Monday, April 18, 2011

An Interview with Shar MacLaren

Joining us today is Inspirational Historical Romance Author Shar MacLaren. A huge thank you to Shar for doing this interview! Read on, for tips on writing, research, and more!
1) What made you want to become a writer? Was there a particular event, person or book that inspired you?

I have always loved to write, but throughout my life so many other things took precedence. However, in the summer of 2000 (when I was 52), God laid it on my heart to give fiction writing a try. Since I loved reading fiction, it felt like a natural transition for me to write it. Many authors inspired me, but it was truly God's nudging that gave me that push I needed.

2) What do you like most and least about being a writer?

I love the creative energy that flows through me when I write, but it's deadlines that sometimes put a cap on that energy's flow. Those are the times you have to push through and write anyway – even when you don't necessarily feel like it. Unfortunately, contracts and deadlines can turn writing into a job, not that I don't still love it, but it's a different mindset, and you have to view it more as your career than as a pleasant hobby.

3) Do you do a lot of research for your novels? Do you do it before, in the middle, or after you write your novel

Yes, most of my novels require research BEFORE and DURING. I enjoy that aspect for the most part unless it starts getting tedious. Sometimes I just go ahead and start the writing process even if I haven't quite finished all the research just because I get so "antsy". I am a big one for stopping in the middle of a scene to look up something before proceeding.

4) What would you say is the biggest mistake beginning writers make? Did you find yourself making this mistake when starting out?

Ha ha, there are so many I can hardly pinpoint just one. When I first started writing I just charged ahead like a bull running up and down store aisles. I had no idea where I was going, how to find my way through the maze, or what I was going to discover around the next corner. I didn't stop to think about the right and wrong, i.e. the "mechanics", of writing, I just plunged ahead – thinking all the while what I wrote was somehow good. Little did I know I had MUCH to learn in those early days. As soon as a writer discovers he/she has a great love for writing, as in a deep passion, they need to get themselves hooked up with other writers, join writing groups, start attending workshops, read books on the writing craft, begin honing skills, and then keep at it. One of the biggest mistakes writers make is letting discouragement burn out their flame of passion. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let go of your dreams.

5) Do you have a particular place you write best at? Do you listen to music while you write?

My best place to write is my downstairs home office. It's a secluded room decorated to my liking, warm, cozy, and bright. I don't do well listening to music, and I'm not much for taking my laptop to coffee shops or even scenic settings. I do best with sameness and familiarity if you know what I mean.

6) Has there been a particular technical book on writing you return to again and again?

There are several books, though not necessarily technical, I find helpful. Since I write a good deal of historical fiction, I refer often to Everyday Life in the 1800s. Other favorites are The Thesaurus of Slang, The Romance Writers' Phrase Book, many online sources, and then, of course, my trusty Flip Dictionary

7) Is there a scripture verse that has inspired you in your writing?

My favorite verse is Romans 8:28 "For we know that all things work together for good to them who love the Lord, to those who are the called according to His purpose." That verse has carried me through many a life's trial.

8) What three tips do you have for beginning writers?

I think I may have touched earlier on this, but if I have to narrow it down to three items I would call it the three Ps of writing.

Pray – Always bring your thoughts and ideas to the Lord and ask Him to guide your writing day, whatever it may entail.

Plan – As much as you can plan ahead, carve out writing times, know your scenes and characters, have a clear beginning, middle, and ending in mind before setting out to write your novel. It's difficult to write a good plot if you don't have any idea of where you're going with it. I'm not big on outlines, and I would call myself a seat-of-the-pants writer, but I do have my story all laid out in my head, at least a general idea of it, even if it's not plotted out on paper chapter by chapter.

Persevere – Don't let rejections or a hurtful criticism slow the writing process. If you must pout (smiles), don't let it go on for more than a day or two. Learn and grow from every negative word, whatever it may be. Remind yourself from whence your writing passion comes (GOD!!!), and then dive back in, remembering everything you've learned and looking forward to learning more! Store up your knowledge and then apply it. Trust God for every outcome, and daily commit your ways into His capable hands!

About Shar:

After 31 years of teaching, 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

Shar started her publishing career with Whitaker House in December of 2006 when she launched the release of "Through Every Storm", a general fiction title that finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book-of-the-Year in 2007. Shar won the "Road to Romance" Reviewers' Choice Award in 2007 and 2008. and also picked up a third place award in the "Inspirational Readers' Choice Contest" in both 2008 and 2009.

In the fall of 2008, Whitaker House released a stand-alone contemporary titled "Long Journey Home", and in January of '09 launched her 3-book historical series, "The Daughters of Jacob Kane". In the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 Shar was awarded second and third place standings in the "Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest".

Shar’s upcoming novel, Livvie’s Song will be released this July. Go to her webpage to learn more!


SHARLENE said...

Hi, Amanda. Thanks so much for requesting to interview me. It was indeed my pleasure. For the record, Livvie's Song releases in early July, not this fall. Just thought I'd clear that up.

You have a very nice blog here. May the Lord bless you to the fullest degree.

Jill Kemerer said...

Wonderful interview, Amanda!

Shar, I'm so with you on the three "P's." Without planning, my books would take me twice as long to write. Without perseverance, I would have given up long ago. Without prayer--well, none of this would work without prayer!

Sandra Heska King said...

Loved this interview, and loved getting to meet Shar.

I, too, have always loved to write. But the passion really grabbed me hard when I turned 60. You're never too old to pursue it. Some of just have to run with a dream a little harder. But then it's all in God's timing, anyway. Right?