Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


Interview: Steve, Hero from Sharon Srock’s Newest Book

I’m so excited about Sharon Srock’s newest book, Terri, in her Women of Valley View series! Have you purchased your copy yet? If you haven’t, you might could win the one that I’m giving away!

And today, we actually have a MAN from the book visiting on Faith~Driven Fiction. I hope you enjoy getting to know STEVE, the hero from the book Terri. As your getting to know him, see if you can determine the type of hero he is! And don’t miss a special treat at the very end of the interview, a preview of Terri by Sharon Srock! Oh and leave a comment and email if you want to win a copy of Sharon’s book. Tell me what type of hero you think STEVE is! Continue reading


Four More Heroic Traits

Last week I broached the subject of some attributes of a hero. My mind got drawn to this topic when I watched a Youtube video of a blogger announcing her top 10 list of heroes. I started thinking about what makes a hero a hero. So today, I’ve got a few more traits to share. Continue reading


Must-Read for Writers

After spending the week absorbing this amazing book, I had to stop and review The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFeer, and Sue Viders.

I can’t say that I actually read this book from cover to cover, but I jumped all over it,

Continue reading


Character Questions 3

If this girl was a character of mine, I’d first say she’s hiding something. All of the poof, while it makes for a romantic look, hides her face well.

So my question for her – Allie – is what are you hiding?

Allie – First, it’s Adelade. Allie is a tenement name. What could I possibly be hiding? My outfit is certainly not the type someone would wear if she was trying to keep incognito, right?

Silence? Since you’re left eyebrow just hit your hairline I assume that means you don’t believe me?

Okay, look, the guy I’m interested in had an invitation to this gig so I made a connection with my uncle. He knows all kinds of people. Uncle got me an invitation and it worked, too. The guy noticed me. I’m like Cinderella. I knew if I could just catch his eye, I’d be able to keep his attention.

Marji – Isn’t that sort of like tricking him into a relationship?

Adelade – No. I mean … He likes me for me. Or he will. And I’ll tell him about who I really am. I will. I just have to give him a little time is all.

Marji – What if you’re wrong? What if you draw him in and drop the other shoe and he bolts? What if his status is more important to him than true love or maybe your facade is part of the reason he’s interested in the first place.

Adelade – Surely he isn’t so shallow. But I don’t really know him. I just need him. His money will solve so many problems. He just has to fall for me.

Marji – Wow. Sacrificing for something bigger. You have deeper character than I first thought.

Your turn: What spin do you put on Adelade?

Character Questions 2

If this gal was a character of mine, she probably wouldn’t be a protagonist. I can imagine her as an antagonist. Maybe the other woman. Is that cliche’?

Desiree – In a word, yes. I’m not the other woman. I’m the woman. I don’t follow anyone else.

Marji – Quite an achievement. So why did you choose the hat you wore?

Desiree – You might as well ask why I wore the entire ensemble. It was all made to go together. And I looked amazing in it. Everyone said so. The hat was perfect, except when I arrived and the wind blew the brim cockeyed. I told the designer to make sure that didn’t happened, but did she care? No.

Marji – It’s hard to find good help?

Desiree – You have no idea. Nothing is ever done the way I want. I always have to complain or explain. Things would be so much easier if the help would figure out what they’re supposed to do before they mess it all up.

Marji – You would do a much better job if you were, say, the hat designer?

Desiree – Not that I would stoop to such a low-level, but I’d certainly do it well. I have a pulse on society, so I know what works and what doesn’t. I have an eye for design, for color and material. And I have a creative vein.

Marji – Sounds like this would be a good job for you, then. Why wouldn’t you want to do it?

Desiree – Uh, really? Do you think I’d actually be willing to work for my friends? Horrors.

Marji – So working for your friends, maybe being a maid or a waitress, would be the worst thing you could think of?

Desiree – That’s a disgusting thought. Why don’t you ask me something more pleasant?

Marji – Fair enough. What do you aspire to? You’ve got money, beauty, popularity. What could you possibly want?

