Monday, May 28, 2012

In the Spotlight with Linda R

Today’s In the Spotlight features the award winning author Linda Rettstatt. Linda writes women’s fiction and mainstream romance novels, though she is currently working on a paranormal romance involving a writer, a ghost, and a murderous sea captain. That sounds fun. Her work is published with Champagne Books, Class Act Books, Wings ePress and is coming soon to Turquoise Morning Press.

She is a Pennsylvania Yankee currently residing in Northwest Mississippi, not far from Memphis, where she has yet to report an Elvis sighting, but I hear she continues to be hopeful. Her books have been in the finals four times for EPIC e-Book Awards, and this year her book, Love, Sam won the 2012 EPIC eBook Award in Mainstream Fiction. She was named 2010 Author of the Year by Champagne Books.

Good morning Linda, how are things in Mississippi?

Hot and getting hotter. We're headed into the 90's by the end of this week. Gotta love the south. I do, especially int he winter when I don't have to dig my way out of a foot of snow to get to work.

You have quite a list of accomplishments Linda, with quite a few books under your belt, so we’ll start here with a two-fold question. How many books do you have published and which is your favorite?

I have twelve books currently published with three different e-pubs, and four more are under contract for next year. Oh, it's tough to choose one because each story and its characters are unique. But...(whispers--don't tell the others) if I have to pick one, I'd say Shooting Into the Sun. Probably because the main character is a nature photographer and I love experimenting with photography. And I had so much fun writing the interactions between Rylee and her younger sister, Lexie. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the story contains a hunky and somewhat mysterious doctor named Josh.

Of all the accomplishments you have met as an author which one gave you the most thrill?

 Two stand out--being named Author of the Year at Champagne Books and then, this year, winning the EPIC eBook Award. I feared I was on my way to becoming the Susan Lucci of the EPIC Awards after four finals. :)

Please tell us something about you, who is Linda Rettstatt, beyond being an author? Your likes, dislikes, hates maybe.

I'm much more of a small-town girl than a city girl, but I need to live withing a short driving distance of a bookstore and a Starbucks. Not that I go to either one very often, but I have to know I can. I love to travel. I was supposed to go to Greece earlier this month, but the trip had to be postponed. So I went to Alabama. I know, not quite the same thing, but I met some really nice people and my friend and I had a great time. As I mentioned earlier, I'm an amateur nature photographer. I hate rules (again a theme in Shooting Into the Sun) and defy them every chance I get. And that's when I usually get the best and most unusual photograph. Here in Mississippi I live not far from a whole row of casinos and enjoy playing penny slot machines now and then. I share my apartment with my cat, Binky (who was originallynames Minnie by her former owner, then Olivia by me--but she refused to respond to that--so now it's Binky. I've since learned names don't matter with cats. They respond when they want to.)

What brought you to become an author?

Since high school, I've had a dream of writing. I actually started saving money so I could move from Pennsylvania to Connecticut and become a tortured writer living meagerly in some attic apartment while I churned out the Great American Novel. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your perspective), I walked into a music store one day and walked back out with a new guitar paid for with my savings. For the next several years, my creative passions were fed by music, both composing/writing and performing. But the question--could I write a novel?--always plagued me. I finally took a step forward and explored that questions eight years ago. I put my fingers to the keys and, with a title and a character but no fully thought-out plot in mind, began to write. It was like shaking a bottle of champagne and releasing the cork. The words flowed and the plot came together and I fell in love with the characters as they developed and... Well, I ended up with a novel. The rest, as they say, is history. Writing if like breathing and I have discovered my true passion. It seemed natural to me to write women's fiction. I loved reading authors like Elizabeth Berg and, having worked as a psychotherapist, I had worked with women who were stuck in their lives, facing conflicts and circumstances that blocked them from being truly happy and truly themselves. It was a good fit. But, discovering I am also a romantic at heart, it was easy to slip over into writing romance.

