BIO: Linda Rettstatt
Linda Rettstatt began her writing career while clerking at The Brownsville Telegraph, her small Pennsylvania hometown newspaper. Though hired to take classified ads, Linda eagerly agreed to assume the task of writing reviews for community theater productions, for which her sole compensation was a by line. (It was a job no one in the newsroom wanted.)
Her passion for writing led Linda into the world of women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Writing about heroines who had to draw upon their inner strength to overcome loss or adversity seemed only natural given her years of work as a psychotherapist.
Linda’s first novel, And the Truth Will Set You Free, was published in July, 2007 by Wings ePress and was the publisher’s best seller for the first month follow its release. And the Truth Will Set You Free finaled for a 2008 Eppie Award.
Three other novels—Pieces, The Year I Lost My Mind, and Finding Hope—followed in the next eighteen months with Wings ePress. Finding Hope has finaled for a 2010 EPIC e-book Award. Her fifth novel, The Restoration of Abby Walker, was released by Wings ePress in September, 2009. Next Time, I’m Gonna Dance was released on January 2, 2010 by Champagne Books. Shooting Into the Sun was published on May 1 in e-book, and Love, Sam is contracted by Champagne Books for November, 2010 publication. In addition, Renting to Own will be published in August by Class Act Books. Linda’s short stories have received recognition from Pennwriters, Inc., Writer’s Digest, and Long and Short Romance Reviews.
Of her writing, Linda says, “I write for women—stories of love, strength, humor, and hope.” Readers have compared her work to that of Elizabeth Berg, Nicholas Sparks, and Sherryl Woods.
Linda is the owner and moderator of The Women’s Fiction Writers Exchange, an online critique group of women writers from across the United States and Canada. She has served as contest judge for the River City Romance Writers and EPIC’s New Voices and EPIC Award competitions. Linda grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania and currently resides in Southaven, Mississippi. Excerpts and reviews can be read at www.lindarettstatt.com and her blog can be viewed at www.onewomanswrite.blogspot.com.
Rebecca, thanks so much for having me here today as part of my Sailing into Summer Virtual Blog Book Tour.
I’m often asked how I began writing. My background is in music and social work. Music satisfied my creative urges for a long time. But one day when I’d had my calendar in my clinical practice cleared by cancellations, the office manager suggested I, “go back to your office and write that book you keep talking about.” (I think she just wanted to get me out of her office.) But I took her advice. I started writing And the Truth Will Set You Free. That was early in 2004, and I’ve not stopped writing since.
I read a variety of genres, but have a particular love for women’s fiction—books that feature strong but vulnerable heroines who have to draw more deeply into their inner resources to overcome some obstacle. I was recently asked what I’ve learned from each of my novels or my characters. Never having considered how my stories have affected me, personally, I gave the question some thought and came up with the following:
And the Truth Will Set You Free: I learned that, even when our dreams are offered to us in the form of a second chance, it still requires courage and risk to take hold.
Pieces: I learned that there is inside each of us the need to know where we come from.
The Year I Lost My Mind: I learned that love—true love—can be tested and tried and will hold when stretched to new limits.
Finding Hope: I learned that, even when we question our choices and reinvent ourselves, we may be led right back to where we started—but with a renewed peace.
The Restoration of Abby Walker: I learned that sometimes what seems to be the worst possible event can launch us into a new and fulfilling life.
Next Time I’m Gonna Dance: I learned that we sometimes face a darkness that we have to approach alone, but that the love of family and the bonds of friendship light the path ahead.
Shooting into the Sun: I learned that the boundaries we construct may keep us safe, and they may also isolate us unless we are willing to take risks and color outside those lines.
Which brings me to my newest novel, Shooting into the Sun. I’d like to share a blurb and brief excerpt:
Nature photographer Rylee Morgan has created an orderly, settled life for herself. When she finds an advertisement that might lead to her estranged father, she takes a photo assignment to the west coast to investigate. With her younger sister, Lexie, in tow following the breakup with her fiancé, Rylee is focused on two things: finding the man who may be her father and doing her job. Lexie lives life by her own set of rules, or lack of rules, and Rylee’s plans are further unsettled when Lexie invites a hitchhiker to join them on their journey.
