Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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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U is for UPLOAD!

We are an electronic reading family. At least the females are. Sweet hubby and Dear boy still like books they can hold in their hands, but the girls and I love downloading what we want to read instantly. And my friend Patty Carroll uploaded an amazing book just this weekend! Woohoo!

Precious Redhead has been chomping on the bit to get her hands on this book since I got to read an advanced copy last summer. Liberty Belle was by far the best book I read in 2011 and one of my favorite all-time books! Can’t wait to read it again in its final form!

Patricia PacJac Carroll has captured the charm of the old west without losing the intensity of a suspense-filled story. Riveting! Liberty Longstreet connected with me immediately through her humiliation and the manipulation she endured. She kept me with her determination and compassion. Then she twisted me into emotional knots as I rode with her through impossible circumstances.

If you’re a fan of Christian fiction, this indie author has got all of the talent and inspiration of the great ones! Liberty Belle is available digitally at Amazon.com and will be available soon in paperback!

About Patricia PacJac Carroll:

I am a writer, Christian first, and blessed beyond my imagination. I live in the Dallas-Ft Worth area in Texas with my wonderful treasure of a husband, my spoiled dog Jacs, my 90 yr old Father in law, and my awesome grown son, Josh. Did I say I was blessed?

  • I love the Lord, got zapped by the Holy Spirit while watching Jesus of Nazareth
  • I used to own a pet store
  • Have a degree in accounting
  • Got in a tussle at a republican primary election in 1988
  • Have been to the Philippines and have seen the Chocolate Hills
  • Love the old west, westerns, and historical fiction set during that time period.
  • Am an optimist
  • Love to be free
  • Am excited to see what the Lord has planned for me.
  • God is Good


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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: LeeCarverWriter.com.

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.



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Interview with Author, Staci Stallings

Staci Stallings, author of The Harmony Series books Cowboy and Lucky, is the founder of a group of authors and bloggers who support and promote each other on blogs and social media. A couple of months ago, I “met” Staci and did a character interview about her book Cowboy. The story intrigued me and I soaked it in over a weekend. I’ve since done a review of the delightful book and now Staci is back to share a little about herself.

Staci – Since
second grade, I have always loved to write.
In fact, even before that I loved words.
When I was four, I told 
my grandpa that we had gone to town. I hadn’t
bought anything, but I was “anticipating” getting a ring.  And then when we were playing baseball, I
caught the ball (which in and of itself is a miracle) and I excitedly said,
“I did it! I captured the ball.”
I still get razed about that one.
 
Marji – A wordsmith at heart! I’m so jealous. I fight over every one.
Staci – When
I was 26, I quit teaching to have my first child, and at first, I was
fine.  But going from 100 kids and their
problems every day to one child who slept a lot and a big empty house all day
long by myself quickly got very old. 
 
Marji – I can relate. I did the same, but with my second as an infant and my first in school all day. Lots of time for reflection.
 
Staci – At
first I read, and then I got a book by Anthony Robbins that talked about doing
what you love.  Well, what I loved was
writing and I’d always loved romance.
And since I couldn’t read the romances that were out at the time because
they were just too physical, I started writing my own.
 
Marji – I’m so glad you did. Love romance; don’t like the extraneous details that often get confused with romance! So what is the ultimate purpose of writing for you.
Staci – To
tell as many people as possible that God loves them no matter what. The truth
is these books are no longer “mine” if they ever were.  They are God’s.  And He can do what He wants to with them. 
I
was just sharing with my husband last night that it’s so funny because for 16
years I have written with very few people reading what I wrote.  Oh, I had loyal readers, but for an
indie-author, selling in-print books is really difficult if you can’t get out
and do the book fairs and trade shows. It’s hard to physically take the books
to get them in the hands of readers. The Internet helped, but it was still a
big challenge.  However, that didn’t stop
me from writing. I have 30 finished full-length novels, six Bible Studies, and
literally hundreds of articles. Only now are all of the pieces falling into
place that God has been building my whole life–including all of the website
and marketing work He had me do. That is really interesting to me because if I
was going on my goals, I probably would have quit a long time ago.  Good thing that wasn’t the case!

Marji – So how does Cowboy fit into your goal – besides being an excellent book!

Staci – Cowboy is like an old friend.  In 2001, I put
out a book through a publisher.  They gave
me an editor and a publicist. The editor edited the book to death, and the
publicist seemed to think it was now her duty to run my life. I quickly
realized that was not for me. So with Cowboy two years later, I decided to put
it out myself through my own publishing company. I was told that I had
“grown so much as a writer” even though I wrote the first published
book AFTER Cowboy.  (It’s kind of hard to
grow… backwards!)  So I knew I was on
the right track.
 
