Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

. . . Authentic and Intense


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Need to Focus on ONE THING!

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This month, my company released a new book (Study Guide on Prayer! Find out more about it here!)

And I hosted my first radio show. (YES! I’m gonna be on the radio at 7PM Central the first Tuesday of every month. Listen here!)

And I’m setting up the final touches on a 10-week teenage Bible study – armor of God with some great hero movies!

And I’m making returns on more gifts than I’d like to admit! (My poor sizing guesses!)

And I’m tying up loose ends from the holidays – sending off prizes to award winners and gifts to folks I didn’t get to see, cleaning up the final touches inside the house.

And … and … and …

I gotta tell you, who has time to make New Year’s resolutions? I have trouble just getting dinner on the table! There are serious times when I’d like to do nothing but put up my feet and watch a football game. Even if the Cowboys aren’t playing! LOL!

Do you every feel like that? Overwhelmed with so many things to do and no prayer of making them all work out the way they are supposed to? That helpless feeling is why I choose a special word every year and keep it at the top of my consciousness every day. I start talking to God about the word and focus that He wants me to have starting in December – about the time I’m ready to pull my hair out! LOL!

By the first of January, or a short time following, He’s shown me where He wants me to put my energy.

Last year, my word was “INTENTIONAL.” I had a good feeling that I would be published traditionally in 2016 and wanted every action I took, especially on social media, to be helpful to my coming book and my writing career. And I was published, just not exactly as I’d expected. And it was all of the other blessings – becoming the head of a publishing company jumps to mind – that steered me toward my word for this year.

FOLLOW.

Road

Road

Things look great right now – magical – unbelievable. But my position is still a job, still full of responsibilities. And though the Lord has blessed my company with a host of talented and encouraging authors, I have my part to complete. That’s why He’s placed me here.

I’ve said to friends, “I don’t know why God chose me; I don’t know what I’m doing.” I hate to actually admit that, but especially at the beginning, this was so true and still is in some respects. And yet, I know Who does know everything I need to bring this company and its authors to the place that the Lord has purposed. God put me here. And He continues to lead.

My job is to listen. My job is to be willing. My job is to step into His footprints without hesitation. My job is to follow the plan He has.

That’s my focus, unique for 2017 and the challenges that I face leading this new company. What is your focus this year? To what challenge has the Lord called you? To prayer? To teaching? To being quiet? To consistency? To stepping from your comfort zone? Where do you hear His call?


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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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Need Holiday Reads? Get Ready!

Wedding cakeSome wonderful things happen on Tuesday, December 13. First, Sweet Hubby and I celebrate our 30th anniversary! And he’s still so stinkin’ cute!

I could gush, but the truth is, he is my best friend, my hero, my conscience, and my partner in goofiness and serious issues like raising our 4 kids. He balances my artistic temperament while still encouraging my spirit. He’s my biggest fan and most important critic. He’s the first analyzer of every idea and holds the weightiest opinion.

Together we laugh, evaluate, study, discuss, and laugh some more. I can’t imagine life without him and wouldn’t want to try. He makes me a better person by simply being in my life, and I’m grateful for every year with this man.

The second wonderful thing that happens is TURQUOISE TUESDAY. (You’ve heard of BLACK FRIDAY?) As if 30 years wasn’t enough, the Write Integrity Press team is offering 11 of it’s best books for only 99¢. This is a one-day-only sale – which just happens to be on my anniversary. Extra blessings! Woohoo!

Take advantage on Tuesday – write it on your calendar in ink! All of these books will be at 99¢.  But only on Turquoise Tuesday! Learn more about each book at this Christmas Special page, or click the titles below for a buy link. (But don’t use it until Tuesday!)

6 DATES TO DISASTERANNABELLE’S RUTH • A RUBY CHRISTMASCOUNTER POINTDANCING LIKE BEESFOR SUCH A MOMENTIMPERFECT WINGSPRAYER: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUSTALKING WILLOW THE CHRISTMAS TREE TREASURE HUNTTOWDAH

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By the way, all of these books will go to ONE reader at the Write Integrity Press blog. Today’s the LAST DAY TO ENTER and the odds of winning are OUTSTANDING! Don’t miss your chance. Just zip over and leave a comment with your email address! Here’s the Write Integrity Press 12 Books of Christmas Link.

