Sunday, May 29, 2016

Life Inside the Writing Tunnel

Photo by Fotolia.com
I've spent the past few months back inside the writing tunnel. The writing tunnel is that magical place where my stories are created. Okay, it's actually a den I converted into an office, or even the occasional hotel room, but nevertheless, the writing tunnel is where I go to let my imagination take over and create my stories. 

Readers tell me it's hard to put my books down. And you all should see it from my end. I get up each morning and try to put in a little writing time before getting bogged down with all the "real job" stuff. Then, in the evenings, instead of watching television, I'm back into my manuscript, working out the next scene, or the next chapter, or creating a new character. It's so much fun. I just wish I could figure out why I'm still paying for cable. Must be for those times when I'm not writing.

Sometimes people ask me how I do my job. Do I work out a detailed outline first, and then follow it verbatim? Or do I just sit down and start writing? It's a little bit of both, actually. First I'll write a treatment, or short plot summary. It's not too specific, and it's only a few paragraphs long. It's my idea for the basic story concept, but not much else. I use it mainly to get the story started, and so I'll have a rough idea of how it will end. Once I start writing the actual story I set the treatment aside and go where the characters take me. Then, when I'm finished with my story, I'll go back and look at the original treatment. Without exception, it's remarkably different from the finished novel, and sometimes the ending will be different as well. Someone once said life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. I think the same could be said for good story writing.

MM





Monday, February 29, 2016

Meet Emily St. Claire, Leading Lady in THE BETRAYAL

Photo by canstockphoto.com
I decided make Emily St. Claire, my leading lady in The Betrayal, a loving, devoted wife. She's happily married to Jesse, her college sweetheart, and she's put her dream of becoming a concert pianist on hold, at least for a time, taking a job as an office manager so Jesse could launch his own career. And now that he's become successful, it's Emily's turn to pursue her dream.

Unfortunately, Emily's world is about to be turned upside down. She'll get the shock of her life when she discovers Jesse has been unfaithful to her. Emily, however, is nothing if not resilient. She returns home to her father, and her piano, determined to follow her dreams, with or without Jesse. But as she begins to follow her dream, her life will take another unexpected turn. An unforeseen tragedy will lead her to Kyle, a man who'll love her unconditionally, but before Kyle can pursue her, he has to save her from another enemy, determined to destroy her.

I wanted Emily to be the polar opposite of Maggie Andrews, the betrayed wife in The Deception. Both women have been deeply hurt by their husbands' infidelity, but Maggie chooses to take her wrath out on Carrie, her husband's mistress, even with the knowledge that Carrie was completely unaware that Scott was married, and had already ended the relationship. Maggie is a bitter, unhappy woman, who uses her husband's affair as an excuse to destroy another person's life, because she believes doing so will somehow make her feel vindicated. 

Emily, on the other hand, tries her best to handle her husband's infidelity with grace and dignity, but another man will soon take advantage of her vulnerability, causing her to make a decision she will later regret, and that others will use against her.

While Emily is a fictitious character, the inspiration for her story came from two different friends. One was a man I dated many years ago who had caught his ex-wife in the act. The other was a friend who never forgot the day her father came home and caught her mother being unfaithful. Adultery doesn't just harm the spouse who was cheated on. It effects others as well, and both The Betrayal, and The Deception, are stories about the long term consequences of infidelity. 

MM

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Swearing About My Dialog

One of the more interesting challenges I face as an author is writing believable dialog, especially when the conflict has intensified and the characters are feeling the pressure. Those are the times when an, "oh my goodness gracious me," just won't cut it. But then again, I don't want to take it too far the other way and risk offending you, my readers, as I'm aware that some of you have certain limits as to what language is and isn't appropriate.

When necessary, my characters will say an occasional, "damn," or "hell," and oftentimes that's enough to make the point. Sometimes a character, usually a villain, may call a woman a, "bitch," or even a, "whore," but since he or she is the bad guy, the character is meant to be offensive. I want you to hate my villains. They're not meant to be nice people. 

There may also be occasions when a character may exclaim, "son of a bitch." This might happen if they're suddenly shocked or surprised by something. It can also happen when they're referring to a male villain who's done something outrageous. Again, my villains aren't meant to be nice. They're supposed to make other characters angry, and dialog is the most effective way for them to express their anger. It's also the kind of language we hear in real life when someone is angry.

There are, however, places where I draw the line. First and foremost is using the Lord's name as a curse word. While I may not overtly religious, I still believe in God, so to me, it's disrespectful. That's why you'll never hear any of my characters, not even the villains, saying the, "G-damn," word, or using the names, "Jesus," or "Christ," as curse words.

The other word I won't use is the "f-bomb," as some readers simply find it too offensive. This can be tricky, as there are some situations when even a, "what the hell," may not be enough. That's when I'll have another character interrupt just in time. That way the word is implied, but not actually said.

