I Write the Books I Love to Read

An open book with magical stars coming out of it.
© Can Stock Photo / stillfx

I consider myself lucky have grown up in a house full of readers. Both of my parents enjoyed reading. Dinner table conversations were often about the books they were enjoying. They liked spy novels, but they also read mainstream fiction.

I loved horses when I was a kid. I must have read the entire black stallion series. Marguerite Henry, however, was my favorite author. I read Brighty of the Grand Canyon from cover to cover many times over. I also loved her Misty series. Beverly Cleary was another favorite. Beezus and Ramona are timeless.

I took English lit courses throughout high school. This introduced me to many different genres. Of course, some were more interesting than others. Oftentimes, however, my biggest challenge was putting the book down. Sometimes I wanted to keep going to the end, but I couldn’t get too far ahead of the rest of class.

As an adult, if you’ll pardon the pun, I fell in love with the romance genre. And, like my parents, I too enjoyed mainstream fiction. So, from time to time, I’d borrow one of their favorite novels. I think this is why my romance novels are similar to mainstream fiction. Authors such as Arthur Hailey and Peter Benchley must have influenced my writing.

I started writing novels because I wanted to write the books I’d enjoy reading. I wasn’t concerned about how many books I would sell, or if I would become rich and famous. (Not that I wouldn’t mind, but let’s be realistic.) What I’m trying to say is that I write out of my own love of reading. So I figured if I wrote the books I would enjoy reading, then others would enjoy reading them too. Turns out, I was right. I’m getting some wonderful feedback from you, my readers.

MM

Entering the Home Stretch for “The Scandal”

A photo of the Los Angeles skyline seen through mist.
© Can Stock Photo / trekandshoot

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.


MM

I’m Going Hollywood

The iconic Hollywood sign.
© Can Stock Photo / PerseoMedusa

My next book, The Scandal, begins in Hollywood. I’m having a blast writing it. Hollywood a bizarre place indeed. There’s no other place like it in the world. (Thank goodness!) Things happen there that you could never, ever, get away with anywhere else. This means that as writer, the sky’s the limit. My characters are doing all kinds of crazy stuff. No wonder I’m having so much fun writing this one.


The inspiration for this story goes back many years to when I was a young, budding artist. One of my cousins played on a soap opera. She was kind enough to allow me to draw the cover art for her fan club newsletter, and, when she left the show, she invited me to her wrap party.


Now, here’s something I bet you don’t know. Hollywood wrap parties are just like any other corporate employee party. The only difference is the faces are more recognizable. However, in my story, my character’s wrap party will be anything but boring.


I’ve created a lead character who’s very different from my cousin. She’s completely fictitious. And the title implies, she’ll be unwittingly caught up in a major Hollywood scandal. The rest of the story will focus on her struggle to reinvent herself and she’ll move on to a whole new chapter in her life. So stay tuned.


MM

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.

It’s Time to Start Planning my Next Novel

Hands typing on a computer keyboard.
© Can Stock Photo / Kurhan

Now that The Letter has been successfully launched, it’s time to start planning my next novel. And, as typically happens, my inspiration comes for the strangest places.

 
A few months back I was reminiscing about one of my cousins. Decades ago, she played on a soap opera. At the time I was a budding artist, and I created the cover art for her fan club newsletter. She invited me to visit the set. It was exciting indeed. Few people get to see what happens behind the scenes on a network television show. When she left the show, she invited me back for her final taping and her wrap party. What an amazing experience.

So fast forward to the present day. As I was reminiscing the thought hit me. Why not use the wrap party as a starting point for my next novel? Why not have my next leading lady be a successful actress who walks away from Hollywood for good? Then, a few weeks later, as I was still playing around with ideas, the Harvey Weinstein scandal erupted. I thought wow. Here’s even more inspiration for a good novel.


The working title is, The Scandal, although it’s subject to change. And, just so you know, the lead character will not bear any resemblance my cousin. My character is a unique individual with her own set of issues, and her life will be different from my cousin’s. 


If all goes according to plan, The Scandal should be out in about a year. Give or take a couple of months.


MM

Southern Arizona Wine Country

When I’m not busy writing books I enjoy photography and traveling. I got my first camera when I was nine, and I loved photography ever since. And now, with new digital technology, I’m now getting into video. I learned a lot from my good friend, Rob Resetar, who created my amazing book trailers.

Did you know that there are some wonderful wineries in southern Arizona? I didn’t know about them until after I moved to Tucson. They’re located near the Mexican border in a beautiful part of the state. From time to time I’ll pack a lunch and spend a day there. I also used this part of Arizona as a locations in my novel, The Betrayal.

Here is a video montage I produced about our local wine country. You can see why it became the inspiration for McPherson Vineyards, the fictitious winery in The Betrayal.

MM

Themes and Plotlines

An image of a pen with a light bulb on top writing in a book.
© Can Stock Photo / khunaspix

At long last, I’m finally in the home stretch for my upcoming novel, The Letter. Its theme would be things aren’t as they appear to be. Some of you may be wondering, what’s a theme? A theme is separate from the plot line. A theme is that underlying part of a story, such as the moral, or perhaps a comment about society or human behavior. I’ve posted the themes from my earlier novels below, but don’t worry. If you’ve not read all of them I won’t spoil the story.


