Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Entering The Clean Up Phase

I've been busy putting the final touches on the first draft for my upcoming novel, The Letter, and I'm now in what I call, "the cleanup phase."

Something that has always bothered me with many novels is that we would reach the big climax scene, and then, once it was over, shazam! Everything magically falls back into place right then and there, and then, one or two pages later, everyone rides off into the sunset. The end.

Wouldn't it be great if real life was as simple?

Since I've always strived to make my stories as realistic and believable as possible, I include a "cleanup phase," after the big climax. This gives my characters a chance to deal with the aftermath of whatever happened during the climax. It can be as short as an epilogue, or as long as several chapters. If a character is injured, you'll see his or her recovery. If a villain gets arrested, you'll find out how long the prison sentence is. If someone leaves town, he or she will have the chance to say goodbye. The leading characters will work out whatever unresolved conflicts they may have. In other words, I tie up of all the loose ends. I don't write sequels, so I want each ending to be as complete, and as satisfying as possible for the reader.

MM

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Themes and Plotlines

Photo courtesy of canstockphoto.com
© Can Stock Photo / khunaspix
At long last, I'm finally in the home stretch for my upcoming novel, The Letter, and the theme would be things aren't as they appear to be.

Some of you may be wondering, what's a theme? A theme is separate from the plot line. A theme is that 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 novels below, but don't worry. If you've not read all of them I won't spoil the story.

Forgiveness -- The Reunion. Ian was the one true love of Gillian's life, but he suddenly ended their relationship for no apparent reason. If Gillian 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 -- 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 Deception, Carrie, 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 by circumstances beyond their control.

Revenge -- The Journey and The Stalker. Life isn't always fair, and we've all experienced times when things didn't go our way. However, it doesn't mean that someone has intentionally thwarted us. Sometimes stuff simply happens. Unfortunately, there are people out there who subscribe to the notion of don't get mad, get even. In The Journey, Denise 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.

And those are my themes, so far. We'll have to wait and what my next theme will be. Until then, happy reading.

MM

Thursday, October 26, 2017

THE BETRAYAL Book Trailer



I spent a busy summer producing a new book trailer with my good friend and fellow videographer, Rob Resetar, of Rob Resetar Video.  Like all my book trailers, it presented its own set challenges producing it, but I still had a lot of fun. Rob and I got to work with some amazing actors, and I even spent a day in the southern Arizona wine country shooting the road footage from my dashboard.

The Betrayal is the story of Emily St. Claire, a devoted wife who literally catches her husband in the act with another woman. Determined to rebuild her life, Emily returns home with her father to pursue her dream of being a concert pianist, but little does she know that a new, and deadly, betrayal is about to unfold.


MM

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

An Update on my Upcoming Novel THE LETTER

I'm busy working on my upcoming novel, The Letter, and, as with my other novels, I'm having a great time getting to know this cast of characters.

The Letter is a story of things not being as they appear. Stephanie and Danny, the two leading characters, are in a happy relationship until Stephanie accidentally uncovers a love letter from Martha, a woman from Danny's past. As the story continues, she'll discover even more compelling evidence. Convinced that Danny has been cheating on her, she abruptly ends their relationship, and with the start of a new job, she meets Josh. Unfortunately for Stephanie, Josh isn't who he appears to be.

The Letter is turning out to be more of a classic romance, much like The ReunionThe story is set in Denver, as was The Reunion, and look for Paul, one of the featured characters in The Reunion, to have a supporting role in The Letter.

The Letter is inspired by a real-life event which happened to a good friend when she accidentally came across a letter to her fiancé from his old girlfriend. The former girlfriend wanted him back, but she eventually moved on, and my friend and her fiancé have been happily married for many years. The challenge for me as a writer was the fact that this all happened before email, text messaging and social media, so the story would have to be adapted to 21st century technology.

Look for The Letter to be available in early 2018.

MM

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Writing Dialog and Experiencing My Characters' Emotions

Photo by Marina Martindale
One of my cousins used to be an actress, and she once told me how she experienced her characters' emotions as she portrayed them. She said performing emotionally charged scenes often left her feeling drained.

The same is true for me as a novel writer. With nearly every character I create, I experience their emotions as I write my scenes. Writing the dialog is what drives those emotions.

I'm working on my next novel, The Letter. Leading man Danny is being hounded by Martha, a woman from his past, and I've been building up to a major confrontation between the two for sometime. This past week I finally wrote the chapter where their conflict reaches its crescendo. I expected this scene to be fun to write. Martha has caused Danny a lot of grief, and I wanted him to feel vindicated. However, as I wrote the dialog I started feeling emotions I didn't expect to feel.