Please tell us something about your books and why we should buy them.

When I sit down to write, I have only one agenda--tell a compelling story with which the reader can identify and about characters that are engaging. My women's fiction novels are stories about strong women who find themselves in situations that could break them or make them. They have to dig deep to find the courage and resources to not only survive but thrive. My contemporary romance is always a feel good story with a hero and heroine you can root for and range from sweet to a little spicy. Some have a measure of heat in them when passions ignite. Overall, I like to think my stories are true to life, real, but with enough fiction to take us away from the mundane. Whether it's women's fiction or romance, my stories are about relationships.

I think my readers have said it best. One woman wrote to me to say that my books give her a sense of hope. Another said she felt that in one book I was telling her story and she didn't feel so alone. Another reader said she saw much of herself and her family in one of my books and just had to laugh. So, why should someone read my books? Because you just might find I've told your story. You may find a bit of yourself in my characters. And you just might laugh.

Love, Sam (2012 EPIC eBook Award Winner - Mainstream Fiction)

Trish Garrity has learned to be a survivor. She has survived the loss of her father and the rejection of her mother. And then she found Sam, who loved her unconditionally. Now she faces losing Sam and living an uncertain future alone. But Sam finds a way to bridge the chasm of death and continue to give Trish the encouragement, love and support she needs to go on with life.

Love, Sam is a story of the universal experience of love, loss, grief, and healing.

Wake-Up Call (contemporary romance)
Social worker, Candace Hudson wants a baby; Texas cattle rancher, Griff Calhoun needs a consultant for a special project. But neither one suspects that their collaboration will give them both the wake-up call they need.

I see you’re switching in a little different direction with your paranormal romance, when can we look forward to that one?

This one is currently my back-up book. Let me explain that. I never write just one book. I'm always working on two or three at the same time. The upside is, I never have writer's block. I have one main book I'm working toward completing. But I have one or two stories I'm developing and switch off to those when I need a break to reorganize the main story. It will probably be a year or two before the paranormal romance is ready (unless I get a burst of inspiration on it and just run with it. It's happened. I wrote one novel in seventeen days and a novella in eleven days. :)

Thank you so much Linda, I find you always willing to help out other authors, like me for instance. I wish you all the success . . . you deserve it. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for having me here today. As for helping other authors, I think that's something we all can do. People helped me at first and still do at times. If I can offer a hand to someone else in this business, I'm happy to do so. I hope folks will stop by my website at and my blog at I can also be found on Twitter @linda_rettstatt And please stop by and 'like' my Facebook page at

Buy Link: (for both books) These books and others are available at Champagne Books at:

They are also available at for Kindle.

Monday, May 21, 2012

In the Spotlight with Rosemary G

Today’s In the Spotlight features Rosemary Gemmell. Rosemary also known as Romy comes all the way from a village on the west coast of Scotland, twenty minutes from beautiful Loch Lomond and thirty minutes from the centre of Glasgow. She tells us her surroundings often inspire her writing; both the countryside around her house, and the River Clyde which meanders alongside the M8.

Good morning Rosemary, or by our time difference would be good evening to you. What’s the weather like there in Scotland?

First, thank you so much for having me on your lovely site, Cathy.

The weather? Well it depends what time of day you’re asking! Seriously, we should be having our summer (such as we get) but so far we’ve only had a few hot days in April. We’re all hoping that wasn’t this year’s summer, which is quite likely to happen. Mostly, it’s a little bit of sunshine, some rain, and even a little wind. Blink and you miss the sun here! We also frequently get all four seasons in one week. But I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else as I like the variety, and even the cold in small doses.

I’ve seen you sign off as both Rosemary and Romy, which do you prefer? What do your friends call you?

