Thursday, August 3, 2017

Blog Tour/Guest Post: Searching for Irene by Marlene Bateman

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—


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.

Guest Post:

Surefire Ways to Create Memorable Characters
by Marlene Bateman, Author of; Searching for Irene

Every author wants to capture their reader’s interest and one of the best ways to do this is by using effective, efficient characterization. Why are characters so important? Because a story is only as affecting and meaningful as the characters who tell it. Characters engage our emotions and make us want to keep reading. That’s why it’s essential to create strong, multidimensional characters. Your story will only succeed if the people in it fascinate, anger, please, tickle, or otherwise affect the reader. Below are some surefire ways to craft believable, interesting characters that your readers will connect with.

Work to give your readers someone they can identify with. Readers want to become involved with the characters they read about. To make your readers feel something for your character, you must make your character a specific person and strike a chord you know to be universal; such as fear, love, revenge, ambition, insecurity, etc.

Have your main character be amazing at something. Give them a certain trait, strength, or skill that will make readers admire them. This doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top, but your character should have a characteristic that helps define them. This can range from great humor, a tremendous memory, an ability to decipher complex clues, or a love for cats.

Have your main character have a weakness. This will develop an underlying tension that will drive his behavior. It will also make your readers feel compassion for your character.

Create a problem that preys on your character’s weakness. This must be a difficult or fearsome problem for your character to overcome, so that your story can recount his struggle to turn his weakness into victory at the end. One example is the TV series, Monk. His debilitating OCD gave him overwhelming obstacles to overcome.

Give your character a few obstacles along the way. This will highlight the character traits you have chosen to help or hinder him. Above all, never let the protagonist know he is going to succeed. That way he cannot win unless he works hard, perseveres, and/or gives up something that is of great value to himself.

Have your main character be compassionate. A character will be more likable if they have a personality that shows that they care more about someone or something other than themselves. Show them being kind to a child, an animal, or a stranger.

Give them an attitude. A character’s personality has a lot to do with how they react to certain situations. You don’t want dull and boring characters going along with everything that happens. There are plenty of ways to dress up your character’s personality. You can make them chivalrous, attention-seeking, introverted, depressed, or distrustful. A good question to ask yourself is how does this character treat others? And, how are they treated by others in the book?

Know their fears and wants. Our fears and desires are what drive us and our actions. Your character’s dreams, hopes, and fears is where the story is going to take place. Generally, during the development of a character, writers will have them confront certain fears, which will allow them to grow and reach their goals. Think Indiana Jones and the snake pit.

Add surprises. A great way to keep your audience on their toes and interested is to have your characters surprise you and the readers. This can be anything from your character having a change of heart to showing them in a different light. A great way to make you character interesting is to have your “good” characters do “bad” things, and “bad” characters do something “good.”

Make sure characters are credible. Don’t have a mousy person rush into a burning building to save someone. Remember that characters must act credibly, and not just before the author needs them to act a certain way. Credible characters act out of their own nature, not the author’s plot needs.

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?

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 Murder, A 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 Angels, Brigham’s Boys, Heroes of Faith, Gaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, and The Magnificent World of Spirits; Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die.


Unknown said...

I loved this book so much! I also loved For Sale by Owner! She is an amazing author!

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