Sunday, April 8, 2018

Happy Book Birthday - Gone to the Dogs

It's been quite an adventure with this book, but it's finally here. This light, sweet seasoned romance will likely appeal to those who enjoy Hallmark movies. It was written with that in mind. Gone to the Dogs features a heroine and hero who are 35 and 38, respectively. Love is all about second chances.

When her best friend is injured in a sky-diving accident, Emily Price jumps at the chance to flee New York and give Carrie the support she needs. Ransom Cove, the small town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, turns out to be just what Emily needs to overcome writer’s block. Dr. Noah Holt, the local veterinarian and Carrie’s third-best friend, is skeptical from the start that Emily is the person Carrie most needs. He could be right, but Emily is the person Carrie has chosen. The biggest challenge for Emily isn’t uprooting herself from New York, finishing her manuscript, or nursing her friend back to health. Her biggest challenge is Daisy, a twelve pound terrier mix, and stepping in to run Beach Dawgs Spa & Resort, her friend’s business. Emily tells everyone she is not a dog person, but no one seems to be listening—least of all Daisy. Then there’s Noah…

Available now in ebook and coming soon in trade paperback.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Why I Write What I Write

When I launched myself into writing some eighteen years ago, I didn't have a plan. I didn't have an understanding of any rules beyond basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  I didn't have a writing community from which to garner support and feedback. I didn't have a clue about the process of writing for publication.

Here's what I had: A pretty good grasp of the basics of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. A decent handle on language--words. And PASSION. Mostly, I had passion. The passion to tell a good story, to bring characters to life, to engage someone else in my imaginings.

Inspired largely by the writing of Elizabeth Berg (who I personally think is brilliant at characterization and story-telling), I set out to write a book. My only goal was to find out if I could write a book from start to finish. That was my singular goal. What would I write?

Though I had little knowledge of genre and the technical differences between genres, I wanted to write the kind of stories Berg wrote. So I determined my book would be a story about a middle-aged woman facing a crisis that propels her into following her dreams. I found out later that what I wrote was considered Women's Fiction. Well, that label worked for me. So I identfied myself as a writer of Women's Fiction and went on to write three more books over the next year.

I desperately wanted to be part of a writing community and, unable to find a local group, started my own critique group on-line (still clueless of what critiquing meant). I was quickly joined by a few wonderful romance authors who taught me invaluable lessons. Through critiquing their work, I found myself drawn to writing romance. It was fun, not to mention the richness of having two primary characters to draw upon. I realized that most of my women's fiction work included a hint toward or a sub-plot of romance.

I learned the rules for writing romance--then promptly broke many of them because, well, I just don't do well with rules. Would the Romance Writers of America approve? Probably not, but my readers had no problem. What I end up with in a novel is generally a hybrid--either primarily romance with a women's fiction sub-plot for the heroine, or women's fiction with a romance sub-plot. It can make marketing a challenge, but I don't mind the challenge.

I write what I write because I enjoy writing strong, yet vulnerable, female characters who have to dig deep to find their own inner strength. I like writing women who are flawed and funny and determined, who have a rough edge hewn by their life experiences. I write romance into my stories because it's fun. And it gives me a chance to write from the male perspective. Now that's the biggest challenge--to try to think like a man and still not make the character too cliche.

I write what I write because I want to give readers something that is believable, realistic, with characters who are relatable and enjoyable, and the pleasure of a happy ending. Let's face it, life offers enough difficulty and unhappines. Fiction is, among other things, intended to provide the reader with an escape.

When I realized that my books would largely appeal to a female audience, to reflect the experiences of women, I branded my work as: Writing for Women: Stories of strength, love, humor, and hope.

Why? Because I think we all can use a little encouragement, humor, and hope. Especially hope. After my second book was published (The Year I Lost My Mind), I received an email from a reader thanking me for the book because it made her feel less "crazy" while she navigated the turbulent waters of menopause and the internal changes that brought for her. She felt less alone in that journey. I cried at that email because I knew I'd met my goal. Even in fiction, we can help people find hope and make sense of things in their lives. Mission accomplished.

I write because to not write would be like not breathing. Something inside me would just shrivel up and die. We all need passion in our lives--that one thing that, when we pursue it, engage it, it gives us life and purpose and drive. We find that exact place where we are meant to be.

In the words of Joseph Campbell:

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn't know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.”

Substitute the word 'bliss' with the word 'passion.' This is why I write, and why I write what I write.

                                                                    Have a blissful day,


Monday, March 26, 2018

Parkland - St. Valentine's Day

Parkland – St. Valentine’s Day

~ ~ ~ 

Hearts and flowers for St. Valentine’s Day?
A text sent and received with a smile.
Sneaking a kiss on the way to class?
All was right with the world.

Then come the sounds, the popping, the ricochet, the screams.
Valentine’s Day was just a dream, the red that runs the halls
is real.
The panic as refuge is sought, bodies crushing together.
It’s happening—again.
Terror pulsing as bullets rain and shatter the innocence of children slain.

Children left with lifeless eyes and fear-filled hearts,
A text sent, “I love you, Mom. We’re being killed.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with you. This was never what
we willed.”
I close my eyes against the scene, the rhetoric resounding
in my brain.

When I opened up my eyes, I saw
That the children were not there anymore.
In their place, a monument stood,
A memory of their childhood.