 


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12 Free Christmas Reads!

One of the Write Integrity Press readers will be given their 12 Books of Christmas – all for only leaving a comment on their blog! You can comment every day for extra entries! And the odds of winning are OUTSTANDING at this point! Add your comments and tell them Marji sent you!

Write Integrity Press 12 Books of Christmas Blog Link

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Guest Reviewer: 6 DATES TO DISASTER

disaster-front-5x8Guest Reviewer Lill Kohler shares her thoughts on the new YA release 6 DATES TO DISASTER by Cynthia T. Toney.

This was my first time to read a book by Cynthia T. Toney. The storyline of 6 DATES TO DISASTER shows teens that all is not lost even when things look bad. That the support and stress brought in by parents and other adults is all a part of life and can be influenced by our actions. Cynthia also stressed the importance of good friends. I liked how Cynthia showed that a change in a person’s actions may not mean the end of a friendship or relationship, and sometimes we find support from those we didn’t expect.

The main character, Wendy, makes decisions that take her down a path that pulls her away from the things she loves. All the while, she keeps her final goal in mind in order to make it through the trials resulting from her decision. Along the way, she discovers true friendships and renewed relationships. Wendy is a strong personality who faces the challenges of life without falling to pieces, yet she experiences all the emotions that go along with the stressful events. I must admit I found myself wishing she wouldn’t make the decisions she made, or think the way she did, but the story was a good way to show that anyone can make the wrong assumptions.

Before she gets to her sixth date, Wendy finds herself in a pickle. She’s a good girl with good in mind, and it was never her intention to get in such a quandary but still she found herself there. It’s a great example for anyone, including teens, that it can happen even with our best intentions. Communication was the key to solving the issues Wendy faced.

My only complaint might be that after the second date I lost track of how many dates Wendy had taken. I had to remind myself that the date count was somehow playing into the storyline. But as any author should, Cynthia tied up that loose end when the sixth date rolled around.
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I enjoyed the upbeat ending which gave the promise that there was more to come in Wendy’s life. I recommend this book for any teen and parent.

About the Reviewer:

Lill Kohler wears many hats…mother, grandmother, nurse, writer, blogger, housekeeper, and aspiring gardener. Each holds importance in her heart, but none as great as following the leading of God. She is published in Guidepost’s book Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware and OakTara’s Falling In Love With You. You can follow her posts on her blog sites: http://www.rocking-myworld.blogspot.com, http://www.AbueSpeaks.wordpress.com, lillkohler.wordpress.com.


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New at ACFW Fiction Finder

December 2016 New Releases

disaster-front-5x8First, introducing the newest release from my publishing house! 6 DATES TO DISASTER by Cynthia T. Toney — When Wendy’s family faces financial hardship, she must find a way to see Mrs. V and Sam again—but will she lose David forever in the process? When Wendy’s stepfather loses his job, she needs personal and urgent help—the financial kind. The family’s plan to visit Alaska on vacation is headed down the sewer like a hard Louisiana rain. How will Wendy ever see Mrs. V or Sam again? An opportunity arrives in the form of tutoring Melissa, one of the Sticks, and Wendy’s money problems appear to be solved. Until the arrangement takes a turn that gets Wendy into trouble like never before. In the final months of ninth grade, she might lose everything she counted on for the future. (YA from Write Integrity Press)

