Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

. . . Authentic and Intense


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Encouragement and Inspiration for the Next Two Weeks!

Authors Harriet E. Michael and Shirley Crowder are so generous in sharing their wisdom over the next couple of weeks. CLICK HERE TO GET ALL OF THEIR DEVOTIONS THROUGH NOVEMBER 6!

Here’s their first installment.

 

Life’s Ripples
by: Harriet
Read: Psalm 74:13-17

The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.

Psalm 74:16-17 (NIV)

 

Autumn was once an enigma to me. As a little girl growing up beneath the hot tropical sun, I had no memory of autumn. Oh, I had experienced it when my parents were in America on furlough but I was too young to really remember what it was like. And furlough, when you are only five years old, is a year of so many new things, that it is hard to process and remember.

But nonetheless, even in tropical Nigeria, I learned to love the autumn season. Why did I love it as a child when I had not experienced it? Where did I get my love for this season of cooler weather, colorful scenery, scurrying squirrels, crunchy leaves, and frosty mornings? I think the credit goes to a missionary aunt who taught both Shirley and me in school–our Aunt Lil Wasson.

Because she had a teaching degree and several children of her own in need of an education, Aunt Lil bravely took on the job of elementary school teacher to all the missionary kids on the Ogbomoso compound. Ogbomoso, the Nigerian town where we lived, had both a hospital and seminary with about a half a dozen missionary families working in each. All together these missionaries had at least a dozen or more elementary-age children depending on who was on furlough in any given year. Aunt Lil taught all of us in her garage which had been made into a one-room schoolhouse. She taught every child in grades kindergarten through the fourth grade in one room. She was a brave woman, indeed.

Aunt Lil loved autumn. She grew up in Arkansas where trees are abundant, and autumns are glorious. Of course, Nigeria had only two seasons–rainy and dry. Half the year it rained some every day and the other half it did not rain at all. America’s autumn months fall right at the end of the rainy season in Nigeria.

Yet, Aunt Lil always decorated her schoolroom with pictures representative of autumn in America and had her American citizen students learn about their homeland. I can still remember sitting in her garage classroom looking at the decorations all around me–bright orange pumpkins, brown squirrels with nuts in their mouths, and trees with red, orange, and yellow leaves.

She had one large poster-size picture of Jack Frost painting a leaf with an artist palette of fall colors which always intrigued me. One hand was under the palette and the other held a paintbrush. Of course, we all knew Jack Frost was not real, but my imagination went wild just the same with thoughts of a magical place where the world turned bright with colors, where shiny, frosty crystals formed on the ground, and a little elf painted the leaves when children were not looking.

I think of Aunt Lil every fall. I thank God for her enthusiasm over the world He made, both tropical and temperate. And I realize how everything people do can have a lasting ripple effect on those around them.

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, creator of this vast and beautiful world, thank You for the exquisite beauty that surrounds us whether we experience colorful autumn foliage or lovely tropical blooms. Make us mindful that our lives affect others in so many ways. May we impact them for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thought for the Day: Others are watching you!

Get all of Harriet’s and Shirley’s devotions through November 6 in your email box by clicking THIS LINK and signing up on the form. No strings attached. This email list will be discarded when the devotional serial ends on November 6, 2019.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FREE DEVOTIONS!


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Indie Author – One of my FAVES!

IgnitedWoohoo! We have another super-generous author willing to give away a treasure! Want a chance to win this exciting new book? Read on!

Not only is today’s author one of my favorites, her series is the all-time favorite of my teenagers. Plus, she’s a great friend. Jackie Castle has just released the fifth book, Ignited, in her White Road Chronicles (a cross between Narnia and Lord of the Rings). Come back by on Thursday to check out what my girls thought about Ignited.

In addition to her fantasy allegory, she’s also started a contemporary romance series – quite a stretch, but one she’s pulling off with great success. I couldn’t resist asking her a few questions about the differences in our little interview.

Thanks so much, Jackie, for spending some time with me! I have to tell you, my teenage twins inhaled Ignited! They will be sharing their review in a few days. So I have to ask, where did this fabulous allegory first begin; what was your initial inspiration for Illuminated – the beginning of your White Road Chronicles? And how many more pieces of Alyra’s story are there?

