3 Questions Wednesday with Marji Laine

Happy Wednesday! It’s my pleasure to welcome author and publisher, Marji Laine, to Inspired Prompt.

Good morning, Marji. Can you describe yourself in 3 words?

 Marji: Young-at-heart – an elementary spirit in a nearing senior body. Computerific – I can usually make it do what I want, if it’s working at all. Laughing – if I can’t laugh at myself, I’m missing out on some fun!

Sounds like you’d be a fun person to hang out with. 🙂 Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Marji: I feel like I got that last summer when my kids sent hubby and me on an Alaskan cruise. But for research, I would want to visit castles in Europe. I’d be torn between the beauty of Germany or my personal ancestry in Scotland, but I think I’d lean toward the Scottish highlands. And I’d be ready to dabble a bit in some historical romances!

Castle visiting would be so cool. Last question: 

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Marji: Canon in D. Starts out so simple and gets more and more complicated (and full and beautiful) as the song goes on. Yeah, that’s pretty much been my life!

So pretty. Marji, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us here at Inspired Prompt.

Readers, Marji is offering an e-copy  of her book, Ain’t Misbehaving to one commenter.

Click to tweet: Author and publisher Marji Laine is our guest today on 3 Questions Wednesday @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway

Ain’t Misbehaving

Annalee Chambers: Poised, wealthy, socially elite.

Annalee Chambers floated through life in a pampered, crystal bubble until she smashed it with a single word. Dealing with the repercussions of that word might break her, ruin her family, and land her in jail.

True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air-conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school daycare in the worst area of town. Through laughter and a few tears, Annalee finds out that some lessons are learned the hard way, and some seep into the soul unnoticed.

Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundation’s after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her.

AIN’T MISBEHAVING encourages acceptance:
•Of things that can’t be changed.
•Of people who are different.
•Of lessons learned.
•Of oneself.

What can a bunch of downtown kids teach a Texas princess?

Marji Laine is a“graduated” homeschooling mom of four who is grateful to her twins for not forcing her into the empty nest season just yet. She now spends more time in her role as executive editor for Write Integrity Press than she does crafting her own stories, but she loves both jobs.

When she’s not wearing the publishing hat, she directs a children’s choir, teaches 10th grade girls Sunday school, and sings in the adult choir at her church. She also leads a high school and college weekly Bible study and has a monthly radio talk show.

She and her husband of 30 years live in a suburb on the north side of Dallas with their twins and their own version of Hank the cow dog, a rescue mutt that rides herd on the entire household. Marji prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, Alaska to the Caribbean, entrees to dessert, and white roses to most any other flower. Her favorites include “Live PD,” the Hallmark channel, Hand and Foot Canasta, NASCAR, and worship music.

You can learn more about Marji and her books at her author pages on Amazon.com and WriteIntegrity.com and her website, MarjiLaine.com

The Inspired Prompt Crew and Romance Novels

Romance novels. Some are good reads but easily forgettable. Some are too formula-bound, others too, shall we say, revealing? There is nothing like a romance novel that holds you spell-bound to the end, loving the settings, characters, and story line. If the story is good enough and timeless, you’ll often find a movie to go along with it.

When it comes to the Inspired Prompt Crew, you might wonder about our favorite romance novel. We’re so glad you asked. Some of our Crew members share their thoughts…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their favorite #romance novels. You might be surprised. #amreading

Harriet Michael

When asked my favorite romance book, my answer comes swiftly, without reluctance—”Lorna Doone”!

I first read “Lorna Doone” as a missionary kid growing up in Africa. We were homeschooled using the Calvert Course curriculum. Back then, and perhaps still, they have elementary students read a child’s abridged version of this classic novel. It made my heart skip and set my mind dancing. For weeks after reading it, my friends and I pretended to be the beautiful Lorna.

