Meet Randy Hall

The Villainous Antagonist in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo/ yacobchuk

All stories have their antagonists, and in my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, Randy Hall is perhaps one of my most villainous characters to date. Randy is the ex-husband of lead character Lauren McAllen, and his goal is to destroy her at all costs.

Randy and Lauren had a dream marriage until Randy developed an addiction disorder, leaving Lauren no alternative but to file for divorce once the marriage became toxic. Randy, however, doesn’t think he has a problem. He sees Lauren’s departure as abandonment, and, in Lauren’s words, “no one dumps Randy Hall and gets away with it.” As the story unfolds Lauren is unwittingly caught up in a major Hollywood scandal, which Randy skillfully uses as a weapon to wreak havoc on her life and her career.

Many of us have experienced relationships which started out well, only to unravel because, unknown to us at the time, the person we became involved with had an addiction disorder. Unfortunately, people with addictions don’t come with warning labels, and addicts are oftentimes masters at hiding their addictions until it becomes too late. Once the addiction becomes known some partners will end the relationship as quickly as possible, while others may go into their own form of denial, believing they can change the addict. It’s a great romantic fairytale, but one I will never write about, because the reality is that the only person who can change the addict is the addict him or herself. In the real world the so-called helpful partner becomes the enabler who reinforces the addiction, and the relationship typically doesn’t end well.

Randy is a composite character whose inspiration comes from a few men I’ve known in the past who, sadly, turned out to have addictive disorders. Thankfully, none were as toxic as Randy, and none of the relationships lasted long.

Marina Martindale

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My New Mexico Home

Photo by Marina Martindale

I know I haven’t been around much lately, but I have a really good excuse. I’ve been busy moving. I recently sold my home in Tucson, Arizona, (as The Beatles once sing about someone leaving their home in Tucson, Arizona), and I’m now living in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

I’m a native Arizonan and have lived in Arizona for much of my life. I was born and raised in Phoenix, which is why many of my stories are set in Phoenix. I moved to Tucson twelve years ago. Tucson was much like Phoenix was when I was growing up, although Tucson had more of an arts community. Unfortunately, in recent years Tucson has been changing, and not for the better. By the end of 2019 I knew the time was quickly coming for me to look for a new place to live. So, long story short, I came to Las Cruces because I have friends here; a fellow novel writer named David Lee Summers and his family. I’ve known David and his family for nearly a decade, and it’s better to relocate to where you know someone.

They say art imitates life, but it this case it was the other way around. In my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, my lead character, Lauren, moves to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I describe her new home as being out in the country, with a mini kitchen in her backyard, and she’d found the home online. So here I am, a year or so later, and my real estate agent in Las Cruces sends me a link to a home that, while in town, backs up to a big arroyo, (a dry wash), with a large open space, making it appear as if it were out in the country. It also has a mini kitchen in the backyard. So, what else can I say, other than like Lauren, I really love my new home.

I’m almost finished unpacking, and once I’m settled I’ll start working on my next book. More later.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Chuck McKenna

A Lead Character in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

Director Charles McKenna, the leading man in my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has been drawn to Lauren McAllen for some time, although she’s not aware of it. For the past few years they’ve been working closely together a top rated soap opera. Lauren, however, has recently left the show, hoping to break into feature films, while Chuck wants out of Hollywood for good.

The son of a set nurse and a director of B-rated horror films, Chuck grew up in the entertainment industry. He too thought he wanted a career in movies and television, but after years of grueling hours directing a soap opera, he’s burned out and no longer sure of what he wants. His plan is to relocate to Colorado once his contract is up. As much as he wants Lauren, having such different goals means any romance between them would be short lived at best, so he decides to keep it as just friends. Fate, however, has other plans for both Chuck and Lauren, as each experiences their own unforeseen tragedies which turn both of their lives upside down and will redefine their relationship.

Marina Martindale

To read a free preview of The Scandal, please click on the link below.

http://a.co/7GiaYtV

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Meet Calvin Michaelson

the Villain Turned Hero in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo/ corolanty

Sometimes life imitates art. The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke shortly after I had decided to write a contemporary romance novel about Hollywood. This created an unexpected challenge as I strive to create unique, original characters. Therefore, I would have to make a point of not having a character with too close of a resemblance to Mr. Weinstein. Enter Calvin Michaelson, a Hollywood mogul and the catalyst for The Scandal.