Marji – What a great confirmation!
 
Staci – In
2006/2007 God nudged me to enter the script for Cowboy into the Kairos Contest
for uplifting movie screenplays, which I did.
Cowboy placed in the top 34 out of over 500 scripts. Then my kids and
life took over for awhile.  In 2011 when
I decided to go big into Kindle and Nook, Cowboy was the first one I put out,
and it’s still my top-seller.  I love the
story–the down-on-her-luck waitress, Beth, who has such a big heart she helps the
stranger she knows she will never meet again, not realizing that stranger is
America’s biggest country music superstar.  Every time I read it, that book makes me want
to open my heart and be a little kinder to others–not for what I will get out
of it but because everyone, no matter what they look like on the outside, has
hurts they think no one would ever care about. I hope this books inspires
people to start caring about others who are hurting.
 
Marji – It certainly inspired me. And I agree, we’re supposed to do kindness for the sake of others, not what we can benefit. But where did Cowboy come from?
 
Staci – I
had a dream one night.  There is a scene
in the book after the concert when they go out driving.  That was part of the dream. I was trying to
help this guy who was very famous but no one knew how much he was hurting.  That was about all I remember of the
dream.  When I woke up, I started piecing
things together–like why I felt I knew him without knowing him, etc.  Shortly thereafter, I started writing it.
Marji – I loved the way you added songs and titles to Cowboy. The lyrics seem so real. Have you written music before?
Staci – I learned to play guitar in the fifth grade. My dad was taking lessons and I said I wanted to as well.  Because he was working and didn’t have time to practice, I quickly got better than he was. He had his own choir in our church and he needed help–writing chords to songs and playing. So I stepped in. I learned to put chords to songs, and thus, to hear how songs were put together. I think I wrote my first song in about 7th grade.  Since then, I’ve written several for our choir (even though I no longer live in my hometown, I still go back to sing and play when I can).  When I was a junior in high school, I taught myself to play the piano.  I was already playing the clarinet in band.
 
Marji – I can’t play the piano worth a flip and I took 9 years of lessons!
Staci – Well all of that music just kind of combined for these two books.  When I first started writing Cowboy, I didn’t realize I would have to write the music for it.  But when I got to the first song, I was like, “Well, I can’t use someone else’s lyrics. What am I going to do?” So I went in my music room and started writing. I think I wrote about 7 songs (and yes, they are actual songs with music to them) for Cowboy and 3 or 4 for Lucky.
Marji – I’m so impressed! I hope you get the chance to have them published some day! So, what type of research did you need to do for the books? Back stage passes??
Staci – I wish!  No, the most research I did was trying to figure out what the names of the venues Ashton would play as he went to each city would be (and I had to map out a tour schedule, which was interesting). As far as the backstage stuff, that was pretty much in my brain.  I have this “movie screen” in my brain that I can push “play” on and it shows me the movie.  It’s been doing that since I was VERY young. I always thought everyone could do that. I mean, how does anyone else ever get to sleep without it?  But that’s what I do.  I sit down, put my fingers on the keyboard, push play, and whatever it shows me is what I type.
 
Marji – You mean everyone’s brain doesn’t work like that? Lol!
 
Staci – The amazing thing is, on this one, I got the chance after it was written and before it was published to make that drive–the one Ashton makes in the rain, and there was only one tiny difference in what I wrote and what was there.  The Exit goes down off of I-70 instead of up like I had written.  Weird. I know because I’d never actually been there before…
Marji – Since Ashton is a CMA star in Cowboy, I’m assuming you’re a country music fan, but what other types of music do you listen to? Is there anything special that you listen to while you write?
Staci – Mostly now I listen to Christian music.  Love Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher.  
 
Marji – Oh, Me too!
 
Staci – When I write, I actually make a soundtrack for each book.  For example, I have a book called, “If You Believed in Love.” The soundtrack for that one was very “New York” because that’s where it was set.  For “Lucky,” I had a lot of Keith Urban songs on loop because Kalin’s music is the type that Keith plays.  For “A Light in the Darkness,” I had a lot of haunting type music playing because that was a very dark story for most of it.  I can’t explain how I find the music I find (other than God sends it to me), but I always find a song or six that fit the story and the mood of the story.  Like the one I’m working on now. I took my kids to see Dolphin Tale, and the song at the end was PERFECT for this story.  So I went home figuring it was on the soundtrack. It was not, so I searched and asked and searched some more. Finally a friend of mine posted, “Isn’t it called Safe by Westlife?”  Sure enough, that’s the song, and it’s become the theme song for this new book.
Marji – Music can so affect the mood of a book as the author writes. And speaking of the writing, what is story-turning line from Cowboy, setting the tone or summing something up?

