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.”

Presenting The Stalker

My newest contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, is now complete. My editor she tells me she loved it, which is always a good sign. She says it’s one of my best stories to date, and she should know. She’s been my editor since my very first contemporary romance novel, The Reunion.

The Stalker is the story of Rachel, a free lance graphic designer who first met Craig while both were working for a magazine. Craig was someone Rachel looked up to and admired, and they soon became friends. Rachel considered him a mentor, but unbeknownst to her, Craig wanted much more than a friendship. That friendship, however, would come to a sudden and unexpected end once Rachel got a promotion Craig felt she didn’t deserve. He’s now a bitter enemy who intends to destroy her at all costs, and he won’t allow anyone or anything to get in his way. 

The inspiration for The Stalker came from a real-life event. A nasty and vindictive individual was, for a time, stalking and harassing a friend of mine on Facebook. He was acting like a jilted lover, but they had never dated. They were actually coworkers, who had only worked together for a brief time. He eventually moved on while my friend gave me her blessing for writing a fictional story loosely based on her experience.

The Stalker is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Marina Martindale

Inside the Writing Tunnel

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

I’ve spent the past few months working 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 contemporary romance novels 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.


Marina Martindale

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.

It’s a Good Cop Bad Cop Story

There is more to my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal, than just one betrayal. It’s 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 time to the unfriend button.


For the record, I honestly believe that the vast majority of police officers out there are good people, and I’ve met many good people who work in law enforcement. Therefore Kyle, one of my lead characters, along with a few of the supporting characters, are all good cops. Unfortunately, there are a some bad ones out there too. While they are a minority, they unfortunately can, and do, destroy innocent lives as well as tarnish the reputations of all the good cops out there. The Betrayal is a work of fiction. However, its inspiration comes from heart wrenching stories of those bad cops. 


Marina Martindale

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.


MM

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 contemporary 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 “romance” 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.


Marina Martindale

Blame It On Too Many Soap Operas

 
and my misspent youth
© Can Stock Photo / ginosphotos

People often ask me what motivated me to become an author. Or why I write contemporary romance. I blame it on my misspent youth. I was a soap opera junkie for many years. It began when I was in the sixth grade and it continued into adulthood. I suppose I could blame it on my mother too. Instead of telling me to go do something more productive, she got me started on her soaps.

I used to schedule my college classes around my soaps. Mind you, this was 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. I taped my favorite soap everyday for many years.

What makes soap operas so compelling?

So, what was it about soap operas that was so compelling?  According to my high school drama teacher, soap operas were real life, exaggerated. 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 were the characters. I never watched the now defunct All My Children, but I certainly knew who Erica Kane was. Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of our Lives was my personal favorite. Two great actresses, Susan Lucci and Deidre Hall, played those memorable roles. They transformed these fictitious characters into believable, three-dimensional people.

I too strive to create believable, three-dimensional characters in my contemporary romance novels, such as Ian Palmer and Gillian Matthews, in The Reunion, and Carrie Daniels and Alex Montoya, in The Deception. I also work hard to create believable stories. My plotlines twist and turn, just like a soap opera. My characters get involved with the wrong people. Long-lost lovers are reunited, and people are betrayed by the ones they trust the most. In other words, they’re real life, somewhat exaggerated.

Marina Martindale

I’m Starting to Scare Myself

An ink splatter.

I’ve had wonderful feedback on some of my antagonists, such as Ryan Knight in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. I’m happy knowing I’m creating people readers love to hate.

I’m developing a new antagonist for my upcoming novel, The Journey. Her name, for now, is Denise Sanderson, and she will be exceptionally nasty. The other day, as I was describing her to a fellow author, I stopped in mid sentence and said, “You know, I don’t know where these people are coming from, but it’s kind of scary when I stop and think about it.”

Ask any novelist. They’ll tell you that over time characters start creating themselves and they’ll tell you who they are. However, they still spring from somewhere deep in our creative psyche.

Some of my villains, like Ryan in The Reunion, are based on some not-so-nice people I’ve encountered in my own life. Writing about them has certainly helped me release some previously unresolved issues.

Other antagonists however, such as Denise, in the forthcoming Journey, and Maggie, in The Deception, are totally fictitious. They have no real-life counterpart. Therefore, it makes me wonder. Where are these people coming from?

All of us have a dark side, whether we care to admit it or not. These antagonists represent our fears. They represent the sense of outrage and frustration we’ve all encountered at one time or another. They also give us the opportunity to vicariously act out our own anger and frustration. Maybe that’s why we’re so delighted when they finally get their comeuppance. It gives us a chance to purge ourselves of our own demons, and that’s a good thing. That said, they still scare me.

Marina Martindale

Update: My contemporary romance novel, The Journey, is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

The Two Kinds of Other Women

A graphic of red lips.

The inspiration for my contemporary romance novel,  The Deception, began a few years ago when I happened upon a psychic’s blog. She was discussing the questions her clients asked the most often. One question was, “When will he leave his wife for me?”

Needless to say, her post had a lot of comments, and I noticed a trend. Everyone believed the other woman knew he was married, and that she was lying if she said she didn’t know.

Being single for most of my adult life, I’ve noticed there are actually two kinds of other women out there. One is the aforementioned mistress. The other is a good woman who’s been deceived.

The good woman who’s been deceived


Typically, this is a woman looking for meaningful long-term relationship, or marriage. She happens to meet a seemingly nice man who appears to be single. He’s not wearing a wedding ring. He’s never mentioned a wife or girlfriend. In some cases, a mutual friend nay have he was single. He asks her out. Believing he’s single and available, she accepts, and they begin dating. 

Sooner or later, one way or another, she’ll find out he’s married. Once that happens, she’ll feel shocked and betrayed. However, she gets a double whammy. Everyone will side with the wife, and the wife is most certainly an injured party. However, just like in the psychic’s blog, everyone will condemn deceived woman for being the other woman. And if she says she didn’t know he was married, (because she honestly didn’t know), they’ll accuse her of lying. So where is the condemnation for the man? After all, he’s the one who lied to her. And he’s the one who duped her into thinking he was single.

This can be extremely devastating for the deceived woman, and it can do untold damage to her sense of self worth. She’s being wrongfully accused of setting out to intentionally hurt the wife when she honestly didn’t know there was a wife. This can leave her with some serious trust issues.

The Deception


The Deception is the story of Carrie, a good woman who, unknowingly, becomes involved with a married man. A mutual friend has told her he’s single, and the married man has also led her to believe he’s single. It doesn’t take long, however, for her to realize that thing aren’t adding up. She soon ends the relationship, but by then the damage has been done. As a result, she’s left to deal with the unintended consequences.

While my story may be fiction, real-life versions of it happen everyday, so perhaps we shouldn’t judge others too harshly. After all, none of us are mind readers, and there really are people out there who lie and deceive others.

Marina Martindale

The Deception is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.