Ask any fiction author. They’ll tell you characters have minds of their own. And believe me, I have experienced this phenomenon many times myself. There’ve been times when a character came out differently than planned, and always been for the better.
Other villains, however, had a certain quality about them. They’re more complex, more charismatic and, for lack of a better word, sexy. Jeremy Palmer in The Reunion was the first. Originally intended to be a rogue character who would do his dirty deed and disappear, Jeremy had that special charisma. He became a rival, competing with his father to win Gillian’s affections. Josh Ramsey in The Letter was a conman. Then the chemistry between him and Stephanie unexpectedly sizzled. So I revamped him into a mystery man.
I strive to make my villains as despicable as I can. There’s nothing more fun than a villain we love to hate getting their comeuppance. Some of my more dastardly villains include Scott Andrews in The Betrayal. Scott was a married guy presenting himself as a single guy to entice unsuspecting single women. Then there’s Beau Fowler, the corrupt detective in The Betrayal. He tried to frame an innocent woman for a crime she didn’t commit. And finally, there’s Craig Walker, the sociopathic villain in The Stalker. He’ll resort to kidnapping and murder to get what he wants.
Now it’s happening again. This time it’s Calvin Michaelson, in my upcoming novel, The Scandal. Cal’s a Hollywood mogul with a reputation as a playboy. Intended to be a despicable villain for readers to hate, his character became more dynamic than expected. He too is being revamped. He’ll still be a playboy, but at the end of the story a new and completely unexpected side to Cal will be revealed.
With only a few more chapters to write my next novel will soon be ready go to the editor. I am loving this story. It’s coming out much better than expected. It includes an amazing cast of characters, and it’s probably my most well researched book so far.
As my readers know, I put a lot of time and effort into making my storylines as realistic and believable as possible. And with this novel I’ve learned a lot about the television and movie industry. I also had to do some major revisions, but that’s okay. Each revision makes the story that much better. I also had to revamp my main antagonist.
As luck would have it, shorty after I decided to write a book about Hollywood, the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Interesting timing, but I didn’t want to emulate it in my novel. I opted instead to have my lead antagonist be more of a Roman Polanski. However, it came out a bit too creepy for my taste. After several revisions it was still too creepy, and I simply didn’t like it. So, I had to go back create more of a Hugh Hefner inspired character, along with a Marina Martindale twist. This time, it worked. Perfectly. Of course, he’s not my only villain, and as I’m wrapping up some of my loose ends another antagonist is poised and ready to strike. And that’s all I have to say about that.
If all goes according to plan, The Scandal will be available this summer.
No, I haven’t fallen off the planet, although it may appear that way. I’m exactly sure what I had. But whatever it was, I’ve never been this sick for this long in my life.
It all started at the end of February. I felt like I was coming down with mild cold, so I really didn’t feel bad at all. A few days later I looked in the mirror and noticed I had an eye infection. (Conjunctivitis.) It quickly spread to the other eye. Typical. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious, but usually not serious. Just irritating. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning.
My left ear suddenly ruptured and started bleeding. I wasn’t exactly pleased at that point. (Panicked is more like it.) The following morning I went to urgent care. They prescribed antibiotics, and they helped some. The eyes cleared up, but both ears were infected. I spent the next couple weeks hardly able to hear. Someone suggested Flonase, and it helped. However, as I’m writing, I’m still not fully recovered. I finally saw ENT physician a few days ago. Thankfully, the ruptured eardrum has healed. I had some other complications as well, but I’m finally on the mend. It’s about time.
I tried to do some writing while I was sick, but it was hard for me to focus. No doubt infections affect your brain as well. So I spent most days napping, playing solitaire and watching YouTube videos. That’s when I stumbled on an impressive young filmmaker. His name is Arthur Dark. His YouTube series is called Hollywood Graveyard. While it may sound morbid to some, it’s actually well researched, full of interesting history, and well produced. This kid has talent and, hopefully, he’ll go far. Go check him out.
Now that I’m finally feeling better I’m getting back to doing the things I enjoy doing. I’m playing my piano and out and listening to live music. I’ve resumed blogging, and, of course, writing. I’m busy finishing up my latest novel, and I hope to have it out this summer.
I try to include major holidays in my novels. In my most recent book, The Letter, leading lady Stephanie spends a bittersweet Easter with her new boss and his husband. In the meantime, Danny finally realizes the time has come for him to make some changes.
An Easter excerpt from, The Letter
By the time Easter arrived the winter snow had melted away and the trees were starting to bloom. Stephanie pulled up in front of a large, single-story house with a huge cottonwood tree in the front yard. She shut down the engine and grabbed her bottle of wine. Walking up to the front door, she heard a dog barking inside. A bald man with a dark brown goatee opened the door and greeted her with a smile.
I get a lot of nice feedback about my characters and I love them too, but let’s not forget my other characters. The nonhuman ones.
