Meet Louise

the two-faced villain in The Deception

Photo of a middle aged woman with glasses and strawberry blonde hair.
Photo by Fotolia.

We’ve all known people like this. People who are sweet as pie to your face and pretend to be your best friend when, in reality, their only interest is in using you. With friends like that who needs an enemy, right?

Meet Louise Dickenson, one of the antagonists in The Deception. Louise is more than happy to be your friend, provided you have something of benefit to her. This makes her a great antagonist. She’s the kind of woman we love to hate.


Louise is a semi-retired photographer. Years before, she shot the print ads of leading lady Carrie when she was a child model. The two forged a friendship, or so Carrie thought. Later on, Carrie became a commercial photographer herself, and Louise mentored her.


Louise is now an art photographer. She’s just picked up a private commission for a series of a female nudes. She also has a show coming up at a local art gallery. Louise plans on including the nude photos in her upcoming show. But first, she needs a model. Knowing that Carrie is down on her luck, Louise decides to help her by offering her a well paying modeling gig. But when Carrie hesitates, Louise skillfully calms her fears by convincing Carrie that she really is trying to help her. The experience, however, leaves Carrie feeling manipulated and exploited. And as events unfold, she’ll discover that Louise was never her friend.


Louise is a fictitious character, loosely based on a family member who was also a master manipulator.


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Blame It On Too Many Soap Operas and My Misspent Youth

A old television set with a blank screen.
© Can Stock Photo / ginosphotos

People often ask me what motivated me to become an author. Or they ask me why I write contemporary romance. Well, blame it on my misspent youth. For many, many years, I was a soap opera junkie. It started in about the sixth grade, and lasted into adulthood. I suppose I could blame it on my mother too. Instead of telling me to go do something more productive with my, she got me started on her soaps.

I used to schedule my college classes around my soaps. Mind you, this was back in The Dark Ages, before we had the Internet, so having my first VCR was a truly liberating experience. I could now have a life. I was able to tape my soaps and watch them at my convenience, and I taped my favorite soap everyday for many years.

So, what was it about soap operas that was so compelling?  According to my old high school drama teacher, soap operas were real life, exaggerated. Back in the day, soap operas relied on classic plot lines, such as extra-marital affairs, illegitimate children, and long-lost family members. Viewers could make a connection because they were believable stories.

The other thing that made the soaps so compelling was the characters. I never watched the now defunct All My Children, but I certainly know who Erica Kane was. Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of our Lives was my personal favorite. Two great actresses, Susan Lucci and Deidre Hall, playing those memorable roles certainly helped. However, behind those two talented actresses were equally talented writers who transformed these fictitious characters into believable, three-dimensional people.

I too strive to create believable, three-dimensional characters such Ian PalmerGillian MatthewsCarrie Daniels and Alex Montoya, just to name a few. I also work hard to create believable stories, with plot lines similar to soap operas. My stories are about characters who get involved with the wrong people, long-lost lovers who are reunited, and people betrayed by the ones they trust the most. In other words, they’re real life, somewhat exaggerated.

Marina Martindale

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A Halloween Excerpt from “The Reunion”

Front cover from The Reunion featuring two lovers.

In honor of Halloween, I’m sharing a Halloween excerpt from the pages of The Reunion. Leading lady Gillian has been invited to participate in a haunted hayride. While she’s there, she’ll confide in a stranger. Or so he seems. Please enjoy this sample from The Reunion and have a safe, and happy, Halloween.


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a Halloween excerpt from The Reunion

Gillian was warming herself at the heater when she heard someone walking up behind her. She turned around to discover she’d been joined by someone in a Grim Reaper costume. Whoever it was seemed to be staring at her.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said. Gillian noticed he had a raspy voice. “I was told I’d be working with a blonde lady.”

“Well, I was a blonde until a few weeks ago. Now I’m a redhead. The name’s Gillian, by the way.” She extended her hand.

“John. Pleased to meet you.”

They shook hands. John explained that he was one of the locals, and he seemed to be curious about her. The sound of clopping hooves, nervous laughter and chatter told them the first wagon was approaching. Gillian pulled up her hood. At John’s cue she ran up to the wagon, calling for help, while he chased after her. Their brief performance brought startled screams from the passengers. The wagon rolled on and they returned to the heater.

“So why would a blonde lady want to become a redhead?”

“It’s a long story. Let’s just say I’m celebrating a new lease on life. The old me was the blonde, the new me is a redhead.”

As they were talking she caught a whiff of something familiar. It was the cologne that Ian always wore. The scent was a distraction. She had reminded herself that it was a popular brand and other men used it too. John became quiet. A short time later another hay wagon came by and they repeated their scary performance in the dark maze. After the wagon left, Jeremy came by to check on her.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“So far, so good. Wait a minute, Jer. It looks like you’ve got a little smudge. Let me fix it for you.” He leaned down as she removed one of her gloves and gave him a quick touch up. “There, that’s better.” 

“Thanks.” Jeremy wrapped the reins around the saddle horn and reached down with both hands to pull her hood up. “You need to keep this on so you can stay warm. I don’t want you catching cold.”

“Got it. Thanks, Jer.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll come back a little later to check on you again.”

Jeremy rode away. Gillian turned back and noticed John watching her intently. It was starting to make her feel uncomfortable.

“I take it he’s your significant other,” he finally said.

“Actually, he’s my best friend. Probably the best friend I’ve ever had.”

“How so?”

Despite her growing discomfort with his questions, something deep inside told her John was trustworthy. She decided to follow her instincts.

“It’s a long, complicated story. I’ll just sum it up by saying I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now if it wasn’t for him. That man literally saved my life not too long ago. I don’t remember it, but I’m told I fell into some water and nearly drowned. He’s the one who rescued me.”

