Wednesday, December 30, 2009


In preparation for the New Year, the release of my newest novel, NEXT TIME I'M GONNA DANCE, and as I reflect on the past year, I'm inviting my characters and yours to come by and share something about themselves and their hopes for 2010.

My first guest blogger is Emmie Steele who stars in NEXT TIME I'M GONNA DANCE. Help me to welcome Emmie.

Emmie Steele (NEXT TIME I'M GONNA DANCE - January 1, 2010 - Champagne Books)

It's been quite a year for me. Actually it's been quite a couple of years. I dodged a bullet a few years ago when I survived breast cancer. Then my husband (better known to all of my friends--and occasionally to myself--as 'the ass') walked out. I was just getting back on my feet, back into the rhythm of my life when I got a second diagnosis of breast cancer. The hardest thing was telling my daughter, Lisa. She's just graduated from Penn State, you know. I'm so proud of her. I'm also very grateful this year, especially, for my brother, Andy, and for my four best friends: Brett, Lynn, Chris, and Polly. Oh, God, you should meet them--Polly in particular. She's a real piece of work. They are the fiercest, kindest, most loyal friends a woman could want. These friends, along with the help of a handsome hunk named Sonny, taught me to dance again.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope you dance--for whatever that means in your life.

You can find out more about my story at

Love, Emmie

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Eleven Days and Counting

Counting down to January 1 and the release of Next Time I'm Gonna Dance. Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite and pique your interest.

Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

Just breathe. Breathe. You don’t have a final diagnosis—yet. Emmie turned the key and the engine purred. Maybe she would head west and keep driving. Perhaps if she kept moving, this wouldn’t be real. Lurching to a stop at the garage attendant’s booth, she paid and eased into traffic.

Other drivers whizzed past her as if she were standing still. The drive that normally lasted ten minutes, took her twenty-five. She parked in her driveway and sat for a moment, staring at the fence. I need to paint the fence this summer. A laugh escaped at the incongruity of that thought, as if painting the fence would set her world right.

When she opened the back door of her house, a fly buzzed past her and made a beeline for the window above the sink. She didn’t have the heart to chase it down and kill it. Tossing the car keys onto the kitchen table, she dropped her purse in a chair. The red light on the answering machine blinked, but she ignored it. She wandered through the house, trying to decide what to do first. Tears threatened when she thought of telling her daughter, Lisa, this news.

Tension crawled up her spine, across her shoulders, and into the base of her skull where everything knotted together. She walked to the kitchen and parted the mini-blinds, looking beyond her car to the next driveway, hoping to see her sister-in-law’s SUV parked there.
She must have stayed after school, probably monitoring detention.

Her eyes filled and the need for comfort chilled her. Emmie wrapped her arms across her chest, her fingers grasping just above each elbow. The empty embrace made her feel even more alone.

Panic gripped her. She swallowed hard and ran to the bathroom, heaving, but nothing came. Rising, she studied herself in the mirror. Her hair that had grown back curly and a darker shade of brown. She sank her fingers into the thick curls as tears spilled down her cheeks.

She closed her eyes, taking in deep breaths to hold back the terror that threatened to suffocate her.

* * *

If you're one of those lucky folks to whom Santa is delivering a new e-book reader, be sure to order Next Time I'm Gonna Dance, available in a variety of e-book formats.

Happy Reading -


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

Coming in January from
Champagne Books:
Next Time I'm Gonna Dance.

At forty-four, Emmie Steele has already faced more than her share of challenges. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and undergone a mastectomy at forty-two. Three months later, her husband announced he was leaving.

Now, a cancerous lump has been detected in her other breast. Terror grips her, and Emmie fears the worst. This time is different. This time, she knows what to expect. Emmie believes in second-chances--and she has already received one.

Surrounded by the love of her family and her four best friends, Emmie faces her fears, entertains regrets, and wonders about third chances. She decides that, if there is another shot for her, "Next Time I'm Gonna Dance.”


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The pies are cooling on the counter--well out of reach of the cat. I'm looking forward to spending the day tomorrow with friends, enjoying a fantastic meal and a lot of laughs.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with love, laughter, and lots and lots of pie!

Be safe in your travels and remember to give thanks for your blessings. If you have to think about what those are, look around the table.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Exciting News!

I've received notification that my novel, FINDING HOPE, has finaled for an EPIC Award. I am so excited. I'm in some very prestigious company on the finalists' list. I'm hoping to attend EPICon in March in New Orleans where the winners will be announced at the EPICon banquet on Saturday, March 6 at the Sheraton New Orleans. The conference is also offering some great workshops, and Deb Dixon--author of Goal, Motivation, and Conflict--is the keynote speaker. So, come on down and join us in the Big Easy for a great time.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Hat's Off to Copyeditors

Copyeditors out there--listen up! You have my utmost respect and appreciation. Two years ago, I took an online course on editing and copyediting. Those of you who know me, know I'm not one to follow the rules. (See previous blog post about mismatched socks :) Copyediting is all about knowing and following 'the rules.'

I recently took on a freelance job to copyedit a small non-fiction work for a friend's religious congregation. My course notes have gotten quite a workout. So have my eyes.

I now have five published novels. I've had good copyeditors, one remarkably good copyeditor, and one...well, let me just say I copyedited the galleys for one book myself at the last minute. But after copyediting documents all day today, I have a profound respect for the work copyeditors do. You literally search for needles in the haystack.