Just to make it more complicated, I’m also known as Ros! I’m usually called Rosemary by family and friends, although a few are starting to call me by either of the two other names, and I really don’t mind any version. It came about because all my short stories and articles were published under my full name over the years. When my first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit, was accepted by Champagne Books, I decided to be Romy for any kind of romantic novel. But I also write children’s and tween fiction so decided I needed another persona for that, hence the name Ros! It’s handy having a long first name to play around with. It helps to differentiate my writing, and I wanted to keep the same surname.

Please tell us something about you, who is Rosemary-Romy-Ros Gemmell?

Hm, who indeed?! I’ve been happily married for 37 years, my son and daughter are now grown-up adults, and I’m about to become a first-time grandmother (exciting)! I’ve had a variety of jobs over the years: student nurse, business travel consultant, education/business liaison officer in a school, and other part-time work. Most recently, I was an adult literacy tutor.

I didn’t do university level study until my own children were in secondary school, then I gained a BA honours in European literature and history, then a Masters Degree in Humanities (literature and British Cinema History). That was a real life-changing time in my life, as I love to learn new things and expand my mind. I also love to dance and have tried salsa, belly dancing and tap. Now I do Tae Bo at home to keep fit (at least that’s the intention) and my husband and I go for walks whenever we can. I love sharing writing news and markets with my local writing group and on my main blog, and love to see new writers get published. Oh, and I’m generally optimistic and enthusiastic (to my husband’s annoyance at times)!

(Update: Since this interview Rosemary became grandma to a healthy 8lbs 4oz baby girl, Congrats Grandma.)

You write both adult stories and children, usually authors specialize in one or the other, where does your heart most call you?

A very good question! I can honestly say that I like a variety of genres and types of writing. I’ve called myself a butterfly writer in the past, and that’s partly because I like to flit between different writing projects, spending a little time with each. Sometimes, it’s the character who determines whether it will be for adults or children. Maybe I’ve never lost my inner child, as some days I just want to immerse myself in children’s writing, while on another it might be adult fiction, a short story, or non-fiction that calls to me. And I have escapist tastes, in writing, reading, TV and film!

How many books do you have published to date?

Just the two so far, although I’m working on more for adults and children. And I’ve had children’s stories and adult fiction in several anthologies.

Which of your books would you consider your favorite?

Difficult! Because they are so different, I have to say I like both equally well. Dangerous Deceit will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first published novel – and the first I completed. But Summer of the Eagles has more of me in it, and some themes close to my heart within the story.

Please tell us something about these books and why we should buy them.

Dangerous Deceit is set in 1813 England, during the Regency period. As well as a developing romance between young Lydia and Lord Sheldon, it’s also full of intrigue, spies and villains, and Lydia even dresses as a boy and finds herself in danger in one scene. Here’s the blurb:

Lydia Hetherington is uninterested in society balls or marriage, until her brother's friend, Lord Marcus Sheldon, rides into her life to unseat her from her horse and unsettle her heart. An undercover spy for the government, Sheldon is equally unsettled by Lydia.

Complicated by a French spy, her best friend's unrequited love for Lydia's brother, James, and a traitorous villain, Lydia gradually finds her emotions stirred by Lord Sheldon. But what is his relationship with the beautiful Lady Smythe and his part in an old scandal? Lydia faces danger before all deception is uncovered and love claims its reward.

Summer of the Eagles is aimed at young people in the 10 to 14 age group, but it also seems to be appealing to many older women! The story is set on a Scottish island and includes themes of bereavement and loss, bird protection, friendship, and a slight allegorical fantasy. Here’s the blurb:

Thirteen year old Stephanie (Stevie) loses her parents in a terrible accident, leaving her lame. Stevie’s dreams of running for Scotland are over. No longer able to cope with Stevie’s moods, Gran sends her to an aunt on a Scottish island.

Although Stevie gradually makes new friends and discovers an interest in the bird sanctuary, she soon falls into danger from two bird poachers intent on harming the eagles.

Karig, a strange boy in the hills, helps Stevie to heal. Does he have anything to do with the eagles or the painted rocks and legends of the island?’