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

Contemporary Romance:

bella-natale Bella Natale! by Marianne Evans — An aspiring American artist and the widowed, Italian owner of a premier art gallery meet and fall in love in Florence when he champions her work, but there are her American family’s expectations and his five-year-old son to consider. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

with-this-kissWith this Kiss by Marianne Evans — A kiss stolen in a midnight snow. A jealous colleague at Jonathan’s firm is bent on revenge…revenge that puts Isabella’s store into legal peril. Will love be enough to see them through? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

mistletoe-daddyMistletoe Daddy by Deb Kastner — Bubbly Vivian Grainger bids on gruff Nick McKenna at Serendipity Texas’s annual Bachelors and Baskets for one reason–to help her build her hair salon; but once Nick finds out she’s pregnant, he does his best to build a path to Vivian’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

a-hero-for-heatherA Hero for Heather by Marion Ueckermann — When a “homeless” man she’s been helping rescues social worker Heather Blume from a vicious attack, she’s so grateful she violates one of the most important rules in her profession–she takes him home to tend his wounds. But the mysterious Paxton Rathbone is no homeless man…he’s a gentleman. When feelings grow, and Paxton’s past beckons, both he and Heather discover there’s a fine line between gratitude and love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

a-husband-for-hollyA Husband for Holly by Marion Ueckermann — Holly Blume loves decorating people’s homes, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to play house. Believing a house is not a home without a woman’s touch, Reverend Christopher Stewart is in the market for a wife. What woman would consider him marriage material, though, with an aging widowed father to look after, especially one who suffers from Alzheimer’s? Despite their differences, Holly resolves to finish her job of redesigning the Stewart home, while Christopher determines to re-form Holly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

rocky-mountain-cowboyRocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe — Twelve years after she married another man, Rebecca Anshaw Simpson is back at Joe Gallagher’s ranch as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot. Becca won’t let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. But Becca never expected she’d fall all over again for her first love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

christmas-cookie-mysteryChristmas Cookie Mystery by Naomi Miller — With Christmas right around the corner, Katie Chupp and The Sweet Shop get involved in a mystery when a certain dear family finds an unexpected package at their door. (Cozy Mystery from S&G Publishing)

Historical:

michelMichel: The Fourth Wise Man by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — This descendant of Daniel, also a wise man, sacrifices everything – his wife, his father, his home – to do what he is convinced God needs him to do, then finds out he was wrong (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

five-nights-with-pharaohFive Nights with Pharaoh by Kristen Reed — Shortly after entering Egypt with her husband, Sarai is taken into Pharaoh’s harem as his newest, most favored concubine. The breathtaking, ageless beauty is forced to cling to her faith in God as she prays for the strength to accept her new position and endures a series of mysterious plagues that can only be indicative of a wrathful deity’s divine judgment. Discover a remarkable reimagining of Sarai’s plight in Egypt, where she humbly set aside her own honor to protect the man through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Historical – Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

seven-brides-for-seven-texansSeven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Leslie Seilstad, Erica Vetsch — Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children–until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

a-pony-express-romanceA Pony Express Romance by Misty M. Beller — Pony Express rider Josiah English and the station master’s sister, Mara Reid, fall in love, but when the Express shuts down and Mara’s family home is in peril, the danger looming over Mara’s life may not be half as destructive as that threatening her heart. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Military Suspense:

conspiracy-of-silenceConspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig — A former Green Beret is confronted by past mistakes as he and his team battle a centuries-old plague and the terrorists bent on rewriting history. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense:

hazardous-holidayHazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson — Just in time for the holidays, navy SEAL Zach McCloud returns home from deployment–and discovers someone wants his family dead. When he married his cousin’s struggling widow, he vowed to help her and her seriously ill son, and now he’ll risk everything to protect them. Even if their arrangement is only temporary. Kristi’s certain an unhappy client from the law firm where she works is determined to hunt her down. But when a sniper bullet wildly misses its target, they begin to question whether it’s really her someone wants dead. Working together, can they figure out why they’ve been attacked…and keep little Cody from the nefarious forces dead set on making this Christmas their last? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

christmas-conspiracyChristmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman — When Commander Jake Marsh loses control of a hostage situation and Tessa Long is injured, guilt eats at him. He blurs the line between the professional and personal, and visits Tessa at the hospital. But when a man tries to kill her in her hospital room, Jake disregards all of the rules and regulations that have allowed him to control his world and vows to keep her safe no matter what. Trouble is, the situation brings back memories from his childhood of the loss of his entire family, and for the first time in twenty years, he fears he’s no longer in charge of his life, and knows when he’s out of control bad things happen. Very bad things. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


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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.