Desiree – That’s much better. Hmmm. Well, I guess I want to marry the perfect man.

Marji – Why?

Desiree – I guess because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I mean all of my friends are either married or getting married. I know my mom is always pushing men on me. It gets old. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to get married someday, I think. But I don’t want to settle for someone just because he’s …

Marji – Wealthy, successful, handsome …

Desiree – Well he has to be all of the those things. I could never marry someone who wasn’t. But I want someone who treasures me.

Marji – Is that all you want to do? That’s your only goal in life?

Desiree – Well, I plan to look really good while I’m doing it!

Okay, I would love to see Desiree plopped in the middle of nowhere. Maybe a need to change her identification and hide from someone trying to kill here. Could be fun seeing her attempt to become a waitress and keep a low profile. Oh and fall for a hometown fella. Maybe a contractor who gets grease under his fingernails once in a while.

Your turn: What am I missing with Desiree?

1 Comment

Questions for a Madam-Hatter

Taking a page from Katie Ganshert’s book (well, not literally!) I thought I would pretend this lady is a character in one of my stories and interview her.

I consider it practice, but I thought it could be fun to see what kinds of questions/answers we could share – just based on the way she looks.

I’m going to name her Nelda.

Marji – Whatever inspired you to wear a bowl of fruit on your head?

Nelda – Ha! Carmen Miranda used to wear the whole produce section. And she’s still popular long after her death. But in truth, I could barely keep a straight face as the paparazzi clicked photo after photo.

Marji – Is that why you did it? For popularity?

Nelda – Loaded question. I don’t need crazy stunts to be popular. I’m already there. I lead a charitable organization and I’m on the board for the fine arts committee of Louisville. I have more event invitations than I can actually accept and my husband’s company relies on me for attendance at their client engagements to bring social standing to their appearance. This hat thing was just a lark. But I don’t doubt that it will be remembered for some time to come.

Marji – I stand corrected. So you use your status to help others. Your charity organization, your husband’s company.

Nelda – Yes, I believe that I’ve been placed in this position in order to lift up those around me.

Marji – So what gives you your high standing. What is it about you that makes you better than those around you.

Nelda – Well, the money of course. My father’s company was extremely profitablelucrative. It provided an education of excellence and that gave me lucrative connections. My husband’s company exceeds my father’s. I guess you could say success is the best partner that I have.

Marji – Wow. What if it wasn’t?

Nelda – What do you mean?

Marji – What if your next project caused incredible failure. What would your worse failure look like?

Nelda – Well, that’s a depressing thought. Maybe something embarrassing to me? (Marji is raising her eyebrow so I’m guessing I’m not digging deeply enough.) Okay, I guess the worst thing that could happen to me would be for something to happen to my husband’s company. Maybe a layoff?

Marji – What about you being charged with fraudulent behavior on your board.

Nelda – I would never do that.

Marji – I didn’t say you did, only that you were charged. Suddenly everyone would look at you differently. You know how folks are always willing to believe the worst in others. Maybe your husband is having an affair and your new status hurts him in the company. Wouldn’t be hard for him to get a good divorce with you being a felon.

Nelda – A felon! They couldn’t actually believe I would do something to put me in jail.

Marji – Sure they could. And suddenly your a convict on probation with no money and no home. Would Mummy and Daddy let you move home? Which of your friends would stand by you? What job could you get?

Nelda – Stop already! I would have to save my good name first. Reattain my status. That’s the most important thing. None of my friends would alienate me and certainly not my parents. And the thought of my husband divorcing me over something like this is laughable.

Marji – Denial? I think we’re done here. Nelda’s deepest fear is losing her status, her reputation. The money is secondary, but I think only because she has no clue of what a financial bind really entails. She would make a great main character in a women’s fiction.

Be sure to come back next Wednesday to analyze another madam-hatter!

Your turn: What questions would you ask Nelda? How would your Nelda answer them or mine? And what would you call Nelda if you could name her anything?


