A Thanksgiving Excerpt from The Journey

For your holiday reading pleasure I’m presenting a snippet from my contemporary romance novel, The Journey as Cassie and Jeremy’s Thanksgiving celebration takes an unexpected, and frightening, turn.  

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Marina Martindale

***

“Happy Thanksgiving, Jerry,” said David as he stepped inside. “I’ll bet you’re glad to finally be home.”

“You got that right. I think I’ve finally got my life back on track now.”

David presented Jeremy with a bottle of white wine. “I brought a little something to go with dinner, and I have some ginger ale for Cassie.”

They went into the kitchen where Cassie greeted David with a hug while Jeremy put the bottles in the refrigerator. She then excused herself, saying she needed to change, while the two men headed into the living room to watch football. As Cassie headed back toward the kitchen doorbell rang again. Ian and Gillian had arrived. Ian joined the men in the living room, while Gillian followed Cassie into the kitchen.

“That sweater looks gorgeous on you,” said Gillian as she put her bowl of fruit salad into the refrigerator.

“Thanks,” said Cassie. “It’s nice and cozy too.”

“Can I help you with anything?”

“Thanks, Gillian, but I think I’ve just about got it. Everything should be ready in another couple hours or so. I’ve got some snack trays in the fridge that I need to get out, but first, can I fix you anything to drink?”

“Just a soda, thanks.”

As Cassie reached into the cupboard for a glass, she suddenly stopped and placed both hands on her belly, crying out in pain.

“Oh my god!” Gillian rushed up to her, trying to hold onto her as she doubled over. “Cassie, what’s wrong?”

Cassie took a deep breath. “I don’t know. All of a sudden, I felt a really sharp pain.”

Jeremy burst in. Ian and David were on his heels.

“What happened?”

Gillian helped Cassie back up. Both women had horrified looks on their faces.

“I just had a contraction,” said Cassie, “but it’s way too soon.”

David stepped forward and scooped her into his arms. “We need to get her to the emergency room. Now.”

Jeremy stayed behind him as they rushed out the front door. Gillian quickly turned off the stove and oven before hurrying to join the others.

“We’ll take her in the minivan,” said Ian. “The hospital is only a few minutes away.”

Jeremy helped David load her in the van as Ian hopped into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine. A minute later they were on their way.

“Is everything okay back there?”

“So far, we’re good, Dad. She hasn’t had another one.”

Jeremy had his arms wrapped tightly around Cassie. Her head leaned into his chest. He stroked the side of her face and looked at David, who saw the fear in his eyes.

“Hang in there, Jerry. It’s probably false labor. They’ll give her something to stop the contractions. She’ll be fine.”

Cassie fought to keep her composure. “What about my baby?” 

David patted her arm. “I’m sure he’ll be okay. Just try to stay calm.”

They remained silent for the rest of the drive. Thankfully, the holiday traffic was lighter than normal, and they arrived at the hospital within minutes. Ian pulled up to the emergency entrance and waited as two younger men helped Cassie out of the minivan. This time Jeremy picked her up and carried her inside while David ran up to the admissions desk. A minute later a nurse arrived with a wheelchair and whisked Cassie away. A badly shaken Jeremy took a seat in the waiting room while a clerk brought him the usual paperwork. David sat down next to him.

“She’s in good hands. She’ll be all right.”

“But what about the baby, David?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t see any reason for us to think the worst right now.”

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In Search of St. Eligius Ranch

© 2020 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.

I first visited Steamboat Springs in the 1990s. Famous for its ski resort, ranching is still a vital part of the area. So, when I wrote my first contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, I decided to locate the fictitious St. Eligius Ranch about twenty miles from Steamboat Springs. St. Eligius Ranch is a former cattle ranch turned horse sanctuary. It’s also the home of Laura Palmer, ex-wife of leading man Ian Palmer. A number of key scenes in The Reunion take place at St. Eligius Ranch, including the story’s final climax. Later on, when I wrote The Journey, I also set a number of scenes at St. Eligius Ranch.

