Can I Be in Your Book?

The things you should never ask a creative writer

They say there are certain things you should never ask an author or creative writer. One of them is, “Can I be a character in your book?”

For a time, however, this was a running joke between me and one of my friends. First, he dropped me an oh so subtle hint in my birthday card. Then, whenever we’d run into one another, he’d tease me and say, “Hey, can I be a character in your book?” I’d tease him back and reply, “Sure. How do you want to die?”

Oh, if you only knew

Here’s the real butt of of the joke. Some of my friends actually are in my contemporary romance novels, as they are inspiration for some of my characters. Ian, in The Reunion, is loosely based on an old college boyfriend. Lauren in The Scandal was inspired by a family member, and the idea for Craig in The Stalker came from someone harassing a friend on Facebook.

That said, my characters are all unique individuals. Each has their own distinct personality, including their own quirks. My protagonists aren’t perfect. They make their fair share of mistakes. Some of my antagonists are downright chilling. Others are good people who’ve made bad choices. But regardless of whether the character is inspired by a real person, or someone I created from scratch, all are believable, three-dimensional people who readers can connect to. 

So, did I ever put my friend in one of my books?

Well, sort of. There is a supporting character in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Diversion, who is somewhat similar to my real-life friend. Both are professional musicians, and both are serious about making careers in the music business. 

Marina Martindale

 

The Reunion, The Stalker, and The Scandal are available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com.

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Yikes! I’ve Created Another Sexy Villain

© Can Stock Photo / Ostill

Ask any fiction author. They’ll tell you characters have minds of their own. Believe me, I have experienced this phenomenon many times myself. There’ve been many times when a character came out differently than planned, and it’s always been for the better.


Villains in particular have a certain quality about them. They’re typically more complex, more charismatic and, for lack of a better word, sexy. Jeremy Palmer in my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion was the first. Originally intended to be a rogue character who would do his dirty deed and disappear, Jeremy ended up having a special charisma. He went from being a rouge to becoming a rival who would compete with his father to win Gillian’s affections. Josh Ramsey in my later contemporary romance novel, The Letter was intended to be a conman. Then the chemistry between him and Stephanie unexpectedly sizzled. So I revamped him into a mystery man.


I strive to make my villains as despicable as I can. There’s nothing more fun than seeing a villain we love to hate get their comeuppance. Some of my more dastardly villains include Scott Andrews in my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. Scott was a married man presenting himself as a single man to entice unsuspecting single women. Then there’s Beau Fowler, the corrupt detective in The Betrayal. He tried to frame an innocent woman for a crime she didn’t commit. And finally, there’s Craig Walker, the sociopathic villain in The Stalker. He’ll resort to kidnapping and murder to get what he wants. 


Now it’s happening again. This time it’s Calvin Michaelson, in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal. Cal’s a Hollywood mogul with a reputation as a playboy. Intended to be a despicable villain for readers to hate, his character became more dynamic than expected. He too is being revamped. He’ll still be a playboy, but at the end of the story a new and completely unexpected side to Cal will be revealed. 

Marina Martindale

Update

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

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It’s Creepy All Year Long

© Can Stock Photo / PinkBadger

I’ve had some nice reviews for my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, and readers are pretty consistent with their comments about not being able to put the book down. Inspired by a real-life incident, The Stalker is my darkest story so far. It’s part romance and part horror and definitely high on the creep factor. Everyday seems like Halloween for lead character Rachel. What makes the story even more creepy is the fact that Craig, the man who’s stalking her, isn’t a jilted ex-lover. He’s a former coworker.

Below is a sample read from The Stalker

Marina Martindale

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Once Alice drove away, Rachel turned her attention to Shane.

“So, what’d you think?” she asked.

“I like her. She’s like you, in a lot of ways.”

“You think so? I always thought that with our only being half-sisters, we weren’t very much alike.”

“Well, in that case, you’re each other’s better half. Seriously, you two have a great relationship. I wish I could have been closer to my own sister, but there’s such a big difference in our ages. By the time I was old enough to really get to know her, she’d gone off to California for college. After that she only came home for short visits.”

