I would like to welcome Linda as my guest blogger. She is an award-winning author of women's fiction and contemporary romance. Linda worked for several years as a composer and songwriter, semi-professional musician, and nature photographer. She holds a Master's Degree in Social Work and has worked in both the clinical and general social work arenas. She currently resides in Southaven, Mississippi. Of her writing, Linda says, "I write for women—stories of strength, love, humor and hope. Writing is a passion I once possessed that now possesses me."
Linda's short stories have garnered recognition and awards from Writer's Digest and Pennwriters, Inc. Her writing has been compared to that of Nicholas Sparks and Elizabeth Berg. And the Truth Will Set You Free, Linda's first novel, was published in 2007 and finaled for a 2008 EPPIE Award. This and four other women's fiction novels have been published by Wings ePress. Finding Hope, her fourth novel, has finaled for the 2010 EPIC e-Book Award. Linda is also published by Champagne Books, with one novel, Next Time I'm Gonna Dance, currently available and two more titles to be released in the coming year. Linda's contemporary romance work is represented by Anita Melograna, agent with Crosswinds Agency.
1. What drew you to write in your current genre?
I had begun to read other women's fiction authors, such as Elizabeth Berg and Kris Radish, and found the books and the characters to be inspiring and engaging. I wanted to write books like those. I've also worked in the past as a psychotherapist and that work challenged me to get inside the emotions and psyche of the women I counselled. I try to do the same with my characters.
2. How many novels have you written to date and are they all in the same genre?
I have six women's fiction novels published to date, with another coming out in May, 2010. In addition, I have three other completed women's fiction manuscripts in the rewrite phase. But I decided to try my hand at writing contemporary romance. That book, Wake-up Call, is currently being shopped by my agent.
3. How much time do you spend on plotting etc before you start writing?
Not a lot. I'm a pantser. I get an idea and run with it. I do play it out in my head so I have an idea of where the story is leading. But my stories are more character-driven, so I get to know my main character and then let her lead me. I have started writing up short character sketches, mainly so I don't have to search back through half the manuscript to recall a character's eye colour, etc.
4. Where do you do most of your writing?
I should be ashamed to say this out loud, but I spend most of my time with my laptop--in a recliner (much to my chiropractor's dismay). If I could only attach the darned thing to a treadmill! I work four days a week, so my writing time is limited to evenings and the long weekends.
5. Looking back, What is the worst thing you have ever written?
I have a partially written romance novel involving an older heroine and that just never came together. I put it aside when I realized I was trying too hard to make it work. I wasn't connecting with my own character, and that is essential for me.
6. Tell us about your latest release.
Emmie Steele is facing a diagnosis of breast cancer--for the second time. But this time is different. This time, she knows what to expect. Emmie believes in second-chances--and she had already received one.
Surrounded by the love of her family and her four best friends, Emmie faces her fears, entertains regrets, and wonders about second and third chances. She decides that, if there is another shot for her, "Next Time I'm Gonna Dance.”
7. How can your readers keep up with your news?
They can check my website which I update regularly: www.lindarettstatt.com
I also have a blog: www.lindarettstatt-author.blogspot.com
And if readers email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will add them to the mailing list for my quarterly newsletter.
8. How do you deal with rejection letters?
Sometimes it depends upon the day and how I'm feeling about my writing in general. Usually, I try to take rejection letters in stride, knowing they are part and parcel of this business. For as much as one can appreciate rejection letters, I do like the ones that offer constructive criticism and give me something with which I can work to improve my writing.
9. What do you think about celebrities writing book?
I'm not one to generalize, so what I'm about to say won't apply to everyone out there. I'm sure there are celebrities who write their own books and have the skill to do so. I also think there are a fair number who have a ghost writer tell their story for them, then use their celebrity to sell the book. I can't say I have much respect for that method of getting published, but that's just my opinion. I think it can be a cheap ride to the bestseller list.
10. What do you advise about getting an agent?
Take your time, find the person who you believe will best represent your work. Remember that, though you want a collegial relationship with your agent, that person works for you. And you don't necessarily need an agent to get published. However, an agent can open some doors that we cannot open on our own. I've just begun to work with an agent and, so far, it's been a good experience. But I had five books published without an agent.
11. What is your favourite part of writing?
Those two little words: The End Seriously, I love the entire process. I love characters, creating people with a real story to tell. I want to write stories with which women can identify. The highest compliment I've received from a reader was when a woman said she loved on of my books because the story was 'her' story. I'll admit I'm not fond of the rewriting process. Okay, to be honest, I abhor rewriting. It's work, albeit necessary work. But, like most things we do that we love, it's a small glitch in the bigger picture.
12. How do you get past all the frustrations that come with trying to be a
I think you have to trust your passion to write, let it lead you. Know that you are, first and foremost, doing this for yourself. At least, I am. Writing gives me life. It can be frustrating when you have to deal with rejection, like someone telling you you're baby's ugly. I'm sure people who aspire to careers in the business world or in medicine feel the same frustrations. It comes with the territory of working hard to achieve a dream.
It's also been important for me to have a good support group of fellow writers. My critique partners and friends at the Women's Fiction Writers Exchange keep me going when I sometimes want to just quit, as do some of my fellow writers at both Wings ePress and Champagne Books. They also help me to hone my skills. No writer should be without a critique partner or group and a network of writing buddies.
14. What do you like to read?
I read women's fiction, of course, as well as some contemporary romance and mystery/suspense. Right now I'm reading a novel by Sherryl Woods. I just finished one by Jacquelyn Mitchard. And I have Lisa Scottoline's book, Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog, on my nightstand.
13. What actor/actress gets your pulses racing?
I wouldn't slam the door in George Clooney's face . And, then, there are the hunks from the TV show, Lost.
Champagne Books: www.champagnebooks.com
Wings ePress: www.wings-press.com
A direct buy link for latest book: http://www.champagnebooks.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=19_12&products_id=345
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