Friday, January 24, 2014

The Little Road Book

     I am very pleased to welcome author Lynn Romaine who shares a bit about her newest life journey. She has done something many women (and probably a few men) only allow themselves to dream of doing. And then she wrote about. I so appreciate Lynn sharing her story here and I hope it encourages you (and me) to step beyond our fears to embrace those things we long to do.

     Although I know you as an author of Romantic Suspense fiction, you recently self-published The Little Road Book, detailing your travels through part of this country. What prompted you to sell your house, most of your belongings, and set out on this adventure?

     What prompted me was I had no choice, as I had lost all my income except my tiny Social Security and had no retirement whatsoever.  I could not afford to keep my house unless I let it fall down around me.  So what started out briefly as a dire emergency quickly turned into an incredible opportunity to fulfill on my dreams to get back on the road and see the country before I could no longer move about.  Once I started the process of getting the house ready, paying down as much as I could of my rather large credit card debt with a friend sending me her back up work for eighteen months, it got really easy and I was on my way to getting rid of pretty much all of my possessions except a few boxes of books, a couple of boxes of clothes and some family photos and treasures.

     What were the most frightening things you encountered and what were the most gratifying?

     The most frightening things I encountered were less than you would expect. I am someone with somewhat of a daredevil personality but if you can give up that you ‘should not be afraid’ and let yourself be afraid but do whatever you are afraid of anyway, the fear is just one more human emotion that is part of being human and means little (unless someone is truly threatening you and holding a gun to your head—then you should definitely honor the fear).  So I woke up at least a few times over the two years of getting ready to go in cold sweats, worrying over what I would do out in a trailer if I got sick, or how I could possibly travel about and live on so little money.  I did have one major anxiety attack one night about half way through the process of my odyssey but I forced myself up out of bed, went to my computer and put out a call for help on Facebook – ‘Anybody out there at this time of night? Please answer!’ It turned into one of the most gratifying moments when all those friends and strangers responded.  I could list a page of gratifying moments but I’ll only briefly list a few here:  Coming back from my first trip on the road towing a trailer for 40 days feeling like wonder woman – master of my trailer and my world; discovering a passion for writing some nonfiction books, about travel, and about my long lost Great Aunt Rose whom I never met, and finally, simply revisiting the awe and wonder of the natural world, the quiet of the desert, the sunsets, the deserted highways, the wild horses.

    Tell us a little bit about The Little Road Book.

     The Little Road Book ( is a mini-Blue Highways, that road book so popular in 1982, and came out of my thoughts about good and bad highways, good and bad experiences I encountered and special pictures of places I wanted to remember.  It was also my first try at self publishing so that by the third book, Desert Rose, which is being funded by others in Kickstarter ( which will come out in early April, I will have enough experience with self publishing to know what I am doing and produce a great little book. The book is only 53 pages, and filled with many photos I took in my travels, along with anecdotes about what I liked and didn’t like on the highway.  Here’s a small excerpt:

     "On September 25th, a Thursday morning, I packed my trailer with the minimum amount of stuff I felt I could not live without, for my six-week long trip. I do feel this is a good rule of thumb for any traveling, whatever the circumstances or resources, to minimize your travel gear.

     So I set off alone, quaking in my moccasins, creeping along heading west out of Bloomington, Indiana for the interstate; the fastest way to get to Marin County in ten days."

     How did this experience change you and/or your life view?

     As I mentioned above, I came home with a sense of power and that aging would not turn me into a little old lady sitting on my front porch watching life pass me by.  At close to 70 I could pull a 16’ trailer across America, hitch and unhitch it, back it in small spaces (over time), work the furnace, the hot water heater, and even empty the sewage! I found I had way less room for sitting around chit-chatting (not that there’s anything wrong with that if you enjoy it; I never have but was unable before my trip to let myself leave something I did not enjoy). I can give myself more space to be annoyed when I am annoyed and however I am moment to moment.  But perhaps the two most important things: 1) I rediscovered a passion for writing which I had lost a few years ago; and  2) I discovered that happiness and joy in life can be found and even created anywhere.

     What would you say to other women who have a dream but might be stopped by fears or doubts?

     I’d say I know it’s scary and hard sometimes in life, but feelings are just feelings and hard is just hard.  It’s part of life.  The most difficult thing, I think, is to find those unfulfilled dreams to pursue.  Over time I found I’d forgotten about mine and sort of fell asleep in life. Being forced to either Live a Life of Survival or Pursue My Dreams, I chose the dreams.  I think everyone can do that if they want whatever your dreams may be.

     What’s next in your journey?