I’m not even sure where the first inspiration came from. I was reading a lot of YA fantasy and so many of the characters were dragged through the mud and beaten down in so many ways. A thought went through my mind, “They need a healer.”

From there, Alyra/The Princess walked into my mind with red curls and a glow surrounding her. I’d written a few books before this and had been part of a writers group all through my 20s, but hadn’t been in a long while. I kept thinking I needed to rejoin a writer’s organization, but couldn’t find one at the time that was Christian-based. The Lord told me I knew how to write a story, and I just needed to do it. Write it for Him. So I did. And when I let people read it, they loved it.

Soon as I finished the book, I found ACFW and Lena’s critique group. (Lena Nelson Dooley)

I had originally planned to just write the one, with a possibility of two more if there was interest. Then my cousin visited me one day, and he was into the stories. He said the Lord told him I’d write a lot more than just three. LOL. I told him no way. But I’ve not been able to tell the whole story after the first three, so it’s looking like there will be six.

Which now makes me kind of sad, since I just finished #5. I simply love the land of Alburnium.

A new idea had been tinkering around in the back of my mind. A new problem rising up in the land. I see a face peeking out of the shadows… so who knows?

The White Road Chronicles are drastically different from your contemporary romance series, Madison Creek Bed & Breakfast. Which of the series is harder to write? Do you have any tricks for moving from the fantasy allegory to the contemporary romance? 

Honestly, they’re not all that different, if you really think about it. Madison Creek is a town that wants to revive itself. The way they will do that is to band together and help each other out.

In Alburnium, One who needs help can always find it in a Kingdom town, or A White Tree town. A Kingdom town will help a weary traveler on toward their destination. A Kingdom town is a safe place and the people of Alburnium are gathering together to take back what the enemy has stolen so that goodness reigns.

I think, basically, that’s my core belief. As God’s people we should be standing together and taking back what the enemy keeps trying to steal from us. We do that by living with open hands, showing kindness, helping when there’s a need, offering grace and understanding to the downtrodden. At least, it’s a theme that seems to run through my stories.jackie Castle

I’d have to say the contemporary is more difficult. I can make things up in fantasy and that’s fun. The contemporary has more rules I need to live by. Blah. Lol.

Your characters in the White Road Chronicles are deeply crafted and all so unique. Did they simply develop as you wrote, or did you base personalities on people or characters familiar to you?

They developed as I wrote them. Some represented people I know in my life. Here’s an example I can share because this friend knows she was my inspiration for Carah. But the first time Carah shows up in the books, she’s standing in the midst of a battle singing! And the enemy can’t handle it. The friend who inspired this character is a worship leader, and I’ve said often when she sings and her voice booms across the room, the demons scatter. You feel it deep down, and her songs stir something inside of you. When Carah goes into battle, and she sings for the King, it drives away the enemy. Some people can just do that. It’s a gift, I think. =)

What do you find is the biggest challenge in writing a series of any sort? Do you have a special way of keeping the character and story details consistent between the books?

Keeping track of everything has been the hardest part. I didn’t plan all this out before I started. It’s just come to me as I went along. I do have a book (now) that I put together after I wrote Emanate. That helps me keep track of who has blue eyes and all that.

But you know, Alyra, Jerin, the centaurs, and Katrina… all of them are such a part of me that I see them when I close my eyes. I just know that Katrina has black hair that’s long and it covers her oddly shaped ears that have swirling lines on the lobes. I can see Tarek’s sandy blond hair that falls in his forest green eyes. And Alyra with her wild red curls and golden hued eyes. She smirks a lot, too, because she’s always thinking of ways to maneuver around the rules and get her way. Haha.

Ha! I love that! And I so appreciate you visiting with me here! Learn more about Jackie’s books at her Amazon page.

Your Turn: Jackie is willing to give away an e-book copy of Ignited to one reader who leaves a comment! Yea!  Make sure you leave your email address (US residents over age 18 only) and share your favorite type of fantasy story – allegory, science fiction, fairy tales, something else?


Lynette Eason’s Newest Book!

1602 Feb CoverI had the most fun last weekend immersing in Lynette Eason’s newest book, Always Watching. I love the premise of this book! An entire agency of female bodyguards committed to protection in some rather extreme circumstances. Sort of a “Charlie’s Angels” spin, only the women are brilliant, skilled, dedicated, and tough.

You can find my full review at the Suspense Sisters review, HERE!

