Menu Close

The Beginning of My Journey as an Author

It was so unexpected

My journey as an author began some twenty odd years ago, and it was the last thing I would have ever expected. I was a free-lance graphic designer who enjoyed photography. In my spare time I was a tour docent at what was then called The Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park. Along with guided tours for students, the museum had a Living History Program. It was a group of historic re-enactors who portrayed notable people in central Arizona History, and their characters told their stories to the students. Some portrayed real people, such as Jack Swilling, the father of Phoenix. Others portrayed composite characters, such as a mountain man. 

A new exhibit, called Views From the Home Front, had also opened. It chronicled central Arizona during WWII and included everything from rationing to a POW camp in Papago Park. This exhibit was especially meaningful to me because my mother was a Phoenix native. I grew up listening to many stories at the family dinner table about her family’s experiences during this time. I soon created a living history character for this exhibit; a WWII era housewife called, Anna Ferguson. Anna, for a museum staff member who had become a very dear friend, and Ferguson, for a fellow re-enactor who was also a good friend. After Anna, I created another composite character. This time a housewife in 1880s’s Tombstone called Elizabeth St. Claire. They were fun side gigs. I loved doing them, and I wanted to learn more about public speaking. 

Taking it to the next level

The National Speaker’s Association had a chapter in the Phoenix area. They offered a special membership for those who wanted to become public speakers. I of course signed up and began attending the meetings regularly. I learned that virtually all public speakers were also authors. I began thinking about what kind of books would go with my living history personas. For Anna, I thought at cookbook would do nicely. I already had a collection of historic recipes which were part of my speaking program. So I wrote and self-published historic a cookbook called, Anna’s Kitchen. As noted in my webpage bio, I thought I knew everything about writing and publishing publishing a book. Boy was I wrong! It was, however, a good learning experience, and I soon found my mentor. Her name was Linda Radke. She owned a publishing company which, at the time, was called Five Star Publications, Inc. 

My early books

Linda and I had a good business relationship which lasted for several years. At the time I met her, I had just completed the manuscript for a children’s historical novella called, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Luke and Jenny visit Tombstone. Linda loved it and she found the perfect editor. I had a lot of fun writing it, so I decided to write a sequel about Billy the Kid. It eventually became a trilogy which Linda dubbed, The Luke and Jenny Series of Historical Novels for Young Readers

After the success of Luke and Jenny, I wanted to branch out and write full length contemporary romance novels for adult readers. Linda, however, was taking her business in a different direction as well. She wanted to specialize in children’s books, and would be renaming her company Story Monsters, Inc. Having been a graphic designer, I had also done the typesetting and layouts for some of Linda’s other projects. We both agreed the time had come for me to branch out on my own, so I created my own book publishing company, Good Oak Press, LLC. My good friend and fellow author, David Lee Summers, came up with the name. 

What’s in a name?

Up to this point I had used my legal name, Gayle Martin, for my books, and had built my brand as a children’s book author. Therefore, I would have to write my new books under a different name. I didn’t want my Luke and Jenny readers picking up one of my romance novels, thinking it was a children’s book when it most certainly was not. I decided to use my middle name, Marie, instead of Gayle. I would also need a new website, so I needed to register Marie Martin as a dot com. Someone else had claimed the dot com for Gayle Martin before I started writing, and it was problematic, to say the least. Unfortunately, someone else had already claimed dot come for Marie Martin as well. So I played around with the letters until I finally found something I could register as a dot com. Marina Martindale. I also thought it was a cool name for a romance author.

So there you have it. And by the way,  just so you know, there is no hard and fast rule which says pen names have to be kept secret. I suppose you could keep them secret if you wanted to, but it’s common practice for those who write in different genres to write under different names.

If someone had told me, all those years ago, when I first became a museum tour docent, that I would end up writing romance novels, I would have laughed myself silly. It truly is the last thing I would have ever expected. 

Marina Marindale aka Gayle Martin


Marina’s Journal is written, edited, and maintained by a real human being. It does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind., No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter by AI, without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244




Posted in Everything Else, Writing