Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Julie here, and one of the very first authors I met in this publishing business was our guest today, Sharlene MacLaren. Not only is Sharlene one of my top-favorite authors, whose “passionate” heart beats the same rhythm as mine, but one of my dearest friends as well. One lucky winner today will have the chance to walk away with Sharlene’s latest release, Heart of Mercy, which I was privileged to endorse and absolutely LOVED! Without further ado, I give you one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, Sharlene MacLaren …

Sharlene MacLaren

Recently, I received an email from someone asking for publishing advice. The email went something like this: I have written the most interesting book (haven’t we all?), and I know readers everywhere are going to love it. Please tell me how I can get it published! Oh, and I would like to hear back from you right away.

Ha! That may be a bit of an exaggeration—or not. I receive several similar emails monthly and usually try to respond to each one by urging writers not to give up on their dreams and to keep pushing forward. If their story or article is “meant” to be published, it will find a home. It’s frustrating to me, though, because I know it’s not exactly what they want to hear. They sincerely want advice on how to write something that will not sit on a back burner for the rest of their days.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how best to encourage writers who love the craft and do long for concrete instruction. Therefore, let me take you on my own journey—the very abbreviated version, that is—and then leave you with 10 helpful steps you might consider taking on your road to publication.

I didn't write so much as my first word of fiction till the year 2000 when I was 51 years old. I have always had a deep love for storytelling, but I had never tried to write it until three years previous to retirement from teaching. At that time, God laid it on my heart by way of a recurring dream to sit down and write a story. That story became a novel, BUT it wasn't my first published book. I wrote about four more full-length manuscripts before I finally published, and the one I published first was the fourth one I'd written. Actually, it took me six years to find a publisher, and I tell you that so you’ll see nothing in this business happens overnight. It is a slow-moving process that involves hard work, a mix of sweat and tears, dead-set determination, and untold perseverance.

During those early stages of writing, I purchased books on the craft, attended local writing seminars/conferences, and joined a local writers' group as well as a national fiction writers’ organization. I was at the hungry stage of wanting to learn all I could about perfecting my skills, and boy did I have a LOT to learn. In those years, I learned about POV, the no-nos of head-hopping, active vs. passive writing, character development, avoiding clichés, and the long list continues.

I say all that to say this: writing and finding the right agent and/or publisher takes lots of time, energy, commitment, sacrifice, passion, and, well, prayer never hurts. You have to be willing to stick with it if you want to reap the harvest of your labor. Never, never, NEVER (did I say never?) allow discouragement to eat a hole in you big enough to kill your heart's passion. Keep feeding that passion by learning and striving to improve on your skills.

I would suggest to you the following “10 Steps” on your journey to publishing:

1.    Join a local writer's and/or critique group.

2.    Find at least one individual you can trust for an honest assessment of your work – not necessarily your best friend.

3.    Read everything you can get your hands on about the craft of writing. There are many writing resources available to you on the Internet with the click of a finger.

4.    Attend writers’ conferences and seminars. You can learn about such events by doing an Internet search, checking with fellow writers, or inquiring at your local library.

5.    Read several authors and observe their method of writing. You can learn a LOT about the craft by just studying various writers’ techniques. I’m not suggesting you copy their styles, but read them carefully to determine what it is about their writing that pulls you in.

6.    Develop your voice; i.e. discover your own uniqueness and build on it. Readers don’t enjoy “cookie-cutter” stories. Keep your plots, phraseology,  and your voice fresh, vibrant, and different. Readers crave writing that stands out, not to mention heart- and mind-gripping plot lines.

7.    Keep your writing crisp right down to your words and phrase choices. If you catch yourself using a phrase or repeating words you’ve already used or read somewhere, even if it’s not a cliché, try rewording so it will be “yours” and no one else’s.

8.    Edit your manuscript with a sharp eye then have someone read it that will give you an honest critique ... an English prof or high school teacher perhaps?

9.    Don't hang all your hopes on your first completed manuscript. If it doesn't pass inspection the first few times you submit it to an agent or editor, chances are it's time to let it rest in a file somewhere so you can begin writing a brand new story! The real fun is in the WRITING experience, not the WAITING.

