, and then Ed’s Meat Market. Two more doors and she would reach her destination, the Kane family general store. Normally, her sister Hannah would be working today, but Abbie had taken primary responsibility for Kane’s Whatnot since the birth of little Rose-Ann Devlin on January 15. The little girl was Hannah and Gabe’s third child, and Hannah had her hands full also caring for 18-month-old Alex and their 11-year-old adopted son, Jesse. Taking responsibility for Kane’s Whatnot was the least Abbie could do, never mind that she barely had time to turn around what with her Sunday school teaching job, her recent appointment as president of the local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, assisting Grandmother Kane with the household chores, and visiting the elderly Plooster sisters as often as possible. Poor things depended on her to keep them abreast of all the town’s news.

The bell above the door tinkled as she pulled open the wooden door, a cold blast of air scooting past her ankles. Her father looked up from his place behind the brass National cash register. “Ah, you’re back from lunch, and not a second too soon. I have an appointment with a client at one o’clock. Can you take over from here?”

“Of course, Papa. Just let me hang up my wrap.” Besides owning Kane’s Whatnot, her middle-aged father with the graying hair and matching beard also partnered with Leo Perkins in the insurance business, the Kane and Perkins office building situated directly across the road from the Whatnot. Both businesses thrived in this lively little resort town situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan where the winters could be bitter but the summers delightfully warm and cheery.

The line at the cash register wound around the center aisle. There was Maxine Card and her young daughter Lily, their arms full with candles, two loaves of bread, a wooden bowl, and a mixing beater, Landon and Florence Meir each toting grocery items, and Fred and Dorothy Link, Fred hefting a sack of flour over his shoulder and Dorothy holding some canned goods and a few miscellaneous items. Abbie moved past her father to hang her winter gear on a hook in the small closet behind the counter, which also served as a washroom. After doing so, she glanced in a tiny mirror to rearrange the side combs in her flowing black hair, rubbed her icy fingers together, and joined her father on the other side of the curtain, the potbellied stove at the back of the store not giving off near enough heat to quell today’s sub-zero temperatures.


Katybug said...

Shar, I'm about 2/3's of the way done with "Abbie Ann", and of course, I am LOVING it!!! But I have to ask: PLOOSTER???? LOL!!! Where did that come from???

SHARLENE said...

Hi, Katybug! Glad to hear you are enjoying "Abbie". I am so encouraged to hear that.

Hahahaha. The Plooster sisters. Hmm, I think the name came from, well, now that you mention it, I have no idea. The phonebook, maybe? I do pull some interesting names from there, but as to how I actually arrived at it, I have no idea. Maybe it popped into my head by accident the way so many of my story ideas come to me. You know, most of the time I start typing, and I don't have a clue WHAT'S going to appear on the screen. I just start typing and wa-lah. I know, crazy.

Nise' said...

You can move here to this neighboring city....LOL Are you enjoying this glorious weather? It has been fantastic. Have a blessed Easter weekend with your family.

SHARLENE said...

Nise, exactly! If I were going to move to a neighboring city it would be to SANDY SHORES, MI., ur...GRAND HAVEN, I should say. haha!


CatMom said...

Great interview, Shar! I'm about to begin Maggie Rose, then will read Abbie Ann - - and I'm certain I'll LOVE both of these as much as I loved Hannah Grace! You are truly a talented author (and a sweet friend too!). Love,
Patti Jo :)