Can I Be in Your Book?

The things you should never ask a creative writer

They say there are certain things you should never ask an author or creative writer. One of them is, “Can I be a character in your book?”

For a time, however, this was a running joke between me and one of my friends. First, he dropped me an oh so subtle hint in my birthday card. Then, whenever we’d run into one another, he’d tease me and say, “Hey, can I be a character in your book?” I’d tease him back and reply, “Sure. How do you want to die?”

Oh, if you only knew

Here’s the real butt of of the joke. Some of my friends actually are in my contemporary romance novels, as they are inspiration for some of my characters. Ian, in The Reunion, is loosely based on an old college boyfriend. Lauren in The Scandal was inspired by a family member, and the idea for Craig in The Stalker came from someone harassing a friend on Facebook.

That said, my characters are all unique individuals. Each has their own distinct personality, including their own quirks. My protagonists aren’t perfect. They make their fair share of mistakes. Some of my antagonists are downright chilling. Others are good people who’ve made bad choices. But regardless of whether the character is inspired by a real person, or someone I created from scratch, all are believable, three-dimensional people who readers can connect to. 

So, did I ever put my friend in one of my books?

Well, sort of. There is a supporting character in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Diversion, who is somewhat similar to my real-life friend. Both are professional musicians, and both are serious about making careers in the music business. 

Marina Martindale

 

The Reunion, The Stalker, and The Scandal are available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com.

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I’m Going Back to Hollywood

© Can Stock Photo / PerseoMedusa

I’m going back to Hollywood for my next contemporary romance novel. This time my lead character is a musician whose dream is to become a recording star.

The Harvey Weinstein story broke while I was in the early planning stages for my last contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, which also takes place in Hollywood. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the real-life scandal really threw a wrench into my plans. My original intention was for my lead antagonist, studio head Calvin Michaelson, to be a sexual manipulator, but with the Weinstein scandal came the #Me Too movement. I keep politics out of my novels, and the last thing I wanted was for my book to become politicized. So, after many, many revisions and rewrites, Cal ended up becoming a redeemable character, and I had to place many of his negative traits into another antagonist, tabloid journalist Randy Hall

This time around things are different. Weinstein is now serving twenty-three years in the pen, as well he should be, and the #MeToo movement seems to have run its course. Now I can finally create the villain I wanted to create in The Scandal. His name is George Monroe. He’s a high-level executive with a record company, and he’s going to be like the devil incarnate. Charming, compassionate and caring on the outside, but underneath the mask is a manipulative control freak who micromanages the lives of those around him for his own narcissistic pleasure. The working title is, The Diversion, although it may be subject to change. What I can tell you for certain is this is going to be fun write.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Randy Hall

the villainous antagonist in The Scandal
© Can Stock Photo/ yacobchuk

All stories have their antagonists, and in my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, Randy Hall is perhaps one of my most villainous characters to date. He’s the ex-husband of lead character Lauren McAllen, and his goal is to destroy her at all costs.

Randy and Lauren had a dream marriage until Randy developed an addiction disorder, leaving Lauren no alternative but to file for divorce once the marriage became toxic. Randy, however, doesn’t think he has a problem. He sees Lauren’s departure as abandonment, and, in Lauren’s words, “no one dumps Randy Hall and gets away with it.” As the story unfolds Lauren is unwittingly caught up in a major Hollywood scandal, which Randy skillfully uses as a weapon to wreak havoc on her life and her career.

Many of us have experienced relationships which started out well, only to unravel because, unknown to us at the time, the person we became involved with had an addiction disorder. Unfortunately, people with addictions don’t come with warning labels, and addicts are oftentimes masters at hiding their addictions until it becomes too late. Once the addiction becomes known some partners will end the relationship as quickly as possible, while others may go into their own form of denial, believing they can change the addict. It’s a great romantic fairytale, but one I will never write about, because the reality is that the only person who can change the addict is the addict him or herself. In the real world the so-called helpful partner becomes the enabler who reinforces the addiction, and the relationship typically doesn’t end well.

