No Covid Here

A few people have asked me if I’ll be writing about Covid-19 in any of my future contemporary romance novels. My answer is no, absolutely not.

This isn’t to say pandemics can’t be good subject matter for a novel. For some genres, such as science fiction, mystery, or thrillers, an epidemic can make for an interesting story with plenty of conflict and drama. (I read The Stand, and loved it.) However, I write contemporary romance. My characters are hugging, kissing and making love, which would be rather awkward in the age of social distancing. Erotica writers on the other hand might have fun writing, shall we say, interesting, scenes about masks or Zoom sessions, but I write sensual romance, which means most of the action in my stories takes place outside of the bedroom.

In the meantime I spent much of my time during the lockdown going over my earlier books, and, as a result, you’ll be seeing a spin off novel from The Betrayal. One of the minor characters in The Betrayal was a teenager named Tonya Claiborne. She appears in the latter part of the story, and she’s a strong character with a lot of potential for a leading role. I wrote The Betrayal in 2015, so you’ll be meeting an adult Tonya in the new book, which will most likely be titled The Diversion. The young Tonya was self confident but likeable, so we’ll see what she does when life throws her curveball and she goes off course. I had planned on The Rival being my next book, but I’m bumping it back until after The Diversion. So, it looks like I’m going to be busy for awhile.

In the meantime, in case you haven’t read The Betrayal, I’ve posted a free preview below.

Marina Martindale

Click here for a free preview.

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So Why Write Romance

© Can Stock Photo / yellowj

People sometimes ask me why I write contemporary romance as opposed to other genres, such as mystery or science fiction.

I write romance because we all have hopes and dreams and a desire to be happy. That happiness, however, often seems to elude us because of the choices we make, and how we relate to the people around us.

I create characters who are realistic and believable. My protagonists aren’t heroes. They make bad decisions and they’re left to deal with the fallout. Likewise some, but certainly not all, of my antagonists learn from their mistakes and they try to do better. Most, however, remain defiant until the bitter end. Either way, they too have to live with the consequences of their actions, and a few even pay the ultimate price for their sins.

The one thing you won’t find in my stories is gushy, gooey schmaltz. For those who like melodrama it’s out there, but that kind of storytelling isn’t my style. My inspiration comes from my own life experiences, and the stories others have told me. Readers feel the connection, and they in turn tell me how believable my stories are.

This is why I write romance. It’s the one genre where I can dig deeper into our relationships with the people around us and try to better understand the human experience.

Marina Martindale

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A New Scene for THE REUNION

A book cover featuring an illustration of a lady in a yellow dress.
Cover illustration by Wes Lowe.

Now that I’ve completed The Scandal, I’ve been doing a copy edit for my debut novel, The Reunion.

I wrote The Reunion back in 2011, and while it’s gotten four and five star reviews on Amazon, I’ve grown as a writer since then, and I want the writing style to be more consistent with my later work. A copy edit is when you make minor changes, as eliminating filler words or rephrasing a sentence. The story content remains the same. It just reads a little smoother.

I finally finished yesterday morning, or so I thought, because as I took a break to do some household chores a new scene suddenly played through my mind.

A new scene and an updated version

Without spoiling the plot, I’ll simply say that one of the antagonists, who appears about halfway through the story, is thwarted. However, this villain also did something illegal, and I never held her accountable for her actions. She simply disappeared once her plan failed, and, looking back, I realized it was a mistake. Doing something against the law is simply wrong, and the character, albeit a minor one, should have been held accountable. The new scene is a conversation between Gillian, one of the lead characters, and Paul her assistant, as they discuss the legal actions they intend to take against this antagonist. The scene ends with the reader feeling that their efforts will be successful, and it adds closure to the episode. The story then returns to the main conflict.

The rest of the story remains as is. The Reunion has been and always will be my favorite novel, as the inspiration from the story comes from someone I once knew, years ago, who has been and always will be near and dear to my heart.

The new, update version of The Reunion will be available soon.

Marina Martindale

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Revamping The Reunion

A book cover featuring an illustration of a lady in a yellow dress.
Cover illustration by Wes Lowe.

I like to go back and reread my earlier novels as believe it or not, I forget some of the details. While I’m there I might get ideas for a spin-off novel, or I may consider using a character in a future book. It’s also interesting, and occasionally nerve wracking, to see how much I’ve grown as a writer.

The Reunion was my first contemporary romance novel. Prior to that I’d written a cookbook and a series of children’s novelettes, (all under a different name), but The Reunion was my first real novel. It’s also the one nearest and dearest to my heart, as it’s based on someone I once knew. We went our separate ways years ago, and after I started writing books I began wondering what would happen if, by chance, he ever showed up at a book signing. I have no idea actually, but the scenario became the inspiration for The Reunion.