When people know they’re about to do the wrong thing, they don’t look you in the eye. Parents were no different.
~ * ~
“Never shoot into the sun.” Her father repositioned himself to pose for the photograph.
“Why not?” Rylee Morgan lowered the camera and squinted at him.
“Because it’s a rule. If you follow the rules, you’ll avoid trouble, and you’ll create beautiful pictures.” He stood in the back yard, the white aluminum siding of their house
providing a backdrop.
She wanted to believe him. Rylee snapped the photograph, capturing his image.
He motioned to the camera bag he’d set on the ground beside her. “You remember how to switch the lenses?”
“How about one more picture of us?” He pulled the camera from her hand and drew her close to his side. At twelve years of age, she was nearly his height. Extending his arm, the camera lens reflecting their images, he pressed the shutter release.
He handed her the camera, then hugged her against him. “I love you, angel. Don’t ever forget that.”
She choked on her words. “You don’t have to leave, Daddy.”
“Yes, honey, I do. I’ll talk to you soon, though.”
“Take me with you.” She knotted her fingers in his sleeve.
A muscle twitched along his jaw. “I can’t.” He held her for another moment, and then pried her hands free. Bolting to the car without a backward glance, he pulled from the
“Daddy!” Rylee chased after him. At the curb, she raised the camera and clicked the shutter frantically until she heard the whirr of rewinding film. Tears blurred her last
glimpse. His car turned and disappeared from her view. She hugged the Nikon against her chest and cried.
~ * ~
Never shoot into the sun—the voice played in her head. The rules she had learned early in her career never failed to produce flawless photographs. The rules she had developed for life had not served her as well. In the sixteen years since her father’s departure, Rylee had kept herself
busy, focused on her career, and safe inside her well-constructed boundaries.
Rylee resituated the tripod and checked the sun’s position. She stepped behind the camera, looked once again through the lens and waited, watching the slight movement
of the leaves. Water bubbled over rocks. Slowing the shutter speed, she could create a smooth cascade effect. Blue sky and white clouds reflected on the stream’s surface. This
stretch of the rapids where the Youghiogheny River ran through Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania was her favorite spot for shooting.
Her thumb rested on the shutter release, prepared for just the right moment. The breeze subsided and the shadows shifted. Then, just as she pressed the button, some jerk
decided to walk on water.
Rylee lifted her head and stared. A hiker made his way across the exposed rocks and into the middle of the narrow river—directly into the center of her view. She walked to the
water’s edge and, with hands on hips, shouted, “Excuse me! You’re ruining my shot.”
He raised his arms and stretched, his face turned toward the sun. His shirt pulled up to expose a narrow waist and flat stomach.
Rylee dragged her eyes away from his body, cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted again, “Hey! You’re in the way.”
The hiker turned and shielded his eyes with his hand. “What?”
2010, Champagne Books
Visit my website for buy links to Shooting into the Sun and to read excerpts of my other books.
I believe our writing is largely influenced by the authors we read. I have an unlikely assembly of favorite authors who, I can only hope, influence my work: Elizabeth Berg, Kris Radish, Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich, Sherryl Woods, Elin Hilderbrand, Nicholas Sparks, Diane Mott Davidson, Nevada Barr, Randy Susan Meyers… Well, as you can see, these authors write differing genres from women’s fiction to romance to mystery. What they have in common is the ability to create captivating characters and tell stories that are realistic, touching, funny, intense, and that make me think. They challenge me to work harder at the craft.
As for what’s coming in the next few months? Renting to Own will be available in August from Class Act Books. It’s the story of a very young, but mature single mother trying to stabilize her life for herself and her four-year-old daughter. And in November, Champagne Books will release Love, Sam, a story that shows us how love transcends death and self-acceptance is the key to happiness.
I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing. The greatest rewards come for me when a woman has read one of my books and tells me she felt I was telling her story or that she gained some insight or strength from the character.
Thanks for having me here today to share a bit about myself and my writing. Readers are invited to visit my website at www.lindarettstatt.com and my blog at www.onewomanswrite.blogspot.com or to connect me with on Facebook or Twitter @linda_writer
“Life’s an adventure—wear comfortable shoes.”