Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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Can You Dig It?

This trip was becoming more and more disorienting. How could they ever get to Chicago, let alone the Empire Theater? They didn’t even seem to be in the 1920s anymore.

This time when the train stopped, Freida Tilley was the first off. Her brother Hans had about smothered her with his protection, hardly even letting her see anything at the last stop. She clutched her beaded necklace in her right hand and scampered toward an empty building. Where were the people waiting for the train?

“Freida, wait.” Hans had caught up with her.

Eleanor followed him down the steps. “Where are we?”

Frieda halted on the other side of the empty train station, staring out at an endless expanse of ocean. “Well, we aren’t in Chicago.” She stepped off the platform and into sand. The gold sequins and fringe of her costume shown in the bright sunlight and she reached down and slipped off her shoes. Holding them in one hand and securing the beaded headband that held her short blond bob in place, she scanned the area around her as the others joined her on the sand.

“Dis is baloney, dis is.” Ivan Moss, already in his clown costume and make up came up beside her, though he stood almost a foot shorter. “And lookie that.” He pointed to a lot full of… were those cars? Bright colors and most of them without lids.

Back toward the ocean, a large group of people were gathering near a little stage. “Let’s find out where we are.” Eleanor passed her, trotting off toward the group.

Frieda ignored another protective call from Hans and followed Eleanor. This place was strange. If nothing else, the costumes were… well, she thought her costume was a little on the racy side. It didn’t touch what the women around her were wearing, or rather not wearing. Little bitty… unmentionables? Is that what they wore?

A man bumped into her. “Whoa there, Chickie.” A very muscular, very shirtless man, and his britches were rather small as well.

She averted her eyes, but the man turned back to her gave her a strange look, his gaze traveling from her face to the hose rolled down past her knees and back again. She was used to men looking at her, but not with such open bewilderment.

He cocked his head to the side. “Hey, sweet cheeks, you look a little bummed out. You here with the band?”

She recognized the word band, but it didn’t register. “Uh . . .”

Eleanor stepped alongside her. “What did he say?”

Frieda had no idea, but the man pointed up at the stage. A group of men with shaggy, sun-bleached hair made their way onto it, some of them carrying various guitars. One sat behind a Jazz-er-up drum system, and all of them were barefooted and almost as unclothed as the rest of the people on the beach. Though they did have the sense to wear short jackets over their bare chests.

“Let’s get a groove on,” one of the men near her called up to the stage.

The men strummed their guitars and started singing. Not like the crooners she was used to, and even though they had harmonies, they weren’t at all like the barbershop that her old man had sung in. She hadn’t expected such loud drumming or the fast-paced, rollicking music. The men sang about things she didn’t understand, but she caught the words hamburger, library, and radio. What that all had to do with some bird that got taken away, she had no idea.

A woman next to her shouted at them. “I can dig it.”

In this sand, it wouldn’t be that hard, but Frieda had no intention of joining her in that effort.

The people around her started jumping around, bobbing, and jiggling. She caught Eleanor’s eye and they traded smiles. Nobody jiggled or shook as well as the two of them did in their fringed gowns. Grabbing her friend’s hand, she jumped up onto the stage and began matching the odd dance that the people around them were doing. Not like the Charleston in that it didn’t seem to have any regular steps, but she recognized the hip action. And she shook her fringe for all it was worth.

“That’s a gas,” the guitar player next to her called out.

“It’s a gas, gas, gas,” replied the other one.

Frieda didn’t have time to try to muddle through their need for petroleum. Hans and a few of the others had reached them on the stage. Her brother took her hand. “We’re already behind the eight-ball. We have to get back on the train.”

The moment of uninhibited freedom had passed. Frieda glanced back at the man who had bumped into her. He lifted two fingers spread out. She copied the symbol back in his direction.

Is that where they were, someplace called, Two?

* * *

The troubles with the Ever After mysteries continue! This time it’s Cathe Swanson’s Murder At The Empire. Here’s a little about the book:

Gayle Wells is a killer organist, but does a killer have her in his sights?

They call him the Emperor.  John Starek fills his theater with fine artwork and treasures. He’s particularly pleased to have one of the country’s first female organists – and he thinks Gayle Wells is the bee’s knees.

Despite pressure from her social crusader mother, Gayle isn’t interested in changing the world. She just wants a car of her own – and a career playing the organ at the Empire movie palace would be especially ducky.

Then the Empire’s treasures start disappearing and employees start dying. Are a few pieces of art really enough motive for the string of murders? Will Gayle be next?