I’ve been told both books are a good read!

 Now a question I always want to know, when did you first realize you were destined to be a writer?

 Another good question! I’ve always been a prolific reader, right from an early age, and loved to escape inside the pages of books. I didn’t start writing until high school – mostly romantic type poetry, which I also loved to read. While studying for my degrees, I rediscovered a love of writing essays and non-fiction.

Then, when we moved to our present village, I found a writing group in a nearby town. Gathering the courage to go along, I’ve never looked back. I won the woman’s short story competition at my very first Scottish Association of Writers annual conference, judged by the editor of a well known national magazine. When he then bought the story, I reckoned I’d finally found my destiny! Of course, it took many a year after that until I began to sell a lot more work. But I never had a moment’s doubt that writing was now my life.

Thank you so much Rosemary for your delightful interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Just to thank you so much again for letting me witter on (do you use that expression?)! And I’d love to encourage anyone just starting out to please send your writing out to editors and publishers. Professional writers are those who never gave up!

Dangerous Deceit is available from,  and

Summer of the Eagles is available from, and


Blogs: Reading and Writing – (main blog)
Romancing History – (historical)
Flights of Imagination - (children’s writing)
Twitter: @rosemarygemmell

Next weeks In the Spotlight will feature Author Linda Rettstatt

Monday, May 14, 2012

In the Spotlight with Jude J

Today’s In the Spotlight interview is with a great lady. Someone I would consider a friend, Jude Johnson.

Jude Johnson has been a history enthusiast since childhood and has lectured about her historical research at the Sierra Vista Historical Society, the Welsh League of Arizona, and the West Coast Eisteddfod in Los Angeles.

She is the author of the Dragon & Hawk series of historical novels set in the Arizona Territory that follow three fictional brothers from Wales from the copper mines of Bisbee to the gambling halls of Tombstone and the growing community of Tucson. Four years of historical research preceded the completion of the first novel. Dragon & Hawk, Out of Forgotten Ashes and soon to be released Dragon’s Legacy are published by Champagne Books.

Please join me in welcoming Jude. Good morning Jude grab a handful of whatever suits your fancy and let us begin.

Wow, thank you for such nice words, Cathy. I’m honored to be your friend. Let’s see, yep, there’s my big mug of coffee. Ready!

Okay than tell us a little something about you, what makes Jude Johnson tic? Your likes, pet peeves and such.

Chocolate and red wine are my Prozac. Chianti, zinfandel, or malbec--as long as it’s red; the chocolate should be Belgian or British Cadbury, preferably dark. My nickname as a kid was “Cutty-Pasty” since I loved making crafts out of anything and glue. I still enjoy making things, though at the moment I’m using a shovel, pick, and paving stones…

Pet Peeves? Oooh, drivers who camp in the passing lane going ten mph below the speed limit. Also self-centered and inconsiderate shallow people disturb my calm and make me think I need to research murder methods--to write mysteries, mind you.

Okay, Jude, breath . . . calm. Now tell us something we’ve never heard before. What’s hidden beneath the surface?

Ever see the TV series “V” or those Hulu commercials?

Naw, just kidding… Hidden somewhere in there is a little kid who wants to see the world, go to places she’s only read about, and do as much as possible before it all goes dark.

I find you to be a very involved lady, can you tell us about some of the other projects that require your attention?

I’m a Gemini, sign of the Twins, but my twin personalities have multiple facets. My day job is that of a chiropractic physician, and I’ve been in full-time solo practice for thirty years here in Tucson. I was told this year I’m “semi-retired” but I think that was a faerie story because I seem to be seeing more patients than ever. I’m a mom to a great son who’s majoring in journalism and history with an eye on law school, wife to a crazy sports nut, and indentured servant to two deranged cats. Two Works in Progress are bubbling in the brainpan in the late evenings when everyone’s gone to bed. And I’m taking my stress out on the backyard with the aforementioned pick and shovel.

