Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Four Marketing Ideas for Authors

My experience with The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt set my mind whirling about marketing. What a brilliant concept! Starting the story off in the blogs stirred up all kinds of buzz! But there was so much more to this idea! Continue reading

Conference Details

I’m going to be posting updates and experiences from the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference on my Facebook page. Please like the page if you visit – helps me out so much! The link is HERE!

Hope you will enjoy reading about my various adventures, but I warn you now, I can get carried away! Continue reading


Attitude is Everything

Last week I did something mean, and you can read about it here. I’m contritely sorry if I robbed you of sleep when I didn’t reveal the most important thing to bring to the ACFW conference. But I told you I’d share the topic today and here it is!

The most important thing to bring to the conference is … ready? Continue reading


Top 10 Things for the ACFW Conference

Last week, I shared the suggestions from Christian Publishing experts at what to bring to conference. Many suggested items of personality that I didn’t originally think about. And since I wrote the article, I’ve read several others that echo the need for one thing in particular. I wonder if you can pick it out from my conglomeration list of the ten main things I’m bringing to the ACFW Conference in a couple of weeks. Continue reading


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?


Time Management

Tuesdays are always my day for posting the A2Z article from Patty Wysong’s Blog Meme. Usually I take care of it over the weekend, but Friday I wrote like a mad lady. Saturday we cleaned and moved furniture – fun, but bumped my blogging again. And then Sunday, as I wrote yet another section of my WIP I thought, “I’ve got tomorrow. No worries.”

Um. It’s now 12:56 AM on Tuesday morning. The sky is a lovely shade of black and even the dogs are silent.

Yeah. What is it that Paul said? “Not that I’ve achieved it or have already been made perfect …” I’m so there when it comes to time management. For all of my planning and organizing, I fail at time management.

No really. I plan out my writing, my social media, my exercise, my house chores, even my meals, but do I follow my plan? Well …

Let’s just say follow through isn’t my strong suit and leave it at that. No, wait, that’s not entirely true. I’m great at following through on the things I love to do. Writing, Social media, transporting kids to and fro and organizing activities for them.

It’s the routine stuff I struggle with. Exercise. I swear I can’t even spell that word.


(I think it’s a Freudian reaction!) Bible study. Going to bed at a decent hour and … ugh … getting up!

And when I don’t get up, get moving, and spend time with my Lord, the day plops on top of me like a heavy quilt in the middle of August. Hence my pre-dawn blogging.

Yes, aside from my Bible Study (I’m loving working with GMG!) today was one of those days – wait that was yesterday. I’m hoping for better when I get to tomorrow – er – today.

Clash of the Titles WINNER!

Guest blogger: Jennifer Slattery

Sometimes Clash of the Titles highlights great talent. Other times we get to “discover it.” This is exactly what happened with our speculative fiction unpub’bed clash.

Join me in welcoming Chawna Schroeder to the COTT family!

There’s nothing like discovering great talent before it goes to print! And I have a feeling we’re going to see our latest COTT champion’s books on bookshelves very soon. When we do, we can all say, “We saw her on COTT first!” And this clash–a battle for best speculative fiction unpub’bed–was even more exciting because the winner has been invited to submit a full proposal to Asraea Press for immediate review!

Her winning excerpt was pulled from the pages of Metamorphosis, a gripping tale of a Beast and her master:

Once upon a time there lived a Beast…
Not in a shining castle, but among a pack of dogs.

For as long as Beast can remember she has lived among her master’s dogs. With them she sleeps. With them she eats. With them she fights and struggles to survive. But through hunger and cold, she dreams of one day becoming Master’s favorite, earning bones with meat and a place beside the fire.

Then strangers attack. Her pack scatters. Fire eats the village. And Beast knows: Master is no more.

Alone and unprotected, Beast tries to defend herself against slavers scavenging for any leftovers. But she is only one, and they are strong.

Tracked by men, sold as a monster, is Beast only prey to be hunted…
…or something more?

A few comments from readers:

“I enjoyed both excerpts! I am curious about the world created in A, but B really got me in the gut.”

“Great job! Keep writing!”

“God has given you a gift. Your TRUE fans will always be there for you!! Never give up and follow your dreams!!! I am sending up a prayer for you and your family!!!”
Join us March 19-23 for a fun Flash Clash!

Secrets are Meant to be Shared!

I read non-fiction from time to time; Bible Studies, devotions, teacher editions and writing manuals. Seldom do I actually read any of these books from cover to cover. I leave that enjoyment to my accountant hubby who only discovered an enjoyment of fiction when the kids were young and he read the Little House books aloud to them. Until then, his leisure reading included computer manuals and all of Chuck Swindoll’s and Max Lucado’s books.