Randy is a composite character whose inspiration comes from a few men I’ve known in the past who, sadly, turned out to have addictive disorders. Thankfully, none were as toxic as Randy, and none of the relationships lasted long.

Marina Martindale

The Scandal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

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Meet Calvin Michaelson

the villain turned hero in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo/ corolanty

Sometimes life imitates art. The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke shortly after I had decided to write a contemporary romance novel about Hollywood. This created an unexpected challenge as I strive to create unique, original characters. Therefore, I would have to make a point of not having a character with too close of a resemblance to Mr. Weinstein. Enter Calvin Michaelson, a Hollywood mogul and the catalyst for The Scandal.

I’d originally envisioned Cal as a predator, but because of the Weinstein scandal I decided to make him similar to Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, it came out way too creepy for my taste. I wrote a couple of revisions, but Cal remained too creepy. Novel writing, like other endeavours, doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes what sounds good in a treatment, or the story summary, simply doesn’t work once pen is put to paper, as was certainly the case here. The character would have to be completely reinvented. So, after much thought, Cal went from a creepy predator to a Hugh Hefner like playboy. He’s a womanizer who makes no apologies for who he is. Unfortunately, like many of his real-life counterparts, Cal will become his own undoing and he soon finds himself in the middle of scandal that rocks Hollywood. Later on, Cal will become an unlikely hero, and readers will discover a hidden side to this complex character.

Calvin Michaelson is a purely fictional character. His inspiration comes from powerful men who thought they were too big to fall and thus became their own undoing.

Marina Martindale

The Scandal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com. To read a free sample please click here
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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 my latest contemporary romance novel,  The Scandal, I’ve been doing a copy edit for my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion.

I wrote The Reunion back in 2011, and it’s gotten four and five star reviews on Amazon. However, 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, such 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 did something illegal, and I never held her accountable for her actions. She simply disappeared once her plan failed. Looking back, I realized not addressing this 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 contemporary romance 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.

Marina Martindale

The Reunion is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.
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Yikes! I’ve Created Another Sexy Villain

© Can Stock Photo / Ostill

Ask any fiction author. They’ll tell you characters have minds of their own. Believe me, I have experienced this phenomenon many times myself. There’ve been many times when a character came out differently than planned, and it’s always been for the better.


Villains in particular have a certain quality about them. They’re typically more complex, more charismatic and, for lack of a better word, sexy. Jeremy Palmer in my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion was the first. Originally intended to be a rogue character who would do his dirty deed and disappear, Jeremy ended up having a special charisma. He went from being a rouge to becoming a rival who would compete with his father to win Gillian’s affections. Josh Ramsey in my later contemporary romance novel, The Letter was intended to be a conman. Then the chemistry between him and Stephanie unexpectedly sizzled. So I revamped him into a mystery man.


I strive to make my villains as despicable as I can. There’s nothing more fun than seeing a villain we love to hate get their comeuppance. Some of my more dastardly villains include Scott Andrews in my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. Scott was a married man presenting himself as a single man to entice unsuspecting single women. Then there’s Beau Fowler, the corrupt detective in The Betrayal. He tried to frame an innocent woman for a crime she didn’t commit. And finally, there’s Craig Walker, the sociopathic villain in The Stalker. He’ll resort to kidnapping and murder to get what he wants. 


Now it’s happening again. This time it’s Calvin Michaelson, in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal. Cal’s a Hollywood mogul with a reputation as a playboy. Intended to be a despicable villain for readers to hate, his character became more dynamic than expected. He too is being revamped. He’ll still be a playboy, but at the end of the story a new and completely unexpected side to Cal will be revealed. 

Marina Martindale

Update

The Scandal is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

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How I Create my Characters

 
Photo by Gayle Martin
And are they based on real people?

When I tell people I write contemporary romance novels they’re genuinely curious about what I do. They ask a lot of questions such as, are my books a series? No, they are not. Are my characters based on real people? Sometimes. Ian and Gillian in The Reunion are loosely based on people I’ve known.