But from the smoke and apologies
An image rose and began to move.
The children—united—no longer children now
Will lead the way and show us the truth we have refused to see…

How blinded we can be.

© Linda Rettstatt, 2018

Friday, March 2, 2018

THE PLAN - 2018

Winnie the Pooh says, "Once you get a plan, the best thing is to just stick to it." So here's my plan for 2018.

I'm intending to release three books this year. Yes, that middle one says it's by E.J. Linden. I'm adopting a pseudonym for what will be a continuing line of suspense novels. If all goes as planned, I'll release a book in May, August, and October. As long as I continue to listen to Winnie the Pooh, nothing should go wrong.

                                                                     Happy reading,  Linda

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gone to the Dogs

What if you weren't a dog person? Not even much of an animal lover? But your best friend desperately needs your help, and that help includes not only caring for her little dog, but keeping her dog spa and resort up and running? Then you meet the one guy you can't resist--and he is, of all things, a veterinarian. When all is said and done, you might just find you've Gone to the Dogs.


Coming soon.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Aaah, February ~ The Month of Romance

When we think of February, our thoughts turn to Valentine's Day--roses, chocolates, love and romance. I'll be part of a nine-author group in attendance at the first annual Romance Reader/Author Valentine's Tea at the M.R. Davis Public Library in Southaven, MS on Saturday, February 10, 2017 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

It will be an opportunity for readers of all sub-genres of romance to come and meet local romance authors, learn more about their writing, enjoy tea and crumpets (Not really. We'll have treats, but who knows what crumpets are?) There will also be door prizes.

This is the perfect event for romance readers and for book clubs, in particular. So if you're in the general Southaven/Memphis area (or wherever you are, if you don't mind the drive), come and join us. It's sure to be a fun-filled afternoon.

Just look at this line-up of superb romance authors who will be there:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ghosts of Christmases Past

It's been a lot of years since this, my first Christmas. I do look rather wide-eyed and even skeptical about it all. And are those some scary-looking dolls, or what? Well, perhaps that early trauma built character. I can only hope. I was taking some time today to think about so many Christmases past. Perhaps I've watched one too many Hallmark Christmas movies set in small towns with perfect little decorated houses and festive shops, the narrow streets lined with banks of pure snow. But that is the town of my childhood and these movies take me back there. They are, in some ways, the conjuring of my own ghosts of Christmases past.

I loved the live trees filled with all sorts of ornaments, large and small, in every color, and draped in yards of silver tinsel. The lights weren't the tiny things we see today, but huge lightbulbs that got hot to the touch (and we thought they were perfectly safe) and, if one burned out, the entire string of lights went with it. In a more philosophical moment, I considered how that might represent us--humanity--and reflect our need to be more supportive and understanding of one another. Keep each other's light burning bright.

Christmas morning was always an event to behold. Not because we were wealthy, but because my paternal grandparents had only two grandchildren and the inability to say 'no.' It was as if FAO Schwartz sent a truck our way. Perhaps that why, to this day, I cannot imagine a child not having gifts at Christmas, and that participating in our Angel Tree at work is my favorite thing to do.

I remember, too, when I was older, going to midnight mass in the Historic Church of St. Peter in my hometown of Brownsville, PA. The old stone church with its high-beamed ceiling looked to be an ancient castle to me. The stone held the winter chill. The dim lighting added a certain mystique as Christmas carols lifted and echoed. Even as a child, I thought it to be a magical experience. That was back when midnight mass actually took place at midnight, and we'd take a nap after dinner so we could stay awake.

Then it was home and right to bed so Santa could come. I recall the first time I questioned Santa Claus's existence. I think I was eight years old. My sister and I were tucked together in our one bed. My mother came in with a red plastic telephone and said, "It's Santa Claus. He wants to talk to you." I took the phone and listened, then said, "That isn't Santa Claus. It's Daddy." That's when my father stepped around the corner. Enough to say I was stunned to silence and once again a believer--for at least one more year. (The phones turned out to be fancy walkie-talkies. And my father's friend was on the other end downstairs.) I think we adults who enjoy movies like The Polar Express are actually those children on the cusp of disbelieving and wanting so badly to hold onto those beliefs for one more year. Do it. Believe!

There was the year I got a toy trumpet for Christmas. I practiced all day on that thing and, the next morning at around 5 a.m., donned my dad's Army reserve hat and blew Reveille at his bedside. That's not a good thing to do to a former soldier. It could have ended my musical career.

I remember keeping the tree up and alive with mere determination and gallons of water until after New Year's. Sometimes watching the needles shimmer to the floor, hitting the carpet in silence.

What I most remember, though, is the wonder, the expectation and anticipation, the gathering of family, the stories that were told in front of the fire, and the dinner shared by family and friends on Christmas Day. I don't put up a lot of decorations these days. Some folks ask me why not. I usally say it's because I'm the only one here who will see them, and then I just have the hassle of putting them away after the holiday is over. I'm content to spend the day with myself, usually working on a book.

Truth is--I have the very best memories of Christmas in my heart, and nothing I can do will replicate that. I enjoy being visited by the Ghosts of my Christmases Past.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope you have time to revel in joyous memories of your own Christmases past and those with whom you shared them.

Merry Christmas to all.


You can find these Christmas stories on Amazon: