The Journey Book Trailer Video

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

THE REUNION Book Trailer

Rob Resetar has completed THE REUNION book trailer, and it was well worth the wait. To say that 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

In Search of St. Eligius Ranch

Steamboat Sprigs 1
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 Geneva, my good friend and beta reader.

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.

Steamboat Sprngs 2
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

***

Stesamboat Springs 3
Photo by Marina Martindale

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.”

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.”

Steamboat Springs 4
Photo by Marina Martindale

“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.

“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 decided to start 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.

Meet Laura Palmer, the Likable Villain in THE REUNION

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com

Sometimes characters can be problematic simply because of who they are. Such was the case for Laura Palmer, Ian Palmer’s ex-wife in The Reunion.

We all know that in real life, ex-spouses can be a headache, so it would have been all too easy for me to make Laura into a stereotypical bitch. But then again, life isn’t always what we expect, and being eternal optimist I am, I’d like think there are ex-spouses out there who are like my late grandmother–good people trying to make the best out of awkward situations. Besides, I didn’t want to make Laura too common and too predictable.

Laura bursts onto the scene as soon as she learns about her ex-husband’s new romance. Of course she wants to check out Gillian, the leading lady. Her motive, however, isn’t a scheme to try to win Ian back. She’s found someone else. She doesn’t want Ian back. Her motive is her children, and because she’s a good mother she wants to meet with Gillian to draw up the ground rules regarding the kids. Naturally, she’ll bring up Ian during the conversation. Laura is nothing if not direct.

As the story unfolds readers will see Laura not as a witch, but as a woman mislead into a marriage by a man who now admits he married her for all the wrong reasons. She may have looked like Gillian, but she wasn’t Gillian, and for too many years he made her miserable because of it. Fortunately for Laura, she’s found happiness with her finance, Will, and she’s built a new life for herself, helping him run a horse ranch near Steamboat Springs. For a “villain” she’s turned out to be surprisingly likable.

MM

Meet Cassie Palmer Leading Lady in THE JOURNEY

Romantic young woman outdoors at a summer day.
Photo by Fotolia.com

Cassie Palmer is a character best described as grace under pressure. Seemingly naive and shy on the outside, Cassie is an iron lady in disguise.

We first meet Cassie in The Reunion, when Gillian and Jeremy stop for breakfast at a truck stop diner in Idaho Springs, Colorado, where Gillian suddenly finds herself reunited with the diner owner, her long-long best friend, Samantha Walsh. As they get reacquainted Samantha unveils another surprise–her daughter, Cassie. Gillian is surprised, but Jeremy’s life will never be the same.

Cassie and Jeremy soon become friends, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the story for those who haven’t yet read The Reunion. Cassie returns in The Journey, and this time she’s the leading lady. As the story begins, she is critically injured in a car crash that leaves her fighting for her life. Later, as she begins the long road to recovery, her world will turn upside down once again, yet through it all, she remains gracefully resilient.

Cassie is a purely fictitious character not inspired by anyone I know in real life. She is, instead, an inspiration for those times when we feel overwhelmed by all life’s obstacles.

MM

Meet Jeremy Palmer, Leading Man in THE JOURNEY

Photo by Fotolia.com

It’s funny how things sometimes work out. Jeremy Palmer was originally intended to be a rouge character in The Reunion. He would make a brief appearance, do his dirty deed, and then disappear into the night. But sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. As I was writing The Reunion, I came to realize that Ian, the leading man, wouldn’t have had such an evil son. So Jeremy went from rogue villain to a rival, competing with his father for Gillian’s affections, and creating a storyline that many readers tell me was their favorite part of The Reunion. Jeremy blossomed. Okay, he jumped off the page. He became a sexy, vibrant character worthy of having his own novel, The Journey.

We first meet Jeremy in The Reunion as a twenty-one-year-old bartender. He has his father’s good looks, and his mother’s bold, sometimes too direct, personality. Jeremy isn’t one to mince words. He likes to get straight to the point, and his bluntness occasionally gets him into trouble.

The Journey begins approximately eighteen months after The Reunion has ended. Jeremy is now working as an engineer, and he’s happily married to Cassie. (You really didn’t think Ian would have allowed him to steal Gillian away, did you?) Jeremy’s world turns upside down the night Cassie is seriously injured in a car crash. He rushes to the hospital and stays by her side. While Cassie recovers they befriend Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar, and while Jeremy can’t quite place her, she has never forgotten how he jilted her, years before. Denise wants a second chance with Jeremy, and she’s about to unleash an evil plan to win him back.
Jeremy is a purely fictitious character. He wasn’t inspired by anyone I knew in real life, although his character is very similar to the young Ian seen in the flashback chapters of The Reunion. The younger Ian was inspired by someone I knew, long ago. And just like his father, Ian, Jeremy will make his fair share of mistakes, no doubt making some readers saying, “Like father, like son.”
MM

Meet Samantha Walsh, Supporting Character in THE REUNION

Photo by Fotolia.com

They say there are no small roles, only small actors, and I think the same can be said for characters in a novel. And while Samantha may not have a huge role, she’s one of the more memorable characters in The Reunion, as well as one of my personal favorites.

