Friday, December 17, 2010

CONTEST - Win $25.00 gift certificate and INTERVIEW WITH Marlene Bateman Sullivan

The December "Summer in Paris" contest is still going strong. Enter to win a $25.00 Walmart gift certificate.

Purchase the book "Summer in Paris" from your local Walmart.
Email me at micheleabell at gmail dot com and let me know which store you bought it from.

Winner will be announced December 30th!

NOW . . .

Let me introduce to you a wonderful author, Marlene Bateman Sullivan.
Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and grew up in Sandy, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children. Her hobbies are gardening, card-making, and reading.

You can read one of her stories in this collection.

Both laughter and tears will fill your soul with this heartwarming collection of a dozen true Christmas stories from favorite LDS authors, ordinary people whose lives have been touched in extraordinary ways. Discover lighthearted surprises, faith-affirming treasures, and thought-provoking insights about the greatest gift of all in this wonderful keepsake book. You'll want to share these timeless holiday tales of peace, hope, and love year after year.

Contributors include: Anita Stansfield, Betsy Brannon Green, Clair M. Poulson, Jerry Borrowman, Jennie Hansen, Julie Coulter Bellon, Connie Angeline, Jeri Gilchrist, K.C. Grant, Susan Aylworth, Michele Paige Holmes, Marlene Bateman, Kenneth M. Page

Light on Fire Island is one of her most popular books.

Five years ago, Celena Jackson was banished from her home on Fire Island, New York by her father because of her allegiance to the Church. Her eleven-year old brother, Joshua, is the catalyst for her return when he calls to report that their father, the keeper at the Fire Island Lighthouse, has suffered a serious accident. Tearfully, Joshua begs Celena to return to help run the light until their father can take over. Celena agrees to put aside her bitterness and returns in order to fulfill a promise she made to her mother before she died.

Soon, Celena discovers that her father’s accident was no accident, but that someone deliberately tried to kill him. As she sets out to discover who attempted to kill her father, and why, Celena becomes worried about her old friend, Ethan. Although he has always been a simple minded man, Ethan appears to have become unhinged after his wife, Sarina, drowned two years ago. Ethan is convinced his wife was killed by ‘bad men’ and embroils Celena in the mysterious circumstances surrounding Sarina’s death.

Two men, the charming Clint and handsome Daniel, bring romance into Celena’s life, but there are so many mysterious incidents that Celena doubts she can trust anyone.

Through it all, Celena has to struggle with her tangle of mixed emotions toward her father. New information about her banishment surfaces, helping dissolve the bitterness she has harbored for so long. Celena is prompted to listen to the Spirit and is surprised to discover that her father has had special promptings and experiences of his own, with astonishing and unexpected results.

Celena is close to finding out who is responsible for her father’s near-fatal accident and Sarina’s death when an attempt is made on her own life. At that point it becomes chillingly clear that someone wants Celena stopped permanently.

Here is my interview with Marlene:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Marlene: In Jr. High. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer. In high school I made a time line of my goals in life, which included having five books published by the time I was thirty! I didn’t quite make that, since when I was in college, I got married and had children and put my dream on the sideline for a while.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?
Marlene: After my fourth child was born, I started writing magazine articles and was published in a lot of magazines, including the Ensign and Friend.
Then, I started writing non-fiction and over the years, wrote six books. The first two were Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, Volume One, and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines Volume Two. These books are compilations of true stories about people in early Church history who actually risked their life in defense of the gospel. I love all of the stories that went into these books—the people trusted in God completely and their stories are so inspiring and faith promoting.
My next three books are also compilations of true stories in early Church History, and are about angelic experiences. The first book in this series is called; And There Were Angels Among Them. As I started researching for this book, I found thousands of stories about angelic visitations and knew I had to narrow it down. So I selected only those experiences when a person either saw or heard an angel.
The second book in this series is called, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and the third is; By the Ministering of Angels. Researching and writing these books was a marvelous experience. It made me realize how much Heavenly Father loves his children and that He is completely aware of us and our lives. I think it shows how much Heavenly Father loves us when He sends angels to help us in time of need.
My latest non-fiction book, published last year, is called Brigham’s Boys. It tells the story of sixteen men who worked closely with Brigham Young as he brought the Saints across the plains and colonized the Great Basin area. The men who worked alongside Brigham were amazingly devout and hard working. They were always willing to serve, no matter how difficult the challenge.
My first novel, Light on Fire Island, was published in March. It is a mystery, with a bit of romance in it and has really done well. I’m so happy it was a bestseller. I’m glad people have enjoyed it so much.
Opps, almost forgot to answer the question about my education. Since I dropped out of college to get married and have children, it was always one of my goals to go back and graduate. It took two tries, as I went to Utah State and finished a year there, then went to the University of Utah years later and graduated with a Bachelors in English.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?
Marlene: It’s just a feeling inside me. I’ve always wanted to write and the passion has never died down and I don’t think it ever will. It’s just part of me.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Marlene: I decided to start at the top, which for me was Deseret Book. They liked it my first book, but wanted a few changes. I had seven children at the time and by the time I got the manuscript back to Sheri Dew, who was then an editor at Deseret Book, she said they had just accepted a similar book and so, wouldn’t be able to publish mine. I was way disappointed, but with children, what do you do? They come first. I continued submitting and eventually found an LDS publisher who accepted it. So, my advice to new authors is never give up!

