Wednesday, September 8, 2010

After 31 years of teaching second and fourth grades, Shar decided to say, "Bye-bye, Students!" and "Hello, Writing World!" and it's been an interesting, exciting, challenging, and inspiring adventure. One thing she knows for certain—God dropped a seed of passion for writing in her heart back in the summer of 2000, and He's been growing it ever since. She signed on with Whitaker House Publishers in early 2006 and in December of that same year released Through Every Storm, a general fiction title that finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book-of-the-Year. Another general fiction title, Long Journey Home, hit shelves in 2008. (It is her pleasure to announce that both of these titles are also available in SPANISH.)

Sharlene’s beloved, bestselling “Little Hickman Creek Series” released in 2007-08. This 3-book series set in 1895 KENTUCKY won the “Road to Romance” Reviewers’ Choice Award and a third place standing in the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest in 2008 and 2009. Also, in 2009, her historical series, “The Daughters of Jacob Kane”, began hitting bookshelves in stores countrywide. In late summer of 2010, Tender Vow, another general fiction stand-alone, will release, and following that, a 1920s 3-book set called “River of Hope”. The first in that series, River Song, should become available in the spring of 2011. Yep, you guessed it – Shar is BUSY!!!

Shar has done numerous book-signings across the country, appeared on many national television and radio shows, and participated in countless interviews. She has been married to the love of her life since December of 1975, has two wonderful daughters and two handsome sons-in-law. The joys of her life, however, are her adorable grandchildren. Besides her involvement in music at her local church, Shar has been a speaker for the local MOPS organization, is involved in KIDS’ HOPE, USA, a mentoring program for at-risk children, counsels young women in the international APPLES OF GOLD program, and attends two bi-weekly Bible studies. She and her darling husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan with Peyton, their loveable collie, and Mocha, their big, lazy cat.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I started writing at the ripe age of 51 back in the summer of 2000! So, not that long, actually. I had dabbled a little bit in fiction while in high school, but after college, marriage, raising kids, music, church responsibilities, etc., writing took a waaaaaay back seat. And then one day about 9 years ago, God awakened that seed of passion for writing He’d planted in my heart so many years before.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

I have to say I still don’t trust myself completely. It goes without saying that God is my true source of strength, guidance, and wisdom. Of course, I welcome other writers’ critiques and listen with a keen ear to what my readers have to say, but for the most part I learned early on to go with my instincts, write what I felt deep in my heart—then wait for my wonderful editor to tell me where I went wrong. Ha!

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

Did you say disciplined? Hmm. Well, I’m what you’d call a seat-of-the-pants writer, meaning often I don’t know from chapter to chapter what’s going to happen next or where my characters will take me. I have a fair idea, mind you, but I don’t outline my chapters or think far enough ahead to know what to expect. I attribute my SOTP style to my “undiagnosed ADD”. I become very easily distracted as I write and can think up a million other things to do right smack in the middle of a sentence. If I come upon the least little snag in my writing I’m off to check my email or get a snack. I tell you I’m terrible. Disciplined, did you say? Not really. I do manage to meet my deadlines though and, you guessed it, by the seat of my pants! As for a schedule? Thankfully, I’m a retired teacher, so home most of the time. I definitely try to write everyday, even weekends, but I don’t follow a specific timeframe.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

I love spending time with my precious husband, darling daughters and their husbands, and my adorable grandbabies. I also enjoy shopping, traveling, goofing off with girlfriends, trying new restaurants, going to GOOD movies, and relaxing in front of a cozy fireplace. In the summer, I love lounging by my pool and taking long walks with my dog.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I think maybe the novel that most “has my heart” is the very first story God inspired me to write when He first planted that seed of passion to write. It’s titled Long Journey Home, but it didn’t publish for about 8 years after I wrote it. When my publisher asked for it, it was just like sending my firstborn child out the door to kindergarten! OH WAIT! IT JUST OCCURRED TO ME THAT YOU PROBABLY MEANT THE FAVORITE NOVEL I’VE EVER READ! (Duh!)
Well, just in case you meant the former, I’ll keep that answer intact. All-time favorite novel? How do I answer that when there are so many? As a child, I loved The Yearling, as a high schooler, I loved the Nancy Drew Mysteries and anything by Victoria Holt, as a college student, I loved Christy, as an adult the one that most comes to mind right now is Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. Adored that book on so many levels.

How do you think reading the works of others helps you as a writer?

I am always deeply inspired by others’ writings, some more than others obviously just because we all have different opinions and tastes. I read so much fiction by so many wonderful authors before I set off on my own that I almost felt as if I’d taken a college course in “how to write a standout novel.” Reading other authors truly expands a writer’s knowledge and is a MUST if you want to stay current and fresh in your approach to fiction.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Tender Vow is a heartwarming story about unexpected love amidst tragedy. All of my novels involve romance and most of them some measure of intrigue, mystery, or suspense. Tender Vow differs in that it’s a flat-out love story with tragedy at the forefront and God’s gentle grace the backdrop. If you enjoy a story of hope, healing, forgiveness, second chances, and renewal, then Tender Vow won’t disappoint.

Where did you get your inspiration for Tender Vow?

My mind is a constant flurry of ideas from day-to-day experiences, watching others, hearing people’s stories, and dreaming! Yes, dreaming. I’ve dreamt entire plots then awakend to quickly jot down the main points. I wrote Tender Vow many years ago, and have since revised it dozens of times, keeping the ‘bones’ of it the same but rewriting the better share of it. I am a true sucker for a good love story, and Tender Vow fills that need.

Which character is most like you?

I’m probably somewhat like the main character in Tender Vow, although I’d have to say all of my characters are a combination of many different personalities, traits, quirks, and habits. No two are ever alike, and most of them are nothing like me or anyone else I know.

Who is your favorite character and why?

As I said earlier, I’m a sucker for a good love story, but I’m also a sucker for the male heros in my books. I UTTERLY LOVE THEM BY THE END!

Did you know how Tender Vow would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I mentioned earlier that I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, but in saying that I should have mentioned that I always have a clear beginning, middle, and end in my head. I do have the endings worked out ahead of time, just not the steps to how I’ll get there, so yes, I knew how Tender Vow would end. As for surprises, I don’t think I’ve written a book yet in which a character didn’t say or do something—or take me down a path I hadn’t expected to go—which wound up changing the direction of a particular scene or plot piece. I tell you, they can be such stinkers at times!

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

My heartfelt, deepest prayer is that Christ will shine through my “feeble” words, that my readers will come to know Christ in a personal way. It’s a humbling thought that Christ would choose to use me in this way, but it’s my longing and desire. This is true for all my books, and Tender Vow is no exception.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I maintain a blog, stay active on Shoutlife, a wonderful, Christian online community that anyone can join, Facebook and try to keep my website current. I pay visits to my local libraries for book-talks, speak at local book clubs, and participate in author book-signings whenever possible. Aside from that, my publicist manages to keep me busy with media, both radio and TV, interviews. All these things help to give an author exposure and hopefully sell books, the ultimate aim.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Currently, I’m working on a new 3-book historical series that’ll begin releasing in early 2011. It’s titled “River of Hope”, and the setting is 1926-30, Wabash, Indiana. I’m now writing book one in the series, River Song. I think this series will enthrall anyone fascinated with the “Roaring 20s” era.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

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.

Sharlene is giving away a copy of her book Tender Vow. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!


Post a Comment

Newsletter Subscribe



Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Historical Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance



Popular Posts

Guest Registry