Colorado Bound

 

© Gayle Martin Photography.

Lauren has unwittingly been caught up in a major scandal that rocked Hollywood. Thinking her career is over, she plans to start a new life in Colorado, but Chuck wants to tell her goodbye before she leaves. Please enjoy this sample read from The Scandal.

A Reading Sample from The Scandal by Marina Martindale

 

Chuck looked at his phone and sighed. The call had dropped. Obviously, Lauren hadn’t found her charger quick enough. As he waited for her to call back, he wondered if he should offer to buy her dinner. Several anxious minutes passed, and he looked down at his phone.

“C’mon. Ring, why don’t you?”

He was about ready to give up when he received a text message from her tablet. She couldn’t find her charger but would call him the following night.

“Sorry Lauren, but you’re not getting away that easily. I’m going to see you in person so we can talk.” He quickly typed his response. She replied a minute later with the name of the hotel and her room number. Barney raised his head as Chuck stood from his chair.

“I’m going out for a little while,” he said, “but it won’t be late because I have to be up early tomorrow morning.” He gave the dog a quick pat on the head and hurried out. Twenty minutes later he arrived at the hotel. Knocking on Lauren’s door, Chuck greeted her with a smile as she answered.

“Your soda, Madame.” He looked her up and down as he stepped inside. “Well that’s certainly not what I expected.”

“I’m not Hayley,” she said with a grin. “I go for comfy, not sexy. Those teddies may have looked hot on camera, but they pinched in places I didn’t want pinched.”

Chuck felt his cheeks flush. “I had no idea you were being goosed by your costume. You never, ever let on. Not even for a moment.”

Lauren grinned. “It’s called acting, but trust me, I was gritting my teeth the entire time, and we won’t even discuss the drafts I was feeling. Now I’m forever grateful to never have to wear another teddy again.”

He felt a sudden twinge of disappointment as she pointed out the ice bucket.

“I made a run to the ice machine, but I’m afraid the only glassware I have are these lovely plastic hotel room cups.”

“They’ll do just fine.” Chuck quickly unwrapped them and dropped in some ice. Pouring the soda, he waited for the foam to bubble down before handing a cup to her.

“So, here’s to both of us coming to our senses and getting the hell out of this freaking town.” Both took a sip and sat down at the small table in the corner.

“So, Lauren, what made you change your mind?”

She gazed out the window at the city lights and her mood turned serious. “I think you already know the answer. My dream of stardom turned into my worst nightmare when I inadvertently took out one of the biggest power players in Hollywood.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

She looked him in the eye. “So everyone tells me, but nonetheless, I’ve been blackballed as a result. My phone hasn’t rung in weeks, not that I even care at this point. My heart’s no longer in it. I still feel the same as I did the day I shot my last salsa commercial.”

“I’m sorry, Lauren. I had no idea it had gotten this bad.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “Stuff happens, but hey, I’m still young. Maybe not by Hollywood standards, but certainly by the rest of the world’s standards. I have a degree in interior design, and before Hayley came along, I was working for a design firm in Pasadena. Other actors have left Hollywood to pursue other careers, and so can I.”

“Some have even said their lives were happier and more meaningful after they left.”

“Which is what I’m hoping for as well. So, what about you, Chuck?”

“It’s like I said that day on the beach. I grew up in the business, and everyone assumed I’d follow in my father’s footsteps, but it’s not the life I would have chosen for myself.”

“So what would you have done, had it been up to you?”

“You know, I’m honestly not sure,” he said. “I’ve been tinkering around with a couple of screenplays, and I’ve always envied the cinematographers because I love looking through a lens and figuring out what would be the most artistic shot. On the other hand, I might possibly be interested in directing independent films, the more offbeat, the better. The only thing I’m certain of is that I don’t want to do anymore rushed, talking head crap, but hey, I came here to talk about you, not me.”

“All I can tell you is I had an incredibly good run. I got to experience things most people never will, but now it’s over, so it’s time to move on.”

“Lauren, if it means anything to you, this whole incident has made everyone rethink the way they conduct business. Eric Conway is making some big changes and he’s rebuilding Cloudland from top to bottom.” Chuck noticed Lauren flinch as he spoke. The wounds still hadn’t healed. “So, I think you should focus more on where you want to go from here.”

