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Crooked House by Marlene Bateman

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Crooked House Blog Tour Banner no dates

I’ve written before about this author’s work—Marlene Bateman. My favorite book she has written is a non-fiction piece titled Gaze into Heaven. That book helped me a great deal during my father’s recent death.

Here is Marlene’s new fiction work—Crooked House. It is a true mystery. True meaning it keeps you guessing all the way through the book. So you know what it is about, this is the copy on the back cover.

Someone is trying to kill Liz Johnson and it’s up to quirky private investigator, Erica Coleman, to find out who. Erica is no stranger to murder and mystery, which is why her best friend’s daughter, Megan, turns to her when unaccountable and potentially fatal “accidents” threaten her roommate’s life.

Once Erica arrives at the ramshackle old mansion known as Crooked House, matters go from disturbing to deadly as it becomes clear someone is trying to kill Liz. As Erica begins to unearth secrets, she discovers a twisted web of love, money, greed, and deception. Although the police and friends sometimes find Erica’s OCD annoying, its those very traits that help her sift through evidence and see clues that others miss. Erica must draw upon all her investigative prowess to keep Liz safe and unmask the killer before he can accomplish his deadly objective.

With a dash of romance and surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. As with all Erica Coleman mysteries, ten delicious recipes are included.

I interviewed Marlene for this post. Here is what she said about Cooked House and her writing.

Does a reader need to read the first two Erica Coleman books to fully enjoy Crooked House?

Not at all. Each book is a stand-alone. Although Erica Coleman is the private investigator in each book, each one has a new mystery for her to solve. Think of “Jessica Fletcher,” or “Elementary,” or “The Mentalist.” Each week, they have a new mystery to figure out.

You have written books in a broad range of genres. Do you find one more difficult to write than another? Do you find one more fulfilling than another?

I started out writing non-fiction. I wanted to write fiction, but didn’t think I could do it. I finally realized that non-fiction writers are just as talented as fiction writers. Duh. So I started writing a novel. I worked on the manuscript for three years, then sent Light on Fire Island, to a publisher, who accepted it. I was so excited when it turned out to be a bestseller. Yay!

For me, writing non-fiction is easier than writing novels. All of my non-fiction have been collections of inspiring stories and experiences from early LDS Church history. Three have been about angelic experiences—And There Were Angels Among Them, Visits Beyond the Veil, and By the Ministering of Angels—where people have actually seen or heard an angel. Two books—Heroes of Faith and LDS Heroes and Heroines—were collections of stories about Saints who were super-valiant in the Church and stood up for their beliefs despite the very real peril to their own lives. One was about Brigham Young and the men who helped him bring the Saints across the plains and colonize the Great Basin—Brigham’s Boys. My latest non-fiction book was Gaze into Heaven: Near-death Experiences in Early Church History.

Researching takes a lot of time and you have to be super-meticulous, but I love that part. Since I’ve done a number of non-fiction books, I’ve settled into a routine of writing. It’s harder with fiction. You have to be really creative in order to come up with an interesting plot, figure out scenes and characters, etc. Fortunately, once I get the plotting (months of work) down, and the first draft written (more months), it becomes easier and is a matter of making sure all the clues are in place and the timeline is correct. Then comes the polishing, to make the book as good as can be. I derive a great sense of satisfaction when my efforts result in an entertaining and intriguing mystery. So far, I’ve had four mysteries published. Light on Fire Island is more of a suspenseful romance, while Motive for Murder, A Death in the Family, and Crooked House are murder mysteries.

Tell us about Erica Coleman, your main character in Crooked House. How did you come to “find” her?

Erica is loosely based on Jennifer Hart, of the very old, but very good television series “Hart to Hart.” I wanted someone witty, charming, kind, and very smart. Then I added a dose of OCD to make her interesting and quirky.

What kind of research do you do in writing your mystery novels to make them realistic and come to life?

I take great pride in going to each and every setting I write about. I take tons of pictures and notes so everything is accurate, including street names, directions on how to get to places, etc. Everything is accurate. For A Death in the Family, my husband and I drove to Oregon, rented a car, and drove all over Florence and Lake Oswego. When I describe the Sea Lion Caves and how the gift shop and caves are laid out, it’s all accurate, as are the descriptions of the beach, Heceta Head lighthouse, the historic Siuslaw Bridge, Charl’s Restaurant, etc.

With Crooked House, we flew into Philadelphia and drove to Dover, Delaware. I researched all about NASCAR racing, looked at the track, and took lots of pictures and notes. Historic Dover is amazing, with its unique houses. So, everything is accurate.


