Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guest Author, Linda Rettstatt

Today I'm happy to host women's fiction author Linda Rettstatt, who writes stories of strength, love, humor and hope, all of which we could use a little more of in our lives. I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her better, and will check out her website for other titles in addition to her latest release, Shooting Into the Sun. Welcome, Linda.

Why did you choose to write specifically for women? What is special about the relationships between women?

My favorite genre to read is women's fiction, in particular the works of Elizabeth Berg and Kris Radish. I also enjoy reading the romance writing of Sherryl Woods and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In my former work as a psychotherapist, I had the opportunity to work with women who were struggling to reclaim their lives or to rediscover their own inner strengths. I loved those 'aha' moments when pieces just fell into place for the woman sitting across from me. Writing women's fiction seemed to come naturally for me. Women can be, at once, one another's best friend and worst enemy. The dynamics are endless. At a book signing once, a man commented on my promo card that says, "Writing for women—stories of strength, love, humor, and hope." I told him he could buy a book if he wanted, that my books are entertaining for women and educational for men.

I see you're a member of a writers organization. Can you tell us what you've found beneficial about that vs. going it alone?

I belong to EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection), and I have an online critique group of women writers from across the US and Canada, as well as a small group of local authors with whom I meet. Having some means to network and interact with other authors, whether face-to-face or online, is so valuable for growing as a writer and for the camaraderie that comes with like-minded friends.

Let's do a little word association. I've taken these words from your book blurbs. Can you tell us about an experience you've had with each word?

Epiphany – Oh, I think we've all had one of those 'Aha' moments. This is especially true for women once we reach the age of fifty, give or take a few years. We begin to see things so much more clearly, without the clutter of concern that comes with youth: Will he/she/they like me? Am I making the right choice to do ______? Does this dress make my butt look big? We shift to a more self-possessed view of our lives where some of those concerns simply no longer matter. My own epiphany came when I seriously embraced writing seven years ago. I finally knew what I was meant to do and where I belonged.

Boundaries – We think of boundaries as basically good. Inflexible boundaries not only serve to keep others out, but can become our own prison (as they do for Rylee Morgan in my book, Shooting into the Sun). Each of my books has some romantic element, and nothing can blur boundaries faster than romance.

Here is an excerpt from Shooting into the Sun, my latest novel, that speaks to both physical and emotional boundaries. The scene takes place on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Rylee, my main character, is a nature photographer, and Josh, a doctor masquerading as a hapless hitchhiker, is taking her out on a tandem bike to photograph the sunrise.

When they rounded a bend, Rylee looked toward the east and slammed on her brakes. The tires slid and the bike wobbled. Josh put down one leg to steady them. “What the hell…?”
Rylee was already off the bike and fumbling in her camera bag. “This is perfect.” She removed two cameras, looping one strap around her neck and carrying the other as she headed toward the stony shoreline. “Would you bring the tripod, please?”
“Rylee, wait a minute. I have a flashlight. You’re going to fall.”
“Well, hurry up, then. The sunrise won’t wait.”
He removed the flashlight from his pack and shone it in front of her. She stepped gingerly down the rocks and onto the beach. Once he stood behind her, he turned off the light.
Rylee opened up the tripod and attached one camera. She then lifted the other camera hanging around her neck and snapped off several shots of the yellow-orange horizon. When she backed up, she came into contact with Josh. “Excuse me, I need a little room here.”
“Sorry.” He stepped out of the way.
She snapped several shots from both cameras before stopping and standing, motionless, to watch the sun rise above the distant rim of another island.
Josh moved closer. “It’s spectacular, isn’t it?”
“Every sunrise is unique. If you came back to this very spot tomorrow at exactly the same time, you’d see something completely different.” He was so close she could feel the heat of his body at her back. She shifted, and her foot rolled on a stone.
Josh grabbed her shoulders. “Whoa, careful.”
“I’m okay.” And she was, but she didn’t move away.
“Are you?”
She turned her head and looked up at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
His gaze moved from her eyes to her lips, where it lingered. “It’s none of my business.”
She turned and faced him, creating more space between their bodies. “If you have something to say, just say it.”
“Okay. I wonder where that need for control comes from, along with all those rules you have.”
“Having rules and boundaries are like…like building a good fence between you and the world. It keeps the bad stuff out.”
“And it keeps you inside, where it’s safe? I know all about playing it safe. I’ve been doing that ever since Sarah died. What I wonder is, what prompted you to fence yourself in?”
“I’m not fenced in.” She fought the tremble in her chin, but lost. He’d hit a raw nerve--and he seemed to know it.
He lifted her chin with his fingertip. “I’ve learned that bad things happen to good people and that, sometimes, no matter how much we love someone, we can’t protect them. I’ve also learned that, regardless of how we might wish for it, isolation is not a solution.”
She tore her gaze from his. “We should head back. Lexie will be waiting.”
He smiled and dropped his hand. “You mind if we take the long way around the island? I could use the exercise.”