But even more important, you can enter for your chance to win a copy of Always Watching for yourself at Lynette Eason’s interview. I love getting the chance to meet and chat with authors, especially some of my favorites! I always learn fun tidbits! Make sure you enter for your chance to win!

And if you like to win, today’s the final one to enter for your chance to win a copy of all 3 books in my Grime Fighter series! Leave a comment at my excerpt HERE!


Author Chat with Cynthia Hickey

PartyCynthia Hickey is a fellow Suspense Sister and a publisher as well as a “hybrid” author, both traditionally and independently published. She’s recently released the final book of her “Nosy Neighbors” series, A Good Party Can Kill You, and one lucky person commenting here will win a copy of the first book of her “Nosy Neighbors” series, Anything for a Mystery.

I’m so pleased to have Cynthia visiting Faith Driven Fiction!

First, I so appreciate you sharing your book with me! This story deals with Stormi as a bride-to-be. Since we’re right before Valentine’s Day, what would she consider her perfect date? Matt and Stormi haven’t had a lot of luck with their dates. Because of Stormi’s snooping, every time they let their guard down, something happens!

Ha! That happens in real life,too! I know this book closes out your Nosy Neighbor series. Are you sad to see it go? What unique challenges come with writing a seven book series? It’s sad to leave characters you’ve spent two years with. The challenge in writing seven books was keeping each fresh, original, and quirky. My readers would let me know if I slacked on this.

What would you say was the oddest thing you came across while you wrote this series? The jellyfish I used as a murder weapon in Poison Bubbles. The size of a fingernail, they would be easy to hide in a bubble bath and wash down the drain when done.

If you were to choose another character from your book to be the star of another series, which character would you choose and why? Either Stormi’s mother, Anne or her best friend, Maryann. Both are fun and would add hilarity to a story.

I liked them both, but I could certainly see Maryann taking up where Stormi lets off! What new books or series are on your horizon? What are you most looking forward to about the project? I’m in the process of writing Beware the Orchids, the first in a new cozy series, Shady Acres. The heroine is a gardener and event planner for a retirement community. I’m having a blast writing it.

How do you balance your writing career with the rest of your life? What challenges get in the way of your writing? How do you avoid distractions? What does your day look like? I’m at the stage in my life where I’m home alone during the day. Since I also own a small press, I MUST set working hours. I work five days a week from six a.m. to 2 p.m. and often on the weekends.

I’m a little jealous, though I do love having my girls around me, still. What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing? (Alone? With friends? With family?) I love crocheting, hanging out, having coffee, and coloring in adult coloring books with my vibrant gel pens. These are the things that help me relax.

What is something you’ve never done but would love to try? Zip-lining! It’s on my bucket list J

Thanks so much for sharing with us! I’m looking forward to learning more about your new Shady Acres Series. Here’s the short version of A Good Party Can Kill You.

Stormi Nelson and her bridesmaids party hard in New Orleans. The only thing marring the bachelorette party is the appearance of Stormi’s fiancé, Matt’s ex-girlfriend. When Stormi returns home to Arkansas and right into another murder mystery, she’s also the recipient of some not so nice gifts: a voodoo doll and a black cat. Refusing to believe in superstition, Stormi continues to dive headfirst into her latest case and comes across her wackiest suspect list yet.

What she doesn’t expect is the final, life-altering, gift from Matt’s ex-girlfriend. A gift that will change both Stormi’s and Matt’s lives forever.

155126_508450599182497_734971298_n copyA Good Party Can Kill You introduces the reader to some fantastic characters and closes out the best-selling Nosy Neighbor series

About the Author:

Multi-published and Amazon Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She had several historical romances release in 2013, 2014, 2015 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold half a million copies of her works. She has taught a Continuing Education class at the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers conference. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. Her and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and one cat. She has seven grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at http://www.cynthiahickey.com

Your Turn: One comment-leaver (who leaves their email address) will receive an E-copy of Anything for a Mystery. And tell me about the last time you were stumped by a cozy mystery! 


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Three Free Books!

TitlewhstackToday’s the day! Woohoo!

I just loaded up my third episode of the Grime Fighter series, Grime Spree. It should be available on Amazon any time. Don’t worry! I’ll link it HERE as soon as the book is available!

To celebrate, I’m giving away Continue reading