Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Question I'm Most Often Asked

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
As an author people ask me a lot of questions, but question I'm most often asked is, drumroll...  Are your books a series?

And the answer is...   No!

I get it. Many authors like to write series books, and many readers apparently like them too, but the authors who I consider to be my mentors, such as Danielle Steele and Rosamunde Pilcher, don't write series books. Their novels are all stand alone books, as are mine. One trick I have borrowed from Ms. Pilcher, however, is to take a minor character from one book and incorporate him or her into another novel, as she did when 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 novel, and when I wrote my second novel, The Deception, I decided to have a chapter take place at Hanson Sisters Fine Art, the gallery owned by Gillian, the leading lady in The Reunion. In an early draft of The Deception, Gillian's sister and business partner, Cynthia Lindsey, made a cameo appearance. However, the scene was later cut and replaced Cynthia being discussed in a conversation between two Deception characters. Either way, it was a nice way to incorporate the two novels together.

The Journey comes the closest to being a sequel as it uses the same cast of characters as The Reunion, although it too is a stand alone book. Ian and Gillian, the leading characters from The Reunion appear in The Journey. However, their story has already been told, so this time around they are supporting characters only. The lead characters in The Journey are Ian's son, Jeremy, and his wife, Cassie. There are also references made in The Journey to events that took place in The Reunion, but they're only vaguely discussed, and I worded them in such a way that those readers who hadn't read The Reunion would 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. Also look for George McCormick, a featured character in The Deception, to make an appearance in The Journey.

Kyle Madden, the leading man in The Betrayal, was a minor character in The Reunion. In The Reunion, Kyle was the police detective who warned Gillian about her ex husband, Jason. This time around the roles are reversed, and it's Gillian who has a minor role when, once again, a scene takes place at Hanson Sisters Fine Art.

I'm currently working on my fifth novel, The Stalker, and 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.

MM

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Reunion Book Trailer

Rob Resetar has completed The Reunion book trailer, and it was well worth the wait. To say I love it would be an understatement. Rob hit this one out of the ballpark! As I mentioned in a previous post, we had some real challenges to overcome during production, so the project took a lot longer than we planned, but it certainly worked out in the end.

I want to thank Rob, and everyone else who was involved with this project, for all your time and effort. We couldn't have done this without you.

MM




Saturday, October 31, 2015

Meet Kyle Madden, Leading Man in THE BETRAYAL

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
One of the things I enjoy doing as an author is crossing characters from one novel into another. After all, they're just sitting there, doing nothing, so I may as well put them to work, right? One of these crossover characters is Kyle Madden, who we first meet in The Reunion. Kyle is the police detective who warns Gillian, the leading lady, about her ex-husband, Jason.

As I began formulating the plot line for The Betrayal, I decided to include a good cop/bad cop story, with my leading man being the good cop. The story would be set in Phoenix, and, rather than create a leading man from scratch, I thought why not use Kyle? He'd only played a minor role in The Reunion, as a generic police detective, so he had plenty of potential. In The Betrayal, Kyle becomes a thirty-something divorced dad whose wife left him, and their young son, a few years before. Kyle wants very much to be a good father, but his demanding career takes up too much of his time, and has left him feeling burned out.

Kyle first meets Emily, the leading lady, at an art gallery opening, but they're destined to meet again. This time, however, it's official police business, and Kyle soon realizes that Emily is being framed for a crime she didn't commit. As he fights to prove her innocence, he'll discover that one of his fellow officers is behind the nefarious plot, and he'll risk his life to keep her safe.

Kyle is a hero inspired by real-life heroes; all of the dedicated real life police officers out there who put their lives on the line for the rest of us each and everyday.

MM

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Betrayal Book Cover

Once again, Wes Lowe, has outdone himself and created yet another outstanding illustration for my book cover. This time for The Betrayal

I've been working with Wes for over ten years. I first discovered him back when I was writing a series of children's books, (under a different name.) Then when I changed genres I tried a different approach to my covers, and we'll just say it didn't work, so I contacted Wes.

Wes just doesn't meet my needs, he exceeds them. Every time. I can't imagine ever publishing another book without one of Wes' illustrations on the cover. 

MM

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Arizona Wine Country

Photo by Marina Martindale
I'm sure when most people think of Arizona, they probably think of cactus and desert, and they'd be right. We certainly have plenty of cactus and desert, but there is so much more to this great state. It's actually quite diverse. We have forests and grasslands, and rivers and lakes. There are places where it snows, sometimes quite heavily, during the winter. We even have the Grand Canyon. About the only thing we don't have here is the ocean. So, as a writer, this gives me a lot of possibilities.

Arizona is always changing, and over the past few decades a brand new industry has emerged here--wine making. One of the areas where wines are made is Santa Cruz county, in the southernmost part of state. This area is only about an hour's drive from where I live, and it's also one of the most beautiful parts of the state. This is why I've set part of The Betrayal in Arizona wine country.

