Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

. . . Authentic and Intense


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North to Alaska

Such a blast – it was hard, even for me to put words to the awe-inspiring spectacle that was the rugged creation of our 49th state.

We started in Seattle, Washington on a simply gorgeous, blue-sky day. I’m thinking the stories they tell about the rain are merely to keep the rest of the country away from their little piece of paradise!

After a rocky, windy period at sea, we arrived at Ketchikan, Alaska on yet another sunshiny day! Got a sunburn on the water hunting signs of eagles and other wildlife! LOVED Ketchikan. I wonder if that little town could use an author/publisher as a new community member?


And this excursion was OUTSTANDING! All were good, but this was the best by far! Highly recommend this company!

 

The next day, we entered the Endicott Arm, a fiord with a large glacier at it’s base. It was so cool to see the greenish, blue water filled with blue and white ice. And even cooler to see the seals sunning themselves on the icebergs! (Cold is more the word here – frigid, but again sunny!)

 

In Juneau, later that day, we went on a whale hunt, also spotting eagles and sea lions along with a lighthouse in the process of renovations. Good; it was pretty!

Our guide said the sea lions were sure the Coast Guard had placed that buoy last some for their benefit and not because there’s a rocky point barely submerged at high tide. LOL! After our whale hunting, we got to view the Mendenhall Glacier and Angel Falls next to it.

This photo was a little dark, but the falls are spectacular. And yes, those little specks at the bottom are people. Amazing, right? These falls come from another glacier, Suicide Glacier, that hangs over the Mendenhall Glacier on one side. It doesn’t have access to the water, so its river of ice merely melts into a cascade down the granite cliffs.

The next day, we traveled to Skagway and took a train and a bus up into Canada. We crossed the border in the tundra (over the tree line) of British Columbia, then continued our trek into the gold territory of the Yukon.

The tundra looked like a moonscape!

Abandoned gold mine.

In the running for the state bird.

A new breed! LOL!

Are Alpaca normal Alaskan wildlife?

These dogs were in training for the Iditarod.

I did NOT expect to find a desert in the Yukon!

Bridal Veil Falls. An appropriate choice for the celebration of the our 30th Anniversary.

Our final port before returning to Seattle was Victoria, BC, but we enjoyed an evening of fine dining on board the ship.


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Fiction Finders for January 2017

January 2017 New Releases

Oh, these sound outstanding! But don’t forget that if you need a Bible Study Guide for January, our newest release, STUDY GUIDE ON PRAYER by Shirley Crowder, is available at Amazon!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley by Valerie Comer, Mary Jane Hathaway, Elizabeth Maddrey, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain and Annalisa Daughety — Is love possible for a makeshift mom and a handsome widower? What about a bed and breakfast owner and the farmer next door? A curvy jilted bride and a mysterious, handsome chef? Then there’s the real estate consultant and the grandson of her elderly client; a high-powered lawyer and a woman farmer, and a formerly engaged couple. Can love make a difference in their lives? Exploring food, friends, and family in Arcadia Valley, each of these novellas kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This collection is only the beginning of your adventure! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery — Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. As Mitch struggles to keep his business afloat, and Angela works to correct the mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends discover they have something unexpected in common–a young mom fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back from redemption and true love? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)

Historical Mystery:

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering — Drew and Madeline Farthering visit the Yorkshire moor to catch a killer and solve a mystery that involves an old feud, a new rivalry and a huge, spectral hound that may or may not be a harbinger of death. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Historical Romance:

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander — A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to get an audition at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. Women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, he says, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the new opera hall opens. But far more pressing, he must finish it for his dying father, who inspired his love of music. Then Tate’s ailment worsens. Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The American Heiress Brides Collection by Lisa Carter, Mary Eileen Davis, Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Lisa Karon Richardson, Lynette Sowell and Kimberley Woodhouse — Meet nine young women in America between 1880 and 1911 who have been blessed by fortunes made in gold, silver, industry, ranching, and banking. But when it comes to love, each woman struggles to find true love within a society where “first comes money, second comes marriage.” What kind of man can they trust with their greatest treasure—their hearts? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber — In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for with her beloved Noah Schwartz, and a new, very different future… But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves. Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share… (Historical Romance from Kensington)

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch — Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin’ eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Dead Run by Jodie Bailey — Kristin James’s morning run turns deadly when she’s attacked by a stranger who’s after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won’t let her brush the attack under the rug. He’ll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can’t tell her that he’s under orders to investigate her link to her brother’s misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn’t want to believe that her brother wasn’t on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley — It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in one week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard — Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde is convinced the owner’s involved in a wildlife trafficking ring–until someone tries to kill her. Gemma’s determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died, but someone wants her out of the way, and she’s starting to wonder if her parents’ and uncle’s deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he’ll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can’t shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won’t survive without him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Buried Memories by Carol J. Post — A soldier hero suffering from PTSD and a young woman struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood fight for their lives and find healing together. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Still Life by Dani Pettrey — Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Supernatural Thriller:

Fatal Accusation by Rachel Dylan — Attorney Olivia Murray hopes her life in Windy Ridge will get back to normal after a hard-fought trial. But she soon finds out that the forces of evil have not given up. An embezzling scandal rocks the community church to its core. The New Age groups are ready to declare victory when a high-profile prosecutor files criminal charges against the local pastor. However, Olivia is not willing to give up on the community she’s come to love. She takes on the defense pro bono knowing it could destroy her career, but it’s a case she is called to defend. The battle will be fierce, but she’s not fighting it alone. Her friend and fellow attorney Grant Baxter is by her side. Olivia must use all the tools in her arsenal to combat those who seek to destroy the believers in the community. If Olivia can’t prove the pastor’s innocence, more than her career is on the line. The entire community of Windy Ridge could fall to the forces of darkness. (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published)


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So Proud of My New Writer!

house-930940_1920Okay, the truth is, she won’t let me call her a writer. My daughter, code-named Spunky, has a sharp wit and a great imagination, but she’s determined to go into missions or ministry.