So, if you are a copyeditor--here's to you. If you are an author--be kind to your copyeditor, and he or she will (hopefully) make you look brilliant in the end.

Happy writing!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Who says my socks have to match?

I don't remember the first rule I learned. Probably to not reach out and grab something that would burn, cut, sting or otherwise endanger me. I know that, by the time I was three, I knew not to touch 'things'. I remember, probably more because my mother enjoyed telling the story than any true recollection of my own, that as a child I could be taken anywhere and I would not touch other people's things. I'm told we visited my mother's friend one day. The woman collected ceramic figures of birds. Her coffee table was covered from end to end with brightly colored glass and ceramic birds. I stood and stared in awe, my chubby hands clasped tightly behind my back. When her friend asked if she should put the birds out of my reach, my mother replied, "Oh, no. She won't touch them. She's trained not to reach for things."

Hmmm. Well, that could explain a lot—things I won't venture into here. My purpose here is to address the rules that hold us back from testing, discovery, and creativity. Just as with the rest of life, writing—so I have learned—has rules. I've never been good with rules—except that one about not reaching out and touching. And, thank God, I've matured enough to dismiss that one!

What I want to know is, who says my socks have to match? Who says I can't wear white after Labor Day? Who says I have to color inside the lines?

My first novel was written in total ignorance of rules. I knew the basic rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation, and I followed those. But I was clueless about the rules I've learned since—about point of view, conflict, a sagging middle (well, I won't go into what I knew about sagging middles), and happy endings. I wrote with passion and abandon. I loved my characters and their stories. I could sit for hours at the computer setting those stories into print. It was as if I stood before that coffee table filled with bird figures and picked up each one to examine its color and texture and form.

Then I learned the rules. You have to maintain point of view. If you shift point of view, it must be a smooth transition. Your characters have to have insurmountable conflicts and find the inner strength to overcome the conflict. And you must, above all else, have a happy ending (if you write romance, that is.) There are other rules, too. Rules that, when I think about them, tether my hands behind my back—just like when I was three years old. I stand and stare in wonder at this story that is unfolding in my head, but hesitate to write it down. What if I'm not in the proper point of view? What if my characters don't have really big conflicts, but just the normal, ordinary kind most of us face from day to day?

Then my writing becomes an engineering project. Maybe I could kill someone off, someone close the protagonist. Or I could give her a potentially life threatening illness. And so it goes. I begin my search through the sock drawer to find the perfect match.

You know what? My feet will be equally warm and cozy if one sock is brown and one is black. Maybe I'll risk coloring outside the lines, writing outside the rules and, in so doing, stumble upon something uniquely my own. My own voice. My style.

Right now, I need to go and change my left sock.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again...

It's October...the one time of the year when I get homesick. I miss the chill in the morning air, the way you can see your breath and the cloud of steam rising from your cup of coffee as you step out onto the back porch. I miss the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and the palette of color that sweeps the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I miss the smells of autumn--rich soil damp with dew, woodsmoke from a distant fire. The warning scent of the winter that is to come.

If home is truly where the heart is, then my October home is in those hills some eight hundred miles away where the Youghoigheny River winds through the Laurel Mountains, spilling over rocks worn smooth by time. I close my eyes and envision my feet carefully settling on rocks and stepping over tree roots as I climb the Buffalo Nut trail that rises above the river in Ohiopyle State Park. I feel the burn in my calves and the sting of cold air in my nostrils and throat.

Sunlight bathes the hillsides splashed with varying shades of red, orange and yellow. The river gurgles along until it reaches the waterfall where it roars and splashes, sending a mist to anoint anyone standing at the river's edge. And I stop and close my eyes to accept this baptism of nature. Looking down from a rock ledge into the roiling water, I feel my smallness, my vulnerability. One misstep, one slip...

The sun kisses my upturned face and sends warmth through to my toes. Leaves rustle, some falling, like unparachuted skydivers, to land in the water where they create a floating tapestry. Near the base of the waterfall, a kayaker paddles against the current, then turns his kayak to let the rushing waters drive him while he skillfully navigates the rapids.

I am consumed by this moment, by the contrasting chill in the air and the warmth of the sun, by the silence that lies beneath the rushing water and the rustling leaves. It is in this silence that I once again know. I know that I am not alone. I know that I have a purpose. I know that there is someone or something greater than myself orchestrating this moment. I know who I am.

As writers or artists or musicians, we have to dig deep and give ourselves over to that which is more than we sometimes feel we can bear. We do it for the sake of our art. We do it for love. Inspiration is all around, if we but shift our eyes from the computer screen and our minds from the words we labor to link together--and we just look and listen.

Take an hour. Sit outside in the stillness. Breathe in the smells, hear the sounds and the silences, listen to the earth around you preparing for the little dyings that will, in another season, produce new life. Let yourself be in the moment.

Then write!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's Not Too Late to Revisit, Revive Dream

Click on the newspaper to read my article in the Sunday,
Sept. 27 edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Linda Rettstatt
Writing for women--
Stories of strength, love,
humor, and hope.

Autumn, 2009 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

2009 has been quite busy. Many of you are wondering what I’ve been up to and when the next book is coming out. I know this because several of you have emailed repeatedly, asking,
“When’s the next book coming out?”
I’m very pleased to announce the September 1 release of
The Restoration of Abby Walker
from Wings ePress.

