Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


Leave a comment

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!


2 Comments

Snapshot #2

Yesterday was the beginning of my publisher’s annual We Love Our Readers Sale and Sweepstakes. The publishing company does a lot to bring this opportunity to you, but many of our authors contribute and sponsor the event as well. I want to share about two other of our sponsors – these two both write mystery/suspense!

Julie Cosgrove is an award-winning author of sixteen novels as well as short stories. She developed a passion for words at a young age. She began with word search puzzles. Then she solved the word games in the daily newspapers. She and her mother shared many fun hours playing Scrabble and Hang Man.

Then, another passion developed―whodunnits. She loved the Charlie Chan, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercule Poirot movies that played on Saturday afternoons on TV. Nancy Drew and the romantic mystery novels of the late Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt kept her eyes dancing over the pages through her school years.

Later in her adult life, her passion for Christ spurred her to write faith-based fiction and devotionals for several publications, which she has been doing since 2009. Her blog, Where Did You Find God Today?  now has readers in over fifty countries.

But her passion remains mystery, the cozier the better. Now, she has mysteries stacked up on her watchlist on Britbox and a long list of cozies on her e-reader’s to-be-read list. She loves to write them as well.

You can find all of her fiction and nonfiction books as well as her blog’s link on her website, www.juliebcosgrove.com.

Her completed “Relatively Seeking Mysteries” is on sale this week because We Love Our Readers! Click the image to find out more about these three friends that get into some deep, hot water when they innocently begin investigating their ancestries. Who would think that something as benign as looking back into history could be so terribly dangerous? Learn more about book 1, One Leaf Too Many, HERE!

Suspense author Dena Netherton has a three-book series as well. “The Hunted” series is an edge of your seat psychological suspense dealing with a stalking situation that was inspired by real issues from the past. Now based in Wyoming, Dena writes with a goal to give you stories that are compelling neough to keep you up all night.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She studied music and theater in the Midwest and in Colorado and taught music for thirty-five years. In the 1970s, when Dena was just a teenager, her family took a road trip through the Pacific Northwest, ending with a stay in Anacortes, Washington, and a ferry ride through the San Juan Islands. She was captivated by the beauty of Washington’s west coast and vowed she’d one day move to the area. Forty years later, not only did God move her to the beautiful area, He inspired her with stories set there.

Dena’s prayer as a Christian author is that her stories inspire and encourage your faith. Her goal is to write stories compelling enough to keep you ‘up all night.’ Find Dena on her website: denanetherton.me.

Her series begins with Haven’s Flight.

How can you flee from an unseen enemy?

Haven Ellingsen enrolled in Life Ventures Therapy Camp in the Cascade Mountains to help her heal from horrible memories of her mother’s violent death at the hands of an armed robber. But now, a greater fear dogs her steps. The rustle of leaves or the snap of a twig could be nothing. Or it might signal the sinister presence of the stalker who won’t stop following her. It seems like a cruel trick from God to throw Haven into another dangerous situation only a year after her mom’s murder.

He hides near her tent and listens to the girl talk with the counselor. Mostly she talks about her father. She’s unhappy, and he can’t stand to listen and do nothing about it. He needs to rescue her. He needs to make sure she doesn’t ever go back to that man. His own father was the cause of his mother’s death. And Ruth’s. He can’t let that happen again. Not with this girl. When the time is right, he’ll take her away to his hidden cabin where she’ll be safe. And he will feel peace for the first time in years.

Can one month of survival training equip a girl to face all that the rugged wilderness and a madman can dish out?

All three books of the series are on sale this week. Click the image to reach the series page on Amazon HERE.

Don’t forget to also enter our sweepstakes. We’re giving away a free Kindle Fire, a selection of books for it, and a $50 Amazon gift card to boot! You’ll not want to miss out on this opportunity. Visit WriteIntegrity.com for the scoop!


Snapshot #1!

Today begins our Write Integrity Press annual WE LOVE OUR READERS contest. Eleven different authors are bringing this contest to you and I want to highlight two of them today.

Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ.

With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is a speaker, writing instructor, and Fear Warrior who sounds the call to battle against fear in our everyday lives.

Jerusha loves to hang out with her big furry dogs and little furry cats. You’ll often find her sharing irresistibly adorable photos of them in her newsletter and on social media.

Get a free suspense story from Jerusha and find more of her thrilling, fear-fighting novels at www.JerushaAgen.com.

Jerusha’s Sister’s Redeemed series is about broken people finding their way with the help of God and others. Here’s a tidbit from her first book, THIS DANCE.

No love, no pain. No God, no games.

A tragedy three years ago destroyed Nye’s rise to the top of the dancing world as an upcoming tango star, and in the process destroyed her reason for living, too. She survived the pain and built a new life resembling nothing like the one she left behind, determined never to hurt again.