Photo by Marina Martindale
My most recent trip was to shoot second unit video footage for The Betrayal book trailer, and I picked a perfect day to visit. (Have I mentioned that photography, like writing, is one of my life's passions?) This time of year when the grass, which is normally yellow, turns green from the summer monsoon rains, and the grapes are ripe and ready for harvest. It's the prettiest time of year, in one of the most scenic parts of the state, and it certainly made for a most memorable day.
 
MM

Friday, September 11, 2015

An Update on THE REUNION Book Trailer Video

Photo by Rob Resetar
Yes, I'm alive and well, although I've been a little under the weather lately, so I'm running behind on my blog posts. Even so, I've been keeping myself busy. Once again I'm working with Rob Resetar on a new book trailer video, this time for The Reunion.

Of all the novels I've written, The Reunion is the one nearest and dearest to my heart. The story was inspired by someone I loved, and lost, many years ago, so I really wanted this trailer to be special. Unfortunately, it got off to a bumpy start due to circumstances beyond our control. As a result, we had to stop production and recast, but they say things happen for a reason. In the end I was delighted with the new cast. They exceeded my expectations, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final cut. And when I do, you all will be the first to know. In the meantime, I'm sharing a few production stills.


MM

Photo by Rob Resetar





Saturday, July 4, 2015

This Time I'm Doing It Backwards

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
I may not be a formula writer, but there are certain rules for basic plot structure fiction writers have to follow. A protagonist is trying to achieve a certain goal, but an antagonist gets in their way. This creates the conflict that drives the story. The conflict builds to a climax, followed by a conclusion. This is, for all intents and purposes, the tonal scale for a novel writer. And in romance, the expected conclusion is for the couple to end up married, or engaged, or to make some other commitment to one another.

My first three novels, The Reunion, The Deception, and The Journey, all ended with the leading characters getting married, or, in the case of The Journey, remarried, but with my upcoming novel, The Betrayal, I've deviated of course. In fact, I've kind of done it in reverse.

The Betrayal is the story of a married woman who discovers, in a rather bizarre way, that her husband is cheating on her. So, instead of a protagonist finding her true love and getting married, I've have a protagonist trying to get herself unmarried. Of course, she'll still meet her true love along the way, but this time the ending is different. Emily, the leading lady, is once again single, and while she and the leading man are most certainly in love with one another, neither are ready for a commitment, leaving the other characters, and the reader, speculating that they will probably marry--someday.

I took this path with this story because I think it's more like real-life. Divorced people are often gunshy at the idea of remarriage. I also think readers like variety. I know I do as a writer, and having all my characters go up the aisle at the end of each novel gets redundant over time. It might make me a "formula" writer, and that's something I don't want to become.

Look for The Betrayal to be released later this summer.


MM

Saturday, May 16, 2015

It Was Certainly Well Worth the Wait

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
At long last, The Betrayal is back from the editor, and it was certainly worth the wait, as this time I had to do a major revision.

The Betrayal is a story of lies, deceit and infidelity that climaxes when a potentially deadly conspiracy is launched against Emily, the leading lady. However, I was facing some real-life challenges of my own as I was writing the story, which resulted in my having to set the manuscript aside for weeks at a time. Unbeknownst to me, when it was finally complete there were a few continuity errors that I couldn't see, but Cynthia, my editor, sure caught them. The last few chapters would have to be revised, and by the time I finish both of us were delighted at how much those changes improved the storyline. Now, I can't divulge too much, as I don't want to spoil it for you, but I can, however, give you a sneak peek, so here you go.

MM
* * *

Emily glanced at the dashboard clock as she waited for traffic light to change. It was nearly one o’clock. In the hour since she left Dr. Lerner’s office, her entire world had collapsed around her, and she wasn’t sure where to go next. Should she get a hotel room? Or would she be better off staying with her father? Granted, he’d never been fond of Jesse, but he wasn’t one to say I told you so either. The light turned green. She sighed and pointed her car toward her father’s house. Ten minutes later she pulled into the driveway.

The house looked quiet. Her father didn’t get off work until five o’clock, and Susan worked until seven, assuming today wasn’t her day off. With any luck, Emily would have the place to herself for a few hours. She still had the house key her parents had given her when she was a teenager. Hopefully, Susan hadn’t changed the locks. She put her key in the lock. It turned. As she stepped into the foyer, she got an enthusiastic greeting from Lurch. Lurch was part sheepdog, part collie, and part something else though no one knew exactly what, but whatever he lacked in pedigree, he more than made up for in love and affection. He put his big paws on Emily’s chest and she wrapped her arms around him.

“I know, buddy. It’s good to see you too.”

