Some Books are Easier to Write than Others

© Can Stock Photo/novelo

Work on my upcoming romance novel, The Scandal, has been interesting, to say the least. Ask any author, and they’ll tell you all books present their challenges as they’re being written. However, we authors always manage to work through them. That said, some books are simply more challenging than others. The Scandal has certainly presented its fair share of issues, and then some. I will admit, however, that it’s been such a fun book to write that I haven’t minded doing all the extra work. In fact, I’ve enjoyed spending the additional time with it. Truth be told, I don’t want this book to end.

Is it life imitating art, or is art imitating life?

As luck would have it, the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the MeToo movement, started while I was working on the treatment. Sometimes life imitates art, but really? Did it have to go this far? I take pride in writing original stories. Then there was the other issue. The MeToo movement has been controversial from the start, and I keep my books politically neutral. I also want to keep my books from becoming too dated.

Striving to keep my story separate from any real-life scandals, I decided I would make my lead antagonist more of a Roman Polanski, but it came out too creepy. I revised it, and it still came out too creepy. So, the third time around, I changed him into a Hugh Hefner like playboy. It worked. He’s a womanizer and a cad; the kind of guy you’d like to slap across the face, but he’s no longer skin crawling creepy. I really liked this new version of him. And, now that he’d been, “fixed,” so to speak, I kept going. Finally, I finished the manuscript and sent it to Cynthia, my editor. She made her changes, and now it’s gone to the proofreader.

The second edit.

Proofreading is also called the second edit, and I have a new proofreader. She’s doing an amazing job. If something seems off as she’s reading, she lets me know. As it turns out, there were a few remnants from the earlier drafts which, while rewritten, came across as too confusing to her. As a result, two chapters had to have more extensive rewrites. These chapters are much improved, but having to take extra time has slowed down production just a bit. However, my publication date is set for early October, and we will be meeting that deadline.

Marina Martindale

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A Sneak Preview of my Next Novel The Scandal

A book cover will and illustration of a woman with two men behind her.
Cover Illustration by Wes Lowe

The next Marina Martindale romance novel, The Scandal is back from the editor and we are in the process of proofreading. The Scandal will be available this fall. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview. Enjoy.

Marina Martindale

The Scandal Sample Chapter

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

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The Scandal Has Gone to the Editor

A book cover feature a woman buttoning her blouse, with two men and the Hollywood sign behind her.
Cover illustration by Wes Lowe.

Finally, after more than a year of writing, The Scandal has gone to the editor. Once again, I feel like a mom whose kids have just moved out. You think you’re going to feel happy, and part of you does. But at the same time, you also feel sad. I guess you’d call the feeling bittersweet.


I’ve genuinely loved writing all of my novels, but some have been more fun to write than others. On the pleasure to write meter, The Scandal is right up there with The Reunion. The inspiration came from one of my cousins who, years ago, had a major role on a soap opera. She was kind enough to not only invite me to visit the set, she also invited me to her wrap party when she left the show. And by the way, a soap opera wrap party is like any other corporate party. The only difference is that the faces look more familiar. But then again, when you’re a writer, you can add a little unexpected drama to make a corporate party a whole lot more interesting, which is exactly what I did in The Scandal.


Now, just so you know, Lauren McAllen, my lead character, is actually not based on my cousin. About the only thing she and my cousin have in common is they don’t hang out with the Hollywood crowd. Not all actors do. Just like doctors, attorneys, and architects, actors are all unique individuals. Some are party animals. Some have drug or alcohol issues. Others get on political soap boxes. They may make the headlines, but not everyone in Hollywood is that way. Some actors go home and hangout with their families, and their social circles don’t necessarily include other celebrities. In other words, off camera, they’re more like the rest of us, and that’s who Lauren is. If anything, she’s an extension of me; a woman totally devoted to her craft who feels truly blessed to be able to follow her dream and do what she loves.

The Scandal is also my most researched novel to date. As a writer, I strive for accuracy. I want my stories and my characters to be as realistic and believable as possible. And while visiting the set and watching a taping was truly an honor and a privilege, it hardly makes me an expert on television production. So, I spent a lot of time reading articles on how things work on the set and what happens behind the scenes. Hopefully, I’ve come close.
Look for The Scandal to be released later this summer.

MM

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The Scandal Book Cover

A book cover with a woman buttoning her blouse. Two men are standing behind her, and the famous Hollywood sign.

My illustrator, Wes Lowe, has come through once again, and he’s created his best cover illustration to date. 

The Scandal is a romance novel set in Hollywood. Soap opera star Lauren McAllen has recently left the role that made her famous and landed a supporting role in a major motion picture. But before the camera rolls, her dream of stardom shatters. The studio head is soon accused of wrongdoing, and she’s unwittingly caught up in a major scandal that rocks Hollywood.

I’m still working on the manuscript. I hope to have it complete and ready to go to the editor in early July. While this book has been the most interesting one to write so far, it’s also required more research, and revisions, than anything I’ve done before. But trust me, it’ll be well worth the wait.

