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California-born Oklahoma raised, author Shirley McLain is a retired RN, enjoying her retirement in Sapulpa, Oklahoma writing poetry, short stories, and novels. She has seen much, not only in her travels but in her survey of the human heart as a nurse, and she comes to this historical fiction novel DOBYNS CHRONICLES with a sound sense of appreciation of the terrain of Texas and Oklahoma, the durability of the pioneer men and women about whom she writes, and a special appreciation for Native American history.
Shirley has a strong love of family both past and present. She is married to a wonderful man who spoils her and she loves it. She has two grown children, six grandchildren and twin great-grand sons. Her wish is to pass on this love of family and the land to her family, as it was passed down to her from her mother.
Shirley also has a fur family of four dogs and three cats. Andy is a Cocker, Angel a teacup poodle, Booker is a Yorkie, and Gus is a Pug/Shih Tzu She says it's like living with a house full of three year olds. Two of the cats have been bottle raised and all three are short haired "whatever's." There's never a dull or lonely moment. Someone is always into something.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Oklahoma? I love my state with all of its varied nuances. It changes from one day to the next. I love sharing little things about the area where I live in my writing. It keeps me grounded and draws me into the stories more. Even if I don’t mention the state by name it is also in my writing somewhere. I do have pride in my state and being able to share it with others.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? My mother was my inspiration. I have always been a reader and I did a lot of writing growing up and I enjoyed it. My mother gave me a lot of encouragement along the way. My most recent book ‘Dobyns Chronicles’ was thanks to my mother and her stories. Story telling was one of her most favorite things to do, especially towards the end of her life. She inspired me then and still does even though she is no longer with me here on this earth.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? When I retired from being an RN after 32 years, I woke one morning with it on my mind that I was going to write a book. I got up, had my breakfast and set down in front of the computer and started writing. I didn’t stop until I’d completed my first book, “The Tower.”
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? As I explained in the previous question, my mother raised my sister and myself on stories or her life and the lives of people of around her. Those stories had a great effect on me and the writing I have done.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? I come up with a title before I usually write anything. That’s not to say it doesn’t get changed a couple of times along the way, but usually my first choice is what wins.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I don’t have a particular genre that I write it. I write whatever my muse leads me to when I sit down to write. My first book was a young adult fictional mystery, my book of short stories has different genres from love stories to fantasy and horror.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? My mother was my spark and growing up with the stories about my great-grandfather, Charley Dobyns. I knew for many years that somehow I was going to tell his story.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? I think the most rewarding experience has been coming up with something and creating a work that I think people will enjoy. It’s very satisfying also when something you have been working on for many months is finally ended and you get that print copy in your hand.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I can’t say I have had a negative experience with my writing.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Getting a book into the hands of people who really enjoyed the story.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? The only negative experience I had was after I published my first book. I was very unhappy with the publisher but what I learned was that I didn’t know anything about how that industry worked. The more I read and asked questions helped me understand how business is done.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? If you have an urge to write, don’t let negative conversation in your head talk you out of it. If you sit down and let go you can write. Don’t worry about dotting I’s or crossing T’s, just let the story flow from you. The tweaking can be done later.
Who is your favorite author and why? I would say Diane Gabeldon. She is such a vivid writer and her words draw me into the story. I am very fond of her ‘Outlander Series’. It covers many different genres. She is very eclectic as I am.
Dobyns Chronicles is a captivating celebration of the life of Charlie Dobyns. His life began in northeast Texas near Bonham, on the Red River. His Cherokee mother and cowboy father strove to survive on their river valley ranch. Tragedy ended this way of life for Charlie in 1888. Follow him through Chickasaw Territory and on to McAlester in eastern Oklahoma.
This is a story of a changing way of life and adaptations made to survive. Charlie's strong passion for life and dignity equipped him for survival as he raised his siblings with, likeability and dignity. It’s a story of loss, misfortune, hard times and heartbreak, but also love, determination, kindness, joy and spirituality.
Follow Charlie’s life through the adventures that shaped the man he became, and that of his family for generations.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Cold Coffee Press Book Review For Dobyns Chronicles: A Boy Becomes A Man – by Shirley McLain
‘Dobyns Chronicles’ starts out with a picture of an Indian Territory Map which I especially enjoyed looking at. This story gives the reader a true taste of what life was like in the 1890’s. The setting is in Chickasaw Territory, North East Texas and in Eastern Oklahoma.
Turning the page from this map to chapter one, line one, the reader is struck with “OLD AGE IS hell, but it’s something all of us have to go through” and shortly thereafter another line that reads “You never know what road life will lead you down. Pa told me when I was a little boy, “You just have to take a deep seat and hang on for the ride.” He sure told the truth.”
Vivid story telling with beautiful old lines like “the heavens opened up and let loose with one of those toad soakers” draws the reader into the time period. Truer than life characters that pull at the reader’s heart strings as their lives show the harshness and simplicity of times gone by. Shirley McLain’s characters like Charley have a strong sense of family, friends, community and faith which carries him from youth to being the matriarch of a large family leaving behind an incredible legacy.
Life in the 1890’s is based on survival off the land and animals like the pigs that provided food such as “crackling corn bread out of the fried cracklings”. This story will remind the reader what travel was like in horse draw wagons that took days to complete 85 miles. Days gone by with the children had three sets of clothes, work/pay clothes, school/street clothes and our Sunday best. Old time remedies like mudpacks to keep the mosquitoes off and the use of Indian herbal medicine. A time when death was only an arm’s length away due the circumstances of the times. A story of a young boy who is forced to become a man, a time when wages were $20.00 a month and a time where horses, buggies, trains, trolleys and carpetbags were of importance. You will read great conversations, family letters and experience home, heart, love and a home birth produces a son that makes one man’s world complete.
Story telling is an art form and Shirley McLain is an artist. If you have any sense of history and/or had grandparents or someone older tell you stories than this book will make your heart skip a beat and your mind to go in places where it hasn’t been in while. This amazing family chronicle brought back memories for me growing up with an older generation that kept me spell bound by their stories. I have often thought as a society we have lost the art of storytelling. Shirley McLain has brought encouragement back to my soul. She did her historical research and has family stories of her own no doubt cleverly woven into this story.
Cold Coffee Press endorses ‘Dobyns Chronicles: A Boy Becomes A Man’ - by Shirley McLain as an inspiring historical fiction that will send chills up and down your spine, keep you glued to the pages and remind you of an era gone by that must not be forgotten. http://www.coldcoffeepress.com
Posted on September 23, 2014 at 5:30pm