10. Keep feeding your flame of passion. Love is what kindles the flame in the beginning, but it's PASSION that makes that fire roar to life.


Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win Sharlene’s latest book, Heart of Mercy, which is WONDERFUL!! GOOD LUCK!

Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene attended Spring Arbor University and graduated in 1971 with degrees in elementary education and music. In 1975, she married her childhood sweetheart, and together they raised two daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying their own families.  Over the course of 31 years, Shar taught both second and fourth grades, retiring in 2003. Besides writing, Shar loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family, in particular, her five adorable grandchildren!

Shar has enjoyed dabbling in writing since high school days, but it wasn’t until recent years she felt God’s call to take her writing hobby a step further. In 2006, she signed her first contract with Whitaker House; thereby, launching her career with Through Every Storm. With more than a dozen award-winning books now gracing store shelves nationwide and in various other English-speaking countries, she daily gives God all the honor. 

Shar does numerous countrywide book-signings and makes television and radio appearances. She has a strong heart for women and is currently involved in a women’s mentoring program. She loves speaking for various organizations and is active in her church. She and her husband Cecil live in Spring Lake, Michigan with their beautiful white collie named Peyton and their loving Ragdoll cat, Blue.

Little Hickman Creek Series
Daughters of Jacob Kane Series
River of Hope Series
Tennessee Dreams Series


  1. When I read a post like today's about all the work that goes into a book written for my enjoyment, I am humbled, and yet amazed that anyone would do so! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all authors who continue to persevere

  2. Marianne, that was one of the sweetest things anyone could say to an author. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article, and then on top of that, leave a comment! I so appreciate it.

    Believe me when I say, I love writing SO MUCH that most of the time I don't consider it a job. It's just a delight to me. Of course, I'd be DEAD IN THE WATER (excuse the cliche) if it weren't for the Lord's continued guidance and outpouring of inspiration and passion.


  3. Hey Sharlene! I read your post and it does seem like it takes a lot of work.

    I have started writing several books but cant seem to finish them.. I love reading and writing and I enjoy making up stories and different characters.

    I am working on one now that I would love to finish.. But there are times when I just aint in the writing mood or Im like am I ever gonna get this done..... It does take time

  4. Shar, I really enjoyed reading your article. I have a dear friend who is interested in writing children's books so I may have just picked up some tips to pass along to her. She has talked about it for years and my biggest concern is that she will not actively get started pursuing her dream. Do you have any advice on how I can encourage her?

  5. Courtney K, I think the key for you - and me - and anyone wanting to bring a book to its conclusion is to force yourself to make it a priority. So many things come between us and our writing passion - family, jobs, household responsibilities, and so on, that before you know it, that flame that once got us off to a great start begins dying down. Pretty soon it's nothing more than a spark. It's so important to keep that flame going - even if that means writing in short stints every day.

    Another thing that comes between us and a finished product are too many irons in the fire. When writing a story, try to stick with it till you reach the finish line. Yep, more stories keep brewing in that imaginative head of yours, but try not to listen to those ideas too much (other than to jot down a few ideas as they come to you) until you've finished your current story.

    Blessings on your writing endeavors. Keep that flame burning!

  6. Patty, thanks so much for stopping by - and also for mentioning your friend who's interested in writing. Refer to the comment I just posted to Courtney K. I think it will answer your question as to what you can say to your friend to encourage her to get started.

    Blessings and Love...

  7. Thanks Sharlene! I have been writing for a few years now. If I can just get it into my head to finish the book, then maybe I can make it work. Lol

    Thanks again!

  8. Interesting...will have to pass this along to a dear friend who would love to get published. Thanks Shar for sharing valuable info with us.

  9. Love, love, love your books! I'm so thankful that I found those first two by pure accident! If I hadn't, I would have missed out on getting to "know" an awesome person! Thanks for being so warm and transparent and just so... YOU!

