Meet Mickey Lee Janson

a lead character in Aquamarine
© Can Stock Photo / piedmont_photo

Mickey Lee Janson, also known as Mike Jablonski, was originally intended to be minor character in my contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine. However, like Jeremy Palmer, from The Reunion and The Journey, Mickey, or Mike, as he prefers to be called, had other ideas. Characters sometimes have minds of their own, and there are times when their ideas are actually better than the author’s. This was one of those times.

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Mike was an amateur musician who was managing his father’s bar and grill during the day, and singing and playing his guitar at night. He had no intention of becoming famous until his friends suggested he audition for a television talent competition. Mike went to the audition, but only to get his friends off his back. Much to his surprise, he was accepted. From there he made it to the finals, being voted off on the second to last show. However, it was enough. A talent scout from Alicorn Records offered him a recording contract, and Mike Jablonski became Mickey Lee Janson. 

Mike meets glamour model Tonya Claiborne when Tonya is hired to appear with him on an album cover. However, something unexpected will happen during that shoot, and it will change Mike’s and Tonya’s lives forever.

Mike’s original role in the story was intended to be brief. He would try, and fail, to free Tonya from a toxic relationship. She would eventually end up with  a minor character from an earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. However, as the story progressed, I really liked the way Mike was turning out. He had it in him to be much more than he was. My editor agreed. She also nixed the idea of bringing back the character from The Betrayal. Thus Mike became one of the lead characters.

Mike is a purely fictitious character. He isn’t based on anyone I know, nor is he based on any famous real-life musician, living or dead. His origination rests solely with me, the author.

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, and coming soon to Barnes&Noble.com, and other online booksellers. 

So Which One is My Favorite?

Cover illustration by Wesley Lowe.

I’m often asked how many books I’ve written. Danged if I know. After a while, you kind of lose track. However, of all my contemporary romance novels, The Reunion will always be my favorite.

The Reunion was my first full-fledged novel. Prior to that, I was writing children’s books, (as Gayle Martin), and The Luke and Jenny series did quite well. My very first book was a historic, WWII era ration cookbook titled, Anna’s Kitchen, which was later updated into Rosie’s Riveting Recipes. It’s still one of my biggest sellers. However, after Luke and Jenny, I wanted to write more contemporary stories for adult readers, and romance is my favorite genre.

Unlike my later novels, The Reunion is loosely based on events which have happened in my own life. I wrote it as a, “what if” story. As in, what if I had done this instead of that? Of course, I’ll never really know, but The Reunion gave me a chance to imagine one possibility. Leading man Ian is based on someone very special who I once knew. Gillian is me. Sort of. She’s an idea of what my life might have been, had I made different choices. 

Samantha Walsh, Gillian’s best friend, is based on a real-life neighbor I once had. I also met her while I was in college. Her apartment was a few doors down from mine. However, she worked at the parimutuel windows at the dog track instead of a truck stop diner, but some of the stories she told about her job were hilarious. She moved back to Chicago a few months after we met, so I have no idea whatever become of her, but she was certainly unforgettable, to say the least.

Gillian’s ex, Jason Matthews was, I’m sorry to say, based on my own ex-husband. He worked at an Old West Theme park called, Rawhide, which, at the time, was in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like Jason, he kind of swept me off my feet. Unfortunately, also like Jason, he turned out to be an abusive conman. Thankfully, I haven’t heard from him in many years, and so far as I know, he’s alive and well. Although I will admit that writing about Jason’s untimely end was kind of cathartic. Just saying.

I think of my first romance novel as my first child, in a way. Writing it was a life-changing event for me, because doing so was when I realized that writing novels truly is me life’s calling. It’s yet another reason why The Reunion will always be my favorite.

Marina Martindale

The Reunion is available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and other online book sellers. 

 

 

 

It’s What I Wanted to Write

but at the time I couldn’t
© Can Stock Photo/ Kudryashka

Aquamarine is, in some ways, the contemporary romance novel I wanted to write a few years ago, when I wrote The Scandal. The Scandal is the story of Lauren McAllen, a soap opera star who wants to break into the movies while Calvin Michaelson, the main antagonist, would live up to his nickname, Casting Couch Cal. Such was the story I intended to write.

