Monday, September 25, 2017

FIFTEEN FREE HISTORICAL NOVELS


Every book lover has found a few authors, (hopefully me included) whose books speak personally to them, either easing them away from their current cares, or tackling hard topics with characters whose perspective or courage or humor inspires or challenges them in new ways. These are authors and books we cherish.

But what happens when we've read through that author's catalog and seek out new books and new voices? It can be tricky. And costly. We've all read a book we've wanted to toss across the room, or set on a cafe table and walk away from.  That's a big financial ouch if we've bought it.

Here's a risk-free promo for HISTORICAL FICTION lovers. My Book Cave Promos has gathered 15 authors, myself included, who are offering one of their historical e-books for free in exchange for a chance to put their work in front of you and hopefully add you to their list of loyal readers. Click the pic above to peruse the titles and select books. You can also enter to win a $25 gift card!

I'm offering "In God is Out Trust," volume 5 of Free Men and Dreamers. Readers can also pick up volume three for free as well at https://mybookcave.com/d/ce3e0f00/. Now you're on your way to owning a much beloved series set against the back drop of the War of 1812.

Try out these other wonderful authors' books for free!




Saturday, September 9, 2017

"The Dragons of Alsace Farm" gets a new cover in time for a Free E-book EXTRAVAGANZA!


"The Dragons of Alsace Farm" has had a great year, amassing great reviews and several national awards, but I kept hearing that readers didn't like the cover, so we've given it a face lift. Here's it is!

If you haven't read it yet, here's a great opportunity to download it and up to fifty fine books in a variety of genres onto your e-reader for lazy fall reading--all for FREE.

I'm excited to join My Book Cave's free promo. Fifty authors have teamed up to provide some of their favorite novels for FREE just for the chance to introduce new readers to their work.


This massive book giveaway also provides a chance for readers to enter to win a $50 gift card! 

Think about it. Enough free books to fill a family's e-readers, a chance to meet new authors and sample their work, and a giveaway with a $50 gift card as a prize!

Click the image to see the beautiful array of books available. Learn about each author's VIP readers club and join to continue to receive great book offers and be part of a reading community!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

An Essay on Civility

I have been reluctant to write this post because everything seems to stir up powerful feelings that frequently turn to finger pointing and ugly rhetoric. But here goes.
Life and travel have provided opportunities for interactions with diverse people the past few weeks--health care workers, servers, travelers, customers, store clerks, and more.
We're out in California where news reports of protests and unrest made me brace for rude or uncaring treatment. Not so. Not one time.
A few of these multicultural interactions led to a conversation about what we see and hear in the news. One such conversation included a Black sales clerk, a liberal psychologist, a Latino man, and myself. The consensus? None of them felt the media conveyed their opinions or life experience.
They were clearly not fans of the president, but their comments were not angry or hate-filled.
We laughed, worried, and listened to one another. A retail service transaction turned to hugs and handshakes of friendship as we shared the relief of knowing that for most Americans, regardless of color, race, or gender, we are on the same page. We want the same things. We are working for the same things.
I've been conducting a little experiment, following President Uchtdorf's counsel to smile more. I've slowed down in retail lines, and in parking lots, not worrying as much about MY turn, My slot, My place, and what I've noticed is other people do the same.
I've seen greater courtesy, more humor, and more conversation lately among relative strangers, and I wonder if recent, sad events have made civil society more aware of being kind, of breaking the ice with a smile instead of a scowl, of simply being civil.
I'm reminded of the story of the men meeting an elephant for the first time, and how each man's interpretation of that event was so completely singular. The media can build a false reality from a single photo, from one person's perspective.
We live in a time when we can't always believe what is placed before our eyes. The heart and spirit are the true barometers of humanity, and I have confidence that most people are good, and honest, and more likely to help than we realize.
Like in Texas. Amazing. Civility still reigns.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