Gillian in particular is based on someone I know really well. Me. I really was an art major in college. Some of my work has been in juried art shows. I also thought about buying an art gallery, but couldn’t get the funding. I’ll never know for certain what my life may have been had I made different choices, but Gillian was a wonderful opportunity to play what if.

Ian was loosely based on an old college boyfriend. I incorporated some of his positive traits into Ian, such as his desire to succeed. However, none of us are perfect. My old boyfriend certainly had his faults too, but most of those characteristics were not part of Ian. Oddly enough, I later found some of his negative traits in antagonists in other stories, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Funny how our minds work.

Whether inspired from a real-life person or not, each character is fictitious and unique individual. I must be doing a good job as I’ve had some interesting feedback from readers. Some truly hated my villians and were glad to see them get their comeuppance. Others shared their frustrations over the protagonists making bad decisions. My all time favorite, however, came from my proofreader, who was reading The Reunion in her apartment complex laundry room. She said one of the antagonists, Ryan Knight, 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 anyone could ever give me.


Marina Martindale

 

The Reunion is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

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Meet Josh Ramsey

the mystery man in The Letter

A handsome young man with blond hair.
© Can Stock Photo / curaphotography

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. Now it happened again with Josh Ramsey in my more recent contemporary romance novel, 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 far different than what I had originally planned. This is 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 not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life.


Marina Martindale

The Letter is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

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Meet Martha Morrison

A photo of a smiling woman typing on a computer.
© Can Stock Photo / zdenkamicka

the Antagonist in THE LETTER

Unlike most of my antagonists, Martha Morrison, from my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, isn’t an evil person. She is, however, extremely annoying. The kind of person who gets under your skin like a bad rash.

Martha only dated Danny for a few weeks. He told her upfront there would be no strings attached. Lonely and vulnerable, Martha ignored Danny’s conditions and latched onto him, believing he was the man she was destined to spend her life with. Unfortunately for Martha, Danny soon met Stephanie and ended his relationship with her. But even if Stephanie hadn’t come along, Danny had already decided to move on. 


Martha’s reaction to their breakup wasn’t what Danny expected. She’s convinced herself that Danny simply needs a timeout, and she fully supports him dating other women. In her mind, dating other women will prove to him, once and for all, that she’s the only woman for him, and she’s willing to wait for as long as it takes. In the meantime, she’ll stay in touch.

Martha begins sending Danny emails and text messages, but when a concerned family member finds out what she’s up to, Martha switches tactics. Handwritten love letters would eliminate an electronic paper trail. She also thinks they’re more romantic. Danny, however, has never responded to any of her messages. He thinks if he ignores her long enough she’ll get the message and move on. In the meantime, he’s keeping all of her cards and letters on file to build a case against her. This will, unfortunately, have serious unintended consequences for him.


Unlike like Craig Walker, Martha hasn’t set out to intentionally cause any harm. A desperately lonely woman, she’s afraid of being on her own, and unable to accept the fact that Danny isn’t love with her.


Martha is loosely based on a woman who dated a friend’s husband before he married my friend. The old girlfriend kept writing him love letters thinking he’d come back to her someday. Of course, he never did. 


Marina Martindale

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The Forgotten DECEPTION Chapter

The Deception front cover.

While waiting for my latest contemporary romance novel, The Letter, to come back from the editor, I decided to go back and give my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Deception, a read as the two stories are similar. However, as I was reading, I kept wondering where one of my scenes went. I recalled writing it, but I sure wasn’t seeing it. So, when in doubt, pull up the manuscript, and viola! There it was. Somehow, this chapter had been overlooked when the book was typeset, and I had managed to miss the error. Yikes!


In the missing chapter, one of the antagonists is arrested and carted off to jail. Thankfully, in a prior chapter, another character had come forward with enough evidence to guarantee a conviction. This meant it had already been established that the villainous antagonist would end up in jail for a very long time, so the story still worked. However, the missing chapter was a nice, you had it coming, moment for the reader. 

The new, revised edition of The Deception, includes the missing chapter. It’s now available for the Amazon Kindle, and update the print edition will be available soon.


Marina Martindale

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