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

Sweet Sensual or Erotic Romance?

 
© Can Stock Photo / songbird839

The romance genre, including contemporary romance, has different sub-genres. They are:

  • 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. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG.

Sensual Romance includes a few sex scenes. They are used to enhance the plot, but unlike erotica, there is no harsh language. The descriptions are not overtly graphic. The emphasis is on the character’s emotions as they consummate their relationship, but unlike erotica, the plot line doesn’t revolve around the sex scenes. Most of the action takes place outside of the bedroom. 

Erotic Romance is all about the sex. The descriptions can be quite graphic. It may include variations such as threesomes, orgies or bondage. The story really 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 contemporary romance because it’s the sub-genre I enjoy reading, and it’s what today’s readers expect. My lead characters make love once they’re emotionally invested in the relationship. Then, once their relationship is consummated, I typically don’t write another sex scene because it would be redundant. The only exception would be if the characters have been separated for an extended period of time and are reestablishing their relationship.

From time to time, however, a character becomes involved with the wrong person for the wrong reasons. Typically, this happens early in the story, before the two lead characters have begun their relationship. On those occasions I may approach the sex scenes a little differently.

For example, The Deception,  begins with Carrie’s  long-term relationship ending unexpectedly. A short time later she meets Scott. He knows Carrie is emotionally vulnerable, so he uses it to his advantage. 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, the scenes aren’t overly graphic. I’m more interested in what the characters are feeling in the moment. 

If you’re looking for sweet, squeaky-clean romance I’m afraid you won’t find it in any of the contemporary romance novels I write. However, if you’re looking for a believable story that will leave you feeling satisfied as a reader, I hope you’ll consider giving one of my books a read.

Marina Martindale

Update: The Deception is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Meet Ryan Knight

the villain who almost made my proofreader quit
© Can Stock Photo/ curaphotography

Creating despicable villains is a lot of fun. It’s one my favorite parts of novel writing. These villains do all kinds of outrageous things, making them the characters readers love to hate. However, there are times when it can be too much fun. Take Ryan Knight, from my contemporary romance novel,  The Reunion. Ryan’s appearance in the story is brief. He’s only seen in the flashback chapters. His actions, however, made an impact.

Ryan is a college student who’s about to graduate and embark on his career as an architect. He and the young  Gillian have been dating for two years, but their relationship has become strained. Ryan has been putting in a lot of overtime. He says he’s working late on class projects, but Gillian has her doubts.

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

How my team reacted to Ryan

My editor commented that Ryan was, “a bit mental.” Yes, he certainly was. Her remarks confirmed that I had done my job well. Unfortunately, I may have done my job too well, because I thought my proofreader would quit. Ryan had made her truly angry. She told me the story of how she spent a Sunday morning in her apartment complex laundry room, going over the manuscript as she waited for her clothes to wash. As luck would have it, she was proofing one of the Ryan chapters, and he made her so angry that she started cussing in out. In the laundry room. If front of her neighbors, who had no idea what she was raving about.

From this point on I had to keep reassuring her that Ryan only appeared four chapters. That was it. He would make his exit in chapter six. After that, his name would rarely be mentioned. Thankfully, she stayed on board.

Three real-life men were the inspiration for Ryan. My ex-husband, a moody ex-boyfriend, and a good friend’s ex-husband. None were known for their virtue.

I loved working with Delores. While she may have hated Ryan, she gave me good insight for other parts of my story. She was the office manager at the repair shop where I got my car serviced, but by the time I started working on my next contemporary romance novel she had moved on, and, unfortunately,  my only contact info was her work email address. 

Marina Martindale

Meet Gillian Matthews

lead character in THE REUNION

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

Gillian Matthews, a 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. This 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. As the story progresses, Gillian will 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 I’ve often wondered what would have happened had I made different choices. So, I created Gillian as an opportunity to imagine the possibilities of what could have been.

Marina Martindale

 

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