THE HEALTHCARE CRISIS AFFECTS US ALL

I try not to wax political too often. I have strong opinions, but this doesn't seem to be the place to vent them, except maybe on this topic, because it's a universal concern.
The greatest budgetary unknown for most Americans right now is healthcare. No matter how responsibly we plan, most Americans are simply holding their breath to see what happens, whether it's concerns over the future of Medicare, how far personal healthcare dollars will go, or whether employers will offer healthcare, or if the ACA exchanges survive.
Maryland's failing Evergreen Health Insurance Group provides a sobering, but honest, current glimpse at what we're all up against. (I give this information to help people being held hostage by this problem. Not to foment hate and argument, so please see this as useful information and not as a springboard to rant about presidents past or present.) Here's my update:
I spoke to a former principle at the company who said Evergreen was healthy and well-situated with twice the reserves needed to fund claims four years ago. A few things happened.
1. Although Evergreen is a not-for-profit-company, it had these aforementioned reserves. Under the ACA, (Obamacare), private insurance companies with profits and reserves were forced to bailout companies who were bearing the public burden of the ACA, like Carefirst. That bailout cut too deep into Evergreen, forcing them, like all other insurance carriers, to raise prices.
2. As promised, Evergreen honored their 2015 prices going into 2016, with only a modest increase in prices, which raised too little additional revenue, and the death spiral began. In 2017, they raised the prices on their policies by about 30%, but it was too late.
3. The Maryland State Insurance Commission jumped in as as soon as they saw the tip of the scales. They tried to help Evergreen find Investors to help them ride out the storm, but the Investors, (other health co-ops), pulled out in May or June, sealing Evergreen's fate.
4. The Insurance Commission is still trying to find investors. It doesn't look good.
Evergreen patients have been assured they still have coverage, although they might have to drive longer distances to find a doctor who will still participate at the risk of never being paid. If you've met your deductible, you might want to hang in there. If you leave and find a new carrier, you will have to start over to meet new deductibles.
My eval on all this. Everyone loses in this ACA scenario.
The carriers who support the ACA exchange aren't solvent because the cost of care is not supported by premiums and company investments. Competent, healthy insurance carriers go under because their business model is upset when they are forced to bailout those who are protecting the ACA.Patients who counted on a certain plan with certain trusted physicians find that those doctors are leaving before reimbursement ceases. By law, physicians must keep their patients for 90 days despite their failing insurance, which means in some cases, that they are treating people with no reimbursement.
The system is badly strained. Maybe broken. Can it be fixed? I want to lock the entire Congress in the Capitol until they figure it out--the Dems who raced into a plan some knew was destined to eventually fail so they could "start the conversation about single-payer," and all the republicans who sat on their hands for seven years, blathering and about what they'd do, and then didn't.
Call your congressmen and senators.
Every day.
Tell them to get back and fix this.
Now.
Evergreen was a good company. It will not be the last to go under.
Call.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

THE MAJESTY OF AGE

I experienced true human majesty today. Mom completed her month-long rehab and was discharged this morning. In the past four weeks, she's lived in a quad set-up with four older women, each with differing ailments that require them to have full-time care. During the day, she went to the dayroom to paint or listen to music with other residents with whom she chatted and spent time.

She doesn't remember their names from day-to-day, or even hour-to-hour, but she responds to everyone with a smile and a kind word, and they became friends.

Today, as I walked down the hall to pack her things, one of her ailing friends asked me to give her their milk carton because they know she loves milk. Another grabbed her walker and shuffled to Mom's room, offering her a tearful hug goodbye. Her roommate was so upset about the impending loss of her friend that she wanted to leave with her.

Whether once women of means or paupers, life has equalized their stations. Each is now reduced to what can be stored in a few drawers, and a cupboard for clothes. Their wants are few, and what they treasure is love, given freely and soaked up like rain on dry ground, through heavy-armed hugs, a trembling smile, a carton of milk, or an offered cookie from a plate sent by a loved one.

I wiped my eyes more than once at the grandeur of spirits that could not be contained by frail bodies, but which reached across rooms and halls in cheery laughter and illuminated eyes. If time spent at a task makes one a professional, then these are professionals at loving, who stripped of the trappings of things, love soul to soul and heart to heart.

Perhaps we become more spirit than body, a thought that makes growing older seem glorious. At least I think so, because today I saw majesty, and nobility, and grace, and I remain awed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Interview with Multi-genre author, MARLENE BATEMAN

Interview with Marlene Bateman,
Author of Searching for Irene


A reader once wrote in a review that knowing a little about the author made a book more personal to her. So here's the chance for readers to get to know a little about Marlene Bateman, the talented, multi-genre author behind twelve  wonderfully diverse books, from her non-fiction treasure "The Magnificent World of Spirits," to cozy mysteries and romantic novels like her newest release, "Searching for Irene."

