Friday, May 1, 2015

Sharon McGregor's Acres of Dreams

Acres of Dreams can fill your heart or break it.

In 1899 Katy, a young Irish girl, is sent to stay with her sister in Toronto. Her family intends her to find a husband, but Katy has other ideas. Then one night an incident dashes her plans for a career as well as her family's hopes for a suitable husband. Katy has no intention of being sent home in disgrace. Instead the opportunity opens to start a new life on a prairie homestead. As Katy journeys west, will she find love or will she face heartbreak?

Sharon reveals her inspiration for her new novel with a premise drawn from her family history:

My grandmother died when I was thirteen. Although she lived half of each year with us, I realize in looking back that I missed getting to know her.

Grandmother came from Ireland as a young woman in her early twenties sent, I'm sure, by her family to find a suitable husband. She spent time in Toronto with one married sister and in Chicago with another. Eventually she met and married a cousin and moved westward to the prairies with him, setting up a homestead farm.

Strangely I don't remember her talking about her family left behind in Ireland. There were twelve of them, half remaining in the "Old Country" and half emigrating to North America. The only one she talked about was her twin brother John, who started a small church outside Chicago and was with the Red Cross. I still have a picture of him, a handsome man in his Red Cross uniform. I never even knew the names of my great aunts and uncles until I made contact a few years ago with a third cousin in Belfast. It was as though Grandmother shucked off her old life and began a new one in this country. Was she angry with her family for sending her here? Was losing contact too painful to think about? I'll never know.

I want to know all about her, about her early life in Ireland, about growing up in such a large family, about crossing the ocean to an unknown country. How did she feel? What were her fears? How did she handle the loneliness in a vast empty land? Now it's too late and I could kick myself for not having the curiosity as a child to ask her.

Writing Acres of Dreams was a vicarious way of reconnecting with my grandmother. My heroine, Katy, begins in the same situation. The rest of the story is, of course, fiction. But, somehow, in writing this story I felt much closer to my grandmother, as though I had discovered her in a new way.

Lee: The title is beautiful. I was just reading an article on coming up with creative titles. How did you come up with this one?
Sharon: Acres of Dreams came from the name of a museum display on homesteading.
Lee: That's a good thing for historical authors to remember. Would you share an excerpt for our readers?

That night at the dance, she looked around at the familiar faces. They were the same ones she’d been seeing all week. Even her cousin, Robert, and his friend, Dan, were there, having a last social fling before their self banishment to the West. Martin was the first to ask her to dance. He swirled her away to a corner where he slowed the tempo and held her much closer than was comfortable.

She tried to pull away. “I need some air,” she said.

“Wonderful. Let’s go out on the balcony.” She tried to hang back, but his hand was firm on her arm. Once on the balcony he pulled her closer and, leaning down, kissed her full on the mouth.

“Stop it!” she said. “You’re being much too familiar, Martin. I’m going back inside.”

His response was to kiss her again, running his hands down her back with a most distressing familiarity. Now she was becoming frightened and pushed at him with all her strength.

“You are a little hellcat aren’t you? I knew from the way you responded at your sister’s that night that you were full of fire.” He pulled her around the corner into a dimly lit area of the garden, smothering her protests with his lips.

Katy had never been treated like this before. All the men she knew either treated her with respect or teased her like brothers. She lifted her foot and brought her heel down hard on his. He gave a yelp of pain and she managed to free herself, but her dress tore the entire way down the front as she escaped his grasp.

Robert had seen Katy leave the dance floor with Martin. But he had also seen a look on Katy’s face that made him follow. She had not looked at all pleased. He’d also noticed that Martin’s hand was tight on Katy’s arm.

When he found them at the end of the garden, Katy was crying and holding torn bits of her dress to her chest. Robert had never in his life felt the anger that rose in him at the sight of a sobbing, frightened Katy. He grabbed Martin by the shoulder, turned him around, and smashed his fist satisfactorily into that gloating smile.

Lee: That's quite a scene, and one which many of us empathize with. Following is a bio, which gives our readers a personal look at this talented author:

Sharon McGregor is a west coast transplant from the Canadian prairies, on a mission to escape the cold. Her imagination and story weaving got its start when she was an only child living on a farm. She's moved on from cowgirl dreams to romance and mystery, but hasn't lost her love for horses. She writes humour, romance and cozies, sometimes a combination of all three.

When not writing or reading, she is busy working in a shop she owns with her daughter, or walking the dogs along the ocean.

In spite of her attempts to escape winter, she loves watching her grandchildren at figure skating and hockey.

The main item not yet ticked on her bucket list is travel. She wants to set her foot on six continents—she'll give Antarctica a pass, thank you.

Sharon is offering a free e-book copy of her book to someone who leaves a comment below. Please write your contact info disguised from evil robots like this: LeeCarver2 (at) aol (dot)com. If you would like to stay in touch with new publications and offers, click on this page to become a follower. I'd love to have you aboard!

At the time of this blog posting, the e-book of Acres of Dreams may be purchased for a mere 99 cents on Amazon at:
Or simply type in the title in Amazon's search blank. Check the price in case this changes.


Deanna Stevens said...

I would enjoy reading Acres of Dreams, your excerpt has me wanting to know if the fight was on or he took the punch & apologized ? Thanks for a chance to win a copy :)
dkstevensneAT outlookDoTC oM

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Sharon,

What a great scene, and the whole plot makes me want to read the book. And Lee, I like your Truth in fiction theme…just read your sidebar about that philosophy. I say the more truth in fiction, the better! Our readers can handle it.

Thanks for this post,

Gail Kittleson

Joy Avery Melville said...

I'm sure I'd love reading Acres of Dreams - I have often wondered MORE and MORE as I grow older about the grandparents I used to spend so much time with - their past - their aspirations and hoped-fors that might have or not - taken place - if only we could go back with the knowledge we have today. . .RIGHT.
GREAT POST, LEE and Sharon.

Heather Lindsey said...

I loved this novel. It struck many emotions as the story weaved through the struggles of the time. Lindsey Paley

Terri Wangard said...

I used family history for my first novel (due in January), and I hope to write one inspired by my great-great aunt, an amazing woman for her day. That connection makes the stories so much more meaningful.
Great post.
tlw131 [at] gmail [dot] com

Lee Carver said...

Joy, my mother knew all of both families and everyone in our small town, not to mention cooking and canning and jelly making. So many times I wish I could ask her something. And then there's all the history.

Lee Carver said...

Gail, nothing makes me lose interest in a novel as fast as knowing what the author wrote couldn't happen. A trip to Mars like in Randy Ingermanson's books? No problem. He sets it up as entirely possible. But I edited a book in a previous year with at least five events that just wouldn't have happened--and the book was published without changes. I really disliked that novel.

Lee Carver said...

Terri, I wish you very good fortune on your books. I'll be looking for your name when they come out.

Sharon McGregor said...

That would be telling,Deanna. :)

Sharon McGregor said...

Gail, Lee certainly hosts a wonderful blog. I appreciate her letting me be part of it today.

Sharon McGregor said...

Joy, it's too bad we didn't realize when we were younger (at least in my case) that one day the window of opportunity to discover more about our grandparents will just close up.

Sharon McGregor said...

Glad you enjoyed Acres of Dreams, Lindsey.

Sharon McGregor said...

I hope to hear more soon about your novel, Terri. As you can tell, I enjoy a story with roots in the past.