Jason Kills Off Cinderella’s Stepmother, Lady Tremaine

I haven’t posted a Jason update in a long while. To catch you all up, he’s finished all his Pathway courses . . . except the dreaded Math. He’ll be taking that one come January. In the meantime, he’s enjoying some freedom, and the only assignment he has these days is to learn how to make his own grilled cheese sandwiches. He’s halfway there and I’ll be posting about that next Friday, complete with pictures.

(Part of the reason we’re not pushing the driving, the math, or the mission right now is that we’re getting ready to list our house and looking into moving to Southern Utah. We want to downsize, be closer to both our families, and give Jason more opportunities to meet other LDS singles. But more about all of that in future posts.)

As I wrote on Monday, to help pass the time while driving down to Salt Lake City (and then on to St. George), I reviewed Agatha Christie’s writing methodology with Jason and proposed we give it a try. He agreed and so, first, we had to come up with a plausible victim who would have enemies.

JASON:  How about Lady Tremaine?

ME:  Who?

JASON:  You know, the stepmother from Disney’s “Cinderella?”

Lady Tremaine

ME:  Oh, yeah. Okay, she’ll do. Now we need to come up with the murder method.

He thought about that for a minute and shrugged. So I prodded his recollection of her fondness for shopping.

ME:  We could kill her off during a shopping trip in town.

JASON:  Huh? How?

ME:  Let’s see . . . since Agatha Christie was into poison, let’s come up with a really sneaky way to poison her while shopping.

JASON:  (No response)

ME:  Okay, how about this? . . . The killer applies an odorless poison to a dress Lady Tremaine has admired before, counting on the fact that she’ll likely try it on. Once she does, the toxic concoction seeps into her skin and 2-3 days later, she’s dead.

JASON:  Cool!

Now that we had the victim and the method all set, we had to determine the killer.

JASON:  It can’t be Cinderella and it can’t be the Prince. That would just be wrong.

Cinderella and the prince

ME:  Okay, who else wouldn’t like Lady Tremaine? Who else would have a motive and yet probably be overlooked by the reader?

JASON:  Maybe Anastasia would work.

ME:  Who?

JASON:  You know, the younger daughter. The one who was sort of kind to Cinderella . . . at least in the sequels.


ME:  That’s good. People probably wouldn’t suspect her because of that. But what would her motive be? Doesn’t she like her mother?

JASON:  Well, in the sequels, we find out that she doesn’t really like her mother’s iron grip on her life and that she just wants to be free to marry for love, not money. So that could be her motive.

ME:  Perfect! Now we need to figure out the motives for all the rest of the characters (not including the animals).

JASON:  Okay. Drizella, the eldest daughter, could have done it because she wants to inherit the family fortune sooner rather than later after her mother dies naturally.


ME:  (Nodding) Good. Go on.

JASON:  Who else is there?

ME:  How about the dress shopkeeper? That’s where the murder takes place. Wouldn’t she naturally be a suspect?

JASON:  I guess, but what would her motive be?

ME:  I know. She could have done it because Lady Tremaine hasn’t been paying her bills on time and the woman is about to lose her shop.

JASON:  Hmm . . . that will do.

Finally, we needed to come up with the right detective to ferret out all the clues, with the help of Cinderella and the Prince, of course. Thinking back on the movie, that left only one possibility. It was apparent to me, but I had to bring Jason around to the realization.

ME:  Okay, Jason, who was the one in the film who went all over the countryside asking questions?

JASON:  Huh?

ME:  You know, he had a glass slipper and . . .

JASON:  Oh, you mean the Grand Duke?

grand duke 2

ME:  Exactly. Even though he’s kind of a bumbling fool, he’s the perfect type to put people off their guard while secretly he’s observing their behavior and asking all kinds of innocent questions.

JASON:  You mean his clumsiness is just an act?

ME:  Precisely. Now all we have to do is sit down and plot it out.

Et voilá. An Agatha Christie-styled murder mystery. Anyone want to write it? (We won’t for fear of being sued by Disney. Although perhaps Jason might give it a go as a piece of fan fiction. I’ll let you know if he does, but I can’t promise to post it here. He keeps his fan fiction private.)

In any case, it was a fun exercise and took a good bit longer in the car than it took you to read about it here. By the way, Jason helped create this post, so give him half the credit, okay?

Originally posted 2013-08-23 06:00:17.

“Monday Mystery” – MOTIVE FOR MURDER

I’m starting something new here involving suspense.

Beginning today, my Monday postings will be about mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels.

The postings will be either reviews of suspense novels that I choose (no requests, please), musings about the mystery, suspense, and thriller genres in general, or announcements of new releases. (Here, I will welcome requests from authors . . . If you’ve got a new mystery, thriller, or suspense novel coming out, just send me a basic synopsis, a short excerpt of around 100 words or less, and a brief bio, along with a cover image and your author photo.)

Some of you may recall that I had originally set aside Mondays for various things attached to the acronym MOLESKIN–one of my favorite writing product lines. But it became too complicated to keep track of . . . hence, the change.

I’m kicking it off this week with an announcement of a new release: Marlene Bateman’s MOTIVE FOR MURDER: An Erica Coleman Mystery. Published only last month, it’s available on Amazon and at all LDS bookstores, including Deseret Book and Seagull.

A Motive for Murder_High resolution

Here’s a quick look:


Meet Erica Coleman—a gifted and quirky private investigator with an OCD-like passion for neatness and symmetry, a penchant for cooking, (ten terrific recipes are included), and a weakness for chocolate.

