Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blogside Chat | Sharlene MacLaren

Ellie's Haven by Sharlene MacLaren was one of my top two picks for January. I'm so excited that Sharlene MacLaren stopped by for a Blogside Chat. I love getting to know the person behind the books I love! Before we dive right in, here's my review / preview of Ellie's Haven and a teaser.

i blog 4 books: Sharlene, welcome to i blog 4 books! I'm so glad you could stop by today! For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Sharlene MacLaren: I was born and raised in west Michigan and attended Spring Arbor University.  Upon graduating with an education degree in 1971, I taught second grade for two years then accepted an invitation to travel internationally for a year with a singing ensemble.  In 1975, I married my childhood sweetheart, and we raised two lovely, wonderful daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying their own families.  I retired in 2003 from 31-years of teaching, and I love to read, sing, travel, and spend time with my family, in particular, my wonderful, adorable four grandchildren, ages 6 and under.

In recent years, I felt God’s call upon my heart to try my hand at writing fiction, and in 2006 I signed a contract for my first faith-based novel; thereby, launching my writing career with Through Every Storm. With a dozen books now gracing store shelves nationwide, I give God all the praise and glory. 

My husband Cecil and I live in Spring Lake, Michigan with our beautiful white collie, Peyton, and our very lazy cat Mocha.

ib4b: Give us a little background on your latest novel.
SM: My latest novel is Ellie’s Haven. It’s book two of three in my River of Hope Series set in the 1920s in Wabash, Indiana.  Here’s the blurb taken from the back of the book:

A courageous young woman seeking refuge...

Ellie Booth was never the type to run away. But she'd witnessed her stepfather commit a heartless crime, and, knowing he'll stop at nothing to keep her quiet, she has no choice but to flee. Soon, she finds herself in Wabash, Indiana, scrambling for a cover identity to evade her stepfather. For lack of a better option, she answers an ad for a wife/housekeeper/nanny, praying that her lack of experience won't be obvious.

A widowed father with no domestic skills to speak of...

Gage Cooper is reaching the end of his rope. With four children between the ages of three and ten, he needs a reliable nanny, yet each one he's hired has thrown up her hands and deserted her post. When an attractive, spirited young woman applies for the "job," he knows he should pray about the matter, but his desperation for help propels him headlong into a marriage of convenience.

A trial by fire of their wedding vows...

Ellie immediately falls in love with the Cooper children, and, not long after, with their father. Soon, the "marriage of convenience" becomes less of a business arrangement as husband and wife yield to an attraction neither one had expected. When secrets of the past and dangers of the present arise in their lives, their marriage is put to the test, and God alone knows what will become of their union.

ib4b: What do you hope readers will take away from reading Ellie's Haven?
SM: My heartfelt, deepest prayer with all my books is that Christ will shine through my words and 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.

ib4b: What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
SM: Well, it wasn’t the last Christian fiction book I read, but it has always been my favorite. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  Wonderful, inspiring, captivating, romantic, and challenging.  Loved it! Everyone should read it – more than once!

ib4b: I totally agree! Give us a peek into your favorite place to write.
SM: My office is in our basement.  No, it’s not a dungeon as some might think whenever they think of a basement. Ours is fully finished. My office is small, probably 10 X 12, but it suits me perfectly. I have a floor to ceiling bookshelf lined with tons of research materials, family photos, and various knick-knacks that hold special meaning. My desk is facing a wall, and on the wall are the words, “If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don’t remove it – I might be writing in my dreams.” ~ Danzae Pace ~ Isn’t that a cool saying?

I’m sitting right next to the window, so I can look outside and watch the weather. Right now it’s sunny, and I’m glancing up at the trees, which are sprouting spring buds. Love it!  There’s also a comfy chair in my office that my dog loves to lounge in while I write. As of this moment, though, he’s lying near me on the floor sound asleep. (He’s never far away.) 

ib4b: Sounds like a great space! If you could eat dinner with any celebrity, who would you choose?
SM: I wouldn’t refer to her as a celebrity, but she’s a very well known figure in Christian circles, and that’s Beth Moore. I simply adore her and would love the chance to sit down with her and glean from her many words of wisdom. She’s also such a funny lady, and I just envision myself “hitting it off” with her. I think we would find all sorts of things to laugh about together.  I love her heart for Jesus, her passion for studying God’s word, and I fully appreciate the hours upon hours she has put into bringing us the most wonderful Bible studies anyone could hope for. I’ve learned so much from her studies.

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?
SM: Yes, my life verse is Romans 8:28: “For we know that all things work together for good to them who love the Lord, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” I know you just asked for one, but my OTHER life verse is found in Isaiah 41:13: “I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not be afraid; I will help you.’”

ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?
SM: Currently, I’m working on Sofie’s Secret, the third and final installment in my River of Hope series. I’ll be handing it in to my editor on June 1, and it should release before the end of the year.

ib4b: Ooh! Can't wait to read it! Anything else before we go?
SM: I love hearing from my readers! Please feel free to drop me a line via email, stop by my website and sign my guestbook, leave a comment at my blog, or join me over on my Facebook page. I always make every effort to respond to each one who takes the time to write to me!

ib4b: Thanks so much for stopping by today! It's been fun getting to know you. :)

Sharlene MacLaren Online
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