It’s Creepy All Year Long

© Can Stock Photo / PinkBadger

I’ve had some nice reviews for my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, and readers are pretty consistent with their comments about not being able to put the book down. Inspired by a real-life incident, The Stalker is my darkest story so far. It’s part romance and part horror and definitely high on the creep factor. Everyday seems like Halloween for lead character Rachel. What makes the story even more creepy is the fact that Craig, the man who’s stalking her, isn’t a jilted ex-lover. He’s a former coworker.

Below is a sample read from The Stalker

Marina Martindale

***

Once Alice drove away, Rachel turned her attention to Shane.

“So, what’d you think?” she asked.

“I like her. She’s like you, in a lot of ways.”

“You think so? I always thought that with our only being half-sisters, we weren’t very much alike.”

“Well, in that case, you’re each other’s better half. Seriously, you two have a great relationship. I wish I could have been closer to my own sister, but there’s such a big difference in our ages. By the time I was old enough to really get to know her, she’d gone off to California for college. After that she only came home for short visits.”

“It’s never too late, you know,” said Rachel. “Maybe you should call her sometime, just to say hello.”

“Well, maybe. We’ll see. Meantime, I’ll walk you to your car.”

Rachel’s car was parked a few spaces away. “Thank you again, Shane, for such as wonderful evening,” she said as she reached into her purse for her keys. “I’m glad you liked my sister.”

“You’re welcome.” He gazed into her eyes and slowly leaned down to kiss her. It was a gentle, yet passionate kiss. When it was over, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in close as he kissed the top of her head. A sense of calmness came over her as she basked in the warmth of his embrace, but her mood quickly shattered when pair of glaring headlights shined in her face. A red pickup truck slowly drove past. She watched it closely as it turned out of the parking lot and drove away.

“Are you all right?” asked Shane.

She nodded toward the street. “That truck. I’ve seen it a lot lately. Over the past few weeks it’s been going up and down my street.”

“Are you sure? There are plenty of red pickup trucks in Tucson.”

“Yes, I’m sure. It’s a red Dodge Ram, with California plates.”

“Which is a popular model. Maybe someone from California recently moved into your neighborhood.”

“Maybe,” she said, “but that particular truck has a small dent, right above the left rear wheel, and I recognized the same exact dent on the truck that just drove by.”

“It’s okay, Rachel. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s been weeks since we bumped into Craig Walker, and you’ve heard nothing of him since. I’m beginning to think his being at the same hotel where we had our class reunion was one of those weird coincidences. In the meantime, we’re only a few blocks away from your place, so it’s entirely possible that someone from California has recently moved into your neighborhood.”

Rachel remained unconvinced, but she didn’t want to start an argument. “Well, hopefully, you’re right. Maybe it is just a coincidence.”

The Stalker is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Remembering Dennis

A bouquet of flowers.
Photo by Marina Martindale

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for me. One of my cousins, and one of my all time favorite people, passed away rather suddenly and unexpectedly.


A cousin by marriage, I’ve known Dennis since I was ten years old. To me, he was just as much family as his wife. Dennis had a great sense of humor. He always went the extra mile for others, never expecting anything in return. Dennis was also an attorney. And the inspiration for Alex Montoya, the leading man in my second novel, The Deception. In fact, I dedicated The Deception to Dennis.


Like Dennis, Alex was a hard working attorney. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get justice for leading lady, Carrie. Of course, there are significant differences between the character and his the real-life inspiration. Alex was thirty-something and single. He’s not necessarily looking for love. That’s a prerequisite for a lead character in a romance novel. However, his real life counterpart married his college sweetheart at a young age. Each is a unique individual.


In honor of Dennis, I’m including this brief excerpt from The Deception. Like Alex, Dennis was dedicated to his clients.


MM


* * *

After they ended the call Alex picked up the message sitting on his desk. It was from Louise’s attorney, Jack Collins, who called while he was out. He dialed the number and was immediately connected.

“Thanks for returning my call,” said Collins. “I’ve received the letter you faxed me this morning and I’ve already spoken to my client about it.”

“So what does she have to say? Is she willing to work with us to find out who really sent the photos to Gentry Magazine?”

To read more, please click on the link below.

A Sample Read from The Letter

A composite photo of the book cover in paperback, electronic tablet and phone.

The Letter, is a contemporary romance novel about a desperate woman and a man haunted by his past.  

