Will I included Covid 19 in any of my future contemporary romance novels? No. I absolutely will not.
This isn’t to say pandemics can’t be good subject matter for a novel. For some genres, such as science fiction, mystery, or thrillers, an epidemic can make for an interesting story with plenty of conflict and drama. (I read The Stand, and loved it.) However, I write contemporary romance. My characters are hugging, kissing and making love, which would be rather awkward in the age of social distancing. Erotica writers on the other hand might have fun writing, shall we say, interesting, scenes about masks or Zoom sessions, but I write sensual romance, which means most of the action in my stories takes place outside of the bedroom
I’ve spent much of my time during the lockdown going over my earlier books, and, as a result, you’ll be seeing a spin off novel from my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. One of the minor characters in The Betrayal was a teenager named Tonya Claiborne. She appears in the latter part of the story, and she’s a strong character with a lot of potential for a leading role. I wrote The Betrayal in 2015, so you’ll be meeting an adult Tonya in the new book, which will most likely be titled The Diversion. The young Tonya was self confident but likeable, so we’ll see what she does when life throws her curveball and she goes off course. I had planned on The Rival being my next book, but I’m bumping it back until after The Diversion. So, it looks like I’m going to be busy for awhile.
In the meantime, in case you haven’t read The Betrayal, I’ve posted a free preview below.
I first visited Steamboat Springs in the 1990s. Famous for its ski resort, ranching is still a vital part of the area. So, when I wrote my first contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, I decided to locate the fictitious St. Eligius Ranch about twenty miles from Steamboat Springs. St. Eligius Ranch is a former cattle ranch turned horse sanctuary. It’s also the home of Laura Palmer, ex-wife of leading man Ian Palmer. A number of key scenes in The Reunion take place at St. Eligius Ranch, including the story’s final climax. Later on, when I wrote The Journey, I also set a number of scenes at St. Eligius Ranch.
I revisited Steamboat Springs in the summer of 2014, this time to research the area for future novels. I also brought my camera with me, and, as luck would have it, I found something that kinda sorta matches the description of St. Eligius Ranch. Of course I kept a respectful distance and took the photo from the side of road, but you can clearly see a two-story house, as described in the book, along with what appears to be a fifth-wheel trailer parked nearby, as was also described in The Reunion. Maybe life really does imitate art.
By the way, photography, like writing, is one of my life’s passions, and I do art photography under the name Gayle Martin. If you would like to see more of my work please visit my website at gaylemartinphotography.com/.
In the meantime, please enjoy this scene from The Reunion, as Gillian, the leading lady, visits St. Eligius for the first time.
* * *
Laura took Gillian to one of the small corrals outside the barn and pointed out a black mare with a white blaze down her face and three white socks.
“We call her Miss Mollie,” said Laura. “She’s got a lot of stamina, but she’ll respect her rider, as long as you know what you’re doing, and it sounds like you do.”
Jeremy came up behind them. “Miss Mollie? Good choice.”
Laura pointed to a large bay gelding in the next corral. “We call him Pretty Boy. He’s Jeremy’s favorite.”
Before long the horses were saddled, and they mounted up. Will stayed behind, saying he had work to do. Laura rode a young buckskin gelding she called Fred.
“He’s Miss Mollie’s son,” she said. “He was a young foal at her side when we adopted them two years ago. I think he’ll turn out to be a fine horse, but he still has some rough edges to work out.”
Laura led them away from the barn and onto a narrow trail leading through a lush meadow. Gillian couldn’t get over the sheer beauty of it. The aspen and cottonwood trees were turning gold.
“When I first came here, I was an ex-housewife who didn’t know one end of a horse from the other,” said Laura. “I was originally hired as a bookkeeper for Will’s veterinary practice. Next thing I knew, I was writing grants, planning fund-raisers, and doing everything else I could think of to keep money flowing in the door for the foundation to help care for these animals. Back then I was living in the cottage, that’s what we call the fifth-wheel trailer, and I soon became friends with Will. He taught me, and both of my boys, how to ride. He also taught me how to help take care of the horses. Along the way I’ve been kicked, bitten, and occasionally stepped on, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Horses are easy. Two sons aren’t.”
“Thanks, Mom,” said Jeremy.
“Anytime,” she said with a knowing grin. “Some of the ones we get are simply neglected or have owners who, for whatever reason, are no longer able to care for them. Those are the easy cases, and we can usually get them to new owners right away. Others arrive abandoned, injured or starving. They need some TLC, and we’re often pretty successful with them as well. We also get the occasional hard-luck cases. They’re the ones who have suffered some serious abuse, and it never ceases to amaze me just how cruel some human beings can be. They usually need complete rehabilitation, but we’re not always successful. There’ve also been a few that we’ve had to put down as soon as they arrived. Those are the ones that really break your heart.”