Nevertheless, she’s agreed to let me post her most recent assignment for her college English class. The students were given a picture of an old house, much like the one you see, and a list of Halloween-type words they couldn’t use. This was her 20-minute offering.

If you enjoy her flash fiction, please leave her some love!

Moving on

“Gone but not Forgotten,” Jane read the words from her beloved Aunt Ruth’s tombstone out loud.

“I know I should have come sooner; I just couldn’t bear the thought of you not being here.” Jane pulled her sweater closer to herself as a chilled wind rustled through the yellow leaves. She turned to face the place she feared.

The screen door had fallen partially off its hinges. The beautiful yellow paint was almost completely stripped away. Oh, how she had loved this place when she was young, always so warm and inviting. Now it was dark and cold.

She turned back to the grave, “I should have been here for you; if I hadn’t ditched you for my friends, you would still be here.” Jane wiped an unwanted tear from her face. “I know you wanted me to take care of this place, but I don’t deserve it. I let you down. It’s my fault.” Her voice broke at her last word, and she collapsed to the ground weeping.

It had been three years since Ruth had died. The doctor said it happened in the kitchen. One minute she was baking cookies; the next her heart stopped. Aunt Ruth had died alone.

“I should have been here; I could have saved you.” Shaking Jane stood, and walked back to her car. Opening the trunk, she pulled out a toolbox and a bucket of yellow paint. “I’m here now. I’m done hiding. I will not let you or this place down.”

Her knees wobbled as she climbed the steps. Setting the toolbox down, she removed the screen door, grasped the door handle, took a deep breath, and stepped in.


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Torn Between Two Loves

rio-1585738_1920The melody of the old 80’s song is filtering through my mind, but being ultra-happily married, I’m not really talking about “lovers.” I’m talking about things that absorb my time!

If you’ve noticed many of my Facebook posts, you know that I’m  Continue reading


I SO Left You Hanging! (Don’t you hate that???)

climber-299018_1920I don’t know about you, but I got to the end of Dani’s last story, Grime Spree and was ready to keep going. After all, the final page ends with a huge revelation as Jay cruises up the driveway of his parents’ home.

Visiting the parents? That’s a biggie in a relationship! Something I’d sure want to read about!

My original plan for this series had only 4 books in it, but if I stuck with that, you wouldn’t get to find out what happened between Dani and Jay’s parents. And SO MUCH happened let me Continue reading


Spring Showers = Flowers!

_MG_0579Actually, these bluebonnet days were captured during early April, the high-point of the bluebonnet season. My girls and I take a yearly romp down to Ennis, which is titled “The Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.”

Ennis is a cute little town that has its roots in the Czech colonies that were some of the earliest here in Texas. There are still some flavors of that early culture, particularly in the form of antiques, gift shops, and restaurants. Bright EyesThe Kolache Depot comes to mind. But the place isn’t only steeped in the past. Though still a small town, society has moved in with upscale stores and chain restaurants. Yet it keeps its charm.

TZee1his year’s bluebonnet crop was a little on the disappointing side. We actually made the trip to Ennis twice. Both times, a week apart, showed the same result, about half of the plants blooming. Butterfly over Bluebonnets by Marji LaineThough the area was pretty, it wasn’t the breath-taking sight that it often is. This butterfly photo is from a few years ago. Seriously, the entire landscape was blue.

In years past, we’d been blessed to find the fields full and the hills brimming with blue. This year, we had some different treasures. We rounded a corner and found a small herd of deer lazily breakfasting by the road side._MG_9860

_MG_9881And the antics of the longhorns—who would have thought such huge beasts had “antics”—had us in hysterics. But then we always find plenty of things to laugh about. Animals, strange signs, our own reactions to the things we see.
_MG_9915Laughter is our general response to most stimuli whether from the photos we’ve taken or our own zany behavior like baaing at goat herds. I guess it’s part of our upbringing or personality makeup.

aketchumThe trait makes for some wonderful memories though. Like the trip where we suggested perfect first names for the sheriff candidate from a sign that was hooked to a barbed wire fence at one of the crossroads. Ha! We settled on Dewey, Howie, or Al!

Your Turn: Have you taken a spontaneous road trip? What was your favorite memory from it?


Springtime in Paris!

tableOo-la-la! In my last post, I mentioned some of my favorite springtime things here in Texas. And while I could travel up the road and show you images of Paris, Texas, this particular Paris, the World’s Fair of 1889, was created for the Texas Christian napoleonHomeschool Prom. All 1,750 students were treated to an evening on the Champs Elysees, exploring cafe’s, gift shops, the catacombs, and even the Arc de Triomphe.

MC_MG_0705 (128)-XLAlong the way, they also were able to meet various famous people who had actually attended the World’s Fair that year. Folks like Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and Theodore Roosevelt.

phantomscaredIn addition were some other characters from the world of entertainment like Gaston and Belle, the Three Musketeers, the Phantom of the Opera, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

quarter dance floorThe students hardly left the dance floor, however. Or should I say, four dance floors, at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Current songs along with oldies like “Rockin’ Robin,” “Shout,” and “Thriller” kept the dance floor hopping. Literally. The chandeliers even bounced!

What an amazing evening! Memories that will last a lifetime! I’m so glad I was able to be part of this event! If you know homeschoolers, encourage them to enjoy amazing nights during their high school years. http://www.TxCHP.org