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.

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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 contemporary romance novel, The Letter. Its theme would be don’t judge things by their appearance.

Some of you may be wondering, what’s a theme?

A theme is separate from the plot line. A theme is the 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 and Its Consequences —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 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, and their quest for vengeance inevitably harms others who are innocent. 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.

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


Marina Martindale

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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.
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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.


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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.

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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.


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The Inspiration for 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 reading The Deception. She said she wanted to deck the boyfriend who dumps leading lady Carrie in the first chapter.  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, sobbing her eyes out. A young man, most likely her boyfriend, stood next to her, 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.

I’ll never know for sure what happened, but 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, but with a different location. This time the lady is dumped at The Arizona State Fair. Her boyfriend also 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 can from anywhere and everywhere, oftentimes when I least expect it.

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It’s a Good Cop Bad Cop Story

A pair of handcuffs.
© Can Stock Photo / merydolla

There is more to The Betrayal than just one betrayal. It’s also a good cop bad cop story. For some, this has already created a bit of a controversy.

When I first started working on the manuscript, I posted something on Facebook about the villain being a corrupt police detective, while the hero is a good cop who eventually catches the bad cop. Within a few hours of posting someone started losing their lunch, posting a scathing comment to the effect of how dare I write a story about a bad cop. My response was that the story is fiction, and what part of the hero being the good cop did he not understand? Then it was on to the unfreind button.


I honestly do believe that the vast majority of police officers out there are good people. Therefore my leading man, along with a few supporting characters, are all good cops. Unfortunately, there are a some bad ones out there too. They can, and do, destroy innocent lives as well as tarnish the reputations of all the good cops out there. Yes, The Betrayal is a work of fiction, but good or bad, its inspiration comes from real life.


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Okay, So Maybe it was Watching Detective Shows Too

An old television set with a blank screen.
© Can Stock Photo / ginosphoto

Funny what inspires us as writers. Back in December, 2012, I posted about how my many years of watching soap operas influenced my writing. Apparently, growing up in the golden age of television had an effect on me. However, I wasn’t just watching soap operas. I watched detective shows too.


As a teenager and young adult, I loved Columbo and the original Hawaii Five-O. Both were well written. There were no overtly graphic images. No bodies laid out on the autopsy table. No gory, mutilated or half burned corpses, unlike today’s detective shows. Good writing certainly doesn’t need that kind of visual imagery. Facial expressions, or comments made by other characters will tell us what we need to know. Our imaginations can do the rest.


The late Peter Falk’s portrayal of the bumbling title character made Columbo great. So were all the bad guys who thought they could outsmart him. What made the show fun was the way Lt. Columbo would seize on an obscure, overlooked detail that even surprised the audience. Hawaii Five-O offered spectacular scenery and well thought out plot lines. The characters may not have been as well developed as Lt. Columbo. However, there was one unforgettable nemeses. Wo Fat. Kudos to the script writers of both.


Crime stories create conflict and great drama. It’s why I include crime subplots in my novels. Whether it’s Gillian’s murderous ex-husband on a rampage in The Reunion, Scott’s jilted wife’s in The Deception, or the revenge seeking Denise wreaking havoc in The Journey, these crime subplots create the tension, and the drama. And, as a result, the readers keep turning the pages. Look for more in my next novel, The Betrayal. Until then, happy reading.


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Stuck in a Literary Sexual Rut

An open book with two pages folded together in the shape of a heart.
Photo by Fotolia.

Oh the problems one encounters when writing romance. As I explained in my earlier blog post, Sweet, Sensual or Erotic Romancethere is a distinct difference between sensual romance and erotica. In sensual romance, the sex scenes are written to enhance the plot as the characters consummate their relationship. The emphasis is on what they’re feeling.


That said, as I’m working on my third novel, The Journey, I found myself in a bit of a rut when writing those scenes. Let’s face it. There are only two kinds of equipment out there, and that equipment only works in certain ways. I was starting to worry that my writing might be become too redundant.
So, I decided to do a little research and downloaded a copy of an anthology called Little Birds, by Anais Nin.

Ms. Nin is perhaps the literary madam of erotic literature. I thought I might learn something new about writing from her. What I found, at least in my opinion, were stories that were a little cold. The characters were one-dimensional and lacked passion. Afterwards, I looked at my own writing. I think there’s something to be said for writing about what the characters are feeling, emotionally as well as physically. As for the redundancy; I suppose it is what it is. Even Ms. Nin’s stories were a bit redundant. Yet decades later, readers still enjoy them. I guess there are some things in life that people will never get tired of. Like chocolate cake.


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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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