Abby Walker Mulgrew is counting on two things to breathe life back into her marriage: the Alaskan cruise she and her husband, Wil, have planned, and the see-through negligee she has purchased for the trip.

Within the first twenty-fours hours of the cruise to celebrate her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, however, Abby receives the one gift she least expects.

~ * ~

Two other novels have been contracted by Champagne Books for publication in 2010. Next Time, I’m Gonna Dance is scheduled for January, 2010 release, and Shooting Into the Sun will be available in May, 2010.

In other news, my new contemporary romance novel, Wake-Up Call, is now under the representation of Anita Melograna, agent with
Crosswind Agency.

My article, It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now…, will be published on Sunday, September 27 in the Memphis Commercial Appeal My Words column.

And I have a new roommate. Her name is Olivia. She weighs nine pounds, prefers Fancy Feast, and sleeps just about any place she desires. Yes, I am now owned by a cat. Actually, I rescued her, then she returned the favor. She’s being very gracious, so far, in allowing me free range of the apartment. But things could change at a moment’s notice if I don’t clean the litter box on time!

~ * ~

While you’re waiting for the next new release, kick back and enjoy any of these books available from Wings ePress, Inc. at: or at
This is also a great time to do your early Christmas shopping!

(Signed copies are available directly from me upon request.)

~ ~ ~

Writing tip: Write every day. It’s not so important what you write as it is that you write. The jury is out among writers as to the validity of writer’s block. Some of us swear it doesn’t exist; others who have been caught in the quicksand of the inability to structure a meaningful sentence beg to differ. That’s not the point, though. The point is, to be a writer, one must write. You cannot always write what you want to write, but you can always write. Perfecting one’s skill requires consistency, practice, and the sharpening of one’s tools. So, write a novel, a short story, a poem, or a very descriptive shopping list.
Just write!


My website:

My blog – One Woman’s Write:

My publishers: and

Contact me:

I hope you have all enjoyed a relaxing summer.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Passing of an Icon

Mary Allin Travers
I was saddened to learn of the passing today of Mary Travers. Mary was a driving vocal force with the folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary. I had the privilege of having met Mary several years ago when she appeared solo at a telethon to benefit Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital. As a part of the folk trio and as a solo artist, Mary devoted herself and her talents to encouraging social change and increasing awareness of injustices in our world. Over the past few years, Mary bravely battled leukemia.

Mary Travers was a generous, kind, and graceful spirit, and she will be sadly missed.
~ * ~

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

September 26 through October 3, 2009 is national Banned Books Week. This event is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores.

Events are scheduled at public libraries and bookstores across the country. You can participate in events that celebrate our freedom to read. For more information, visit the Banned Books website:

I personally believe that parents can and should exercise the right to determine the types of movies, music and print media to which their own children are exposed. But I believe that determination should rest with individuals and not be the result of a blanket decision made by a few on behalf of the whole. Please visit the website and decide for yourself if you can support the efforts to protect our freedom to read. If you peruse the list of books recommended for banning, you will not only find erotica and what some may consider pornography, but you will find many classic works and contemporary bestsellers.

If you are so inclined, I encourage you to find an event near you.

Happy reading!


Saturday, September 5, 2009


Click the cover to view my new video trailer for FINDING HOPE.


Monday, August 31, 2009


THE RESTORATION OF ABBY WALKER is now available at Wings ePress

Abigail Walker Mulgrew married into one of the wealthiest families in Baltimore society. Her daughter, Caitlin, is in graduate school in California, and Abby is preparing to celebrate her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with her husband, Wil, on a cruise through Alaska’s inner passage. Abby is determined to use this time alone with Wil to bridge the chasm that has gradually widened between them.

The last thing Abby expects as an anniversary gift is the news she receives from her husband. It propels her into a tailspin that drops her down in an Ocean City, Maryland B&B. Abby faces several changes, among them the opportunity to open the antiques business she has always wanted to own.

As Abby learns more about refinishing and restoring furniture, she begins her own process of restoration, reclaiming the woman she thought she would one day become.
* * *

THE RESTORATION OF ABBY WALKER is available in electronic format and trade paperback. Visit my website to read early reviews

Thanks to all of you who encourage me to keep writing and who let me know how much you enjoy my books.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Books, Books, and more Books

And the Truth Will Set You Free by Linda Rettstatt
(2008 EPPIE Award Finalist)
Women’s Fiction


At fifty-two, Kate Reynolds believed that she had her life in order—a career, her own home, treasured friends, and financial stability. When she is asked to take an early retirement, the bottom falls out of her perfect world and Kate plummets through the hole.

Kate leaves her home in Pittsburgh and moves to a small town in Connecticut to pursue a long-dormant dream, where she soon finds herself faced with questions about her life and her choices. As she faces her own truths, she finds the freedom to accept the second chance that life has offered her.

And the Truth Will Set You Free by Linda Rettstatt
(2008 EPPIE Award Finalist)
Women’s Fiction
Available from Wings ePress, Inc.

A nightmare has been troubling Claire Vanderfelt Hutchings for the past two years. Deciding the nightmare may have some significance, she obtains a referral to yet one more therapist. Claire’s goal is simply to make the nightmare stop. However, if it has something to tell her first, she is willing to listen. As she explores the nightmare that leaves her terrified and shaken, questions begin to surface—the answers to which could turn her life inside out.

