Monday, March 31, 2008
See ya there!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Half a dozen useless, unimportant and completely forgettable facts about li'l ol' me:
1. I live in my daughter's garage. LOL Actually, it's been converted into quite a nice little room, and it's big enough that - in addition to our king-sized bed - I can have my piano, a computer corner, and a teensy little sitting area for watching T.V. or reading. It's a temporary arrangement while we figure out where God's putting our feet down next, but a cozy set-up nonetheless.
2. Purple is my favorite color. I always thought it was the color of passion, but my friend DeLyn Fisher assures me it's the color of spiritual leadership. I'm not sure how accurate that is, but I like it! :)
3. I drink Dr. Pepper like it's going out of style - always have. Currently, I'm trying to make the switch to DIET Dr. Pepper, so I'll be a little less...
4. ...Fluffy. Yeah, that's me. 5'5" and working on being as big around as I am tall.
5. Once upon a time, I was quite involved in country western music, and was interviewed on a Nashville T.V. program by a man with the tongue-twisting moniker of Elmer Fuddrucker. No, I did not attempt to address him by name during the interview!
6. Even as a kid, I wasn't good at playing tag. LOL I like the adult version only slightly better, but I will say this - it provides something fun when you're wracking your brain for the next post on your blog!
Now, my six tag-ees are:
DeLyn - Cindy - Grace - Shelagh - Debra - Bonnie
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Raised by a drunken, abusive father, Emma’s bitterness is understandable. “Forgiveness” is not a word she even considers adding to her vocabulary. But then the handsome, charming preacher takes up residence in her boardinghouse, his very presence prompting self-examination of the soul. To say nothing of the strange letters she receives from a mysterious Chicago woman who seems bent on effecting both forgiveness and salvation within Emma’s heart.
She’s forced to re-examine her feelings when the annoyingly convincing preacher talks her into taking her ailing parent into her home. Emma—along with the rest of the town—watches the once hard-nosed and harder-drinking old codger become a new creature in Christ. Much against her own will, she discovers how much she still loves her father. But will he live long enough for her to be able to say so?
Courting Emma is an enchanting inspirational romance, one that will not be easily forgotten. Sharlene MacLaren has a real handle on developing well-rounded, believable characters who walk right into readers’ hearts. They in turn are drawn so inexorably into the realistic community that they’ll hesitate to leave when they reach the last page.
The first two books in the Little Hickman Creek Series introduced us to Little Hickman and its friendly (as well as not-so-friendly), funny, courtly and captivating residents. We fell in love with the people, the place, and the writer’s masterful storytelling.
Book # 3 continues the excellent standards already set in the first two books. Once again, the author delivers moments of laugh-out-loud humor and others of bring-on-the-tissue pathos. She paints a vivid picture of life at the turn of the century. And once again, a straight-forward message of truth and salvation is woven so intricately into the storyline that one hardly knows they’ve heard it … except for those gentle stirrings within the heart and mind.
Christian fiction at its unforgettable best!
Sharlene MacLaren's Website
Purchase the book
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I'm honored to introduce Sharlene MacLaren and her newest novel, Courting Emma - third in the Little Hickman Creek Series. Sharlene was a spotlight author in my newsletter, The Bookshelf (previously known as Musical Notes), when the first Little Hickman book, Loving Liza Jane, was released. She's a talented lady with a heart to write for Christ, and she does it so well!
Today, we'll give you Shar's background information and the Q & A session she so graciously submitted to.
Be sure to drop back in tomorrow for my review of Courting Emma.
Here's a bit about this talented author:
Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating with an education degree, she traveled internationally for a year with a small singing ensemble, then came home and married one of her childhood friends. Together they raised two lovely daughters. Now happily retired after teaching elementary school for 31 years, ‘Shar’ enjoys reading, writing, singing in the church choir and worship teams, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and precious grandchildren.
A Christian for over forty years, and a lover of the English language, Shar has always enjoyed dabbling in writing—poetry, fiction, various essays, and freelancing for periodicals and newspapers. Her favored genre, however, has always been romance. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes. “Psst,” someone would whisper from two rows over, and always with the teacher’s back to the class, “Pass me the next page.”
Over the course of the past year, Sharlene’s books have had the opportunity to reach readers all across the world. The subject matters she touches on have changed hearts and lives resulting in a general fiction nomination for BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR by the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, various appearances on UCB (the largest radio network in the UK), Babbie's House, Harvest TV, and an extremely significant online presence.
