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!)

Monday, July 3, 2017

SHARE A PATRIOTIC MEMORY AND GET A FREE BOOK!

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, my heart stirs at the flying of the red, white, and blue. Our small town flies a giant flag from a crane so all can see as they pass through.

As faithful readers know, I spent eight years researching and writing my award-winning Free Men and Dreamers series to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of The War of 1812, the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner, and the preservation of the freedoms we enjoy. We're about to give the end of the series a facelift. I only own the last three volumes, so those books are getting new covers so we can reach a new batch of patriotic readers.

 I can't control the price on the first two books still held by my publisher, but I'm offering the e-books of volumes 3-5, "Dawn's Early Light," "Oh, Say Can You See?" and "In God Is Our Trust," for $0.99 each this month. Read THE great reviews of these books on my author page.


Here's a former post I wrote about Key from the research I conducted on the series. I hope it adds to your love of the Star-Spangled Banner and the anthem it inspired.

SHARE AND GET A FREE BOOK!

Share a patriotic memory or a personal story about your love of the flag below and I'll send you a free ecopy of "Dawn's Early Light."


GETTING INSIDE OF KEY'S HEAD

There's so many beautiful, stirring details forgotten or never learned that surround Key's story. Most of us know he was on board a ship in the harbor overlooking Fort McHenry during the bombardment when the inspiration hit him. Fewer people recall that he was on a mission to save his Scottish friend, Dr. William Beanes, who had been dragged from his bed in the middle of the night by the British on charges of treason and murder. But there's so much more to the story.

To fully understand the passion behind Key's story you must recall that three weeks prior to the bombardment, Key and his wife were secreting their children away from Georgetown, a suburb of Washington, to Key's parents' home in Frederick, Maryland. The British were expected to march on the Capital and the Key's were desperate to send them away to safety. Days later, while Polly remained near her husband in the home of friends, Key was horseback and on the battlefield with President Madison at Bladensburg, Maryland, when the American forces clashed with the British army. The fight became a humiliating rout sadly dubbed "The Bladensburg Races," a pitiful reference to the frightened American retreat that left the way open for the sacking of the President's House, the Capitol building, the government offices. As a result, very few mementos of our country's birth and infancy exist prior to 1814.

Key had also witnessed, firsthand, the brutality of the British military when crossed, and on September 13th, Baltimore was swollen with angry Americans poised to fight back. Worse yet, Key had family in the city. His brother-in-law, Judge Joseph Nicholson, was the second in command at Fort McHenry that day. And Nicholson's wife, sister to Key's wife Polly, was still in the city with their children. After all Key had done to protect his own family, his concerns for these loved ones pressed heavily on his mind.

During the negotiations with the British to secure Beanes release, Key and the Prison Exchange agent, John Skinner, were taken aboard the British admiral's flagship and treated as guests. But during the meals, the British officers discussed their plans to burn the city to the ground in front of their American "guests." Having been apprised of the British war plans, Key and Skinner became detainees of the British until after the battle's conclusion, unable to warn their people, and forced to watch the attack from afar, knowing the dire fate intended for Baltimore if the fort were to fall. Key's heart was deeply harrowed.

The twenty-five hour bombardment from September 13th into September 14th was unbearable, but Key had also seen thousands of British troops land fourteen miles south of Baltimore, poised to enter the city and subdue it once the fort fell. Knowing the atrocities committed in other cities that had opposed the British, he shuddered with fear. Days later, in a letter to a friend, John Randolph, Key expressed the anger and fear he felt while maintaining his hope that the prayers of the pious would be heard by God who would deliver the city.

The flag therefore, became more than a mere real estate marker, announcing the power that controlled the fort. It became the sign of life, that as long as she waved the fort had held and the British army and its destructive might had been held at bay.

He jotted his notes on the back of a letter during the final two days of his detainment, setting the entire poem, titled, "The Defense of Baltimore" on a sheet when he was back in the city in his room at the Indian Queen Hotel.

He took the poem to Judge Nicholson as a gift, and the judge was so moved he rushed it to a printers for duplication. Within hours, broadsheets of Key's poem could be found everywhere across the city. People were so starved for something positive and hopeful to cling to in these hours after the loss of their capital that soldiers in the fort wrote home about the poem, and copies began moving to other cities. It was first published in the Baltimore Patriot but soon it appeared in papers in Philadelphia and Boston and New York.

It was set to the tune of a popular melody of the day, "To Anacreon in Heaven," and performed as the finale in performances along the embattled coast where it received standing ovations.

After Washington, few symbols remained to proclaim that our nation and our government still existed. Britain had their king, their crown, their castles, their Parliament, but Britain had left us no home for our president, nor a house for our Congress. All America's citizenry had to hold on to were the ideals of their people, and a flag--a red, white and blue banner that stood defiantly between the enemy and them.

That's what Key saw that day. And this is what he knew--that buildings may burn, presidents may change, armies may march, and enemies may come, but as long as our people hold fast to the ideals upon which this nation was founded, and have access to a few scraps of fabric, the symbol of America cannot be extinguished.

Long may she wave. Proud may she wave!

Monday, June 26, 2017

ALZAUTHORS--Writing Stories THAT SUPPORT FAMILIES IMPACTED BY DEMENTIA

As many of you know, my family, like many of yours, was rocked when our mother received the diagnosis of dementia. I found support and understanding from a group of authors who were likewise affected by this disease. In some cases, it struck the authors' loved ones. In other cases, the author themselves were impacted.
My award-winning novel, "The Dragons of Alsace Farm," illustrates the impact dementia has on a 82-Y-O French WWII survivor named Agnes, and the people who love her. My mother inspired me to make Agnes a dementia sufferer so I could begin a dialogue about this disease. "Dragons" led me to find an extraordinary group of authors-- Alzauthors.
I'm now proud to be a member of this empathetic writers guild who write books about their journey with this disease. Some of the stories will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. All will touch you deeply and offer readers similarly affected a place to feel understood.
Alzauthors is hosting an book promo to make readers aware that such books even exist. I'm late in announcing this because I was on vacation, but I wanted to at least get this posted   Feel free to browse these books, or please share with someone you know who might find these books a comfort. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

BECAUSE DADS MATTER

Eighteen award-winning and/or bestselling authors decided it was time to do a book promo that honored fathers and father-figures in literature. 

From June 12-25, you can pick up eighteen wonderful family-themed novels about great dads or father-type role models during this "Because Dads Matter' promo. 

Each novel was personally selected by the bestselling and/or award-winning author behind the story.  While supporting great fathers, they also hope to introduce themselves and their work to new readers.

As an added incentive, eight $10 gift cards are also being given away! So fill that e-reader with stories of great dads, and find a new author that touches your heart.

"TAKE ME BACK" Historical Romance Promotion. Fill your e-reader and win gift cards!

TAKE ME BACK!

This offer runs from June 10-30.


Eighteen authors are each offering one their favorite historical romances for free in exchange for the opportunity to meet new readers and introduce their writing to a broader audience. 

We're covering all the historical time periods, from Joyce DiPastena's medieval "Loyalty's Web," to Liz Adair's 1890's western romance, "Hidden Spring," and everything in between.

I'm offering "Dawn's Early Light" from my "Free Men and Dreamers" collection, detailing the burning of Washington and five families whose lives were torn apart by this British assault on America.  "Dawn's Early Light" is volume  in the series, but each volume is a stand alone read.

So pick up some new books by bestselling and award-winning authors and also enter to win gift cards to fill that Kindle!