Tell us something about your books Dragon & Hawk, Out of Forgotten Ashes and the third in the trilogy Dragon’s Legacy that would bring us to buy them. (I already have the first two for the record, it was the cover of Out of Forgotten Ashes that caught my attention.)

Thank you for your purchase! Dragon & Hawk was my first novel and truly a labor of love. It’s a family saga of the Jones brothers, immigrants from Wales to the hostile desert of the Southern Arizona Territory of the 1880s. It’s a tale full of action, adventure, heartache, and redemption that’s based on four years of historical research. Much of the action in the book actually happened, and the fictional Jones brothers interact with real people of the period and area. I wrote it on a dare for friends who had never been to Southern Arizona as well as for my local friends who knew nothing of Wales or the many Welsh immigrants who came here in the 1880s.

Book Two, Out of Forgotten Ashes continues a couple of years after Dragon & Hawk ends, and explores how a relationship can suffer when a husband and wife don’t communicate honestly. Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, certain subjects were never openly discussed, even between spouses, and such taboos often made lives miserable. Add tragedy and some unresolved problems of the past coming back to bite one of the characters, and not only is the marriage threatened, their lives are as well.

Book Three, Dragon’s Legacy, is the last of the trilogy (so far) and is scheduled to be released in July. Suffice it to say the sins of the fathers are visited upon the next generation.

You also have a nonfiction book Cactus Cymry can you tell us what lead you to write this book?

This is a compilation of the research I did on the real Welsh immigrants and their impact on not only the Arizona Territory but throughout the U.S. (Cymry, pronounced COME-ree, means “Welshmen.”) For instance, one family was instrumental in developing a smelter that could be built in very remote areas which opened the West to mining and development. The sons went on to help form one of the most productive mining corporations in North America that ultimately supplied almost a third of the U.S. copper ore in the twentieth century. I also recount the story of one of Tucson’s major developers--who married an eleven-year-old girl and looked like Lucky the Leprechaun on meth. Yes, there are historical photos included.

Though you have claimed no Welsh heritage in your lineage you seem to have a passion for the Welsh people, what inspired this passion?

That’s the million dollar question. To be honest, I have to say it started with watching Hornblower on A&E. I heard an interview with the young Welsh lead in his native tongue and decided the language would be something unique to learn. When a free class started up in Tucson, I figured it was destiny. But somehow I became seriously hooked studying the culture, the ancient legends such as those of Rhiannon and Arthur in The Mabinogion, and the determination of the people to maintain their separate identity and language through 800 years of English occupation. Now I have wonderful friendships forged on both sides of The Pond who keep my interest going. And rugby, too. Love those little shorts and big thighs and wide shoulders and--uh, what were we talking about?

When did you first realize you were destined to be a writer?

I think deep down I always knew I would write. Maybe not publish, but at least write. But it was that dare from my friends to come up with a “Welsh-tern”--a Welsh Western--that made me dare to submit a manuscript. That and turning forty. I figured if I truly meant to write a novel, it was now or never. I could get hit by a bus, you know.

What brought you to Champagne Books?

I met J. Ellen Smith at a writing conference here in Tucson. My friend, Carol Costa, was already published with Champagne, so I gave Ellen a CD of my manuscripts. I was gobsmacked, as they say, when she sent me a contract.

Can you tell us in your own words why we should read your books?

Other than I need the money to fund my goal of watching rugby in Cardiff? Well, how about because I tried to write stories that would not only grab your imagination and take you back in time but tug at your emotions as well? And the real history woven into these tales will entertain and surprise you.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for this lovely interview, Cathy. We need to break bread somewhere and some time soon!

You can visit my website:

and of course my books are available from Champagne Books:

[As well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al.]



Twitter: @JudeJohnsonAZ

Thank you Jude, it was a pleasure, most defiantly on the breaking bread.