I love animals and I grew up around dogs and horses. So, it stands to reason that some of my characters are dogs and horses. And while they may not be as cunning as their human counterparts, dogs and horses do what dogs and horses do, and sometimes it creates problems for the protagonists. In The Reunion, a black mustang named Miss Mollie puts Gillian in a real jam. Her dachshund, Duke, also becomes the catalyst in a major life changing event. However, these animal characters can do good deeds as well. Some even end up being the unsung heroes in the story. Lurch, the lovable mutt in The Betrayal, helps save Emily’s life, while Lucy, Shane’s dog in The Stalker, becomes attached to Rachel, much to Shane’s chagrin. My upcoming book, The Scandal, will also have a canine character. This time it’s an English springer spaniel named Barney, who belongs to leading man Chuck.
Those of us who have pets will tell you they really are part of the family, and my two real-life dogs are no exception. Of course, they wish I’d spend less time writing and more time with them. In fact, if it were up to them, I’d dote on them twenty-four/seven. But lucky for them, they have a nice big cozy dog bed right next to my writing desk. Now, if only I could get them to give me feedback on my writing. Unfortunately, about the only words they really seem understand are, “eat,” “food,” and “treats.”
People are genuinely curious about what I do. I often hear questions, such as are my books a series, and are my characters based on real people? Yes, some have been inspired from I’ve known. Protagonists Ian and Gillian in The Reunion are loosely based on real people.
So what do I mean when I say a character is inspired from a real person? Does it mean the character is a clone of that person, with a different name? The answer is no, they are not. They are based on my memories of people I’ve known. I use those memories as a template to create a unique and fictitious individual. Ian, for example, was based on an old college boyfriend. I incorporated some of his positive aspects into Ian, such as his desire to succeed. However, none of us are perfect, and my old boyfriend certainly had his faults too, but most of those characteristics were not part of Ian. Oddly enough, I’ve found some of his negative traits in antagonists in other stories, although I didn’t realize it until after the book was published. Funny how our minds work.
Whether inspired from a real-life person or not, each character I create is fictitious, and each is a unique individual in his or her own right. And I must be doing a good job. I’ve had some interesting feedback from my readers. Some truly hated my villians and were glad to see them get their comeuppance. Others shared their frustrations over protagonists making bad decisions. My all time favorite, however, came from a lady who told me she was reading one of my books in her apartment complex laundry room. One of the antagonists made her so mad she started cursing him out. Then she looked up and noticed other people were giving her strange looks. Her story was the highest compliment a reader could ever give me.
Sometimes life happens, and we writers get distracted. Such was the case with me this past January. My house was built in 1965. I purchased it in 2008. Someone did a not so lovely kitchen remodel in the 90s, and it really looked dull and dated. And while I loved the idea of a new kitchen, I wasn’t so gung ho on the idea of turning my home into a construction zone. So, I kept putting it off. And putting it off. But it had to be done, sooner or later.
So my kitchen went offline for most of January, with my appliances, dishes and cookware piled up in my dining room. And while I was able to do edits and revisions, I simply was unable to write. Funny how our minds work. When we’re under a lot of stress our creativity just goes.
Thankfully, all things come to an end, including a kitchen remodel. And the end result was well worth it. As I loaded my dishes and cookware into the new cabinetry it felt like I was moving into a new home. So now that it’s over I’m back at work on my latest novel, The Scandal, which I plan to release this summer. I’m also coming up with an idea for the novel after that. It’s good to be back.
I was an avid reader long before I ever dreamed of becoming an author, and I’ll always remember my mother giving me one of her books and telling me I had to read it. She said it was one of the best novels she had ever read. The book was The Shell Seekers. The author was Rosamunde Pilcher.
As soon as I started reading I was instantly pulled into the story and I couldn’t put it down. Such amazing, unforgettable characters. And even though it was a long book, I was sorry when the story finally came to its end. Since that time I’ve read other Rosamunde Pilcher novels, and all were amazing. She truly was a gifted storyteller, and she has been and always will be an inspiration to me as an author. She will truly be missed.
Now that the holidays are officially over I want to let you know about some exciting things are happening here in “Marina Land.”
I’m working hard on my next novel, The Scandal. It will be available later this year.
I’m also launching a newsletter, and I’ll be giving away a free Kindle edition of one of my books in each issue. All you have to do to enter is sign up for the newsletter and then open it when it arrives in your inbox. The sign up form is at the bottom of the page. Your information is safe and secure and will never be shared with a third party. You can also unsubscribe at any time.
Sometimes I’ll have one idea in mind for a character, but as I get into the story, the character has other ideas. Such was the case with Jeremy Palmer in The Reunion, and it happened again with Josh Ramsey in The Letter.
Young and ambitious, Josh is a financial planner by day, an artist by night. His goal is to retire young and devote himself full-time to his art. Like Jeremy, Josh was meant to an antagonist, but as the character came to life he turned out to be quite charming. I soon realized he had the potential to go much farther than originally planned. That’s when I really started liking him. So I created an aura of mystery about him. Whose side is he really on? Is he friend or foe? He’s actually a little of both, and his true intentions are revealed in an ending that was also far different than what I’d originally planned. That’s what makes writing fun. Those characters, and storylines, that don’t come out as planned. They come out much, much better.
Now, just so you know, Josh is a purely fictitious character and was not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life.