Meet Alex Montoya

Leading Man in The Deception

A young man with curly blond hair.
© by Fotolia

Alex Montoya, the leading man in The Deception, has to be one of the most likable, and sexy, characters I’ve ever  created. He’s strong yet quirky and vulnerable at the same time. The American-born son of a Spanish immigrant father, Alex is American in every way. His father, however, still clings to Old World customs and traditions. This creates friction between them.


Alex and Carrie, the leading lady, have a friendship dating back to the fourth grade. They remained friends through high school, but drifted apart when they attended colleges on opposite ends of the country. Ten years later Carrie deeply regrets letting Alex go. After her identity is stolen, and she’s accused of a serious wrongdoing as a result, a friend arranges for her to meet with a bright young attorney who can help her. Much to her surprise, that bright, young attorney is none other than her long-lost best friend, Alex.


I created Alex in part as homage to a friend who was the first American born child of Italian immigrant parents. While proud of her heritage, she too sometimes found herself in conflict with her parents whenever they tried to impose their Old World expectations on her. His other inspiration comes from a real-life cousin who’s an attorney and dedicated family man. In fact, the book is dedicated to him. 


If I had to describe Alex in one word, it would be loyal. He’s the kind of man who’s willing to go the extra mile for the people he cares about, while not expecting anything in return. That’s what makes him such a positive role model.


MM

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It’s Jarring and It’s Life Shattering

and it can happen in an instant

A photo of large headstones under big trees.
Photo by Fotolia.

I’m starting to get some feedback on my latest novel, The Deception. For the most part it’s been good. There is, of course, some minor criticism here and there, but that’s to be expected. After all, none of us can please all readers all the time. One comment, however, was about the sudden end to one of the characters. The reader believed it was too jarring and too over the top.

Warning! Spoiler Alert!

One of the characters is killed in a traffic accident, and no, I don’t warn you about it. In the real world tragic events happen without warning, and for the victims or their survivors, life is never the same. It’s a reality I know all too well. About ten years ago I lost a young cousin to a car crash, and it was completely unexpected. One minute he was a healthy twenty-year-old man with his whole life ahead of him. The next minute he was gone forever. 

My decision to kill a character in a car accident may indeed seem over the top for some readers. Others, however, disagree. The character in question was an antagonist, so they felt vindicated. Her sudden end was also the direct result of her own actions.

Tragedy happens all too often. The point I’m making is to never take life for granted. It really can come to a sudden end, without warning.

Marina Martindale

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I’m Beginning to Scare Myself

An ink splatter.

I’ve had wonderful feedback on some of my antagonists, such as Ryan Knight in 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 I described her to a fellow author, but I had to stop myself in mid sentence and say, “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, the 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 Jason and Ryan in The Reunion, were 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. As a result, it’s made me wonder. Do I really have some deeply buried darker side?

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, and they 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

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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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The Two Kinds of Other Women

A graphic of red lips.

My inspiration for writing my 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 then happens to meet a seemingly nice man. He 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 thought he was single. But then, after she’s become seriously involved, she’ll find out he’s married.

When that happens, she’ll feel shocked and betrayed. However, she gets a double whammy. Everyone will side with the wife. And, just like in that psychic’s blog, everyone will condemn her for being the other woman. And if she says she didn’t know he was married, (and she honestly didn’t know), they’ll then 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 her, 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 is the story of a good woman who, unknowingly, becomes involved with a married man. A mutual friend has told her he’s single. And he’s led her to believe that he’s single. It doesn’t take long, however, for her to realize that thing aren’t adding up. She 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. The point I’m making with this book is to not to judge others too harshly. None of us are mind readers. And there really are people out there who lie and deceive others.

Marina Martindale

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Why My Books are Religiously Neutral

A graphic depicting a cross, a star of David, and a Hindu symbol.
Image by Fotolia.

Someone recently asked me an interesting question. Was my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion a Christian-oriented contemporary romance novel? I told her no, it was not. I want readers of all faiths and beliefs to enjoy my books. There are, however, other authors out there who write novels geared toward readers of their faith. For example, last year I met Mormon author at a book signing. She informed me, quite matter-of-factly, that her books were LDS romance books. She included the words, “LDS Romance,” in all the her subtitles. 

I’m pleased she has a faith that she believes strongly in, and if her religion enhances her life for the better then I’m all for it. However, from a marketing standpoint, she was limiting the scope of her readership to a very small percentage.

As someone who believes in a higher power, my characters are also believers, but none are churchgoers. I don’t want to endorse one religion over another. Any references made to God are generalized. Therefore, they are stated with phrases such as, “then we’ll all say a prayer that he’ll be be found soon, safe and sound.”

I admit to being more spiritual than religious. This means that while I believe in God, I don’t necessarily follow the dogma of any particular church. My parents weren’t churchgoers, so I didn’t attend Sunday school as a child. As an adult, I’ve found that whenever I joined a church, regardless of the denomination, I never stayed long because of the inevitable back-biting and politicking amongst the various members.

So there you have it. I have my own set of spiritual beliefs. However, I don’t use my books to proselytize or endorse any particular religion. I leave that to the theologians.

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

lead character in THE REUNION

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

Gillian Matthews, one of the lead characters in my contemporary 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. Gillian 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 Gillian’s 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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Meet Ian Palmer

a lead character in THE REUNION

(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / photography33

Ian Palmer first appears in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, as a middle-aged man. He has had a successful career as an architect, working his way to a top position with a large firm. His personal life, however, has been less than stellar. Ian married the wrong woman for the wrong reasons, and the marriage ended badly. Now his life is about to change. He has a second chance with Gillian, his long-lost love. However, his new-found happiness will soon be put to the test as Ian struggles to balance Gillian, parenthood, and his career, which is about to come to an unexpected and untimely end.

Ian also appears in the story as a young man. During the flashback chapters he’s an outgoing but ambitious college student who meets Gillian, the girlfriend of one of his classmates. The two quickly become friends. Later on, they will become more than friends. Unfortunately, Ian’s ambition and desire to succeed will be their undoing.

The inspiration for this younger Ian comes from someone I once knew, years ago. His real life inspiration really was an architecture student, and the scene where Ian and Gillian first meet is based on a real-life event. This is why Ian will always be one of my favorite characters. There are some people we simply never forget. Of course Ian Palmer wasn’t his real name, and the character has his own unique personality. All of my characters, whether they are inspired by real people or not, are unique individuals. That’s what makes creating them so much fun.

Marina Martindale

 
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