Staci – “You’ll never guess who’s coming to
Denver!”  It’s the opening line of
the book, and every time I read it, I just get the excitement from Lynn (Beth’s
best friend).  And it’s so funny to me
how that one line changes everything in Beth’s life although she won’t know it
for like two months.

Marji – So let me guess, you lounge around in pajamas, eating chocolate all day as you dally with writing projects here and there? No?
Staci – Well …
my regular life is pretty much chaos ordered only by God. I have three kids in two
different schools and a husband with his own business that I keep all the books
for. I have my own business. I’m now the founder of an author’s group online
which is a VERY busy group. I have my own blog and two blogs for the
group.  I’m doing interviews, reviews,
and guest blogs for those. I’m also doing interviews, reviews, and guest blogs
for myself. I’m on Twitter and Facebook, connecting and keeping up with friends
there.  I have two very large and
well-connected families who get together for birthdays and anniversaries, etc.  I volunteer at both of my kids’ schools, I teach
Sunday School, and I’m the director for the VBS plays in the summer.  So, honestly, I have no idea where I find
time to write. I just know I do–in snippets of time around doing laundry and
dishes and vacuuming and doing the finances …
 
Marji – Oh my gosh! I mean I knew you didn’t sit around all day, of course, but my goodness! When do you breath? I’m so flattered that you were willing to share some of your valuable time with us!
 
Staci – Thanks so much for having me!  This has been a lot of fun!
 
Find Staci on Facebook and follow her on Twitter!
Your turn! Whose your favorite celebrity right now? And if you were talking to them, what would you want to know? 


Author Interview with Philip M. Bryant

Philip M. Bryant is my guest this week. His historical novel, They Met At Shiloh is available for only $1.99 at Amazon.com. The following is a description of his book from his website:

Pittsburg Landing was a place at peace—one that never expected to be the site for one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Peace is shattered as Confederate and Federal troops meet on the fields and farms surrounding a tiny Methodist church. In the midst of death and destruction, friendships form as four soldiers struggle to survive the battle.
Forced to leave his position as minister, Phillip Pearson knows his life is in danger, but not just from the Confederates. The Harper family, incensed at Pearson’s

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Cowboy Up! A New Book Review

Back Story on this Review: I have to admit, it was the third “indie” book that I picked up to read.  Most of the time, I’ll push through and read a book if it is remotely interesting, but I couldn’t bear to waste my time with the others. The first one didn’t interest me. The second one seemed to make all of the “first-time author mistakes” that I’ve read about on blogs. After wading through pages of back story and unimportant details, I was beyond bored and couldn’t force myself to continue. 

I won’t review those books. First, I hate to be negative. I know the authors have poured their very soul into their literary babies and I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. Second, I couldn’t do a review justice since I didn’t finish the books. 

Pet Peeve Alert: I’ve read several reviews in Amazon and Barnes & Noble where the writers admit that they never finished the books but gave them horrible ratings and ranted through their reviews. I just don’t think that’s fair. If I don’t read a whole book, how do I review it? Simple answer is – I don’t. 

So when I picked up Cowboy, my opinion was already a negative color. Another “indie” book set my standard pretty low since I had few positive experiences with them. I needn’t have worried. 🙂

Staci Stallings has two books out in her Harmony series. I read the first of them, Cowboy, and was so delighted with it. 

Ms. Stallings drew together an emotional romance and a moving story of new-found faith. I enjoyed getting a peek into the world of country music. Her lyrics and song titles seemed so natural, I could Continue reading


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Karen Baney – Interview

I've gotten involved with a group of Christian authors at a Facebook site called Grace and Faith Authors. They're also on Twitter. It's been such a joy to interact with these gals and guys. I've learned about their books and their journeys, and I've tweeted about several of the new releases. 


One of the founders of the group, Karen Baney, is my guest today and her new book, Nickels, comes out next week! As with most of the authors I interview, I'm intrigued about their motivation, to write in general and how their current book came into being.

Marji: What inspired you to become a writer?

Karen: In early 2010, I went through some tough health issues.  Through that process, I re-learned to dependon God.  It was then that I asked Him onesimple question:  I know you haven’tcalled me to be a mom, so what have you called me to do?

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