I revisited Steamboat Springs in the summer of 2014, this time to research the area for future novels. I also brought my camera with me, and, as luck would have it, I found something that kinda sorta matches the description of St. Eligius Ranch. Of course I kept a respectful distance and took the photo from the side of road, but you can clearly see a two-story house, as described in the book, along with what appears to be a fifth-wheel trailer parked nearby, as was also described in The Reunion. Maybe life really does imitate art.

By the way, photography, like writing, is one of my life’s passions, and I do art photography under the name Gayle Martin. If you would like to see more of my work please visit my website at gaylemartinphotography.com/.

In the meantime, please enjoy this scene from The Reunion, as Gillian, the leading lady, visits St. Eligius for the first time.


Marina Martindale

* * *


Laura took Gillian to one of the small corrals outside the barn and pointed out a black mare with a white blaze down her face and three white socks.

“We call her Miss Mollie,” said Laura. “She’s got a lot of stamina, but she’ll respect her rider, as long as you know what you’re doing, and it sounds like you do.”

Jeremy came up behind them. “Miss Mollie? Good choice.”

Laura pointed to a large bay gelding in the next corral. “We call him Pretty Boy. He’s Jeremy’s favorite.”

Before long the horses were saddled, and they mounted up. Will stayed behind, saying he had work to do. Laura rode a young buckskin gelding she called Fred.

“He’s Miss Mollie’s son,” she said. “He was a young foal at her side when we adopted them two years ago. I think he’ll turn out to be a fine horse, but he still has some rough edges to work out.”

Laura led them away from the barn and onto a narrow trail leading through a lush meadow. Gillian couldn’t get over the sheer beauty of it. The aspen and cottonwood trees were turning gold.

“When I first came here, I was an ex-housewife who didn’t know one end of a horse from the other,” said Laura. “I was originally hired as a bookkeeper for Will’s veterinary practice. Next thing I knew, I was writing grants, planning fund-raisers, and doing everything else I could think of to keep money flowing in the door for the foundation to help care for these animals. Back then I was living in the cottage, that’s what we call the fifth-wheel trailer, and I soon became friends with Will. He taught me, and both of my boys, how to ride. He also taught me how to help take care of the horses. Along the way I’ve been kicked, bitten, and occasionally stepped on, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Horses are easy. Two sons aren’t.”

“Thanks, Mom,” said Jeremy.

“Anytime,” she said with a knowing grin. “Some of the ones we get are simply neglected or have owners who, for whatever reason, are no longer able to care for them. Those are the easy cases, and we can usually get them to new owners right away. Others arrive abandoned, injured or starving. They need some TLC, and we’re often pretty successful with them as well. We also get the occasional hard-luck cases. They’re the ones who have suffered some serious abuse, and it never ceases to amaze me just how cruel some human beings can be. They usually need complete rehabilitation, but we’re not always successful. There’ve also been a few that we’ve had to put down as soon as they arrived. Those are the ones that really break your heart.” 

They continued across the meadow and began working their way toward the ridge as Laura went on with her story. “This ranch used to be called The Flying M, and it’s been in Will’s family for over a century. When Will’s father inherited it from his great-uncle, it was still a working cattle ranch. Will’s dad was also a veterinarian. He started up the veterinary clinic, and he started taking in injured and abandoned horses. By the time Will finished veterinary school, they decided to stop raising cattle and add a horse sanctuary to the clinic. They sold about half the acreage, and the name, to the big dude ranch resort next door. Will renamed the place St. Eligius. He’s the patron saint of horses and those who work with them. That pretty much sums it up. The foundation survives mostly on grant money and donor support. We also do a number of fundraisers throughout the year. One is coming up soon. It’s the haunted hayride we do every year with the Flying M. It’s the last Saturday in October and we always have a lot of fun while we’re at it. We have volunteers of all ages who come and participate, and the boys always come to help out as well.”

To read other samples from The Reunion, please click on the link below.

Preview on Amazon

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Taking a Short Break

photo by Gayle Martin

I’ve recently completed a minor re-edit for one of my earlier contemporary romance novels, The Journey. I know. I’m turning into too much of a perfectionist. Occupational hazard I suppose. However, no worries for those of you who’ve already read The Journey. The story is exactly the same as before. All I did was some minor rephrasing and removed some filler words.