Erica imagined that her trip to Florida would be a slice of heaven—a chance to get away from it all and catch up with her best friend, Wendy. But one day into her vacation, all hope of fun in the sun is dashed when she stumbles, literally, over a dead man on Wendy’s driveway. With police closing in on her friend as their main suspect, Erica must find the real killer before Wendy ends up behind bars.

With Erica’s skill, solving the mystery should be a piece of cake but then a second homicide attempt hits close to home and generates a whole new list of suspects. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. A murderer is on the prowl, and no one is above suspicion.

As the plot thickens, it appears Erica may have bitten off more than she can chew, but she forges on, sifting through mounting evidence until she hones in on the killer who has a surprising motive for murder. With a dash of romance and some surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.



“As she drove back to Wendy’s house, the headlights cleaved the darkness and shone through the rain, which was falling harder now. Erica parked across the street and was nearly to Wendy’s door when she stopped suddenly, catching herself as she nearly fell over something.

It was the still figure of a man lying face down on the driveway. He was strangely unmoving. The light from the porch illuminated a puddle alongside him, which was growing bigger by the second. A chill shivered down Erica’s spine as she noticed that the puddle was streaked by dark red threads that ran and merged with rivulets of rain.”



Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children.


Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading.  Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and has written a number of non-fiction books, including:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, and Brigham’s Boys. Marlene also wrote the best-selling novel, Light on Fire Island.

A busy writer, Marlene is set to have three books published this year. Gaze Into Heaven, a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences in early church history, was published earlier this year. Now we have Motive for Murder, the first in a mystery series featuring the quirky Erica Coleman. Later in July, Heroes of Faith, a collection of stories about people who risked their life for the gospel, will be released by Cedar Fort Inc. You can learn more about Marlene at her website.

Originally posted 2013-07-15 06:00:53.

Contest Author Interview – Patricia G. Stevenson

Yes, I know the contest ended on Monday. Still, I had one more author who donated prizes that I didn’t manage to squeeze in before the deadline. So I’m posting her interview now.

Patricia G. Stevenson didn’t start out to be a writer (I think). But as she worked her way up to become vice president of Gastronomy, Inc. (that restaurant group in Salt Lake City that includes Market Street Grill and the New Yorker), the writing bug infected her and she began to churn out murder mysteries. She had seven written before she even began to think about publishing. And all of them revolve around Professor Del Channing, who travels the world (much like Patricia) solving mysteries.

Me:  I want to know when you wrote your first fiction piece and the circumstances surrounding it. Was it as a child or as an adult?

Patricia:  At the age of 12, I wrote a musical comedy, music, lyrics, set design, costumes, etc. And no, it will not be published. (Drat! I’d love to see it.)

Me:  Where did you grow up precisely, and did that have any effect on your writing? (I’d love to post a picture of you as a child.)

Patricia:  Yes and no. I lived in various places in the West. I have always been a people watcher, and seeing so many places gave me a lot to store in my memory.

(Hmm. No picture. I get the feeling she’s pretty private and that’s okay.)

Me:  How did you get involved with Gastronomy, Inc.?

Patricia:  Gastronomy is the parent company for the Market Street Grill restaurants. Our flag ship restaurant is the New Yorker. We also own buildings and parking lots. Their owner asked me to join them shortly after they organized in 1978.

(Now here’s a picture I can share.)

 Me:  Was your position with that company what led you to travel so widely or was it something else?

Patricia:  No. I just enjoy far-away places and the people you meet there. (I’ll say. She’s been to such exotic locales as Bangkok, Bali, Istanbul, and the rain forests of New Zealand.)

Me:  Why murder mysteries?

Patricia:  It’s my favorite reading material.

(Okay. That makes sense. Short and to the point, too.)

Me:  Given your background with Gastronomy, how important a role does food play in your mysteries, and, if it doesn’t, why not?

Patricia:  Food plays a great part only because it is a way for the reader to relate to and become a part of the story.

Me:  How did your main character, Professor Del Channing, evolve in your head? And please describe him for us.

Patricia:  Six foot 2, blond hair, charming manner, Del Channing is a professor of global history, seated at UMass in Amherst, Massachusetts. When asked “What did you learn from history?” he always answers, “That it repeats itself.” As clues come to him he remembers certain facts in history and is able to solve the mystery.

Me:  Could you describe your work space in the voice of Del Channing, as if he were searching your desk for clues? What might he find there? (And I’d really appreciate a picture of your office or the area you use to write in.)

Patricia:  As I write on my lunch hour, eating delicious food in one of our restaurants, he would probably say, “This smells like my mother’s kitchen. The food is marvelous.”

(Okay, here’s a picture of the interior of the New Yorker . . . and then a sampling of their food.)

Can’t you just see her eating here and typing away?

Yummy! I’d like to write like her…fueled by that kind of meal.

Me:  Give us an idea of your writing process fro the first idea to “The End.”

Patricia:  I get an idea and begin writing. I develop the characters and eventually they take over and write the book for me. Believe me or not, I do not know “who done it” (and Professor Channing would correct me to say “who did it”) until a couple of chapters from the end. Now that’s exciting. (I’ll say!)

Me:  Finally, what is Del dealing with next, or are you moving on to another series or genre?

Patricia:  There are another four books already written. The fourth book in the series, set in a ski resort north of Vancouver, is at the editor’s being worked on as we speak. Each and every book takes place in a different location.

If you’d like to travel, eat well, and have an adventure, I’d say your best bet would be to pick up one of Patricia G. Stevenson’s murder mysteries. Check out her website for more details about the three books that have already been published, as well as those that are coming.

Originally posted 2012-09-28 13:14:00.