I had envisioned Cal as a predator, but he would be similar to Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, it came out way too creepy for my taste. I wrote a couple of revisions, but Cal remained too creepy. Novel writing, like other endeavours, doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes what sounds good in a treatment, or the story summary, simply doesn’t work once pen is put to paper, as was certainly the case here. The character would have to be reinvented. So, after much thought, Cal went from a creepy predator to a Hugh Hefner like playboy. He’s a womanizer who makes no apologies for who he is. Unfortunately, like many of his real-life counterparts, Cal will become his own undoing and he soon finds himself in the middle of scandal that rocks Hollywood. Later on, however, Cal will become an unlikely hero, and readers will discover a hidden side to this complex character.

Calvin Michaelson is a purely fictional character. His inspiration comes from powerful men who thought they were too big to fall and thus became their own undoing.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Lauren McAllen

Lead Character in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo/yuriyzhuravov

Lauren McAllen, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has achieved fame in a town where few become successful. For the past ten years she’s played an iconic vamp on a top-rated soap opera, making her a household name and the woman fans love to hate. Now she’s ready to move on and become a star on the big screen.

Once again, luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. Hollywood mogul Calvin Michaelson has seen her work, and he soon offers her a supporting role in a feature film. For Lauren, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and dream come true. However, it may come at a price. While Cal has made other women famous, he has a reputation for expecting certain favors in return. But before the cameras start rolling, Cal is accused of a serious wrongdoing, and Lauren will soon find herself caught up in a major scandal that rocks Hollywood.

Lauren is a fictitious character. Her inspiration came from a cousin who once played on a soap opera many years ago. However, Lauren is a unique individual whose life is very different from from my cousin’s.

Marina Martindale

Please click on the link below to read a free preview of The Scandal.

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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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The Scandal is Now Available

A book cover featuring a woman in the foreground with two men in the background.
Cover illustration by Wes Lowe. Cover design by Good Oak Press, LLC.

I’m pleased to announce that my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal is now available. The Amazon Kindle edition is ready for downloads, and the paperback version will be available within a few days.

This was a fun book to write. So much so that part of me wished I could keep writing it forever. Be careful what you wish for. I ended up making many, many last-minute revisions and missed two deadlines as a result. Sure, it got a little stressful at times, but it was well worth it. I’m very pleased with the final result and I hope you will be as well.

So now comes the fun part. I get to go on hiatus for awhile. It’s not that I don’t love writing, but I have to take breaks every once in awhile. My dogs will be so pleased. So while you all enjoy my next book I’m going to be doing some photography and playing with my piano. And, if I’m lucky, I might take a road trip or two. In the meantime, however, I’ll be posting on this blog. By the way, in case you’re wondering, I’m already formulating my next book in my mind. It’s called, The Rival. I plan to start working on sometime after the fist of the year, but for now I’m going to go outside and play.

Marina Martindale

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Some Books are Easier to Write than Others

© Can Stock Photo/novelo

Work on my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has been interesting, to say the least. Ask any author, and they’ll tell you all books present their challenges as they’re being written. However, we authors always manage to work through them. That said, some books are simply more challenging than others. The Scandal has certainly presented its fair share of issues, and then some. I will admit, however, that it’s been such a fun book to write that I haven’t minded doing all the extra work. In fact, I’ve enjoyed spending the additional time with it. Truth be told, I don’t want this book to end.

Is it life imitating art, or is art imitating life?

The Scandal is set in Hollywood. Its lead character is a soap opera star. However, as luck would have it, the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the MeToo movement, started while I was working on the treatment. Sometimes life imitates art, but really? Did it have to go this far? I take pride in writing original stories. Then there was the other issue. The MeToo movement has been controversial from the start, and I keep my books politically neutral. I also want to keep my books from becoming too dated.