Nye’s emotional walls hold up perfectly until she meets a handsome lawyer and an elderly landowner. They seem harmless, but one awakens feelings she doesn’t want and the other makes her face the God she can’t forgive. Will these two men help Nye dance again?

Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. An educator and mentor, she teaches English online and is an inspirational speaker for schools, churches, and podcasts.

Kristen and her husband live in Florida and enjoy sharing their lake home with family and friends.

Connect with her at KristenHogrefeParnell.com where she blogs under her married
name.

Kristen’s award-winning, young-adult speculative is a dystopian book with hope. That seems an oxymoron, but it works. And clearly others agree. Two of her three books won the coveted Selah Award for speculative fiction.

Here’s a little about book 1, THE REVISIONARY from her series “The Rogues:

A Revisionary rewrites the rules.
A Rogue breaks them.
Which one is she?

Nineteen-year-old Portia Abernathy plans to earn a Dome seat and rewrite the Codex rules to rescue her exiled brother. Her journey demands answers from the past civilization, but uncovering the truth means breaking the rules she set out to rewrite.

Where will the world be in 2149? If citizens forget their past, they will be lost in an identity crisis. That’s exactly the state of the American Socialists United (ASU). This dystopian story opens in Cube 1519, a ghetto where the only use for obsolete cell phones is to throw them like rocks at mongrels. Portia and her father survive like many other citizens, with no electricity or technology and no expectation for a better life.

Written for young adults, THE REVISIONARY offers a suspenseful plot, flashbacks to America’s Revolutionary era, and a rediscovery of the founding values needed to rebuild Portia’s unraveling world. Blockbuster novels like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver popularized the dystopian YA genre. THE REVISIONARY builds a dystopia of a different kind—one that looks backward to find wisdom and moves forward to offer an underlying message of heritage and hope.

Both of these authors have new books out and coming out! You can learn more about them at their author pages. And be sure to enter our Sweepstakes at WriteIntegrity.com


What Makes a Mystery Good?

I’m so happy to have rejoined the Suspense Sisters group! Oh I missed being part of that little circle! My first article last month was about good mysteries. You can see it HERE!

Now you know I love a good mystery! But exactly what is it that makes a mystery good?

I’m convinced that it isn’t only one thing, but a combination of stellar qualities that makes a juicy mystery truly memorable. One that stands out in my mind right now is by Colleen Coble, Tidewater Inn. I won’t give you any spoilers, but when the main character is doing a video call (or something like that) with her best friend, the other woman is kidnapped while she looks on. And that’s just the start of the suspense.

I think I read that book about seven years ago and it still makes an impact. Now that’s a good mystery. And yes, I know it was technically a suspense, but the best suspense stories have a juicy mystery involved. (And I’ll put COUNTER POINT and BREAKING POINT in the category of suspense with mystery).

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some of my thoughts on what makes a great mystery, but you can get things rolling. A free copy of COUNTER POINT is up for grabs to one commenter answering this question: Name a mystery you recently read (or saw) and share what made it memorable.


12 Free Christmas Reads!

One of the Write Integrity Press readers will be given their 12 Books of Christmas – all for only leaving a comment on their blog! You can comment every day for extra entries! And the odds of winning are OUTSTANDING at this point! Add your comments and tell them Marji sent you!

Write Integrity Press 12 Books of Christmas Blog Link

12-books


4 Comments

Indie Author – One of my FAVES!

IgnitedWoohoo! We have another super-generous author willing to give away a treasure! Want a chance to win this exciting new book? Read on!

Not only is today’s author one of my favorites, her series is the all-time favorite of my teenagers. Plus, she’s a great friend. Jackie Castle has just released the fifth book, Ignited, in her White Road Chronicles (a cross between Narnia and Lord of the Rings). Come back by on Thursday to check out what my girls thought about Ignited.

In addition to her fantasy allegory, she’s also started a contemporary romance series – quite a stretch, but one she’s pulling off with great success. I couldn’t resist asking her a few questions about the differences in our little interview.

Thanks so much, Jackie, for spending some time with me! I have to tell you, my teenage twins inhaled Ignited! They will be sharing their review in a few days. So I have to ask, where did this fabulous allegory first begin; what was your initial inspiration for Illuminated – the beginning of your White Road Chronicles? And how many more pieces of Alyra’s story are there?

I’m not even sure where the first inspiration came from. I was reading a lot of YA fantasy and so many of the characters were dragged through the mud and beaten down in so many ways. A thought went through my mind, “They need a healer.”

From there, Alyra/The Princess walked into my mind with red curls and a glow surrounding her. I’d written a few books before this and had been part of a writers group all through my 20s, but hadn’t been in a long while. I kept thinking I needed to rejoin a writer’s organization, but couldn’t find one at the time that was Christian-based. The Lord told me I knew how to write a story, and I just needed to do it. Write it for Him. So I did. And when I let people read it, they loved it.