Martha is unable to accept the fact that Danny ended their brief relationship. She’s convinced herself that he will eventually return, and she’s okay with him seeing other women. In her mind, it will prove to him, once and for all, that she’s the only woman for him. In the meantime, she’s keeping in touch. First it was by text and email, but when a family member became concerned, she switched tactics. She’s now sending Danny handwritten cards and letters.

Unfortunately for Martha, Danny has moved on for good. He believes that if he ignores her long enough she’ll get the message and leave on her own. However, unbeknownst to him, his current girlfriend, Stephanie, has accidentally stumbled on one of Martha’s letters. Now she’s wondering if Danny has been seeing another woman behind her back.

While The Letter isn’t as dark of a story as my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, readers will enjoy its many twists as turns. The Letter is a tale of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and people who aren’t as they appear to be.

Marina Martindale

A sample read from The Letter

Vanessa sighed in relief as she brushed a stray lock of short blonde hair away from her eyes and rang the doorbell. The door slowly opened, revealing a sullen looking Stephanie on the other side.

“Sorry I’m late.” Vanessa struggled to keep the frustration in her voice down. “I found the visitor’s parking lot, but the numbering system here is so bizarre. I’ve been all over the complex and back trying to find the right building.”

“It’s okay.” Stephanie motioned for her come inside, and as she crossed the threshold Vanessa took in her surroundings.

“Nice condo. I’d say Danny has good taste.”

“I suppose.”

Vanessa’s brow furrowed. “Are you okay? You seem upset about something.”

Stephanie silently nodded toward the kitchen, offering her friend a cup of coffee as she pointed to the stools in front of the breakfast bar.

“Stephanie, if you’re not feeling well, it’s okay. We don’t have to go to the mall if you’re not up to it.”

“I’m okay. We’ll leave in a few minutes.” She grabbed the carafe and filled a mug for Vanessa. “But first, I want to show you something.”

“What’s up?”

Stephanie set the steaming mug on the bar and reached for a card resting on the other counter. Her face looked somber as she sat down on the barstool next to Vanessa.

“As you know, Danny went to the office this morning to catch up on paperwork, and he told me to help myself to coffee and cereal whenever I got up.”

“Well, that was certainly thoughtful of him.” Vanessa picked up her mug and took a sip.

“I suppose.” Stephanie’s voice sounded uncertain. “After I got up, I discovered the TV remote wasn’t working, so I went to get some fresh batteries. You know how everyone has a junk drawer in their kitchen.”

“Uh huh,” said Vanessa with a nod.

“So, while I was searching for the batteries, I came across this. It was stuck in the back of the drawer.” She set the valentine card and its envelope on the breakfast bar. Vanessa raised her eyebrows as she set her coffee mug down.

“So, who’s Martha?”

“You’re about to find out,” said Stephanie as she picked up the card.

“Wait a second.” Vanessa’s voice was firm. “I can understand how finding a card addressed to your boyfriend from some other woman would upset you, and trust me, if I ever came across a letter addressed to Mike from another woman, I’d be mad as hell. But Stephanie, you really shouldn’t have opened it.”

Stephanie gave her a sharp look. “It was outside of its envelope and stuck to something else. When I removed it all from the drawer, the card fell on the floor. I had no idea it was there, and when I picked it up, I noticed it had a note written on the inside.”

“So, did you read it?”

“Not intentionally, but at that point, it would have been hard not to.” Stephanie’s voice was firm but sad. “Danny and I have had an exclusive relationship for some time now. Or at least, I thought we did.”

 

The Letter is available on Amazon and on Barnes&Noble.com.

 

A New Look for THE DECEPTION

 

I’m doing a minor update on an earlier contemporary romance novel, The Deception, while I wait for my editor to finish up my latest contemporary romance novel, The Letter. The two stories are similar. Those who have read The Deception will no doubt enjoy The Letter, and vice versa.  

 
The original Deception cover.

The most noticeable change is the book cover. Inspired by real-life stories of revenge porn, The Deception is the story of a woman exploited in a profoundly ugly way. However, the original cover created a bit of a controversy as some didn’t understood the reason behind it. While still sexy, the new look is less controversial. I also think it’s a prettier cover. 