Murder at the Empire brings the Nightingale into an elegant movie palace in the roaring 20’s – but the real excitement is all off-screen.

You can get your copy here!

Lost in Time!

Can the before-show acts get to the Empire on time to perform? Follow along this week and find out which decade they are found. And play along for your chance to win a giveaway.

Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra cost to you.

ENTER INTO THE GIVEAWAY

Where, or maybe the better question is… WHEN, did Freida and the others land? Enter for my giveaway

HERE!


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Who Spilled the Beans?

It’s day two of the celebration for the launch of A GIANT MURDER, my new release through Celebrate Lit Publishing. Want the scoop from Day #1? Head over to Liz Tolsma’s blog to learn how it all began.

***

The heat can be unbearable, and my daylilies know it very well. They just suck up the water. That’s what I was doing—watering them with the sprinkle attachment on my hose—when I felt an ominous presence behind me.

“I suppose you’ve heard the rumor.”

I spun, sprinkler still in hand, and almost head-butted my neighbor, Mrs. Myers. Jerking the sprinkler away from her sneakers, now well-watered, I tried my most innocent smile. “I . . . uh. What was it you were saying?”

“Don’t play coy with me, Marji Laine. I know you have the inside information on all of this. The news is spreading like wildfire.”

“News?” I stretched my eyebrows up as far as possible. They had to be reaching my hairline.

“News. I know you’ve heard about it.” She frowned. “You probably created most of it, but that’s beside the point. I want to know what you know. Spill.”

Playing innocent wasn’t working. Yes, I knew all about the rumor, and I did indeed have inside information. Deep, deep inside, but there was a precedent here. I wasn’t about to go gabbing the details of the villains to the chief grape on the neighborhood vine. “Huh, uh. No way I’m spilling the beans. You’ll get nothing out of me.”

The hurt face she turned toward me pinched my determination a bit. She wasn’t really a bad sort, just a nosy one. I turned off the hose and gave her shoulder a pat. “Listen, why don’t you talk to Cathe Swanson? She might have something to share.”

If nothing else, the lady needed to go dry off her tennis shoes.

She pursed her lips and pointed two fingers at her eyes and then at me.

I smiled. “Have a nice day.”

***

I’m not the bean spiller – nope, nope, nope!

But speaking of beans, they play a part in my newest book, A GIANT MURDER. Here’s the low-down:

An exclusive party with the socially elite of Dallas.

   An elaborate venue high atop the downtown Adolphus Hotel.

      A host who is one of the richest men in 1926 . . .

         Also, one of the deadest.

Josephine Jacobs was just doing her job, serving the food giant everything except his eternal “parting shot.” With the Century Ballroom literally full of suspects, why has she been pinpointed for shooting TG Taggert? Especially since there are plenty of motives for his death:

   The theft of Chef Ganderson’s “magic” beans,

   TG’s tryst with and mistreatment of songstress Harper Davis,

   And then there’s the thief in the family, TG’s son Jack.

With her long-time friend, Officer Porter O’Brien, Josie attempts to find out who really killed “the giant,” and clear her name.

You can get your own copy of A GIANT MURDER HERE!

And don’t forget to check in with Cathe Swanson tomorrow. I have a feeling she might have something to share.

And don’t forget to join the giveaway!

https://promosimple.com/ps/1137a/a-giant-murder-marji


Living in God’s Grace

Link to the main article of “A Call to Praise.” Find links to the other posts and participating websites.

I’m so honored to be part of Jennifer Slattery’s A Call to Praise Blog Hop. On this Maundy Thursday, I’m hosted by Allyson Carter at her blog where I’ve shared my thoughts on Psalm 103:12. I hope you’ll stop by and say, “Hi!”


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Soaring through Hardships

Link to the main article of “A Call to Praise.” Find links to the other posts and participating websites.

I’m so excited to welcome Sarah Ruut on Faith Driven Fiction as a stop on the “A Call to Praise” blog hop. If you want to check out some of the other posts in the the blog hop which is focusing on Psalm 103, Please use the icon for a link to the main post. I’m so glad my friend, Jennifer Slattery put this group together, and I’m thankful that she invited me to join. What an excellent collection of devotions and digging into these verses. And Sarah’s insight is inspiring!

*****

Sometimes life gets tough. We face difficult circumstances, we hurt, and there seems to be no way out. During those hard times, it’s all too easy to read a verse like Psalm 103:5 and scoff. Perhaps that is true for others, but the spot we’re in proves otherwise for us…

Those tough times sure don’t look like “good things,” do they?

