Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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!

When Romance Blooms

3dbookcover2Woohoo! Tomorrow through Thursday, Grime Wave, the second book in the Grime Fighter series, is only 99¢, and tomorrow only book one, Grime Beat, is FREE!

Dani and Jay’s romance begins to bloom in this story. And Jay’s attempt to take Dani on a first real date inspired me to make a series of posts about the first dates of some of some outstanding Christian authors.

But I don’t want to put any of them Continue reading



A green baby, a blond prom queen, and a rich fairy tale combine to give inspiration? Really? Continue reading

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How God Woos

I wrote this article a couple of months ago, but because of the volatile situation involved, I decided to delay the posting of it. This week following Thanksgiving seems the perfect time to hint at how the Lord blesses His people and draws us to Him.

I can tell you that the friend of whom I wrote is well on her way to full recovery – praise Jesus!  Continue reading


Review of Mama B. – A Time To Speak

I have had the pleasure of critiquing with Michelle Stimpson on parts of Mama B. over the course of the last year, so when the grand lady finally hit Amazon, I scooped her up fast.Growing up in the south, regardless of your race, you’re going to have a Mama B. in your life. Mine just happened to also be African American, my babysitter and mother figure for many years, Gladys.

Continue reading


Conference Encounter #1

My mouth.


I know I talk like a Texan, but really … does my tongue have to increase the sound of naivete by stumbling around inside my mouth? Yeah, I’ve got specifics: Continue reading



targetThere’s a new series coming to TNT called Perception and I must admit my intrigue with the premise. I glean from the marketing that a local law agency relies on a schizophrenic to help them solve crimes. That his unique disability is acutually a hyper-ability to see things from outside himself.


We look at a our world only through our own eyes. We can’t help but color (whether inside or outside the lines) what we observe with the paints of our own background. How would we know, for instance, to use yellow if we’d never seen it in action?

That said, many times conflicts arise out of different perspectives. Think about it. The same thing said in the hearing of several people can draw targetmultiple emotions and expectations.


This word means one thing to a sportsman, another to a suburban housewife, a third to a Desert Storm veteran, and still another to a marketing guru. And I’m not even broaching the criminal element.

There are countless words like that. How many definitions can you come up with for the following:

obedience, media, government, value, success, race

Your initial thoughts about the words are shaped by your background and even your best friend isn’t going to define them the same way you do. If single words can cause confusion, how much moreso the conflicting notions that arise where people have passionate interests.

Case in point: when my brother hit jr. high, he found an antique at a local garage sale. A shingle like you would see hanging outside a person’s place of business, only the board that hung down had the word whites on one side and the word coloreds on the other.

Now I grew up in a suburb of Dallas and I had no idea the true meaning of that sign. I thought it had come from a laundromat, differentiating the washers where you should use bleach and those where you should not. And I drew that brilliant deduction from the fact that I’d stained a pink jumpsuit with bleach not long before the sign appeared in my brother’s room. (If you’re confused about the sign – and I hope there are a few of you so I won’t feel so clueless – these used to pepper the city of Dallas, according to my mom, up until the mid-sixties, differentiating between bathrooms, payphones, water fountains, even areas of restaurants so that the identified “races” wouldn’t mingle.)

Some of you reading may have trouble believing that I didn’t understand the sign especially in my environment. Some of you might be shocked that such signs existed in a cultured city. Others never thought Dallas a cultured city to begin with. And finally, some of you might be offended that my bro brought home a sign like that in the first place.

Recognizing that every observer has to quantify observations based on the limits of experience brings people a long way to cooperation, understanding, mercy, and forgiveness. That acceptance doesn’t erase the differing perspectives, but it can begin to tear down the walls that assumptions, based on those perspectives, can build.

May that understanding become a huge sledge hammer in our culture.

Your turn: What are some words or phrases that trip you up? Things that provoke an emotion or memory contrary to the norm?


P is for PROM

No, I’m not talking the balloons and crepe paper of my prom although I loved my prom.

AND I’m not talking about the step-up to lattice and twinkle lights used at the prom the night before ours. (I did guard duty on our unloaded stuff. The twinkle lights were lovely, but – no.)


This prom is outrageous over-the-top. This year’s theme was

“The Kingdom.”

The alpha/omega symbol, our icon. And we had a dragon!


Our entry was a 60 foot wall, complete with guards on the top. It led into a garden with gazebo, fountain and bridge. Next to the Kings garden was a chapel. Yes, real stained glass. It and the garden were so much cooler than the ballroom! Along one side was a huge labyrinth – a work of art made of bamboo and shrubbery cuttings. The students made a contest to see who could escape first.

Behind that, our arena with a myriad of games: archery, rings and ball tosses, chess, checkers, backgammon, mancala. Oh and this awesome catapult activity where they knocked down the miniature castle.

Beyond that was the Armory where the kids could get pics taken with swords and battleaxes and the Knights Hall complete with the Round Table for group shots.

Our village had both a tavern and an apothecary where the kids could pick up Dr. Peppers or sachets, respectively. Behind the tavern, the throne room highlighted the backside of our pre-function area. Yes, we had a prince and princess.

In fact, we had a battle scene with about a dozen warriors to open the dinner. During the meal, The Dallas String Quartet played followed by DJ, William Ryan III. The students danced Thriller, waltz, Boot Scoot Boogie, and swing along with the jump-up-and-down songs that are at most proms. After a Dance Contest and a final Senior Legacy Dance where the graduating danced with parents, the night finally closed at 1AM. For them.

