A Thanksgiving Scene from Aquamarine

© Can Stock Photo/ gajdamak

It’s Tonya’s first Thanksgiving in Los Angeles. George will be spending the day watching football, while Tonya’s mother and stepfather have come to visit her. Tonya meets her parents at their motel, and they drive up to Santa Barbara to spend the day with Mike. As the turkey is cooking, the conversation takes an interesting turn.

An except from the contemporary romance novel Aquamarine

It had been years since Heather or Alberto had seen the ocean, so they stopped to take pictures as they made their way up the Pacific Coast Highway. Tonya’s spirits rose once they reached Santa Barbara and parked in front of a small, unassuming home in a quiet, residential neighborhood. Mike came out as they exited their vehicle, greeting Tonya with a big hug.

“Okay, that’s enough,” said Heather with a nervous grin.

“Sorry, Mom.” Tonya quickly made the introductions, but her mother looked a little star struck. The scent of roasting turkey filled the air as Mike invited them inside and told them to make themselves at home in the living room.

“Can I help you with anything?” asked Heather as she presented him with the pies.

“I’m good.”

Mike’s an amazing cook.” Tonya’s face beamed with pride as she spoke. “He learned how while he was working at his dad’s grill.”

“Yeah, but they also knew to not serve anything I prepared to the public.” He excused himself for a moment, but before stepping away he asked if they liked dogs.

“We love dogs,” said Heather.

“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Tonya grabbed the wine and followed Mike into the kitchen where he greeted her once again, but this time with a kiss.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Ms. Rose.” He was about to kiss her a second time when Bruno barked loudly from the patio. Both burst out laughing.

“Well, okay, I guess.” Mike opened the door and both dogs bounded inside, greeting Tonya with wagging tails while Mike grabbed a few sodas from the refrigerator. Heather still looked a little star struck when they returned to the living room, and she immediately focused her gaze on Tonya.

“So, now that we’re all here, I want to talk to you about something. I’ve been having dreams about your sister again, and she’s been saying some interesting things.”

“Like what?” asked Tonya.

“She says you need to let it go about Jesse and move on.”

“But I—“

“I’m just telling you what she said, and I feel the same, so maybe the dream came from my own subconscious. The point is, you’re an up-and-coming musician, and Jesse hosts a nationally syndicated talk radio show. I’m not saying you have to be a guest on his show, and frankly, I’d prefer you weren’t. I’m simply saying you could possibly run into him somewhere, and if it were to happen, you need to be gracious. Just give him a nod or a quick hello and go your merry way.”

“She’s right,” said Mike.

Heather turned to Mike. “I’ve had other dreams in which Annette tells me you have some sort of a plan to get Tonya away from George.”

A serious look came over his face. “As we all know, Tonya isn’t in a financial position to live on her own. However, I’ve offered her a room here, and she’s saving up her money so she can buy a dependable car. So once she has the means to travel to LA for her modeling gigs, we plan on making some changes.”

“What about your advance?” asked Heather.

“I won’t have the money until sometime next year.”

“I wanted to take her on tour with me,” said Mike, “I certainly could have used her on the viola, and it would have given her some nice exposure as well. However, George wants to remaster the album she did with Shawn, so they’ll be in the recording studio when I start the first leg of my tour.”

“Hold on. Time out.” Alberto looked at Tonya. “Have you signed any kind of agreement with him?”

“They’re still working on my contract, which my manager will sign for me as my representative.”

“Good to know, but I wasn’t talking about your record contract. I’m asking about the agreement for you to rent a room in George’s home. Did you sign any kind of lease?”

“No. It’s a verbal agreement only.”

Heather spoke up. “All I can tell you is whenever I have these kinds of dreams about your sister, she’s never wrong. She says Mickey will help you break free of George. I have no idea what it means, and it may be nothing more than a concerned mother’s worry.”

Tonya took a deep breath and swallowed hard. “So did Annette say anything else?”

“No. She just said you need let go of Jesse, and Mickey will help you with George.”

***

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com and other online booksellers.

Meet George Monroe

the manipulative villain from the contemporary romance novel Aquamarine
© Can Stock Photo/ ruivalesousa

When it comes to people to masking their real intentions, no one does it better than George Monroe. He’s the most diabolical villain I’ve created to date. In fact, he makes Craig Walker, from my romance novel, The Stalker, look like a choirboy in comparison, and Craig was so evil he even scared me.