While the challenges we face aren’t necessarily good themselves, they do provide an opportunity for other “good things” to enter our lives.

Several years ago I was in one of those difficult times. I was a single mom of four young children, and I was scrambling to make ends meet. One way or another, though, we were managing.

One day at church, a friend handed me $200 in cash. I tried to refuse it, because at that point we were doing okay. She insisted that I tuck it away, “because you never know when you’ll need it.” I gave in, and I tucked the cash in my wallet.

A couple of weeks later, we caught the flu. As a precaution, our family doctor wanted all of us to take Tamiflu. She argued that I really couldn’t afford to come down with the flu, since I had all these little ones to care for. I dutifully went to get the prescriptions filled.

When I picked them up, the girl at the window told me the total was $200. What?! Surely she forgot to bill it to the insurance company. We should only have a $15 copay or something, right?

Unfortunately, that was the patient portion (for five of us). Without insurance, it would have been about six times as much.
I was in shock, and my stomach clenched. I paid for the prescriptions, and as I pulled away from the window, my mind was churning. I couldn’t afford a major expense like this. I was barely making it as it was!

I didn’t grumble silently for very long before I sensed a gentle nudge. “Remember that $200 in your wallet – that cash you have? I provided for this already. You didn’t know you’d need it, but I did…”

Oh. Right.

Talk about a humbling, yet truly awe-inspiring, moment!

Gratitude filled my heart as I realized that He had met a need that He knew was coming, showing me yet again that I could trust Him to take care of us.

He fills our years with good things. He brings people into our lives who become blessings in a variety of ways. This is but one of many stories I could share from that difficult time. SO many people blessed us in so many different ways. And the Lord brought each of them into our lives. He filled our lives with good things, even during a time when it seemed hopeless.

Why? So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

SarahRuutdesignHave you ever seen an eagle soaring high above? Growing up in the Northwest provided several opportunities to see these regal birds. They are huge, powerful birds, and they glide effortlessly across the sky. They are amazing to watch.

I think there is a reason He renews our youth like an eagle and not like a worm! We need to be able to rise above the circumstances that surround us. The weight of the world could certainly pull us down and overwhelm us. But God brings good things into our lives to renew our strength so we can rise above it. Not to ignore it, but to overcome it.

I pray that, no matter your circumstances today, you will find those good things the Lord has brought into your life, and that they will renew your strength today. We can praise Him together for it!

So blessed by Sarah’s insight. 

Your turn: Was there a time in your past that you can relate to Sarah’s story. When the Lord clearly satisfied with good things?

Sarah Ruut PicSarah Ruut is an avid reader who loves talking books and authors on her blog. Although she is regularly interrupted by geometry proofs and foreign languages, she wouldn’t trade her homeschooling days for anything. All she needs is a cinnamon roll and a great novel to get through the rough spots!

You can find devotional thoughts as well as reviews of Christian fiction, interviews with amazing authors, giveaways and more at sarahruut.com. You can also connect with Sarah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahruut


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Time Management

Tuesdays are always my day for posting the A2Z article from Patty Wysong’s Blog Meme. Usually I take care of it over the weekend, but Friday I wrote like a mad lady. Saturday we cleaned and moved furniture – fun, but bumped my blogging again. And then Sunday, as I wrote yet another section of my WIP I thought, “I’ve got tomorrow. No worries.”

Um. It’s now 12:56 AM on Tuesday morning. The sky is a lovely shade of black and even the dogs are silent.

Yeah. What is it that Paul said? “Not that I’ve achieved it or have already been made perfect …” I’m so there when it comes to time management. For all of my planning and organizing, I fail at time management.

No really. I plan out my writing, my social media, my exercise, my house chores, even my meals, but do I follow my plan? Well …

Let’s just say follow through isn’t my strong suit and leave it at that. No, wait, that’s not entirely true. I’m great at following through on the things I love to do. Writing, Social media, transporting kids to and fro and organizing activities for them.

It’s the routine stuff I struggle with. Exercise. I swear I can’t even spell that word.

E-x-c-backspace-e-r-c-i-s-e.

(I think it’s a Freudian reaction!) Bible study. Going to bed at a decent hour and … ugh … getting up!

And when I don’t get up, get moving, and spend time with my Lord, the day plops on top of me like a heavy quilt in the middle of August. Hence my pre-dawn blogging.

Yes, aside from my Bible Study (I’m loving working with GMG!) today was one of those days – wait that was yesterday. I’m hoping for better when I get to tomorrow – er – today.