Shar is an occasional speaker for her local MOPS organization, is involved in KIDS’ HOPE USA, a mentoring program for at-risk children, counsels young women in the Apples of Gold program, and is active in two weekly Bible studies. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan with their lovable collie, Dakota, and Mocha, their lazy fat cat.
Shar agreed to answer a few interview questions for me, so I could share them with you. Thank you, Sharlene MacLaren...we're so glad you did!
Q. Welcome to The Melody Within, Shar! My readers want to know all about you as a writer, and we’re going to get to that right away. But first, we’d like to know who you are outside your office. Tell us about Sharlene MacLaren, the lady next door.
A. Well, I’m an ordinary person, really. Wife to a wonderful man, mom to two lovely, married daughters, grandma to two grandsons (with a granddaughter on the way!!), retired schoolteacher, and woman who loves her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Q. That said…you’ve just released the third book in your Little Hickman Creek series. How exciting! Tell us about it.
A. Here’s a brief “book blurb” about Courting Emma:
Twenty-eight-year-old Emma Browning has experienced a good deal of life in her young age Proprietor of Emma’s Boardinghouse, she is “mother” to an array of beefy, unkempt, often rowdy characters. Though may men would like to get to know the steely, hard-edged, yet surprisingly lovely proprietor, none has truly succeeded. That is, not until the town’s new pastor, Jonathan Atkins, takes up residence in the boardinghouse. After a stunning, unexpected turn of events, will Emma risk removing her protective shell to accept the love of God—and the love of a man?
Q. How long does it take you (on average) to write a book, from first word to putting it in the publisher’s hands?
A. I love when I have about a year to devote to writing a novel, but with the current series I’m working on, The Daughters of Jacob Kane, which will start releasing in January ’09, I’m trying to complete each book in a 6-month period. This is work, let me tell you. But I love to write, so it’s fun work if that makes sense.
Q. What’s next? Can you talk about what you’re working on now?
A. I just mentioned the current series I’m writing. That is my main focus right now. There are three daughters in this series, all living with their father, Jacob, and their very doting English grandmother. Each book will focus on one of the girls. Titles are Hannah Grace, Maggie Rose, and Abbie Ann. The setting for this series is West Michigan 1903-‘05. Since I grew up in this area, it seemed natural for me to write about it.
Q. What do you enjoy most about writing? Least?
A. I love writing, am very passionate about it, in fact. I think what I enjoy most about it is developing characters that will appeal to my readers, characters with emotions, depth, and believability, someone readers can relate to. When people tell me my stories move them to tears or make them laugh out loud, well, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. And when they tell me they fell in love with my characters and literally grieved when the book reached its conclusion, and they had to say good-bye, then I’m truly satisfied.
What do I like least? Hmm, probably deadlines!
Q. What types of books did you read as a child?
A. As a young kid, I read anything I could find about animals – dogs, cats, horses! In my teen years, I turned to mystery and romance. Oh, I remember a book called Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt. It turned me on to romance with a suspenseful, scary twist. I love suspense, but nothing delving into the supernatural.
Q. Oh, my goodness – I read that book, too! What books are on your nightstand right now? It will be interesting to see how your tastes have developed over the years.
A. My Bible, of course. Right now, I’m reading a Bible written in chronological order and loving it. It’s designed to read in a year, with devotional inserts and daily scripture. I’m happy to say that I’m still ‘on track’ with it. Sometimes I get behind in these daily guides, but this particular Bible, the way it’s laid out, has really captured me! I also have several women’s devotional books on my stand, and – oh dear, unfinished Christian novels galore. I read very little in the way of secular fiction anymore. And I’m so, so busy that, unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to read much Christian fiction, either. I will not sacrifice my Bible reading time, though.
Q. What do you do when you’re not reading or writing?
A. 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.
Q. I know that interviewers often don’t ask the questions an author would really like to talk about. What would you like to say that I haven’t touched on?
A. I guess I’d just like to add that I’m tremendously blessed. God’s love, mercy, faithfulness, and grace simply amaze me. When I think that He’s gifted me with this passion to write and allowed my books to reach people all around the world, it humbles me to itty-bitty pieces. I want people to know I give all the honor and glory for any of my writing successes to the Lord, the one who made it possible.