George was born into the music business. Both of his parents were rock musicians, and his father started up Alicorn Records when he couldn’t land a recording contract. The label was a huge success in England, so when George became an adult, his father sent him to Los Angeles to start up Alicorn Records, U.S.A.

George is, in essence, the “casting couch” character I’d wanted to create with Calvin Michelson in The Scandal. However, the “Me Too” movement began when I was in the early planning stages for that particular romance novel. So, I had to change Cal from a sexual manipulator to a misunderstood man who is falsely accused of a serious wrongdoing. Mind you, I’m not complaining. It worked quite nicely.

George is a man who can never be satisfied with just one woman.  No, he doesn’t demand every female singer have sex with him to land a record contract. However, he has been known to take some aspiring women under his wing. When he does, he expects more than just a simple, “Thank you,” in return.

George just happens to be in the right place at the right time to meet Tonya Clairborne, a young music student who is working as a model to help pay for college. He sees a genuine talent in Tonya, so he offers to mentor her. Tonya eagerly accepts his offer, not realizing it will come at a very high price.

George is a completely fictional character. He’s not inspired by anyone I’ve actually known, thank goodness, although there are plenty of George’s out there.

Marina Martindale 

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com, and other online booksellers.

Meet Mickey Lee Janson

a lead character in Aquamarine
© Can Stock Photo / piedmont_photo

Mickey Lee Janson, also known as Mike Jablonski, was originally intended to be minor character in my contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine. However, like Jeremy Palmer, from The Reunion and The Journey, Mickey, or Mike, as he prefers to be called, had other ideas. Characters sometimes have minds of their own, and there are times when their ideas are actually better than the author’s. This was one of those times.

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Mike was an amateur musician who was managing his father’s bar and grill during the day, and singing and playing his guitar at night. He had no intention of becoming famous until his friends suggested he audition for a television talent competition. Mike went to the audition, but only to get his friends off his back. Much to his surprise, he was accepted. From there he made it to the finals, being voted off on the second to last show. However, it was enough. A talent scout from Alicorn Records offered him a recording contract, and Mike Jablonski became Mickey Lee Janson. 

Mike meets glamour model Tonya Claiborne when Tonya is hired to appear with him on an album cover. However, something unexpected will happen during that shoot, and it will change Mike’s and Tonya’s lives forever.

Mike’s original role in the story was intended to be brief. He would try, and fail, to free Tonya from a toxic relationship. She would eventually end up with  a minor character from an earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. However, as the story progressed, I really liked the way Mike was turning out. He had it in him to be much more than he was. My editor agreed. She also nixed the idea of bringing back the character from The Betrayal. Thus Mike became one of the lead characters.

Mike is a purely fictitious character. He isn’t based on anyone I know, nor is he based on any famous real-life musician, living or dead. His origination rests solely with me, the author.

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, and coming soon to Barnes&Noble.com, and other online booksellers. 

Home Sweet Texas Home

The view from my writing desk. Photo by Marina Martindale

I did it. I’m finally here, in my new home in Denton, Texas. I’m all unpacked and settled. In my last blog post, So Moving Right Along, I talked about my decision to sell my New Mexico home and move to the Dallas Fort Worth area. 

It was a long, hectic spring, to say the least. Buying a home, and selling a home, are quite time consuming. Especially in this crazy real estate market. First, I had to win a bidding war to get my new home. Then, when I returned to Las Cruces, I got to experience the other side when I put my home on the market.

It was, in a word, crazy. We were open for showings for three days, and seemed like hundreds of people were going through my house. I had sixteen offers in the end, with the winning bid coming in at sixty-thousand over my asking price. I kind you not. Sixty grand. Then came the fun of finding the right mover, packing, loading and unloading, and then unpacking. Unpacking definitely takes the longest. 

I love my new home. lt has a much bigger kitchen than my last home. I love cooking. Finally, I have enough counter space and cupboard space. I also have an extra bedroom. It’s my new guest room. Visitors will no longer have to sleep in my office.  

It took a few weeks to finish unpacking, and I’m still moving stuff around. However, my office is up and running, and I have a lovely view out the window. It sure beats my old office, where I had a nice view of the wall. I’ve also finished my newest contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine. I’m very happy with how it turned out. And, interesting enough, it too takes place in Denton, Texas. 

Did life just imitate art? 