I think readers like to know how we got started writing. So Marlene, did you always want to be a writer?
Always! Ever since I was in elementary school. As a child, I was a voracious reader and this created a desire to write my own stories. 

How did you learn the writing craft?
Learning how to write is an ongoing process. I started as a youngster, and continued taking classes, reading books on writing, and practicing, practicing and practicing through college and beyond. Even now, after having fourteen books published, I still attend writing conferences and take classes that teach me more about the craft of writing. I also still read books about the writing process. Also, when I read, I pay attention to the author’s writing and try to incorporate what I like into my own manuscripts.

I know the answer to this, but tell my readers what makes your novels stand out from the crowd? 
My books are ‘clean,’ which means no swearing, and no gratuitous sex or violence. Also, I like to focus on creating interesting characters. I like to write mysteries and while many current TV shows place use high-tech prowess to solve the crime, I delve into the killer’s psyche and show the psychological aspects that drive their behavior, and which leaves clues behind for the savvy investigator to uncover.

How long does it take to write a book?
My first novel; Light on Fire Island, took me three years. But as my children got older and more self-sufficient and as I improved my writing skills, I’ve been able to work a little faster. I can now write a novel in 8-11 months.

What is your daily writing routine?
I try to begin my writing day at 10:30 a.m. When I get up, I have breakfast, read my scriptures, then the newspaper, and do house and yard work. I write until 12:30, when I have lunch. Then, I try to take a 10-15 minute power-nap before getting back to work.  In the afternoon, I take my dogs for a walk, then continue writing until 7 p.m.

What is your writing space like?
I converted our formal dining room into a writing nook where I have an L-shaped desk. Years ago, my son talked me into getting two monitors and now, I couldn’t live without them. 
We have a gazebo in our backyard that I call my second “office.” I work there on my laptop when weather permits. I have a flower garden nearby and with the flowers, trees, and garden, it’s a little slice of heaven. I have two dogs; Brandi—an energetic Welsh Corgi—and Biscuit—a plump Westie, who keep me company. I also have four cats and usually one or more comes out to nap nearby as I write.

What else have you written?
My first novel, Light on Fire Island, is a romance/mystery. My next three novels were cozy murder mysteries; Motive for Murder, A Death in the Family, and Crooked House. It was fun writing them because the main character—Erica Coleman—is a quirky private eye with OCD.  My next novel was a romance, For Sale by Owner.
I also write non-fiction for the LDS (Mormon) market. One of the books I enjoyed writing the most was Gaze into Heaven; Near-death experiences in Early LDS Church History.  It was fascinating to read about the experiences of people who lived between 1830 and 1899 and who had near-death experiences and saw the Spirit World.  
What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Never. Give. Up.

People don’t fail because they can’t write, they fail because they stop trying. I have a yellowed newspaper clipping by my computer that says; “For most of us, it isn’t that we don’t have the ability to write, it’s that we don’t devote the time.  You have to put in the effort.”  Another way of saying it is that if you want to write and be published bad enough, you’ll work for it.  And if you work at it, your writing will improve, and you WILL be published. 

I think that's a perfect place to end. Thanks so much for fielding these questions, Marlene, and good luck with the launch of "Searching for Irene."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Author Marlene Bateman Serves Up Another Delicious Mystery With "SEARCHING FOR IRENE"

Marlene Bateman returns tomorrow with an up close and personal interview about "Searching For Irene," and her other beloved books. Today, we're delighted to kick off her blog tour for her newest release, Searching for Irene.

What happened to Irene?

When Anna Coughlin, a modern 1920’s woman, travels to the secluded hills of Virginia to work for wealthy Lawrence Richardson, she discovers that the previous secretary, Irene, mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before.  Upon arriving at the castle-like mansion to begin working, Anna finds that Lawrence’s handsome, but antagonistic son, Tyler, wants nothing more than to have her gone. And he isn’t the only one—

After Anna sets out to find the truth behind Irene’s disappearance, a series of frightening incidents ensnare her in a maze of intrigue. Anna is helped—and often hindered—by the temperamental Tyler Richardson, who—despite her best intentions—begins to steal her heart.

