Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


Writer Tips: Citations

So many books, so little time!

Lately, I’ve been wondering about police procedures in little towns. I met a detective from the Allen, Texas police department who was an acting chief for the department in the little North Texas town of Whitewright. She explained several things about her department.

If I were to incorporate her information into a research paper or an article, I would need to cite the
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Writer Tip – Fragmented

Fragmented sentences are tricky little guys. They'd like you to think they are acceptable because they express things the way we speak.

Well, okay. End of article.

No, it's not that simple.

They are okay in things like novels where the writing is polished, but not formal. The narration is done in the author's voice and expressed through a
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Writing Tip and ROW80 Update

I'm still struggling to keep up with my revision schedule, enough to blow it off and just keep swimming. I doubt I'll finish the revisions by the end of the month, but I hope to get halfway. However, I've only added 1 page of revision since Sunday. I think I'm getting a touch of Christmas fever!

On the flip side, my critique group liked the next section of my romantic suspense, Cat's Eyes. I think I've got a pretty solid

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Tightening Things Up

My critique group is invaluable. These ladies have inspired and challenged me like nobody's business. Their goal is to find anything that might be caught by a reader that makes the narrative stumble. It can be anything as small as a comma or as huge as shallow characters. They catch POV head-hopping, author intrusion, and continuity issues. Though they, thankfully, don't have to catch those issues very often!

What I hear most often is "tighten it up." It took awhile for me to figure out the aspects of those
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Writing Tip – It’s Gotta End SOMETIME!

You would think, as a novelist, that I'm talking about a book ending. It's a logical assumption, and I hope to get to the end of the one I'm working on with due brevity. But such is not the topic for today.

See, I'm also a writing teacher, blessed with the challenge of learning enough to stay ahead of some of the sharpest young writers I've ever come across.

And yet, they suffer from a dire conspiracy that, I've noticed, even professionals experience from
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Where Do the YIKES Come From?

Marcie with her latest reads. She even has Erica Vetch's new debut novel, A Bride's Portrait of  
Dodge City, Kansas included in her "to read" stack.

Everyday, people pick up books for entertainment, escape, and inspiration. Finding Christ-honoring books is no longer the challenge that it used to be. Christian Fiction boasts some of the best of today's literature. With a variety of genres from which to choose, readers can immerse themselves in stories of love, history, and contemporary fiction. Along the way, the suspense category of Christian Fiction has
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Writer Tips – What are You Shooting For?

Part of a vintage hunting photo collection from

When I thought up the title for this post, my mind drifted immediately to my sweet hubby's hunting days. We were first engaged almost 27 years ago while still in college. He, a farm boy to my way of thinking, lived in a rural town on an acre of land. Hunting season was playtime in that part of East Texas and I'll never forget the weekend that Bubba (yep, I've always called my brother Bubba – no lie!) took sweet hubby out to shoot some dove.

The birds sat on the phone lines as they drove out to the land where they'd gained permission to shoot.
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Writer Tips – What to Do When I Get Dry?

I've got blog ideas coming out the wazoo. I've had such fun investigating baseball, compiling grammar rules, and waxing rhetorical on all sorts of topics.

Trouble is, this time my ROW 80 goal doesn't include my blogs. (I've written 3,171 words on just my blogs in the last two days!) When it comes to my suspense novel, though, I'm sunburned. Entering the fourth chapter, I find I'm bogging down a bit.

Much of the excitement lies ahead and part of the excitement has past. This section has some key clues,
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More Comma Love

I used to think commas were a gift from the Netherworld. After all, the inconsistency of the little bugs more than annoyed. They gave nightmares to trusting youngsters, offered weapons of belittlement to the all-knowing instructors who acted upon them with the smack of a ruler, and twisted the insides of every college student with a paper due.

Which is all of them and a lot of Pepto-Bismol.

All this writing I've been doing has succeeded in
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Unravel the Mystery of Grammar!

I love my critique group. Like superheroes they open their laptops and design wit and wisdom through every line! With their help, I will avoid the neon signs marking novice writing and glaring amateurish errors. Here’s what I learned just last night:

  • Make every word count.
  • Keep statements turned toward the positive side.
  • Cut up three-line sentences.
  • Start sentences with intention.
  • End with strong words.
  • Avoid using pronouns to begin or end sentences.
  • Avoid using it or this anytime
  • Avoid repeating words – oops.
  • Use a comma before the word “and.”
  • Don’t apply quotations marks outside of dialogue – oops, again.
  • Action verbs intensify sentences.
  • Eliminate passive, helping verb usage with -ing words following.

Checklist gold, the expert suggestions from this group confirm one major truth.

 . . . I still have a lot to learn!
What suggestions can you add to the list? What grammatical tidbit wormed it’s way into your noggin lately?