Forgiveness — The ReunionIan was the one true love of Gillian’s life, but he suddenly ended their relationship for no apparent reason. If Gillian can forgive him, she stands a good chance of having a future with him. This theme carries over into a subplot concerning Ian and a member of his immediate family.


Adultery — The Deception and The Betrayal. Adultery is a great theme for the romance genre. It’s an opportunity to explore the repercussions for everyone involved, as it often affects more than the two primary parties. In The DeceptionCarrie, a single woman, meets Scott, a married man who has presented himself to her as a single man. In The Betrayal, faithful wife Emily unwittingly catches her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Both women’s lives are turned upside down by circumstances beyond their control.


Revenge — The Journey and The Stalker. Life isn’t always fair, and we’ve all experienced times when things didn’t go our way. However, it doesn’t mean that someone has intentionally thwarted us. Sometimes stuff simply happens. Unfortunately, there are people out there who subscribe to the notion of don’t get mad, get even. In The JourneyDenise seeks revenge on Jeremy for having turned down her romantic overture years before, while Craig, in The Stalker, relentlessly hounds Rachel for getting a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve.


And those are my themes, so far. We’ll have to wait and what my next theme will be. Until then, happy reading.


MM

An Update on my Upcoming Novel

THE LETTER

A photo of a pair of glasses on top of an open book placed in front of a computer.

I’m busy working on my upcoming novel, The Letter, and, as with my other novels, I’m having a great time getting to know this cast of characters.
The Letter is a story of things not being as they appear.

Stephanie and Danny, the two lead characters, are in a happy relationship. This is, until Stephanie accidentally uncovers a love letter from Martha, a woman from Danny’s past. As the story continues, she’ll discover even more compelling evidence. Convinced that Danny has been cheating on her, she abruptly ends their relationship. Later on, with the start of a new job, she meets Josh. Unfortunately, Josh isn’t who he appears to be.


The Letter is turning out to be more of a classic romance. It’s much like The Reunion. Both stories are set in Denver. And look for Paul, one of the featured characters in The Reunion, to have a supporting role in The Letter.

The Letter is inspired by a real-life event which happened to a good friend. She too accidentally came across a letter to her fiancé from his old girlfriend. The former girlfriend desperately wanted him back, but she eventually moved on. And, I’m happy to say, my friend and her fiancé have been happily married for many years.

The challenge for me as a writer was the fact that this all happened before email, text messaging and social media, so the story would have to be adapted to 21st century technology.


Look for The Letter to be available in early 2018.
MM

The Inspiration for THE STALKER

The Stalker book cover.

I get ideas for my novels from my own life events. Others come from other people’s stories. The inspiration for The Stalker has a little bit of both.


It started with a feud on my Facebook newsfeed. Two musicians, who had once worked together, had a falling out. They’d blocked each other on Facebook, but it didn’t stop the feud. One would post something about the other. Someone else would take a screenshot and send it to the other one. Then the mud-fest would begin. About the time it settled down the other one would start in. The cycle would then repeat itself. The rest of us got a ringside seat, whether we wanted it or not.

Of course, the writer in me saw this as a good premise for novel. I especially liked the idea of a former coworker, not a former lover, doing the stalking. (The former lover will be the premise for my next novel, The Letter.)


In The Stalker, antagonist Craig, stalks Rachel, a former coworker. Rachel had once considered Craig a mentor, but he turned on her after she got a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve. Like my other novels, The Stalker twists and turns as the story progresses. It takes you, the reader, on yet another roller coaster ride.


MM

An excerpt from The Stalker


Rachel waited until Shane was gone before turning her attention back to the deputy. His name tag 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.”

Please click on the link below to read the rest of the excerpt.

Life Inside the Writing Tunnel

A walkway underneath a tunnel covered with greenery.
© Can Stock Photo / achiartistul

I’ve spent the past few months in the writing tunnel. The writing tunnel is that magical place where I create my stories. It could be at home, a hotel room, or even the great outdoors. The writing tunnel is wherever I let my imagination take over.


Readers tell me it’s hard to put my books down. You should see it from my end. Each morning I try to put in a little writing time. In the evenings, I’m back into my manuscript. I’m either working out the next scene. Or I’m working on the next chapter. Or I’m creating a new character. It’s so much fun. I just wish I could figure out why I’m still paying for cable. Must be for those times when I’m not writing, which isn’t very often.


Sometimes people ask me how I do my job. Do I work out a detailed outline first and then follow it verbatim? Or do I just sit down and start writing? It’s a little bit of both actually.

First I’ll write a treatment, or short plot summary. It’s not too specific and it’s only a few paragraphs in length. It’s my idea for the basic story concept, but not much else. I use it to get the story started, and so I’ll have a rough idea of how it will end. Once I start writing the actual story, I set the treatment aside. I go where the characters take me. Then, when I’m finished, I go back and look at the original treatment. Without exception, it’s remarkably different from the finished novel. Sometimes the ending will be different as well. Someone once said life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I think the same could be said for good story writing.


MM