I’m so delighted to bring you the latest from Marji Laine. I met Marji a few years ago at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference. She’s been a dear friend and critique partner ever since. Grime Spree is the third novella in her series featuring Dani, a spunky crime scene cleaner, and Jay, the hunky forensic cop.
Marji will give a copy of Grime Beat—the first of the series—to one lucky reader, so leave a comment with your email address before midnight EDT, Wednesday March 16. If you’ve already read Grime Beat, she’ll be happy to substitute Grime Wave or Grime Spree.
Tell me about the story of Grime Spree.
Grime Spree is the newest glimpse into the life of a crime scene cleaner with a secret past. It is the third book of my Grime Fighter Mystery Novellas that chronicle the witness protection days of Dani Foster and the crime scene specialist that her team supports, Sergeant Jay Hunter.
Give us the back cover of the book.
Shadows from her past have haunted Dani’s dreams for months. Now, however, the ghosts are real and bringing a trail of death and destruction.
[tweetthis]Their romantic evening collapses into yet another crime scene. But this time Dani seems to be in on it. @MarjiLaine[/tweetthis]
Share the first page of Grime Spree.
Dani Foster observed herself in the mirror on the back of her closet door. Surely the mirror had to be lying. The dress she’d ordered from that New York boutique could not look like a tent with a drawstring.
She lifted a wide black belt from the organized hanger in the corner of her closet and wrapped it around her waist, bringing the hem to just above her knees. That looked better. She pivoted. Good even.
“Violet is a perfect color for you.” Her roommate, Tasha, assessed her from the open bedroom doorway. “Jay’s eyes are going to pop.”
“I don’t know about that.” She pursed her lips together, suppressing a bubble of anticipation, and smoothed a long brown wave behind her ear.
“Don’t pretend with me.” Tasha wandered to the open closet. “I know you’re crazy over that man. And he’s nuts about you, too.” She fingered through the mostly informal shirts and jeans that made up Dani’s wardrobe. She pulled out a royal blue silk blouse that matched her eyes.
Dani refocused on her reflection and dabbed at her eyelids with a liner. Enough makeup to make the most of her assets without painting herself. Her eyes weren’t the striking blue of Tasha’s or the chocolate of Jay’s, though their dark color did make them look large and expressive. Her hair was almost the same color. She’d fought it for a while but was glad she’d gone back to her natural color after years of being a platinum blonde. “Jay and I are simply getting to know each other. No promises or commitments.”
“Not yet.” Tasha moved toward the mirror and held the blouse under her chin, her yellow ringlets tumbling against the blue for an enchanting effect. “Wish I had a guy getting to know me.”
Shifting her focus, Dani stared at her friend’s reflection. With her perfect figure and constant energy, the girl should have dozens of guys after her. “You wait. You’ll have tons of lawyer types chasing you in no time.”
That urged out a giggle. “Maybe.” She hung the garment on the door knob. “I have to graduate first. Then there’s the bar exam. Et cetera. Et Cetera.”
Dani snatched up the blouse. “I predict four different guys in your life by this time next year.” She found the blueish section of her closet and shoved some hangers aside to insert the one she held. After flattening the sides of the fabric, she evenly spaced the hangers again.
“I barely know four men—your guy, Carla’s guy, the pastor, and our boss—and I know you aren’t talking about any of them.”
“I’m not talking family, Tash. And especially not Frank. Eww.” Their boss at Kellerman Crisis and Trauma Cleaning was egotistical, self-absorbed, and had the compassion of a mosquito. “Next year, you’ll have your degree, maybe even an office at some exceptional law firm.”
“Ooh. If only.” Tasha pulled the sides of her bouncy hair back and angled to the side. “I’ll need a more professional style.”
“You should wear it flat-ironed like you did at church last week. Gorgeous.” Dani shifted her fake ID and credit cards to a smaller purse and hung the other one in the back of the closet. After smoothing her comforter and straightening the pillow, she followed her friend into the living room.
What’s next after Grime Spree?
