Why I’m Fiercely Independent

© Can Stock Photo/

People sometimes ask novel writers questions which may seem condescending, although most of them don’t mean it in a negative way. They’ve simply never met an author before. A question I often hear is have I been published yet? The answer is yes, I’m published.

My publishing journey

The publishing industry changed dramatically in the late 20th century. The invention of the personal computer and the World Wide Web gave authors  options they’d never had before, and the big publishing houses no longer dominated the industry.

I was a freelance graphic designer when this new technology came along. Most of my projects were designing magazines and catalogs. It was sort of fun, but it was never my passion. I loved creating fine art. I also loved writing, and I was ready for a career change.

In 2006 I wrote the first in a trilogy of historic novelettes for young readers. (Under a different name.) I also got lucky. I happened to meet a small press  publisher who was very selective about who she published. Thankfully, she accepted my manuscript, and she soon became more than just a publisher. She was also my mentor. After publishing the third and final book in the Luke and Jenny series I was ready to start writing full length contemporary romance novels for adult readers. At the same time, however, my publisher was changing her business model to specialize in children’s books. We talked it over, and we both agreed that I was ready to start up my own publishing company. So I created Good Oak Press, LLC.

Why I choose to remain an independent author

With traditional publishing the author sells the rights to his or her work to the publisher. This means the author no longer owns their work. It now belongs to the publisher, and the publishing company can do whatever it pleases. Oftentimes this means the work is edited to the point where the author no longer recognizes it. Their name may still be attached to it, but it’s a far cry from what the author actually wrote. The other problem with traditional publishing is that it relies heavily on a premade formula. This limits the author’s creativity and forces him or her to work inside a small box. 

A lot of thought goes into my contemporary romance novels. Each and every character has their own unique personality. Every bit of action and dialog is written for a reason. I also put a lot of thought into choosing my locations. If my story is set in Denver I don’t want someone changing it to Boston. If my character is a blonde named Erika I don’t want someone changing her into a brunette named Sarah. Each author has his or her own unique voice, and I don’t want anyone taking away my voice.

I take my work seriously. Not only is my name on the book, my publishing company’s name and logo is on it as well. I work with an amazing editor who understands me and doesn’t change my voice. A professional illustrator creates my cover art, and my graphic design skills sure come in handy. I know how to typeset and design a book. People often tell me my books look like they came from a big, New York publisher. This is the biggest and best compliment any reader can ever give me.

Marina Martindale



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.

Revamping The Reunion

A book cover featuring an illustration of a lady in a yellow dress.
Cover illustration by Wes Lowe.

I sometimes go back and reread my earlier contemporary romance novels as over time I forget some of the details. While I’m there I may also get an idea for a spin-off novel, or I may consider using a character in a future book. It’s also interesting, and occasionally nerve wracking, to see how much I’ve grown as a writer.

The Reunion was my first contemporary romance novel. Prior to that I’d written a cookbook and a series of children’s novelettes, (all under a different name), but The Reunion was my first real novel. It’s also the one nearest and dearest to my heart, as it’s loosely based on someone I once knew. We went our separate ways years ago, and after I started writing books I began wondering what would happen if, by chance, he ever showed up at a book signing. I have no idea actually, but the scenario became the inspiration for The Reunion.

So, as I was wrapping up my latest novel, The Scandal, I grabbed an old copy of The Reunion and started reading, but instead of a happy trip down memory lane, all I saw were things I wanted to go back and edit. Apparently I really have improved as a writer. So much so that the work I was so proud of years ago now looks amateurish, at least to me. Cynthia, my editor, has become much more stringent as well. Granted, most people would never notice the wordiness here, or the choppy sentence there, but to me it’s like listening to sour notes. So, I’m going back and doing a tweak. I’m removing filler words, such as, “decided to,” along with bits of unnecessary narrative. You know, the stuff you won’t miss once it’s gone. The story, however, remains the same. Each and every chapter and scene is still there. They just read a little better.

By the way, I’ve written three spin-off novels from The Reunion. The Journey comes the closest to being a sequel. It’s about the same family, but with different lead characters and an unrelated storyline. The Betrayal and The Letter include minor characters from The Reunion, this time with bigger, more significant roles.  Gillian the lead character from The Reunion also makes cameo appearances in both books.

Marina Martindale


It Was Well Worth the Wait

A photo of a clock.
© Can Stock Photo / stillfx

At long last, my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal is back from the editor. 

The Betrayal is a story of lies, deceit and infidelity. However, I was facing some real-life challenges of my own as I was writing the story, which resulted in my having to set the manuscript aside for weeks at a time. Then, when it was finally complete, my editor found some continuity errors, so the last few chapters had to be revised. Not to worry.  We were both  delighted at how much those changes improved the storyline.

Unfortunately, I can’t divulge too much. It would spoil the story. I can, however, give you a sneak peek.

Marina Martindale

a sample read from The Betrayal

The knot in Emily’s stomach grew tighter as she pulled into the driveway and pressed the remote. The garage door slowly rolled up, revealing Jesse’s silver Lexus sedan parked inside. Her heart sank. Annette must have taken him to the airport. She took a deep breath and pulled into her old spot, taking her empty suitcase from the trunk, along with several flat boxes and a few rolls of packing tape. The others helped her carry everything inside.

“What a beautiful home,” said Andrea.

“Yes, it was.” Emily led them down the hallway and opened the first door on her right. Inside stood a small, antique desk and chair. Her computer sat on top of the desk, with an electric keyboard set up on the opposite wall.

“Wow look at that,” said Andrea as she walked up to the bookcases full of trophies.

“Those are all from her piano competitions,” said Megan. “She started doing them when she was in the fourth grade.”

“Third,” said Emily.

Megan shrugged and smiled. “Okay, I stand corrected. It was the third grade, but it was also before I met her. She was still competing and still winning trophies in high school, when I finally did meet her. I even went to some of her competitions.”

While Megan was talking, Emily grabbed the tape and started putting boxes together. “Uh-oh. I forgot the packing paper. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be right back.”

“Need help?” asked Sean.

Emily gave him a smile. “Sure.”

They stepped out, returning a moment later with the packing paper and the remaining flat boxes. Emily instructed them on how to pack the trophies before she grabbed her suitcase and headed upstairs. Her body tensed up as she opened the bedroom door. Inside, the bed was freshly made, and she spotted a small, hand-written note left on top of her pillow.

I know what I did was wrong. I’ve fired Annette and I’ll be looking for a new assistant as soon as I return. Please, don’t leave me. I still love you, and I’ll do whatever it takes to win you back.

Emily started to crumple the paper, but then thought better of it. She dropped it back on the pillow and packed up the rest of her clothes as quickly as she could. Before long the bag was filled. Zipping it shut, she jumped at an unexpected sound. A man’s voice was calling her name.

“Whoops. Sorry, Emily. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s okay, Sean. I guess I’m a little on edge today.”

“Perfectly understandable. Do you want me to take the bag downstairs for you?”

“Please do. It’s probably a little too heavy for me to carry. I just need to grab a box for the other things I have left, and then I’ll be done up here.” A wave of sadness came over her as she looked around what had been her bedroom for more than three years. Once she was done, she doubted she would ever see it again.

“Are you alright?” asked Sean.

Emily tried to shrug it off. “I’m fine. Let’s take that bag downstairs.”



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