She gave the dog a pat on the head and stepped into the kitchen. To her relief, Susan was nowhere to be found. She fixed herself a glass of ice water and headed into the family room. A number of family photos stood on top of the mantle. She picked one up and gave it a closer look. It had been taken at the University of Arizona, shortly after the commencement ceremony had ended. Jesse stood in his cap and gown, his face beaming as he held up his diploma. Emily stood at his side, her face glowing as she showed off her engagement ring. She let out a sigh.

“I think we can safely throw this one away now.”

 She took the photo from its frame and ripped it in half, taking its remains back to the kitchen and dropping them into the wastebasket underneath the sink. She refilled her water glass and took it down the hallway to her old room. Her posters had all been taken down and replaced with other artwork, but it still had the furniture she grew up with. A framed photo sat on the nightstand. It had been taken shortly after the family had moved into the house. A fourteen-year-old Emily sat next to her mother on a chaise lounge by the pool. She picked it up and caressed the glass over her mother’s face with her finger.

“I miss you, Mom. Everyday. And most especially today.”

She set the photo down and plopped down on top of the bed. Lurch came up and joined her. She wrapped her arms around him and burst into tears.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Deception Book Trailer

Kudos to Rob Resetar for creating such an amazing book trailer video.

MM

UPDATE

We modified the original video to reflect a change on The Deception book cover in 2018.

MM


Sunday, January 4, 2015

In Search of St. Eligius Ranch

Photo by Marina Martindale
New Year's has a way of making people feel nostalgic and I guess I'm no exception. The high point of my 2014 was a road trip I took to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in July with a friend.


I passed through Steamboat Springs for the first time back in the 90s, while traveling with my (now ex) husband, and I was struck by how beautiful it was. Famous for its ski resort, ranching is still a part of the area around Steamboat Springs, so when I wrote The Reunion, I decided to set the fictitious St. Eligius Ranch about twenty miles away from the town. It's a former cattle ranch turned horse sanctuary, and it's the home of Laura Palmer, ex-wife of leading man Ian Palmer. A number of key scenes in the novel 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.



Photo by Marina Martindale
Photography, like writing, is one of my life's passions, so while I was there I photographed scenery that closely matched some of the descriptions of St. Eligius Ranch. It was a wonderful trip. One I'll remember fondly for many years to come, and it's a place I hope to revisit someday. In the meantime, please enjoy this scene from The Reunion, as Gillian, the leading lady, visits St. Eligius for the first time.

Happy New Year

MM

* * *

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

"He's Miss Mollie's son," she explained. "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."

Photo by Marina Martindale
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 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," explained Laura. "I was originally hired as a bookkeeper for Will's veterinary practice. The 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 replied. "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. But we also get the occasional hard-luck cases. Those are the ones that 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. Laura went on with her story.

Photo by Marina Martindale
"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 that big dude ranch resort next door. Will renamed the place St. Eligius, since 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, and that's the haunted hayride that 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."

"Isn't it snowing up here by then?" asked Gillian.

"A little bit, sometimes, but the snow doesn't really start accumulating until around Thanksgiving. Our big event, however, is our gala and auction in Denver, in February."

Fred started acting up. Miss Mollie got agitated as well, but Gillian pulled the rein tight and got her under control.

"You okay, Mom?"

"Yeah. He's just being the equine adolescent that he is. I'm going to run him back in to let him get it out of his system. I've got some work to do as well. You two take your time."

Laura turned Fred around and he took off in a dead gallop. Gillian and Jeremy watched as she raced across the meadow.

"You know, she's really not so bad," said Gillian.

"Well, I would certainly hope not."

"Our first meeting didn't go so well." Gillian turned Miss Mollie toward the ridge. "She meant well, but she showed up, unexpectedly, at the gallery one day and really threw me for a loop. Maybe having Ian out of the picture makes a difference."

"You and I didn't get off to the best start either, if you recall."

"Yeah, but you were just looking out for your dad. You wanted to make sure I wasn't some manipulating tramp."

They rode for another couple of hours, stopping occasionally for Gillian to snap a few photos. By the time they were ready to head back, she decided that not only would she be happy to donate a painting, she would create one exclusively for their auction. Jeremy was pleased. He couldn't wait to give his mother, and Will, the news. They rode back down the hillside and into the meadow.

"Sometimes, on the way back in, we like to run the horses through the meadow," explained Jeremy, "but I think maybe we'll skip it this time. I don't know if you're up to it or not."

Gillian turned to face Jeremy. "You're right."

She spurred Miss Mollie forward and the mare took off like a rocket. Just like her son, Fred, Miss Mollie was a good runner.

"Well, how 'bout that?" A big smile broke across Jeremy’s face. "You're going to need that head start, Missy."

He spurred Pretty Boy forward and raced after her. His mount was a bigger, faster horse, and he soon caught up to her. They were in a virtual tie by the time they reached the barn.

"Okay, Miss Smarty-Pants, I stand corrected," shouted Jeremy as they slowed their mounts down.