     I’m publishing my three books by April, planning some short trips (one to Mississippi to see you Linda, for a day), perhaps heading to northern Michigan and Canada for a while and then whatever shows up in between then and the end of summer when I plan to head out west again, this time spending more time in a few places like the Rockies and LA to do more research on my Aunt Rose to add to her book.

    What’s next in your fiction writing?

     Fiction writing! Thanks for asking.  I got my taste for writing fiction awakened on my odyssey as I got gas in a tiny town called Rough Rock. I’d just driven for an hour down an empty highway and seen the most beautiful wild white horse. I was standing there pumping gas into my Subaru, the wind whipping my coat, thinking about wild horses, when I glanced through the gas pump and saw the most amazingly beautiful Indian face on a woman about thirty-five who was pumping gas into her dirty black Chevy Blazer.  I smiled at her and she smiled back. In that moment a brand new suspense book took shape in my head.

     Anything else you’d like to add?
    No and thank you for asking but I’ve said enough for now. 

    Where can you be found/followed on the web?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Hope This Is A Four-Act Play!

I’ve reached that stage in life—the ‘Third Act’ (a term attributed to Jane Fonda)—where one spends as much time looking back at what has been as one spends looking forward to what might be. It's a time of reinvention and re-creation.

Becoming a woman is an amazing journey. We have all kinds of markers we assign to it—a girl gets her first period, she’s a woman; a young woman sets out on her own for the first time, she’s a woman; a young woman becomes a wife and starts a family, she’s a woman. Well, you get the idea.

Life has been separated into stages: infancy, childhood, youth, young adulthood, adulthood, middle age, and old age. This seems way too complicated and involves too many transitions for me. But I do think there’s a missing piece in here. It can be ever so brief, but it’s there. It’s that transition between middle age and old age. I don’t have a name for it, but I know it. I reached that stage at somewhere around fifty and I truly believe that’s when I became a woman, when I embraced womanhood. I orchestrated my own fiftieth birthday party down to the dinner napkins. I was determined to make it a true celebration of what had been and what was to come and I was the only one who knew me well enough to do it, much to the dismay of my friends who wanted to plan a party.

I found a great old photo of my parents probably taken around the time I was a toddler. I transferred my favorite baby picture onto the front of a tee-shirt with my birth date and, on the back, transferred the photo of my parents with a heading: Brought to you by…. It meant much more to me than those in attendance at my celebration could have realized. I was owning who I was and where I came from as I prepared to move forward. A lot changed that year. I not only turned fifty, I packed up and moved nine hundred miles away from home and took on a new job. I had a wonderful, spacious new apartment all to myself. I lived with ME. I took a step into that next invisible stage that was no longer middle age (let’s be honest, fifty is only the middle if you’re sure you’ll make it to one hundred) and not yet old age.

The following few years were a time not unlike adolescence but without all the raging hormones. (Okay, maybe not ALL.) It was a time of uncertainty, searching, trial and error, alternately loving and hating myself, discovering new truths and passions. It was a time of anticipation, knowing something new and exciting and fresh was just ahead. I only had to keep moving forward and keep my eyes (and heart and mind) open. It was a time of falling in love. With me. With the woman I was becoming. She was stronger, more perceptive, more certain in her opinions and quicker to express them. If I’d become panty hose, I’d have been called No Nonsense. My tolerance for nonsense was depleted. Every moment has purpose, meaning. Now that’s not to say there’s no fun. I became my own best source of laughter, much freer to see the humor in my own attitudes and actions and foibles. I stopped taking myself so seriously. I stopped worrying so much about what other people think or how they perceived me. I stopped being afraid to just be me.

We can focus on the changes that come with aging that are hard to look at and accept—our bodies shift and droop and sag (well, some of ours do), our memory might not be the steel trap it once was, we endure losses we never imagined in our families and friends. We sometimes fail to see the changes that should be celebrated and embraced—what some call the wisdom that comes with maturing.

I finally embraced my passion for writing. I’d always been drawn to some form of creativity—writing poetry and music, drawing and painting, photography, performing music. The gift that came to me when I slowed down, breathed in and let the gift come to me was that of writing. Serious writing. My love for books and the desire to write. I knew the instant I began that first book that THIS was my passion. It unearthed and released joy in me that had been too long dormant. Everyone’s passion is different and each of us will discover it in our own way and time. If we’re open. See, I believe that’s the purpose of this in-between stage of life. To stand in the middle and re-evaluate and pack up those things we truly need that will carry us forward, shed the things we’ve carried and that no longer serve us. Now every day dawns brand new. It always did, but who knew? Really.

Sometimes a sunrise and a sunset look remarkably the same.

