A Thanksgiving Excerpt from The Reunion

A sample read from my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. 

Cassie and Jeremy hit it off over Thanksgiving dinner. Afterwards they step outside for a walk, and Samantha decides to have a serious talk with Gillian. Before long the two women make a surprising wager.

***

Samantha smiled to herself. It was looking more and more like Jeremy would become a good friend to Cassie. After dessert, Cassie suggested that he take a walk with her to work off some of their dinner.

“Good idea,” he said. “Would you two ladies care to join us?”

“Not me, thanks,” said Gillian.

“Me neither,” said Samantha. “We don’t get to hang out together very often. You kids go and take your time.”

Jeremy and Cassie quickly grabbed their coats. They were discussing the apartment in Colorado Springs as they went out the door.

“They seem to have taken a liking to one another,” said Gillian once the front door closed behind them.

“Yes, they have. Gillian, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

Samantha’s voice had a serious tone. “Exactly what is the nature of your relationship with him?”

Gillian grabbed the wine bottle and refilled their glasses. “Let’s go have a seat in the living room.” They picked up their wine glasses and Samantha followed Gillian to the sofa where they made themselves comfortable.

“Jeremy is a very special friend,” said Gillian. “We got off to a bit of a rough start, but then it worked out. I truly believed he’d be my stepson someday, but then Ian threw the brakes on that.”

“Gillian, if this is none of my business just say so, but is there anything more to it than just a friendship?”

Gillian hesitated for a moment. “You mean, have I ever slept with him?”

“Yes.”

“Good heavens no. I’ll admit that first night we were together in Las Vegas, I had a moment, and I mean a very brief moment, of temporary insanity while we were out on the dance floor. He’s a good dancer, I’d had a glass of wine, and I sure thought about it, but nothing happened between us that night, or any other night for that matter. Later on, when I thought about it again, I realized I’d wanted to turn him into another Ian, and I could never use Jeremy like that. He saved my life, Sam. Whoever he eventually ends up with will have to understand that he and I will always have a very special relationship. It’s not romantic, but we share a very special bond. One that will last for both of us for the rest of our lives. So please, don’t worry about your daughter. I’m not going to be jealous of her. In fact, I think they’re a good match.”

Samantha sighed in silent relief and gave her friend a knowing smile. “Gillian, do you have a hundred dollars?”

“Of course I do. Why?”

“Because a hundred dollars says that come next Thanksgiving, Jeremy really will be your stepson.”

“Oh, come on, Sam,” said Gillian with a laugh. “I can’t take your money like that. I’m not taking Ian back. No way, no how.”

“Of course not. You’ll just go out and have yourself tattooed in his honor.” Both women burst out laughing, and then Samantha turned serious once again. “Quit kidding yourself, Gillian. You’re going to take him back, and you know it.”

“Am not.”

“Fine. Then I’ll lose the hundred bucks. It’ll be the easiest money you ever made.”

Gillian gave her friend a smile. “All right then. One hundred dollars says I won’t be married to Ian Palmer a year from now.”

“You’re on.” The two women shook hands on their bet and Samantha grinned once more. “Just be prepared to pay up.”

 

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Spin-offs Not Sequels

© Can Stock Photo / pichetw

A question fiction writers are often asked is will they write a sequel. Some authors do write sequels or perhaps they’ll write an entire series of books, as I did with a series of novelettes I wrote in the 2000s as Gayle Martin. The Luke and Jenny series of historical novels for young readers was about two modern day youngers taking a summer road trip with their mother. Along the way they stopped at historical sites where they traveled back in time to learn the real history of the American west. While each book in series was about a different historical figure, there was an overall plotline that carried over each book; the road trip the two kids were taking with their mother.

When I switched genres and started writing contemporary romance novels I made the decision to not write sequels. Sequels can be problematic as they tend to be redundant and are often not as good as the original. My books would be stand alone novels and each story would end with complete closure. However, there were times when I created a supporting character who was interesting enough to warrant having his or her own story, as was the case with Jeremy in The Reunion. He soon his own book, The Journey, but The Journey wasn’t a sequel to The Reunion. It was a spin-off.