I’m also working on the treatment for my next contemporary romance novel. Its working title is The Rival. The story will be about a bride-to-be whose fiance abruptly calls off the wedding, and then, later on, decides to cause even more trouble for her. It’s part romantic triangle and part stalker, although it won’t be nearly as dark as my earlier novel, The Stalker.

In the meantime, I need to take a short break and catch up on a few other projects which have been sitting on the back burner for far too long. I signed up for some online courses, years ago, which I started but never completed because I was too busy with other projects. So, before I start my next big project, I want to finish them. I also want to take a few road trips later on this year. In the meantime, I’ll still be here, and I’ll still keep you up to date.

Marina Martindale

For a free preview of The Journey, click here.

http://a.co/3qRY42S

For a free preview of The Stalker, click here.

http://a.co/35o3W9m

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The Journey Book Trailer

Whew! It’s finally done, and I’m pleased with the final results.

I’ve become more hands on with my book trailer videos, and I’m loving it. Makes sense, as my background is in fine art. I’ve also studied photography. It too is one of my life’s passions. Granted, it’s taken me a little while to make the jump from 35mm to digital, but one of the great things about a DSLR camera is you can also shoot video. And there you have it.


I did most of the filming and nearly all of the editing. My good friend, Rob Resetar, of Rob Resetar Video, shot the kidnapping scene and did the musical score and final audio mix. Wish I could take credit for the drone footage, but it too was shot by another friend.


Enjoy the book trailer, and if you haven’t read it yet, you’ll like, The Journey, especially if you’ve read The Reunion. While not exactly a sequel, both books use the same cast of characters, and The Journey begins about eighteen months after the end of The Reunion.


Marina Martindale

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Meet Denise Sanderson the Evil Nurse in The Journey

Image of a nurse holding a clipboard.
© Can Stock Photo / geotrac

If I had to list the most evil of the villains I’ve created so far in any of my romance novels, Denise Sanderson would most  certainly near at the top. She’s the last person readers would expect to be so evil.


Denise is a young nurse. At first she appears to be genuinely compassionate and caring. However, Denise has a darker side. When she was in nursing school, she frequented a bar called O’Malley’s Grill, and soon fell in love with one of the bartenders. Jeremy Palmer. Unfortunately for Denise, Jeremy, didn’t feel the same. When she tried to come onto him, he turned her down. Jeremy soon moved on, but Denise neither forgave, nor forgot, his rejection.


Jeremy and Denise would meet again, this time under different circumstances. Denise, now a nurse, has been assigned to care for Jeremy’s wife. Cassie has been seriously injured in a car crash. Denise quickly befriends both Cassie and Jeremy, and while Jeremy can’t quite place her, she seems familiar nonetheless. He feels he can trust her, but Denise will use his trust to unleash her revenge, and Jeremy’s life will never be the same.


Denise is a fictitious character, but she also represents a deep-seeded fear many of us may have. What if the people we trust to take care of us during our most vulnerable times really don’t have our best interests in mind?


MM

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What I’m Most Often Asked

A photo of books on a shelf.
© Can Stock Photo / Baloncici

As an author people ask me a lot of questions, but what I’m most often asked is are your books a series?

And the answer is no.

Some authors write series books which their readers seem to like. However, the authors who I consider as mentors, such as Rosamunde Pilcher, don’t write their books in a series. Their novels are stand alone books. One trick I have borrowed from Ms. Pilcher is to take a minor character from one book and incorporate him or her into another. She took a minor character from The Shell Seekers, and used him to introduce a new cast of characters in September

The Reunion was my first contemporary romance novel. When I wrote my second contemporary romance novel, The Deception, I set a chapter at Hanson Sisters Fine Art, which is Gillian‘s gallery in The Reunion. It was a nice way to incorporate the two novels together.

My third contemporary romance novel, The Journey, comes the closest to being a sequel. It uses the same cast of characters as The Reunion, but it too is a stand alone book. Ian and Gillian, the leading characters from The Reunion, appear in The Journey as supporting characters. Their story has already been told. This time the lead characters are Ian’s son, Jeremy, and his wife, Cassie. There are some references to events from The Reunion, but they are only vaguely discussed. I worded them in such a way so those who who hadn’t read The Reunion would simply see it as a part of the backstory. In other words, you don’t have to have read, The Reunion, in order to read, and enjoy ,The Journey. 

