Making Bad Romance Choices

© Can Stock Photo/ NicoletaIonescu

I’ve noticed a trend with my two most recent contemporary romance novels. My lead characters chose to get involved with the wrong man for the wrong reasons. This got me to thinking. Why do we do this in real life?

Loneliness

I think loneliness is a big factor. I’ve known people, both men and women, who are terrified at the prospect of being alone. They’ll do anything to avoid it, including getting into, or staying in, a bad relationship. Their rationale is, “Well, at least I’m not alone.”

Unfortunately, there is another kind of loneliness. It’s the loneliness which comes being with the wrong person. Having experienced both kinds of loneliness myself, I’ll take the former over the latter any day. If I want to meet new people I can take a class, go on a trip somewhere, or do other things I enjoy doing. In fact, doing the things we enjoy doing is a great way to meet people with common interests. However, being stuck with the wrong person is stifling. It can suck the joy right out of your life. 

Loneliness was the catalyst in The Scandal when Lauren has a one-night stand with Cal.  Lauren is so wrapped up in her career that she doesn’t have time for a man. Cal uses it to his advantage to manipulate and seduce her, and Lauren allows it to happen. Later on her bad decision will come back to haunt her. I believe this often happens in real life as well.

Being on the Rebound

The most vulnerable time in our lives is when we are grieving a loss. Whether it’s the loss of a job, the death of a close friend or family member, a divorce or the break up of a romantic relationship, our defenses are down. As a result, we are more likely to trust the wrong people, and perhaps rush blindly into a relationship with the wrong person. I wrote about this in Aquamarine

Tonya meets George a few months after she caught her fiancé in the act with another woman. George soon convinces her to have a “rebound” relationship with him. However, unbeknownst to Tonya, George has his own agenda, and she soon discovers she’s a kept woman. 

Of course, there is more to both storylines than what I’ve mentioned here. My point is that I write romance because I like to delve into the human condition and try to understand why, good or bad, we make the choices we make. I sometimes wish I had a magic crystal ball that would tell me if the choices I’m making are good or bad, but so far I’ve not found one. I guess all we can do is make the best decisions we can, based on our knowledge at the time. 

Marina Martindale

The Scandal is available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and with other online booksellersAquamarine is also available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and with other online booksellers

 

The Funny Things Friends Do

Sandra Day O’Connor Courthouse Plaza. Photo by Marina Martindale.

The other day I was going through some old photos and came across a reference photo I shot a few years back. It was when I was doing the preliminary research for my contemporary romance novel, The Deception.  

Warning! Spoiler Alert!

The Deception is set in Phoenix, Arizona. The town in which I was born and raised, in case anyone is wondering. As we reach the big climax scene most of the characters have assembled for a hearing at the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse in downtown Phoenix. The hearing itself is short and to the point. It resolves one of major conflicts in the storyline, but there are other loose ends to tie up. 

As characters leave the courtroom, Alex stays behind to discuss a different case with another attorney. The rest of the cast leaves the building, and upon stepping out to the plaza, Maggie, one of the antagonists, waits in the wings. A small handgun is concealed underneath her overcoat and she’s about to unleash her final revenge.

Using Real Locations Accurately

Whenever possible, I prefer to use fictitious locations as it gives me more creative latitude. However, there are times when it’s necessary to set a scene in a real place. The O’Conner Courthouse is a unique piece of Phoenix architecture. Therefore, I wanted to describe the scene in the plaza as accurately as possible. I was living in Tucson at the time, so I decided I would drive up to Phoenix and shoot some reference photos. I also invited my beta reader at the time to come along with me. We’ll call her, Ginny.

I planned on arriving after the building had closed for the day and the staff had gone home. I didn’t want to disturb anyone having business at the courthouse. It would also be a whole lot easier for me to find a parking spot. I had told Ginny about the scene I wanted to write, and I encouraged her to help me place the characters in the plaza. I planned on blocking out the scene like a director blocks a play.

So we get to the courthouse. I grab my camera, and as I’m walking around the plaza someone who was apparently working late steps out of the courthouse. Keep in mind this building is a landmark. It’s popular with photographers, and I’m not at all concerned about this woman telling me I have to leave. However, as I’m taking my next photo, I overhear Ginny talking to her. She’s telling her all about the scene I’m writing, and how it involves a character with a gun.

At this point my heart stops beating. The last thing I need is for this woman to get the wrong idea and call the police. It’s times like these when you’re grateful to have brought along your business cards. I quickly handed one to her and she walked away. Once she was gone, I finished up as quickly as I could and we left without incident. Interestingly enough, I haven’t previewed a real location since. That’s what YouTube is for.

I published The Deception about a year I visited the courthouse plaza, and it’s been one of my more popular contemporary romance novels. So far as I know, it’s still my editor’s personal favorite. 

