Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

. . . Authentic and Intense


COVID 19 Day ??

Counter Point cover

Yep, I’ve lost count. I think we’re at maybe day 20 or 21 for our isolation, but keeping that count is more depressing than encouraging.

I’ve decided that I’m going to start counting something else. Beginning tomorrow, I’m going to start posting serial readings of my novel COUNTER POINT. Hopefully, we’ll reach the end of our quarantine before we reach the end of the book. If we don’t, you’ll deserve the ending of the book. But if we do, I’ll put the e-book on sale to celebrate the end of our quarantine! Yea!

Here’s a little about the book:

Someone is determined to finish a murdered hit man’s final assignment.

Her father’s gone. Her diner’s closing. Her car’s in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose. Except her life. And a madman’s bent on taking that away.

Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart.

Keeping Cat safe from a fallen cartel leader might prove impossible for Ray, but after seeing his mission destroyed and several godly people killed, he knows better than to ignore the man’s threats. Cat’s resistance to his protection and the stirring of his long-denied feelings for her complicate his intentions, placing them both in a fight for their lives.

How can a small-town girl survive when ultimate power wants her dead?

So I’ll be counting up the chapters and scenes on that instead of the days of our spring of isolation. Join me here. Ask me questions or make comments. You can even share you experiences that might be like some of the things that go on in the book. (No spoilers if you’ve already read it though!☺)

Until tomorrow, and spread the word! I’d love to chat with y’all!

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How are you Keeping Your Sanity? (Covid Isolation, Day 15)

Beginning week 3 of our isolation. I can’t say that I’m really feeling isolated, though. I’m getting a little tired of my laptop, but I’m loving connecting with people over Zoom.

We had family game night on Saturday with family and friends from Fort Worth, McKinney, Grapevine, Carrollton, and Royse City. In all, about 100 miles apart. We looked a lot like the Brady Bunch introduction! LOL!

I’ve learned that you can play Pictionary/Win, Lose, or Draw using the Zoom whiteboard app. And keeping the chat open, we played Jackbox and Dominion online in a couple of groups. We’ve had so much fun with this, we’re scheduling another one of these.

What are you doing to keep your sanity during these weeks? Are you way busier than you have been of feeling sort of in limbo? Besides our collective “release,” what are you looking forward to in the next couple of weeks.

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Covid 19 Day 11

Been talking with my family through the house on our Alexa system. Even brought in my son as an “Alexa call.” We’re finding new ways to meet and plan to have a family game night later this week – remotely of course.

I’m beginning to love Zoom. Had a chat with my daughter just now. Last night, I tried to do some Facebook “LIVE” chats with some author friends to see how usable it was. The lag time is more than half a minute. By lag time, I mean that I said “Go” on the video and at least 34 seconds later, those watching heard it. That’s a substantial lag time. Hard to do any engagement that way.

On Zoom, there’s hardly any lag time at all. In fact, I think I might have told you, but my daughter’s Bible study group is going to play a version of Pictionary – that drawing charades game – on Zoom tomorrow night. I’m hoping my ladies’ Bible study can use it so we can continue to “meet.”

Stay tuned. I’m going to see if I can use it as a video blog here tomorrow. Cross your fingers! LOL!

Stay safe. Wash your hands. And let me know if I can be praying for you for anything specific!


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Covid 19 Day 10

House Party!

Wait, what? My county has issued a shelter-in-place order, so how can we be having a house party?

My daughters are having a blast with a new app. They’re getting a chance to “hang” with their friends while they paint or bake, or do homework, or browse Instagram. In this app, their friends are right there, doing their own things and at any moment one of them will laugh and share what they’ve seen or read with the others. Sometimes they chat, but often they’re just enjoying feeling like they are together again.

What a cool app!

And that isn’t the only one. One of my twins is on the worship team for her young adult group. While she’s not able to lead worship for her group, they are meeting through a program called Zoom. This meeting program allows people to meet with up to 100 others for 30 minutes at a time for free. And the ability to have longer meetings is only $15 and change for a month. Very reasonable.

I was so intrigued by the concept I ended up having a meeting with some of the Write Integrity Press, LLC authors. It was so much fun “meeting” these gals and we had a great chat about books and plans and other things.