Simply put, a spin-off is when characters from one story are put into a different story. The late producer Norman Lear created a television show in the 1970s called, All in the Family. It was a huge hit, and those of you born in the eighties and beyond have no doubt heard of it or have seen it. All in the Family soon had a spin-off called, Maude, which in my opinion, was a whole lot funnier. Maude was Edith Bunker’s outspoken cousin who was first introduced in an episode of All in the Family. Interestingly enough, Lear later produced a spin-off from Maude called, Good Times, which was about Maude’s housekeeper, Florida Evans. All three shows were hits and ran for several seasons.

Hey, if it was good enough for Norman Lear, then it’s good enough for Marina Martindale. Along with The Journey, I’ve written two other spin-off novels; The Betrayal, another Reunion spin-off, and my newest novel, which I’ve just started, called, The Diversion, which is a spin-off from The Betrayal. It’s lead character, Tonya Claiborne, was a strong supporting character with a lot of potential. Look for The Diversion in 2021.

Marina Martindale

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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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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 The Scandal, I’ve been doing a copy edit for my debut novel, The Reunion.

I wrote The Reunion back in 2011, and while it’s gotten four and five star reviews on Amazon, 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, 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 also did something illegal, and I never held her accountable for her actions. She simply disappeared once her plan failed, and, looking back, I realized it 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 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.

The new, update version of The Reunion will be available soon.

Marina Martindale

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Revamping The Reunion

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

I like to go back and reread my earlier novels as believe it or not, I forget some of the details. While I’m there I might get ideas 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 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. Reunion leading lady Gillian also makes cameo appearances in both books.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Josh Ramsey

the Mystery Man in “The Letter”

A handsome young man with blond hair.
© Can Stock Photo / curaphotography

Sometimes I’ll have one idea in mind for a character, but as I get into the story, the character has other ideas. Such was the case with Jeremy Palmer in The Reunion, and it happened again with Josh Ramsey in my more recent contemporary romance novel, The Letter.


Young and ambitious, Josh is a financial planner by day, an artist by night. His goal is to retire young and devote himself full-time to his art. Like Jeremy, Josh was meant to an antagonist, but as the character came to life he turned out to be quite charming. I soon realized he had the potential to go much farther than originally planned. That’s when I really started liking him. So I created an aura of mystery about him. Whose side is he really on? Is he friend or foe? He’s actually a little of both, and his true intentions are revealed in an ending far different than what I had originally planned. This is what makes writing fun. Those characters, and storylines, that don’t come out as planned. They come out much, much better.


Now, just so you know, Josh is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life.


Marina Martindale

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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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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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I’m Causing Sleepless Nights?

Sorry about that

The Reunion book cover.

I’ve just read a new review of The Reunion on Amazon. The reviewer said she had been up until three o’clock in the morning because she couldn’t put the book down. Interestingly enough, she’s not the first one with this problem. I’ve had similar complaints on Facebook.

So, what can I say? I’m sorry to be the cause of your sleepless nights, (she writes tongue in cheek). And you should see it from my end. When I was writing The Reunion, I often didn’t get to bed until well after midnight either. The ideas kept flowing. This happened with my other novels as well.

What is it about my romance novels that’s so compelling? From what my readers tell me, it’s the plot twits and the characters. They tell me my characters are very real and very believable. I honestly wish I could tell you my secret of how I create them, but I don’t know how I do it either.

How I create my characters

Some characters, like Ian and Samantha in The Reunion, are loosely based on real people, and I used part of their personalities as a starting point. The next thing I knew, the characters had taken on lives of their own and they become unique individuals. The same could be said for all the purely fictitious characters who weren’t based on anyone in particular. I guess something must be going on in my subconscious mind. Whatever it is, it seems to be working. I’m pleased you all are happy with the results.

Meantime, while I wait for The Journey to come back from the editor, I’m cooking up a new cast of characters for my next book, The Betrayal. Look for it in 2014.

So for now, sleep tight.


Marina Martindale

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