I'm happy to have Rita on my blog. Now, Rita, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
That’s a good question, and a bit difficult to answer. It is one that I have not thought about. I think that if there are any attributes in my characters that reflect my own I would have to say that my characters abhor injustice, bigotry, and cruelty---especially toward children and the elderly. My heroes and heroines hold dear their relationships. They love horses, nature, and books.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
How far back must I go? At my age, which isn’t ancient, but not sprightly either, I am a little more cautious about doing ‘quirkier’ things.
When did you first discover you were a writer?
Honestly, it was when I wrote ‘The End’ finishing my first manuscript. When I was a kid, I enjoyed writing short stories. But I never dreamed I would actually become a writer, not until 1989 when the thought popped into my head that I should write a story. I was hooked.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love old books, especially old historicals. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte are among my favorites, along with Daphne du Maurier and Winston Graham. I like anything written by Mark Twain. I like page-turners. If I am not hooked after the first couple chapters, I’ll close the book. I enjoy humorous historicals and my all-time favorite is Jenny Dorset by Phillip Lee Williams.
In non-fiction I read books on writing. But I’ll take a look at a good cookbook on chocolate dessert recipes any day!
I have quite a large collection of cookbooks, but I mostly just read them, instead of using them to cook from. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have written three other historicals. The first was based on the slavery of English criminals to the colonies in the 17th century, a heroic love story that crossed the lines of class and status. My other two novels are a romantic pair, centered on the Indian Wars of 1774, the Revolution, set in Maryland and England. I’m returning to these manuscripts in hopes that I will see them published in the near future.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
It isn’t easy. But it’s got to do with pacing, prayer, and patience. I’m a wife and mother, and write in the quiet morning hours. I don’t shut out the ‘run, run, run world.’ I just try not to allow it to run me.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I think long and hard about my characters when developing them. Their names come to me out of the blue most times, and fit their personalities. I made up the name Juleah in Surrender the Wind. I wanted my heroine to have a name set apart from all others that would be memorable.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
In my writing career, I would have to say finishing a novel and acquiring a publishing contract with Abingdon Press. However, I don’t think in terms of being proud of accomplishments because I know that the credit goes to the One who blessed me with talent. It’s not about me.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would be a horse. A horse is an awesome creature. Swift, beautiful, intelligent. In historical fiction, the horse is the one animal you will find the most. I have horses in all my fiction. I love to ride, though it has been years since I got in a saddle. As much as I love this noble of beasts, I am happy I was not made so. I’m grateful God made me a woman, and that I can let him take the reins.
What is your favorite food?
Oh, my! Can I put this into categories?
Sweets --- milk chocolate of course.
Drink --- sweetened lemon iced tea in the summer. Blonde coffee with a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar.
Vegetable --- red-skinned potatoes and homegrown tomatoes
Meat --- roasted turkey breast brushed with olive oil and seasonings
Seafood --- tuna salad
Sandwich --- cheese, lettuce, and tomato, with mayo
Snack --- homemade popcorn with butter and a bit of salt.
You're making me hungry. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
When it came to technique, point of view was my first roadblock. I had to learn to stick to one point of view instead of head-hopping. The way I learned to do this, is to read aloud my writing in first person, as if the character that is the focus in a scene is speaking.
When it comes to the business side of this industry, I had to overcome the setbacks and disappointments that were caused when a scam publisher deceived me. I did this by simply deciding to move forward and not allow that experience to prevent me from being the writer my heart wanted me to be. This ‘publisher’ returned my rights, thank God, and I have focused on the good things that I learned, which have pushed me to presevere.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Read best selling books on writing. Learn everything you can about the craft, from character development to plotting, to how to write tight. Study how to edit your work. Study the industry and get an understanding of how publishing works. Read best selling books within your genre. Above all do not let discouragement get the best of you, and do not write for fame or fortune. If that is your goal, you are starting out for all the wrong reasons. Write because you love it.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Surrender the Wind is based on Ecclesiastes 2:17-19. These verses of scripture rang as true in the Georgian and Regency periods as they do today. Benjamin Braxton, an English squire, inherited his fortune from his father and his father before him. When facing death the question of what it all meant, what purpose did gaining wealth play in ones life, creeps into reality. It becomes meaningless in the grander scheme of things. The only comfort he would have is hoping his grandson would use his inheritance for good. Seth, the hero in the story, does this, but yet he too sees that love for God, love for his wife, and his duty to others is far more important than land or money.
The Premise: An American patriot of the Revolution struggles with his loyalty to his country, by accepting an inheritance from his loyalist grandfather in England. A nephew is believed dead. A woman is found murdered in the woods, and he is told his wife has perished in a fire. Readers will ask, what is the truth behind these tragedies? As the novel moves forward, they will discover there is one man that holds the answer--one that despises his American enemy, Seth Braxton, for gaining two things he wanted most--Ten Width Manor and the woman he desired---Juleah Fallowes.
Seth journey brings him many trials, where his devotion to those he loves is tested, and his faith is brought to the mere size of a mustard seed. For our heroine, Juleah, she must stand against all odds to be with Seth, no matter what the cost. In so doing, she discovers how very deep the waters of love can flow.
While Surrender the Wind focuses on relationships both marital and within a family, it is in every sense of the word of romantic historical novel with the historical ambience of the period in which it is written, with twists and turns that take readers back to a time of raw courage and ideal love. It will keep fans of historical fiction turning the pages.
I can hardly wait to get my copy. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Readers can visit my homepage. http://ritagerlach.com/
Thank you, Lena, for this interview. I hope your readers have enjoyed it and that I’ve sparked in them the desire to read Surrender the Wind. They will find my guestbook on my site that they are free to sign, as well as my email address in my ‘contact’ page if they would like to get in touch with me personally.
Thank you, Rita, for spending this time with us.
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