“It’s never too late, you know,” said Rachel. “Maybe you should call her sometime, just to say hello.”

“Well, maybe. We’ll see. Meantime, I’ll walk you to your car.”

Rachel’s car was parked a few spaces away. “Thank you again, Shane, for such as wonderful evening,” she said as she reached into her purse for her keys. “I’m glad you liked my sister.”

“You’re welcome.” He gazed into her eyes and slowly leaned down to kiss her. It was a gentle, yet passionate kiss. When it was over, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in close as he kissed the top of her head. A sense of calmness came over her as she basked in the warmth of his embrace, but her mood quickly shattered when pair of glaring headlights shined in her face. A red pickup truck slowly drove past. She watched it closely as it turned out of the parking lot and drove away.

“Are you all right?” asked Shane.

She nodded toward the street. “That truck. I’ve seen it a lot lately. Over the past few weeks it’s been going up and down my street.”

“Are you sure? There are plenty of red pickup trucks in Tucson.”

“Yes, I’m sure. It’s a red Dodge Ram, with California plates.”

“Which is a popular model. Maybe someone from California recently moved into your neighborhood.”

“Maybe,” she said, “but that particular truck has a small dent, right above the left rear wheel, and I recognized the same exact dent on the truck that just drove by.”

“It’s okay, Rachel. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s been weeks since we bumped into Craig Walker, and you’ve heard nothing of him since. I’m beginning to think his being at the same hotel where we had our class reunion was one of those weird coincidences. In the meantime, we’re only a few blocks away from your place, so it’s entirely possible that someone from California has recently moved into your neighborhood.”

Rachel remained unconvinced, but she didn’t want to start an argument. “Well, hopefully, you’re right. Maybe it is just a coincidence.”

The Stalker is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

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Meet Craig Walker

the evil villain from THE STALKER
A photo of a man sitting in front of a computer.
© Can Stock Photo / Elenathewise

Few things are more fun about writing contemporary romance novels than creating truly evil, nasty, vile antagonists. And when it comes to mean, nasty and downright evil, Craig Walker from The Stalker is an absolute delight.


A writer by profession, Craig met Rachel while working as a staff writer for a regional lifestyle magazine. Rachel considered Craig a mentor, but he had much bigger plans for her, and they went well above and beyond being her mentor. Those plans, however, were suddenly foiled when Rachel accepted a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve. Unaware that she had applied for the position, he reacted with rage, and Rachel soon ended the friendship. Craig, however, had no intention of letting Rachel go. He began stalking her, and it continued long after the magazine went out of business. Craig wants Rachel, and he intends to have her at all costs, whether she wants him or not. At long last, he’s finally come up with plan for getting his way with her, once and for all.


Craig is loosely a man who cyber stalked and harassed someone I knew, and he made her life miserable for years.


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 contemporary romance 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 she 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.

Revenge — The Journey and The Stalker. Life isn’t always fair and things don’t always go our way. However, it doesn’t mean someone has intentionally thwarted us. Sometimes bad things happen. 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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Meet Rachel Bennett

A woman with blonde hair sitting in front of a computer.
© Can Stock Photo / oksun70
a lead character in The Stalker

Rachel Bennett, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, has a serious problem. A man from her past is obsessed with her, and he intends to have her at all costs.


Rachel has recently returned to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, where she is attending her ten-year high school reunion. She’ll soon be reintroduced to Shane MacLeod, a fellow classmate whom she briefly met while serving on the yearbook committee. Rachel may not remember Shane, but he certainly remembers her. As they’re busy getting reacquainted, another man from Rachel’s past suddenly reappears. Craig Walker, is a former coworker who’s been stalking and harassing her for years.

Rachel has tried her best to stop Craig’s harassment, but the system keeps failing her. Finally, with Shane’s help, things appear to be working in her favor. But unknown to both of them, Craig is about take his revenge, and when he does, Rachel’s life will never be the same.


Rachel is loosely based on a friend who was once hounded for years by a former colleague. However, she wasn’t afraid to push back.


