Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


Interview: Debut Author Keisha Bass

PERMANENT-RESIDENT-AT-THE-PURSE-TABLEbI’m so excited to host author Keisha Bass today. Her debut novel, Permanent Resident at the Purse Table, has just released. Don’t you love the name? Seriously, it brings up all of the insecurities I had as a child and still struggle with.

And though I haven’t read the book in it’s entirety, I did get to critique on some of the initial chapters. Keisha just gifted me with my very own signed copy this weekend and I can’t wait to put it to good use! Here’s the premise of the story: Continue reading

Author Interview with Janice Olson

One of my most-honored mentors is the current president of the Dallas chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the DFW Ready Writers. Janice Olson leads one of the critique groups I frequent and has personally taught me so much, so I’m delighted to support her debut publication! Woohoo!

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Devotion by Sharon Srock

I’m so blessed to have Sharon Srock sharing from her heart today about friendships, how they’ve played a key role in her life and in the creation of her novel, Callie.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (KJV)

12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

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Abandonment Issues – Guest post by Lynne Gentry

I’m so pleased to have a wise friend and one of my writing mentors, Lynne Gentry, visit today to share from her heart.
My husband says my lack of attention kills the plants in our yard. Every spring, I set out to prove him wrong. I rake the dried stalks of last year’s withered plants from the flower bed.

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Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. James 5:13

ACFW conference, the ground-floor halls had little groups all through them. Some chatting, other’s laughing.  Continue reading


Top Ten Things I Learned at the ACFW Conference

The ACFW Conference was amazing from the volunteer tote-packing on Wednesday to the Gala on Saturday night! (Check here to see a note about that!)

Last weekend my biggest prayer was that I wouldn’t miss the things that happened around me. Ha! Flat-out impossible.

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ACFW: What to Bring, What to Do?

Writers, getting ready for conferences need more than just business cards and synopses. This will be my first ACFW conference. Shoot this will be my first of any kind of writer’s conference. Nothing like starting off big. Huh?

There are some wonderful folks anxious to help out a newbie like me make preparations for this September weekend. On the ACFW site, I’ve been delighted and blessed to be involved in the “First-Timers” loop where experienced authors like Cara Putnam and Brandilyn Collins give tips and suggestions on our different types of pitches. What amazing input and such generosity! Can’t wait to hug their necks for making the experience so much easier and less frightening.

I know that Cara is also doing a course on ACFW preparation at the ACFW loops. So helpful. And it gave me the idea to poll experienced folks from all walks, published and non-published, to see what they suggest to bring to for the weekend, or any other writing conference. Got some great suggestions.

  • Business cards and plenty of paper and pens to take notes, copies of one sheets, synopses, and sample chapters, a specific folder for each editor or agent appointment containing what they would like to see. – Keisha Bass, writer of Inspiration Fiction and Non-fiction
  • Your one sheets and sample chapter, info on agents and editors you want to meet including their pictures so you know what they look like and what they are looking for, Ipad or tablet with long battery life, comfy shoes, good attitude and a desire to help others, prayer, and a teachable spirit – Patricia PacJac Carroll, author of Western Historical Romance
  • Comfortable shoes, sweater or wrap for chilly classrooms, pens, highlighters and a Magic Marker, Scotch Tape (for instant hem mends and other random uses), Bandaids ( a few in case of paper cuts or blisters), snacks to carry in your bag (because hotel food is expensive and lines at breaks can be long), camera in all forms. – Marilyn Eudaly, non-fiction author
  • Prepare to be teachable. – Pamela S. Meyers, author of romantic fiction
  • Business cards – Roger Bruner, author of quirky Inspirational Fiction
  • In the last two conferences I’ve attended, I’ve been on the appointment-taking end. My biggest advice to those meeting with editors is to relax. Put on a smile, be yourself, and trust the Lord with the outcome. And have fun! You may make friends at conference that you’ll have for life. – Normandie Fischer, Executive Editor, Wayside Pressan imprint of Written World Communications
  • Comfy clothes. Make sure you’re comfortable all weekend! – Linda Glaz, literary agent for Hartline Literary Agency and author of Romance-Suspense
  • Comfortable shoes, business cards, one sheets – Terry Burns, literary agent for Hartline Literary Agency and author of Western Fiction
  • Here are the top ten from Janice Olson, president of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of ACFW (DFW Ready Writers):
    1. Comfortable clothes, but conference/business appropriate
    2. Comfortable shoes, again conference/business appropriate – You always want to look professional.
    3. Several pens/pencils, paper, and or a computer or similar devise if you rather take notes that way.
    4. Headache tablets.
    5. Money for those times meals are not provided for you.
    6. A good sense of humor
    7. A smile and welcoming face
    8. Business card with pertain contact information and a recent picture of you on it.
    9. A well prepared One Sheet and elevator pitch
    10. A Bible for those periods of down time and when you need encouragement.
  • Lena Nelson Dooley, multi-published author of Historical Romance added her top five suggestions:
    1. An open heart
    2. A listening ear to God’s promptings
    3. A teachable spirit
    4. A desire to bless and minister to others
    5. Boldness to step out and meet people