A few years ago, I decided to read the original version. It’s a bit challenging since it was written in 1869 and uses very old English terms. In fact, there is one brief section written in the servant’s voice which I had serious trouble reading, so I learned to skim over them. Those parts were only a small section of the book and the rest was much easier to read, especially once I got used to it. (I recommended it to my daughter who also loved it and seemed to have less trouble with those parts. I’ve always known my daughter was smarter than I.)

Author R.D. Blackmore weaves a wonderful story about John Ridd whose father was slain by the Doones, a lawless clan living in wild Exmoor in the seventeenth century. Ridd manages to meet and then fall in love with the beautiful Lorna Doone. They become secret playmates as children and true loves as they mature. The plot is masterful! I highly recommend it to all romance readers, especially if they are also writers. Read this book and learn plot and character development from one of the Masters!

Gail Johnson

When asked for the names of my all-time favorite romance stories,  the first two that leap to mind is Redeeming Love and Pearl in the Sand. In Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers transports her reader to a California gold rush town where she shares the story of Michael (Hosea) and Angel (Gomer).

Tessa Afshar’s, Pearl in the Sand is a fictional tale of the harlot, Rahab. Afshar skillfully depicts Rahab’s struggles, her deliverance,  and her marriage to Salmone, a Hebrew leader. Both are filled with truth and symbolism of God’s forgiveness and love for his people.

Cammi Woodall 

I read a lot of romance books. A lot. My mother started me out on Grace Livingston Hill and Barbara Cartland. As I grew, I devoured series by Jane Austen, Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, and Kathleen Woodiwiss. That’s why my choice of my favorite romance book is… odd.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz is not a typical romance book by any means. The book focuses on the character of Odd Thomas, a fry cook in the small desert town of Pico Mundo, California, who spends his days flipping pancakes and grilling hamburgers. It is a simple life but one he revels in, because Odd has an unusual ability.

He can see dead people. Any time a spirit cannot pass over, they are drawn to this young man. Much of the novel focuses on Odd’s attempts to solve murders and help these spirits so they can go forward to the next great adventure.

The one thing ‘normal’ about his life is his relationship with Stormy Llewellyn. Stormy comes from an abusive childhood but finds the strength to call the authorities and save herself. The two young people share a chaste love and a deep bond. At a local carnival, they see a gypsy fortune teller machine. Each couple in front of them receives bad messages, but they decide to try their luck anyway. They receive a small white card with a decorative border  embossed with the words “You are destined to be together forever.” They both smile, because they already know this.

The novel culminates in a gruesome mall shootout. After disarming the gunmen and disabling a bomb, Odd is badly wounded. During his hospital stay and recovery, Stormy never leaves his side. The two laugh, talk, watch TV, and recuperate, healing both wounds and spirits together. After a few days, Odd’s friends come to tell him the truth, something he has known the whole time but refused to acknowledge. This truth sets the stage for the rest of the books.

This is where the ‘romance’ angle of the book veers away from the normal formula. Stormy and Odd are not together at the end of this book. I won’t go into the details but I do recommend you read the story. I warn you though – you will fall in love with Odd and his eclectic assortment of friends.

The ‘end’ of Odd’s relationship with Stormy is defining, as it sends Odd on a long, spiritual voyage. Koontz summarized it as follows: “You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything; it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”

In the end, Odd leaves Pico Mundo. He has no intentions of disrespecting Stormy’s gift of life, but he does not think he yet deserves to spend eternity with his girl. So he heads out into the world to confront his grief and help in whatever way he can. By confronting evil and the woes of humanity, he will struggle through this boot camp of life so he can be with Stormy. After all, they are destined to be together forever.

There are seven books in the Odd Thomas series, with two smaller novellas. The last book, Saint Odd, was published in 2015. I will make a confession. I have only read 5 ½ of the books. I cannot make myself finish the series because I am afraid it won’t end the way I want.