Thanks for allowing me to share from my heart. I love hearing from my readers, so please feel free to drop me a line anytime!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
My grandchildren had a grand time hunting Easter eggs in the back yard this morning. They got together a day early—the four cousins—so they could celebrate with the “other side” of their families tomorrow, on Easter Sunday.
It was, as always, a joy to watch them. They pushed aside bushes, peeked under outside furniture, peered into every hole in the ground, and even climbed up on top of every available object so they could see hiding places that were otherwise out of their line of sight.
But as much as I enjoyed their wide eyes and excited chatter, it’s so much more important to me that they know what Easter is really about.
It’s nice that the kids can enjoy their little Easter bunny stories and colored eggs. Getting family together is always a good thing. But I fear that we, as adults, don’t do our part in properly teaching the little ones the importance and significance of this celebration of Jesus’ resurrection—and thereby, our salvation.
The story of the crucifixion is amazing…touching…heart-rending. It’s a vivid picture of ultimate love. That sacrificial bloodshed marked the beginning of hope for mankind.
But we must never forget that it was only the beginning!
Had Christ remained in that tomb, all that went before would have been without purpose. Had He not rolled that stone away and come forth as promised, all of the blood…the pain…the suffering… would have been forgotten as just another day in history.
But He did come forth! “He is risen indeed!” That means He rose… without a doubt. He conquered death…undeniably. He tossed away the shroud, rolled back the stone and walked away…in actual fact.
He is risen…and we are saved!
Let’s tell our children that story. Let’s make sure they know that Jesus loves them enough not only to die, but to rise again.
Happy Easter, my friends! Rejoice and be glad in knowing that our Lord is risen…indeed.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Still, it's so exciting to know Goldeneyes is finally a reality. God is good!
I'll just trust and pray that everything is okay with the printing. You know, like...no pages got printed upside down...all of the page numbers are in correct sequence...it's not printed in Hebrew or Greek...it's my name on the cover and not Nora Roberts'...there are actually words between the covers, as opposed to blank pages....
Okay, I gotta stop. This is making me too nervous! Oh, the possibilities...!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
It is March 15th, but no need to worry about the Ides of March when we have a special blog tour for one of our FIRST members! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) Normally, on the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter! As this is a special tour, we are featuring it on a special day!
and her book:
Zondervan (March 2008)
Camy Tang is a member of FIRST and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.
Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One) was her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) is now available. The next book in the series, Single Sashimi (Sushi Series, Book Three) will be coming out in September 2008!
Visit her at her website.
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Trish Sakai walked through the door and the entire room hushed.
Well, not exactly pin-drop hushed. More like a handful of the several dozen people in her aunty’s enormous living room paused their conversations to glance her way. Maybe Trish had simply expected them to laugh and point.
She shouldn’t have worn white. She’d chosen the Bebe dress from her closet in a rebellious mood, which abandoned her at her aunt’s doorstep. Maybe because the explosion of red, orange, or gold outfits made her head swim.
At least the expert cut of her dress made her rather average figure curvier and more slender at the same time. She loved how well-tailored clothes ensured she didn’t have to work as hard to look good.
Trish kicked off her sandals, and they promptly disappeared in the sea of shoes filling the foyer. She swatted away a flimsy paper dragon drooping from the doorframe and smoothed down her skirt. She snatched her hand back and wrung her fingers behind her.
No, that’ll make your hips look huge.
She clenched her hands in front.
Sure, show all the relatives that you’re nervous.
She clasped them loosely at her waist and tried to adopt a regal expression.
“Trish, you okay? You look constipated.”
Her cousin Bobby snickered while she sneered at him. “Oh, you’re so funny I could puke.”
“May as well do it now before Grandma gets here.”
“She’s not here yet?” Oops, that came out sounding a little too relieved. She cleared her throat and modulated her voice to less-than-ecstatic levels. “When’s she coming?”
“Uncle picked her up, but he called Aunty and said Grandma forgot something, so he had to go back.”
Thank goodness for little favors. “Is Lex here?”
“By the food.”
Where else would she be? Last week, her cousin Lex had mentioned that her knee surgeon let her go back to playing volleyball three nights a week and coaching the other two nights, so her metabolism had revved up again. She would be eating like a horse.
Sometimes Trish could just kill her.