Interesting how three seasoned conference attendees all included a teachable spirit on their lists. I will definitely be praying that the Lord help me be a listener in a big way. I’ll also pack my bag carefully and as lightly as possible, expecting to do a lot of standing and walking according to the others who have gone before me. Prom experience (9 hours of seldom-sitting) has proven to me that I’m not so great at that. So I’m doing a lot of walking ahead of time to get into better shape.

Your turn: What is your must-have at a conference that you’ve attended?


Steps to Gold Medal Writing

2012 London Olympic Logo

Though I hardly ever watch television, I’ve been glued to it for the past few days enjoying the Olympics. I end up with a plethora of emotions while I watch. But high on that list is the total wonder at how the athletes pour everything they have into their task. They train, practice, and participate in competitions in order to build their strength and hone their talent.

Not unlike a writer’s journey.

Training is as essential to writing as to sports. The women that I’m watching weren’t born in a backbend … probably. They learned the skills they needed to accomplish the given tasks and it started with simple somersaults. Writing, likewise, takes education – basics.

My training consists of books, online classes, and critique groups. I’ve devoured texts about plotting, characterizations, word-painting, even social media and website designing. I flag pages and make highlights. I pull out my WIPs and practice what the books suggest. I do the homework for the online classes and observe the homework of others so I can learn from their successes and mistakes. And I’ve learned tons from the critique groups that I participate in. Full of both published and pre-published writers, these groups have taught me not only how to write, but also how to read what I’ve written with a reader’s eye. Priceless.

Practice for the athletes is like a full-time job. Spending hours in their field going through drill after drill to develop muscle memory.

Writing practice doesn’t require drills per se, but it does require writing. My work will only get better if I do the drafting and then follow through with the rewriting and revisions. The president of our Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Janice Olson, explains it this way at our meetings:

We are writers; that means we write.

That simple. So I too make this a second full-time job. (Home-schooling my three girls is the first.) I spend every spare minute at my computer, limiting my social time, though that’s part of my career, and just writing. Head back, eyes closed, typing away.

Participation for the athletes comprises their goals. Stepping through the ranks of successes at competition, the performance is always key.

That’s where writing differs. In my opinion, the writing (practice) is key. And I think a lot of would-be published writers would agree with me. See our participation means sending out query letters and proposals and hoping for manuscript requests. I know I shied away from that part of the process, except for one shy email, for a solid year. My story wasn’t ready, I kept telling myself and everyone around me.

But how can I know my writing is ready if I don’t get it up on that diving board and give it a little push? Sending the stories, articles, proposals out to agents or editors provides writers with the feedback, like a cheering crowd, that lets them know that they can do this.

So I’ve started pushing my latest novel off the diving board. (I highly recommend taking the plunge!) So far with pretty favorable results, and who can say what may come? At the very least, I will certainly learn another step to this wonderful career I have.

With the right training, tons of practice, and a little courage a writer can win gold. Click here to tweet this.

Your turn: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far in your writing journey?


Interview with Author Lee Carver

Sample and buy it here!
Happy Anniversary, Lee! Hope you and your hubby have a GREAT day and a super-blessed weekend!

Lee Carver and I met at a meeting of the DFW Ready Writers, a chapter of ACFW. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her in a critique group that Lena Nelson Dooley hosts. What a hoot! This lady makes me laugh!

