The Original REUNION Plotline

The Reunion front cover featuring an illustration of two lovers.

Like many authors, I write a treatment before I start writing the actual novel. A treatment is a brief summary, a blueprint if you will, of who the characters are and what the story will be about. It helps solidify ideas and creates a starting point. However, once I begin writing, I put the treatment aside and let my characters loose. When the novel is complete, I’ll go back and look at the original treatment. To say the final story turned out differently would be an understatement. So, just for laughs, I’m posting what was in the original treatment for my debut romance novel, The Reunion.

Warning! Spoiler alert!

Many of the main points from the original treatment were included the final novel, such as leading man Ian showing up unexpectedly at Gillian’s opening at a Denver art gallery. It also included her subsequent return to Denver to hide out from her homicidal ex husband. However, a subplot about Ian selling his house and moving into a condo with his son, Larry, never materialized. Thank goodness. It was boring and did nothing to enhance the story. Likewise, many other scenes in the final novel were never included in the treatment. This includes a pivotal moment when Gillian nearly drowns.

The most notable change, however, had to do with the characters themselves. In the treatment, Ian’s ex wife, Laura, was shy and demure. A savvy businesswoman, she ended up being anything but shy and demure. Laura speaks her mind. That’s why Jeremy is so direct.

And speaking of Ian’s oldest son. In the original treatment, Jeremy was a villain. Aggressive, if not nefarious, Jeremy would only have a small role before being written out. Gillian befriends him and he then tries to force himself on her. She, of course, turns him down. Rejected, he soon enlists in the Marines and ends up being deployed to Afghanistan, leaving a furious Ian who blames it all on Gillian.

Nah, that definitely wouldn’t have worked. Ian would have never had such an evil son. Then Jeremy told me he wasn’t a bad guy either, although he is still drawn to Gillian. After rescuing her when she nearly drowns, he competes with his father for her affection. This created a whole new subplot which became the second half of the book. Many readers tell me it was their favorite part of the story.

The end of the story was fairly close to what was in the original treatment. Now I can’t tell you that because it would spoil it for the those who haven’t yet read the novel. Suffice to say that it all works out, and Gillian ends up with the right guy.

Marina Martindale

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A Halloween Excerpt from “The Reunion”

Front cover from The Reunion featuring two lovers.

In honor of Halloween, I’m sharing a Halloween excerpt from the pages of The Reunion. Leading lady Gillian has been invited to participate in a haunted hayride. While she’s there, she’ll confide in a stranger. Or so he seems. Please enjoy this sample from The Reunion and have a safe, and happy, Halloween.


MM

a Halloween excerpt from The Reunion

Gillian was warming herself at the heater when she heard someone walking up behind her. She turned around to discover she’d been joined by someone in a Grim Reaper costume. Whoever it was seemed to be staring at her.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said. Gillian noticed he had a raspy voice. “I was told I’d be working with a blonde lady.”

“Well, I was a blonde until a few weeks ago. Now I’m a redhead. The name’s Gillian, by the way.” She extended her hand.

“John. Pleased to meet you.”

They shook hands. John explained that he was one of the locals, and he seemed to be curious about her. The sound of clopping hooves, nervous laughter and chatter told them the first wagon was approaching. Gillian pulled up her hood. At John’s cue she ran up to the wagon, calling for help, while he chased after her. Their brief performance brought startled screams from the passengers. The wagon rolled on and they returned to the heater.

“So why would a blonde lady want to become a redhead?”

“It’s a long story. Let’s just say I’m celebrating a new lease on life. The old me was the blonde, the new me is a redhead.”

As they were talking she caught a whiff of something familiar. It was the cologne that Ian always wore. The scent was a distraction. She had reminded herself that it was a popular brand and other men used it too. John became quiet. A short time later another hay wagon came by and they repeated their scary performance in the dark maze. After the wagon left, Jeremy came by to check on her.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“So far, so good. Wait a minute, Jer. It looks like you’ve got a little smudge. Let me fix it for you.” He leaned down as she removed one of her gloves and gave him a quick touch up. “There, that’s better.” 