Her search for clues leads her from Pittsburgh to New Hampshire, where she meets Lee Rowan and his mother, Elizabeth. A strong attraction between Claire and Lee blossoms into a new romance—one that Claire resists, fearful it will end in disaster, just like her marriage to Shawn Hutchings. Claire comes face-to-face with her deepest fears and longings as she discovers a secret about her past, a lie she has lived for over thirty years. Now, thirty years later, Claire uncovers the truth and puts the missing pieces into place, uniting two families—one that has loved her and raised her as their own and the father who never gave up hope.

Available from Wings ePress, Inc.

The Year I Lost My Mind by Linda Rettstatt
Women’s Fiction


My name is Beth Rutledge. Today is my birthday. I am fifty-one years old. My mother will tell you I have been having a midlife crisis. My best friend will tell you I am courageous. My husband will tell you that, on my last birthday and for just a little while, I lost my mind.

I will tell you this: Sometimes you have to lose something in order to reclaim it. Sometimes you have to trust the love that holds the seams of your life together and stretch it to a new limit. Sometimes you just have to lose your mind…and follow your heart.

The Year I Lost My Mind
Available from Wings ePress, Inc.

Finding Hope by Linda Rettstatt
Women’s Fiction


Janet DeMarco is having one of those days. She feels underappreciated, underestimated, and misunderstood. She accidentally resigns from her job and, when her husband finds it amusing, she hands in her resignation to her family, as well. Janet becomes a blonde, changes her name to Hope, and meets two people who help her realize the blessings in her life: Ricki, a young single mother, and Joy, a homeless woman close to Janet’s age.
When Janet embarks on a journey of self-discovery, her one source of support is her husband’s elderly Italian grandmother, Carmela. Finding Hope is about the ever-evolving spirit within every woman.

Finding Hope
Available from Wings ePress, Inc.

Abigail Walker Mulgrew married into one of the wealthiest families in Baltimore society. Her daughter, Caitlin, is in graduate school in California, and Abby is preparing to celebrate her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with her husband, Wil, on a cruise through Alaska’s inner passage. Abby is determined to use this time alone with Wil to bridge the chasm that has gradually widened between them.

The last thing Abby expects as an anniversary gift is the news she receives from her husband. It propels her into a tailspin that drops her down in an Ocean City, Maryland B&B. Abby faces several changes, among them the opportunity to open the antiques business she has always wanted to own.

As Abby learns more about refinishing and restoring furniture, she begins her own process of restoration, reclaiming the woman she thought she would one day become.

The Restoration of Abby Walker
(Coming September, 2009 Wings ePress, Inc.)

To purchase any book, click on the cover. Books are also available at Fictionwise and Happy reading.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

My 'ideas' file is bulging at the seams. Now you would say that's a good thing. Especially for someone who always has two or three works in progress at one time. But this sometimes presents a conflict. I can be going along just fine, hammering out a brilliant new novel. Then--wham--a new book idea.

New story lines are like new babies--you can't resist dropping everything to give them your undivided attention. I mean, they're new, fresh, full of promise. Not like that manuscript with the middle that's beginning to sag just a bit, and with that character who suddenly turned on you in Chapter Fourteen.

The question is: What do you do? Do you drop the manuscript you've slaved over for weeks or months and turn your attention to the new idea? Or do you jot a quick story note, tuck it in your 'to-be-written' file, and keep plugging away at the work at hand? I am often tempted in this way.

I swear my muse is a sadist. She feeds me an enticing story line and introduces me to intriguing characters, and just when I'm immersed in the story, she tosses me a treat. A tasty little morsel of an idea that, I swear, has been dipped in chocolate. It's irresistible. My attention is drawn away from my current work as I sniff around this new and exciting idea. What the heck, I can take the time to write out the story line, maybe identify a few characters. Oh, how about an outline. I should do this while the idea is fresh, before I forget.

The next thing I know, I have four works in progress and I'm suddenly like a ball bearing shot into a pinball machine, zinging from post to post, being flipped around and back again. I can kid myself and say it's all productive as long as I'm writing something. But I'm kidding myself. I manage to get a chapter done here and a few paragraphs done there, but progress toward those two coveted words--'the end'--is slow at best. This is where the discipline of writing comes into play. And I've never been that good with discipline. I'm much better with the 'play'.

There are times when I wish I had an 'off' switch in my head. When I could flip the switch and turn off the flow of thoughts and ideas and just focus on the one book in front of me. I know writers who hit a dry spell or experience writer's block are shouting, "Oh, shut up!" But, trust me friends, being bombarded by ideas (not all of which should become novels) is the other side of that frustrating coin.

I'm envisioning myself with a laptop filled with half-written books. So, I'm wondering: How do you, my fellow writers, strike a balance? What do you do with those brilliant ideas that insert themselves into your mind while you're working to finish one novel? How do you capture the idea and keep it on the back burner? Or do you just drop everything and run with it? If so, what happens to the closer-to-finished work that had your attention?


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ten things my cat is teaching me about writing and about life.

Ten things my cat is teaching me about writing and about life.

1. S**t happens. Apparently, it happens more often than we think.
2. Everyone should have a cozy, safe place to go to once in a while. One that is beyond anyone else’s reach.
3. Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, and I’ll hide under the bed.
4. I’m smarter and I’m faster. Go ahead, make my day—get out the pet carrier.
5. Okay, I’m only here for you. Go ahead, feed that fiction if it makes you happy.
6. Uh, you do know they only removed my front claws—right?
7. I’ll come out when I’m good and ready.
8. Catnip? I don’t need no stinkin’ catnip!
9. Of course I sleep all day. How else am I supposed to be able to annoy you all night?
10. Um…excuse me…my litter box needs cleaning. Now! And while you’re at it, would you refill my food dish and toss me a treat?

