Monday, July 11, 2011

Meet Linda Rettstatt

The Fine Line Between Women’s Fiction and Romance
(what I’ve learned about my writing in four years)

On July 1 of this year, I celebrated the fourth anniversary of my first book publication. I knew when I sat down to write my first novel, And the Truth Will Set You Free, that I wanted to write women’s fiction. I had read everything by Elizabeth Berg, and I was captivated by the way she is able to create characters who are so real you want to sit down and have coffee with them. Likewise, their life conflicts are real and the characters have to dig deep to resolve those conflicts. I’ve also been strongly influenced by the work of Kris Radish who, in my estimation, can express the way women think better than any author out there.

Shortly after writing that first novel, I started an online critique group. My first members were both writers in romance sub-genres. As I critiqued their work and continued writing my own, I discovered that I enjoyed adding the elements of romance to my books. I finally had to admit it: I’m a romantic at heart. I like happy endings. Let’s face it, life presents enough of the not-so-happy variety. I began reading romance authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Sherryl Woods. Although I’ve been accused of writing ‘perfect men’. Well, it is fiction.

I have nine novels published to date and three have finaled for EPIC e-Book Awards. All of my stories contain some element of love or romance. A few cross over into mainstream romance. let me share a scene from Next Time, I’m Gonna Dance. This book takes on the serious subject of breast cancer. But in talking with women who have been affected by this disease, self-image and romantic relationships can become issues.

In this scene, Emmie gets her friend, Polly, to teach her to dance. Both women are bald because, when Emmie lost her hair, Emmie’s four best friends had their heads shaved as a sign of solidarity and support. Sonny is a friend who has been in love with Emmie since high school


That evening Emmie pushed and Polly pulled on the kitchen table to move it out of the way. Polly set the CD player on the counter and went through Emmie’s collection of music. “Did you stop listening to music in the eighties?”

“I happen to like the music of the eighties. I think I’d make a great disco queen.”

Polly shook her head. “I don’t know about this. I mean, someone has to lead and someone has to follow, and I’m used to following. I think we need a man for this.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. We’ll do fine without a man. You just have to think in opposites to lead. Even I know that.”

“Oh, yeah, that’ll be easy. I’m not sure I can think and dance at the same time. Okay, here goes. Let’s start out with something slow.”

Polly turned on the music and held up her arms for Emmie to step into them. They fumbled to establish posture until Polly switched her arms around to the lead position. There they were, two nearly bald women, stumbling around the kitchen, with Emmie either stepping on Polly’s feet or turning the wrong way.

As they passed the window, Emmie saw headlights flash in the driveway. She stopped and looked out the door at the red pickup truck. “Oh, my God, it’s Sonny. What’s he doing here at this time of night?”

“Relax. It’s only eight o’clock, and you look fine. Here, let me get your wig.” Polly grabbed the wig and flopped it onto Emmie’s head, slightly askew. She straightened the scarf she had wrapped around her own head.

When Sonny knocked at the door, Emmie opened it, breathless.

He stepped inside and looked at the table pushed to the wall and the open floor space. “Hi. What’s going on here?” he asked, his head cocked slightly to one side, and his eyes fixed on Emmie’s head.

“Dance class,” Polly said, waving her hand in front of her face to cool off.

“What brings you by, Sonny?” Emmie asked, straightening the wig.

“I was on my way home from work. A customer gave me two bottles of this wine, so I thought I’d drop one off for you.”

“You have impeccable timing. We’re planning a celebration, and the wine will be put to good use. What are you doing a week from Saturday?” Polly asked.

“Nothing I know of. What are we celebrating?”

Emmie smiled broadly. “I have one more chemo treatment, and then I’m done. After a few weeks of radiation treatments, I can start back on the road to recovery. Oh, yes, and Wes filed divorce papers. See, all the bad things are coming to an end at once.”

Sonny stammered, “That’s…that’s great news, Em—all of it—I guess.”

“Sonny, do you know how to dance?” Polly asked.

“Sure. Why?”

“And you know how to lead, I presume?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Good. I’m going to have a drink. Here are some CDs. Pick a song and teach this one how to follow,” she said as she pointed at Emmie. “My feet can’t take anymore. Good luck.” With that, Polly made a gin and tonic and retreated to the living room.

Sonny hit the play button on the CD player and a waltz came on. He went to Emmie, bowed deeply and extended his hand. “May I have this dance?”

She laughed and accepted his hand, letting him pull her into dance position. He was sure easier to follow than Polly had been. Emmie managed to step on his feet a few times, but soon got the hang of it as he gracefully waltzed her around the kitchen.

She was breathing hard when the music stopped.

“Are you okay? Do you need to sit for a minute?” he asked.

“No. I’ve done nothing but sit and rest for weeks now. This is fun. Teach me another one.”

Grinning broadly, he changed the CD and a slow dance came on. He took her in his arms, telling her to look at him and let her feet follow.

She tried, but stumbled over his feet. Laughing, he lifted her and placed her feet on top of his.

“Hey, dancing is so much easier than I thought. Why’d I wait so long?”

“You just need the right partner.”

Next Time I’m Gonna Dance finaled for a 2011 EPIC e-Book Award and is available at Champagne Books and on Amazon for Kindle.

Excerpts and reviews of all of my books can be found on my website at Also, please visit my blog at

Linda Rettstatt is a multi-published author of women’s fiction and mainstream romance novels. She is published with Class Act Books, Champagne Books, and Wings ePress. Three of her novels have finaled for EPIC e-Book Awards, and she was recently nominated for Author of the Year 2010 at Champagne Books. She is a displaced Yankee from Pennsylvania currently residing in Southaven, Mississippi.


Carol McPhee said...

I've had the pleasure of reading some of Linda's works and must say how much I enjoy her easy approach to each scene. It enables the reader to substitute her own presence for the character's show of emotions. Carol McPhee.

January Bain said...

Linda: it was you I meant in my first comment. Your blog is lovely and heart felt and your writing superb.

UteCarbone said...

Loved the excerpt Linda. I'm adding you to my must read list!

Linda Rettstatt said...

Thanks, Ladies. I'll tell you that Carol, as a critique partner, has strongly influence my bent toward adding romance into my books.