They continued across the meadow and began working their way toward the ridge as Laura went on with her story. “This ranch used to be called The Flying M, and it’s been in Will’s family for over a century. When Will’s father inherited it from his great-uncle, it was still a working cattle ranch. Will’s dad was also a veterinarian. He started up the veterinary clinic, and he started taking in injured and abandoned horses. By the time Will finished veterinary school, they decided to stop raising cattle and add a horse sanctuary to the clinic. They sold about half the acreage, and the name, to the big dude ranch resort next door. Will renamed the place St. Eligius. He’s the patron saint of horses and those who work with them. That pretty much sums it up. The foundation survives mostly on grant money and donor support. We also do a number of fundraisers throughout the year. One is coming up soon. It’s the haunted hayride we do every year with the Flying M. It’s the last Saturday in October and we always have a lot of fun while we’re at it. We have volunteers of all ages who come and participate, and the boys always come to help out as well.”
To read other samples from The Reunion, please click on the link below.
Photography is my other big passion in life, along with writing, and I’ve visited, and photographed, many of the locations I use in my novels. So while I’m working on the treatment for my next contemporary romance novel, I thought I would share my photos of some of the places we visited in my earlier books.
Portions of my novel, The Betrayal, take place in San Diego. In one scene two characters, Emily and Jesse, spend a romantic Christmas holiday at the Hotel del Coronado.
This historic hotel is a famous landmark with a reputation for being haunted. Kate Morgan, a young hotel guest in the 1890s, met an untimely end during her stay and her ghost is said to haunt hotel today. She’s even mentioned in The Betrayal. Then, in the mid-twentieth century, the hotel used as a location for Some Like it Hot, starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. Her ghost is also said to haunt the hotel.
By the way, I do my photography as Gayle Martin, and if you’d like to see more of my work please visit my website at GayleMartinPhotography.com.
To read a free preview of The Betrayal, please click on the link below.
Director Charles McKenna, the leading man in my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has been drawn to Lauren McAllen for some time, although she’s not aware of it. For the past few years they’ve been working closely together a top rated soap opera. Lauren, however, has recently left the show, hoping to break into feature films, while Chuck wants out of Hollywood for good.
The son of a set nurse and a director of B-rated horror films, Chuck grew up in the entertainment industry. He too thought he wanted a career in movies and television, but after years of grueling hours directing a soap opera, he’s burned out and no longer sure of what he wants. His plan is to relocate to Colorado once his contract is up. As much as he wants Lauren, having such different goals means any romance between them would be short lived at best, so he decides to keep it as just friends. Fate, however, has other plans for both Chuck and Lauren, as each experiences their own unforeseen tragedies which turn both of their lives upside down and will redefine their relationship.
To read a free preview of The Scandal, please click on the link below.
People sometimes ask me why I write contemporary romance as opposed to other genres, such as mystery or science fiction.
I write romance because we all have hopes and dreams and a desire to be happy. That happiness, however, often seems to elude us because of the choices we make, and how we relate to the people around us.
I create characters who are realistic and believable. My protagonists aren’t heroes. They make bad decisions and they’re left to deal with the fallout. Likewise some, but certainly not all, of my antagonists learn from their mistakes and they try to do better. Most, however, remain defiant until the bitter end. Either way, they too have to live with the consequences of their actions, and a few even pay the ultimate price for their sins.
The one thing you won’t find in my stories is gushy, gooey schmaltz. For those who like melodrama it’s out there, but that kind of storytelling isn’t my style. My inspiration comes from my own life experiences, and the stories others have told me. Readers feel the connection, and they in turn tell me how believable my stories are.
This is why I write romance. It’s the one genre where I can dig deeper into our relationships with the people around us and try to better understand the human experience.
I’ve recently completed a minor re-edit for one of my earlier contemporary romance novels, The Journey. I know. I’m turning into too much of a perfectionist. Occupational hazard I suppose. However, no worries for those of you who’ve already read The Journey. The story is exactly the same as before. All I did was some minor rephrasing and removed some filler words.
I’m also working on the treatment for my next contemporary romance novel. Its working title is The Rival. The story will be about a bride-to-be whose fiance abruptly calls off the wedding, and then, later on, decides to cause even more trouble for her. It’s part romantic triangle and part stalker, although it won’t be nearly as dark as my earlier novel, The Stalker.
In the meantime, I need to take a short break and catch up on a few other projects which have been sitting on the back burner for far too long. I signed up for some online courses, years ago, which I started but never completed because I was too busy with other projects. So, before I start my next big project, I want to finish them. I also want to take a few road trips later on this year. In the meantime, I’ll still be here, and I’ll still keep you up to date.
I know I’m a little late wishing everyone a Happy New Year this year. Sometimes life gets hectic. Then one day you look up and say, “Holy cow! Is it really the middle of January already?”
Yep, it happens.
For some reason 2019 seemed to be more more difficult year than usual. The holidays were difficult as well, so at least it was consistent.