Marina Marindale

The Deception is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com, and with other online booksellers.

 

Goodbye, Hollywood

© Can Stock Photo / PerseoMedusa

I had a lot of fun writing my two latest contemporary romance novels, The Scandal and Aquamarine. Both stories took place in Hollywood, so creating characters who work in the entertainment industry was a real treat. Interestingly enough, I had only planned to write one Hollywood novel, but sometimes life imitates art.

I was in the early planning stages for The Scandal when the real-life Harvey Weinstein scandal made the headlines. The news stories were too similar to what I had in mind for the storyline, so I had to come up with a whole new game plan. Later on, I used the original Scandal story idea for Aquamarine. Now I’m going back to writing stories about more every day people. 

My next story involves a romantic triangle. It’s a classic soap opera trope which always creates nice conflicts. The underlying theme would be best described as, “though shalt not bear false witness.” We’ve all had a lying, two-faced, backstabbing so-called friend at least once in our lives, and this person will be the instigator for much of the conflict.

Jenna, the lead character, is an interior designer whose most recent romance had ended amicably. Or so she thought. However, when her former boyfriend finds out there’s a new man in her life, he’ll do whatever he can to sabotage her new relationship. No, he doesn’t want her back. He’s doing it just because he can.  The title for this new contemporary romance novel is Rivalry. Look for it in late 2024.

Marina Martindale

The Scandal is available on Amazon, Barnes&noble.com, and other online booksellers. 

Aquamarine is also available on Amazon, Barnes&noble.com, and other online booksellers.

So Which One is My Favorite?

Cover illustration by Wesley Lowe.

I’m often asked how many books I’ve written. Danged if I know. After a while, you kind of lose track. However, of all my contemporary romance novels, The Reunion will always be my favorite.

The Reunion was my first full-fledged novel. Prior to that, I was writing children’s books, (as Gayle Martin), and The Luke and Jenny series did quite well. My very first book was a historic, WWII era ration cookbook titled, Anna’s Kitchen, which was later updated into Rosie’s Riveting Recipes. It’s still one of my biggest sellers. However, after Luke and Jenny, I wanted to write more contemporary stories for adult readers, and romance is my favorite genre.

Unlike my later novels, The Reunion is loosely based on events which have happened in my own life. I wrote it as a, “what if” story. As in, what if I had done this instead of that? Of course, I’ll never really know, but The Reunion gave me a chance to imagine one possibility. Leading man Ian is based on someone very special who I once knew. Gillian is me. Sort of. She’s an idea of what my life might have been, had I made different choices. 

Samantha Walsh, Gillian’s best friend, is based on a real-life neighbor I once had. I also met her while I was in college. Her apartment was a few doors down from mine. However, she worked at the parimutuel windows at the dog track instead of a truck stop diner, but some of the stories she told about her job were hilarious. She moved back to Chicago a few months after we met, so I have no idea whatever become of her, but she was certainly unforgettable, to say the least.

Gillian’s ex, Jason Matthews was, I’m sorry to say, based on my own ex-husband. He worked at an Old West Theme park called, Rawhide, which, at the time, was in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like Jason, he kind of swept me off my feet. Unfortunately, also like Jason, he turned out to be an abusive conman. Thankfully, I haven’t heard from him in many years, and so far as I know, he’s alive and well. Although I will admit that writing about Jason’s untimely end was kind of cathartic. Just saying.

I think of my first romance novel as my first child, in a way. Writing it was a life-changing event for me, because doing so was when I realized that writing novels truly is me life’s calling. It’s yet another reason why The Reunion will always be my favorite.

Marina Martindale

The Reunion is available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and other online book sellers. 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Texas Home

The view from my writing desk. Photo by Marina Martindale

I did it. I’m finally here, in my new home in Denton, Texas. I’m all unpacked and settled. In my last blog post, So Moving Right Along, I talked about my decision to sell my New Mexico home and move to the Dallas Fort Worth area. 

It was a long, hectic spring, to say the least. Buying a home, and selling a home, are quite time consuming. Especially in this crazy real estate market. First, I had to win a bidding war to get my new home. Then, when I returned to Las Cruces, I got to experience the other side when I put my home on the market.

It was, in a word, crazy. We were open for showings for three days, and seemed like hundreds of people were going through my house. I had sixteen offers in the end, with the winning bid coming in at sixty-thousand over my asking price. I kind you not. Sixty grand. Then came the fun of finding the right mover, packing, loading and unloading, and then unpacking. Unpacking definitely takes the longest. 

I love my new home. lt has a much bigger kitchen than my last home. I love cooking. Finally, I have enough counter space and cupboard space. I also have an extra bedroom. It’s my new guest room. Visitors will no longer have to sleep in my office.  

