I was 7, and my parents’ reaction was similar to ours. You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
MaryLu Tyndall: MaryLu has been a strong sister in Christ, and has prayed for my family, counseled me, and been a good friend, even though we only met once face to face.
Rachel Muller: Rachel is a talented woman, homeschool mom, and friend. She helped me set up the Writing to Inspire Christian Workshop. I would have been stressed if I hadn’t had her help.
Roseanna White: Roseanna has been an inspiration to me. She is talented and one of the nicest writers you could ever meet. Like Rachel, Roseanna graciously accepted to teach at the workshop several times.
Carrie Pagels: Carrie opened up the door for me to be published with Barbour Publishing. She has been a friend and an inspiration. She also taught at the workshop, and we’ve had lunch on a few occasion. She is one of the most giving writers I know, and an inspiration to me to persist in storytelling.
Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that. Not in the true sense. But I have taught classes on writing. Each year at the Writing to Inspire Christian Writers Workshop, and on dialogue at the Lancaster Christian Writers Conference.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it? The most? There are too many to tell, and too embarrassing to share.
People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that? I would first ask them why, and if it is really on their heart, when are they planning to begin. What genre would they like to write in? Then I’d give them a bit of advice. Write because you love to write, even if it means never getting published with a major publisher and going Indie. If the person isn’t interested in writing novels, I suggest they write in a journal.
What is important is touching the lives of others through an inspiring story. Do not ever let fame and money be your motivation for being an author. If it is, you are writing for the wrong reasons.
Tell us about the featured book. Back in 2014, I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life. It was a time I never thought I would experience. I’d done my best, what I believed then, to take care of my health. But when I heard the words, “you have breast cancer,” I felt the ground move under me, and I was shaken to my core. Those words invoked images of the suffering I saw with a close friend who died from breast cancer, and what my dear sister-in-law was going through at the time, and how it would eventually take her life. I cried in the doctor’s office in my husband’s arms, thinking life was over, that I was going to leave him and my two boys.
I was taken on a roller coaster journey through treatment. Once I was over the initial shock, I was determined to live. One thing that kept me going, besides Paul’s constant care and humor, was writing. I had several novels published, but two books came into my life. One was Mercy’s Refuge, a historical romance set in 1620 inspired by William Bradford’s diary Of Plymouth Plantation. But there was another story that I began with a synopsis and a few first chapters. After the Rain. I loved every minute writing this story.
Here is the synopsis for your readers.
It is 1908, a year in the Edwardian Age, the year J.M.
Barrie’s play What Every Woman Knows,
Louisa Borden lives a privileged life in
When her horse is spooked along Rock Creek, she is thrown from the saddle—an embarrassing situation for any affluent young lady. Soaking wet, bruised and humiliated, she is carried up the muddy bank to safety by Jackson O’Neil, a stranger to the city, who changes the course of everything, including the lives of all those around her.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Jackson O’Neil scanned the ridgeline. The clouds were low and misty, shades of blue and gray ash that stretched along the mountains as far as his eyes could see. Autumn came early. The dogwoods were turning crimson. The maples gold, the oaks deep brown—taking his breath away.
A whisper of a breeze stirred the changing leaves and ruffled his dark hair. His quarter horse grazed in the field beyond the farmhouse his father had built so many years ago, before he was born, before his younger sister took her first breath.
He drew in the scent of apples fallen from the trees, listened to the hum of yellow jackets thirsty for the sweet overripe nectar of the rotting pulp. As he heaped hay over the fence, he whistled to his horse Ransom. With a sweep of his mane, Ransom raised his head and trotted over.
He understood loneliness and was weary of being asked why he hadn’t found a wife. Community picnics in Chestnut Creek were the worst with every unwed daughter shoved in front of him. Always he’d been polite, and felt sorry for the girls embarrassed by their mother’s interference.
He rubbed his horse’s ear and recalled the seasons when
mares and foals grazed in his father’s fields, and a stallion paced in the next
meadow over. He’d been home more than a year since his father turned the land over
to him, land that had been in his family for three generations, named for the
place where his great grandfather was born in
An engine rumbled in the distance. It drew closer and a dust cloud flew up into the air. Choking exhaust mixed with rusty sand and dirt, held no comparison to the colossal billows of soot and concrete dust he remembered. He threw back the images and focused on Bill Shanks barreling toward him on the motorbike used for delivering the mail. Whipping around a bend, Shanks skidded to a halt, frightening Ransom away from the fence.