How might some of these lessons apply to writing?

1. Rejections happen.
2. Every writer needs a quiet space to cozy up with their characters.
5. We don’t always have as much control over our characters as we may think.
7. Our characters and their stories will reveal themselves when they are ready. Like the cat, you can’t drag them out from under the bed. And if you do, they just won’t cooperate.
10. Every so often we need to edit and rewrite—filter out the crap and refresh the story.

The rest pretty much apply to life.

3. If we’re smart, we learn the first time.
4. Be alert and be prepared.
6. Know your strengths.
8. Don’t be lured in by false promises of happiness.
9. Get enough rest and make time for play.
* Number 1 also applies here: S**t happens.
I'm either going to be very smart at the end of this relationship with Olivia, or I'm going to be locked in the pet carrier.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Adventures With Olivia

I brought my rescue cat home today. Minnie has been renamed Olivia. She really doesn't look like a Minnie anyway, does she? Actually, I should have named her Houdini.

She has done her best to initiate me into the world of cat parenting. I live in a third floor apartment. I lost her four times today. No, really. Lost--as in could not find her anywhere. And I looked--everywhere. She had taken to hiding behind the refrigerator, so that was the first place I looked. No Olivia. I was mystified as to where she could have gone. How does a fully-grown black and white cat completely disappear in a one-bedroom apartment?

Then I heard a little bump somewhere above my head. I was standing in the kitchen at the time. I began to open the doors to the kitchen cabinets. Sure enough, from the far corner on the top shelf appeared two green eyes. She was quite cozy in her little hiding space until I dragged her butt out of there.

An hour later--where's Olivia? Well, I'm trainable. I looked in the cabinet first. You guessed it. There she was. I removed her again, and then figured out how she was getting in there. Seems whoever installed the cabinets didn't finish off the ends of those shelves because they were hidden anyway. Well, from everyone except Olivia. She figured out if she made it onto the counter and stepped up onto the plastic containers filled with cereal, she could slip up behind the cabinets and into her secret place. (I can only hope she continues to find the litter box as easily as she found this tiny little opening to squeeze through into her hiding space.)

But while I was up on the ladder examining the cabinets, I saw the collection of dust on the top. So I retrieved the hand-vac and proceeded to suck up the dust. Cats are frightened by vacuum cleaners. So, Olivia takes another powder. She can't be in the cabinet, so I search again behind the fridge, but to no avail. I am totally at a loss. When I return to the living room where I had draped the sofa and one chair with sheets until I see if she's a furniture cat, I see a small bump beneath the sheet on the sofa and it appears to be breathing. Yup, it's Olivia. Snug in her safe place away from the vaccuum. Well, at least she's exercising me.

The fourth time, I had left my bedroom door open. Sure enough, I peered under the bedskirt and, from the other side, Olivia peered back at me.

As soon as I sat down to write and ignored her completely, however, she came out to rub against my ankles and roll on my feet.

I think she's going to let me stay, but we'll see if she changes the locks tomorrow while I'm at work.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Taking the Plunge

No, I'm not getting married. I'm getting a cat. After months of consideration, I am taking the plunge into pseudo-parenthood. At first, the idea of having a cat around was all about my needs. I would have company. Someone--or something--would (hopefully)greet me and be happy to see me come through the door at the end of the day. I say 'hopefully' because I have had enough experience with cats to know that some of them live with you--and others let you live with them.

I found Minnie (whose name will probably change once I see her personality a bit more) at a shelter. I was looking for a younger cat with lots of energy. Or so I thought until I'd visited three shelters. The energetic kittens and younger cats were yowling and swiping at me through the doors of their cages. Then I saw six-year-old Minnie. She was crouched in her cage, her eyes wide as she watched the goings on around her. But I passed her by to scratch the ears of a curious tabby in the next cage.

Minnie stayed on my mind all weekend, however. Her story of being sacrificed by her former owner explained the frightened look in her eyes. She'd gone from a home she'd lived in for six years to--well--jail. I returned to the shelter to take a closer look at her. She trembled at first when the shelter attendant placed her in my arms. With no front claws, she pawed frantically at my shoulder until I soothed her.

When she was put down to roam free, she found first one hiding place on a book shelf, then an even better spot behind the computer tower under the attendant's desk. But when the attendant reached back to coax her from behind the desk, Minnie allowed herself to be pulled from her spot without complaint--no hiss or meow. And when I once again held her, she rubbed her face against my chin and my hand, claiming me as hers.

While I prepare for Minnie's arrival next Monday, I find I'm both anxious and excited. And the anxiety is curious to me. I think I've realized that this isn't just about my needs. It's a commitment to Minnie (or whomever she will become), too.

This post has absolutely nothing to do with writing. It does, however, have a lot to do with stepping outside ourselves. Which, in a way, has something to do with writing, now that I think about it. We can become very isolated and insulated when we only live inside our own heads, our own fictions. Caring for someone or something else forces us outside of ourselves.

You know, Minnie could make me a better writer with that lesson. I fully expect she'll make me a better person. Once I have her settled at home, I'll post her picture, if I can get the shy girl to step out of the shadows and pose for a minute.