I’m currently working on the second book of a contracted series of romantic suspense novels set in a Mayberry-esque town in Texas. The first book, Counter Point, should release in the fall. The one I’m working on, Breaking Point, will be released sometime in 2017.
If time and money did not enter in the equation, what would be your dream?
Funny! This is the very question that my mom asked me about 5 years ago that started this whole journey. At the time, I was successful as a scrapbooking consultant—teaching workshops, holding retreats. But I didn’t hesitate a second in my answer, “WRITE!” That’s my answer today as well. In fact, writing is like a vacation for me!
What is your favorite season of the year? Why?
I love autumn, but for a stranger than normal reason. True, I love the rich colors, but we don’t usually get much of that here in North Texas. The chill that begins showing up is like a promise of fire places, hot chocolate, and cozy blankets. But what I love the most about autumn is that summer is three seasons away! Fall, winter, even spring are delightful, but I can’t stand the pounding sunshine, the intense heat, and the dragging humidity of June, July, August, September, and sometimes even October! Sounds like my answer is more about my most un-favorite season than the favorite! LOL!
Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
I’ve acted in or directed dozens of stage productions – mostly musicals. Even though I’m an amateur, I’ve been invited to photograph sports events, weddings, and a variety of special event family portraits – and not for my o
wn family. I had a scrapbooking business for ten years and I still have a closet full of papers, decorations, stamps, and accessories. I’m a weather bug – always close to my radar during severe weather. My favorite sports are NASCAR Sprint Cup races, Texas Ranger baseball games, and women’s college court volleyball.
What is the most important thing on your current ‘To Do‘ list?
I have a stack of psychology papers sitting next to me that I have to grade for the class I’ll be teaching tomorrow and I have a candy “wrapper” to design and print for some teacher gifts I’m giving tomorrow as well.
How do you organize your writing day? How many hours per day writing? Use a word count to determine when to stop? Just write until you drop?
I wish I was so organized! I’ll get up and get started in the mornings with Bible study. But when I start checking my emails, I find one issue after another (or errand) that has to be dealt with. I usually don’t get started on my real writing until late in the day, sometimes the evening. I know that will change when I’m done with homeschooling, but I’m not anxious to hit that point yet!
What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?
I think dialogue is a strength for me. Those parts of my story just pour out. But plotting is an issue. (Ha, so I choose to write mysteries and suspense! Probably because they offer such a challenge!) I’ve been reworking the second book of my contracted series for about three weeks now, trying to make sure all of the evidence is in order and the events are reasonable with purpose and intention, before I begin writing. But then the planning is one of my favorite things to do!
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
Be teachable. I think the most successful authors are the ones who have listened to wise counsel, good advice, and constructive criticism. Beginning writers (well beginners in any area) who justify their mistakes or brush off suggestions are writers who will be duplicating their own errors and those of others for years. Having a teachable spirit is also called humility, something Christians need to develop anyway.
Do you outline your books or let the story go where it wishes?
Oh, if I didn’t outline (like crazy and in detail) I’d totally forget where the story is going. Here’s a glimpse of my current outline.
What gave you the inspiration for this particular story?
Dani has been trying to escape her past through the first two books. Jay is tired of the secrecy, so I had to bring it to a head with this story. Her past revisits in the strangest way, and Jay begins to question not only her honesty, but her honor as well.
If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?
I actually have a sweet friend of my daughter who provided the “face” of Dani. Her name is Emily, but I could see Lacey Chabert in that role! For Jay, I used early pictures of Jason David Frank as my inspiration. The actor would need to have at least the appearance of a Native American ancestry.
Marji Laine writes what she loves to read—mysteries, suspense, and romance with characters reying on an authentic faith in God to carry them through impossible circumstances. A Home-schooling mom of four, she has two still left in the nest. She coordinates high school subjects at a large co-op while teaching writing, psychology, and government classes. She also manages the co-op’s website, directs a children’s choir at her church, and is the senior reviewer at Suspense Sisters. When not writing, she loves game night with the family, crocheting in front of a NASCAR race or Texas Ranger baseball game, or scrapbooking along with a Hallmark movie with her black Labrador mix at her feet.