They say timing is everything. Unfortunately, at the time I was formulating the storyline for The Scandal, the real-life Harvey Weinstein scandal made the headlines. It was simply too close to the story I had in mind, and I strive  to create original stories. Therefore, I had to make some changes. Cal would go from sexual manipulator to a man falsely accused of a serious wrongdoing. In the end, it turned out to be a good story. However, it wasn’t the story I originally had in mind.

What a difference a few years can make

Things had changed by the time The Scandal was released. The notorious Mr. Weinstein had been convicted, and the rest of the world had moved on. I had also revisited an earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. One of the supporting characters, a teenager named Tonya Claiborne, really stood out. She was strong and compelling and certainly worthy of having her own story. This became the inspiration for Aquamarine.

Every story needs a good antagonist. At long last, I had the opportunity to create the bad guy I wanted to create with Cal Michaelson. This time my antagonist is narcissistic, cunning, and manipulative, but on the surface he’s charming, charismatic, and seductive. Hopefully, he will be one of my most memorable villains ever. 

I really, truly love what I do. I put a lot of thought into the characters I create, and all those scoundrels make my job so much fun. Especially when they get their comeuppance. 

Marina Martindale

 

The Scandal is available on  Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

 

A Preview of Aquamarine

The newest Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine, will be released in June. Aquamarine is the story of Tonya Claiborne, a young music student who plans on becoming a music teacher. Tonya’s well-to-do grandmother is helping her through college. Unfortunately for her, it all comes to a sudden halt when her grandmother unexpectedly passes away. Determined to continue her education, new employment opportunity soon comes her way, but once Tonya accepts the offer her life will take another unexpected turn.  

A preview of Aquamarine by Marina Martindale

Tonya Claiborne scanned the room as she finished her guitar solo. Her college jazz ensemble was performing at a Dallas church, and so far everything had gone smoothly. She glanced at the music director, who nodded his head in approval. As the other musicians resumed playing Tonya turned her attention back to the audience. The blonde woman sitting in the front pew gave her another smile. She had been watching Tonya intently for some time. It began while Tonya was singing, “The Girl from Ipanema.”

The audience members were mostly family and friends of the student musicians, along with jazz enthusiasts from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Tonya wondered if perhaps she had met this woman before. She appeared to be friends with the woman sitting next to her, and both appeared to be enjoying the concert. Tonya shrugged it off and refocused her attention on her music. As the chords faded, the audience once again burst into applause.

Their director returned to the microphone. Their next song would be the final one for the evening. As he stepped aside they began playing, “Caravan.” The mystery woman whispered something to her friend as she nodded toward Tonya and took another photo of her. Her actions made Tonya even more curious. Once the concert was over, she would have to find out who this woman was.

The audience rose to their feet and gave them a standing ovation as they finished. The music director thanked everyone for coming and motioned for the ensemble to stand and take a bow. As the crowd disbursed some headed for the exits while others approached the musicians. Tonya looked toward the back of the room. A young man stood from his seat in the last row and made his way towered the front of the church while the woman in the front pew, along with her friend, walked up to one of the trombone players. He greeted Tonya with a quick kiss a moment later.

“Good job,” he said.

“Oh, Evan, you always say that.”

“Hey, just because I’m your fiance-to-be it doesn’t mean I can’t be your biggest fan too.”

“I know, and I love you for it.” She nodded toward the two women, who were still talking to the trombone player.

“I’m wondering who the lady in the blue sweater might be.”

“Which one?” He stepped back to get a better look.

“The one with the shoulder length blonde hair. She kept her eye on me for some time and she acted like she knew me. We must have crossed paths somewhere, but I can’t recall when.”

“Maybe she’s sizing you up,” Evan said jokingly. “But don’t worry. I can handle her if she tries to make trouble.”

“Thanks, Evan. I know I can always count on you.”

As if on cue, the woman walked up to Tonya and extended her hand. “I wanted to stop by and introduce myself. My name is Melissa Atkins. I’m here tonight with a friend whose nephew is also in the band.”

