Jason Matthews

the deadly but never seen villain in The Reunion.

A man in his black cowboy hat tips it with his fingers to say hello.
Photo by Fotolia

I’ll usually have more than one villain in my novels, and Jason Matthews is one of the antagonists you meet in The Reunion. Interestingly enough, he’s never actually seen, but his presence is most certainly felt. And he has a major impact on the story.


Leading lady Gillian, has a history of getting involved with the wrong men. An artist by profession, she tells leading man Ian her story of visiting Tombstone, Arizona, to do some research after being commissioned to do a series of paintings about the Old West. While in Tombstone, she happened to meet Jason, a bartender and street performer. Handsome and charming, Gillian asked Jason to model for the paintings. He not only accepted her offer, he quickly swept her off her feet. Gillian believed she’d finally found her true love. The two eloped a short time later.


Unfortunately, Gillian’s happiness with Jason would be short lived. Instead of being the man of her dreams, Jason became her worst nightmare. She eventually divorced him, and because they had no children, she believes he’s in the past. Nightmares, however, sometimes have a way of recurring. Her worst nightmare will suddenly come to life once again when she learns that Jason has murdered his current wife. He’s now on the run, and the authorities believe he’s looking for her. What makes the character even more sinister is the fact that he’s lurking, but never actually seen. As a result, this leave both Gillian, and Ian to wonder where and when he will finally strike.

MM

Meet Alex Montoya

Leading Man in The Deception

A young man with curly blond hair.
© by Fotolia

Alex Montoya, the leading man in The Deception, has to be one of the most likable, and sexy, characters I’ve ever  created. He’s strong yet quirky and vulnerable at the same time. The American-born son of a Spanish immigrant father, Alex is American in every way. His father, however, still clings to Old World customs and traditions. This creates friction between them.


Alex and Carrie, the leading lady, have a friendship dating back to the fourth grade. They remained friends through high school, but drifted apart when they attended colleges on opposite ends of the country. Ten years later Carrie deeply regrets letting Alex go. After her identity is stolen, and she’s accused of a serious wrongdoing as a result, a friend arranges for her to meet with a bright young attorney who can help her. Much to her surprise, that bright, young attorney is none other than her long-lost best friend, Alex.


I created Alex in part as homage to a friend who was the first American born child of Italian immigrant parents. While proud of her heritage, she too sometimes found herself in conflict with her parents whenever they tried to impose their Old World expectations on her. His other inspiration comes from a real-life cousin who’s an attorney and dedicated family man. In fact, the book is dedicated to him. 


If I had to describe Alex in one word, it would be loyal. He’s the kind of man who’s willing to go the extra mile for the people he cares about, while not expecting anything in return. That’s what makes him such a positive role model.


MM

It’s Jarring and Life Shattering

and it can happen in an instant

A photo of large headstones under big trees.
Photo by Fotolia.

I’m starting to get some feedback on The Deception. For the most part it’s been good. There is, of course, some minor criticism here and there, but that’s to be expected. After all, none of us can please all readers all the time. One comment, however, was about the sudden end to one of the characters. The reader believed it was too jarring and too over the top.

Warning! Spoiler Alert!

I killed off a character in a traffic accident, and no, I don’t warn you about it. Tragic events really do happen, without warning. And for the victims or their survivors, life after that is never the same. It’s a reality I know all too well. About ten years ago I lost a young cousin to a car crash. It was completely unexpected. One minute he was a healthy twenty-year-old man with his whole life ahead of him. The next minute he was gone forever. 


My decision to kill a character in a car accident may indeed seem over the top for some. Other readers, however, disagree. Because the character in question was an antagonist, they felt vindicated. Her sudden end was also the direct result of her own actions.


Tragedy happens all too often. The point I’m making is to never take life for granted. It really can come to a sudden end, without warning.


MM

I’m Beginning to Scare Myself

An ink splatter.

I’ve had wonderful feedback on some of my antagonists, such as Ryan Knight in The Reunion. I’m happy knowing I’m creating people readers love to hate.

I’m developing a new antagonist for my upcoming novel, The Journey. Her name, for now, is Denise Sanderson. And she will be exceptionally nasty. The other day I described her to a fellow author, but I had to stop myself in mid sentence. I then said, “You know, I don’t know where these people are coming from. But it’s kind of scary when I stop and think about it.”


Ask any novelist. They will tell you that over time, the characters start creating themselves. They’ll tell you who they are. However, they still spring from somewhere deep in our creative psyche.


Some of my villains, like Jason and Ryan in The Reunion, were based on some not-so-nice people I’ve encountered in my own life. Writing about them has certainly helped me release some previously unresolved issues.

