Blog Tour - A Death in the Family and Guest Post by Marlene Bateman

About the book: In her debut mystery, Motive for Murder, gutsy private investigator Erica Coleman proved that when it comes to sleuthing, she takes the cake. Now, the fast-talking, food-loving heroine is back, and she's sure her next assignment will be as easy as pie...
Erica and her family happily anticipate Grandma Blanche's eighty-first birthday celebration in the picturesque town of Florence, Oregon. But when the feisty matriarch, a savvy businesswoman, enlists Erica's help in an investigation of her company, things quickly get sticky. Before the investigation can begin, Blanche's unexpected death leaves Erica with more questions than answers—and it soon becomes clear that Grandma's passing was anything but natural: she was murdered. When Aunt Martha, Blanche's reclusive sister, becomes the next victim of someone with a taste for homicide, Erica uses her flair for cooking to butter up local law enforcement and gather clues. As she narrowly escapes becoming the third victim, Erica is more determined than ever to solve the case—before she bites off more than she can chew.

My Review: Erica Coleman and her family are visiting Grandma Blanche in Oregon, they are enjoying just spending time with all the family. Erica and Grandma go for a walk one afternoon and Grandma tells Erica that she has some concerns that she would like Erica to look into with the family business in her official capacity as a private investigator. Erica tries to get more information, but Grandma is very evasive, promising to tell her all she needs to know later. Unfortunately, Grandma dies before she's able to give Erica any more information. The whole family seem to be devastated, Grandma had been so healthy, but it's only after an autopsy that they realize that Grandma has been murdered. So Erica sets out to find the murderer, but this time all the suspects are family members. Will Erica be able to see past the relationships she's formed with each of them to find Grandma's murderer?

I was way excited to read this new mystery about Erica, and I was not disappointed! Erica is one of my very favorite characters, her OCD makes things crazy and she's super smart. I really like that I can see a bit of myself in her. The plot of this one was fun, I liked that there were so many possibilities of suspects and you could see just how it could have been whichever person. In the end, I was really surprised by just who the killer was and how Erica figured it all out, when it didn't seem as though there had been a clear forerunner the whole book. I loved this book and Erica's recipes and I hope to be able to read more books about her soon!

I was sent an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase Links: Amazon - Deseret Book - Seagull Book 
Also available in LDS bookstores!

About the author: Marlene Bateman 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. Marlene is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and lives in North Salt Lake, Utah. Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading. Marlene has been published extensively in various magazines and newspapers and has written a number of nonfiction books. Her first novel, a mystery romance, was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Check out her website here.

Also check out this great guest post by Marlene Bateman:

How to Improve Your Writing Style
By Marlene Bateman

There are many elements of good writing but perhaps one of the least understood is style. Just what is style? Style is not what you write but how you write. Voltaire said, “Every style that is not boring is a good one.”  But how do you improve something as nebulous as style? Over time, I’ve come up with some simple things that can enhance your writing style.
1. Use a thesaurus to look up words that are colorful and precise and mean exactly what you want to say.  You know thousands of words, but they don’t always rise to the surface of your brain. Adjectives are not efficient and should not be your first choice.  The best thing to do is replace words, not modify them.  Replace house with mansion, cottage, hovel, or duplex. William Strunk said that adjectives are “the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words.”  Adjectives do great work when they are needed, but too often they are brought in when they are not needed. One thing to remember is that adjectives tell, verbs show.  Turn adjectives into verbs whenever possible.  For example, turn impatient into “looked at his watch” or “tapped her foot.”

2. Use simple words but don’t confuse simple with dull.

3. Writing gets more interesting as it acquires precision, not length.

4. The smaller the number of words you use to contain a thought or an image, the more impact that thought or image will have.  Let me give you an example: Lee was a mean woman.  Lee was a shrew. Want another example? He passed away early in the morning, and people all over America cried.  He died at dawn and the nation wept. Do not put extra words in a sentence for the same reason you don’t tape two windshield wipers to the windshield of your car: they wouldn’t serve any purpose, and they would get in the way.

5. Be wary of adverbs. Adverbs crop up when you use a weak verb and try to boost it.

6. Use strong verbs that are active, vivid, specific and familiar.  One example of this is; Buster ate his dog treats quickly. It’s much better to say;  Buster gobbled his dog treats. Don’t use weak general verbs like walk, cry, fall, and touch if the situation calls for plod, weep, collapse, and caress.

7. Say things in a positive way.  Show readers what you want them to see, not what you don’t want them so see. Here are some examples; Do not say, “He was not a generous man,” say, “He was a miser.”  Do not say; “The painting it did not have any flaws,” say, “It was a masterpiece.”  Do not say, Phil was not a graceful person,” say, “Phil was a klutz.”

8. Show, don’t tell.  Showing means creating a picture for the reader.  You can say a person seemed impatient.  Or you can show that by saying, “She looked at her watch constantly.”  Or; She asked, “Are you almost done?”

9. Avoid clichés.  They are tiresome.

10. Appeal to the senses.  Through the sense of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, we reach out to the world.  Bring your writing alive with the sounds, the smells, the flavors, and the peculiar tactile sensations that come from textures and temperature and motion.  Remind the reader that this written world is the same one he lives in.  It sparkles, it roars, it rubs against him and sometimes it stinks. The senses are touchstones for the reader.  Return to them often.  They work.  Don’t say it was noisy at the baseball game. Mention the crack of a bat, the whizzing of a fast ball, the roar of the crowd, and the heckling from the bleachers.

11. Put emphatic words at the end.  Emphasis tends to flow to the end of a sentence, so if there is one word or phrase you want to say a little louder, put it at the end.  This is especially important when you are trying to be funny.

12. Keep it simple.  Write in a simple, direct, unpretentious way—with every sentence an arrow aimed at exactly what it means to say.  Remember you are trying to do one thing, tell a story.

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