“Thanks.” Jeremy wrapped the reins around the saddle horn and reached down with both hands to pull her hood up. “You need to keep this on so you can stay warm. I don’t want you catching cold.”

“Got it. Thanks, Jer.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll come back a little later to check on you again.”

Jeremy rode away. Gillian turned back and noticed John watching her intently. It was starting to make her feel uncomfortable.

“I take it he’s your significant other,” he finally said.

“Actually, he’s my best friend. Probably the best friend I’ve ever had.”

“How so?”

Despite her growing discomfort with his questions, something deep inside told her John was trustworthy. She decided to follow her instincts.

“It’s a long, complicated story. I’ll just sum it up by saying I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now if it wasn’t for him. That man literally saved my life not too long ago. I don’t remember it, but I’m told I fell into some water and nearly drowned. He’s the one who rescued me.”

“I see.”

“You know, it’s kind of ironic. Here I am talking to you, dressed up as The Grim Reaper, when I’ve met the real thing.”

“Was it scary?”

“To tell you the truth, it really wasn’t, and it’s the only part of the entire incident that I can remember clearly. I was heading toward a light and I wasn’t planning on coming back.”

“Why not?”

Gillian sighed. “I’d just lost the love of my life. I had no reason to remain here and I wanted to cross over. Then I thought I heard my friend, Jeremy, calling me. The next thing I knew I was back at my backyard pool, only I wasn’t in the water. Somehow, I was suspended over it. Jeremy was in the pool and he was holding a body in his arms, which I knew had to be mine. I saw his face. He had a look of shock, guilt and sorrow. He was shouting at me to stay with him. I knew, right then and there, that if I didn’t come back it would destroy his life, so I had no choice. I had to come back, even though I didn’t want to. I watched him lay my body out on the deck, and then I felt something like a tug. The next thing I knew he was rushing me to the hospital. That’s why I’m still here.”

She started smelling the cologne again and she looked at him more closely. The costume he wore didn’t reveal much about him. He was wearing a full mask, with a robe and hood, and he appeared to be bundled up underneath it. A strange thought crossed her mind, but it couldn’t be. Larry said his father was spending the day in Fort Collins with friends. John remained silent for several minutes. Finally, he found his voice.

“Well… Gillian, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Gillian, your life is a precious gift. It’s something that you must never, ever take for granted. You may think you came back for your friend, but that’s not the reason why you’re still here. You’re here because your life is far from over, and you’re meant to be here. I’m sure your family and friends, and your true love, are elated that you’re still with them. And who knows, maybe your true love will return to you someday.”

“Thank you, John. I appreciate your insight, but as far as my true love goes, I’m sorry to say that some things just aren’t meant to be. Nice thought, though.”

“Never say never.”

The hay wagons returned several more times, but for the remainder of the evening, John said very little. Gillian was relieved when she finally heard the sound of Jeremy’s approaching horse.

“That was the last one,” he said as he rode into her section of the maze. “Are you ready to go, my dear?” Jeremy extended his hand and helped Gillian get back up behind him. She wrapped her arms tightly around his waist.

“Good night, John. It was nice meeting you.”

John waved goodbye as the horse cantered away. He listened to the sound of the fading hoof beats. Once they were gone, he reached up, pulled down his hood and removed his mask. He heard his cell phone going off in his pocket.

“Is she still there?” asked the woman on the other end of the call.

“Jeremy just picked her up. Thanks, Laura. I owe you one.”

He disconnected his phone and looked down the maze. Gillian and Jeremy were probably already halfway back to St. Eligius.

“My God, Gilly-girl, what have I done to you?”

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You Novel Writers are Evil

That’s a fellow author said to me the other day. Of course, she didn’t mean it literally, although she had a point. Some of the things we novel writers do to our characters is just plain mean. Then again, some of those characters have it coming.