  10. Good morning Sharlene! Thank you for the sound advice this morning. I am just beginning and as Cortney K wrote, "I have started writing several books bu can't seem to finish them" I have to say I am in the same boat. I'm not sure if Writer's Block sets in or the story just dies. I have gone back recently and picked up and started moving forward with one of them so we'll see where it goes.

    I do appreciate the hard work each and every author pours into their books. I do have some favorite authors and recognize their voices each time I pick up their books. Every once in awhile I will pick up a book from an author I've read and the voice may seem a little different...I just figure they were working in a different direction.

    I would love to be entered for your book. Thank you for your generosity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Thanks for a great, informative post.
    You all certainly have to pay your dues to get from processor to print.

    My 'book' still lies waiting.

  12. Sharlene, great advice! #9 is particularly helpful, and I'm glad I had wise published author friends who encouraged me to write the next book rather than tweak and play with the first one. Writing is much more fun than waiting :)

  13. Sharlene, I love your bills and I love you read. I wish that I had the talent and creative juices necessary to write a book. I do good to write the papers necessary for my degree.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Yesterday somebody asked me what I'd do with the time I spent on writing if I didn't write. A lot of things came to mind, but I feel like I'm where God wants me right now. These steps are helpful to see that I'm doing some things right in the journey.

    Thanks for the encouragement, and have a great day!

  16. Sharlene, I long to publish my manuscript, but it feels very complicated. As a historian as well as an arts columnist and part time history prof, I am pulled in too many directions. Maybe a full length book isn't for me? When does one 'give up' or just be realistic?


  17. Sharlene, I long to publish my manuscript, but it feels very complicated. As a historian as well as an arts columnist and part time history prof, I am pulled in too many directions. Maybe a full length book isn't for me? When does one 'give up' or just be realistic?


  18. Sharlene, thanks! This is an inspiring post. As in everything else, writing has a STEEP learning curve.
    Writers like you who are willing to share and encourage those of us still reaching, help us to stay on track, and are a blessing from God. :-)

    Have a wonderful day!

  19. Hi Sharlene, welcome to Seekerville! I love a 10 step program to anything! Give me a map and I will follow it.

    So much of our journey is trial and error. Your absolutely right about not losing hope if your dreams don't materialize right away. Keep at it. There is a time for everything and when your time comes, it is SO SWEET!!

  20. Oops, that should be you're, not your!!

  21. Thank you, Sharlene.
    I appreciated the part about not letting the flame go out. Mine has been flickering dangerously lately...but I'm hanging on to it and hoping to breathe new life to it in 2014.
    Kathy Bailey

  22. Wonderful, wonderful advice! Nothing trumps hard work and perseverance.

  23. Sharlene, thanks for sharing your story. I really appreciate your perspective. I'm curious, though. You mentioned that it was your fourth manuscript that eventually got published first. Once you found success, did any of the others of the first three ever get published?

  24. Sharlene, thanks for sharing your story. I really appreciate your perspective. I'm curious, though. You mentioned that it was your fourth manuscript that eventually got published first. Once you found success, did any of the others of the first three ever get published?

  25. Good morning, everyone - or good afternoon depending on where you are in your day! It is such a joy to sit here and read your comments. I hear an eagerness in many of your remarks, an eagerness to learn, to hone, and to somehow, someday reach that point of signing a contract that will lead you down the road to publication. I hope my ten steps were more of an encouragement than anything else. Yes, the road can be bumpy with many twists and turns, and sometimes it may even seem unnavigable (is that a word?), but it's NOT. It's possible with determination, perseverance, and, well, like I mentioned before, prayer.

    I was glad to read that Sharon Cherry plans to forward this info onto a friend of hers, thrilled to hear that Valerie loves my books, and that Cindy W. sees and appreciates the hard work and effort that go into writing a novel. Indeed it is, but if you are PASSIONATE about something, you can accomplish just about anything you set your mind to. Cindy W. also mentioned those two dreaded words: Writer's Block. WOW!!! THAT'S AN ARTICLE FOR ANOTHER TIME. And I would love to submit it here sometime. Does it really exist? What can you do about it? How do you plow through it? Is it just an excuse that writers like to use when they wake up in the morning and say, 'I don't feel like writing today.' ? Hmm.