This is part of our group during our meeting: Fay Lamb, me, Harriet Michael, Andrea Thom, Stacey Weeks, and Betty Thomason Owens. What a great avenue for “coffee” chats and book clubs or Bible studies – even small groups. I’m so going to come up with ways to use this platform to engage folks!

Wanna chat?

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COVID 19 Shutdown Day 8

Getting bored yet? Have you thought about having a family game night, or even a couple game night?

Friday night delight with the family and a good NANCY DREW interactive mystery! If you haven’t tried the Her Interactive games, you should! Mysteries and puzzles that last for days, even for adults.

Our mystery is the latest, “Midnight in Salem.” And it’s okay, but many of them are much better. “The White Wolf of Icicle Creek Lodge” is my favorite. My kids favor “Phantom of Venice” and “The Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.

Did you do anything just for fun this weekend?

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COVID19 Shutdown Day 6 Prayer Break

My pastor, Brent Taylor, posted this prayer chart on Facebook today and it deserves reposting. I have to say though, that it is missing something.

Pray for yourself. You are here, in this moment, appointed by God to be His perfect instrument for a specific job that will impact the kingdom and bring Him glory. It might be within your own family. It might be reaching out online or by phone to give comfort and encouragement to others. Pray that God will reveal to you your options for “touching” others during this time and that He will protect you so you can press on to make the impact on His kingdom that He has laid out for you to make.

So how are you and your family through this temporary “shut-down?” Do you have any prayer requests that I can lift up for you?

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COVID 19 Shutdown, Day 4

My daughter reminded me as I set out our plans for the next few weeks that this virus is no surprise to our Father.

This song inspired me and I wanted to share it with you!

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COVID19 Shutdown, Day Three – Laugh Break

Just wanted you to know! *Snicker.*

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COVID19 Shutdown, Day Two

Are you climbing the walls yet?

In virtual interactions with folks, I’m finding four main reactions to all that is happening to our “world” amid the Covid 19 spread.

1. The panic-driven are hearing the gloom and doom from some media outlets and seeing the emptying shelves at the store and . . . well, reacting.

My daughter-in-law went to the store yesterday for black beans. She just needed two cans to complete a recipe but found the canned food aisle full of people and almost empty shelves. One man put his cart against a shelf and shoved all of the cans from it directly into his basket. My d-i-l was able to snag two of the last four cans (only the high-dollar stuff was left), but she couldn’t get out of the area. She found herself completely trapped on the canned food aisle and had to finally raise her voice to get people to let her out of the aisle. She didn’t even have a cart, just needed a path. (That should be the title of a song: TRAPPED ON THE CANNED FOOD AISLE! Lol!)

And I’m not even going to start on the fights that have broken out. Over bottled water? Really? This isn’t a hurricane where you have to be worried about the water. But then there’s the situation with the toilet paper. Okay, okay! I get that folks might be concerned they might have trouble getting to a grocery store should they get sick, but how much do you use in a month?

I actually got caught up in the toilet paper thing. Not on purpose, but after having it unavailable for my last two Walmart orders, we were . . . well, in dire need! Down to two rolls and those were getting pretty slender. So I went on a TP treasure hunt. Thankfully, I found plenty at the first store I visited, Kroger, and got the two packages that I normally buy. I felt so conspicuous walking out of that store with nothing but toilet paper and ice cream. (Kroger has the best store-brand ice cream! LOVE it!) I’m thinking everyone is taking pictures of the crazy pandemic panicker. “Can’t survive without my toilet paper and chocolate ice cream.” LOL!

2. The scoffers are the second group. I hate using the word scoffer because it sounds so mean, but I know I’ve been guilty of being in this group. It’s easy to laugh at some of the bizarre behavior that the fear is bringing out. But this sort of threat does build up fear – terror. The extreme of the scoffing is more what I’m talking about with this group, though.

I read an article last week that made me shudder. Someone posted a meme about the virus. We are America. “Bring it on.” Yikes! There’s a time for national pride – the Olympics for instance. But I don’t think the little varmints jumping from one carrier to another are going to be impressed when they land on an American.

It brought to mind Ephesians 6:12. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I know there are folks today who beat their chest like King Kong, thinking they are invincible. They not only don’t fear; they invite the monsters to attack. Reckless and, yes, foolish, they have no idea what they are doing, what they are welcoming. And unfortunately, invincibility only lasts for a lifetime.