Character Quirks

Seeing some of the hat designs from this year’s Kentucky Derby inspire me with character quirk ideas.

First is this one. Originally I thought this gal was pathetically trying to imitate the sad style of the royal cousins. (And if those girls aren’t drawn from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, I’m missing something.)

But I took a closer look. Note the spoon in the strawberry bowl. What does it tell me about her? Wealthy goes without saying. I bet she laid more cash out on that hat than most folks I know will spend on a new Easter ensemble. She has a good sense of humor. Someone wearing a fascinator like this has to  be willing to laugh at herself. I can imagine her being a free spirit. Maybe not exactly friendly, but certainly fun-loving and with enough money to support her outlandish activities. It wouldn’t be hard to develop a fictional character based on the assumptions I’ve made here. And throwing her into a situation where she’s lost everything would create an interesting scenario. 

I love this hat! So romantic. The bigger the better, right? Well, I am from Texas. If this gal was a character of mine, she probably wouldn’t be a protagonist. She’s too perfect-looking. I could see her as an antagonist, the other woman, maybe. This gal has a perfect smile and could be just as sweet as she looks. But it seems more interesting to me if she is deeply flawed. Manipulating her man to keep her status of living. Hiding her true character – controlling, vindictive – behind a sorority-girl giggle.

This hat with all the foo-foo on top is the essence of romance. And I have a feeling, with the matching dress, that romance was what the lady was shooting for.

I could picture her as a character that is pulling out all the stops to impress someone. And failing miserably at it. Maybe she’s attempting to turn the head of someone who’s all wrong for her.

Her real prince would be one who appreciates her in blue jeans and a sweat shirt with pig tails in her hair. Maybe she’s not really what she appears to be, only pretending to fit in with this crowd. It could be that her values have twisted up by a new friendship with someone looking at her as a project.

Oh no, this can’t be a real hat. Is that a Barbie Doll on top? This looks like one of those toilet paper covers that used to be popular in the 70s. Seriously.

So this gal is a friend of the pretender from Hat #3. She’s plopped this decorative pillow on her head to make fun of the American Royalty who are hatting it in Kentucky.

One last thought: why are hats such a big deal for the Derby?

Your turn: What do the ladies in these pictures say to you?


Redemption – Bethany’s Story

Katie Ganshert’s debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter is remarkable. Her main character, Bethany chatted about Shame on Monday and returned in this repost from Katie’s blog to discuss her ideas about redemption. I loved learning about Bethany and her plight as I read Wildflowers from Winter and it comes out in just a few days! Woohoo!


Katie asked me to come back and talk about redemption.

After talking about my past and this whole idea of shame, I have no idea if she’s thinking third time’s a charm, or three strikes I’m out.

Regardless, three is my favorite number. So here I am.

Redemption. Not really sure what I think about that word. Crickets, really. So I decided to look it up. Here’s what I found, plus my commentary.


  1. An act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed (How’s that for helpful?)
  2. Deliverance, rescue
  3. Deliverance from sin; salvation (Pastor Fenton? Is that you?)
  4. Atonement for guilt (Now I have to look up atonement.)
  5. Repurchase, as of something sold

Number three brings up too many unpleasant memories.

I have adverse reactions whenever I hear the word atonement. So number four is out.

I don’t think Katie had number five in mind when she brought up redemption and number one is not at all helpful. There should be a law that prohibits dictionaries from using the actual word in the definition.

So I guess I’m left with number two.

Deliverance. Rescue.

I’m not sure how I feel about either of those words.

It’s not like anyone rescued me from Peaks. I had to do that on my own. I’m the one who earned the grades that got me the scholarship. And I’m the one who landed the job in Chicago.

But still….

If I’m being totally honest. Sometimes, when I’m feeling tired or worn out or unsure, the idea of being rescued is an appealing one.