    Thanks, too, for your comments, OldenTimes, Narelle, and anew31.

    Jackie, it's always encouraging when another writer reads one of my articles and gives positive feedback. We all NEED each other, don't we.

    Cynthia, you sound very busy. Like I mentioned in my article, too many irons in the fire will sometimes stop up your progress. It's a matter of setting priorities and then sticking to them. For me, it's GOD, FAMILY, WORK - in that order. When I keep those things straight in my heart and head, my greatest, God-given passions rise to the surface, and He lends guidance as to how to accomplish the things that are most important to Him and to me.

    Audra, I have to agree a 10-step program works for me. Put it in front of me, and I'll follow it. I bet you're a list person too. Haha. When I have a set number of chores that I MUST accomplish, I devise a list and work from it. It's the only way for me.

    Kaybee, thanks for your comment. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT let that flame go out. If you have a flicker of passion for writing, then try fueling it everyday by writing at least a page or two on whatever project you're working on. The more you write, the faster your flame comes back to life.

    Thanks, everybody!!!

    Love you all!

  26. Morning SHARLENE, Thank you for joining us here in Seekerville and thank you JULIE for bringing her. I so know what you are saying. I am always being approached with the same questions. I pretty much tell them the same things you did, but it is nice to have an article and list to refer them to. Thank you.

    Have fun today.

  27. And thank YOU, Sandra. So nice to see you here!

  28. Welcome to Seekerville, Sharlene! Wonderful advice for traveling the road to publication! Your ten steps list reveals there's no short cut to publication.
    All of those steps involve a cost--hard work, cash--and a never give up mindset.

    As a newbie writer I didn't understand how much I had to learn. I thought my first novel was wonderful. And it was, in that I'd accomplished something few people do when I typed The End. But that manuscript was full of telling, stilted dialogue, talking heads, huge passages of introspection and POV errors galore. To name a few of its problems. LOL As a published author I know more, but the truth is I have to keep alert for problems with every book I write.

    Your book looks wonderful!


  29. Writing, especially historical fiction, is a lot of work! Thanks for doing what it takes to write at a level of excellence. I have read all your books and would love to win a copy of this one!

  30. Sharlene, it's so nice to have you as our guest today! Wannabe writers need encouragement, but they also need to be aware of the very real hard work of writing. Like anything worth doing, there's a learning period. What musician ever really enjoyed practicing scales over and over and over?

    I will also never forget a bit of writing advice I heard many years ago. If you have a "real" job, you don't get to go in to the office only when you're in the mood or feel inspired. You go, you put in the hours, and you do the work.

    It's not all that different with writing. Rear end in chair with fingers on the keyboard is the only way those stories get written!

  31. Oh, Janet, isn't that the truth?

    Even after publishing my 13th book, I'm still constantly on the alert for problems. It's easy to grow a little careless too. Ugh. We are on this train called LEARNING, and if you want to stay on track with your writing, you can NEVER get off. Haha.

  32. Thank you so much, Rebecca. I LOVE hearing from my readers, especially the ones who tell me they've read all my books! Wow, my hat's off to you, girlfriend.

    Also, Myra, what can I say but AMEN and AMEN! There is no quitting, no giving up, no slacking. If you want to finish a book you can't hope to reach THE END by taking shortcuts.

    I will add this one minor point (Ha, not so minor really.) If you are under contract, then that word DEADLINE really helps to keep you motivated!

  33. wow such time and work go in the books, and i love them. would sure like to win
    Shirley Blanchard

  34. Sharlene, I can so relate to the woman who wrote to you because I wrote Catherine Coulter a letter when I first starting writing. Yes, it's a little embarrassing now, but Mrs. Coulter was very helpful. (This was before we could look everything up on the internet.) She suggested I join RWA and even took the time to look up the 2 closet chapters to me.

    And yes, I gave her a short description of my story. After all, it was Catherine's books that made me feel like I could write, surely she would recognize the brilliance of my idea. LOL.

    Just wanted to let you know, I think it's wonderful you take the time to try to help aspiring authors. Thanks for your post.