Marina Martindale

a sample read from The Deception

Carrie slammed the phone down in disgust. It was the third crank call she’d received that morning. The calls had all come to her office number, posted on her website and she wondered if her website had somehow been hacked. She called her webmaster and asked him to investigate. He called back a short time later. Other than heavier than usual traffic that morning everything appeared to be normal. In the interim, she had received yet another obscene phone call, so they decided to take her phone number off the website. Within an hour the harassing calls had stopped.

Carrie tried to pull herself together and go back to work. The calls were disturbing, and she was having a hard time concentrating. She heard the bell at her front counter and stepped into the reception area to find Marcy, her letter carrier.

“Good morning, Marcy. How was your Fourth of July?”

“Nice and quiet,” she said as she placed the mail on the counter. “I have something you need to sign for.”

Carrie signed the form and Marcy handed her a large, thick envelope. The sender was GMH Publications, from Los Angeles. She didn’t recognize the name, so more than likely it was a prospective client. Marcy said goodbye as Carrie took the mail back to her desk and opened it. Inside the big envelope was a check, payable to her, for five thousand dollars. Attached to the check was a personally signed letter from Caleb Wyman, publisher of Gentry Magazine, congratulating her for winning the photo contest in their latest issue.

“What on earth? I never entered any photo contest. Not for anyone, and most certainly not for you.”

She reached back into the envelope and pulled out the remaining contents. It was the latest issue of Gentry Magazine. As she thumbed through the pages something familiar caught her eye and she heard herself shrieking.

 

The Deception is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

 

 

A Sample Read from The Stalker

 

 

 

The inspiration for my contemporary novels comes from all kinds of places, including social media. In fact, the idea for my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, came from a Facebook fued.

For better or worse, Facebook has become a part of our culture, and a few years ago a bitter feud erupted on my Facebook newsfeed. A friend’s former colleague had a falling out with her. She had blocked him Facebook, but his so-called friends and supporters enabled him to continue stalking her by sending him screenshots of her Facebook posts. This included posts about her job, her family, and even her children. He would then use her posts to smear her, and her family, on his newsfeed.

No one deserves to be bullied and harassed on social media. My friend took her harasser to court, and the judge put a stop to it once and for all. However, the legal system takes time, so this feud went on for at least a year. As a writer, I saw this as a good premise for novel. Most people assume stalking is limited to former lovers, but it isn’t the case at at. Anyone can be a potential stalker, although stalking itself is a rare phenomenon. I talked it over with my friend, and she gave me her okay to use her experience as the inspiration for my novel.

While inspired by real-life events, The Stalker, is a unique and fictional story. It’s also a much darker and creepier story. Craig Walker, a successful freelance writer, is stalking Rachel Bennett, a former coworker. Rachel had once considered Craig a mentor, but their friendship soured when she got a promotion he thought she didn’t deserve. Now Criag out for revenge, and he intends to destroy Rachel, once and for all. 

Below is a short excerpt from The Stalker. The Stalker is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Marina Martindale

An excerpt from The Stalker

Rachel waited until Shane was gone before turning her attention back to the deputy. His nametag identified him as Joseph Gonzalez.

“And so another wonderful evening gets ruined, thanks to Craig Walker.” She let out a disappointed sigh. “I first met Shane, the man who just left, back in high school, but I never really talked to him until tonight, and I could tell something wonderful was about to happen. Then you showed up.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m just doing my job.”

Her toned softened. “I know you are, and I’m sorry for being rude. This really isn’t your fault. You got duped by Craig Walker, just like I did.”

The deputy motioned for her to take a seat in the corner of the lounge. As she settled into her chair, he took a small notepad from his pocket and sat down across from her.

“Okay, Ms. Bennett, can you please tell how you know Mr. Walker?”

“Craig Walker is an ex co-worker who I first met in Reno, Nevada, where we both worked for a magazine.”

“Were you ever romantically involved with him?”

“No,” said Rachel, firmly, as she shook her head. “Mr. Walker and I have never been romantically involved. It was strictly a business relationship.” She went on to describe their talks in the break room, and how he had turned on her after she was hired as the new art director.

“So,” said Gonzalez, “you said he was reprimanded after this incident. Did the harassment stop after that?”

“He never actually spoke to me after that, but he still gave me the evil eye whenever he saw me, and he always made a point of contradicting me at staff meetings, even when everyone else agreed with me. I probably could have said the sky was blue, and he would have said no, it was green. And then things started getting really scary.”

“What do you mean by scary?”