I have to say that visiting the animal shelters was wrenching. There are so many helpless animals in need of good homes. If you're considering a pet, please consider adopting from a shelter. You might be lucky enough to find the next Minnie.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

COMING IN SEPTEMBER: The Restoration of Abby Walker

I just signed a contract with Wings ePress, Inc. to publish my women's fiction novel, THE RESTORATION OF ABBY WALKER. The book will be available in September.

Here is a short synopsis to whet your appetite:

Abigail Walker Mulgrew married into one of the wealthiest families in Baltimore society. Her daughter, Caitlin, is in graduate school in California, and Abby is preparing to celebrate her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with her husband, Wil, on a cruise through Alaska’s inner passage. Abby is determined to use this time alone with Wil to bridge the chasm that has gradually widened between them.

The last thing Abby expects as an anniversary gift is the news she receives from her husband. It propels her into a tailspin that drops her down in an Ocean City, Maryland B&B. Abby faces several changes, among them the opportunity to open the antiques business she has always wanted to own.

As Abby learns more about refinishing and restoring furniture, she begins her own process of restoration, reclaiming the woman she thought she would one day become.

~ * ~

If you need a summer read to carry you through, check out my books at or read excerpts and reviews and find buy links on my website at

Linda (who is perfecting her Happy Dance from a recliner beneath her laptop :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shooting Into the Sun

Shooting Into the Sun has been contracted by Champagne Books for publication in May, 2010.

Nature photographer Rylee Morgan invites her recently un-engaged younger sister, Lexie, to accompany her on a business trip across the country. Lexie, the wild child of the family, challenges Rylee to stretch her boundaries and live outside the neatly constructed box in which she’s placed herself for safe keeping. A perfectionist, Rylee is haunted and driven by ghosts from her past. She locates and confronts the father who abandoned her and Lexie sixteen years earlier, and she finds herself falling for a hitchhiker who is crossing the country to lay his own ghosts to rest. Rylee is breaking her own rules left and right.

Rylee must face her fears, dare to step beyond the safe boundaries she has constructed, and risk her heart. And in order to do so, she has to break a cardinal rule of her craft, both literally and figuratively, by Shooting Into the Sun.

~ * ~

But first -- Next Time, I'm Gonna Dance is scheduled for January release.

Facing breast cancer for the second time, and certain she could die, Emmie Steele takes an inventory of her life. She realizes her one regret—she never learned to dance—and makes this a metaphor that gives her the strength to survive.

~ * ~

While you're eagerly awaiting these books, visit my website at: or stop by to check out one of my previously published books: And the Truth Will Set You Free; Pieces; The Year I Lost My Mind; and, Finding Hope.

I'm taking a well-earned vacation and will be traveling to Arizona until the end of May. Despite my promise that this will be 'time off', I'm sure at least one new story line will worm it's way into my brain. Who wouldn't be inspired by the red rocks and canyons around Sedona, or the desert of Tucson?

See you in June.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who Am I To Judge?

Most of us have, at one time or another, entered our work in writing contests. And more than a few of us have served as judges for contests. When I was first invited to judge a contest for an RWA chapter, I mulled the idea over for a few days. Sure, I'd written a few books by then. And, yes, two had been published. But I still heard that nagging question, "Who am I to judge someone else's writing?"

One can get caught up in a debate about the qualifications of judges for writing competitions. Should the first round judges always be published authors and/or editors? Does having a book published prove one possesses the skills needed to judge another's work? And we can't dismiss the subjectivity involved in judging another writer's work. Each of us has our strong areas and our weaknesses, even as published authors. And we all have our own preferences as to what we like in a story, in the plot and in the characters. We can't divorce ourselves completely from those preferences, even when we're handed a scoring sheet to follow.

I've been on the receiving end of having my work judged for a competition. It can be exhilarating, humiliating, affirming, clarifying--or all of the above. In discussions on the topic with other writers, what I hear most people say is, "The real value of a contest lies in the critique and feedback you receive. That helps you to improve your writing." I agree, but I also think there's more to it. I think we enter our work in writing competitions with the same optimism a mother submits her child's photo to a 'most beautiful baby' contest. We believe we have the most beautiful baby and will win the grand prize. No one wants to have their submission returned with a note that, in effect, says, "Your baby's just not cute enough."

Some things I think we need to be mindful of when putting our work out there for judgment:

* Be prepared for the best and the worst in feedback (what you'll probably get is something in the middle).

* It's not the end of the world if you lose; it's not the Pulitzer, if you win.

* You can learn from the feedback of both the best and worst of judges. You will learn to be discriminating about your own work, to begin to trust what you know is true in your work, even if someone else doesn't see it. And you will learn from the better judges how you can make your sentences tighter, crisper, and more active.

* Every opinion is just one person's opinion. I don't want to minimize the value of a judge's opinion, but urge writers to keep the feedback in perspective, just as you would with a critique partner.

* Don't be discouraged. Use what is offered that will strengthen your writing; leave the rest and move on.

* If you keep entering contests and you keep getting the same negative feedback--work to improve your skill. Don't write it off as being the fault of judges who know nothing. One judge may know nothing; a second judge may be having a bad day and/or know nothing. Five judges can't all be wrong.

And for those daring souls who agree to serve as judge:

* Start by remembering what it is like to be in the other pair of shoes, the other person's skin--sending your baby off to judgment.

* Follow the guidelines given for whatever particular contest you are judging.