I adore the characters of Odd Thomas and Stormy Llewellyn. The stories are all first person, so it feels like Odd and I are on the front porch watching the sunset while we sip sweet tea. He regales the reader with his humorous, insightful, self-deprecating views on life and the follies/evil we all encounter. He has become a dear friend and I want his story to end gloriously.

He and Stormy are destined to be together forever. I won’t settle for anything less.

And when you read romance or write romance, you shouldn’t settle for anything less either. If writing, use vibrant characters, a good plot line, and a love that goes above and beyond the story itself. If reading, let the story carry you. Root for love and “boo” at the evil. Enjoy the book in your hand.

Maybe one day you can see the movie…


More Winners to Start Off the New Year

2018 has arrived! Here, at the new Inspired Prompt Blog, we still have winners, a total of six this month…

Bethany Morehead offered a $25 Amazon gift card to one blessed commentor. Its been won by Robin E. Mason. Congrats!

Liz Galvano has been picked to win a copy of Gail Johnson’s memoirTreasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past.  Congratulations!

Readers, Terri Wangard is giving a choice between a print first-edition copy of her debut Friends & Enemies (US addresses), or a Kindle copy of Wheresoever They May Be to Lynn Watson

Sherri Stone is gifting  Leland&Becky with a Kindle copy of The Confession of Tobias Tucker.

Rory Lemond has won a copy of Carole Brown’s latest novel, A Flute in the Willows.

Ginger Solomon is giving away an e-copy of One Choice to Sonnetta Jones . Woo hoo!

A big THANK YOU to all our faithful readers for taking the time to stop by and comment.

And continue to leave comments while you wait to see if you might be our next winner!



1st Saturday Extra: Why I Write Romance

By Janie Winsell

I have always been an avid reader of fiction. I was born with heart problems and barely escaped open-heart surgery as a newborn. Because of my health issues, my mom had to keep an eye on my exertion and stress.

If I ran too much or got upset, my lips would turn blue, and my mom had to figure out ways to quiet me down—enter books. Mom found that reading to me calmed me down the quickest. I fell in love with the stories of princesses finding their princes and the adventurous journeys that brought them together.

When I wasn’t reading about two people falling in love, I created my own stories with my Barbie dolls. I would practice the storyline and then put on plays for my family.

As I grew up, I exchanged my Barbie plays for V.C. Andrews and Maureen Daly books. I never really dated in high school, but I had wonderful book boyfriends. They were gorgeous and sweet, thoughtful and protective. It raised my expectations for the type of guy I wanted to date.

I love bringing couples together. The magic of that first kiss—the moment the heroine knows the hero’s her soul mate drives me. Every story that I write opens my eyes to a new aspect of love in its purest form.

Love is so much more than physical attraction. It’s calling someone up at midnight because you’re worried about an important meeting at work the next day. It’s that person talking you down and calming your nerves enough that you’re able to relax and sleep. It’s forgiveness when we mess up. Love means knowing someone cares about what happens to you.

I think in this world, love has become a word to get something from someone. A child asks their parent, “How much do you love me?” They follow this by whatever toy or electronic device they want. A guy tells a girl he loves her so much he can’t wait for marriage, and if she loves him back, she’ll sleep with him. A Christian tells God they love Him followed by a laundry list of things they want, and if He’ll just provide these items, they’ll know He loves them.

That’s not love. That’s not romance.

I want people reading my stories to know God’s love through human interaction. My hope is that they see God’s love in how the heroine treats the hero and vice versa. I want them to read my stories and realize that they’re worthy of that type of unconditional love.

I write Romance because it’s my calling. It’s my way of sharing God’s love.

Writing Prompt: Write a story about the couple in the picture above. Forget cliche. Try to think of a twist to make it different.