It took a few weeks to finish unpacking, and I’m still moving stuff around. However, my office is up and running, and I have a lovely view out the window. It sure beats my old office, where I had a nice view of the wall. I’ve also finished my newest contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine. I’m very happy with how it turned out. And, interesting enough, it too takes place in Denton, Texas. 

Did life just imitate art? 

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is available on Amazon

So Moving Right Along

Frisco, Texas at Night. Photo by Gayle Martin

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I certainly as if like the past two years have been like living in a real-life episode of The Twilight Zone.

Prior to the pandemic, I was living in Tucson, Arizona. I’d been there for twelve years and I was doing very well. It reminded me in many ways of my native town of Phoenix, before it became Los Angeles in the desert. I had a good circle of friends, a good social life, and I was absolutely thriving. Unfortunately, it all began changing in late 2019.

In November, 2019, a very controversial candidate was elected mayor of Tucson. Like many cities, Tucson had its share of problems. Unfortunately, this new mayor had her own radical agenda, none of which included improving the quality of life for Tucson citizens. It was time for me to sell my home and move someplace else.

I lived in Dallas many years ago. It was another happy time in my life, but circumstances were such that I had to return to Phoenix. So, I decided I would take a road trip to Texas. I planned on going all the way to Corpus Christi and back. However, we were getting into the holiday season, along with winter driving conditions. So, I decided I would take my road trip in  March, 2020.

Well, we all know what happened in March of 2020, don’t we? I still planned on moving, but instead of going to Texas, I moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico instead. I already had a few friends there. It was also within a day’s drive of Tucson and Phoenix, where the rest of my family lives. If there were an emergency, I could easily get to where I needed to be.

I arrived in New Mexico with every intention of making it my permanent home. However, I soon became disillusioned. My family used to visit relatives in New Mexico when I was a kid. At the time it was a very nice state. Beautiful scenery, friendly people, and it wasn’t as brutally hot as it was in Arizona. Unfortunately, times have changed. It’s no longer the New Mexico I once knew. Long after other states had fully reopened, New Mexico still had mask mandates and other restrictions. Many small, locally own businesses, the places that gave the community its character, ended up shuttering for good. As a result, I was unable to go out and do the things I enjoyed doing, and I was living in total isolation.

We humans are hard-wired to be social creatures. Isolation isn’t good for our mental health and emotional well being. Two years of forced isolation had affected other health issues I had before the pandemic, and not in a good way.  So, I could do one of two things. I could either keep living in isolation, and watch my health continue to deteriorate, or I could take matters into my own hands and get the hell out of New Mexico. I opted for the latter.

This past spring I finally took that road trip to the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, looking for a new home. It was quite an experience. I got into bidding wars with other folks who, like me, are getting the hell out of “blue” states. I found a lovely home in Denton, north of Dallas, which I’ll be moving in a few weeks.

One of the high points of my visit was when my agent took me to Frisco, a town between Dallas and Denton, for her regular Tuesday night music bingo. It was the first time I’d felt anything close to normal in two years. I was sitting at a big table with unmasked people and I could actually see their faces. They were actually enjoying themselves and we all sang along with the music while we played the game. 

In the meantime, I’ve sold my home in Las Cruces, and I’ll be moving in a few weeks. I can’t wait to start this new chapter in my life.

Marina Martindale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Table Conversations

Photo by Marina Martindale

It’s the time of year for gathering with friends and family, so I invited my good friend and fellow author, David Lee Summers, and his wife, over for dinner. No, David doesn’t write contemporary romance. He writes steampunk, science fiction, and horror, so naturally the conversation turned to fiction writing, and famous fictional characters. We got to talking about Star Wars.

I love Star Wars. I saw the first one on the big screen a few weeks after it premiered, and it was amazing. To me, it was sort of like a sci-fi version of Camelot, complete with knights, a princess, and an evil wizard. What made the story work was the characters. We talked about how well all the characters were thought out and developed. Then came the prequels. (Not bad. Not great, but not bad.) After that came Disney. Ugh! Suffice to say the rest of the conversation was about the importance of character arcs and consistency in storytelling.

So, what can I say? Some people get together and discuss sports, current events, or politics. Get storytellers together, and we’ll sit around and analyze famous, iconic characters, and talk about what makes them work. Our inspiration often comes from other storytellers.

Marina Martindale

White Roses and Aquamarines

© Can Stock Photo / vtupinamba

My latest contemporary romance novel is off to the editor. It’s the first book I’ve written since the pandemic started. The pandemic, particularly the lockdowns, took a terrible toll on creative people.

For most of 2020 I was simply unable to write, so I decided to go back and give my earlier novels a read, hoping it would motivate me. When I got to The Betrayal, I rediscovered a minor character with a lot of potential. Not only was she strong enough to become a lead character, she was also strong enough to motivate me to start writing again.