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is available on Amazon

It’s What I Wanted to Write

but at the time I couldn’t
© Can Stock Photo/ Kudryashka

Aquamarine is, in some ways, the contemporary romance novel I wanted to write a few years ago, when I wrote The Scandal. The Scandal is the story of Lauren McAllen, a soap opera star who wants to break into the movies while Calvin Michaelson, the main antagonist, would live up to his nickname, Casting Couch Cal. Such was the story I intended to write.

They say timing is everything. Unfortunately, at the time I was formulating the storyline for The Scandal, the real-life Harvey Weinstein scandal made the headlines. It was simply too close to the story I had in mind, and I strive  to create original stories. Therefore, I had to make some changes. Cal would go from sexual manipulator to a man falsely accused of a serious wrongdoing. In the end, it turned out to be a good story. However, it wasn’t the story I originally had in mind.

What a difference a few years can make

Things had changed by the time The Scandal was released. The notorious Mr. Weinstein had been convicted, and the rest of the world had moved on. I had also revisited an earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. One of the supporting characters, a teenager named Tonya Claiborne, really stood out. She was strong and compelling and certainly worthy of having her own story. This became the inspiration for Aquamarine.

Every story needs a good antagonist. At long last, I had the opportunity to create the bad guy I wanted to create with Cal Michaelson. This time my antagonist is narcissistic, cunning, and manipulative, but on the surface he’s charming, charismatic, and seductive. Hopefully, he will be one of my most memorable villains ever. 

I really, truly love what I do. I put a lot of thought into the characters I create, and all those scoundrels make my job so much fun. Especially when they get their comeuppance. 

Marina Martindale

 

The Scandal is available on  Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

 

A Preview of Aquamarine

Tonya Claiborne is a young music student who plans on becoming a music teacher. Her well-to-do grandmother was helping her through college, but it all came to a sudden halt when her grandmother unexpectedly passed away. Determined to continue her education, new employment opportunity has come her way, but once Tonya accepts the offer her life will take another unexpected turn.  

A preview of Aquamarine by Marina Martindale

Tonya Claiborne scanned the room as she finished her guitar solo. Her college jazz ensemble was performing at a Dallas church, and so far everything had gone smoothly. She glanced at the music director, who nodded his head in approval. As the other musicians resumed playing Tonya turned her attention back to the audience. The blonde woman sitting in the front pew gave her another smile. She had been watching Tonya intently for some time. It began while Tonya was singing, “The Girl from Ipanema.”

The audience members were mostly family and friends of the student musicians, along with jazz enthusiasts from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Tonya wondered if perhaps she had met this woman before. She appeared to be friends with the woman sitting next to her, and both appeared to be enjoying the concert. Tonya shrugged it off and refocused her attention on her music. As the chords faded, the audience once again burst into applause.

Their director returned to the microphone. Their next song would be the final one for the evening. As he stepped aside they began playing, “Caravan.” The mystery woman whispered something to her friend as she nodded toward Tonya and took another photo of her. Her actions made Tonya even more curious. Once the concert was over, she would have to find out who this woman was.

The audience rose to their feet and gave them a standing ovation as they finished. The music director thanked everyone for coming and motioned for the ensemble to stand and take a bow. As the crowd disbursed some headed for the exits while others approached the musicians. Tonya looked toward the back of the room. A young man stood from his seat in the last row and made his way towered the front of the church while the woman in the front pew, along with her friend, walked up to one of the trombone players. He greeted Tonya with a quick kiss a moment later.

“Good job,” he said.

“Oh, Evan, you always say that.”

“Hey, just because I’m your fiance-to-be it doesn’t mean I can’t be your biggest fan too.”

“I know, and I love you for it.” She nodded toward the two women, who were still talking to the trombone player.

“I’m wondering who the lady in the blue sweater might be.”

“Which one?” He stepped back to get a better look.

“The one with the shoulder length blonde hair. She kept her eye on me for some time and she acted like she knew me. We must have crossed paths somewhere, but I can’t recall when.”

“Maybe she’s sizing you up,” Evan said jokingly. “But don’t worry. I can handle her if she tries to make trouble.”

“Thanks, Evan. I know I can always count on you.”

As if on cue, the woman walked up to Tonya and extended her hand. “I wanted to stop by and introduce myself. My name is Melissa Atkins. I’m here tonight with a friend whose nephew is also in the band.”