Samantha is the best friend of Gillian, the leading lady. We first meet Samantha in the flashback chapters, early in the novel. Set in the mid-1980s, Samantha is introduced as a twenty-something whose apartment is a few doors down from Gillian’s. While good friends, the two young women are remarkably different from one another. Gillian comes from a well-to-do family in Phoenix, and is studying art at Arizona State University. Samantha, on the other hand, comes from a working-class family in a small mining town in eastern Arizona. (I wasn’t able to include this detail in the novel, but it’s in my character notes.) And while Gillian may be a bit naive, Samantha is more worldly. She’d been studying to be a nurse until she ran out of money, so now she’s working as a waitress at a truck-stop diner where she makes good tips. Her goal is to return to school to complete her degree, once she gets her finances in order.

Along with her down-to-earth personality, Samantha is described as having above average looks. In fact, Ryan Knight, the antagonist in the flashback chapters, makes a rather crass remark about Samantha when he says, “With her looks, I’m sure she turns more than just tables.” But not to worry, Samantha will soon make him regret his choice of words.

Samantha returns, rather unexpectedly, later in the novel. By then the characters are middle-aged, and the story is set in the year 2010. She’s aged well, and she introduces her adult daughter, Cassie. Cassie will soon fall for Jeremy, the son of Ian, the leading man, and they’re also the two leading characters in The Journey.

Samantha was inspired by a neighbor I had when I was in college. Her apartment was a few doors down from mine, and while not a student, she worked at the dog track. She was a real kick in the pants, but she soon moved away, and I never heard from her again. Even after all these years, I still think of her from time to time, and I think she’d be pleased, and honored, with the Samantha character.

MM

Meet Larry Palmer, the Rebellious Teenager in THE REUNION

(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / mimagephotography

Larry was one of those characters I found a little intimidating to work with. He’s the younger son of Ian, the leading man in The Reunion. Larry is first introduced as an angry seventeen-year-old, bitter over his parents’ divorce. He’s been told, many times, that they went their separate ways because they were unhappy together, however, Larry doesn’t see it that way. Deep down, he thinks they broke up because he was a bad kid–a fairly common occurrence with children of divorce. His mission is to thwart his parents’ new relationships, and Gillian, the leading lady, is in his cross hairs.

When Larry isn’t trying to sabotage his parents’ happiness he’s a typical high school senior. He makes good grades, he has a good circle of friends, and, after graduation, he plans on attending culinary school and becoming a chef. Unfortunately, teenagers have a knack for getting themselves into trouble, and Larry is certainly no exception. Trouble will come his way when he lies to his father and sneaks out to a drinking party in the woods.

Larry is a fictitious character and not inspired by anyone in particular that I’ve known. However, as the story progresses, circumstances force him to change his attitude, and by the time he appears in the The Journey, he will have matured into a remarkable young man.

MM

Halloween Excerpt from THE REUNION

Reunion Loew CoverWebIn honor of Halloween, I am sharing a Halloween excerpt from the pages of The Reunion.  Gillian, the leading lady, has been invited to participate in a haunted hayride. While she is there, she will confide something in a stranger. Please enjoy this sample from The Reunion and have a safe, and happy, Halloween.

MM

* * *

Gillian was warming herself at the heater when she heard someone walking up behind her. She turned around to discover she’d been joined by someone in a Grim Reaper costume. Whoever it was seemed to be staring at her.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said. Gillian noticed he had a raspy voice. “I was told I’d be working with a blonde lady.”

“Well, I was a blonde until a few weeks ago. Now I’m a redhead. The name’s Gillian, by the way.” She extended her hand.

“John. Pleased to meet you.”

They shook hands. John explained that he was one of the locals, and he seemed to be curious about her. The sound of clopping hooves, nervous laughter and chatter told them the first wagon was approaching. Gillian pulled up her hood. At John’s cue she ran up to the wagon, calling for help, while he chased after her. Their brief performance brought startled screams from the passengers. The wagon rolled on and they returned to the heater.

“So why would a blonde lady want to become a redhead?”

“It’s a long story. Let’s just say I’m celebrating a new lease on life. The old me was the blonde, the new me is a redhead.”

As they were talking she caught a whiff of something familiar. It was the cologne that Ian always wore. The scent was a distraction. She had reminded herself that it was a popular brand and other men used it too. John became quiet. A short time later another hay wagon came by and they repeated their scary performance in the dark maze. After the wagon left, Jeremy came by to check on her.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“So far, so good. Wait a minute, Jer. It looks like you’ve got a little smudge. Let me fix it for you.”

He leaned down as she removed one of her gloves and gave him a quick touch up.

“There, that’s better,” she said.