I was telling her about Scott, an antagonist in The Deception. Scott isn’t the nicest guy on the planet. He’s a married man who puts himself out as a single guy, and his actions have hurt a lot of people, especially Carrie, my leading lady. Once she and her friends realize Scott’s stories aren’t adding up she ditches him. I planned on writing him out of the story at that point, but then someone else told me, no, I couldn’t just write him off so quickly. Readers would expect him to be punished for what he did, and they’d be disappointed if he were able to simply walk away. So, I took the advice.

Scott is later arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and he gets his comeuppance in the form of a humiliating strip search. I told my fellow author how I went online and read testimonials by real people who’ve had this experience, and I based Scott’s story on those real-life accounts. That’s when she looked at me and said, “You novel writer’s are evil.”

Well, what can I say? She wrote a memoir. I write fiction.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Jason Matthews, the Deadly villain in The Reunion

A man in his black cowboy hat tips it with his fingers to say hello.
Photo by Fotolia

Jason Matthews is one of the antagonists you meet in The Reunion. He’s never actually seen, but his presence is most certainly felt, and he has a major impact on the story.

Gillian, the female lead, has a history of getting involved with the wrong men. An artist by profession, she tells leading man Ian her story of visiting Tombstone, Arizona, to do some research after being commissioned to do a series of paintings about the Old West. While in Tombstone, she happened to meet Jason, a bartender and street performer. Handsome and charming, Gillian asked Jason to model for the paintings. He not only accepted her offer, he swept her off her feet, and Gillian believed she’d finally found her true love. The two eloped a short time later.

Unfortunately, Gillian’s happiness with Jason would be short lived. Instead of being the man of her dreams, Jason became her worst nightmare. She eventually divorced him, and because they had no children, she believes he’s in the past. Nightmares, however, sometimes have a way of recurring. Gillian’s worst nightmare will suddenly come back to life when she learns that Jason has murdered his current wife. He’s now on the run, and the authorities believe he’s looking for her. What makes the character even more sinister is the fact that he’s lurking, but never actually seen, leaving both Gillian,and Ian to wonder where and when he will finally strike.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Carrie Daniels, Leading Lady in The Deception

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

I wanted Carrie Daniels, the lead character in my romance novel, The Deception, to have a girl-next-door quality. Judging by the comments I’m receiving from reviewers, I must have hit my mark.

A freelance photographer and former child model, Carrie’s entire world is about to come crumbling down. Three years earlier her mother suffered a debilitating stroke, and Carrie went from riches-to-rags once her mother’s insurance ran out. Her financial calamity, however, is only the beginning of her problems. Her significant other is about to dump her. Once that happens, she’ll be left homeless and vulnerable as her former mentor seizes the opportunity to exploit her for her own selfish gains.

Carrie experiences both sides of infidelity. First she’ll learn that significant other has been unfaithful to her. She’ll then meet Scott, a married man who presents himself to her as single and available. Carrie leaves the relationship once she realizes things aren’t adding up, but by then it will be too late as Scott’s wife seeks revenge. Yet despite her troubles, Carrie remains resilient as she tries to make the best of what she can. She’s the kind of character you can root for; sweet on the outside, but strong on the inside.

Carrie is a mostly fictitious character. While I didn’t model her after anyone in particular, although I’ve put a little of myself into her. Photography is one of my life’s passions, and, in my younger days, I dreamed of being a model.

Marina Martindale

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Sweet, Sensual or Erotic Romance?

Photo of a woman's legs.
Photo by Fotolia.

Within the romance genre there are three distinct sub-genres.

  • Sweet Romance
  • Sensual Romance
  • Erotic Romance or Erotica

Sweet Romance is squeaky clean. There is no sex. All passion is expressed through kissing, hand holding and perhaps brushing a hand along a face.