First my hair salon caught fire. Not only do I get my hair done there, I also treat myself to a weekly manicure. It was nice to have a short break in the middle of my hectic work week, so it was like a home away from home for me. The fire happened the Friday before Christmas. Fortunately, the salon had already closed for the day, so no one was inside the building at the time. However, it will be a good six months before it can reopen. Thankfully, the parent company has several other salons in Tucson, so I’m able to keep my appointments, but it’s not the same as we all miss our “home.”
Will this be fodder for another book? Who knows. Or perhaps it’s life imitating art, as a fire occurs in my most recent contemporary romance novel, The Scandal.
An unexpected loss
Sadly, another tragedy struck the following night when a friend was killed in a car crash. Jesus Limon was a well loved local actor here in Tucson. His loss shook the entire performing arts community, as well as his fans and friends. He was one of those people who lit up a room whenever he walked in, and he always had a smile, even when times were rough. I never once heard him say an unkind word about anyone, and everyone loved him in return. People like him are rare, and he will be deeply missed. And yes, I will definitely be dedicating a future book to him.
So on to 2020
So, what’s new for 2020? I’m currently working on a minor re-edit for my romance novel, The Journey. The story will remain the same. I’m simply rephrasing some of the narrative and eliminating filler words to make it read a little smoother. I’m also formulating my next contemporary romance novel. It’s working title is, The Rival. It will have a similar theme as The Stalker, although it won’t be as dark of a story. It’s about a vengeful ex who’s furious when he hears his former fiancee has moved on with her life.
So Happy 2020 everyone. Let’s hope it’s a happier year for all of us.
Sometimes life imitates art. The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke shortly after I had decided to write a contemporary romance novel about Hollywood. This created an unexpected challenge as I strive to create unique, original characters. Therefore, I would have to make a point of not having a character with too close of a resemblance to Mr. Weinstein. Enter Calvin Michaelson, a Hollywood mogul and the catalyst for The Scandal.
I had envisioned Cal as a predator, but he would be similar to Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, it came out way too creepy for my taste. I wrote a couple of revisions, but Cal remained too creepy. Novel writing, like other endeavours, doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes what sounds good in a treatment, or the story summary, simply doesn’t work once pen is put to paper, as was certainly the case here. The character would have to be reinvented. So, after much thought, Cal went from a creepy predator to a Hugh Hefner like playboy. He’s a womanizer who makes no apologies for who he is. Unfortunately, like many of his real-life counterparts, Cal will become his own undoing and he soon finds himself in the middle of scandal that rocks Hollywood. Later on, however, Cal will become an unlikely hero, and readers will discover a hidden side to this complex character.
Calvin Michaelson is a purely fictional character. His inspiration comes from powerful men who thought they were too big to fall and thus became their own undoing.
Lauren McAllen, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has achieved fame in a town where few become successful. For the past ten years she’s played an iconic vamp on a top-rated soap opera, making her a household name and the woman fans love to hate. Now she’s ready to move on and become a star on the big screen.
Once again, luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. Hollywood mogul Calvin Michaelson has seen her work, and he soon offers her a supporting role in a feature film. For Lauren, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and dream come true. However, it may come at a price. While Cal has made other women famous, he has a reputation for expecting certain favors in return. But before the cameras start rolling, Cal is accused of a serious wrongdoing, and Lauren will soon find herself caught up in a major scandal that rocks Hollywood.
Lauren is a fictitious character. Her inspiration came from a cousin who once played on a soap opera many years ago. However, Lauren is a unique individual whose life is very different from from my cousin’s.
Please click on the link below to read a free preview of The Scandal.
I wrote The Reunion back in 2011, and while it’s gotten four and five star reviews on Amazon, I’ve grown as a writer since then, and I want the writing style to be more consistent with my later work. A copy edit is when you make minor changes, as eliminating filler words or rephrasing a sentence. The story content remains the same. It just reads a little smoother.
I finally finished yesterday morning, or so I thought, because as I took a break to do some household chores a new scene suddenly played through my mind.
A new scene and an updated version
Without spoiling the plot, I’ll simply say that one of the antagonists, who appears about halfway through the story, is thwarted. However, this villain also did something illegal, and I never held her accountable for her actions. She simply disappeared once her plan failed, and, looking back, I realized it was a mistake. Doing something against the law is simply wrong, and the character, albeit a minor one, should have been held accountable. The new scene is a conversation between Gillian, one of the lead characters, and Paul her assistant, as they discuss the legal actions they intend to take against this antagonist. The scene ends with the reader feeling that their efforts will be successful, and it adds closure to the episode. The story then returns to the main conflict.
The rest of the story remains as is. The Reunion has been and always will be my favorite novel, as the inspiration from the story comes from someone I once knew, years ago, who has been and always will be near and dear to my heart.
The new, update version of The Reunion will be available soon.