Taken from Only Uni, Copyright © 2008 by Camy Tang. Used by permission of Zondervan.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Release Date: March 15, 2008
Marjorie Grace Patricia Bridget Owen was born September 11, 1911 in England and endured the bombardment of World War II. As far as we know, she was born out-of-wedlock with an Irish Lord for a father and a Russian princess as her mother.
Synopsis - LADIES OF CLASS:
Richard Hayward’s promotion and move from the big city life to the sleepy town of Burshill, England, has been shattered. Sir John Bury needs a murder solved. Clues take him from Burshill to California, Paris and London and back in time. As the story progresses the plot thickens. Richard Hayward's reputation as the youngest officer to be promoted to Detective Chief Inspector precedes him. Richard hoped his recent transfer and move to Burshill would allow him a quiet convalescence from a broken leg. But his peace was soon to be shattered by a phone call from Sir John Bury, the Chief Constable.
A murder had been committed that night and Richard's ability to solve crimes, in spite of his unconventional methods, were needed before his duties officially began.
The results of his investigations and travels, in search of clues and answers to the apparently senseless murders are surprising. Several ladies of a particular ‘class’ become part of the inquiry. As the facts begin to unfold, they not only amaze Richard, himself and the community of Burshill, but extends all the way to the top brass of Scotland Yard. In the face of adversity, Richard manages to outwit the criminal and emerges triumphant.
Laura Clayton’s last day on earth was as ordinary as any other, right up to the few moments before she came to her messy end.
The only unusual thing about it was that she awoke to brilliant sunshine dancing on the bedroom window. March had been a spiteful month, not only coming like a lion but roaring its way through with no let up in the constant rain and lashing gales. It seemed to have no intention of going out like a lamb, but on this Saturday, the 31st, it finally relented.
"I don’t believe it!” Laura said aloud, scrambling into a housecoat and hurrying to look out at the phenomenon. But it was true and everything in the garden, which yesterday had looked dreary and sullen, was nodding and smiling and perking up in the unaccustomed brightness and warmth…
…When Julia opened the door to let her out, she uttered an exclamation. “Good grief, Laura! Look at that!”
To their equal surprise, a dense fog surrounded them, thick and impenetrable as a London pea-souper. Totally unexpected.
"Must have been all that glorious sun we’ve had today,” Laura commented. The lunchtime cloud had soon gone away.
"You can’t go home in this. It’s horrible. Oh, why on earth did George have to get his rotten bronchitis tonight? He’d have escorted you back.”
“Stop clucking, Julia. It’s only a five-minute walk away, for goodness sake. I’m a big girl now and not likely to get lost.”
Julia wasn’t happy about it but Laura insisted; she went off with a cheery “good night,” and was immediately swallowed up in the fog. She kept to the paths which were as familiar to her as her own garden, but she found the silence more eerie than she would have imagined. Even distant traffic noises were hushed and she felt completely isolated in a strange world. She pushed doggedly on and without any trouble found herself turning onto the path, lined with tall trees, which would lead her out almost opposite her own house.
Suddenly, surprisingly, a figure stepped out from behind one of the great horse-chestnuts and stood in front of her. Laura wasn’t of a nervous disposition but she was startled. Then, coming face to face with the apparition, she recognized it.
“Oh, it’s you!” said Laura.
Tell us about yourself – where you are from, how you got started writing, what you do when you are not writing (or anything you want our readers to know).
Mike's Mum passed away at the grand old age of 93. Mum, Mike and I are British. However, Mike and I have lived in the United States for close to twenty-five years, Bahamas for two years and are currently residents of Panama, Central America.
Mum loved to visit America up to her mid-eighties, in particular California, Hollywood being one of her favorite places. As the years went on, Mum found the long journey from England to USA too much.
Mum wrote for her own pleasure, told no one and never sought to be published as far as we know. When we found all her handwritten books and stories three years ago, my mission began.
I love to read. And it was a challenge reading, or should I say translating Mum's handwriting. With Mike's help I 'broke the code' and began typing all of Mum's works. This led to Mike asking me what I was going to do with all of them. So I said, “Get them published.” Simple to say, but not so simple to do, especially when you are not an author and have no clue as to how to do it or here to start. But here we are ready for Mum's first book to come out in print and two of her short stories already in print.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Mum was an avid reader, never without a book in her hand. She loved murder mystery stories. We do not know which of her four books was written first. But the first book we presented for publication and had accepted, is a murder mystery.
How many books have you written?