* Read each entry more than once. I don't think anyone can fairly judge twenty-five pages of work at first glance. Give the work the time it deserves. Not only is this someone's blood and sweat, their heart's work that you're holding in your hands, but they've no doubt paid a fee to have you examine and judge the work.

* Be honest, fair, and kind. Some people think that being honest translates into being cutting, harsh, or demeaning. No--that's just being mean.

* Explain your scoring--Most score sheets allow space for comments. If it's a low score, what would the writer need to do to improve? If it's a high score, what has he or she done remarkably well?

Now, do I think a contest judge should be a published writer? Yes, and no. Yes, I think a first-round judge should be published and know the writing process (this could include editors). No, I don't think ALL published writers should be judges. A number of people can write, but not well. And some of those get published because a really good editor makes their work publishable. We all need editors for our work, but those writers who manage to get published, but struggle with the basics of good writing should not be judging someone else's writing. And, yes, that does happen. Of course, that's just my opinion. You may differ.

What have been your experiences with writing competitions--as a writer and/or as a judge? I'm off the soapbox. It's all yours.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Save a tree...Read an e-book!

I am the first to admit that I love the look, the feel, the smell of one of my own brand new books. But as we celebrate Earth Day, I take a moment to pause and consider ways I can be kinder to Mother Earth. Yes, the manufacturing and use of electronic devices has other effects on the environment. There are arguments on both sides of the table for and against electronic publishing versus traditional print publishing.

If you don't know about electronic publishing and e-books, take time today to educate yourself. Then you can make a well-informed choice. Here are some handy links to help:

EPIC - The Electronically Published Internet Connection

Fictionwise (an online electronic book distributor)

Or type the words 'electronic publishing' in your browser and do a bit of research.

Have a Happy Earth Day!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Balancing Act

I've just spent the past two weeks packing, moving, and unpacking. Even as I write this, I'm using the laptop screen to block out the stack of file boxes that hide my new fireplace. Most of you already know this--an event such as packing up and moving to a new place is chaotic. Even for the most organized among us (not me--but there must be one here.)

I don't do well with chaos. I function best when my life has a good measure of order and balance. These weeks have taken a toll on my writing, as well. But it's brought me to a realization of the importance of balance.

How many of you have more than one manuscript in the works? How many of you are working on one manuscript, but are finding yourself mired in conflicting directions of plot or taunted by characters who are taking on a mind of their own? How many of you have writing partners and critique partners with whom you share work? How many of you belong to three or more writer's groups, either physical groups or on-line groups. What about the time needed for marketing and promotion of your work? Let's add Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and all of your email to the list.

Okay, I don't know about you, but I've just about stopped breathing at this point. And I feel as though I'm ready to topple under the weight of all of these demands. I think balance is essential to productivity.

Here's the question of the week: How do you maintain a balance with your writing and all of the other demands on your time? Narrow it down to only the writing-related demands and activities. How do you engage other writers in groups, share critiques, maintain your own Web site and/or blog, and still do justice to your work?

Oh, I don't have an answer for you. I'm hoping you have one for me. I'll keep checking in, while I wade through the boxes, the three manuscripts I'm writing at once, the one manuscript I'm ready to toss out the window, the critiques I've promised, check the activity on my thirty-two Yahoo groups, and update my Facebook page. Twitter? Oh, please. You've got to be kidding.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

What book or author has you hooked?

I have a new addiction. It's right up there with chocolate and audio books. And if I don't get my daily fix, I get irritable and cranky. Okay, so I admit it--out loud. I am addicted to Lisa Scottoline novels. There, I've said it.

I have a fifty minute commute to and from work each day. To break up the monotony, I started listening to audio books. After having heard Lisa Scottoline speak at the New Jersey RWA conference last October, I bought one of her books on CD--Mistaken Identity. I was immediately hooked. I moved on to The Vendetta Defense, then Moment of Truth. Now I'm listening to Dead Ringer. I absolutely cannot stop. I could more easily put down the Godiva. Seriously.

I started to think like a writer, analyzing what it is about Ms. Scottoline's writing that grabs me by the throat and holds me to the end. While it may be an unflattering metaphor, I concluded that her books are like a high-class buffet (if there is such a thing). In each book, I am greeted by three-dimensional characters that are fully developed--you love them, or you hate them--but they're as real as they can be--solid meat and potatoes. There is an art, I think, to creating characters the reader can so deeply sympathize with that they have to know what's going to happen next (which explains sitting in my carport for twenty-six minutes with the engine running.) I can't wait to see how Bennie Rosato is going to get out of her current mess. There is also an art to finding just the right blend of tension and humor. It's like whipping up the perfect cheesecake, light but with a consistency that holds it together. (Okay, I see a developing theme here, so I'll stop with the food references. It's making me hungry.)

Granted, with audio books, the narrator has a lot to do with how the book comes across to the reader. Barbara Rosenblat is brilliant in her performances. She actually convinces me that six different people are narrating the book.

So, what book or author has you hooked, and why?


Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Keeps You Going?

I always have at least three manuscripts in various stages of progress at one time. On the upside, I'm never stuck. I can always write--something. On the downside, I find it easier to put aside a manuscript that's challenging me and just not working when I should, perhaps, hammer it out. I know a lot of writers who work this way. And I know a great number of writers who work on one manuscript at a time. Two ways of getting to the same place.

What I'm wondering about is this: What keeps you going? What sparks an idea, lights a fire under that bit of inspiration?