“Nice to meet you”

“Likewise, and at the risk of sounding too forward, I’m also with the Angela Carson Modeling Agency. The reason I was watching you so closely is because you have the perfect look to be a model. You’re tall and thin and your hair is gorgeous. I snapped a few photos of you with my phone, and you’re certainly photogenic. So, have you ever thought about modeling?”

Tonya brushed a strand of her long, dark hair away from her face. “Well, I’m certainly flattered, but to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it. I’m more focused on my music.”

“I see.” Melissa looked disappointed as she handed Tonya one of her business cards. “Well, you’re certainly a talented musician, and you’re going to a top-notch school, but we do a lot of print modeling here in Dallas, and it pays really well. If you think this is something you might be interested in doing to help with school, then please give me a call.”

 

By the way, Aquamarine is a spin-off  of The Betrayal, an earlier Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel. The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

A Sample from The Betrayal

© Can Stock Photo/ stillfx

My upcoming contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine, includes many of the characters from a previous contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.  

The Betrayal is a story of infidelity. Emily has literally caught her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Jesse learned a hard lesson as a result, and he’s managed to convince Emily to give him another chance. Emily doesn’t want to give up on Jesse either, and after several weeks of marriage counseling, things are finally looking up.

In this sample we’ll join Emily as she and her friend, Megan, are about to embark on a Caribbean cruise. However, something as innocent as picking up a forgotten passport will soon have unexpected consequences.

A sample from The Betrayal

Megan pulled into Jesse’s driveway and Emily quickly hopped out.

“Wait here. I’ll only be a minute.” She ran up to the front door and rang the bell. Jesse greeted her with a smile and handed over her passport as she stepped across the threshold.

“Here you go,” he said with a smile. “Make sure you keep it in a safe place.”

“I know, I know.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “I know you’re excited, and I know you’ll have a good time, but just be careful, okay? Stay with your group when you do your off-ship excursions. The Caribbean is a beautiful place, but don’t go wandering the back roads by yourselves.”

“I know, Jesse. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”

He gave her a kiss and walked her out Megan’s car. “Have fun, be safe, and I love you.”

“I love you too, Jesse.”

He opened the car door and said a quick hello to Megan while Emily slid into the passenger seat. As the car slowly backed into the street he waved goodbye and went back inside. Megan was about to drive away when an older man, who was walking a dog, stepped off the curb and approached them. Emily asked Megan to wait as she rolled down her window.

“Well hello, Jorge. How have you been?”

“I’ve been good, Emily. How ’bout you? I haven’t seen you in a long time. Not since the morning you moved your things out. Is everything okay now?”

“It couldn’t be better.” She quickly introduced him to Megan, saying Jorge and his wife lived three doors down.

“Jesse and I have been working things out. My buddy and I are taking a short trip together, and when we return, I’m moving back in.”

He gave her a warm smile. “I’m glad, Emily. Marta and I have wondered about you, and we were hoping you were okay.”

“I’m fine.”

“Well then, you two ladies have a safe trip, and I’ll see you when you get back.”

“Thanks, Jorge. Please tell Marta hello for me.”

“Will do.”

They waved goodbye as Megan drove off.

***

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Meet Tonya Claiborne

a lead character in Aquamarine
© Can Stock Photo/ 2mmedia

Tonya Claiborne was first introduced in my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.  She was the seventeen-year-old sister of Annette Claiborne, one of the antagonists, and I created her almost as an afterthought. Like her cousin, Emily, Tonya is an aspiring musician. She also has another talent; reading people’s body language.

While only a minor character in The Betrayal, Tonya nonetheless had a significant role. We’ll meet an adult Tonya in Aquamarine. A music major at The University of North Texas, Tonya looks forward to graduating the following year. She’s also in love with Evan, and they plan to marry once they graduate. However, things don’t always go as planned, and Tonya’s life is about to change in ways she could have never imagined.

Tonya is a purely fictional character. However, in my own life’s journey I’ve run across a few rare individuals who excelled at reading body language, and I was amazed at how accurately they perceived other people. It’s a skill I would have liked to have had myself.

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is currently available for the  Amazon Kindle. A paperback edition is coming soon.

White Roses and Aquamarines

© Can Stock Photo / vtupinamba

My latest contemporary romance novel is off to the editor. It’s the first book I’ve written since the pandemic started. The pandemic, particularly the lockdowns, took a terrible toll on creative people.