MM

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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

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And Now for Some of My Other Characters

A horse and a dog in an open field.
© Can Stock Photo / Callipso88

I get a lot of nice feedback about my characters and I love them too, but let’s not forget my other characters. The nonhuman ones.


I love animals and I grew up around dogs and horses. So, it stands to reason that some of my characters are dogs and horses. And while they may not be as cunning as their human counterparts, dogs and horses do what dogs and horses do, and sometimes it creates problems for the protagonists. In The Reunion, a black mustang named Miss Mollie puts Gillian in a real jam. Her dachshund, Duke, also becomes the catalyst in a major life changing event. However, these animal characters can do good deeds as well. Some even end up being the unsung heroes in the story. Lurch, the lovable mutt in The Betrayal, helps save Emily’s life, while Lucy, Shane’s dog in The Stalker, becomes attached to Rachel, much to Shane’s chagrin. My upcoming book, The Scandal, will also have a canine character. This time it’s an English springer spaniel named Barney, who belongs to leading man Chuck.


Those of us who have pets will tell you they really are part of the family, and my two real-life dogs are no exception. Of course, they wish I’d spend less time writing and more time with them. In fact, if it were up to them, I’d dote on them twenty-four/seven. But lucky for them, they have a nice big cozy dog bed right next to my writing desk. Now, if only I could get them to give me feedback on my writing. Unfortunately, about the only words they really seem understand are, “eat,” “food,” and “treats.” 


MM

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Colorado Dreaming

Along with Hollywood, my next romance novel, The Scandal, is also set in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I lived in Colorado in the late 1990s, and it truly is a beautiful state.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t left. However, circumstances were such at the time that I had no choice. Must be why I’ve used Colorado as a location in so many of my novels. It’s a way for me to go back and visit one of the most beautiful and scenic states in the country.


Like Telluride and Durango, Steamboat Springs is an old ranching and mining town that’s now a popular tourist destination. It’s a few hours’ drive from Denver and Colorado Springs. This makes it the perfect literary location as it’s easy for my characters to travel back and forth from those bigger cities to Steamboat Springs. It also has a cool sounding name. 


Living in Arizona means I’m fortunate enough to be able visit Colorado, and a few years ago I took a trip there that included Steamboat Springs. Since that time I’ve acquired much better camera equipment, and I’ve learned how to shoot and edit video. I hope to return to Steamboat Springs sometime soon, for now I’ll end this post with a video I shot of southwestern Colorado, (under a different name.) It features Ouray, another beautiful mountain town that looks a little like Steamboat Springs.


MM

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It’s Creepy All Year Long

The Stalker Book cover

I’ve had some nice reviews for The Stalker on Author’s Den. The readers are pretty consistent with their comments about not being able to put the book down. 


The Stalker is probably my darkest story to date. It’s definitely high on the creep factor, making everyday seem like Halloween for leading lady Rachel. After reading this excerpt, you may agree. Enjoy.

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They headed out to the parking lot. After Alice drove away, Rachel turned her attention to Shane.”So, what’d you think?”

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

“You think so? I always thought that because we’re really only half-sisters, we weren’t that 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 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 was parked a few spaces away. She stepped up to the driver’s side door and reached into her purse for her keys.

To read more of this excerpt, please click on the link below.

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The Letter is Now Available

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

My newest romance novel, The Letter, is now available on Amazon and on Barnes&Noble.com.


The Letter is the story of a man hounded by a former girlfriend. She’s unable to accept that their relationship has ended and she refuses to let go. While not as dark of a story as The Stalker, readers will enjoy its many twists as turns. The Letter is a tale of misunderstandings and miscommunications. It’s also about people who aren’t as they appear to be.

Please enjoy the sample chapter I’ve posted below.

MM

* * * 


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.”

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What is Wrong with Me? I Haven’t Killed Anyone.

An image of The Letter book cover.

My latest romance novel, The Letter, differs from my others. This time I didn’t kill any of the characters. Not one. And that’s a first for me.


Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not a sociopathic serial killer. At least not in the real world. But as a novel writer, I have to create conflict and drama in my stories to keep them interesting. And when it comes to creating drama, death is about as good as it gets.


Most of the time, the dearly departed is a notorious villain with whom karma has finally caught up with. Big time. In four of my novels a bad guy, or gal, got what was coming to them. The one exception was The Journey, where I had to kill a supporting character who I truly liked. So much so that I tried writing alternate scenes in which she didn’t die, but they just didn’t work as well. Killing this character off heightened the drama, which made the story more intense and a more interesting read. Nevertheless, having to write this character out made me feel genuinely sad.


There is one character in The Letter I thought of killing off. Like most of my “victims,” she was a despicable antagonist. However, unlike the others, this character also had a young child, and I simply couldn’t bring myself to create an orphan. So, this time, instead of an untimely if not painful death, it’s a terrifying near death experience. Surely you didn’t think I’d let a villain get away scot-free, did you?

MM

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