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.”
People are genuinely curious about what I do. I often hear questions, such as are my books a series, and are my characters based on real people? Yes, some have been inspired from I’ve known. Protagonists Ian and Gillian in The Reunion are loosely based on real people.
So what do I mean when I say a character is inspired from a real person? Does it mean the character is a clone of that person, with a different name? The answer is no, they are not. They are based on my memories of people I’ve known. I use those memories as a template to create a unique and fictitious individual. Ian, for example, was based on an old college boyfriend. I incorporated some of his positive aspects into Ian, such as his desire to succeed. However, none of us are perfect, and my old boyfriend certainly had his faults too, but most of those characteristics were not part of Ian. Oddly enough, I’ve found some of his negative traits in antagonists in other stories, although I didn’t realize it until after the book was published. Funny how our minds work.
Whether inspired from a real-life person or not, each character I create is fictitious, and each is a unique individual in his or her own right. And I must be doing a good job. I’ve had some interesting feedback from my readers. Some truly hated my villians and were glad to see them get their comeuppance. Others shared their frustrations over protagonists making bad decisions. My all time favorite, however, came from a lady who told me she was reading one of my books in her apartment complex laundry room. One of the antagonists made her so mad she started cursing him out. Then she looked up and noticed other people were giving her strange looks. Her story was the highest compliment a reader could ever give me.
Sometimes life happens, and we writers get distracted. Such was the case with me this past January. My house was built in 1965. I purchased it in 2008. Someone did a not so lovely kitchen remodel in the 90s, and it really looked dull and dated. And while I loved the idea of a new kitchen, I wasn’t so gung ho on the idea of turning my home into a construction zone. So, I kept putting it off. And putting it off. But it had to be done, sooner or later.
So my kitchen went offline for most of January, with my appliances, dishes and cookware piled up in my dining room. And while I was able to do edits and revisions, I simply was unable to write. Funny how our minds work. When we’re under a lot of stress our creativity just goes.
Thankfully, all things come to an end, including a kitchen remodel. And the end result was well worth it. As I loaded my dishes and cookware into the new cabinetry it felt like I was moving into a new home. So now that it’s over I’m back at work on my latest novel, The Scandal, which I plan to release this summer. I’m also coming up with an idea for the novel after that. It’s good to be back.
I was an avid reader long before I ever dreamed of becoming an author, and I’ll always remember my mother giving me one of her books and telling me I had to read it. She said it was one of the best novels she had ever read. The book was The Shell Seekers. The author was Rosamunde Pilcher.
As soon as I started reading I was instantly pulled into the story and I couldn’t put it down. Such amazing, unforgettable characters. And even though it was a long book, I was sorry when the story finally came to its end. Since that time I’ve read other Rosamunde Pilcher novels, and all were amazing. She truly was a gifted storyteller, and she has been and always will be an inspiration to me as an author. She will truly be missed.
Now that the holidays are officially over I want to let you know about some exciting things are happening here in “Marina Land.”
I’m working hard on my next novel, The Scandal. It will be available later this year.
I’m also launching a newsletter, and I’ll be giving away a free Kindle edition of one of my books in each issue. All you have to do to enter is sign up for the newsletter and then open it when it arrives in your inbox. The sign up form is at the bottom of the page. Your information is safe and secure and will never be shared with a third party. You can also unsubscribe at any time.
Sometimes I’ll have one idea in mind for a character, but as I get into the story, the character has other ideas. Such was the case with Jeremy Palmer in The Reunion, and it happened again with Josh Ramsey in The Letter.
Young and ambitious, Josh is a financial planner by day, an artist by night. His goal is to retire young and devote himself full-time to his art. Like Jeremy, Josh was meant to an antagonist, but as the character came to life he turned out to be quite charming. I soon realized he had the potential to go much farther than originally planned. That’s when I really started liking him. So I created an aura of mystery about him. Whose side is he really on? Is he friend or foe? He’s actually a little of both, and his true intentions are revealed in an ending that was also far different than what I’d originally planned. That’s what makes writing fun. Those characters, and storylines, that don’t come out as planned. They come out much, much better.
Now, just so you know, Josh is a purely fictitious character and was not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life.
It’s been a challenging couple of weeks. My dear friend, and proofreader, Gloria Gray, suffered a serious stoke earlier this month, and, sadly, she has passed away from complications.
Gloria was my proofreader for The Stalker,and The Letter. She had been a proofreader for a newspaper for many years, and was a delight to work with. Gloria had an eagle eye when it came to finding typos, misspellings or wrong homonyms. She would also let me know if a paragraph seemed ambiguous or confusing so I could change the phrasing. We used to talk about the characters and the things they did. She really loved my books, and was one of my biggest fans. I talked with her a few times about my current book in progress, The Scandal. She was really looking forward to proofreading it.
Gloria and I also shared a love of music. In fact, we met through a mutual friend who is a jazz singer. Sometimes I’d take her with me to a few other friends’ gigs. She always enjoyed them.
People like Gloria don’t come along everyday. She had a good heart and she always had your back. She will most certainly be missed.
Don’t worry, Marina Martindale’s Musings will still be here. However I’ve started up a new photography blog.
Like writing, photography, is one of my life’s passions. Must be why some of my characters, like Carrie Daniels in The Deception, and Danny Woodruff, in The Letter are photographers as too. I’ve even shared a few of photos on this blog, so my new blog is for my photography. And don’t let the name fool you. I create things under different names. I hope you’ll go over and have a look.
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.