  35. I wish I was better at spelling & punctuation..I would try to write a book..I have some very cool stories rolling around in my head...

  36. Connie, I SO relate to what you just said about writing to Catherine Coulter. I wrote to Sally Stuart, the former author of A Christian Writer's Market Guide, great big thick manual that she had a team of people working on year after year to put out updated editions. Like you, I didn't have all the online resources then. Anyway, I too gave her the premise of my story (which of course was wonderful and exciting and the best ever written book of all time!). She was so kind to return an email to me. She encouraged me, and gave me several tips and directions to take. I'm still amazed by her generosity.

    It is our privilege, and in some cases, responsibility, to help aspiring writers.

  37. Penni, don't worry too much about spelling and punctuation, especially when writing your first draft. If you have a bunch of ideas swirling around in your head that need to come out, go for it.

    You can work on the editing aspect later.

    And don't forget - there is always spell-check!

  38. Thank you for the encouragement, Sharlene! My third manuscript is out on submission to an agent, and I'm working on my fourth. The first two are in a drawer, as they ought to be. :-) What a learning curve! But it's so helpful to have encouragers like you cheering us on. Thanks!

  39. Sharlene, that's so funny. I think so many of us have gone through the same issues trying to figure out where to go for help.

    When I told my family I had written a book, they'd all say, "Why don't you send it in." I kept thinking, yeah, but to who? And I just type it up, throw it a box, and send it in? Ok.

    I can relate to Cortney and Cindi so I better to get writing.

  40. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, SHAR ... SOOOO GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE!! To celebrate, today we have coffee-cake heaven with cinnamon peach, pecan cinnamon swirl, chocolate cheese and regular cream cheese, and apple crumb with LOTS of cinnamon hazelnut coffee and peppermint tea, so dig in!!

    And I'm a sluggard this morning, rolling out of bed late due to being up WAY, WAY too late!! But I sure don't have to worry about you, you go-getter, you, the hostess with the mostest!!

    This is SUCH an important topic with great advice that everyone can use, Shar, so THANK YOU!!

    LOVE #10 especially: Keep feeding your flame of passion. Love is what kindles the flame in the beginning, but it's PASSION that makes that fire roar to life.

    Soooooo true!! LOL ... "passion" was my one word in 2012, then "fire" in 2013, and now "blaze" in 2014. Do you sense a pattern??? ;)

    Love you, my friend!


  41. Meghan, you GO, girl! I am always so excited to hear when writers tell me they have like four manuscripts, even if they're unpublished! If you finished them, you are an AUTHOR!!!

    Like I said earlier, it is so much more fun to WRITE than to WAIT. So, while that ms is sitting on an agent's desk, start carving out your next novel - and your next.

    Here's what happened to me. When I finally landed my first book contract - and the book did quite well in the market - my publisher asked, "Do you happen to have anything else in the wings?"

    I was so excited to answer with a resounding, "Do I ever!"

    It always pays to keep writing because you never know when those extra manuscripts are going to come in handy.

    Blessings on your writing passions.

  42. Julie, I just sent you an email a half hour ago to say I LOVE YOU! But now that I see you here at Seekerville I get to say it again. I love you!!!

    People, Julie Lessman should have been named Julie MOREman, because she is the woman who just keeps giving and giving and giving. Of course, I'm glad she's a Lessman 'cause I know she married the right guy!
    Still, just sayin'.

    It is my pleasure and privilege to have been a guest at Seekerville. Anytime...and I mean that sincerely.

    By the way...when can I expect all those goodies you mentioned to arrive at my doorstep? Any minute now???


  43. HI SHARLENE! It's so great to have you here in Seekerville! I just got your new book! YAY!

    I'd add another one to your list of ten.

    Write what you love to read.

    That's not always true but it stands to reason that if you love romantic suspense maybe you should at least give it a whirl because you might have so much FUN with it.

  44. Sharlene, you are an anointed writer and author. I love your heart, your passion and love for Jesus. May He continue to bless you as you continue to write.
    Donna Fagerstrom

  45. Welcome to Seekerville, Sharlene.

    Loved reading your post. Thanks for sharing the road you walked to publication.