“Actually, I’m still not sure. I’ve never been to Colorado, so I’m going to explore the place while I’m there, but I have no idea if I’ll stay or move on.”

Chuck’s heart sank. He would have to find a way to convince her to stay. “In that case, take your time and at least stay long enough to get to know it first. Then you can decide whether you want to move on or not.”

“All right. I can do that for a while. All I have is time right now.”

***

 

The Scandal is available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and with other online book sellers

I’m Having Conversations

with my imaginary friends
© Can Stock Photo/
khunaspix

Everyone who writes fiction understands how our characters seem to come to life as we’re writing. We start out with an idea of who we want them be, but before long, they’re telling us who they really are. It’s what makes novel writing fun. For me, it usually happens with antagonists. Some, like Craig in The Stalker, come out much darker than planned. Others, like Cal in The Scandal, love their bad boy image. Deep down, however, they have good hearts. 

Now just so you know, they don’t communicate verbally. There are no voices in my head. I think the best way to describe it would be to say they take control of my fingers as I type. Especially when I’m writing dialog. The conversation just flows out of my keyboard as I watch their personalities come through. It feels almost as if I’m channeling a real person from a different dimension. Of course, that’s not literally happening. I’m tapping into the part of my psyche where imagination lies, and what fascinates me the most is how the characters evolve into people who are entirely different than what my conscience mind had envisioned.

Marina Martindale

 

 

Writing Dialog

Photo of a lonely woman sitting in front of a pond.
© Can Stock Photo / Escander81
and experiencing my character’s emotions

One of my cousins was a soap opera actress who once told me how she experienced her characters’ emotions as she portrayed them. She said performing emotionally charged scenes often left her feeling drained.

I’ve found the same is true for me as a novel writer. With nearly every character I create, I experience their emotions as I write. Writing the dialog is what drives those emotions.

I’m currently working on my next contemporary romance novel, The Letter. Danny, a lead character, has a serious problem. Martha, a woman from his past, refuses to let him go. I’ve been building up to a major confrontation between the two for sometime. This past week I finally wrote the chapter where their conflict reaches its crescendo. I expected this scene to be fun to write. Martha has caused Danny a great deal of grief, so I wanted him to feel vindicated. However, as I wrote the dialog, I started feeling emotions I didn’t expect to feel.

Danny begins the conversation in a civil tone. He tells Martha he wants no further contact, but an obsessed Martha refuses to listen. As the scene plays out, Danny becomes increasingly frustrated. His tone becomes more harsh as he tries to get through to her. As his words became more harsh, I started feeling anxious myself. Harsh words, even when justified, can hurt like a fist. Some of the verbiage brought back bad memories of arguments I’ve had in my own past. By the time I finished writing the scene I felt as if I’d been sucker punched.

I planned on writing Martha out of the story after this scene, but now I think I’ll keep her around. She has a real knack for pissing people off, and talent like hers shouldn’t go to waste. While another antagonist will become the main focus for the remainder of the story, Martha will seek revenge on those who she thinks turned Danny against her.


Marina Martindale

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

Swearing About My Dialog

One of the challenges I face as contemporary romance author is writing believable dialog. This is especially true when the conflict has intensified. The characters are feeling the pressure. Those are the times when an, “oh my goodness gracious me,” simply won’t cut it. However, I don’t want to take it too far and risk offending my readers. I’m fully aware that some readers have limits about what language is and isn’t appropriate for them.

When necessary, my characters will say an occasional, “damn,” or “hell.” Oftentimes, it’s enough to make the point. There may be occasions when a character may exclaim, “son of a bitch.” This usually happens when they’re suddenly shocked or surprised. It can also happen when they’re referring to a male villain who’s done something outrageous. My villains aren’t meant to be nice. They’re supposed to make other characters angry, and dialog is the most effective way for them to express their anger. It’s also the kind of language we hear in real life when someone is angry.

There are, however, places where I draw the line. First and foremost is using the Lord’s name as a curse word. While I may not be overtly religious, I still believe in God, so to me, it’s disrespectful. This is why you’ll never hear any of my characters, not even the villains, saying the, “G-damn,” word, or using the names, “Jesus,” or “Christ,” as curse words.