Striving to keep my story separate from any real-life scandals, I decided I would make my lead antagonist more of a Roman Polanski character, but it came out too creepy. I revised it, and it still came out too creepy. So, the third time around, I changed him into a Hugh Hefner like playboy. It worked. He’s a womanizer and a cad; the kind of guy you’d like to slap across the face, but he’s no longer skin crawling creepy. I really liked this new version of him. So, now that he’d been, “fixed,” so to speak, I kept going. Finally, I finished the manuscript and sent it to Cynthia, my editor. She made her changes, and now it’s gone to the proofreader.

The second edit.

Proofreading is also called the second edit, and I have a new proofreader. She’s doing an amazing job. If something seems off as she’s reading, she lets me know. As it turns out, there were a few remnants from the earlier drafts which, while rewritten, came across as too confusing to her. As a result, two chapters had to have more extensive rewrites.

This is why a second edit is so vital. Not everyone will catch every error, and having an extra pair of eyes makes a big difference. As a result, these chapters are much improved, but having to take extra time has slowed down production just a bit. However, my publication date is set for early October, and we will be meeting that deadline.

Marina Martindale

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A Sneak Preview of my Next Novel The Scandal

A book cover will and illustration of a woman with two men behind her.
Cover Illustration by Wes Lowe

The next Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, The Scandal is back from the editor and we are in the process of proofreading. The Scandal will be available this fall. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview. Enjoy.

Marina Martindale

The Scandal Sample Chapter

Lauren McAllen wrapped her hands around the steering wheel and held on tight. Raindrops splattered the windshield while the wipers furiously knocked them away.

“You may think you’re getting him back, Ashely,” she hissed through clenched teeth, “but trust me, it’ll never happen because he’s all mine now.” A defiant smiled broke out across her face, but it instantly turned into a look of sheer panic and terror as she frantically yanked the steering wheel back and forth. Unable to regain control of the car, she threw her arms across her face and braced herself for impact.

“Cut!” shouted a man’s voice. “And that’s a wrap.”

As Lauren relaxed, she turned her head and smiled. “So, we got it?”

“Perfectly,” he replied, “but if you wouldn’t mind waiting here, the director would like to speak with you for a moment.”

Read More

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The Scandal Has Gone to the Editor

A book cover feature a woman buttoning her blouse, with two men and the Hollywood sign behind her.
Cover illustration by Wes Lowe.

Finally, after more than a year of writing, my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal has gone to the editor. Once again, I feel like a mom whose kids have just moved out. You think you’re going to feel happy, and part of you does. But at the same time, you also feel sad. I guess you’d call the feeling bittersweet.


I’ve genuinely loved writing all of my novels, but some have been more fun to write than others. On the pleasure to write meter, The Scandal is right up there with The Reunion. The inspiration came from one of my cousins who, years ago, had a major role on a soap opera. She was kind enough to not only invite me to visit the set, she also invited me to her wrap party when she left the show. And by the way, a soap opera wrap party is like any other corporate party. The only difference is that the faces look more familiar. But then again, when you’re a writer, you can add a little unexpected drama to make a corporate party a whole lot more interesting, which is exactly what I did in The Scandal.


Now, just so you know, Lauren McAllen, my lead character, is actually not based on my cousin. About the only thing she and my cousin have in common is they don’t hang out with the Hollywood crowd. Not all actors do. Just like doctors, attorneys, and architects, actors are all unique individuals. Some are party animals. Some have drug or alcohol issues. Others get on political soap boxes. They may make the headlines, but not everyone in Hollywood is that way. Some actors go home and hangout with their families, and their social circles don’t necessarily include other celebrities. In other words, off camera, they’re more like the rest of us, and that’s who Lauren is. If anything, she’s an extension of me; a woman totally devoted to her craft who feels truly blessed to be able to follow her dream and do what she loves.

The Scandal is also my most researched novel to date. As a writer, I strive for accuracy. I want my stories and my characters to be as realistic and believable as possible. And while visiting the set and watching a taping was truly an honor and a privilege, it hardly makes me an expert on television production. So, I spent a lot of time reading articles on how things work on the set and what happens behind the scenes. Hopefully, I’ve come close.
Look for The Scandal to be released later this summer.

MM

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