But even as Anna begins to uncover dark secrets in a troubled household, she must continue to hide a significant one of her own. When her life is threatened, Anna is left to wonder if she’ll be able to unravel the mystery before she disappears as mysteriously as the unfortunate Irene—

Links
Marlene’s website: www.marlenebateman.info



Excerpt; Searching for Irene

The tallest parts of the mansion—fanciful turrets and a circular tower—were visible only in glimpses Anna caught between lofty oaks and towering pines as her cab wound through the knolls and hills of eastern Virginia.

When the cab turned up the long driveway lined with dogwood trees in full bloom, Anna Coughlin reached for her handbag, gripping it with a tension that had knotted her muscles ever since getting on the train.
 The vast estate stood on a hilltop, like a castle—and she craned her neck to better view the starkly impressive gray-stone mansion of Ashton Hall—where she hoped to be hired. With its arched, leaded windows and slate roof with numerous chimneys, the house rivaled pictures she’d seen of castles in Europe.
 Instructing the driver to wait, she climbed out, patted her hat in case it was askew, then smoothed her gray suit with gloved hands in hopes of presenting a professional appearance. Anna had no confidence she was clever enough or bold enough to pull this off, but she had to try.
 Her eye was drawn by a tall man—more than six feet—who came from the side of the house. Since the man was striding toward her so purposefully, Anna stopped and waited. As he drew near, Anna noted his deep-set eyes were as black as his hair. His skin was tanned, his thin, long-fingered hands brown and strong.

 “Miss Coughlin?” He stretched out a hand and shook hers, but there was no warmth for her in his eyes. “I’m Tyler Richardson. Unfortunately, your services are not needed after all.” A touch of arrogance marked his manner, as though he was long accustomed to command those around him.
 “Your father called only last week to have someone come out,” Anna blurted in dismay. “May I ask what caused him to change his mind?”
 A fleeting glimpse of discomfiture crossed Mr. Richardson’s face. “I wasn’t consulted about his hiring another secretary to replace the one who left so suddenly. My father isn’t in good health, and the last thing we need is someone coming in and upsetting him by making a muddle of things.”
 His words kindled a fire that glinted in Anna’s eyes. How dare he make such an assumption? It was difficult to hang on to her temper, but there was too much at stake to let his boorishness sidetrack her. “Since I’m here, I’m sure you won’t mind if I keep my appointment. After all, your father is the one who requested my services. I’m sure he’s expecting me.”
 Her words hit home.It took a few bitter seconds, but he finally acquiesced. “Come in, then,” he muttered ungraciously before leading the way up the steps and opening the door.
 Following his rigid back down the narrow hall, Anna’s brows furrowed as doubts crept in. How wise had she been to come to this remote place? Especially when the previous secretary had disappeared so mysteriously? Even her employer thought it odd that no one in this mansion seemed to know where Irene had gone or where she was now. It was as if Irene had vanished into thin air.

Links
Marlene’s website: www.marlenebateman.info

Bio
Marlene Bateman Sullivan grew up in Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they live in North Salt Lake, Utah with their two dogs and four cats. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and wrote the best-selling romance/suspense novel, Light on Fire Island. She has written three other cozy mysteries; Motive for MurderA Death in the Family, and Crooked House, as well as the romance, For Sale by Owner.

Marlene has also written a number of non-fiction, LDS books:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s from Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of AngelsBrigham’s Boys, Heroes of FaithGaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, and The Magnificent World of Spirits; Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die.
As an added bonus, we'd like to also share Marlene's "For Sale By Owner," a sweet romance.


Blurb for; For Sale by Owner  (Published Oct. 2016)

For Sale by Owner;  Stressed by a difficult year, McKenzie Forsberg quits her high-powered job to move back to her hometown. Desperate and determined to rebuild her life, Kenzie seeks to buy the home she grew up in. The only problem is that a handsome widower, Jared Rawlins, also wants the house. As a battle of wits ensue, sparks of attraction grow into something more. Then, Kenzie makes a stunning discovery about her past that changes everything. Will the power of love be enough to allow Jared and Kenzie to find their happily ever after?

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(Return tomorrow for an interview with the author!)