I realize there are some folks out there who may even find the word, "damn," offensive, but as an author, I know I can't be all things to all readers. I'll also be the first to admit that my novels aren't for everyone. So if you're looking for a good, sensual romance, with believable characters who speak the way that real people talk, but without being potty mouths, you've come to the right place.

MM

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sailing Into 2016

Photo © Copyright 2016 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.
Happy New Year everyone. I hope your holidays went well. I spent mine with good friends from the local Tucson music community. As a writer I get along quite well with musicians, as well as other writers. We creative minds all understand one another. And, as with other friends, I listen to their stories, sometimes getting inspiration for other novels.

As mentioned in my last post, 2015 ended with me hitting some rough waters, forcing me to purge a few people from my life. Dealing with other people's unending drama, day after day after day, sucked the creative energy right out of me, but now that some time has passed, I'm feeling relaxed and happy and more like my old self again. So as I sail into calmer waters, my creativity once is again flowing as it should be. I've started working on my next novel, inspired, interestingly enough, by the Facebook rantings of one of my former friends, who, from time to time, battled online with a former associate, essentially over artistic differences. Hey, I'm a writer. It kept showing up in my news feed, so what else can I say?

My next novel is called The Stalker, and it picks up well beyond where this Facebook feud leaves off. The leading lady is a graphic designer who once befriended a coworker she looked up to, but their friendship came to an abrupt end after she got a promotion he felt she didn't deserve, and he's been harassing her ever since. I'm also thrilled with the way Craig, my antagonist, is developing as a character. To the outside world he's seemingly likable and well respected journalist, but he has a dark, sinister side that he keeps well hidden, making him one of my most devious villains to date. He's right up there with Maggie Andrews, from The Deception, and Denise Sanderson, from The Journey

I'll be sharing more updates as I progress on my story, but, in the meantime, here's to a happy and prosperous 2016 for all of us.

MM


Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's Been an Interesting Year

Well 2015 has been an interesting year, to say the least. I launched my latest novel, The Betrayal, and I had some happy times, but it's also been a year of unexpected challenges and sudden endings.

For me, 2015 was the a year The Universe decided to do some housecleaning, and several friendships came to an abrupt end. Some were more acquaintances than friends, while another had been my best friend for the past ten years. And while the circumstances were strange, if not bizarre, all of them showed their true colors, and none were pretty. One was a person who loved to stir up the drama, and after awhile you just get tired of it. And even though I wasn't that close to her, I still wish her the best. Another friend turned out to be a mean, ugly person hiding behind a pretty face. Fortunately, she wasn't someone I was particularly close to either, and I'm happy to no longer see her unending stream of selfies on Facebook. 

Losing my best friend, however, was a bitter pill to swallow. In some ways, losing your best friend is worse than ending a romantic relationship. Your best friend is always supposed to be there, no matter what. I know that in the beginning she really was a friend, but things changed. Instead of both of us being givers, she, over time, had become a taker.

The friendship finally ended when she chose to ignore my boundaries and attempted to forcibly drag me to into the middle of a major family crisis against my will. And while I'm truly sorry this incident occurred with her family, it wasn't something that I was in any way involved with. Therefore, it wasn't my responsibility. She, however, didn't quite see it that way, and that, as they say, was that.

Yes, I've already been asked. Will these people appear in any of my future books? Well, you never know, but if they do, rest assured their literary counterparts will get their just desserts.

MM

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Question I'm Most Often Asked


The question I'm most often asked is...Are your books a series?

And the answer is...No.
Photo by canstockphoto.com

Apparently a lot of authors like to write series books, and readers must like them, but the authors who I consider to be my mentors, such as Danielle Steele and Rosamunde Pilcher, do not 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 18, 2015

Horsing Around with the Next Book Trailer

Photo by Marina Martindale
Sometimes it's fun to take a short break, (and just a short break, mind you), from writing to shoot some photos, and perhaps a little video footage, for the next book trailer.

Our next book trailer will be for The Journey. In The Journey, the leading man's life takes an unexpected detour, and along the way he spends a few weeks at a Montana horse ranch. So, during a recent trip to Prescott, Arizona, I decided to do a little horseback riding and shoot a little footage.

I was a real horse lover when I was a kid. Maybe that's why parts of The Journey, and The Reunion, take place at horse ranches. That said, I had my own show horse when I was in my early teens, but that was, shall we say, awhile back. Still riding a horse is like riding a bicycle. Or so they say. It's not that you forget how to ride a horse. It's that your body doesn't quite move like it did when you were a teenager, but I digress. One thing I will say is that when you're on horseback you can venture far off the beaten path and see things that many people don't get to see.

Photo by Marina Martindale
The Journey book trailer will go into production soon, and even if we don't use any of the footage I shot that day, the opportunity to spend a little time back country made it all worthwhile. 

MM