Friday, July 14, 2017

Guest Post and Excerpt: Searching For Irene by Marlene Bateman

I'm excited to have Marlene here today because not only is she a great writer with some fantastic stories that are clean, but her newest release also happens to be in one of my most favorite genres and I couldn't be more happy about it. 
Not only do we get a sneak peek at her new book but she has a great guest post planned for us too so stick around and check it out. 

Release Date:  July 1, 2017
Book Description:
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, has mysteriously disappeared. Upon arriving at the castle-like mansion, 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—

Caught up in a maze of intrigue in a tormented and troubled household, Anna sets out to find the truth behind Irene’s disappearance. She 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, she must continue to hide a significant one of her own. Then, her life is threatened, and Anna is left to wonder if she’ll be able to unravel the mystery before she disappears as mysteriously as the unfortunate Irene—

About the Author:

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. 

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.

How I Get Ideas for My Novels
by Marlene Bateman, author of Searching for Irene

People often ask where I get ideas for my novels.  Most often, they start with a germ of an idea I gleaned from books I’ve read. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life and read hundreds and hundreds of books.  For many years, when I finished reading a book, I would write up a short summary of it and file it away. Now, I have binder after binder filled with book summaries.

When it’s time to come up with a new idea for a book, I pull out and look through all of these binders of summaries, which give me endless ideas and inspiration to create a totally new book. 

As I skim through the summaries, I find an idea that leads to another, then another. Gradually, these ideas come clear and allow me to come up with a bare-bones idea for a new book. As I begin to write, changes always come because of the characters and the plot, which often takes things in new directions. It’s always exciting to see how my original idea has morphed into something totally new. 

Searching for Irene started with a germ of idea that came from a book I read eons ago, and it led me to eventually come up with the idea of a woman who is hired to replace a secretary who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. 

Books aren’t the only things I get ideas from. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, and quite often, I get a spark of inspiration from reading the daily newspaper, from watching TV, or even seeing people in a grocery store, park, or at a campground.  

When I write, I always begin by developing the characters. Knowing who they are, what they want, and what they fear, helps me develop the plot and drives my fiction. We all are products of our upbringing and I enjoy showing how my character’s background and past experiences molded them into the people they are now. I strive to create characters who are living, breathing people. 

In Searching for Irene, Anna arrives at a castle-like mansion to replace a secretary who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Now, any good story has conflict, so I came up with an opposing force by the name of Tyler Richardson. Arrogant, condescending, and handsome, he wants nothing more than for Anna to leave. But he’s met his match in Anna, who stands up to him. Anna soon realizes she has come into a troubled household and as she uncovers some secrets, must tread warily because she has a few of her own that must stay hidden at all costs. 

Because I strive for rich characterization, I gave Tyler and Anna some personal dilemmas. Each of them display their humanness and although they make mistakes, each has a moral compass and a belief in God, which prompts them to work on overcoming their faults and being better people. Because they are thrown together so much, they confide in each other and love begins to blossom. 

Part of the reason I enjoyed writing Searching for Irene so much was because of the time period—the early 1920’s. I loved researching that time period and learning how life was back them. When the writing flows, as it did for this book, it’s a deeply satisfying experience. I sincerely hope people love reading Searching for Irene much as I enjoyed writing it!


Thank you so much Marlene for being here today and sharing a guest post and excerpt with us!


  1. Wow thanks for the full service post Kindlemom!
    I loved learning about the author's writing and character development

  2. it's the first time I hear about this one. thanks for sharing!

  3. Ohh I can only imagine the fireworks that started from this meeting!

    Thanks for sharing, Ali!

  4. Anna and Tyler's dynamic sounds amazing! I'm really looking forward to getting lost in it. I love it when characterization is someone's primary focus. Character is, and should always be, king. Or queen, as the case may be. :)

  5. well I'm liking the heroine's name. lol sounds like a very good storyline. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. I love the tension and chemistry in the excerpt! Thanks for sharing the wonderful guest post. I love the idea of jotting down summaries and ideas for future use when writing - especially character traits and settings/time periods that you find interesting.

    1. Me too Kim. I bet so many authors do something similar, I think you would have to with all the wonderful stories that run through their heads. ;)

  7. This reminds me of the gothic mysteries that my mom and I used to read when I was in my teens and even twenties. Used to love them! This one sounds good! Thanks for sharing 🤗

    1. Yes Lorna! I agree. I do bet this will be a fun one to try.