    Thinking of the writing life as a journey has helped me. Most things that are important in life take time and effort. Writing is no different. Set goals, but don't be discouraged when success doesn't come overnight. It may for some, but most of us work long and hard to achieve our dreams.

    Stay warm!

  46. Yes, yes, yes! Please enter me, Sharlene.
    As for that list, it is so true. I've only been writing six months, and already I've learned MANY valuable lessons.
    (Does anyone else cringe when they look at their first ms?)
    Happy writing, all!

  47. Am not an author but know at least 2 or 3 in my family that are working on it. Going to share your advice. Thank you so much. Love to read and have in the past written over 60 poems. God bless.

  48. Hi, Mary! I LOVE your #11 - Write what you love! That is so true. I cannot possibly write a novel without making romance my number one component. Why? Because I love, love! (I should say it's actually my #2 component, as sharing the gospel message is my top priority.)

    Donna, thanks so much for your kind words. So good to hear from you, you sweet lady!

    Debby, thanks for tacking on some important points.

    Crystal, you asked, "Does anyone else cringe when writing their first manuscript?" Um, listen, Crystal, I haven't written a manuscript YET that hasn't made me cringe in places. No author ever feels like he/she has reached a point of perfection, and if he has, then he's thinking a little too highly of himself. We are all human, we err, and we continually edit. The key is to keep pressing upward and onward. Love talking to newbies such as yourself. Keep your passion alive!

    Bonnie, exactly what do you mean by saying you're not an author? You have written 60 poems. Believe me when I say you're an author. Keep those wheels turning!

    Blessings, all!

  49. Thank you so much, Mary Hicks and Keith. Don't know how I missed your posts before, but I did.

    Regarding your question about my previous manuscripts, yes! They did find a publishing home.

    That's why I suggest you don't write just one novel and then hang all your hopes on it. If it never publishes all you'll have is a novel sitting in storage that may never see the light of day. KEEP WRITING. I can't stress that enough. KEEP WRITING, KEEP WRITING, KEEP WRITING!

    That's exactly what I did. I wrote a novel, then another, then another, and yet another. It was that fourth one that first published. Afterward my publisher asked if I had anything else in the wings, and I could say, "Why yes, as a matter of fact..."

  50. Sharlene, how to you balance your writing with life? Any tips you'd care to share?


  51. I love the article; so many times people get discouraged with their own writing. Thank you for sharing this with us and the chance to win one of your books.
    God BLess!

  52. Sharlene, thanks for the great suggestions. So many of them apply to both published and non-published writers. It's really important to keep learning the craft.

  53. thanks for sharing the ten step process. a nice list to double check as i work towards publication. i fortunately haven't wrote any "embarrassing" letters to authors - mainly because Seekerville exists and has educated me well on the writing process. of course, i've probably had some cringe worthy moments and "duh" thoughts in the comment section here - but everyone is so nice to ignore the "duh" and answer with wisdom.

    i'm always up for winning a new book from Seekerville - it helps feed my reading habit.

    thanks for visiting and adding to my lessons learned/learning, Sharlene!

  54. Hi Sharlene,

    It's nice to 'meet' you! What wonderful tips to aspiring authors. It is a daunting road to publication and not for the faint of heart.

    I was blessed to receive my first contract this fall with White Rose Publishing (after about 10 years of writing and submitting) and my first book "Betrayed Hearts" will come out this year. Can you say 'rocky road to Dublin'? An experience which I think most authors can relate to. LOL.

    Finding like-minded authors who were willing to give advice was one of the greatest things that happened on my journey. I hope to do the same for others!

    Love to be in the draw!


  55. P.S. Who is your publisher and are all your books from the same one?

  56. Hi Sharlene, nice to meet you here :) I'll be sending aspiring writers to this post when they ask about getting published :)


    Great steps. You forgot one.



  58. Welcome to Seekerville, Cynthia Melendy, olden times, Valerie and Sharon Cherry.

    We've got Ruthy's famous carrot cake today. So pull up a seat and let's enjoy Sharlene!!!