“I started getting some really nasty emails in my personal account. They came from different senders, but they all had pretty much the same verbiage. I was a hack who didn’t know how to do my job, and the only reason I got my job was because I’d slept with the boss. Changing my password and blocking the senders didn’t seem to help. So, I finally went back to my supervisor, but I was told that unless I could prove Craig was the sender, they couldn’t do anything about it. They suggested I open a new email account.”

“Did you?”

“Yes, and after that I made a point of not checking my personal email from my work computer. Later on, I found out someone was using the contact form on the magazine website to complain about me, but management simply ignored it. They knew what was going on; they just didn’t want to get involved. It was about the same time we learned the magazine would be going out of business.”

The deputy went over his notes. “You mentioned something about this not being the first time you had an evening ruined by Mr. Walker. Could you please explain what you meant by that?”

“Back in Reno, it seemed like every time I went out with friends, Craig would be there. If we went to a bar or restaurant, he’d be at another table. If we went to a movie or show, he’d be seated in the auditorium; always giving me a cold, hard stare. It was as if he knew my every move, even though I’d made a point of keeping my private life private. I never discussed any of my plans with co-workers. Then there was Eric.”

“Who was Eric?”

“Eric Hawthorne was someone I was seeing while I was in Reno. It wasn’t anything overly serious, but we enjoyed each other’s company. So one night while we were out having dinner, Craig was brazen enough to approach Eric in the men’s room. He told him what a lying, two-faced bitch I was, and that I was sleeping with the boss, and why was wasting his time with someone like me when there were so many other women out there who were better? The confrontation apparently didn’t last long, maybe a minute or so at best, but it really made Eric mad, not to mention how embarrassing it was for me.” Rachel sighed. “Eric sent me an email a few days later. He said he was sorry about the problems I was having with Craig, but he wanted to end the relationship. He wished me luck and hoped there’d be no hard feelings. After that, I never heard from him again.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “Once again, I went to my supervisor. She said she was sorry, but since it happened after hours and away from the office, they weren’t going to get involved.”

“I see.” Gonzalez scribbled down more notes. “Is there anything else?”

“Other than the fact that he harassed me via the company email account at my next job, and through social media, I can’t think of a thing.”

The Stalker Book Cover

Once again my illustrator, Wes Lowe, has hit it out of the ballpark. His cover art for my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, captures the essence of the story perfectly. 

The Stalker is the story of a woman harassed by a former coworker. Rachel considered Craig a mentor until she got a promotion he thought she didn’t deserved. The magazine they worked for as since gone out of business, but Craig continues to harass her, and the stakes are becoming deadly. 

In the following excerpt, Rachel is getting acquainted with Shane, a former classmate, at their ten year class reunion.  

Marina Martindale

A reading sample from The Stalker

They excused themselves from their table, and Shane led the way to a lounge on a lower mezzanine level. A man playing a guitar sat off to the side while a few hotel guests were seated around the tables. Shane led her to a long sofa and a waitress soon arrived.

“Would you like a glass of chardonnay?” he asked.

“Yes. It’s my favorite. Thanks.”

He turned to the waitress. “Make it two.”

Their server stepped away and Shane turned his attention back to Rachel. “So, now that we know all about what we did in college, what happened after that?”

“I ended up in Reno, Nevada,” said Rachel. “I accepted a position with a regional magazine called Sierra Life. It was a lifestyle publication with features on local history, architecture, home decorating ideas, places to visit, that sort of thing.”

“I see. So, what did you do there?”

“I worked in the art department. I did most of the ad layouts, and I helped the art director put each issue together. It was challenging but fun at the same time; sort of like putting a puzzle together.” She paused for a moment and a frown came over her face.

“What’s wrong? All of a sudden, you don’t look so happy.”

Rachel sighed. “While I was there, I had some unexpected challenges.”

“Really? Like what?”

“Well, I’ll spare you all the boring details. Let’s just say I had a coworker who turned out to be, well, rather difficult.”

“You mean you had a coworker from hell.”

“That, my friend, would be an understatement,” she said. “Hell wouldn’t have wanted him, because he would have taken the place over.”

“Wow. So who was he?”

