Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Winning Announcement!

The winner of the September New Releases Clash is…
The Road To Mercy by Kathy Harris 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,

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Doldrums – A Writer’s Journey

You know how the game of Candy Land has that molasses swamp? The whole board is covered with a bright candy variety that still stimulates the kid in me when I see it. Then just before the end, the whole corner is just brown.

Nowadays, of course, I think of chocolate and my mouth inadvertently starts to drool, but

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We Have A Winner of the August Clash of the Titles

Congratulations to Gloria Clover, winner of the August New Releases Clash, with her novel, The Fire Starter!
Thank you so much to our competitors. This competition was amazing! Continue reading


What are the Building Blocks to Growth?

I’m not going to share about biology or cellular dynamics. The growth I’m talking about is spiritual, physical, and intellectual. And all of that type of growth depends on the things that have gone before.

There’s a new skyscraper up in downtown Dallas and guess what? They didn’t start

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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?

Clash of the May 2012 Releases

This clash’s host: Jennifer Slattery

My summer reading list is quickly growing. When you read the following two-sentence hooks, I’m sure you’ll agree, these five May releases are must-reads indeed! Which one is drawing you the most? Please vote below, and check out on July 5th to see who won. Happy Independence Day!

Spring Hope by Martha Rogers:

Libby Cantrell’s life has gone from bad to
worse since her mother’s death. With an abusive father, and life in a brothel,
she sees no hope for her future until she gains the courage to make her escape
one cold winter night. 

When she arrives exhausted, hungry, and ill in
Portersfield, Texas, Sheriff Cory Muldoon finds her in an alley and takes her
to a doctor. 

Wildflowers From Winter by Katie Ganshert

A young architect at a prestigious Chicagofirm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa.

Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she’s finally beginning to heal. But then she discovers that David carried a secret to his grave—a secret that changes everything she thought about their marriage.

When Trusting God Is the Only Way Out
On an average day, God started her missions in her sculpting studio, revealing the face of the person she would meet at the grocery store, bank, or playground. The goal was always the same. Reach the lost, bring someone back to God, restore hope.

Everyone in Fitzgerald Bay—except his law-enforcement family—is convinced Charles Fitzgerald murdered his children’s nanny. Condemned by public opinion, his only hope for a replacement nanny to take care of his two-year-old twins is newcomer Demi Taylor.
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Avengers and Encouragement – What?

Encouragement comes from the strangest places sometimes! I encountered these awesome posters on Author Roy Hudson’s feed. Not sure how I saw them because I don’t follow Roy, but maybe one of my buds does. Anyway, these pics came in at just the right time to stimulate not only my need to put some words on the “page,” but also some musings about what my next scene would be about.

I love it when encourage pops up without warning. Those little tidbits that I don’t expect, yet they jump into my lap for a howdy to give me a smile and keep me moving in a productive direction.

My new Bible study did that for me on Monday. You know when you start a chapter and feel like you need to wade through the first few verses to get to the meat of the material? Well my new study, on Proverbs 31, threatened to begin like that.

We only go through a couple of verses each day and at the first sight, these seem to be no-brainer set-up sentences. “The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him. Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!”

Set-up for the big reveal, right? Wrong! This IS so revealing and perfect for the day after Mother’s Day. This mom begged her son to listen to the wisdom she wanted to impart. My son is 21. The final years of his high school, I did that kind of begging. PLEASE, JUST LISTEN TO ME!

Now, several years later, I find that he did. It’s so exciting to see the Lord working in his life! Lemuel had that type of revelation as well. See HE’S the one that wrote the chapter. Not “Momma.” And according to verse 1, he wrote it from the inspirations of his mom.

He did listen. He took it in. Encouragement for moms: Keep going. Keep talking. Keep loving. Keep praying. It really will get through and make a difference!

Your turn: Where has encouragement popped up where you didn’t expect it?


Round of Words – 80th Day

In the final round of 2011, my successes stood out so obviously. I finished a whole novel in a month and a half – I didn’t think it could be done. So with this round, my expectations were running high.

But with the distractions of life and more importantly, the pressing need to get my written stories in a finished product form, I had little inspiration for a new novel. So what do I have to show for my 80 days? Well the braid gives a clue because things really came together in this round!

  1. A cumulative idea that draws my three novels together in such a tight way, that though the stories stand alone, readers will delight in learning “the rest of the story” as they go along. I’m so excited about that!
  2. Along with the connection to my stories came a marketing plan that I didn’t expect but have been searching for.
  3. A niche idea! That word, when referencing marketing has created such a conundrum for me. But all of the other plans have sparked a great idea that has me excited down to my toes. Find out after April Fools Day!

So though I don’t have a whole new book to show from this 80 day period, I’m well on my way to recreating my favorite three into a series and discovering a doable marketing plan that will allow me to start shopping these ideas soon.

Special thanks to all of the ROW80 folks who have given such enthusiastic encouragement. What a wonderful group you are and I’m so honored to be counted among you!

Wow! Is it any wonder I’m feeling encouraged! And this only includes the last half of the round! Whoosh! If you need support and cheers for your solitary work at the story in your head – and anything that goes along with it – look no further than ROW80! New ROWnd starts in a couple of weeks. Click the link to learn more and visit one or two of the folks above – spread some smiles back at them. And tell ’em Marji sent ya! 🙂

From Writing to Wisdom

I’ve picked out a few awesome articles after pouring through tons of them this week. These really spoke to me and I hope they speak to you.

With assurance
With inspiration
May your wings take flight!