So, as I was wrapping up my latest novel, The Scandal, I grabbed an old copy of The Reunion and started reading, but instead of a happy trip down memory lane, all I saw were things I wanted to go back and edit. Apparently I really have improved as a writer. So much so that the work I was so proud of years ago now looks amateurish, at least to me. Cynthia, my editor, has become much more stringent as well. Granted, most people would never notice the wordiness here, or the choppy sentence there, but to me it’s like listening to sour notes. So, I’m going back and doing a tweak. I’m removing filler words, such as, “decided to,” along with bits of unnecessary narrative. You know, the stuff you won’t miss once it’s gone. The story, however, remains the same. Each and every chapter and scene is still there. They just read a little better.

By the way, I’ve written three spin-off novels from The Reunion. The Journey comes the closest to being a sequel. It’s about the same family, but with different lead characters and an unrelated storyline. The Betrayal and The Letter include minor characters from The Reunion, this time with bigger, more significant roles. Reunion leading lady Gillian also makes cameo appearances in both books.

Marina Martindale

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Rules for Dating a Writer

© Can Stock Photo / NicoletaIonescu

A few years ago I came across a Facebook meme a musician friend had posted about the rules for dating a musician. It was an interesting read. It made the point that a gig is not a date, and not to expect your boyfriend or girlfriend to give you their undivided attention as interacting with the public is part of their job.

For those of us who work in creative fields, whether it’s music, acting, fine arts such as painting, or writing books, public appearances come with the territory. Interacting with fans or followers is an important part of our job, and it’s imperative that we make a positive impression. We also work an unconventional job. We generally don’t work a normal 9 to 5 work week, and writers and artists in particular often work at home. In other words, while we have a lot to offer, and while we very much appreciate your love and support, we’re not your typical boyfriend or girlfriend.

By the way, most of these rules would also apply if you have a friend or a family member who’s an author or an artist.

Marina Martindale

the rules for dating a writer

  1. Writing is our passion. It is not a hobby.
  2. Authors and writers are often introverts. Please don’t mistake our quietness for conceit or arrogance.
  3. Writing is not a performance art. Please allow us the time and space to work on our craft.
  4. Please don’t quiz us about our works in progress. If we want you to know what we’re working on we’ll be happy to tell you about it.
  5. Never, ever look over our shoulders while we’re writing!
  6. A missed deadline can be a career killer. If we tell you we’re on a deadline it doesn’t mean we’re trying to avoid you. It means we’re on a deadline.
  7. Please don’t tell us about this great idea you have for a book unless you’re actually writing it.
  8. If we want your feedback we’ll ask you for it. If we don’t, then please don’t tell us what you think we should be writing.
  9. Please don’t ask us to make you into a character in one of our books.
  10. A book signing is for meeting fans and promoting our books. It’s not a place for you to hang out.
  11. Please don’t brag to your families, friends and coworkers about how you’re dating an author. We’re not trophies.
  12. Please don’t ask us for free copies of our books for your friends and coworkers.
  13. Never ask us how much money we made on our last book, or how many books we’ve sold, unless you want us to quiz you about how much money you job pays you.
  14. We work in an extremely competitive business and we can’t all be as famous Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Never confuse talent with fame.
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Some Books are Easier to Write than Others

© Can Stock Photo/novelo

Work on my upcoming contemporary 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?

The Scandal is set in Hollywood. Its lead character is a soap opera star. However, 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 character, 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. So, 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.

This is why a second edit is so vital. Not everyone will catch every error, and having an extra pair of eyes makes a big difference. As a result, 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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I Write the Books I Love to Read

An open book with magical stars coming out of it.
© Can Stock Photo / stillfx

I consider myself lucky have grown up in a house full of readers. Both of my parents enjoyed reading. Dinner table conversations were often about the books they were currently reading. They liked spy novels, but they also read mainstream fiction.

I loved horses when I was a kid. I must have read the entire black stallion series. Marguerite Henry, however, was my favorite author. I read Brighty of the Grand Canyon from cover to cover many times over. I also loved her Misty series. Beverly Cleary was another favorite. Beezus and Ramona are timeless.

I took English lit courses throughout high school. This introduced me to many different genres. Of course, some were more interesting than others. Oftentimes, however, my biggest challenge was putting the book down. Sometimes I wanted to keep going to the end, but I couldn’t get too far ahead of the rest of class.

As an adult, if you’ll pardon the pun, I fell in love with the romance genre. Like my parents, I also enjoyed mainstream fiction, so, from time to time, I borrowed one of their favorite novels. I think this is why my romance novels are somewhat similar to mainstream fiction. Authors such as Arthur Hailey and Peter Benchley must have influenced my writing.

I started writing novels because I wanted to write the books I’d enjoy reading. I wasn’t as concerned about how many books I would sell, or if I would become rich and famous, as I was about writing a story that I could fall in love with and lose myself in. In other words, it’s about the joy of storytelling, and I write out of my own love of reading. I figured if I wrote the books I would enjoy reading, then there would be others out there who would enjoy reading them too. Turns out, I was right. I’m getting some wonderful feedback from you, my readers, and I thank you for your support. It makes me happy to know that you are enjoying my books.

Marina Martindale

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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 contemporary romance 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

My readers have given me a lot of nice feedback about the characters in my contemporary romance novels, and I love them too. However, 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. They may not be as cunning as their human counterparts, but 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. 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.” 


Marina Martindale

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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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