Marlene Bateman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan. Her hobbies include gardening, camping, reading, and enjoying her four cats and three dogs.

A Cover for A Crooked House

Here is an excerpt from Crooked House.

“I’m scared.”
Erica’s heart turned over when she heard the quaver in her young friend’s voice on the phone.
Then Megan asked, “Can you come?”
“Of course.” Erica’s reply was automatic. She would do anything she could to help. Although she often received emotionally-laden phone calls in her job as a private investigator, there was a difference when the call came from the teen-aged daughter of her best friend. The very fact that Megan—who was usually so calm and composed—sounded frightened out of her wits, put Erica on high alert.
“I think someone’s trying to kill my roommate, Liz,” Megan said.
“What makes you think that?” Erica asked. “Has someone threatened her?”
“No, but Liz has had a couple of serious accidents lately—at least she says they’re accidents, but either one of them could have killed her.”
Erica made an effort to reel in her skepticism. “Tell me about them.”
“First, someone tampered with her car. The brakes went out and Liz ended up driving across someone’s yard and hitting a tree. Fortunately, she was okay. The second one happened downtown. Liz was on the sidewalk waiting for the bus when someone shoved her. She fell into the road. A truck was coming and if a guy hadn’t pulled her back, Liz could have been killed.”
Still, they could have been accidents, Erica thought, at least until the third one occurred—this time at Crooked House.

Crooked House is available at physical bookstores, including Deseret Book and Seagull Book. Below are three links where Crooked House can be purchased online.


Deseret Book:

Seagull Book:


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Quarterly Author Newsletter

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Meridian Magazine Column (Please Help)

In my last newsletter I mentioned Carolyn Allen interviewed me for a feature article for “Meridian Magazine”— Following that article, the opportunity came for me to write a monthly column for the magazine. Years ago, I wrote two columns for “Meridian”—one on grandparenting and one on recovering from betrayal. They were popular columns, and I heard from readers around the world.

This new column will once again be focused on grandparenting. And the first one comes out the beginning of May. It is a marvelous piece covering the advice from four women who are 90 years old or older. I had a delightful time interviewing these four women, and the answers they gave me on grandparenting and the best gifts for Mother’s Day were absolutely priceless. What they said made a difference in my own outlook and actions. Because the first column article has not yet been released, I cannot give you a link today. Stay tuned to “Meridian” to meet these amazing women—

My article in June is entitled “A Tribute to Grandfathers,” and I need your help. I’m looking for a story or two (or quote or two). (Depending on what is sent to me, I may or may not be able to use it all.) What has your grandfather done (example or said) that has impacted you and made a difference in your life and why? I’d like to know the story. This could also be what your father has done that has impacted you and your children (his grandchildren). Or it could be a favorite quote from your father or grandfather that has impacted you and your children. Please email me if you can help

Meridian Magazine online logo

BYU Women’s Conference

I have been invited to a booksigning at BYU Women’s Conference. I have been there many times over the years, and each time is a thrill! If you are attending the conference (or if you know someone who is, please forward my information), please come into the bookstore on Friday, May 1, and say hello. My timeslot is 12:00 to 2:00. I hope to see you there.

BYU Women's Conference

Amazing Offer Extended

Thank you to those who took advantage of my offer to get copies of We Are Strong by the case at below-author pricing. Some neighborhoods as well as some family members went together to get the cases. That made it possible for many to receive book copies.

I am passionate about the messages in this book. I feel they are so important I extended my offer through Mother’s Day. Please consider giving these books for gifts or using them for Relief Society book clubs or women’s retreats. There are 24 books in a case, $4.00 per book. You will have to cover the shipping costs or pick them up at my home. Please forward this offer to any and all you think might be interested.


At this link you can read the amazing endorsements this book received even prior to printing.

Publishing Conference

June 19–20 I am participating in the IndieAuthorHub Publishing Conference. If you are at all interested in pursuing writing and publishing, this conference will be incredibly valuable. The keynote speaker is international bestseller Michaelbrent Collings. Here is the link to an interview with him.

And here is the registration information. I’d love to see you there.


Book Reviews

I’m grateful to everyone who has taken the time to post reviews for my books. Especially if they have chosen to be honest and lift me up in the process.

Here is a book I HIGHLY recommend—The Lincoln Hypothesis. It is a powerful, non-fiction work. Very well written and edited, this book by Timothy Ballard taught me much and gave me an incredible appreciation for Abraham Lincoln.