Marina Martindale

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Meet Shane MacLeod

a lead character from THE STALKER

A young businessman holding a smartphone.
© Can Stock Photo / boggy

My editor loved Shane, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker. She thought he was the best leading man since Alex Montoya, from my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. She has a point. Both men will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the women they love, and both were the nerdy kids when they were young.


Rachel and Shane attended the same high school, but they had different circles of friends. Shane hung out with a couple of other nerdy kids, and they formed The Math Club. Rachel was on the yearbook committee, and she took their club photo for the yearbook. She may not have noticed Shane, he certainly noticed her. Unfortunately, he was too shy to pursue her.

Shane and Rachel would meet again at their ten-year class reunion. Over the past decade, Shane has gone from a nerdy teenager to a handsome, accomplished man. He soon spots Rachel and invites her to join him at his table. She accepts the invitation, and the two quickly become friends. Little they know, however, that another man from Rachel’s past intends to destroy her, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.


Shane is a purely fictitious character. By the way, if you liked, The Deception, you’ll like TheStalker. Along with similar leading men, both leading women have enemies who intend to destroy them at all costs. There’s also a supporting character who appears in both books.

Marina Martindale

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A Sample Read from The Stalker

 

 

 

The inspiration for my contemporary novels comes from all kinds of places, including social media. In fact, the idea for my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, came from a Facebook fued.

For better or worse, Facebook has become a part of our culture, and a few years ago a bitter feud erupted on my Facebook newsfeed. A friend’s former colleague had a falling out with her. She had blocked him Facebook, but his so-called friends and supporters enabled him to continue stalking her by sending him screenshots of her Facebook posts. This included posts about her job, her family, and even her children. He would then use her posts to smear her, and her family, on his newsfeed.

No one deserves to be bullied and harassed on social media. My friend took her harasser to court, and the judge put a stop to it once and for all. However, the legal system takes time, so this feud went on for at least a year. As a writer, I saw this as a good premise for novel. Most people assume stalking is limited to former lovers, but it isn’t the case at at. Anyone can be a potential stalker, although stalking itself is a rare phenomenon. I talked it over with my friend, and she gave me her okay to use her experience as the inspiration for my novel.

While inspired by real-life events, The Stalker, is a unique and fictional story. It’s also a much darker and creepier story. Craig Walker, a successful freelance writer, is stalking Rachel Bennett, a former coworker. Rachel had once considered Craig a mentor, but their friendship soured when she got a promotion he thought she didn’t deserve. Now Criag out for revenge, and he intends to destroy Rachel, once and for all. 

Below is a short excerpt from The Stalker. The Stalker is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Marina Martindale

An excerpt from The Stalker

Rachel waited until Shane was gone before turning her attention back to the deputy. His nametag identified him as Joseph Gonzalez.

“And so another wonderful evening gets ruined, thanks to Craig Walker.” She let out a disappointed sigh. “I first met Shane, the man who just left, back in high school, but I never really talked to him until tonight, and I could tell something wonderful was about to happen. Then you showed up.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m just doing my job.”

Her toned softened. “I know you are, and I’m sorry for being rude. This really isn’t your fault. You got duped by Craig Walker, just like I did.”

The deputy motioned for her to take a seat in the corner of the lounge. As she settled into her chair, he took a small notepad from his pocket and sat down across from her.

“Okay, Ms. Bennett, can you please tell how you know Mr. Walker?”

“Craig Walker is an ex co-worker who I first met in Reno, Nevada, where we both worked for a magazine.”

“Were you ever romantically involved with him?”

“No,” said Rachel, firmly, as she shook her head. “Mr. Walker and I have never been romantically involved. It was strictly a business relationship.” She went on to describe their talks in the break room, and how he had turned on her after she was hired as the new art director.

“So,” said Gonzalez, “you said he was reprimanded after this incident. Did the harassment stop after that?”

“He never actually spoke to me after that, but he still gave me the evil eye whenever he saw me, and he always made a point of contradicting me at staff meetings, even when everyone else agreed with me. I probably could have said the sky was blue, and he would have said no, it was green. And then things started getting really scary.”

“What do you mean by scary?”