3. There’s a third type that isn’t as vocal or daring as the second group, but can be just as proud and reckless. These are the nay-sayers. I used to believe that ostriches really buried their heads in the sand when they were threatened. (They don’t, by the way.) But as a child (anytime I got scared), I pulled the covers over my head and shut my eyes. If I couldn’t see anything evil, then it couldn’t see me either, right?

No, not then and not now. But there are many people who are determined not to let the rumor of this virus stop their plans. All of their plans. Like me when I was a frightened child, they are convinced that if they don’t acknowledge the danger, then it simply isn’t there. In the extreme, these folks are reacting in anger and blame at the media and those in authority who are trying to enforce the only action that has seemed to work in curtailing this virus. There are a number of posts and opinions to the effect that this scare is nothing, and the media and government are causing unnecessary panic.

It doesn’t matter what the mayor says or the CDC or county officials or the president, this group believes the whole thing is a farce, and they insist on conducting business as usual. When the widespread pandemic fails to come to fruition, they expect to be able to say, “See, I told you so” to the ones who were concerned.

I hope they are right. I’m praying that by God’s grace this virus will not just dissipate but will vanish entirely. And I’ll lead the chorus of saying, “You were right, and I was wrong!” But I don’t think it’s wise or even godly for us to hang our hats there.

4. This final group is where I stand. I think what I’m hearing from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control is real. I think the decisions that our government leaders are making are wise and are backed up by examples from Wuhan, China and the country of Italy. And I think that self-isolating for a couple of weeks or even a month isn’t going to hurt us nearly as badly as a widespread, acute outbreak of this virus would. I think it’s prudent to follow the directions those who have studied this virus and its spread are giving us. And pray that the Lord who is really the One in charge will eradicate it.

I think, as Christians, in everything, we are supposed to give to God our absolute best. Then we’re supposed to trust Him with the results. That means we do everything we can to succeed in what He has given us – and in this case, that would be to avoid getting sick first and avoid spreading the disease otherwise – and rely on Him to make His will be done. Regardless of what His will entails.

So while I would LOVE to learn that my choices for staying at home, canceling outings and appointments, and extreme cleaning after anyone else visits are completely unnecessary, they are examples of me doing my best. Not out of fear, but with confidence that God is sovereign and reigning through all of this. To do less would be to let my stubbornness and/or laziness and excuses rule. That attitude will not glorify Him.

I serve a Mighty God.
He is on the throne.

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National Novel Writing Month

It comes around as often as November, and for several years when I was just beginning, I took part every year in the great determination called NaNoWriMo.

Determination is actually a good description of the month-long event. Novelists from all genres will do everything they can to complete at least 50,000 words in a new novel. They celebrate at write-ins, have routine meetups and word-sprints. They even connect with writing buddies to provide challenges and encouragement.

And it just so happened that a new story was bugging me just in time to participate.

In all honesty, I’d intended to write the third book of the Heath’s Point Suspense. This is a story that I’d written as a serial almost a decade ago. It needs complete replanning and rewriting because it doesn’t work at all for a novel. I struggled with it throughout the entire month of October, trying to force the elements of the story to work. They resisted. The very last day of the month, I asked the Lord to please bless my working through the story. To help me have a clear idea of the plan.

I immediately had the words “Giselle’s story” enter my mind. Wait … no … Giselle’s story is the sequel to AIN’T MISBEHAVING. I’m nowhere near ready to write that. I barely know the two main characters in that book, as though we’d been introduced but hadn’t chatted at all.

Still, the impulse stayed with me. I was convinced I was supposed to spend this month working on CRY ME A RIVER, the second book in the Dallas Duets series. I only had one day to plan, so I started writing everything I knew about the story.  The hero – I didn’t even have his name – is a cop and he stops Giselle and gives her a ticket. That was about all I knew when I started a week ago.

The video became the birthing of a brand new story. I carried around the sticky-note pad for a couple of days, jotting down every scene idea that came into my mind. Yesterday, I compiled all of the ideas, added a little here and there and the story was complete.

As hard as it was to plan the Heath’s Point Suspense, the new Dallas Duet just poured out. In fact, I even have a novella idea that connects the two books together. I so love these characters and I can’t wait to tell you more about them!