“One of the staff writers. We never dated, or anything like that, but he got into the habit of joining me in the break room for coffee, and we’d talk. Nothing serious, just, you know, everyday chitchat. I guess you could say he was an office buddy, although I did look up to him. Then, later on, the art director left, so I applied for her position. By then I’d been with the magazine for about eighteen months, so I knew the formula, inside and out. I figured it would be a good career move. However, what I didn’t know at the time was that, Craig, my break-room friend, didn’t exactly agree.”

“How so?”

Rachel took a deep breath. “I didn’t want word getting out that I’d applied for the job, so I didn’t mention it to anyone, not even Craig. Therefore, I had no way of knowing his girlfriend’s niece had also applied for the job. Fast-forward a few weeks. They offered me the job, which I accepted. Then, the next thing I know, Craig is unleashing his wrath on me and he’s accusing me of sleeping with the boss.”

Shane’s expression turned serious. “Good grief. What is wrong with people these days? So what did you do then?”

Update

The Stalker is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

It Was Well Worth the Wait

A photo of a clock.
© Can Stock Photo / stillfx

At long last, my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal is back from the editor. 

The Betrayal is a story of lies, deceit and infidelity. However, I was facing some real-life challenges of my own as I was writing the story, which resulted in my having to set the manuscript aside for weeks at a time. Then, when it was finally complete, my editor found some continuity errors, so the last few chapters had to be revised. Not to worry.  We were both  delighted at how much those changes improved the storyline.

Unfortunately, I can’t divulge too much. It would spoil the story. I can, however, give you a sneak peek.

Marina Martindale

a sample read from The Betrayal

The knot in Emily’s stomach grew tighter as she pulled into the driveway and pressed the remote. The garage door slowly rolled up, revealing Jesse’s silver Lexus sedan parked inside. Her heart sank. Annette must have taken him to the airport. She took a deep breath and pulled into her old spot, taking her empty suitcase from the trunk, along with several flat boxes and a few rolls of packing tape. The others helped her carry everything inside.

“What a beautiful home,” said Andrea.

“Yes, it was.” Emily led them down the hallway and opened the first door on her right. Inside stood a small, antique desk and chair. Her computer sat on top of the desk, with an electric keyboard set up on the opposite wall.

“Wow look at that,” said Andrea as she walked up to the bookcases full of trophies.

“Those are all from her piano competitions,” said Megan. “She started doing them when she was in the fourth grade.”

“Third,” said Emily.

Megan shrugged and smiled. “Okay, I stand corrected. It was the third grade, but it was also before I met her. She was still competing and still winning trophies in high school, when I finally did meet her. I even went to some of her competitions.”

While Megan was talking, Emily grabbed the tape and started putting boxes together. “Uh-oh. I forgot the packing paper. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be right back.”

“Need help?” asked Sean.

Emily gave him a smile. “Sure.”

They stepped out, returning a moment later with the packing paper and the remaining flat boxes. Emily instructed them on how to pack the trophies before she grabbed her suitcase and headed upstairs. Her body tensed up as she opened the bedroom door. Inside, the bed was freshly made, and she spotted a small, hand-written note left on top of her pillow.

I know what I did was wrong. I’ve fired Annette and I’ll be looking for a new assistant as soon as I return. Please, don’t leave me. I still love you, and I’ll do whatever it takes to win you back.

Emily started to crumple the paper, but then thought better of it. She dropped it back on the pillow and packed up the rest of her clothes as quickly as she could. Before long the bag was filled. Zipping it shut, she jumped at an unexpected sound. A man’s voice was calling her name.

“Whoops. Sorry, Emily. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s okay, Sean. I guess I’m a little on edge today.”

“Perfectly understandable. Do you want me to take the bag downstairs for you?”

“Please do. It’s probably a little too heavy for me to carry. I just need to grab a box for the other things I have left, and then I’ll be done up here.” A wave of sadness came over her as she looked around what had been her bedroom for more than three years. Once she was done, she doubted she would ever see it again.

“Are you alright?” asked Sean.

Emily tried to shrug it off. “I’m fine. Let’s take that bag downstairs.”

 

Update

The Betrayal is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

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The Deception Opening Scene

A photo of a merry-go-round at the fair.
Photo © by Gayle Martin.

The other day I was chatting with a friend who’s currently reading The Deception. She said she wanted to deck the boyfriend who dumps Carrie in the first chapter. Little did she know this chapter was inspired by a real-life event.