However, her dedication to her craft is anything but funny. Focused and thoroughly researched, her writing is a delight to critique. Her attention to detail also makes her a fabulous

freelance editor! Contact her for information on that. Anytime I’m struggling with sentence structure, I channel my inner-Lee! You can reach her at her website:

Marji – What inspired you to become a writer?

Lee – I never intended to “become a writer.” It snuck up on me gradually. I’d collected quite a few true stories of international life that were great to tell over coffee after dinner. Not wanting to forget these gems, I began to write them down. Not just bad experiences with a passport in Singapore, but really funny stories with a punch line. As they collected, I thought I’d print them out and give them to a few hundred of my closest friends.

Then a professor of creative writing at UCLA moved to Sao Paulo and we became great buddies. She was pushed into teaching a course at home for people like myself, and my stories became my first book, now morphed into “The Most Excellent Adventure”. It’s totally true, non-fiction, and reads sort of like an international Reader’s Digest contributors’ page.

Marji – What is your ultimate goal for writing in general?

Lee – For my writing to be uplifting, encouraging, appropriate entertainment for Christians–it’s all about living out my commitment to God through building up his people and, the very highest goal of all, to lead someone to love Jesus.


Marji – How does Love’s Second Verse satisfy that goal?

Lee – The story was supposed to be about Julia overcoming adversity through her faith in God. I wanted to print the last verse of the hymn “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and name the book “Truimph Song”, but the combination of copyright laws and my agent’s title ideas nixed that. The subplot concerning Julia’s evil brother-in-law came by surprise. Can someone think he’s a Christian and not be? And what changes in his life come about when Jesus takes over? I write by plotting, but I felt that God hijacked my novel and made it far better.

Marji – What inspired this particular story?

Marji – What actors might play your main characters if they made a movie of this?

Lee – I had a few short stories and articles published, and was pressured into trying a novel. My standard response was that I would write a novel when God gave me a plot. A few years later, I had to make good on that promise.

Marji – What’s a lasting line from your novel – like the “Frankly, dear …” from Gone with the Wind, or “You had me at hello.”

Lee – I do have models in mind for my characters, but they aren’t movie stars. For the sake of the wider audience, let’s say that Paul is a tall, handsome, quiet professional, a bit like Gregory Peck. And Julia, well, do you know the wife in the new TV series, “The Firm”? But blonde and a soprano.

Lee – How I wish I’d written those lines! To avoid giving away the ending, I looked at the first chapter and was reminded of Julia’s prayer when it seemed everything was crumbling. She prayed, “You love me, and I can trust you with my life.”

Marji – How does writing fit into your regular day-in-the-life?

Lee – Can’t say that it does. Short stories maybe, but novels require hours and hours of dedicated research and writing. Especially my current effort on characters in WW2 Germany and America. Wow! How did I ever get into this? If it weren’t for the accountability of my Thursday night critique group, my chapters would come a lot slower–or not at all.

Oh and that WWII novel is SO INTENSE! Gives me shivers all down my spine, or maybe that’s the cold medicine I took. Either way, that story is so exciting and I can’t wait for the next chapter!

I’m so glad that Lee was able to share her life and stories with us today! I know that her books are only 99 cents at Smashwords and Amazon, so I hope you’ll take advantage of the great price!

Lee Carver has retired from her globe-trotting life as the wife of a senior vice president of the world’s largest bank. She and her husband served as volunteer missionaries for six years, while he was a pilot in the Brazilian Amazon. Lee ran their home as a free missionary guesthouse.

Lee lived in six foreign countries and studied nine languages. She has taught biology and chemistry, served as volunteer church musician, and is a currently participates in her church choir, Room in the Inn for homeless women, and Prayer Shawl Ministry. The Carvers, married forty-four years TODAY, have two adult children and five grandchildren.


Learning from Failure

I'm so pleased to be involved with an awesome group of folks in the DFW Ready Writers. They are a local chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Last Saturday, I got to go to the January meeting of the group and the new president, Janice Olsen, suggested that we, as writers, can learn a lot more from our failures than we can from our successes.

Seems like that's true of anybody, though. When I taught elementary, we had a discipline expert come in with a discussion on empowering the students. Her focus was to teach them that their behavior is
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