I was recently asked in an interview what I would like to say to my younger self. It’s the same thing I say now at this stage as I enter the Third Act of my life: Trust yourself more, worry less about what others think, and do not let fear hold you back. I would also add to that—know who your friends are and cherish them. We need each other on this magnificent, sometimes scary, always awesome journey.

I hope this is a four-act play because I’m just getting my speed up and ready to sail into 
Act Three.

Happy sailing, Linda

Linda Rettstatt--Writing for Women

Life's an adventure, wear comfortable shoes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ten Years A Writer

Ten years ago this week, I sat at a computer and stared at the blank screen, wondering where to begin. I had a title—And The Truth Will Set You Free. I had a character—Kate Reynolds. Kate because I’ve always like the name and Reynolds because it’s an old family name on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family.

I sat and stared because I wondered what story lay within this title and this character. And, then, I began to write:


“Every journey begins with one step...”

Kate read the words beneath a calendar picture of footprints on a path that ran alongside a narrow river and disappeared into a pristine wood. The trees glowed in varying shades of orange, yellow and red, and a covered bridge spanning a creek was visible in the distance. Even though it was March, Kate had, for some reason, kept this picture from October hanging on the wall behind her desk. She took a minute every morning, with the cup of Starbucks she picked up on her way into the State Office Building, and reflected upon the picture and the words beneath it. She envisioned herself stepping onto this path and into the footprints. Where would they take her? What journey awaited her step?

~ * ~
I had no idea at the time how writing these words would impact my life, would open a door in my own soul and allow the passion I’d so long held hostage to escape. I had no idea I was taking that first step into what has been an amazing ten year journey.

All I knew when I began to write And The Truth Will Set You Free is that I wanted to see if I could write a book. I didn’t know there were actual rules for writing. I was pretty much clueless about the parameters for various genres. I just knew I had this story I wanted to tell. Kate’s story. In a way, my story. During the writing of this first book, I often found myself laughing out loud, weeping, feeling frustrated and unsure. I thought I was writing the story Kate was telling me about her journey. Two years after the first writing while I was buried in edits—my first experience working with a real editor—I came to realize that my story and Kate’s story were irrevocably intertwined. Kate’s journey was my dream. And she graciously allowed me to ride along and take notes.

I ventured into this world of writing and graduated from writer to author completely clueless. I thank God for the generous writers and publishers (Wings ePress, Champagne Books, Turquoise Morning Press) and editors who were kind enough to turn me and point me in the right direction time and time again. I was stunned when this first book published in 2007 finaled for an EPIC eBook Award in 2008 in Mainstream Fiction. I knew the joy and energy I felt through following my passion for writing. I think you know something is right when it gives back far more than it demands. This is what writing does for me. I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing.

I sometimes think I waited far too long to set off on this amazing, demanding, rewarding venture as a writer. But I’m also a believer that things happen in their own time or when the time is right. I’m not announcing my age when I began writing, let’s just say I came into the profession well-seasoned.

With twenty books written, seventeen of those already published and a file of ‘to-be-written’ ideas that, if printed on paper would stack from floor to ceiling, I can only say I think I’m onto something here. I love writing women’s fiction because I think we women can be so simple and at once so deeply complicated. I love the way women will stand up for one another and call each other out in the name of truth. I love the honesty in women’s fiction. But I’m also a romantic at heart and why fight it? I tried to blame my romance author critique partners, but I have to admit that writing romance is just so darned much fun. This past year I even delved into the paranormal realm, a place I never thought I’d go. But with a likable ghost (think Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle), it wasn’t nearly as scary as I anticipated. Who knows where I’ll go next? I do love a challenge.

I was recently asked what I would say to my younger self. Without giving it much thought at all, the following words came to mind: Trust yourself more, worry less about what others think, and do not let fear hold you back.

I could look back with regret and wish I’d known this many years earlier, or I can embrace these words now and live in them, every single moment. A friend gave me a cross-stitched wall hanging that says: The past cannot be changed; the future is whatever you want it to be. I intend for my future to be grounded in trusting myself, letting the opinions of others bear no weight, and running headlong into and through the fears that hold me back. My image for this is of a ‘well-seasoned’ woman flying along on a bicycle with hands raised, head back, laughing. Hang on with me, ‘cause it’s going to be a wild ride!

Now, the fun part. To thank all of my readers and faithful followers and those of you who took the time to read this post and offer a comment, I'll be drawing a name to give away a signed copy of any of my print books (or an ebook, if preferred). It's easy, just post a comment, then click here EMAIL and send me an email with 'I commented' in the subject line. I'll announce a winner on Sunday, January 19. (The email just lets me know how to contact you.)