Mum wrote four books. Two are murder mystery and two are romance.
How do you decide on their topic?
As far as I can tell from all of Mum's writings, she wrote the murder mystery books from her love of mystery, whodunit, and the challenge of solving the mystery. The romance books might have been inspired from her own, somewhat tragic romantic life. This I understand from little snippets of information she would impart when alive, her only diary, and possible reference in some of her short stories.
What works best to keep you focused and on track?
I believe Mum just loved to write and it was a diversion from her busy work life. Mum was the head buyer of maternity clothes at a major department store in central London.
Do you write to make money or for the love of writing?
Mum did not make any money on her writings, therefore wrote for the love of it.
Do you plan on writing additional books?
Mum's second murder mystery book is a sequel to the first. If the first sells, I would like for the second to be published. Depending on the success, I may look into the possibilities of a 'ghost writer.'
For more information go to http://marjo-mumswritings.blogspot.com/
Barnes and Noble
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Dee Owen presents Ladies of Class, one of several books written in longhand by her late mother-in-law, Marjorie Grace Patricia Bridget Owen. Dee's husband Mike discovered a box full of his mother's writings - all handwritten on both sides of legal-size paper or notebooks - after her death in 2004. An avid reader, Dee became fascinated with "Mum's" writings and undertook the monumental task of transcribing them to computer.
She has succeeded in getting several of the short stories published online. But her greatest success so far has been the publication of Ladies of Class by Vintage Romance Publishing. The novel will be released Saturday, on the same day we host Marjorie's book as presented by her daughter-in-law Dee right here on TMW!
Friday, March 7, 2008
I smiled behind my hand. Will that phrase never go “out”? My mother used it on me, and my kids are quite familiar with it, as well. I’m pretty sure it’s universally understood, and it is not generational. I doubt there’s a child anywhere, of any era, who doesn’t know trouble’s brewing when they hear those words.
Words that say, “I’ve had all I’m going to take.” They make it clear that it’s time to “shape up.” They hold a tacit warning to “behave yourself,” and strongly advise to “toe the line.”
They also say, “Or else!”
Any child with an ounce of smarts will shape up, behave himself and toe the line. Nobody wants the "or else"!
Sometimes I get this funny little picture in my head. God, attired in his royal robes, perches on a huge golden throne, shaking a long finger Earthward—eyes huge and glowing, one eyebrow cocked so high it nearly disappears beneath his crown. "Don't make me come down there!" He speaks softly, but in God-speak, even a whisper can sound like a roar. The implication is clear - "Or else!"
Wise children of God know how to heed those little spiritual nudges (God’s pointing finger and raised eyebrows). Those with a bit of intuition recognize the warning for what it is and don’t hesitate to repent and whip themselves into shape—before their heavenly Daddy has to do it for them!
Others aren’t quite so intuitive…we always have to touch the pretty plant—and for no better reason than that we were told not to. When will we headstrong Christians ever learn that it isn’t worth it?
Yes, God is a loving God. But He’s also a Father…one who wants His kids to be obedient. And according to Hebrews 12:6 (NIV), “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." If we disobey and are chastened, it means He loves us. By obeying Him…or learning from the chastening when we don’t…we become strong and upright, like our Father.
Listen closely. Is that your Father’s voice? “Don’t make me come down there!”
Hurry…I think He wants you to shape up…behave yourself…toe the line.
And don’t touch that apple!
Isaiah 1:19—If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
My readers will remember Jill from her interview in my newsletter, The Bookshelf. Missed it? No problem, check it out now!
You're gonna love this book!
You like romance? This one has enough schmooze to melt the heart of any ice maiden (or man, as the case may be). Mystery? Loads of it! Suspense? Total edge of the seat stuff. God? Bigger than life, as He always is - yet so expertly woven into the storyline that readers never suspect there's a message until it's already been delivered.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
It is March FIRST, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!
and her book:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sharon Hinck holds a BA in education, and she earned an MA in communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a homeschool mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime, she’s pouring her imagination into writing. Her stories focus on characters who confront the challenges of a life of faith. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House), in 2006. In April 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking at conferences and retreats. She and her family make their home in Minnesota. She loves to hear from readers, so send a message through the portal into her writing attic on the “Contact Sharon” page of her website, http://www.sharonhinck.com/. She is also an avid blogger...visit Stories for the Hero in All of Us.
Read the First Chapter