For most of 2020 I was simply unable to write, so I decided to go back and give my earlier novels a read, hoping it would motivate me. When I got to The Betrayal, I rediscovered a minor character with a lot of potential. Not only was she strong enough to become a lead character, she was also strong enough to motivate me to start writing again.

My story is Covid free. In fact, all my future contemporary romance novels will be Covid free. I did a little research on the topic. People do not want want to see Covid included in movies or television shows, so I highly doubt they want to read about it in novels. Very few novels were ever written about the Spanish Flu, and most were written a generation later, in the nineteen-thirties. They all ended up in the dustbin of history. I recently beta read a fellow author’s manuscript. His next novel is Covid free as well, so I think I may be onto something here.

I did, however, get a little stuck on the title. It was originally going to be called The Diversion. Then, as often happens, once I started writing, and the characters came to life, the story went in a different, and better, direction. The Diversion, however, no longer made sense as a title.  The lead characters are both musicians, and each has written a song. One song is called, Aquamarine. The other is The White Rose. While the songs may be fictitious, either title would make a dandy title for the book. If only I could decide which one to use.

So, when in doubt, let the readers decide. I took a poll in my newsletter. It resulted in a tie. Ugh! So, now it’s time to ask the Magic 8 ball, which in Internet land, is a random name picker.

And the winner is… Aquamarine. It will be available in early 2022.

Stay tuned.

Marina Martindale

P.S. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, simply scroll down to the bottom of the post and you’ll find a sign up form. Each month I giveaway a free book.

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.

I’m Having Conversations

with my imaginary friends
© Can Stock Photo/
khunaspix

Everyone who writes fiction understands how our characters seem to come to life as we’re writing. We start out with an idea of who we want them be, but before long, they’re telling us who they really are. It’s what makes novel writing fun. For me, it usually happens with antagonists. Some, like Craig in The Stalker, come out much darker than planned. Others, like Cal in The Scandal, love their bad boy image. Deep down, however, they have good hearts. 

Now just so you know, they don’t communicate verbally. There are no voices in my head. I think the best way to describe it would be to say they take control of my fingers as I type. Especially when I’m writing dialog. The conversation just flows out of my keyboard as I watch their personalities come through. It feels almost as if I’m channeling a real person from a different dimension. Of course, that’s not literally happening. I’m tapping into the part of my psyche where imagination lies, and what fascinates me the most is how the characters evolve into people who are entirely different than what my conscience mind had envisioned.

Marina Martindale

 

 

A Sample from The Journey

The Journey is a contemporary romance novel about people who aren’t as they appear to be, and the consequences could be deadly.

Newlyweds Jeremy and Cassie Palmer’s lives turn upside down when Cassie is seriously injured in a car crash. Jeremy rushes to his wife’s side, and as she recovers they befriend Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar to Jeremy, although he can’t place her. Denise, however, has never forgiven Jeremy for jilting her years before. As she gains his trust she plans her revenge, and their lives will never be the same.

Marina Martindale

A sample read from The Journey by Marina Martindale

The moonlight reflected off the snow-covered mountains, creating a dreamy, picturesque landscape, which could easily hide a deadly hazard. Samantha Walsh stayed on high alert as she drove down the highway.

“Is everything okay, Mom? You seem a little tense.”

Samantha glanced at the young woman sitting in the passenger seat. “I’m fine, Cassie. I’m just a little tired, that’s all. As soon we get to the next exit, I’d like to pull over and have you drive, if you wouldn’t mind.”

“Sure, Mom.” Cassie sounded concerned. “You haven’t been yourself today. Are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine. I’m just tired, that’s all.” She tilted her head toward the backseat. “So now that your little sister-in-law has finally given us a break and gone to sleep, I have some things I’d like to discuss with you.”

“Such as?”

“I’ve decided to sell the diner.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Max and his wife have made a very generous offer,” said Samantha. “I’d like to accept, but I wanted to discuss it with you first.”

“I understand. So, what would you do if you sold the place? You’re way too young for retirement, and somehow I can’t see you sitting on your front porch in your rocking chair.”