“Nice to meet you”

“Likewise, and at the risk of sounding too forward, I’m also with the Angela Carson Modeling Agency. The reason I was watching you so closely is because you have the perfect look to be a model. You’re tall and thin and your hair is gorgeous. I snapped a few photos of you with my phone, and you’re certainly photogenic. So, have you ever thought about modeling?”

Tonya brushed a strand of her long, dark hair away from her face. “Well, I’m certainly flattered, but to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it. I’m more focused on my music.”

“I see.” Melissa looked disappointed as she handed Tonya one of her business cards. “Well, you’re certainly a talented musician, and you’re going to a top-notch school, but we do a lot of print modeling here in Dallas, and it pays really well. If you think this is something you might be interested in doing to help with school, then please give me a call.”

***

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and other online booksellers. 

 

 

 

Aquamarine Book Cover

Once again, cover artist Wes Lowe has come up with an amazing illustration for the upcoming Marina Marindale contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine.

Aquamarine is a spin-off from an earlier Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, The  Betrayal. Seventeen-year-old Tonya Claiborne is the younger sister of Annette Claiborne. A minor character in The Betrayal, Tonya is smart, outspoken, and she has an uncanny ability to read people’s body language. We also learn that like her cousin, Emily, Tonya is an aspiring musician.

We meet an adult Tonya in Aquamarine.  She’s now a promising music student whose well-to-do grandmother was helping her pay for college. But when her grandmother unexpectedly passes away, Tonya’s world turns upside down. 

Aquamarine was a fun book to write, and I really liked the cast of characters. Look for Aquamarine in February, 2022.

Marina Martindale

And in case you haven’t read it yet, The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com

 

 

 

 

Meet Tonya Claiborne

a lead character in the contemporary romance novel Aquamarine
© Can Stock Photo/ 2mmedia

Tonya Claiborne was first introduced in my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.  She was the seventeen-year-old sister of Annette Claiborne, one of the antagonists, and I created her almost as an afterthought. Like her cousin, Emily, Tonya is an aspiring musician. She also has another talent; reading people’s body language.

While only a minor character in The Betrayal, Tonya nonetheless had a significant role. We’ll meet an adult Tonya in Aquamarine. A music major at The University of North Texas, Tonya looks forward to graduating the following year. She’s also in love with Evan, and they plan to marry once they graduate. However, things don’t always go as planned, and Tonya’s life is about to change in ways she could have never imagined.

Tonya is a purely fictional character. However, in my own life’s journey I’ve run across a few rare individuals who excelled at reading body language, and I was amazed at how accurately they perceived other people. It’s a skill I would have liked to have had myself.

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is currently available for the  Amazon Kindle. A paperback edition is coming soon.

White Roses and Aquamarines

© Can Stock Photo / vtupinamba

My latest contemporary romance novel is off to the editor. It’s the first book I’ve written since the pandemic started. The pandemic, particularly the lockdowns, took a terrible toll on creative people.

For most of 2020 I was simply unable to write, so I decided to go back and give my earlier novels a read, hoping it would motivate me. When I got to The Betrayal, I rediscovered a minor character with a lot of potential. Not only was she strong enough to become a lead character, she was also strong enough to motivate me to start writing again.

My story is Covid free. In fact, all my future contemporary romance novels will be Covid free. I did a little research on the topic. People do not want want to see Covid included in movies or television shows, so I highly doubt they want to read about it in novels. Very few novels were ever written about the Spanish Flu, and most were written a generation later, in the nineteen-thirties. They all ended up in the dustbin of history. I recently beta read a fellow author’s manuscript. His next novel is Covid free as well, so I think I may be onto something here.

I did, however, get a little stuck on the title. It was originally going to be called The Diversion. Then, as often happens, once I started writing, and the characters came to life, the story went in a different, and better, direction. The Diversion, however, no longer made sense as a title.  The lead characters are both musicians, and each has written a song. One song is called, Aquamarine. The other is The White Rose. While the songs may be fictitious, either title would make a dandy title for the book. If only I could decide which one to use.

So, when in doubt, let the readers decide. I took a poll in my newsletter. It resulted in a tie. Ugh! So, now it’s time to ask the Magic 8 ball, which in Internet land, is a random name picker.

And the winner is… Aquamarine. It will be available in early 2022.

Stay tuned.

Marina Martindale

P.S. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, simply scroll down to the bottom of the post and you’ll find a sign up form. Each month I giveaway a free book.

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.