The other word I won’t use is the “f-bomb.” Some readers simply find it too offensive. This can be tricky, as there are some situations when even a “what the hell,” may not be enough. On those occasions I’ll have another character interrupt just in time. That way the word is implied, but not actually said.

I realize there are some folks out there who may even find the word, “damn,” offensive, but I simply can’t be all things to all readers. I’m also the first to admit that my novels aren’t for everyone. I write sensual romance, which includes some bedroom scenes, along with believable characters who speak the way real people speak. 


Marina Martindale

Would a Guy Really Say That?

An attractive young man leaning against a wall.
© Can Stock Photo / javiindy

The differences between men and women are more than just physical. A woman’s psyche is also different from a man’s. A challenge I face as a contemporary romance author is writing a male character’s dialog. I’m always having to stop and ask myself, would a guy really say that?

Years ago I read a book called, Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus. And while I can’t recall all of the details, I do remember it talked extensively about how men are more analytical, and women are more emotional. This doesn’t mean one sex is superior to the other. It simply means that men and woman think differently. So, I’ve modeled my male characters accordingly. The female characters will talk openly about their relationships, while the men are more prone to retreat to their man caves.

Jeremy Palmer, a character from two of my contemporary romance novels,  The Reunion, and The Journey is particularly known to do this. The challenge for me is when I have to have a male character discussing his relationship. I am, after all, writing contemporary romance. The main focus of the story is interpersonal relationships. So do men really talk about things like this?

One way I’ve handled it by having a male character confide in a female character. In my contemporary romance novel,  The Deception, Steve, a supporting character, talks to his fiancee about his concerns over Alex’s relationship with Carrie.

an excerpt from The Deception.

“Is something wrong, Steve?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“What is it?”

“Alex and Carrie. C’mon, you saw it. They’ve become much too emotionally attached to one another.”

“They go way back,” she said.

“No, there’s more to it than that. He’s fallen for her. Hard. Really, really hard.”

“Is that such a bad thing?”

“In itself, no. They’re two of my favorite people and under normal circumstances I’d be happy for both of them, but their situation isn’t normal. He’s representing her in a civil case and he’s losing his objectivity.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he said, matter-of-factly.

***

This time, in another excerpt from The Deception, the conversation is between two men. I let them get to the point, as quickly as possible. They then discuss a solution. Had this scene been between two female characters more time would have been spent discussing their feelings

another excerpt from The Deception

Steve looked up when he heard someone tapping at his door. “Hey, Alex. What’s up?”

“I need to talk to you about something.”

“Of course. Come on in.”

Alex stepped inside, closed the door behind him, and pulled up a chair. He let out a sigh as he sat down.
 
“Are you all right, Alex? You look pretty serious.”
 
“I’m afraid your boy wonder has turned himself into boy blunder.”
 
Steve looked closer at Alex’s face. “You’ve slept with her, haven’t you?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
“Well now, that explains the happy glow.”
 
“Oh very funny.” There was a hint of sarcasm in Alex’s voice.
 
“Well, buddy, I can’t say I’m surprised. I saw this coming the day we all drove up to Flagstaff for her mother’s funeral. So, you know what happens next, don’t you?”
 
“Yeah, I do. I’ll have to recuse myself from her case.”
 
“It’s for the best for everyone involved, Alex. Even if you hadn’t taken it to that level, I’ve been concerned about your objectivity ever since the day you flipped out after speaking to Scott Andrews on the phone. That’s not like you. You never lose your cool. If something like that had happened in a courtroom—”
 
“It’ll never see the inside of a courtroom, Steve. Louise doesn’t have a case. She never did.”
 
“I know she doesn’t. Hopefully you’re right and it’ll never make it to court. However, our immediate concern is the here and now, which means we need to talk to Reggie.”
 
Before Alex could respond, Steve picked up his phone and dialed Reggie’s extension. As soon as she answered Steve asked her to come to his office. A minute later they heard a knock at the door. Steve opened it and Reggie stepped inside, bringing a folder with her.
 
***
 

I don’t know if this is how men really talk to one another behind closed doors or not. But if what I’m told by male friends, and by the John Gray book, is true, then I’m probably close. So far I’ve not heard any complaints from male readers.


Marina Martindale