  59. And a big Seekerville welcome to Bonnie Traher, Donna Fagerstrom and Kathy Burdette.

    Let's pull out the scones too. This is quite a crowd.

  60. And a big Seekerville welcome to Bonnie Traher, Donna Fagerstrom and Kathy Burdette.

    Let's pull out the scones too. This is quite a crowd.

  61. From a readers viewpoint this really makes me appreciate not only the creativity of my favorite authors but also their dedication. We readers don't often think about everything that goes into getting a book published.

  62. I've nearly finished my first manuscript, now I'm debating continuing with the series or going with a completely new project.

    So interesting that you pubbed on your 4th story! I've heard that from several authors. I'd love to see a broad author survey about which # manuscript it was they published first!

    Thanks for this post, Sharlene! It gives me a lot to ponder!

  63. Well Natalie, I have an unofficial survey coming up in February on that topic.

    Small data base.

  64. Sharlene, great tips. Thanks so much for sharing. Numbers 2 and 9 are a couple that have really helped me out.

  65. HI Sharlene! I love that so many of us waited until later in life to finally pick up the pen and start writing. I've always believed I'd write. As I raised my kids and worked long hours in my career, Ecclesiastics chimed in my heart - to everything there is a season. Thanks for your wise words.

  66. Hi Sharelene, thanks for all the tips!

  67. LOL, SHAR ... "People, Julie Lessman should have been named Julie MOREman" ...

    That's a new one for me, girl, so THANK YOU!! I usually get, "Less-man, More-woman" ... ;)

    And right back at ya, my friend, but we already know JUST how much alike we are ... you poor thing!!


  68. LOL ... TINA SAID:

    "Great steps. You forgot one. LEARN TO TOLERATE DUST."

    May I give that a big AMEN ... especially if you live in my house!


  69. NATALIE SAID: "I'd love to see a broad author survey about which # manuscript it was they published first!"

    Oh, me too, and like Tina said, she's got one coming. Should be fun!

    One of the things I find REALLY interesting is that our Mary Connealy wrote something like 20 books before she sold the 1st one, but she's shot to the top so quickly, that now those first books that may not have been snarfed up right away are NOW bestsellers. SO ... just because you don't sell till several ms. down the road, does not mean they are all bad or unsalvageable.


  70. SHAR!!!!! Welcome to Seekerville, my precious friend!

    LOVED your post today - - but that's no surprise, because you already know I LOVE your books...and YOU!!

    I already have Heart of Mercy (it's NEXT in my TBR stack!!) and I know I'll enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed ALL your books!!
    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

  71. p.s. OOOPS!! Meant to add that Julie was right about her comment - - Sharlene is absolutely one of THE sweetest people you'll ever meet!! I had the honor and pleasure of meeting her in person at my very first ACFW conference (I attended it not knowing ANYONE there) and she asked me to sit with her at the Awards Banquet!! I was THRILLED, and after she teased me about my southern accent, I knew I'd found a TRUE FRIEND!!! I love this lady!! :)

  72. Hi Sharlene

    Thanks for the tips. I have a marketing question. You have a very active FB page. Do you connect with many readers that way?

    BTY, I love your cat, Blue. You can't post enough pics of him.

  73. Anything in life worth doing is hard work. I believe the Lord designed us to be fulfilled when we work hard to accomplish goals. Of Course there are always those like Sharlene who make it look effortless because of their passion, commitment to God, and their love for their fans. I feel that God placed His hand on Sharlene and is doing His will so I think that if we all seek to know the plan and goal God has for our lives we will be as successful as she is.

  74. Oh. My. Goodness Gracious!!! I don't know if I can keep up here. I don't want to leave anybody out, but I may have to resort to just concentrating on answering questions as I see them and commenting on a few things that really stand out to me.

    THANK YOU, EVERYBODY for stopping by and taking the time to leave your comments. I so appreciate it!