It's no accident that I think about this today. Today marked the third anniversary of The Women's Fiction Writers Exchange--my online critique group. Three years ago, I was still somewhat naive about the writing process and all that a writer needs to shape a story into a salable manuscript. I founded the Women's Fiction Writers Exchange, clueless about the elements of a good critique. Fortunately, I was blessed with good writers who knew how to critique, how to take that rough idea laid out before them in point of view shifts, passive grammar, and sometimes without the punctuation to provide the necessary stops and starts--and shape it into a polished work fit for human consumption. It also doesn't hurt that these women like to laugh and have a good time.

Aside from the love of writing and the sheer thrill of seeing my words in print, here is one thing that keeps me going: the writers with whom I share this amazing journey. Writing is a solitary, reclusive task. At some point we each have to come out of our cave and join the clan for sustenance, be that by sharing our stories, seeking comfort from the wounds of rejection, or rejoicing in those little and (if we're lucky) big victories.

So, here's to the my fellow writers who share my disappointments, help to shape my words, and supply the music for my happy dances.

What keeps you going?


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Dance Time

I am so pleased to announce that my women's fiction novel, Next Time, I'm Gonna Dance, has been contracted by Champagne Books for a January publication date.

Here is a blurb to whet your appetite:

Facing breast cancer for the second time, and fearful she could die, Emmie Steele takes an inventory of her life. She realizes her one regret: she never learned to dance. This becomes a metaphor for Emmie’s life as she survives a divorce and a second round of chemotherapy. Emmie's four best friends since grade school push, pull, carry and accompany Emmie through her nightmare, examining their own lives and choices. Taking hold of the second and third chances she's being given, Emmie learns to dance--with both her feet and her heart.

January seems a long way off. So, if you're looking for a nice beach read for summer or a happy ending to carry you into fall, check out my other novels and read excerpts on my website at:

Happy writing (and reading)


Monday, February 23, 2009

*%$&# Rewrites!

I'm a seat of the pants writer for a reason. I don't want to spend a lot of time plotting and planning and thinking. I just want to write. But we all know a first draft is just that--the first. Usually, it's the first of many.

All of you who enjoy doing rewrites, raise your hands. Hmmm. Yeah, that's what I thought. That one raised hand was just someone stretching out a kink.

Rewrites, at least for me, are an evil, ableit a necessary evil. I want to write my story, be done with it, and move on to the next set of characters demanding my attention.

I just finished the third rewrite of a manuscript I've wanted to submit to a few agents. It was a delicate surgery, determining what to keep, what to remove, and where to bump up the story a few notches. The challenge is to do all of this without losing the essence of the story I wrote in the first place.

I liken the process to that of cosmetic surgery. (Or what I imagine performing such surgery to be like.) You want your manuscript to come out just a little perkier and fresher than it went in. But you want it to be recognizable. You know, not have its eyes up to its hairline, or a smile that won't--can't--fade. You get the picture.

So, how do you manage rewrites? And when do you know the story is finally ready for submission?


Friday, February 13, 2009

A Valentine's Day Short Story

My flash fiction story, My Valentine, is now posted at Long and Short Reviews. Click on the link for a heartwarming read.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm Driving My Muse Crazy

Yes, it's official. I am driving my muse out of her mind. She's completely exasperated with me. But there are two sides to every story.

My muse has been jumping up and down, waving her hands wildly, shouting and, when that doesn't work, she whispers seductively in my ear. See, she has this great idea for a novel. I have to admit, it's pretty good. But I'm not listening. She really needs to slow down, chill a little. For cryin' out loud, let me finish what we've already started.

My muse is in running mode. I, on the other hand, am in amble mode. I want to take a nice, easy walk through the three manuscripts I'm either rewriting or completing. The lunatic... Sorry, my muse wants to start something new. She's always starting something new, insisting I stop what I'm doing and listen to her ideas.

Sound familiar? How do we writers pace ourselves? How do we know when a work is finished and can be sent off into the world in search of a publishing home, and we can move on to the next great idea? Pacing--it's a key element to every story--finding a rhythm, the ebb and flow.

We have to learn to pace ourselves as writers. I always have two or three manuscripts in various stages of completion at any given time. I can work that way--usually. But lately I've been like a rope in a tug of war, pulled between stories clamoring for completion.

So, I'm taking a few days to back up, slow down, and re-prioritize. Otherwise, I'll continue writing much like a dog chasing its own tail. I'll expend a great deal of energy, spin up a good breeze, and get nowhere.

What do you do when your muse runs amok with ideas and is insistent you write them down NOW? It's tricky. You certainly don't want to risk silencing him or her. Tell me, what do you do?

Linda (who has put her muse in a twelve-hour time out)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year Brings New Promises

I stopped making New Year's resolutions some time ago. Mainly because I constantly disappoint myself by falling short of those lofty goals, and end up feeling like a failure. But the New Year is a time for reflecting on the past and setting a direction for the future.

I've replaced resolutions with promises. I'm good at keeping promises.

I promise myself the following:

* I will finish at least two of my works in progress before starting anything else new.

* I will read some of those technique books gathering dust on my shelf.

* I will spend more time in marketing and promotion of my work.

* I will create more balance in my life, and become more disciplined in my writing.

* I will find ways to be more generous with other writers.

And I promise I won't flog myself when I fall short of my own expectations. I'll just try harder next time.

What are your goals, resolutions or promises as a writer for the coming year?