The Lincoln Hypothesis

I’ve been to the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, and felt the wonderful spirit surrounding his grave. The Lincoln Hypothesis was extremely engaging and increased my patriotism, love of America’s founding fathers, and understanding of the scriptures.

Abraham Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois

My sister and my cousin introduced me to the work of writer Sarah M. Eden. I am enthralled! I got this book—Longing for Home—on tape to listen to while on a trip to Arizona. Let me tell you, the narrator is one of the best I have ever heard. How on earth she can switch from one voice to the next without hesitation is beyond me. Excellent narration. Excellent, captivating story. Five stars for Sarah Eden’s Longing for Home.

Sarah Eden's Longing for Home

Thank You

Thank you to those who support and share my writing. My success has only come about because of you.



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Another Book by Julie Coulter Bellon

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

I’ve mentioned books by Julie Coulter Bellon several times on my website. Over the years I have enjoyed her work. Here is one more. It is mostly a love story, rather than an adventure or mystery book. It is short, and I think it is fine read alone. But it might be more enjoyable if read after All Fall Down, the first in this series.

Rafe Kelly never thought he’d fall in love with Claire Michaels, the hostage negotiator sent to get him out of a life or death situation. Though it was easy to see from the beginning that Claire was good at her profession, Rafe quickly realized she was even better for him personally―and that they might have a future together.

When they get back from their mission in Afghanistan, however, Claire goes back to the Hostage Negotiation Team and Rafe is left to deal with the huge hole in his life after leaving the SEALs. Trying to balance an uncertain future with a new relationship is made even more complicated when a family crisis strikes. Will Rafe and Claire be able to turn to each other for strength or are they over before they’ve really begun?

(Takes place directly following All Fall Down Hostage Negotiation Team #1)


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BYU Women’s Conference Booksigning

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

I have been invited to the BYU Bookstore for a booksigning during Women’s Conference on May 1 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. If you are planning on attending Women’s Conference, please come visit me at the bookstore.

Bookworm, multiple books

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Can You Help?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

I have another grandparent article to write for “Meridian Magazine.” I’m looking for a story or two (or quote or two). (Depending on what is sent to me, I may or may not be able to use it all.) Can you help me? This article is a tribute to grandfathers. What has your grandfather done (example or said) that has impacted you and made a difference in your life and why? I’d like to know the story. This could also be what your father has done that has impacted you and your children (his grandchildren). Or it could be a favorite quote from your father or grandfather that has impacted you and your children (his grandchildren).

Please email me if you can help.


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IndieAuthorHub Conference

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

The IndieAuthorHub June writing conference is going to be fantastic. They have secured an amazing keynote speaker, Michaelbrent Collings. If you want to learn any facet of writing books, consider attending this conference.



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Quarterly Author Newsletter

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

First, a big thank-you to those who spread the word about We Are Strong being offered by the case.

Meridian Magazine Article

A few weeks ago I was approached by a writer for Meridian Magazine, Carolyn Allen, to be interviewed for a feature article. That article came out yesterday—President’s Day—and spoke of the great courage of George Washington and his troops. It was interesting to me the direction this interview/article went. Just a couple weeks previous I had located a document about a few of my ancestors. This document listed one of my ancestors as being “in command of detachment at Cambridge . . . at time Washington took command of Continental Army.” And another ancestor who was a “signer for the Declaration of Independence.” Another document showed an ancestor who was a Constitution signer.

I am immensely grateful to those individuals in my family, those ancestors, who stood with great courage and character to defend their freedom and values. And I am privileged to be included in an article now that honors what they stood for. Thank you, Carolyn Allen.

Here is the link to that article—“I am Strong! I am Smart!”


Amazing Offer Extended

Thank you to those who took advantage of my offer to get copies of We Are Strong by the case at below-author pricing. Some neighborhoods went together to get the cases. That made it possible for many to receive book copies.

I am passionate about the messages in that book. I feel they are so important I want to extend my offer through Mother’s Day. Please consider giving these books for gifts or using them for Relief Society book clubs or women’s retreats. There are 24 books in a case, $4.00 per book. You will have to cover the shipping costs or pick them up at my home. Please forward this offer to any and all you think might be interested.

I am traveling to Arizona the last week of February. If any of you there would like to share a case of books, let me know and I can deliver them to you (if you are in the Mesa area) or you could pick them up at my parents’ home in Mesa.


At this link you can read the amazing endorsements this book received even prior to printing.

Here is a piece of the “Deseret News” review of We Are Strong by Alexis Jones.

“We are Strong” is a practical and spiritually uplifting guide to raising children righteously, no matter how old they are. Although it is targeted to mothers of daughters, it is also appropriate for other family members.

