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.