My story is Covid free. In fact, all my future contemporary romance novels will be Covid free. I did a little research on the topic. People do not want want to see Covid included in movies or television shows, so I highly doubt they want to read about it in novels. Very few novels were ever written about the Spanish Flu, and most were written a generation later, in the nineteen-thirties. They all ended up in the dustbin of history. I recently beta read a fellow author’s manuscript. His next novel is Covid free as well, so I think I may be onto something here.

I did, however, get a little stuck on the title. It was originally going to be called The Diversion. Then, as often happens, once I started writing, and the characters came to life, the story went in a different, and better, direction. The Diversion, however, no longer made sense as a title.  The lead characters are both musicians, and each has written a song. One song is called, Aquamarine. The other is The White Rose. While the songs may be fictitious, either title would make a dandy title for the book. If only I could decide which one to use.

So, when in doubt, let the readers decide. I took a poll in my newsletter. It resulted in a tie. Ugh! So, now it’s time to ask the Magic 8 ball, which in Internet land, is a random name picker.

And the winner is… Aquamarine. It will be available in early 2022.

Stay tuned.

Marina Martindale

P.S. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, simply scroll down to the bottom of the post and you’ll find a sign up form. Each month I giveaway a free book.

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.

Pondering Life’s Meaning

This article was originally posted in February, 2019 on another blog. 

© 2021 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.

The other day I learned an old family friend had passed away. She and her husband were close friends with my parents, and she was the last one standing. To protect her identity, I’m calling her Jane.

My parents, along with Jane and her husband, were quite the foursome. Friendships like theirs are rare. Jane and her husband were frequent guests in our home while I was growing up. To me, they were sort of like extended family.

I rarely saw Jane once I became an adult, but she and my mother were the epitome of best friends for the remainder of my mother’s life. So when I heard she had finally passed away, I immediately looked up her obituary. It included a photo, taken decades ago. Jane wasn’t overly pretty, but she was nonetheless an attractive woman, and surprisingly photogenic. 

Her obituary began the usual way. When and where she was born, her parents, grandparents, siblings, and her marriage. There was also a mention of her being a cub scout den mother. From there her story took an odd twist. Instead of saying she was a full time mom and homemaker, which she was, it listed all of the country clubs she and her husband had belonged to. It ended by stating she had spent her entire adult life playing bridge every day at the country club. 

Wow.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for stay-at-home moms. I also believe we should make time to do the things we enjoy doing. It helps bring meaning and balance in our lives. However, I also think there’s a whole lot more to life than playing cards every day at the country club. Jane may have led a charmed life, but I can’t help but wonder if she was truly happy.

In my humble opinion, life isn’t about focusing entirely on oneself. It’s what we do for others that gives our lives purpose and meaning. For me, it’s writing romance novels for people to enjoy while taking break from their troubles. My biggest joy is visualizing people reading and enjoying my books as I write them. This is what gives my life purpose. For someone else it may be providing for their family, or serving their community.

We all have a purpose in life, regardless of our occupation or social status, and that purpose is serving others and doing what we can to help make someone else’s life a little better. How we go about doing this is entirely up to us, and in the end, I think most of us want to be remembered for doing something meaningful. I know I certainly do. 

Marina Martindale

Remembering Bobby

Photo by Gayle Marin

This past fall has been brutal. I lost a very dear friend, and one of my favorite people on the planet.

Bobby was a jazz musician in Tucson, who I first met in 2012.  He was part of a band which had a regular Sunday night gig at venue called Monterey Court.  Cynthia, my editor, was a tenant at Monterey Court at the time, so I was a regular there myself. Every Sunday night she and I hung out and listened to live jazz. It was a happy time.

As I got to know Bobby, and the other musicians he performed with, I began to realize there was something special about him. He was a good soul, and people like him are rare. I soon found out he enjoyed reading, so I gave him a copy of one of my Luke and Jenny books. (Which I wrote as Gayle Martin.) He loved it, so now we were more than friends. We were mutual fans.

I soon became a regular at his other gigs. I also got to know his family, and we even did a little traveling together. Bobby introduced me to some of his other friends, many of whom became some of my closest friends too.

Bobby may not have been into romance novels, but he was nonetheless very supportive of me as an author. He was always the first person to open my newsletters, and he always read my Facebook posts. In fact, he used to joke about stalking me on Facebook.

Unfortunately, Bobby was a smoker, and from what I understand, nicotine is a very difficult addiction to break. He was diagnosed with cancer after I moved to New Mexico, and he passed away in late August. I went back to Tucson to attend his funeral, and I couldn’t get over how many other people attended as well. He was well loved by many, and he will most certainly be missed by all who knew him. 

Marina Martindale