Click to tweet: “Every story that I write opens my eyes to a new aspect of love in its purest form.” Why I Write Romance by Janie Winsell #romance #ValentinesDay

Janie Winsell is a Christian author who writes Contemporary Women’s fiction, Romance, and Romantic Suspense. She received her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. She is a member of ACFW and active in the critique main loop.
She writes about real Christians who, like the world, are not perfect, but through God’s love and discipline, they learn the lessons needed to grow in their relationship with their Heavenly Father as well as with each other.

Writing Romance

February is the month of love and romance. So what better topic could we offer this month besides romance writing? Stay tuned to learn about everything romance…

By Fay Lamb

Not so long ago, if anyone would have asked me if I wrote romance, I’d have say, “Uh-no” in that haughty way that tells someone they consider themselves above all that.

Today, I tell you proudly that I do write romance. The truth is, I was writing it way back then, too. I just didn’t realize it. Romance really does make the world turn. I’m sure if I tried I might come up with one movie or book that is absolutely void of romance, whether it be a simple attraction, a hint of romance, or the story is all about falling in love, but romance, even if it doesn’t play out, is what makes a story memorable.

Yet, writing romance isn’t always as simple as it seems. I’m one of those authors that balk at formula, but I have to tell you, formula works—especially if you’re targeting a publisher that lives or dies by that formula. Actually, the Hallmark channel is enough proof that publishers will thrive on formula romance.

So what is the formula? It’s a simple recipe: Boy meets girl, preferably by the first scene or at least by the end of the first chapter, and certainly no later than the first scene of the second chapter. Boy and girl must share an attraction that will grow into love, but there must be an overriding conflict that keeps them from taking the plunge. In my novel, Charisse, the heroine was always attracted to her hero, even in high school. She just didn’t think he cared for her. They drift apart, and many years later, after they reconnect, the big dope, who did care about her in high school, has done something unforgivable—at least as far as the heroine is concerned. Still, circumstances cause her to work for him. Her cold shoulder toward him due to her anger and also another woman who blatantly desires him, are both roadblocks to their finding happily ever after.

Formula does seem monotonous, though, so there are elements to a story that can make it rise above the others. One thing is character. My friend, June Foster, writes romance where the characters aren’t the golden-haired beauty queens or the blond Adonis of every woman’s dreams. Nope, her delightful stories include a woman who lost a leg, a man who is obese and closing in on being a diabetic. She writes about women who are compelled to buy things and men who struggle with unbecoming issues, and those stories work. Don’t underestimate the idea of a flawed human being as a hero or heroine. Readers like the underdog.

Another angle to take could be humor. In my very formulaic romance, Libby, the poor woman is traumatized by a perceived lack of self-worth while those around her see her shine brightly. Her hero is a man who believes that his past might cause him to hurt her. In the background are two of the worst matchmakers imaginable, and everything they do to keep the hero and heroine together turns into tragic hilarity.

Finally, a little mystery or two might add to the formula. No, I’m not saying get out of the romance genre and write a romantic suspense or a cozy mystery. Simply layer in a question that begs to be answered. Currently, I’m watching an Australian show where they bill the hero as having an “undetermined number of ex-wives.” Every mention of an ex-wife makes the viewer want to know more. This type of question can tantalize readers as well.

Find something unique for each romance, and weave it into the story. Turn monotony into a story with flair, and shout to the world, “I am a writer of romance!”

 Writing Prompt: Look at the photo above. Describe who is giving this gift and who is receiving. Develop a strong character in your description.

Click to tweet: Romance really does make the world turn. But how do you write a love story? Read on. #romance #ValentinesDay

Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories with a Romans 8:28 attitude, reminding readers that God is always in the details. Fay donates 100% of her royalties to Christian charities.

Storms in Serenity is the first book in Fay’s Serenity Key series. Fay’s other series include, Amazing Grace and her novels, Stalking Willow, Better than RevengeEverybody’s Brokenand Frozen Notes. The Ties that Bind Series includes Charisse,Libby, and Hope. Delilah, is coming soon.

Fay’s is also the author of The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.