Thursday, June 24, 2010

Does this stack of phonebooks look familiar to anybody?

Remember the days of ONE new phonebook a year?  What happened to them?  I don't know about you, but lately it seems like every time I walk down the driveway to get my mail I find another phonebook in a plastic bag hanging from my mailbox.  We have a phonebook for the northern part of our county, a phonebook for the southern part, a huge book strictly for Yellow Pages, another book just for businesses, another for businesses AND Yellow Pages, another for residents AND Yellow Pages.  I'm sure somewhere in that stack, there's even a phonebook for my pets.

I can remember the days of looking forward to my new phonebook.  The old one had gotten dog-eared, so the replacement of a brand new book was downright nice.  But I never asked for 6 new books, some big and fat, some so compact you need a magnifying glass to read the words and numbers.

In this day when many don't even have land lines anymore, wouldn't you think the phonebooks would decrease in number instead of go the other way?  I don't get it.  Why do I need so many?  Anybody have a clue?

I'm not mad, I'm just mystified.  And getting rid of them is another story.  ALL THAT PAPER GOING STRAIGHT TO OUR LANDFILLS.  Ugh!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

ROBIN SHOPE and SHARLENE MACLAREN Write Novels About the Historic Orphan Train!

Maggie Rose by Sharlene MacLaren
Ruby Red by Robin Jansen Shope

Sharlene and Robin made a lovely discovery. Not only are they both teachers (Shar’s retired), they have also written about a special time in history from separate viewpoints. As a result, they decided to ‘cross pollinate’ their books in this shared interview. Come join the discussion, and for leaving a comment, you will automatically be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a copy of both their books, Maggie Rose and Ruby Red, from either one of their Websites. That’s twice the chance to win; in other words, go ahead and leave a comment at both sites to double your odds. If you aren’t a blogger, then leave a comment for them on Facebook or Shoutlife, and they’ll throw your name into the “proverbial hat”.

Shar and Robin thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into their lives, past and present. This should give you an idea of what influenced their writing careers.

Here's a snapshot of Shar's early life, which influences her to this day:

I grew up in the small town of Twin Lake, Michigan. When I say small I mean we had one gas station, a post office, a tavern/restaurant, a lumberyard, and two grocery stores whose owners were ALWAYS at odds (enemies perhaps?) because of the competition. Townsfolk were either loyal Oslunds’ grocery shoppers or Powells. (You couldn’t be both. Ha!) My family went to Powells’ because my mom swore they had a better meat selection!

I grew up in a tiny cottage-style house on the lake, as in we had beach frontage. It was a great swimming, fishing, waterskiing lake, so as a kid nearly every day in the summer the first thing I did when I awoke was peek through my bedroom curtains to determine what to put on, regular clothes or my swimsuit. Some days, Daddy would awaken me at 5:30 a.m. when the lake was still as glass and the fog lying lazily on the surface and ask if I wanted to go fishing. I didn’t LOVE fishing, but I soaked up those opportunities to sit in my Dad’s quiet, reassuring presence. We had a rowboat dubbed “Maybe Baby”. She had a slow leak, so we kept a bucket handy at all times. Here's a pic of "Daddy" holding me when I was just a year old:

My parents were devout Christians. When those Wesleyan Methodist Church doors opened, and later Free Methodist, our family of five (I have two older brothers) walked through them, Sunday mornings, evenings, midweek prayer meetings, and annual revivals. Sundays were kept holy, as in, um, no swimming—unless I took a bar of soap with me in which case I was going down to the lake to “take a bath”. (grins) That was acceptable. However, no jumping off the end of the dock or acting rowdy! My folks had some rigid rules when it came to their belief system, I suppose, but they ruled with tremendous grace and mercy. In fact, they loved us kids with amazing tenderness and care. There was always a good deal of joking, teasing, and laughter in our home, lots of it. (I acquired my sense of humor from my dad.)

We had very little in the way of material possessions. After all, I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and the country was still suffering through a long, grueling recovery from the Great Depression. But I don’t recall feeling especially deprived, forget that we had an outhouse till I was at least 10—just loved and free and secure. When I was a little kid, Dad worked in a factory then switched to head custodian at a Muskegon elementary school when I was a young teen. While I was in second grade, my mom took a job in the Twin Lake Post Office. I remember feeling so PROUD that MY mom had a “real job” while my friends’ moms didn’t. No insecurity on my part! She was such a loving, generous, fun person; a very strong influence in my life.

Here is a snapshot of Robin's early life, which influences her to this day.

As you will ‘see’, my upbringing was very different from Shar’s. I grew up in Chicago, the daughter of a former bootlegger who, by the time of my birth, owned a respectable nightclub, The Ivanhoe Restaurant. My Christian mother was twenty years his junior. Dad had disguised himself as a Christian man, covering up his swearing, drinking, and womanizing ways for two months while he wooed my mother by taking her to church. As soon as he placed that ring on her finger, though, and vows were spoken, Dad picked up his former ways. I am the middle child of that union.