Goal Setting Help

Hopefully you followed my posts on my author Facebook page during the month of January. There I posted nearly the entire Chapter 7 from A Woman’s Power—Goal Setting. Last year I was too overwhelmed with writing We Are Strong and I Am Strong to really spell out my goals for the year. But this year I was determined. As I re-read my own book, I was inspired! I followed my guidelines and, wow, what a difference that made. I’ve been told this system of setting goals is the best out there. And I believe it. It has given me real focus.

Thrilling Event

The first of December I had the thrilling experience of being an angel in the largest live Nativity in history. The filming took all day and into the night—a cold, very finger-and-toe-freezing commitment, but one I shall forever remember with a thankful heart.

Here is the link to my website where I document my experience.

4a Me,-as-angels-began-to-assemble

And here is the link to the resulting video.;_ylt=AtJ6EMR.17u6pGm6tglLp12bvZx4?fr=hp-avast-s&toggle=1&type=agc511&fp=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&p=largest%20nativity%20piano%20guys%20youtube


Book Review

I’m grateful to everyone who has taken the time to post reviews for my books. Especially if they have chosen to be honest and lift me up in the process.

Here is a book I very much enjoyed reading. It is a non-fiction work, one that actually contributed to my continued desire to get more involved in family history.

Mattie A Woman’s Journey West by Nan Weber

This book is very well written. Like reading a mystery, but one from real life. I was amazed at the research trails that were followed to find so much pertinent information. And it inspired me to do more research on my own intriguing ancestors’ life stories. I loved the author’s concluding Afterword statements.

“So, when people ask why I’ve spent so much time and effort on this endeavor, I remind them how much we can learn from the past and its people: Daily behavior matters; I care about the consequences of actions, of choices; each of us is responsible for our actions, and people and nature are not separate from each other; life can be good even after major disruptions; looking for happiness is part of life, and even after death, a life can hold meaning for those who follow.”

Nan Weber book



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Meridian Magazine

Monday, February 16th, 2015

A week or so ago, I was contacted by Carolyn Allen, asking to interview me for “Meridian Magazine.” I thought perhaps you might be interested in reading her wonderful article that came out this morning—Presidents’ Day. I’m grateful to be highlighted in this article.


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Six Top Steps for Recovering from Betrayal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

I have been asked to post here an old article (2005) I wrote for “Meridian Magazine” ( on recovering from betrayal. I will share this link on my author Facebook page and in my author newsletter this month. I’m placing the entire article here.

Six Top Steps for Recovering from Betrayal

As an author, I’ve had the opportunity to be a presenter at numerous public conferences and stake and ward Relief Society meetings. My subjects, though important, have never been as necessary to sustaining the joys in life as what I often speak on today.

It seems everyone experiences some tragedy in life, some trial or test. After all, that’s what we’re here for. And proving our character by the choices we make in responding to those trials is what forms the basis of God’s just rewards.

Being betrayed is part and parcel to many, if not most, trials—betrayed by spouse, business partner, friend, neighbor . . . How do you recover? Heavy subject . . . and one that has derailed many of life’s travelers! Yet the outcome for some individuals is positive. Over time, they seem stronger, more resilient, confident in themselves and in their relationship with Heavenly Father. What makes the difference?

In preparing the draft for Shattered: Six Steps from Betrayal to Recovery, my co-author, Bettyanne Bruin, and I encountered a number of victims who were willing to tell their stories of healthy recovery. The threads consistently woven through their stories were:
• A continued hope, faith, and reliance on the power of God
• Coupled with the willingness to face their realities,
• Pick themselves up, seeking solutions,
• And work with integrity to do their part.

Here are six powerful steps to recover from tragedy:

Step #1—Awareness

One cannot change the circumstances surrounding betrayal until one has recognized a betrayal has taken place. This may sound like an obvious scenario, but in the case of betrayal, the secrets surrounding this form of abuse are sometimes difficult to see; betrayal is often a “silent crime.” Frequently the victim does not know he or she has been victimized, whether it is through an affair, leading a double life, and/or secrets of financial indiscretions, until long after the victimization has taken place. Awareness must be the first step to betrayal recovery.

Step #2—Acceptance

Grief is the result following any type of loss, especially the loss of heartfelt expectations destroyed by betrayal. It is a natural part of an emotionally healthy recovery process. Shock, denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, and sadness are companions to grief. When the process is followed to its completion, acknowledgement and acceptance of one’s reality can be comforting results. Finding ways to successfully manage fear and positively channel anger brings about the yearned-for, pain-free hope that is necessary and must be the second step for a full recovery.