Danny wants no further contact from Martha. He begins the conversation in a civil tone, but an obsessed Martha won't listen to reason and she refuses to let him go. As the scene plays out, Danny becomes more and more frustrated with her. As he tries to get through to her he becomes more verbally harsh. Then, in the middle of it all, I started feeling anxious myself. Harsh words, even when justified, can hurt like a fist, and some of the verbiage brought back bad memories of arguments I've had in my own past. By the time I finished writing the scene I felt as if I'd been sucker punched by both Danny and Martha.

It was at this point that I'd planned to write Martha out of the story completely and have another antagonist take over, but now I think I'll keep her around. She has a real knack for pissing people off, and talent like hers shouldn't go to waste. While the new antagonist will be the main focus for the remainder of the story, Martha will be seeking her revenge on those who she thinks turned Danny against her.

The Letter should be available by the spring of 2018. Meantime I'm going to go chill for awhile.

MM

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Meet Annette --The Mistress You'll Love to Hate in THE BETRAYAL

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
There are two kinds of women who get involved with married men. Some are like Carrie, the leading lady in my earlier novel, The Deception, who are duped into believing the man is single and available. Then there is the other kind. She knows upfront that the man is married, but she chooses to get involved with him anyway.

Annette, one of the antagonists in The Betrayal, is the latter. Not only does she know, from the get-go, that Jesse is a married man, she also knows his wife, Emily. Jesse, however, is nothing if not charming and seductive. He takes full advantage of the fact that Annette has become disillusioned with her significant other, and he uses it as the catalyst to initiate their affair. In her own mind, Annette has convinced herself that not only would she be a better wife for Jesse, she's actually doing Emily a favor by breaking them up. She knows Emily put her dream of becoming a concert pianist on hold to help Jesse with his career, therefore, she is, "helping" her by freeing her so she can finally pursue her dream. Emily, however, doesn't see it that way.

Jesse soon tires of Annette. He ends the affair and tries to win Emily back, but Annette has no intention of going quietly into the night. She comes up with her own desperate scheme to get Jesse back, and the consequences will forever change the lives of everyone involved.

Annette is a purely fictitious character, and, thankfully, not inspired by anyone I've ever encountered. There are, unfortunately, plenty of real life Annettes out there. That's what makes her the woman you'll love to hate.

MM

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Soon to be Released Betrayal Book Trailer

Photo by Marina Martindale
One of the projects that has kept me so busy over the past few months has been the book trailer for The Betrayal.

Ever have one of those projects that seems to fight you every step of the way? It's been that kind of an undertaking. We had lots of unexpected challenges which took up more time than we expected, and I even ended up having to buy a used piano along the way. Fortunately, we're now in the home stretch, and it's coming out nicely. I got to work with some amazing actors, and my good friend, Rob Resetar, of Rob Resetar Video, was extremely helpful, as usual.

Photo by Marina Martindale
Even with all the challenges, I still had fun. I drove up to Phoenix to shoot the opening footage, and spent the day with my sister-in-law. I also took a drive down to wine country to shoot some road footage. (Yes, we really do have wineries in southern Arizona.) Rob thought it had some problems, so golly gee, I had to take a second trip down there to do a reshoot. Nothing like having a good excuse to do a little wine tasting and have a picnic lunch with my friend, Maria, who came along with me.

Thankfully, all the footage is finally in the can, and we're now in post production. In the meantime, I love playing my new-to-me piano.

MM

Friday, August 11, 2017

Meet Rachel Bennett, Leading Lady in THE STALKER

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
Rachel Bennett, the leading lady in The Stalker, has a serious problem. A man from her past is obsessed with her.

A twenty-eight year old graphic designer, Rachel has recently returned to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, and is attending her ten-year high school reunion. While she's there she's reintroduced to Shane MacLeod, a fellow classmate who she briefly met while serving on the yearbook committee. Rachel may not remember Shane, but he certainly remembers her, and as they're busy getting reacquainted another man from Rachel's past suddenly reappears. A former coworker, Craig Walker, has been stalking and harassing her for the past few years, and no matter how hard she tries to seek justice, the system keeps failing her.

Fortunately for Rachel, it's all about to change. Shane is undaunted by Craig, and, with his help, things finally appear to be working in her favor. But unknown to them, Craig is about take his revenge, and Rachel's life will never be the same.

Rachel was inspired by an acquaintance who was once hounded by a former colleague. She's a courageous woman determined to regain control of her life, and she's not afraid to back down from a fight.

MM

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Wish There was a Genre Called "Relationship Fiction"

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
This may sound arrogant or even hokey, but I get weary of hearing myself say, "I write romance novels," whenever I'm asked about what I do. People either think I'm writing cheap schmaltzy novels, or they think I'm writing erotica. Neither is the case, as there is so much more to what I write.