A few years ago my friends and I visited Seaworld in San Diego. As we walked around the park we happened to pass by a well-dressed young lady sitting on a bench who was sobbing her eyes out. A young man, most likely her boyfriend, stood next to her, with a very serious look on his face. As we hurried past I realized he’d brought her there to dump her, thinking she wouldn’t cause a scene. And yes, I wanted to bitch slap him. It truly was an act of cowardice on his part.

Needless to say, that picture stayed in my mind. And you know what happens when something stays in a novel writer’s mind, don’t you? It comes out in a story. In this instance, it became the inspiration for the opening scene of The Deception. This time, however, the lady is dumped at The Arizona State Fair. Like his real-life counterpart, her boyfriend thinks dumping her in public means she won’t cause a scene, but he’s wrong. Very wrong. Dumping someone in public only adds more humiliation to the person being dumped.

Inspiration for a contemporary romance novel can from anywhere and everywhere, oftentimes when I least expect it. I’ve included an excerpt from the opening scene below. 

Marina Martindale

A sample read from The Deception by Marina Martindale

Carrie Daniels closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she tried to quell her growing anxiety. The big metal chain made loud clicking sounds as it pulled her up higher and higher. Her breaths grew shorter and tighter as she opened her eyes. The last thing she saw before the first big drop was the stark, clear blue sky. She heard herself letting out a loud scream as the roller coaster plunged and whipped along the track. The butterflies roiled in her stomach as she held tight while the car zoomed around another hairpin turn before taking one last, final plunge. As the ride slowed to a stop, she reached up to pull a loose strand of her long, dark hair away from her face before leaning over to give Doug a kiss.

“Happy anniversary.”

 “I don’t know why you insist on calling it that,” he said as he climbed out and began walking away.

“Calling it what?” She quickly climbed out, picking up her pace to catch up with him.

“Our anniversary. Anniversaries are supposed to commemorate a specific date. Neither of us can recall the exact date anymore.”

“I can to,” she said, flirtatiously. “How could I forget our very first date? You took me to the opening day of the Arizona State Fair, and every year for the past ten years we’ve come back on opening day to celebrate.”

This year, however, Doug didn’t seem to feel like celebrating. He had been acting strange for some time. Carrie kept asking him what was wrong, but he kept brushing her off, saying he had a heavier than usual workload at the office. Carrie, however, couldn’t shake the nagging feeling there was more to it. They walked in silence as they wandered into the carnival gaming area. Finally, she tapped him on the shoulder.

“Aren’t you going to try to win a big teddy bear for me?”

He stopped and turned, rolling his eyes. “Carrie, you know these games are rigged.”

“That never stopped you before. Every year you try to win the big teddy bear for me, so that makes it a tradition for us. And remember what you said to me the year before last? You said if you ever won it, you’d propose to me.”

“You know I never meant it literally.”

“What’s gotten into you, Doug? You’ve haven’t been yourself for weeks and it’s scaring me.”

“I already told you. I’m stressed out with work, and on top of that all I’m hearing out of you lately is how your biological clock is ticking. All these years you’ve been telling me you weren’t in any hurry for us to get married. Now, all of a sudden, you’re in a big rush.”

“Well, if you recall, we celebrated my thirtieth birthday last month. I’ve finally come to realize I can’t wait another ten or fifteen years to start a family. I want to have a baby, Doug, and I want to have it with you.” Carrie noticed some of the people walking by were giving them strange looks. “Look, this isn’t the time or place, okay. Let’s just try to enjoy what’s left of the day. We’ll talk more about it later.” 

She walked up to one of the games and reached into her purse, handing the man a twenty-dollar bill. He gave her some large plastic rings, which she began to toss. Much to her surprise, a few landed around the pegs. Once she finished, the game operator presented her with a small white teddy bear.

“Well,” she said, beaming, “it may not have been the big bear, but at least I won something.”

“Carrie, would you mind taking a seat?” Doug pointed to a nearby bench. “We need to have a little talk.”

Her heart dropped like a ball of lead. Nothing good was ever said after those words were spoken. She sat down on the bench, and as Doug sat next to her, he let out a long sigh.

“Carrie, I want you to know that the last ten years have been really great, and for a long time I really thought you were the one.”

Her heart skipped a beat. “What are you saying, Doug?”

He let out another sigh, glancing around the midway before turning his gaze back to her. “It’s like I said. Back in college, when we first met, I really, truly thought you were the one. I figured someday, you know, when the time was right, we’d take it to next level and get married, but lately things have changed.”