    1. Janet Dean asked how I balance my time between writing and life. THAT is one of the hardest things for me to do. Every day is a little different. Some days I don't write because I have appointments, I need to run errands, I spend time with my grandchildren, and the list continues. And some days all I do for twelve straight hours is write! One thing for which I am eternally grateful is my wonderful marriage. Were it not for my supportive husband, it would be hard to spend as much time at my computer as I do. Thankfully, he has a life! He's busy as can be, and neither one of us is what you'd call extra "needy". I guess after 38 years together, we've learned a lot of give and take.

    2. Susan Anne, I just have to say CONGRATULATIONS on landing that first contract. What a wonderful accomplishment. Also, yes, I have been with the same publisher for the past seven years, Whitaker House.

    3. I have to say that I too cracked up at the comment about learning to ignore DUST. Is that ever true. I might add learn to ignore a cluttered desk. When you're mind is traveling at the speed of light and your fingers just as fast, you forget about the piled up dishes, stacks of books, scattering of papers, and the scraps of paper lying on the floor.

    4. Patti Jo, my southern belle, you are always the light of my life. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your kind comments. Love you!!!

    5. Elaine asked if I connect with a lot of readers via Facebook. YES!!! It is my #1 method for corresponding/connecting with them. I HAVE TO SAY I LOVE FACEBOOK! I don't really "use" it to sell my books. I use it mostly to socialize, have fun, tell goofy stories, get serious, share prayer requests, and generally just show people that I'm REAL. I'm SERIOUSLY FLAWED. And I love God and am so thankful to Him for redeeming me. I think my books sell as sort of a result of people getting to know me. Facebook is my "teacher's lounge" - it's where I go when I need a break from writing and just want to talk to somebody. If I sell a few books along the way, great. If I don't, I'm more about PEOPLE than THINGS.

    I love you all. Thanks so much for leaving your comments, questions, and compliments. You're all so great!

  75. Sharlene, welcome to Seekerville! I'm late stopping by the village today, but so delightful to read your ten steps....

    Wonderful blog and congratulations on your continued success. Julie I'm all over that food!!! Thank you!

    And it's fun to see how much you guys like each other, the amount of respect you show one another. Let me just say I'm smiling, seeing it. Truly smiling!!!

    I'm grabbing some of the pecan swirl and then getting back to WIP.... Sharlene, bless you!

  76. Hello, Ruth. Good to see you as well.

  77. >> If you catch yourself using a phrase or repeating words you’ve already used or read somewhere, even if it’s not a cliché, try rewording so it will be “yours” and no one else’s.<<

    Wonderful advice! When I'm reading a book, I so enjoy a word or expression or description that is one I've never read or heard before. I understand why writers don't want something they write to stop a reader but sometimes I just have to stop and wonder "How did s/he do that?"

    Thanks for both sharing and encouraging!

    Nancy C

  78. Shar, I am so glad to be a member of your Facebook page so I can find out about wonderful articles like this about you!! How long do we have to wait for our next taste of Tennessee?? I already cant wait! Crossing my fingers that I am the lucky one to win a signed copy of "Heart of Mercy". Love you and love your writing!!

  79. Thanks for the affirmation, Nancy C.

    Risa, the feelings are mutual. So glad to be YOUR friend! Isn't Facebook grand the way it brings us all so close together?

    Love and Hugs...

  80. As a reader I am forever grateful for all the writers who persevere.

  81. This comment has been removed by the author.

  82. Sharlene -
    Thank you for your post. It is always a pleasure to get sound advice on writing well and for me, it did just that. Thanks for taking the time to encourage other writers.

  83. Wow, there is a lot more to getting a book published than I realized. Makes me appreciate authors that much more.

    Please enter my name in the drawing to win a copy of Heart of Mercy.

  84. I would love any chance to win one of your books. I have been at hospital for three days with my husband - what started as high heart rate turned into much more. Lots going on. Love you - GOd bless.
    jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

  85. I would love any chance to win one of your books. I have been at hospital for three days with my husband - what started as high heart rate turned into much more. Lots going on. Love you - GOd bless.
    jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

  86. I'm so sorry I didn't get by yesterday, Sharlene! What a great post! I especially love this quote:

    Never, never, NEVER (did I say never?) allow discouragement to eat a hole in you big enough to kill your heart's passion.

    Thanks so much for sharing your great advice.