“I started getting some really nasty emails in my personal account. They came from different senders, but they all had pretty much the same verbiage. I was a hack who didn’t know how to do my job, and the only reason I got my job was because I’d slept with the boss. Changing my password and blocking the senders didn’t seem to help. So, I finally went back to my supervisor, but I was told that unless I could prove Craig was the sender, they couldn’t do anything about it. They suggested I open a new email account.”

“Did you?”

“Yes, and after that I made a point of not checking my personal email from my work computer. Later on, I found out someone was using the contact form on the magazine website to complain about me, but management simply ignored it. They knew what was going on; they just didn’t want to get involved. It was about the same time we learned the magazine would be going out of business.”

The deputy went over his notes. “You mentioned something about this not being the first time you had an evening ruined by Mr. Walker. Could you please explain what you meant by that?”

“Back in Reno, it seemed like every time I went out with friends, Craig would be there. If we went to a bar or restaurant, he’d be at another table. If we went to a movie or show, he’d be seated in the auditorium; always giving me a cold, hard stare. It was as if he knew my every move, even though I’d made a point of keeping my private life private. I never discussed any of my plans with co-workers. Then there was Eric.”

“Who was Eric?”

“Eric Hawthorne was someone I was seeing while I was in Reno. It wasn’t anything overly serious, but we enjoyed each other’s company. So one night while we were out having dinner, Craig was brazen enough to approach Eric in the men’s room. He told him what a lying, two-faced bitch I was, and that I was sleeping with the boss, and why was wasting his time with someone like me when there were so many other women out there who were better? The confrontation apparently didn’t last long, maybe a minute or so at best, but it really made Eric mad, not to mention how embarrassing it was for me.” Rachel sighed. “Eric sent me an email a few days later. He said he was sorry about the problems I was having with Craig, but he wanted to end the relationship. He wished me luck and hoped there’d be no hard feelings. After that, I never heard from him again.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “Once again, I went to my supervisor. She said she was sorry, but since it happened after hours and away from the office, they weren’t going to get involved.”

“I see.” Gonzalez scribbled down more notes. “Is there anything else?”

“Other than the fact that he harassed me via the company email account at my next job, and through social media, I can’t think of a thing.”

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The Stalker Book Cover

The Stalker Book Cover.

Once again my illustrator, Wes Lowe, hit it out of the ballpark. This is one of his best cover illustrations to date, and it’s getting rave reviews on Facebook as well. Yes, there is a reason why she’s barefoot, but you’ll have to read the novel to find out why.


The Stalker will be released this fall.

MM

An excerpt from The Stalker

Rachel Bennett turned onto a quiet side street and drove up a steep hill. Desert landscaping lined both sides of the roadway, and a sign with an arrow pointing to the right soon appeared. She pressed down on the brake pedal making a sharp turn onto another road. The hotel, with its three signature arches, stood at the top of the hill. Moments later she pulled underneath one of the archways, and as she rolled down her window, a muscular young man walked up to her car and greeted her with a warm smile.

Please click on the link below to read the rest of the chapter.

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Presenting The Stalker

My newest contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, is now complete. My editor she tells me she loved it, which is always a good sign. She says it’s one of my best stories to date, and she should know. She’s been my editor since my very first contemporary romance novel, The Reunion.

The Stalker is the story of Rachel, a free lance graphic designer who first met Craig while both were working for a magazine. Craig was someone Rachel looked up to and admired, and they soon became friends. Rachel considered him a mentor, but unbeknownst to her, Craig wanted much more than a friendship. That friendship, however, would come to a sudden and unexpected end once Rachel got a promotion Craig felt she didn’t deserve. He’s now a bitter enemy who intends to destroy her at all costs, and he won’t allow anyone or anything to get in his way. 

The inspiration for The Stalker came from a real-life event. A nasty and vindictive individual was, for a time, stalking and harassing a friend of mine on Facebook. He was acting like a jilted lover, but they had never dated. They were actually coworkers, who had only worked together for a brief time. He eventually moved on while my friend gave me her blessing for writing a fictional story loosely based on her experience.

The Stalker is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Marina Martindale

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