Samantha chuckled. “I can’t see myself there either, but now that you’re happily married and on your own, I’d like to finally start pursuing my own dreams. Once was the time when I was going to be a nurse, you know.”

“I know, Mom. You’ve told me the story many times. You were going to college, back in Arizona, but then you ran out of money, so you got a job as a waitress at a truck-stop diner.”

“Back then I was quite the dish, and they tipped me really well.”

“And you’re still a dish. None of my friends believe me when I tell them you’re my mother. They all say, ‘But Cassie, she’s so pretty. She looks so young, and she’s so thin. She doesn’t have any wrinkles or any gray hair.'”

“That’s very kind of them to say, but even if I don’t look it, I’m starting to feel it.” Samantha winced and let out a small groan.

“Are you all right, Mom?”

“I’m fine. It’s just a little indigestion, that’s all.”

“You’re sure that’s all?” Cassie tried to mask the concern in her voice. “So, what do you have in mind?”

“I want to go back to Arizona, at least for part of the year. I’ll keep the house in Idaho Springs and stay here during the summers; but I’d like to spend the rest of the year down there and take some classes at the university. I could still become a nurse, you know. I only had a couple semesters left when I ran out of money, and I was ready to go back when I met your father.”

“I know, but then you got engaged, and then you got pregnant with me, and then he passed away.”

“And then I had you to raise. But you know, Cassie, I’ve never once regretted a day I’ve had with you. You’re what kept me going all these years, and I love you with all my heart.” Samantha winced and groaned again.

“And I love you too. You’re the best mom anyone could have asked for, but right now I’m a little worried about you. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

***

The Journey is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Sample Read from The Scandal

 

© Can Stock Photo / PerseoMedusa

The Scandal is the story of soap opera star Lauren McAllen. For the past ten years Lauren has been playing Hayley Lancaster on The Seas of Destiny. Hayley is the woman fans love to hate, and the role made Lauren famous. Now she’s ready to take her career to the next level and try to break into films or prime time television. 

Luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. She’s soon cast in a supporting role in a major motion picture. However, before the camera starts rolling, studio head Calvin Michaelson is accused of a serious wrongdoing, and an unwitting Lauren finds herself in the middle of a scandal which rocks Hollywood.

a sample read from The Scandal

Lauren McAllen wrapped her hands around the steering wheel and held on tight. Raindrops splattered the windshield while the wipers furiously knocked them away.

“You may think you’re getting him back, Ashely,” she said through clenched teeth, “but trust me, it’ll never happen because he’s all mine now.” A defiant smiled broke out across her face, but it instantly turned into a look of sheer panic and terror as she frantically yanked the steering wheel back and forth. Unable to regain control of the car, she threw her arms across her face and braced herself for impact.

“Cut!” shouted a man’s voice. “And that’s a wrap.”

As Lauren relaxed, she turned her head and smiled. “So, we got it?”

“Perfectly,” he said, “but if you wouldn’t mind waiting here, the director would like to speak with you for a moment.”

Lauren patiently waited for the rain machine to shut down. A moment later a production assistant walked up to the car and extended his hand. A serious look came over her face as she took his hand and allowed him to pull her out. Before walking away, she turned and looked back at the prop car, placed in front of a green screen.

“And so it ends for Hayley Ann Lancaster Wright Sweeney Mason, as her car crashes off the bridge and plunges deep into the bay, but at least she went out with a bang.”

“Not necessarily.” The director had returned to set. His deep-set brown eyes matched the color of his wavy hair, but they turned sad as he presented her with a bouquet of pink roses. “Her car will be fished out of the water, but she won’t be in it, because we’re all hoping you’ll be back someday.”

Lauren’s face lit up as she accepted the bouquet. “It all remains to be seen. I’ve been doing this gig for ten years. It’s time for me to move on.” She stopped to take in the sweet scent. “Chuck, really, you shouldn’t have. These are beautiful. Thank you for thinking of me.”

He gave her a warm embrace. “You’ve been an absolute joy to work with. I’ll be the first to admit you’re overdue for a long hiatus, but we’re still going to miss you. If your future plans don’t work out, you know you’ll always have a home here.” He kissed her on the cheek and gave her a final squeeze.

The Scandal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.