Step #3—Action

Once betrayal is recognized and accepted, action must take place, whether this action is choosing to continue or end the relationship with the betrayer. One must act, not just react, by setting reasonable limits, safely confronting the issues, and taking the risk to make life better.

Step #4—Authorization

Authorization, or permission to move forward with one’s life, is a vital step in the recovery process. One of the most common yet innocent characteristics of a victim of betrayal is his or her “willingness to submit,” “to be the nice guy,” or to give the betrayer “permission” to abuse. Authorizing the victim to take control of his or her life by establishing the proper support system and learning to trust him- or herself is a vital step in breaking away from the betrayer and healing the heartbreak associated with betrayal.

Step #5—Accountability

In fairness, the victim must hold him- or herself accountable for the part played in the betrayal, and give proper ownership to the betrayer, as well, for his or her part in the abuse. Taking the obsessive searchlight off the other person and focusing on one’s self empowers change. There is a time when one must quit being the victim governed by fear, and make a plan for what is and is not acceptable—never again compromising on those important issues. One can visualize beyond the past and look with hope into the possibilities of the future by forgiving the betrayer and making one’s self a product of one’s decisions instead of one’s conditions.

Step #6—Advancement

An old Chinese proverb states, “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” Advancement may be considered the last strategy or step of recovery, but it is also the first step in the rest of one’s life. Visualizing life with a set of fresh goals and a belief in one’s self creates confidence and courage. Healing occurs as one reaches out to serve and help others in need. To advance forward one accomplishes his or her goals one step at a time while maintaining a proper balance in life.

Recently I spoke at a two-day writers’ workshop. The morning of the second day, a participant approached me, telling me how much she appreciated my comments in one of my sessions the previous day. I spoke about writing and using an object to make an impression. The writing discussed was the book Shattered. The object was a kaleidoscope. I told my audience that when one experiences betrayal, he or she feels shattered, like broken glass fragments harshly thrown and scattered on a hard floor—never to be the same. But as the pieces are gathered, and recovery and healing occur, there is new beauty in the pattern and shape of the individual’s life, much as the colorful, magnificent designs made in a kaleidoscope.

The writer said she was inspired by the poetic visual of the kaleidoscope. So much so, that she stayed up during the night composing a poem. I was impressed with her insight as she explained why she chose certain phrases. She said, “Fear and anger are part of the grieving process, and it is while going through the motions that we begin to find scattered remnants [of ourselves]. ‘Butter the toast’ [signifies] taking care of own needs—physical, spiritual, and emotional. ‘Take out the trash’ [represents] discarding what is unuseful or unhealthy. ‘Turning, testing’ [is like] rotating the kaleidoscope, but also going in new directions, trying better ways of doing things, such as relating to others.”

© by Sharon Price Anderson

I am shattered,
abused, and bruised.
Broken fragments of me
litter the landscape.
Dazed, I wander
through chaos
bewildered by
where I have been.

Searching for
something real
to staunch the bleeding,
stop the tears,
heal the hurt,
I sift through fear and
anger of surreal days.
I go through the motions—
butter the toast,
take out the trash.

I find scattered remnants
of who I am
and gather particles of
hope, confidence,
forgiveness until
finally, I have
a handful.

Kaleidoscope pieces
form dazzling patterns,
prisms in the sun.
Turning, testing, I
discover something
new and beautiful—

I am whole.

Inspired by Shattered: Six Steps from Betrayal to Recovery—the book and the object lesson of the kaleidoscope. Permission for use granted to the authors of Shattered by Sharon Anderson.



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A Woman’s Power, Goal Setting, Chapter 7

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

On my author Facebook page, I have been posting sections of the Goal Setting chapter from A Woman’s Power. That is one of my sought-after books, and I just wanted to share. This chapter is full of wonderful material. Here is a small piece.

Our view of our circumstances and our self-image may or may not be in line with reality. It may be merely what we have accepted. Many of us fool even ourselves by the role we play. But sooner or later we come to question our itinerary along the pathway of life. Sooner or later we want to believe what we are doing is important—we want to have a sense of purpose, of faith in what we’re doing.

Finding our reality does not come without a plan or effort. First, we have to find out who we are and what we really believe. Then we need to live by what we believe and not be swayed by what we simply have accepted of ourselves. We can consciously choose our destination and believe in our ability to learn and move forward. And we must not measure what we are or where we are going by looking at others or by looking at where we’ve been.

Cover - A Womans Power

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