Soon as I finished the book, I found ACFW and Lena’s critique group. (Lena Nelson Dooley)

I had originally planned to just write the one, with a possibility of two more if there was interest. Then my cousin visited me one day, and he was into the stories. He said the Lord told him I’d write a lot more than just three. LOL. I told him no way. But I’ve not been able to tell the whole story after the first three, so it’s looking like there will be six.

Which now makes me kind of sad, since I just finished #5. I simply love the land of Alburnium.

A new idea had been tinkering around in the back of my mind. A new problem rising up in the land. I see a face peeking out of the shadows… so who knows?

The White Road Chronicles are drastically different from your contemporary romance series, Madison Creek Bed & Breakfast. Which of the series is harder to write? Do you have any tricks for moving from the fantasy allegory to the contemporary romance? 

Honestly, they’re not all that different, if you really think about it. Madison Creek is a town that wants to revive itself. The way they will do that is to band together and help each other out.

In Alburnium, One who needs help can always find it in a Kingdom town, or A White Tree town. A Kingdom town will help a weary traveler on toward their destination. A Kingdom town is a safe place and the people of Alburnium are gathering together to take back what the enemy has stolen so that goodness reigns.

I think, basically, that’s my core belief. As God’s people we should be standing together and taking back what the enemy keeps trying to steal from us. We do that by living with open hands, showing kindness, helping when there’s a need, offering grace and understanding to the downtrodden. At least, it’s a theme that seems to run through my stories.jackie Castle

I’d have to say the contemporary is more difficult. I can make things up in fantasy and that’s fun. The contemporary has more rules I need to live by. Blah. Lol.

Your characters in the White Road Chronicles are deeply crafted and all so unique. Did they simply develop as you wrote, or did you base personalities on people or characters familiar to you?

They developed as I wrote them. Some represented people I know in my life. Here’s an example I can share because this friend knows she was my inspiration for Carah. But the first time Carah shows up in the books, she’s standing in the midst of a battle singing! And the enemy can’t handle it. The friend who inspired this character is a worship leader, and I’ve said often when she sings and her voice booms across the room, the demons scatter. You feel it deep down, and her songs stir something inside of you. When Carah goes into battle, and she sings for the King, it drives away the enemy. Some people can just do that. It’s a gift, I think. =)

What do you find is the biggest challenge in writing a series of any sort? Do you have a special way of keeping the character and story details consistent between the books?

Keeping track of everything has been the hardest part. I didn’t plan all this out before I started. It’s just come to me as I went along. I do have a book (now) that I put together after I wrote Emanate. That helps me keep track of who has blue eyes and all that.

But you know, Alyra, Jerin, the centaurs, and Katrina… all of them are such a part of me that I see them when I close my eyes. I just know that Katrina has black hair that’s long and it covers her oddly shaped ears that have swirling lines on the lobes. I can see Tarek’s sandy blond hair that falls in his forest green eyes. And Alyra with her wild red curls and golden hued eyes. She smirks a lot, too, because she’s always thinking of ways to maneuver around the rules and get her way. Haha.

Ha! I love that! And I so appreciate you visiting with me here! Learn more about Jackie’s books at her Amazon page.

Your Turn: Jackie is willing to give away an e-book copy of Ignited to one reader who leaves a comment! Yea!  Make sure you leave your email address (US residents over age 18 only) and share your favorite type of fantasy story – allegory, science fiction, fairy tales, something else?


12 Comments

Interview with Author Margaret Brownley

Calico Spy V3In keeping with the new format for Faith Driven Fiction, author Margaret Brownley is joining us today. She has a large repertoire of publishing credits, and I was blessed to find her with her latest “Undercover Ladies” series.

I’ve now gotten to review all three: Petticoat Detective, Undercover Bride, and (today at Suspense Sisters) Calico Spy. I’m so delighted to host her here on Faith Driven Fiction, and even more blessed that she’s offering a copy of Calico Spy (either print or e-book) to one lucky comment-giver. Continue reading


4 Comments

Review: Conspiracy by Suzanne Hartmann

ConspiracyI was so honored to be asked to review Conspiracy by  my agency-mate (Burns-sib), Suzanne Hartmann. Being a NASCAR fan, I pounced on the first book of her “Fast Track Thrillers.” And I’ve anticipated her second offering since I read Peril over a year ago.

Conspiracy provides just as much action and intrigue as it’s sister book.

But there are a few important things to note about this book and this series. Oh and there is a special surprise ending that I’m going to reveal! Continue reading


1 Comment

No Foolin’ – We have a WINNER!

Monday was so much fun! If you didn’t get the chance to join us, you’ll have almost as much fun reading back through the stories and comments as we did when they first popped up. Continue reading