Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guest Blogger, Patricia Batta

I like to welcome author Patricia K. Batta as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Patricia is the author of WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE DYING? and  WHY DID YOU DIE IN THE PARK? Here’s a brief blurb about the Marge Christensen Mystery Series: “Meet Marge Christensen, a restive Bellevue, Washington housewife. Until her husband died.  Was it suicide, as the police said?  Why didn’t he leave a note?  Where did their money go? 

Marge searches for the truth and, in the process, rediscovers a unique art talent – her fingers never forget what she has seen.  After solving this puzzle, Marge has no intention to continue a life of sleuthing.  However, when she discovers a freshly buried body in the park and her best friend’s husband is accused of the murder, she is pressed into service to again ferret out what really happened.  Is this getting to be a habit?”

Patricia joins us today to talk about where Marge Christensen got her talent? As an added bonus, thanks to Patricia and Denise at Progressive Book Marketing, I have a great giveaway to announce at the end of Patricia’s post. Patricia, tells us about Marge and her talent.

Marge Christensen is a water color pencil artist. Why? I know next to nothing about water color pencil art. 

When I first started the Marge Christensen Mystery Series, I was looking for something a little bit different. Cats and crafts and catering were well represented in the cozy mystery genre, and anyway, I wasn’t proficient enough in any of them to make it the “hook” for my series. As it turned out, having Marge be an artist was just right for the way the series developed. I have a feeling it was one of those areas where the characters told me what was true for them rather than the other way around.
In What Did You Do Before Dying?, Marge’s art started as a symbol of what she had given up when she married and had children. After the death of her husband, she began to reclaim her talent and to hope it might be a way to a new beginning. In the end, it was a unique aspect of her talent that helped bring some bad guys to justice. In Why Did You Die In the Park?, that talent led her to questions that would never otherwise have arisen. And by the time Who More Than Wanted You Dead? came about, she was beginning to depend on it to help discover who did the deed. Because, even if she couldn’t otherwise recall something she had seen, her fingers never forgot.

I only knew about water color pencil art as a serious art form because a sister-in-law, Phyllis, who unfortunately died young as a result of an auto accident, practiced it. She painted a picture as an anniversary gift for my husband and me which made me a believer in the medium at first glance. When I adopted that as Marge’s chosen art form (or she chose it for me) I figured it would be a sideline to the plot, a way to honor Phyllis. I wouldn’t have to know anything more about the art. When it became a central element in the series, I knew I was doomed to educate myself.

I purchased a kit for learning water color pencil art. Fine, as long as I was using its templates and following its instructions to the letter. Otherwise, my attempts looked more like something a first grader might do. Then I discovered some artists combined water color pencils with water color paints. That helped, but it wouldn’t make an artist out of me. I took a drawing class (all the painting classes were at bad times for me) from my local community college. The instructor convinced me that my college art teacher who, many years ago, had left me with the impression I couldn’t draw was all wet. But it didn’t make an artist out of me.

So I struggle along, trusting that Marge or Phyllis or whoever put this idea in my head will lead me when I have to deal with it. At a recent book presentation, someone asked if a person’s fingers could really draw something the person couldn’t otherwise remember. I had to tell the truth. I have no idea. But it seems to work for Marge.

Patricia, thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing this with us. It just goes to show you don’t have to know everything your characters know to make it work.

Now for the great giveaway, I have a set of Patricia’s books to award to 2 lucky visitors who comment on Patricia’s post between today and 8p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, June 16. The giveaway is open to everyone (international). If your profile doesn’t include your e-mail address but sure to include it with your comment. In addition, Patricia is offering discounts to anyone who purchases her books after finding them here. You can contact her through her website and just mention where you discovered her books to find out more information.


  1. It's amazing how stories lead us to learn about things we otherwise wouldn't know much about! Your books sound fascinating--thanks for introducing us to them. :)

  2. Patricia, This is a great idea that has been in my mind, to research what the character "does" for entertainment or for a living by taking courses. You must have done a great job of convincing that reader that you were an expert about on drawing for her to ask you the question.

    Mason, Another fantastic job.

  3. For someone who is truly visual, I think they could draw what they couldn't otherwise describe.

  4. Patricia, thanks for guest blogging today. It's always interesting to learn background about a book.

    Elizabeth, Teresa and Diane, thanks for stopping by. Hope all have a wonderful day.

  5. Wow, talk about hands-on research. You really got an insider's viewpoint to bring to the page. I've always thought that research is a great way to layer a story. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  6. i'm interested in reading patricia's books...thanks for the chance :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  7. Thank you all for the wonderful comments, and to you Mason Canyon, for featuring my books.

    I am not a very visual person myself, so why I chose to make Marge an artist I don't know. But there is no changing her now, so the best I can do is keep learning about her!

    Pat Batta

  8. Hi Patricia,
    You are a new to me author. I can't wait to read your series!

  9. What an interesting talent for Marge to have to aid her in her sleuthing! And what a nice way to honor your sister-in-law. The stories look great, thanks for the post and chance to win.

  10. Patricia's series and the character of Marge sounds intriguing. I really enjoy cozy mysteries and even though I don't have any talent as an artist I do enjoy reading about other's unique gifts.


  11. This looks like a wonderful series. Always interesting to hear where authors get their inspiration. My TBR pile continues to grow. Thanks, Mason for hosting the guest blogs!

  12. I like the thread of art you have in the book. I'm anxious to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.