Other antagonists however, such as Denise, in the forthcoming Journey, and Maggie, in The Deception, are totally fictitious. They have no real-life counterpart. As a result, it’s made me wonder. Do I really have some deeply buried darker side?


All of us have a dark side, whether we care to admit it or not. These antagonists represent our fears. They represent the sense of outrage and frustration that we’ve all encountered at one time or another. They give us the opportunity to vicariously act out our own anger and frustration. Maybe that’s why we’re so delighted when they finally get their comeuppance. It gives us a chance to purge ourselves of our own demons, and that’s a good thing. That said, they still scare me.


MM

Meet Carrie Daniels

Leading Lady in “The Deception”

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

I really wanted to give Carrie Daniels a nice, girl-next-door quality. Judging by the comments I’m receiving from reviewers, I must have hit my mark.


A freelance photographer and former child model, Carrie’s entire world is about to come crumbling down. Three years earlier her mother suffered a debilitating stroke, and Carrie went from riches-to-rags once her mother’s insurance ran out. Her financial calamity, however, is only the beginning of her problems. Her significant other is about to dump her. Once that happens, she’ll be left homeless and vulnerable when her former mentor seizes the opportunity to exploit her for her own selfish gains.


Carrie experiences both sides of infidelity. Her significant other has been unfaithful to her. She’ll later meet Scott, a married man who presents himself to her single and available. Carrie leaves the relationship once she realizes things aren’t adding up, but by then it will be too late as Scott’s wife seeks revenge. Yet despite her troubles, Carrie remains resilient as she tries to make the best of what she can. She’s the kind of character you can root for’ sweet on the outside, but strong on the inside.


Carrie is a mostly fictitious character. I didn’t model her after anyone in particular, although I’ve put a little of myself into her. Photography is one of my life’s passions, and, in my younger days, I too dreamed of being a model.

MM

The Two Kinds of Other Women

A graphic of red lips.

My inspiration for  The Deception began a few years ago when I happened upon a psychic’s blog. She was discussing the questions her clients asked the most often. One question was, “When will he leave his wife for me?”

Needless to say, her post had a lot of comments, and I noticed a trend. Everyone believed the other woman knew he was married, and that she was lying if she said she didn’t know.

Being single for most of my adult life, I’ve noticed something rather interesting. There are actually two kinds of other women out there. One is the aforementioned mistress. The other is a good woman who’s been deceived.

The good woman who’s been deceived


Typically, this is woman is looking for meaningful long-term relationship, or marriage. She then happens to meet a seemingly nice man. He appears to be single. He’s not wearing a wedding ring. He’s never mentioned a wife or girlfriend. In some cases, a mutual friend thought he was single. But then, after she’s become seriously involved, she’ll find out he’s married.

When that happens, she will feel shocked and betrayed. However, she gets a double whammy. Everyone will side with the wife. And, just like that psychic’s blog, everyone will condemn her for being the other woman, and they will also accuse her of lying. So where is the condemnation for the man? He’s the one who lied to her. And he’s the one who duped her into thinking he was single.


This can be extremely devastating for her, and it can do untold damage to her self-esteem. She’s being wrongfully accused of setting out to intentionally hurt the wife when she honestly didn’t know there was a wife. This can leave her with some serious trust issues.


The Deception is the story of a good woman who, unknowingly, becomes involved with a married man. A mutual friend told her he’s single. And he’s led her to believe that he’s single. It doesn’t take long, however, for her to realize that thing aren’t adding up. She ends the relationship, but by then the damage has been done. As a result, she’s left to deal with the unintended consequences.

While my story may be fiction, real-life versions of it happen everyday. The point I’m making with this book is to not to judge others too harshly. None of us are mind readers. And there really are people out there who lie and deceive others.


MM

Why My Books are Religiously Neutral

A graphic depicting a cross, a star of David, and a Hindu symbol.
Image by Fotolia.

Someone recently asked me an interesting question. Was The Reunion a Christian-oriented romance novel? I told her no, it was not. I want readers of all faiths and beliefs to enjoy my books.


There are authors out there writing novels geared toward readers of their faith. For example, last year I met Mormon author at a book signing. She informed me, quite matter-of-factly, that her books were LDS romance books. She included the words, “LDS Romance,” in all the her subtitles. And, because I’m not Mormon myself, she also looked down on me.


I’m pleased she has a faith that she believes strongly in. And if her religion enhances her life for the better then I’m all for it. However, from a marketing standpoint, she was limiting the scope of her readership to a very small percentage.


As someone who believes in a higher power, my characters are also believers, but none are churchgoers. I don’t want to endorse one religion over another. Any references made to God are generalized. Therefore, they are stated with phrases such as, “then we’ll all say a prayer that he’ll be be found soon, safe and sound.”