For us, it ended about 5 hours later – but it was worth it! What a great night!

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Thirteen Tornadoes Tore Through the Metroplex

Sounds surreal. I’ve lived here all my life and don’t remember an afternoon like the one I just had. I brought my girls home from piano lessons and errand running to turn on the news to images of a tornado tearing through the center of the metroplex.

The shot was shocking, taken from the air where a helicopter circled. The meteorologist commented on the “debris” that was flying through the air. I felt sick. Debris is like scattered papers or pencil shavings. I was seeing the roofs of people’s houses, their walls, bookcases, and possessions. It’s so easy to call it debris, but the truth was all too vivid on my screen and I started praying for the people in the path of the storm. “The houses right there. And that building. And make the drivers on that road stop before they get too close.”

Little did I realize I was in the path of another tornado just like it. Not then anyway, but I figured it out soon enough. I got my kids and my neighbor’s kids set up playing cards in the bathroom while I listened to the weather radio and stared at the hook echo on the TV screen that approached. The sirens in the city to our south had been blaring for some time, but the wall cloud wasn’t really close. And it looked to veer a little west. Or maybe it was going to lean toward the east?

I couldn’t avoid the truth. That monster had a bead on my house. It had been traveling in the same direction the entire time and was coming right for us. But at least it had gone back into the sky for the moment.

My son called me, giving voice to my fear. The clouds had spewed forth another twister less than a mile away from us and we were in the direct path. The kids were playing and laughing so they hardly heard the new chorus of sirens from down the street that drowned out the television.

From across the room I peaked into my backyard – seeing the southwestern sky that held a terrifying secret. Darkness. Not a cozy past sunset darkness or the promise of predawn but impending, intruding darkness with the stillness of death. No bird flying, not a whisper of a breeze. I kept whispering prayers as my son spoke.

Then I saw them. “The trees are starting to toss.” My son calmed me down and urged me to go into the bathroom, but I just couldn’t. The kids would see I was afraid and it would spread. I couldn’t do that to them … until I had to.

I glanced at the TV where the reporter pointed to a zoomed up map and radar image. “We’re hearing reports of a tornado on the ground. If there is one it will be in this area.” He pointed to a small section of the map.

“Boy, the man just pointed at my house!” I’ve never had a weatherman point anywhere near my house. It totally freaked me out.

But Dear Boy was calm. “Mom you know you’re okay. It’s only a little rope right now; not even enough to push over the fence. It’s gonna be fine.”

“Could you just stay on the phone with me?” My sweet boy understood and just chatted for a minute. At that point, I perched on the arm of my couch ready to dash if I saw any more indication of wind, but it stopped, like the sky held it’s breath.

Then something utterly remarkable happened. The radar renewed it’s image. The rotating cell approaching my neighborhood disappeared and immediately reappeared less than a mile away – DIRECTLY EAST OF WHERE IT HAD BEEN. With the twister no longer heading right for me, I released a breath I’d held for hours. As I’m writing to you, my jaw is still sore from my of grinding and clamping.

Now I know tornadoes are unpredictable creatures, but even my weather-bug boy was shocked at how this one had so abruptly broken it’s character. I can’t explain it and wouldn’t want to try because my small mind cannot comprehend the ways of the Lord. And I learned another miracle later that evening. Thirteen different tornadoes touched down – some of them came multiple times … Only minor injuries.

Yes, God is good. He would’ve been good if the tornado had hit my house, too, but all I could feel was profound gratefulness that He spared our home and blessed the people who were in the storm’s path with another day.

The Mystery of the Mavericks

My friend Dwayne had a comment to a Facebook post several months back. Someone had posted a frustration after a loss to the Lakers, stating that it was the mystique that LA held; that Dallas just choked when they went up against them because of who they were. Dwayne replied that he was full of malarkey. That Dallas couldn’t beat LA because the Mavs were just a mediocre team and he wished the Texas fans could figure that out and stop making excuses for them.

My mom had a plaque hanging in our home that said, “O Lord, make my words gracious and tender today for tomorrow I may have to eat them!” Remembering that, I refrained from responding to Dwayne’s obviously erroneous assessment of the situation. Besides, he’s one of my closest friend’s hubby. Wouldn’t want him to banish me from his house! 🙂

What is it about this team? It was obvious in the first couple of games that no one expected them to go five games, let alone be ahead at the end of five. ABC showed highlight after highlight of the HEAT during every commercial, even when the Mavs were winning.

They are the epitome of underdogs! How are they still in this?

No really, I’m asking. I know they have Dirk (I’m not blind) but Lebron is equally amazing, although annoying. Jason Terry has played well most of the games and I love his attitude. JJ Berea has to be the most fun to watch; does the man know how to slow down? Likewise the HEAT has their hot players, and so did the Lakers, and so did the Thunder. Why are the Mavs still in this?

I’m gonna hazard a guess and hope that some of you will either set me straight or add some of your own thoughts. As we get ready for the game Sunday night, I’m thinking the way the Mavs gel as a team makes all the difference in the world. I get that as much from the losses as from the wins. Seldom have I seen a game where all of them are off or all of them are on. When Kidd is off, Berea is hot. When Terry is injured, Marion is on fire. And as for Dirk, Mr. Amazing, himself; they’ve won on his bad days, too. This team is more than its star; (DUH) and when it works together, it is far more than the sum of its parts!

What am I missing? Help me solve this mystery!