Sensual Romance includes a few sex scenes. However, the language typically isn’t harsh and the scenes usually aren’t described in an overtly graphic way. The emphasis is on the character’s emotions. The scenes are included so they can consummate their relationship, however, the plot line doesn’t revolve around the sex scenes. Oftentimes there are only a few such scenes throughout the story.

Erotic Romance is all about the sex. The descriptions can be quite graphic. The story may include variations such as threesomes, orgies or bondage. The story isn’t about two people falling in love. It’s about the characters having sex and plenty of it.

Why I write sensual romance

I write sensual romance. To me, it’s the most logical choice. It’s the romance genre I enjoy reading, and it’s also what most readers expect. My lead characters make love, but only after they’re emotionally invested in the relationship. Once their relationship is consummated, I usually won’t write another sex scene because it would be redundant. I instead use foreplay or pillow talk. 

From time to time, however, a leading man or lady gets involved with the wrong person. This usually happens early in the story, and it happens before the two lead characters have begun their relationship. On those occasions I may approach the sex scenes a little differently.

For example, in my upcoming novel The Deception, Carrie, the female lead, has just ended a long-term relationship. She then meets Scott, who isn’t who he appears to be. Scott knows Carrie is emotionally vulnerable so he takes advantage of her. Because Scott is a one of the villains in the story, the sex scenes between him and Carrie are a little racier, but even then, my sex scenes aren’t overly graphic. I’m more interested in what the characters are feeling during the scene. Alex, leading man, doesn’t come on the scene until after Carrie’s relationship with Scott has ended. The one thing I won’t do is have my protagonists bed hopping.

If you’re looking for sweet, squeaky-clean romance I’m afraid you won’t find it in my books. However, if you’re looking for a believable story that will leave you feeling satisfied as a reader, I’ll think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Ryan Knight, a Despicable Villain in The Reunion

A young man with blonde hair in front of a light background.
Photo by Fololia

You know, creating despicable villains really is too much fun. Ryan Knight from The Reunion is a great example. He certainly got my editor’s, and my proofreader’s, dander up.

Ryan only appears in the flashback chapters, but he makes an impact. Ryan is a college student about to graduate and embark on his career as an architect. He and the young  Gillian have been dating for the past couple of years, but their relationship has become strained. Ryan is putting in a lot of overtime in the architecture building. He says he’s working late on class projects. Gillian, however, has her doubts.

A few days after his graduation, Ryan asks Gillian to stop by his apartment. He has news he wants to share with her. Gillian believes he’s going to propose to her, but Ryan’s idea of a proposal is the last thing she expectes.

Ryan was based on several real life men I’ve known; my ex-husband, a moody ex-boyfriend, and a good friend’s ex-husband. With a cocktail like that, you know you’ll have a real monster on your hands.

My editor commented that Ryan was, “a bit mental.” I also worried that my proofreader would quit on me. Ryan had certainly made her angry. So much so that I had to keep reassuring her that he only appeared in the flashback chapters. He would make his exit in chapter six. After that, his name would rarely be mentioned. Thankfully, she stayed on board.

I’ll conclude by saying that in fiction, conflict creates the drama, and Ryan certainly knows how to create some conflict.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Gillian Matthews

leading lady in THE REUNION

A smiling woman with long blonde hair.
© Can Stock Photo / photography33

Gillian Matthews, the female lead in my romance novel, The Reunion, has had a successful career as an artist and a little fame to go along with it. Her personal life, however, has been a disappointment. She has a knack for getting involved with the wrong men. That will change when travels to Denver for a gallery opening, and man from her past will suddenly reappears.

 Ian Palmer is the one man she never got over. They soon resume their relationship, but her world will shatter once again when something unexpected occurs behind the scenes. She’ll later become the object of affection from a new, and much younger man, while Ian attempts to win her back for a third time.

Gillian is based on a real person. Me. I was a graphic designer before I became a writer, and we’ll just say that my personal life given me some great fodder to work with.

Marina Martindale

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