Entering The Clean Up Phase

Cleaning products.
© Can Stock Photo / JanPietruszka

I’ve been busy putting the final touches on the first draft for my upcoming novel, The Letter, and I’m now in what I call, “the cleanup phase.”

Something has bothered me with many of the novels I’ve read. The author would reach the big climax scene, and then, once it was over, shazam! Everything magically falls back into place right then and there. Then, one or two pages later, everyone rides off into the sunset. The end.

Wouldn’t it be great if real life was as simple?

I’ve always strived to make my stories as realistic and believable as possible, so I include a “cleanup phase,” after the big climax. This gives my characters a chance to deal with the aftermath of whatever happened during the climax. It can be as short as an epilogue, or as long as several chapters. If a character is injured, you’ll see his or her recovery. If a villain gets caught, you’ll find out how long the prison sentence is. If someone leaves town, he or she will have a chance to say goodbye. The leading characters will work out whatever unresolved conflicts they may have. In other words, I tie up of all the loose ends. I rarely write sequels. Therefore, I want each ending to be as complete, and as satisfying as possible for the reader.

Marina Martindale

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Themes and Plotlines

An image of a pen with a light bulb on top writing in a book.
© Can Stock Photo / khunaspix

At long last, I’m finally in the home stretch for my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Letter. Its theme would be don’t judge things by their appearance.

Some of you may be wondering, what’s a theme?

A theme is separate from the plot line. A theme is the underlying part of a story, such as the moral, or perhaps a comment about society or human behavior. I’ve posted the themes from my earlier novels below, but don’t worry. If you’ve not read all of them I won’t spoil the story.

Forgiveness — The ReunionIan was the one true love of Gillian’s life, but he suddenly ended their relationship for no apparent reason. If Gillian can forgive him, she stands a good chance of having a future with him. This theme carries over into a subplot concerning Ian and a member of his immediate family.

Adultery and Its Consequences —The Deception and The Betrayal. Adultery is a great theme for the romance genre. It’s an opportunity to explore the repercussions for everyone involved, as it often affects more than the two primary parties. In The DeceptionCarrie, a single woman, meets Scott, a married man who has presented himself to her as a single man. In The Betrayal, faithful wife Emily unwittingly catches her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Both women’s lives are turned upside down by circumstances beyond their control.

Revenge — The Journey and The Stalker. Life isn’t always fair, and we’ve all experienced times when things didn’t go our way. However, it doesn’t mean someone has intentionally thwarted us. Sometimes stuff simply happens. Unfortunately, there are people out there who subscribe to the notion of don’t get mad, get even, and their quest for vengeance inevitably harms others who are innocent. In The JourneyDenise seeks revenge on Jeremy for having turned down her romantic overture years before, while Craig, in The Stalker, relentlessly hounds Rachel for getting a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve.

Those are my themes, at least so far. We’ll have to wait and what my next theme will be. Until then, happy reading.


Marina Martindale

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It’s Jarring and It’s Life Shattering

and it can happen in an instant

A photo of large headstones under big trees.
Photo by Fotolia.

I’m starting to get some feedback on my latest novel, The Deception. For the most part it’s been good. There is, of course, some minor criticism here and there, but that’s to be expected. After all, none of us can please all readers all the time. One comment, however, was about the sudden end to one of the characters. The reader believed it was too jarring and too over the top.

Warning! Spoiler Alert!

One of the characters is killed in a traffic accident, and no, I don’t warn you about it. In the real world tragic events happen without warning, and for the victims or their survivors, life is never the same. It’s a reality I know all too well. About ten years ago I lost a young cousin to a car crash, and it was completely unexpected. One minute he was a healthy twenty-year-old man with his whole life ahead of him. The next minute he was gone forever. 

My decision to kill a character in a car accident may indeed seem over the top for some readers. Others, however, disagree. The character in question was an antagonist, so they felt vindicated. Her sudden end was also the direct result of her own actions.

Tragedy happens all too often. The point I’m making is to never take life for granted. It really can come to a sudden end, without warning.

Marina Martindale

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