Kyle Madden, the leading man in my next contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal, was a minor character in The Reunion. He was the police detective who warned Gillian about her ex husband. This time around the roles are reversed as Gillian makes a cameo appearance.

I’m currently working on my fifth contemporary romance novel, The Stalker. Jonathan Fields, a featured character from The Deception, has already made an appearance. So far no one’s been to Hanson Sisters Fine Art, but then again, I’ve only just started writing.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Cassie Palmer

lead character in THE JOURNEY

A young woman outdoors on a summer day.
Photo by Fotolia

Cassie Palmer is a character best described as grace under pressure. Seemingly naive and shy, Cassie is an iron lady in disguise.

We first meet Cassie in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, when Gillian and Jeremy stop for breakfast at a truck stop diner in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The diner owner is none other than Gillian’s long-long best friend, Samantha Walsh. As they get reacquainted, Samantha unveils another surprise; her daughter, Cassie. While Gillian is surprised, Jeremy’s life will never be the same.

Cassie and Jeremy soon become friends, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the story. Cassie returns in my contemporary romance novel, The Journey, this time as a lead character. As the story unfolds,  Cassie’s world turns upside down. Yet through it all, she remains gracefully resilient.

Cassie is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I know in real life. She is, however, an inspiration for those times when we feel overwhelmed by all life’s obstacles.


Marina Martindale

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The Journey Book Cover

The Journey Book Cover

Kudos to Wes Lowe. Once again he’s created a beautiful cover illustration for my next novel, The Journey.


Wes and I go way back. He started doing my cover illustrations in 2007, when I was writing my Luke and Jenny novels, (under the name Gayle Martin.)

I found Wes by happenstance when I was working on the second book in the Luke and Jenny series. The illustrator who did the first book cover wasn’t available, so I was left scrambling. Granted, I have a degree in fine art, but it had been years since I’d picked up a paintbrush. However, I still knew what to look for, and I could speak the lingo. So, I began my search and soon found Wes. Not only was he available, I also liked the tone of his emails. He came across as warm and he had a positive attitude. The illustration he created for me didn’t just meet my expectations. It exceeded them. Wes turned out to be a much better artist than the gentleman who did my first cover. Thus began a beautiful friendship. Our next project would be creating a new cover illustration for the first book.


Wes also did the cover illustrations for The Reunion and The Deception.
This latest illustration has an interesting twist. The other night I posted it on Facebook, and a number of people commented that the young lady looked a lot like me. Oddly enough, Wes and I have never met in person, although he’s probably seen my head shots on my websites. I thought that maybe he had used one of them as a model. However, it turns out that he didn’t. Must be one of those interesting coincidences. Or maybe it’s just the Universe reaffirming that I’ve found the right illustrator.


MM

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Stuck in a Literary Sexual Rut

An open book with two pages folded together in the shape of a heart.
Photo by Fotolia.

 

Oh the problems one encounters when writing contemporary romance. As I explained in my earlier blog post, Sweet, Sensual or Erotic Romancethere is a distinct difference between sensual romance and erotica. In sensual romance, the “romance” scenes are written to enhance the plot as the characters consummate their relationship. The emphasis is on what they’re feeling.

That said, as I’m working on my third novel, The Journey, I found myself in a bit of a rut when writing those scenes. Let’s face it. There are only two kinds of equipment out there, and that equipment only works in certain ways. I was starting to worry that my writing might be become too redundant.
So, I decided to do a little research and downloaded a copy of an anthology called Little Birds, by Anais Nin.

Ms. Nin is perhaps the literary madam of erotic literature. I thought I might learn something new about writing from her. What I found, at least in my opinion, were stories that were a little cold. The characters were one-dimensional and lacked passion. Afterwards, I looked at my own writing. I think there’s something to be said for writing about what the characters are feeling, emotionally as well as physically. As for the redundancy; I suppose it is what it is. Even Ms. Nin’s stories were a bit redundant. Yet decades later, readers still enjoy them. I guess there are some things in life that people will never get tired of. Like chocolate cake.


Marina Martindale

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