“Thanks.” Jeremy wrapped the reins around the saddle horn and reached down with both hands to pull her hood up. “You need to keep this on so you can stay warm. I don’t want you catching cold.”

“Got it. Thanks, Jer.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll come back a little later to check on you again.”

Jeremy rode away. Gillian turned back and noticed John watching her intently. It was starting to make her feel uncomfortable.

“I take it he’s your significant other,” he finally said.

“Actually, he’s my best friend. Probably the best friend I’ve ever had.”

“How so?”

Despite her growing discomfort with his questions, something deep inside told her John was trustworthy. She decided to follow her instincts.

“It’s a long, complicated story. I’ll just sum it up by saying I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now if it wasn’t for him. That man literally saved my life not too long ago. I don’t remember it, but I’m told I fell into some water and nearly drowned. He’s the one who rescued me.”

“I see.”

“You know, it’s kind of ironic. Here I am talking to you, dressed up as The Grim Reaper, when I’ve met the real thing.”

“Was it scary?”

“To tell you the truth, it really wasn’t, and it’s the only part of the entire incident that I can remember clearly. I was heading toward a light and I wasn’t planning on coming back.”

“Why not?”

Gillian sighed.

“I’d just lost the love of my life. I had no reason to remain here and I wanted to cross over. Then I thought I heard my friend, Jeremy, calling me. The next thing I knew I was back at my backyard pool, only I wasn’t in the water. Somehow, I was suspended over it. Jeremy was in the pool and he was holding a body in his arms, which I knew had to be mine. I saw his face. He had a look of shock, guilt and sorrow. He was shouting at me to stay with him. I knew, right then and there, that if I didn’t come back it would destroy his life, so I had no choice. I had to come back, even though I didn’t want to. I watched him lay my body out on the deck, and then I felt something like a tug. The next thing I knew he was rushing me to the hospital. That’s why I’m still here.”

She started smelling the cologne again and she looked at him more closely. The costume he wore didn’t reveal much about him. He was wearing a full mask, with a robe and hood, and he appeared to be bundled up underneath it. A strange thought crossed her mind, but it couldn’t be. Larry said his father was spending the day in Fort Collins with friends. John remained silent for several minutes. Finally, he found his voice.

“Well… Gillian, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Gillian, your life is a precious gift. It’s something that you must never, ever take for granted. You may think you came back for your friend, but that’s not the reason why you’re still here. You’re here because your life is far from over, and you’re meant to be here. I’m sure your family and friends, and your true love, are elated that you’re still with them. And who knows, maybe your true love will return to you someday.”

“Thank you, John. I appreciate your insight, but as far as my true love goes, I’m sorry to say that some things just aren’t meant to be. Nice thought, though.”

“Never say never.”

The hay wagons returned several more times, but for the remainder of the evening, John said very little. Gillian was relieved when she finally heard the sound of Jeremy’s approaching horse.

“That was the last one,” he said as he rode into her section of the maze. “Are you ready to go, my dear?”

Jeremy extended his hand and helped Gillian get back up behind him. She wrapped her arms tightly around his waist.

“Good night, John. It was nice meeting you.”

John waved goodbye as the horse cantered away. He listened to the sound of the fading hoof beats. Once they were gone, he reached up, pulled down his hood and removed his mask. He heard his cell phone going off in his pocket.

“Is she still there?” asked the woman on the other end of the call.

“Jeremy just picked her up. Thanks, Laura. I owe you one.”

He disconnected his phone and looked down the maze. Gillian and Jeremy were probably already halfway back to St. Eligius.

“My God, Gilly-girl, what have I done to you?”

# # #

Jason Matthews, the Deadly But Never Seen Villain in THE REUNION

Photo by Fotolia.com

I typically have more than one villian in my novels, and Jason Matthews in The Reunion is another of my antagonists. Interestingly enough, he’s never actually seen, but his presence is most certainly felt, and he has a major impact on the story.

Gillian Matthews, the leading lady, has a history of getting involved with the wrong men. An artist by profession, Gillian tells Ian, the leading man, her story of visiting Tombstone, Arizona,  to do research after being commissioned to do a series of paintings about the Old West. While in Tombstone she happened to meet Jason, a bartender and street performer. Handsome and charming, Gillian asked Jason to model for the paintings. He not only accepted her offer, he quickly swept her off her feet. Gillian believed she’d finally found Mr. Right, and the two eloped a short time later.

Gillian’s happiness with Jason would be short lived. Instead of being the man of her dreams, Jason became her worst nightmare. She eventually divorced him, and because they had no children, she believes he’s in the past. Nightmares, however, sometimes have a way of recurring, and her worst nightmare comes to life once again when she learns that Jason has murdered his current wife. He’s now on the run and the authorities believe that he’s looking for her. What makes the character even more sinister is the fact that he’s lurking, but never actually seen, leaving Gillian, and Ian, wondering where and when he will finally strike.

MM