Nurture, Nature–Who Does Marji Laine Blame???

child-1429190_1920What kind of child walks into walls? Daydreams about surviving the Amazon jungle and flying with Mary Poppins–then actually attempts this using a post and umbrella.

What kind of adult becomes so immersed in her make-believe world, she brings a southern California SWAT team to her door–and racing up her staircase, fully armed? (I feel a Mishaps post building.)

Considering the depth of my … reality detachment, it’s no wonder my guest and I, Marji Laine, have become friends. The borderline insane stick together. And fuel each other’s madness (also expressed as–become one another’s crit partners).

But for all my blunders, imaginings, and grand adventure daydreams, I’ve never once envisioned myself as the villain in the story.

Ah, the making of a writer. The journey to publication can be stranger than one might think.

The Making of a Writer
by Marji Laine

My best friend and I ran through the rain-soaked ally, desperate to escape the heavy footsteps that chased us. Almost an hour past sunset, the only light available reflected street-789626_640from random back porches through the puddles in the center of the lane.

My lungs burned. I’d never been a runner. Never won a race against anyone. The creep behind me was gaining. I couldn’t blame my best friend for rushing ahead. She’d always been fast.

A shot rang out. The black, bouncing braids on my friend fell slack, and she slowed. I reached her about the time she fell forward and caught her on the way down. There was no time to help her. No time to even see if she was alive.

The footsteps closed in.

Oh, yeah, I was seven at the time. My best friend and I wrote up this crime story when I was in second grade, and she was in third. We were the bad guys, thrust into a life of crime brought on by desperate situations, then followed and ultimately gunned down by a dirty cop. The very one who had pressed us into our criminal lives.

Tragic… but fun to act out! We played it over and over again with her little brother being the cop.

I guess that was the beginnings of my writing life. I always had stories going on in my tv-1639240_640head, complete with musical soundtrack in the background. I’d watch a TV show and then rework the episode to my liking. And yes, they were usually mysteries, The Hardy Boys series comes to mind.

As I grew older, I didn’t need a movie or a TV show to stimulate my ideas. Unique settings started my imagination rolling.

A couple of years ago, my family went to a huge hotel here in town that does an amazing job with Christmas décor. We wandered through a miniature river walk, viewing high bluffs near a facsimile of a Spanish chapel. My oldest daughter loved the chapel, simple and classic with a high bell tower and balcony.

“Wouldn’t that be the perfect place for a wedding?”

With a wedding party of one and a half, maybe. But I could see her point. The effect, with all of the color and lights below, would be magical.

We had continued to a makeshift amphitheater or dance floor as the case might be. On one christmas-present-83120_640side, an eight-foot wall reached up to the ground-floor level of the atrium. Giant Christmas presents, running trains, and miniature towns were viewable from our level. Not as easy-to-see as they were from the ground-floor, but still in view. A towering Christmas tree rotated slowly atop one over-sized gift box.

It was there that I got my inspiration. “What if…” My ideas tend to start that way, with a long pause while I rein-in my imagination and force the words into order. “What if the fellow who turns off the displays was killed last night? And his body was noticed until the morning shift turned on the displays. Then when the tree up there starts to rotate, it can push the body off the platform”

The start of a great new idea that has still never been written, but at least it’s an idea! Someday, maybe.

Sometimes, those conversations end up resulting in some strange looks. Once my
daughter and I discussed the placement of a victim for one of my stories as we unloaded my grocery cart.

“If we put the body in the car, there will be shopping-1232944_640too much evidence left behind.”

My daughter considered that. “Maybe you should kill him off before he gets to his house?”

The store clerk’s eyes got big, and she straightened.

My daughter chuckled. “My mom’s an author.”

The woman smiled. “I hoped it was something like that.”

Yes, my imagination gets me in trouble. I’ve learned to reign it in somewhat and keep my mouth shut more often in public. But deep inside, I’m still that seven-year-old girl running through the alleys with stories washing through my brain.

I hope they never stop!

How about you? Did you ever find yourself running for your life or jumping lava puddles, or solving the world’s hardest mystery? Share your thoughts, stories, and hilarity with us in the comments below.


cpcoverfCat McPherson felt she’d lost everything when her father died, but as the target of a madman bent on revenge, she still has much to lose. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart.

Keeping Cat safe from a fallen cartel leader might prove impossible for Ray, but after seeing his mission destroyed and several godly people killed, he knows better than to ignore the man’s threats. Cat’s resistance to his protection and the stirring of his long-denied feelings for her complicate his intentions, placing them both in a fight for survival.

It is the first book of a four-book romantic suspense series published by Write Integrity Press. Available for pre-order at a discounted price today, the book will release in early November.


marji-laineSchooled by experts such as Perry Mason, Jessica Fletcher, and Dr. Mark Sloan, Marji Laine writes the mysteries she craves with a touch of romance and a thread of faith. Her series are made up of stand-alone stories with satisfying endings where justice prevails. She sets most of her books in and around the Dallas area, where she has lived all of her life, or in the small towns of East Texas that she adores.

A homeschooling mom of four, she loves to discuss possible book scenarios with her daughters. Their conversations have even been known to alarm waiters and store clerks. At which point, one of her girls will roll her eyes and say, “My mom’s an author.” That pretty much explains the way her mind works.

Connect with Marji on her website, Facebook, and Goodreads.


About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.
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2 Responses to Nurture, Nature–Who Does Marji Laine Blame???

  1. Marji Laine says:

    Thanks so much for letting me visit with you, Jen!


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