“Look, Doug, I know things haven’t exactly gone the way we planned.” A hint of desperation wavered in her voice. “We didn’t expect my mother to have a stroke and end up in a nursing home. We didn’t expect for her insurance to run out, and that I’d have to deplete my life savings in order to pay her medical bills, but things are going to get better, I know it. I know it’s been a strain on you having to pick up the slack, but my photography business is starting to pick up. It really is. I’ve landed two new clients in the past month. If you’ll just be patient with me and hang on for a little while longer, I know I’ll be able to start paying more of the bills. Things will get better soon, just wait and see.”

“That’s not it.” He paused for a moment, squeezing his lips tightly together. “Carrie, the reason why I brought you here today is because I wanted us to go full circle.”

“What do you mean?”

He let out another sigh. “It means, Carrie, that this is goodbye.” He paused for another moment, allowing it to sink in. “I want you to know that the past ten years have been some of the happiest of my life, but now the time has come for me to move on.”

The Deception is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Photo Shoot Shoot

© Gayle Martin All Rights Reserved

We’re hard at work on the book trailer for my contemporary romance novel, The Deception.

The Deception a story of lies and deceit. Carrie, a young photographer, suddenly finds herself homeless when her significant other abruptly ends their relationship. She has taken up temporary residence in her photography studio, but if her landlord catches her, she could end up on the streets. Enter Louise, an old friend and former mentor. Louise needs a model for a nude photo shoot and Carrie desperately needs the money.  With no other options available, she reluctantly accepts Louie’s offer. Little does she know the devastating and potentially deadly consequences of her decision. 

Today videographer Rob Resetar shot two more scenes for the book trailer; a love scene between Carrie and Scott, one of the antagonists, along with photo shoot scene. With any luck, the book trailer will be completed right after the first of the year.

In the meantime, I’m sharing a short excerpt from The Deception.


Marina Martindale

an excerpt from The Deception

Carrie Daniels closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she tried to quell her growing anxiety. The big metal chain made loud clicking sounds as it pulled her up higher and higher. Her breaths grew shorter and tighter as she opened her eyes. The last thing she saw before the first big drop was the stark, clear blue sky. She heard herself letting out a loud scream as the roller coaster plunged and whipped along the track. The butterflies roiled in her stomach as she held tight while the car zoomed around another hairpin turn before taking one last, final plunge. As the ride slowed to a stop, she reached up to pull a loose strand of her long, dark hair away from her face before leaning over to give Doug a kiss.

“Happy anniversary.”

 “I don’t know why you insist on calling it that,” he said as he climbed out and began walking away.

“Calling it what?” She quickly climbed out, picking up her pace to catch up with him.

“Our anniversary. Anniversaries are supposed to commemorate a specific date. Neither of us can recall the exact date anymore.”

“I can to,” she said, flirtatiously. “How could I forget our very first date? You took me to the opening day of the Arizona State Fair, and every year for the past ten years we’ve come back on opening day to celebrate.”

This year, however, Doug didn’t seem to feel like celebrating. He had been acting strange for some time. Carrie kept asking him what was wrong, but he kept brushing her off, saying he had a heavier than usual workload at the office. Carrie, however, couldn’t shake the nagging feeling there was more to it. They walked in silence as they wandered into the carnival gaming area. Finally, she tapped him on the shoulder.

“Aren’t you going to try to win a big teddy bear for me?”

He stopped and turned, rolling his eyes. “Carrie, you know these games are rigged.”

“That never stopped you before. Every year you try to win the big teddy bear for me, so that makes it a tradition for us. And remember what you said to me the year before last? You said if you ever won it, you’d propose to me.”

“You know I never meant it literally.”

“What’s gotten into you, Doug? You’ve haven’t been yourself for weeks and it’s scaring me.”

“I already told you. I’m stressed out with work, and on top of that all I’m hearing out of you lately is how your biological clock is ticking. All these years you’ve been telling me you weren’t in any hurry for us to get married. Now, all of a sudden, you’re in a big rush.”

“Well, if you recall, we celebrated my thirtieth birthday last month. I’ve finally come to realize I can’t wait another ten or fifteen years to start a family. I want to have a baby, Doug, and I want to have it with you.” Carrie noticed some of the people walking by were giving them strange looks. “Look, this isn’t the time or place, okay. Let’s just try to enjoy what’s left of the day. We’ll talk more about it later.” 