I admit to being more spiritual than religious. This means that while I believe in God, I don’t follow the dogma of any particular church. My parents weren’t churchgoers. As a result, I didn’t attend Sunday school as a child. As an adult, I’ve found that whenever I joined a church, regardless of the denomination, I never stayed long. This because of the inevitable back-biting and politicking amongst the various members.


So there you have it. I have my own set of spiritual beliefs. However, I don’t use my books to proselytize or endorse any particular religion. I leave that to the theologians.

MM

Sweet, Sensual or Erotic Romance?

Photo of a woman's legs.
Photo by Fotolia.

There are three distinct romance sub-genres.

  • Sweet Romance
  • Sensual Romance
  • Erotic Romance or Erotica

Sweet Romance is squeaky clean. There is no sex. All passion is expressed through kissing, hand holding and perhaps brushing a hand along a face.


Sensual Romance includes a few sex scenes. However, the language typically isn’t harsh and the scenes usually aren’t described in an overtly graphic way. The emphasis is on the character’s emotions. The scenes are included so they can consummate their relationship, but the plot doesn’t revolve around the sex scenes. Oftentimes there are only a few such scenes throughout the story.


Erotic Romance is all about the sex. The descriptions can be quite graphic. The story may include variations such as threesomes, orgies or bondage. The story isn’t about two people falling in love. It’s about the characters having sex and plenty of it.

Why I write sensual romance


I write sensual romance. To me, it’s the most logical choice. It’s the romance genre I enjoy reading. It also what most readers expect. My lead characters make love, but only after they’re emotionally invested in the relationship. Once their relationship is consummated. I usually won’t write another sex scene because it would be redundant. Instead I’ll use foreplay followed by pillow talk. 


From time to time, however, a leading man or lady gets involved with the wrong person. On those occasions I may approach the sex scenes a little differently.

For example, in my upcoming novel The Deception, Carrie, the female lead, has just ended a long-term relationship. She then meets Scott, who isn’t who he appears to be. Scott knows Carrie is emotionally vulnerable so he takes advantage of her. Because Scott is a one of the villains in the story, the sex scenes between him and Carrie are a little racier. But even then, my sex scenes aren’t overly graphic. I’m more interested in what the characters are feeling during the scene. Alex, leading man, doesn’t come on the scene until after Carrie’s relationship with Scott has ended. The one thing I won’t do is have my protagonists bed hopping.


If you’re looking for sweet, squeaky-clean romance I’m afraid you won’t find it in my books. However, if you’re looking for a believable story that will leave you feeling satisfied as a reader, I’ll think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

MM

Meet Ryan Knight, the Despicable Villain in The Reunion

A young man with blonde hair in front of a light background.
Photo by Fololia

You know, creating despicable villains really is too much fun. Ryan Knight from The Reunion is a great example. He sure got my editor’s, and my proofreader’s, dander up.


Ryan appears in the flashback chapters. He’s a college student about to graduate and embark on his career as an architect. He and the young  Gillian have been dating for the past couple of years, but their relationship has become strained. Ryan is putting in a lot of overtime at the architecture building. He says he’s working late on class projects. Gillian, however, has her doubts.

A few days after his graduation, Ryan asks Gillian to stop by his apartment. He has news he wants to share with her. Gillian believes he’s going to propose to her, but Ryan’s idea of a proposal is the last thing she expected.


Ryan was based on several real life men I’ve known; my ex-husband, a moody ex-boyfriend, and a good friend’s ex-husband. With a cocktail like that, you know you’ll have a real monster on your hands.

My editor commented that Ryan was, “a bit mental.” And I thought my proofreader would quit on me. Ryan had certainly made her angry. So much so that I had to keep reassuring her that he only appeared in the flashback chapters. He would make his exit in chapter six. After that, his name would rarely be mentioned. Thankfully, she stayed on board.

I’ll conclude by saying that in fiction, conflict creates the drama, and Ryan certainly knows how to create some conflict.


MM

Meet Gillian Matthews

“The Reunion” Leading Lady

A smiling woman with long blonde hair.
© Can Stock Photo / photography33

Gillian Matthews has had a successful career as an artist and a little fame to go along with it. Her personal life, however, has been a disappointment. She has a knack for getting involved with the wrong men. That will change when travels to Denver for a gallery opening, and man from her past will suddenly reappears.

 Ian Palmer is the one man she never got over. They soon resume their relationship, but her world will shatter once again when something unexpected occurs behind the scenes. She’ll later become the object of affection from a new, and much younger man, while Ian attempts to win her back for a third time.

Gillian was inspired by a real person. Me. I was a graphic designer before I became a writer, and we’ll just say that my personal life given me some great fodder to work with.

MM