Anyway, I broke with tradition last weekend when I came across the new nook book from Mary DeMuth, 11 Secrets of Getting Published. Not only was the book informative, but it was terribly challenging. Her chapters addressed some of the most overwhelming areas to a novice writer, such as crafting the story, understanding what goes into publishing and marketing, and navigating writers’ conferences.

I’m in the early steps of, what I hope to be, a publishing path, so I expected to focus mainly on the first few secrets, convinced that the last ones wouldn’t really apply to me. Boy, was I wrong! The info and advice in this book just got juicier as I went along, and I confess, I didn’t just read it. After every section I was pulling out my note pad and making lists of the next things I needed to do. In fact, after reading her first secret, I went through my novel for a 5th and 6th revision, going through every stinkin’ sentence to check for her list of things I should avoid.

She designed her book in an article format, using postings she developed over a number of years on her retired blog, WannabePublished, and it’s easy to see why that blog was so popular. Filled with plain-speaking, direct advise, 11 Secrets would be beneficial to anyone hoping to pursue publication of any sort.

What was the last non-fiction book you read? Did you finish it? What was valuable about it?

Favorite Blog Postings for the Week

Even though I need to take part of the weekend off, I hate skipping a day on my blog! Especially while I have the time to work on it. Once Volleyball season starts, all bets are off!

So this week as I browsed various blogs – and BOY do I browse – I linked a few onto this post.  These were my favorite posts for the week. I started to do a top ten, but it would be just too tough to choose between some of these!

 Sacred Cow-Tipping–Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad
Posted by Author Kristen Lamb in Blogging, Social Media Platform on June 7, 2011 from

 How to Build an Online Platform That Will Last
Posted by Author, Jody Hedlund on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

 Preslaysa Williams’ Thin Place: Cutting
Posted by Author, Mary DeMuth on Thursday, June 9, 2011

 Notes from the Beach
Posted by Agent, Rachelle Gardner on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Posted by Jess Lourey at Inkspot on Friday, June 3, 2011

 Frivolous Friday: Quirky Is The New Normal
Posted by Jessica R. Patch on Friday, June 10, 2011

 5 Tips for Staying Encouraged During Querying
Posted by Author, Elizabeth Spann Craig on Friday, June 10, 2011

What did you see this week that knocked your socks off? Leave a post URL and share what you like with everyone!


Mystery Writes Itself – Where Does This Take You?


Stirling Castle in Scotland
Skeletons of a medieval knight and a female companion were found under the floorboards of a chapel in a castle in Scotland. Further info proves that the knight had several old injuries, doubtless from battles, but the killing blow was struck as the man was lying on the floor, by a sword through his face. There were no details about the cause of death of the woman. Does this just beg to have its story written?  
Now the attached article takes a little of the romance out of the story as I read on, but with just that much information, my mind went wild! 
First thing that caught my mind’s eye was the fact that the knight was found under the floor boards of a chapel.  Nice outta the way place to hide a body that someone didn’t want found.  
I was just starting to deliberate on why he might have been killed when I a second thing caught my mind’s eye: the skeleton of a woman was found beside him. Well, that makes it juicy! I could just see the lord of the manor bursting in the room full of jealous rage as he witnesses his wife in an intimate conversation with another man.
Third interesting thought is the origin of this man; there is some speculation that he was French, so the husband intrudes on this heathen from a foreign land, who not only infiltrates his home, but seduces his wife.
Oh, the places my mind goes!
I could see a political plot to overthrow the lord be squelched by the murder of the man; maybe the Frenchman was a spy, settled into the role by an opposing ruler who wanted to gain the land. Maybe the Frenchman was a messenger from that ruler, bringing a letter from the opposition in hopes of wooing the wife and gaining that power. 
What if the knight wasn’t killed by the lord at all!  Suppose the lord was blamed all along for the disappearance of his wife and the knight, but since no bodies turned up, nothing could be proved.  Maybe the knight’s family took out their vengeance on the lord, because he had been the only one, on the surface, who would benefit from the man’s death.
I don’t think the lord killed the spy-knight at all. I think he was killed by the opposition because he betrayed them.  His great love for the lord’s wife wouldn’t allow him to put her into any danger.  I think she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed to cover up the original murder.  As for hiding them beneath the foundation of the chapel that the lord was having built, that was just making the most of the opportunity!
Well, that’s the way it all looked in my mind anyway.  Truth be known, the chapel was built much later over a small cemetery – plot killer!                  

Here’s the whole story!