She walked up to one of the games and reached into her purse, handing the man a twenty-dollar bill. He gave her some large plastic rings, which she began to toss. Much to her surprise, a few landed around the pegs. Once she finished, the game operator presented her with a small white teddy bear.

“Well,” she said, beaming, “it may not have been the big bear, but at least I won something.”

“Carrie, would you mind taking a seat?” Doug pointed to a nearby bench. “We need to have a little talk.”

Her heart dropped like a ball of lead. Nothing good was ever said after those words were spoken.

 

The Deception is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Would a Guy Really Say That?

An attractive young man leaning against a wall.
© Can Stock Photo / javiindy

The differences between men and women are more than just physical. A woman’s psyche is also different from a man’s. A challenge I face as a contemporary romance author is writing a male character’s dialog. I’m always having to stop and ask myself, would a guy really say that?

Years ago I read a book called, Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus. And while I can’t recall all of the details, I do remember it talked extensively about how men are more analytical, and women are more emotional. This doesn’t mean one sex is superior to the other. It simply means that men and woman think differently. So, I’ve modeled my male characters accordingly. The female characters will talk openly about their relationships, while the men are more prone to retreat to their man caves.

Jeremy Palmer, a character from two of my contemporary romance novels,  The Reunion, and The Journey is particularly known to do this. The challenge for me is when I have to have a male character discussing his relationship. I am, after all, writing contemporary romance. The main focus of the story is interpersonal relationships. So do men really talk about things like this?

One way I’ve handled it by having a male character confide in a female character. In my contemporary romance novel,  The Deception, Steve, a supporting character, talks to his fiancee about his concerns over Alex’s relationship with Carrie.

an excerpt from The Deception.

“Is something wrong, Steve?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“What is it?”

“Alex and Carrie. C’mon, you saw it. They’ve become much too emotionally attached to one another.”

“They go way back,” she said.

“No, there’s more to it than that. He’s fallen for her. Hard. Really, really hard.”

“Is that such a bad thing?”

“In itself, no. They’re two of my favorite people and under normal circumstances I’d be happy for both of them, but their situation isn’t normal. He’s representing her in a civil case and he’s losing his objectivity.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he said, matter-of-factly.

***

This time, in another excerpt from The Deception, the conversation is between two men. I let them get to the point, as quickly as possible. They then discuss a solution. Had this scene been between two female characters more time would have been spent discussing their feelings

another excerpt from The Deception

Steve looked up when he heard someone tapping at his door. “Hey, Alex. What’s up?”

“I need to talk to you about something.”

“Of course. Come on in.”

Alex stepped inside, closed the door behind him, and pulled up a chair. He let out a sigh as he sat down.
 
“Are you all right, Alex? You look pretty serious.”
 
“I’m afraid your boy wonder has turned himself into boy blunder.”
 
Steve looked closer at Alex’s face. “You’ve slept with her, haven’t you?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
“Well now, that explains the happy glow.”
 
“Oh very funny.” There was a hint of sarcasm in Alex’s voice.
 
“Well, buddy, I can’t say I’m surprised. I saw this coming the day we all drove up to Flagstaff for her mother’s funeral. So, you know what happens next, don’t you?”
 
“Yeah, I do. I’ll have to recuse myself from her case.”
 
“It’s for the best for everyone involved, Alex. Even if you hadn’t taken it to that level, I’ve been concerned about your objectivity ever since the day you flipped out after speaking to Scott Andrews on the phone. That’s not like you. You never lose your cool. If something like that had happened in a courtroom—”
 
“It’ll never see the inside of a courtroom, Steve. Louise doesn’t have a case. She never did.”
 
“I know she doesn’t. Hopefully you’re right and it’ll never make it to court. However, our immediate concern is the here and now, which means we need to talk to Reggie.”
 
Before Alex could respond, Steve picked up his phone and dialed Reggie’s extension. As soon as she answered Steve asked her to come to his office. A minute later they heard a knock at the door. Steve opened it and Reggie stepped inside, bringing a folder with her.
 
***
 

I don’t know if this is how men really talk to one another behind closed doors or not. But if what I’m told by male friends, and by the John Gray book, is true, then I’m probably close. So far I’ve not heard any complaints from male readers.


Marina Martindale