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Marlene: It was very discouraging to write for magazines because it involves a lot of rejection. Part of my discouragement came from my lack of time and energy, being the mother of seven. I never did develop a thick skin, but I just kept telling myself to perservere and each time I got rejected, I would just redo the article and send it out again.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Marlene: I try to start working at 10:30 in the morning, after doing housework and yard work. I work until 12:30, when I take an hour and a half break to eat lunch, read, and if possible, take a 15 min. snooze. I return to work, knocking off about 6:30. But there are a lot of things that eat into my writing time, such as dentist or dr. appts., visiting teaching, cub scouts, etc., but I just try to go with the flow.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Marlene: My ideas come from other books. I pay attention to novels I read and often when I’m done with a book, write up a short summary. Then, when its time to come up with a new idea, I read through all of my summaries, spend a lot of time thinking and pondering, and eventually I am able to come up with a basic plot.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?
Marlene: So long ago I can’t even remember as I started it approx. 15 years ago. I was going to do a children’s book, but when I researched the market, found it was VERY bad for children’s mysteries, at least in the LDS market. So, I changed Light on Fire Island to an adult mystery.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?
Marlene: First of all, I hope they will be entertained. For that is the primary job of an author. However, as an LDS author, I also want to enlighten and inspire. I hope that after reading this book, people will understand the importance of forgiveness and that when you are angry at someone, you are giving them YOUR power. If you want to be mentally healthy and whole, you must forgive. I also want people to understand there are always two sides to every story. One of the parts in the book that deal with this is when Celena thinks about how she was an angel growing up but Rueben tells her different. It was a bit of a shock for her. Also, Celena learns that her father had his own reasons for behaving the way he did and so it wasn’t all as one sided, with her father being the bad guy, as she had thought.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Marlene: I’m a very organized person and I couldn’t write without a plot in place. After coming up with the basic idea, I start plotting. This takes months as I plan out and add scenes and the plot line. I write many scenes part way during this process.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Marlene: It doesn’t happen often. But sometimes I hit a snag or a problem that needs figuring out, So I don’t get overwhelmed, I write down the problem in a file and when I have some free moments, go to that file and really think about the problem until I come up with an answer. I also think about the problems when I take my dogs for a walk, or wake up early in the morning. That’s a good time to think, when all else is quiet, Eventually, solutions will come. Then its on to figure out the next one!