“I see.”

“You know, it’s kind of ironic. Here I am talking to you, dressed up as The Grim Reaper, when I’ve met the real thing.”

“Was it scary?”

“To tell you the truth, it really wasn’t, and it’s the only part of the entire incident that I can remember clearly. I was heading toward a light and I wasn’t planning on coming back.”

“Why not?”

Gillian sighed. “I’d just lost the love of my life. I had no reason to remain here and I wanted to cross over. Then I thought I heard my friend, Jeremy, calling me. The next thing I knew I was back at my backyard pool, only I wasn’t in the water. Somehow, I was suspended over it. Jeremy was in the pool and he was holding a body in his arms, which I knew had to be mine. I saw his face. He had a look of shock, guilt and sorrow. He was shouting at me to stay with him. I knew, right then and there, that if I didn’t come back it would destroy his life, so I had no choice. I had to come back, even though I didn’t want to. I watched him lay my body out on the deck, and then I felt something like a tug. The next thing I knew he was rushing me to the hospital. That’s why I’m still here.”

She started smelling the cologne again and she looked at him more closely. The costume he wore didn’t reveal much about him. He was wearing a full mask, with a robe and hood, and he appeared to be bundled up underneath it. A strange thought crossed her mind, but it couldn’t be. Larry said his father was spending the day in Fort Collins with friends. John remained silent for several minutes. Finally, he found his voice.

“Well… Gillian, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Gillian, your life is a precious gift. It’s something that you must never, ever take for granted. You may think you came back for your friend, but that’s not the reason why you’re still here. You’re here because your life is far from over, and you’re meant to be here. I’m sure your family and friends, and your true love, are elated that you’re still with them. And who knows, maybe your true love will return to you someday.”

“Thank you, John. I appreciate your insight, but as far as my true love goes, I’m sorry to say that some things just aren’t meant to be. Nice thought, though.”

“Never say never.”

The hay wagons returned several more times, but for the remainder of the evening, John said very little. Gillian was relieved when she finally heard the sound of Jeremy’s approaching horse.

“That was the last one,” he said as he rode into her section of the maze. “Are you ready to go, my dear?” Jeremy extended his hand and helped Gillian get back up behind him. She wrapped her arms tightly around his waist.

“Good night, John. It was nice meeting you.”

John waved goodbye as the horse cantered away. He listened to the sound of the fading hoof beats. Once they were gone, he reached up, pulled down his hood and removed his mask. He heard his cell phone going off in his pocket.

“Is she still there?” asked the woman on the other end of the call.

“Jeremy just picked her up. Thanks, Laura. I owe you one.”

He disconnected his phone and looked down the maze. Gillian and Jeremy were probably already halfway back to St. Eligius.

“My God, Gilly-girl, what have I done to you?”

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You Novel Writers are Evil

That’s a fellow author said to me the other day. Of course, she didn’t mean it literally, although she had a point. Some of the things we novel writers do to our characters is just plain mean. Then again, some of those characters have it coming.


I was telling her about Scott, an antagonist in The Deception. Scott isn’t the nicest guy on the planet. He’s a married man who puts himself out as a single guy, and his actions have hurt a lot of people, especially Carrie, my leading lady. Once she and her friends realize Scott’s stories aren’t adding up she ditches him. I planned on writing him out of the story at that point, but then someone else told me, no, I couldn’t just write him off so quickly. Readers would expect him to be punished for what he did, and they’d be disappointed if he were able to simply walk away. So, I took the advice.

Scott is later arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and he gets his comeuppance in the form of a humiliating strip search. I told my fellow author how I went online and read testimonials by real people who’ve had this experience, and I based Scott’s story on those real-life accounts. That’s when she looked at me and said, “You novel writer’s are evil.”

Well, what can I say? She wrote a memoir. I write fiction.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Jason Matthews, the Deadly villain in The Reunion

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

Jason Matthews is one of the antagonists you meet in The Reunion. He’s never actually seen, but his presence is most certainly felt, and he has a major impact on the story.

Gillian, the female lead, 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 swept her off her feet, and 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. Gillian’s worst nightmare will suddenly come back to life 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, leaving both Gillian,and Ian to wonder where and when he will finally strike.

Marina Martindale

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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.


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It’s Jarring and It’s 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 my latest novel, 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!

One of the characters is killed in a traffic accident, and no, I don’t warn you about it. In the real world tragic events happen without warning, and for the victims or their survivors, life 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, and 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 readers. Others, however, disagree. The character in question was an antagonist, so 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.

Marina Martindale

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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 and say, “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’ll tell you that over time, the characters start creating themselves and 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 we’ve all encountered at one time or another, and 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.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Carrie Daniels, Leading Lady in The Deception

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

I wanted Carrie Daniels, the lead character in my romance novel, The Deception, to have a 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 as her former mentor seizes the opportunity to exploit her for her own selfish gains.

Carrie experiences both sides of infidelity. First she’ll learn that significant other has been unfaithful to her. She’ll then meet Scott, a married man who presents himself to her as 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. While 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 dreamed of being a model.

Marina Martindale

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The Two Kinds of Other Women

A graphic of red lips.

My inspiration for writing my romance novel,  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 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 a woman 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’ll feel shocked and betrayed. However, she gets a double whammy. Everyone will side with the wife. And, just like in that psychic’s blog, everyone will condemn her for being the other woman. And if she says she didn’t know he was married, (and she honestly didn’t know), they’ll then accuse her of lying. So where is the condemnation for the man? After all, 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 sense of self worth. 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 has 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.

Marina Martindale

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