Regrets – Ah, life is far too short to live with regrets, yet we all have them. Actually, one of my novels was born out of my own realization of a regret—I cannot dance. I joked with a friend one day that, in my next life, I'm going to dance. Well, the title for Next Time I'm Gonna Dance came into being, and the story followed, with the title becoming a metaphor for the character, Emmie, as she battles breast cancer for a second time.

This would be a good place to post the blurb for Shooting Into the Sun:

Nature photographer Rylee Morgan has created an orderly, settled life for herself. When she finds an advertisement that might lead to her estranged father, she takes a photo assignment to the west coast to investigate. With her younger sister, Lexie, in tow following the breakup with her fiancé, Rylee is focused on two things: finding the man who may be her father and doing her job. Lexie lives life by her own set of rules, or lack of rules, and Rylee's plans are further unsettled when Lexie invites a hitchhiker to join them on their journey.

That said, I've noticed most of all your heroines have what they think is an orderly, settled, life. Then something comes along and sends them into a tailspin. Why do you like to write about that theme? Is that a conscious theme in your books, or is that just the way they worked out?

I don't think the theme is conscious when I start a book. But I do like this theme because it's so much like life. My books are largely character-driven, and I want my characters to come across as 'real' people—women with whom the reader can identify and would like to share a cup of coffee. Conflict is essential to creating a good story. Sometimes my characters experience inner conflict, the kind that comes with aging and life changes, and sometimes they are met with an external conflict, something that is thrust upon them and which they have to overcome.

Are all your heroines older?

My heroines so far have ranged in age from mid-thirties to mid-fifties. However, I recently signed a contract with Class Act Books for Renting to Own, a novel that features a twenty-three-year old single mother. If you're familiar with the saying, "Write what you know," you'll understand why that book was more of a challenge for me, or at least that character. I haven't been twenty-three for…er…a while. I do like to explore the changes and challenges that women meet in midlife and create characters that draw on their inner strength to move forward.

What do you feel are the best ways for a writer to find self-confidence and direction?

Self-confidence comes by taking risks and by trusting your instincts. As writers, we all know when we feel that certainty about what we've written, when it just feels right. We know when we find the genre with which we are most at home, and our writing flows. As for direction, we have to be open to critique and to the guidance of those who are more experienced. I can't imagine where my writing would be today if it were not for my critique partners and the writers who have shared their secrets and offered encouragement. Taking rejection for what it is—a critique of your writing, not a judgment of your person—is very important.

Thanks so much, Liana, for having me here today. Readers are invited to visit my website to read excerpts and reviews of my books and stop by my blog, One Woman's Write.

Linda Rettstatt
Writing for women—stories of strength, love, humor, and hope.

"Life's an adventure—wear comfortable shoes."


Kim Smith said...

Good post again, Linda! thanks for sharing!

Lynn Romaine said...

Another very nice focus on supporting people in getting started writing - this time around taking risks which is a great and scary thing to do - but it's what gets us on the court in life - judi

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks, Kim and Judi. We writers are all in this together, and we need to be supportive of one another. Thanks for stopping by.


Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--I enjoyed your thoughts, and Liana asked some good questions. This interested me more than usual because I just got a contract for my first Women's Fiction novel.(I have six romances, either released or contracted.) Anyone who knows me--including Liana--knows I talk about my orphan WF ms. Now, one has found a home. I applaud you on your work, and hope the best for you. Celia celiayeary AT Yahoo DOT Com

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks for stopping by Celia. And best of luck with your WF manuscript. I'm the reverse of you--nine WF books out--and one lonely contemporary romance searching for a home via my agent.


Carol said...

l=Loved reading your answers and stepping into your head instead of as per usual into a heroine's mind. As a writer of romance I know well the difficulties of crossing that boundary to self-acceptance. But romance is what's hot and the hotter parts are to me the hardest even after this length of time.

Carol McPhee:
Multi-Published, Award-Winning Romance Novelist
Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

Latest release: A Structured Affair
Now available from and

StephB said...

Great interview Linda and Liana. Your stories sound wonderful and I like the focus being on the woman. It's a very empowdering theme.


linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks, Carol and Steph for coming by. Liana asked great questions that made me think. I do love the way women's fiction stories can empower readers and even the way they empower me as I write them. And I add the element of romance for fun!


susan said...

Thanks for such a nice article Linda and Liana. I have gained so much encouragement and so on from books after being abandoned at birth I had some very hard issues to face after I found out. It was a total shock and for years a tough road to follow but I am okay now..I faced the demons and realized I am just as important as another person and I pushed the thought of not being wanted out of my head. Books can make big differences in a person lives and thanks to the authors who writes them. susan L.

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks for your comments, Susan. I hope my books give my readers the kind of encouragement you've described.


linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks, Liana, for hosting me. And thanks to everyone who dropped by. Happy reading!


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