Born in the late 1800s, my dad was the age of a grandfather. Still, I felt lucky he belonged to me and I to him. He spoiled me terribly with presents, never disciplined me (probably too tired to do so) and gave into me—indulging my every whim while the role of disciplinarian went to my mother. I loved to hear his stories about running away from home at the age of eleven. He worked his way to Texas where he learned to break horses and pick cotton. Traveling further south, he ran into Poncho Villa (honest) and rode with him for a while. He didn’t like what the bandit did, so Dad returned to Texas and joined the Texas Rangers until WWII broke out and he joined the army.

When the war ended, Dad lived with his brother in Chicago and started a tavern at the same time prohibition hit. Not to be deterred from their new adventure, they turned the tavern into a speakeasy and ran bootleg whiskey. After prohibition was repealed, they expanded their business by buying out the stores around them. Soon the small tavern grew into a castle structure fashioned after the one In Robin Hood. My dad and uncle became good friends with Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth (I have home movies) and more sport stars. Meanwhile, I loved playing in the catacombs, messed up the musician’s music sheets on stage, and ate whatever I wanted from the kitchen. I went to sleep each night with stories spinning around inside my head.

Here is a photo of my parents enjoying a meal at Dad's restaurant:

The ORPHAN TRAIN ERA:Few people realize that 30,000 homeless children roamed the streets of New York City from the mid-1800s through the 1930s. Death and disease were heaped upon poverty and overcrowding, causing thousands of children to be abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Adding to the malaise, boatloads of European immigrants flooded our shores and soon succumbed to the same adversities, leaving thousands of their children parentless. Accounts have been written of the Orphan Train that carried white-skinned children into the heartland of America to find new families. For some it was a gift; for others it ended with tragedy. Many children were loved and cherished while others suffered at the hands of cruel caretakers and were little more than slaves or servants.

Maggie Rose

The year is 1904, and Maggie Rose, the spunky, friendly, twenty-year-old middle daughter of Michigan resident Jacob Kane, feels compelled to leave her beloved hometown of Sandy Shores to pursue what she feels in her heart are God's plans for her life-in New York City. Maggie Rose adjusts to her new life at Sheltering Arms Refuge, an orphanage that also transports homeless children to towns across the United States to match them with compatible families. Most of the children have painful pasts that make Maggie aghast, but she marvels at their resiliency. As she gets to know each child, her heart blossoms with new depths of love and compassion. When a newspaper reporter comes to stay at the orphanage in order to gather research for an article, Maggie is struck by his handsome face…and concerned by his lack of faith. She can't deny their mutual affections, though. Will she win the struggle to maintain her focus on God and remain attuned to His guidance?

Ruby Red

Ruby Redis a fictionalized tale of a true event. Homeless children roamed the streets of New York City from the late 1800s through the 1930s. Death and disease were heaped upon poverty and overcrowding, causing thousands of children to be abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Dark-skinned 11-year-old Ruby is taken in as a maid. Believing life holds more for her than washing clothes, she makes a risky move by faking insanity. After being expelled from the household, Ruby sneaks onto the Orphan Train. With her best friend, a cockroach named Red, housed in a canning jar, Ruby searches for a place to call home and runs into adventure and heartbreak. Both an enigma and a young teen, she is the perfect reflection of how life once was in America. Ruby embodies goodness and simplicity of truth; a rare gem which bespeaks her name. Softened a bit through suffering, she refuses to be hardened and keeps believing that the world holds a special place for her.

Thanks so much for the pleasure of your company. PLEASE be SURE to leave a comment on either/both of our blogs for a chance to win our books!

Check out Robin's blogspot HERE!


Saturday, June 05, 2010


I think I'll choose red font for ALERT! My "puppy" is 9-months-old and growing! Cecil calls him the "terrible-twos-toddler"--and he's not far off. To date, he (not Cecil) has wrecked three pairs of my favorite sandals, chewed a little corner of fabric off my new floral chair, peed on the floor (more than once), jumped on top of Cecil when he was in a dead sleep to avoid having to go night-night in his big wire crate, figured out four times how to get out of it (he shakes it or something while we're gone...we don't know. We're thinking about putting a camera on him.), eaten things that should never go through a dog's digestive system, destroyed bunches of the kids' pool toys (like those styrofoam noodles), and--and--let's see, I know there's more, but I'll stop there. I think you get the idea.

Here's a picture of him insisting he can fit in this chair. He will scrunch up and twist and turn until he gets semi-comfortable, sleep for about five minutes, then give into the floor again. As much as he IS a stinker, I do have to say I love him. Yes, he's the complete opposite of our wonderful, laid back, 11-year-old Dakota boy who we had to put down just over four months ago, but this little corker is "growing" on me.

However, if he continues having peeing accidents I don't know what I'll do--start borrowing my grandson's pullups maybe? But wait! He'd eat them! Pray for us.


Friday, June 04, 2010


Well, okay you darling blogger friends, I have just completed my drawing for a signed copy of my book, Hannah Grace, finalist for the 2010 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award! Are you ready for the reveal? Here goes, ready or not...



I truly do love ALL of you!