It reminds me of a recurring dream I had as a kid, when we moved away from the farm and into that trailer park. For an entire year I dreamt about a prince as handsome as my dad. He would ride into the park on his white stallion and rescue me from all that had happened. He would bring me back to Grandpa Dan’s farm. And he would make everything better.

But that was just a silly little girl dream.

I learned a long time ago that princes don’t exist.


I’d tear up, but I think the last thing Bethany would want is me feeling sorry for her and her little girl dream destroyed. Her story is poignant and uplifting.

You can preorder Wildflowers from Winter here:

Barnes & Noble
Books a Million
Parable Christian Stores
Powell’s Books
Random House


Shame – Bethany’s Story

I’ve loved reading a brand new book, Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert, which comes out next week! (So excited for her!) She had a series of posts where her main character, Bethany, borrowed her computer and she’s given me permission to repost one of them today.

After reading this, I was totally intrigued and loved getting to know Bethany better. Stop back by on Friday for another visit from Bethany as she’ll be discussing Redemption!


Back in the beginning, when Katie was trying to get to know me, she asked me this question.

Are you ashamed of your past?

I just sort of stared at her.

First, because she was really starting to remind me of Dr. Nowels, sans the toupee. And in case you don’t know Dr. Nowels, let me assure you, the comparison is not meant to be flattering.

Second, because I thought the answer was obvious.

My past isn’t exactly something to be proud of.

I grew up in a trailer park with a mother who had to work third shifts at an aluminum plant. We drove a rusted out Pinto with a faulty muffler and I had to wear my brother’s hand-me-downs. I did one stupid thing when I was twelve and had to spend the next year in therapy. The next ten with a stigma that refused to go away.

Is it any wonder I left?

Nobody likes feeling shame. It’s not an endearing emotion.

When I explained all this to Katie, she raised her eyebrows and sucked on the end of her pen. Like whatever I’d said nudged an invisible puzzle piece into place.

I didn’t rise to the bait. I didn’t ask what she was thinking.

Because it doesn’t matter. I’m an architect, a really good architect. With a masters degree from Texas A&M. With a new car and closet full of nice clothes.

I’m well respected. I’m independent. And that stigma I had growing up? Nobody sees it here. I know how to hide it. In fact, I can almost pretend it never existed.

You’ll want to read Bethany’s story in Katie’s book Wildflowers from Winter. You can preorder now from:
Barnes & Noble
Books a Million
Parable Christian Stores
Powell’s Books
Random House


Christian Fiction

Katie Ganshert is a debut author whose novel premieres in May 2012

Is this term an oxymoron? Christianity itself has the Truth as it’s ultimate foundation. Fiction, by it’s definition means the opposite of truth. Why would anyone want to make Fiction about Christianity?

Ephesians 5 urges us to “make the most of every opportunity.” Not surprising that our God is a Master at that, and fiction writing is no exception.

I am typical for most women my age in that I love to read novels. (Particularly romance and especially a good mystery.) I learn about different types of people and enjoy the way they deal and rise above their circumstances. I know the stories aren’t true, but they draw me in because something within them relates. Whether the main character reminds me of myself in some fashion or the situation in which she finds herself captures my attention, her story becomes real because it could be.

Keli Gwyn is a debut author whose novel premieres in July 2012.

And inviting God to have a place in that story brings the similarities all the more clear. I’m fallen, but redeemed and made holy by His Grace and Christ’s sacrifice. I relish experiencing that sensation again and again while I empathize with the heroines of the books I read as, broken, they reach for an adoring Father who has been there all along just waiting for the chance to show them the depth of his love.

That’s what I want my writing to do as well. Inspire readers to the realization of God’s adoration. Those that understand all that He has done for us need reminding – I know I do – and encouragement in the truth. Those that haven’t experienced that kind of relationship don’t need me to preach at them. But if they can see a real submission to the Father’s love from a book character in which they see themselves, maybe they can also be aware of that same love that wraps around them everyday.

Faith-Driven; that’s my kind of Fiction.

Your turn: What’s your favorite book or which author has your attention at this point – and why???