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Marlene: As a mother, if I needed absolute quiet to write, I’d never have become a writer! I’ve learned to tune things out, although I admit a messy kitchen keeps calling me, so I shut up my inner voice by cleaning it before I start writing.
As for music, I do sometimes listen, but only to CD’s that have soothing sounds (NO distracting lyrics) like “Rain” or “Sounds of the Forest.” I like them because they don’t break my concentration.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Marlene: I’d have to say a teacher in Junior High. By then, I was writing stories and she offered to read some and let me know what she thought. Her encouragement bolstered me and gave me the courage to keep at it.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Marlene: I write down everything I possibly can about each character. So I REALLY know the character. Most of the information, I don’t use in the book, but it helps me create a real character. As I write, I try to imagine myself as that character and imagine how he or she would respond to each situation I put them in.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Marlene: I always have family and friends read my manuscripts and give me feedback. Recently, I joined a critique group and find their comments to be extremely helpful. I think I am usually “too close” to my manuscript to be able to see things that others might pick up on. So, a critique group and friends and family give me lots of “eyes” to catch things I miss.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Marlene: Of my non-fiction books, I like “Visits From Beyond the Veil” the best. (Which is published under my full name, Marlene Bateman Sullivan) It was so heartwarming to read about when a person’s life had been touched for good by seeing or hearing an angel. Probably my second favorite is Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, which is another compilation of true stories, but these are true accounts of people in early church history who risked their live for the gospel. They were so brave and true to the gospel, they are such an inspiration to read about.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Marlene: I keep a bowl of candy by my computer. I never dip into it in the morning, but save it for the afternoon. Also, I don’t keep high calorie candy, but rather fill it with smarties, gummy bears, jolly rancher, lemon drops, butterscotch disks, and various types of gum. Sometimes nuts. I also keep a supply of dried fruit nearby, which my husband makes during the summer. If I get tired or stuck and need to think, I grab a piece or two or three, but I make sure I limit myself!

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Marlene: Persistance is the keyword. Don’t give up. Also, keep studying and improving. Take classes, read writing books and write, write, write. Over time, your writing will improve and if you do not give up, you WILL get published!

M.B.: What are you working on now?
Marlene: I recently had my second novel accepted, Deception. It features Erica Coleman, who works as a private eye. Deception has a bit of a romance in it and also has a collection of ten wonderful recipies!
Now I’m working on two books. One is a novel that is set in Oregon and is called Charade. It is a mystery and again, has some romance in it. I recently traveled to Oregon, to Florence and Lake Oswego, the two cities where the novel is set, to do research for the setting. I took hundreds of pictures and lots of notes so that the background will be accurate.
In Charade, Erica Coleman is once again called on to solve a murder mystery. And once again, there will be ten new, delicious recipies.
The second book I’m working on is non-fiction, and is called; Gaze Into Heaven. I’m very excited about this book, which is a compilation of true, near-death experiences in early Church history. There have been a lot of books written about modern day near-death experiences, but this one focuses solely on those that occurred in the early days of the Church. It has been an incredible spiritual experience to research and compile these stories. My testimony of the gospel has increased and it is awesome to see how well these experiences agree with LDS church doctrine.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
Marlene: I think I’ve jabbered on long enough. But I would like to thank people who read. Without them, where would I be?

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Marlene: My novel is available at Deseret Book, Seagull Book, Barnes and Noble and many independent LDS bookstores. My non-fiction titles are no longer on the shelf, but you can order them in at any Deseret Book or Seagull book store.

To see a full list of Marlene's books go to

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Latter-day Woman Magazine - With Bells On / SIGNINGS / CONTEST win $25.00 Walmart gift card

This fabulous women's magazine, Latter-day Woman Magazine, featured me in their December issue. It's was such an honor to be asked and is like an early Christmas gift.

To read the article go HERE"

12/11/10 Seagull Book - Clinton, UT 11:00 - 1:00
12/18/10 Seagull Book - Brickyard 10:00 - 11:30

And finally . . .
To promote my book "A Summer in Paris" in Walmart stores NOW, I am giving away a $25.00 gift certificate on December 31st.
To ENTER just purchase a copy of "A Summer in Paris" the post or email me micheleabell at gmail dot com and tell me the date you bought it and which store you purchased it from. Your name will go into a drawing for the gift certificate.

Wait, one more thing . . .
I have been showcasing authors on my blog on Fridays and I would also like to start showcasing readers. Let's face it, without readers, writers are just weirdos who live in a fantasy world and spend ginormous amounts of time in front of a computer. So, if you would be interested in being a featured reader on my blog, email at the above address and let me know and I'll interview you. In the words of my darling 2 year-old granddaughter, "it be so fun!"

Love and hugs!