I write stories about human relationships. Love isn't limited to a man and a woman falling in love and living happily ever after. Love is about all kinds of human relationships; the love of a parent to a child, the love between siblings, even the platonic love between close friends. The romantic love between a man and woman is only a part of my story. 

The Journey includes a heartwarming subplot about the relationship between brothers Jeremy and Larry Palmer, as Larry puts his life on hold for a time to help his ailing brother through a life altering crisis. That's true love. 

In The Deception, a father literally takes a bullet meant for his child. That's also true love. 

In The Betrayal, leading lady Emily's long estranged aunt finally reaches out and accepts her like another daughter. That too is love.

The reason why I write romance, instead of science fiction or mystery or horror, is because I've always been fascinated by the complexity and dynamics of human relationships; not only between lovers, but between family members as well. Of course those relationships can be part of the storyline in those other genres, but the romance genre is the only one where the primary focus is on human relationships. I'm just trying to expand the boundaries.

MM

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Meet Jesse St. Claire the Unfaithful Husband in THE BETRAYAL

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
What would a story of betrayal and adultery be without a cheating spouse? Jesse St. Claire, the unfaithful husband in The Betrayal, is perhaps my most complicated and enigmatic antagonist to date. Unlike Scott Andrews, the cheating husband in my earlier novel, The Deception, Jesse really isn't a player. In fact, he's never cheated before. A highly successful motivational speaker, Jesse steadfastly claims to love his wife, and, in his own strange way, he does. Or, at least he thinks he does.

Jesse has built his career on helping people take control of their lives, but his own life begins spiraling out of control when his wife, Emily, catches him in the act with Annette, his personal assistant. As Emily packs her bags and walks out the door, a determined Jesse tries to come up with a plan to win her back. Not only does he want to save his marriage, he also wants to save his career. Unfortunately for Jesse, bad habits prove difficult to break, and his past soon comes back to haunt him, forcing him to once again betray his wife.

Jesse is a fictitious character not based on anyone I know. His inspiration comes from many stories of unfaithful men who claim to love their wives, which, for those of us who don't cheat, is something we can never fully understand.

MM

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Meet Shane MacLeod, Leading Man from THE STALKER

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
My editor loved Shane. She thought he was the best leading man since Alex Montoya in The Deception, and she has a point. Both will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the women they love, and both were "nerdy" kids when they were young.

Rachel and Shane went to the same high school, but had different circles of friends. Shane hung out with a couple of other nerdy kids, known as "The Math Club," while Rachel, who was on the yearbook committee, took their club photo. And even though she didn't notice him, he certainly noticed her, and he soon had a secret crush on her. Fast-forward to their ten year class reunion. Shane has gone from a nerdy teenager to a handsome, accomplished man, who, upon seeing her, reintroduces himself and invites her to join him at his table. Rachel accepts. The two quickly become friends, but little they know that another man from Rachel's past intends to destroy her, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.

Like Alex, Shane is a purely fictitious character not inspired by anyone I've known in real life. Tis a pity indeed.

If you liked, The Deception, you'll like The Stalker. Along with similar leading men and a supporting character who appears in both books, both leading women have enemies who intend to destroy them at all costs.

MM


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Trailer for THE JOURNEY by Marina Martindale

Whew! It's finally done, and I'm pleased with the final results. As I mentioned in my prior post, 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, and my degree is in drawing and painting. I also studied photography, and 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 video, 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.

MM




Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Coming Soon--The Journey Book Trailer Video

Photo by Marina Martindale
Hi everyone and Happy New Year. No, I didn't fall off the planet. I've been busy learning a new skill--video production. Not to worry, I'm still working with my good friend Rob Resetar, who did the book trailers for The Reunion and The Deception. But since I'm also a photographer, I'm now shooting and editing the video in house, and leaving the musical score and audio mixing to Rob, who does it so much better than I do.

We're currently in post production with the book trailer for The Journey. Those of you who've read the book know it's a complicated story. Whittling it down into a minute and forty seconds wasn't easy, but, with a little help from my friends, I got it done.

The biggest challenge was recreating the scene where Jeremy, the leading man, has been left for dead in the snow. Shooting the scene in the snow would be problematic. We actually do get snow in the mountains in Arizona. The trick is knowing far enough in advance when it will happen. This leads to the even bigger challenge of getting everyone together to go shoot the scene, as people have other commitments, such as day jobs. There were some other issues as well, so my solution was to shoot it in my backyard, using fake snow. It's amazing what you can create with rock salt, cornstarch, a little mud, and some fake blood. So, once again, with a little help from my friends, I got it done. 

Afterwards I found out this is the way Hollywood does snow scenes as well. Nice to know I did it right. The book trailer will be launched sometime in February.

MM