As the rich soil sinks into her soul and the vines begin to thrive, the marriage grows rocky. Refusing to disappoint her father again, Liz is determined to make her marriage work . . . until she discovers a photograph hidden in the old barn.
Faced with impossible decisions, Liz is desperate. She has a vineyard ready to harvest and no idea how to accomplish the task. Does she have the moxie to flourish? Or will she and the land turn fallow?
Q & A with Linda:
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
Thanks, Jill, for inviting me to your blog and the opportunity to meet your readers.
I’m what’s called a snow bird. I live in New Jersey, where I grew up, with my husband of almost 49 years. Sam and I have two sons, one living in Arizona (where I get to visit and see gorgeous mountains) and the other living less than a mile away from us, with his wife and two boys. The months I spend in N.J. are wonderful simply because my grandsons use my house as their second home. Even the dog does and the yard shows it! But when I have to swap my sandals for shoes and socks, we say goodbye to the northeast and head to our home in Florida. I’m not a fan of snow and ice. I like to be outdoors all year swimming, playing tennis or pickleball, walking along the water, whether the ocean or lake, and reading in the shade of a tree or beach umbrella.
For the past forty years, I’ve been a fitness professional leading group exercise classes and working with private clients. As I was nearing my sixtieth birthday, I felt a pull to do something more. I had always been creative choreographing aerobic dance routines, playing with photography, gardening, crocheting and many other needlework activities, but they weren’t enough anymore. So I perused a local adult school catalogue and found a listing for a writer’s workshop. An avid reader, I always thought it would be fabulous to pen a novel though I never thought I actually would – and then I took the class and characters started talking to me, sitting on my shoulder when I swam or pulled weeds in the garden. My fingers found the keyboard and here I am over ten years later with two published novels. It’s all so surreal. Sometimes I look in the mirror and say, “yes, you are an author.” It’s been a wonderful journey and I’m happy to share it with you.
Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?
Shortly after I took that writers workshop, I created a writer’s group with a few women, all members of the NYC chapter of The Women’s National Book Association. Over the years, we honed our craft, (and still are) and helped each other develop characters and story lines. Eventually the group disintegrated though I still share my work with one of the women. In Florida, I am part of another writers group and am so thankful for their friendship and expertise in story. Their questions and suggestions made both of my books the novels they are today.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
I have to say, every writer I’ve ever read has influenced me. That may sound odd, but it’s true. All the way back to Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew series I read as a young girl, I was in awe of the ability to write a novel. As I mentioned earlier, I thought it would be fabulous to do so, though I never believed I would. And when I did, when I got my contract to publish my debut, The Disharmony of Silence, I silently thanked all the authors I’ve enjoyed. There are a few today who, unknowingly to me at the time, influenced that book. The story is written in dual time-line and I am a huge fan of Susan Meissner, Kristin Harmel and Fiona Davis who do that so well.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)
Absolutely. It’s actually a story that reminds me to never give up. I had been querying agents for my debut novel, getting some requests but never getting an offer of representation. When I saw that other members of The Women’s Fiction Writers Association were published by small presses, I researched some and found Black Rose Writing. They had an online form which I filled out and submitted. Two months later, I hadn’t heard a word, which wasn’t odd, though I casually mentioned it to my editor one day and found out she was published by them! And, to top it off, I learned they had redone their website and my submission probably got caught in the transition. It was lost in cyberspace.
Pamela, my editor, told me to fill out the query again, on the new website. The day after I hit send, I got an email from the publisher asking for my manuscript. I was dancing! And then, a month later, I opened my inbox to find another email from him. Braced for a rejection, I read his words with my heart pounding. I had an offer! It was a dream come true. I do believe if Pamela hadn’t simply asked how my querying was going, I would have assumed Black Rose wasn’t interested. I wouldn’t have contacted them a second time. Now I have two books published by Black Rose Writing and I’m working on my third.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
My second novel, Sisters of the Vine, was influenced by a high school friend of mine. When I reconnected with her many years after graduation and learned about her life, I knew aspects of it would be perfect for a novel. When my friend’s husband walked out on her, she was left with thirteen acres of grapevines, full to bursting, ready to be picked, and had no idea how to get the daunting task done. So, one day, she walked down her mile long road and knocked on neighbors’ doors asking stay-at-home moms, with no knowledge of winemaking, to come and help. The women came in droves and, as in my novel, they formed a sisterhood and broke into the all-male fraternity of winemakers.
Do you have a favorite character?
I imagine most writers might say their favorite character is their protagonist. In Sisters of the Vine, I do adore Liz, but my favorite character is Bobbi, her assistant. She’s a bit younger than Liz and is much stronger emotionally, and wiser. And I love Liz’s dad. Every girl needs a dad like Lou. I imagined my own father when I created him.
What was the most unique research you had to do for a book?
Sisters of the Vine takes place on a hillside vineyard and winery. I had to learn every detail of the winemaking process from planting, pruning and picking to crushing and pressing, all the way to the final sip. It was fun visiting vineyards, feeling the plump grapes in my fingers and smelling the heady scent of them fermenting in their stainless-steel tanks – and tasting the final product
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes, read. Read everything. Read in your genre and outside your comfort zone. Hone your craft. Take workshops, read craft books, find a writing partner. Never give up. But, most of all, have fun. Enjoy the journey. It’s a long one.
What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
I’m happy to say, I haven’t experienced any major downfalls. A disappointment now and then, yes, when an agent rejected my manuscript, before I found Black Rose Writing. On the other hand, there have been many great parts, the best being the community I’ve found. In the few years since I signed my first contract, I have met so many wonderful writers all ready to support each other, like you, Jill. Being part of this community has enriched my life.
Place you’d like to travel?
I always smile when I’m asked where I’d like to travel because my desires are not the usual. I am not interested in visiting Southeast Asia or climbing Machu Picchu, seeing the penguins in the Galapagos. The trip I’d like to take is following the settings in Jane Austin’s novels and sitting over a cuppa in a charming inn, re-reading Pride and Prejudice. Another on my bucket list is the coast of Oregon. I love coastlines and I’ve not been to this one. When there, I’d go inland to Portland to see the roses in bloom. A rose lover and one who buys many from a Portland company, this has been a desire of mine and I have no idea why I haven’t done it yet. I will. Maybe I’ll make it a setting in a future book so I’ll have to go for research.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
I want to say a huge thank you to all my readers, those who’ve read my books and those who plan to. My dream was to pen a novel that readers would devour curled up in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea, or glass of wine. Now I have two out in the world and I so appreciate everyone who has joined me along the way and those who I’m now meeting. I love to meet my readers. If you are in a book club and would like me to join you, at no charge, to chat about either book, The Disharmony of Silence or Sisters of the Vine, contact me via my website www.linda-rosen.com. I can join you virtually or, if possible, in person. It’ll be fun. And, if you’d like to hear from me again, sign up for my newsletter, Linda’s Tea Room, also via my website. I promise not to invade your inbox.
Thanks so much, Jill. I’ve enjoyed your questions and being here with you.
To connect with Linda ~