“I’ve a letter for you.” Shanks lifted his goggles and drew a brown envelope out of his leather satchel. “It’s from your pa.”
“Thanks. It’s warm today, isn’t it?”
Shanks wiped the sweat off his forehead. “Sure is. I bet
it’s even hotter in
“Seems longer. Are they coming back?”
Shanks scratched his head beneath his brown leather cap. “Nice of your pa to hand over the farm. I suppose it’s helped you forget.”
“You know—the earthquake out there in San Fran.”
For a moment,
Shanks pulled off his cap and smoothed back his hair. Sandy blond and slick with cheap hair grease, it fell over his forehead and he jerked it away. “Guess you don’t like talking about it, huh?”
“Not really. Got a newspaper in your satchel?”
“Yep. It’s the Washington Post if that’s okay.”
“Not much good in the news these days.”
“At least we aren’t at war.”
Shanks glanced at the door. “Got any coffee on the stove?”
“That’s okay.” Shrugging, Shanks moved his motorbike back. “I got to get going. More mail to deliver.”
“Thanks for bringing mine.”
“Ah, it won’t be for hours.” Shanks adjusted his goggles and
turned the motorbike toward the dirt road. As he drove away,
He sat down on the stoop of his porch and tore it open. Unfolding the page, he noticed a change in his father’s handwriting—shaky and quickly scrawled. Blotches of ink marred the paper.
Doctors can do nothing more for your mother. She’s been poked and prodded to the point of tears, and still they can’t find the cause of her ailment. Some say cancer. Others say anemia, or that it is all in her head. I’ve given up on the ole quacks.
A diet of more
vegetables and fruit has sustained her, but she’s lost so much weight I barely
recognize her. The doctors here in
Your sister misses you. Specialists suggest I place her in an institution and have her sterilized. I understand she should never bear the burden of motherhood, but to do this to her and to send her away? I can’t do such a thing. It would break all our hearts.
I was firm, and they said I’ll do it eventually, and if they see any neglect on our part, they will contact the proper authorities and have her taken from us. There is no neglect. Only love. But they will be watching. This has added to your mother’s worry and mine. I’m afraid of what the future might hold for people like your sister. So, we must protect her.
Come as quick as you can. I’ll need your help bringing the family home.
With his mouth tense,
He ran his hands over his eyes and whispered a prayer for his mother. She had suffered enough. His heart lurched thinking of his sister. He would not allow them to take Blossom away or hurt her. Compared to every person he had known, she was the kindest and most loving of all. If God were to make angels out of humans, she would be one of them. Blossom was the apple of Alan O’Neil’s eye, and to be badgered to put her away had to be taking its toll.
Mrs. Beatrice Whitaker will receive Mr. Rupert Eastcott, the future Lord Pencroft, at her home on Lenox Street, Chevy Chase, by Thanksgiving. An engagement to her granddaughter, Louisa Borden, daughter of Mr. Maxium Borden, will be forthcoming.
Only in your dreams,
He folded the newspaper and hurried inside, gathered some clothes, and shut the door behind him. He hurried down the staircase to the first floor. Clara Robinson stepped out the kitchen door.
“I wish you’d bring them home the minute you get there. I know Miss Emma must be loathing the city.”
“I’ll get them back as soon as I can, Clara.” He dragged on his hat.
“Here take this with you. You’ll get hungry on the train.” She handed him a brown bag stuffed with food.
He smiled. “Thanks.”
She raised her chin. “No thanks, just promise you’ll eat it.”
“Wish you’d let Grant drive you to the station.”
“I need the brisk ride. Where is Grant?”
“He’s gone hunting.”
Grant Robinson and his wife Clara had worked for the O’Neils
as long as
Grant stopped short when he reached the front porch steps.
“Two birds for the pot tonight, Clara.” He held up the birds for her to see.
Then he looked at
“I got a letter from
Grant frowned. “Your ma—is she…?”
“No, not yet. Pa wants to bring her home and needs my help. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. I know Ballyshannon is in the right hands with you and Clara.”
“I’ll pull out the motorcar.”
“No need. I’m riding Ransom into town. Come by the livery stable later and fetch him. Be sure he gets plenty of oats.”
Grant nodded. “I’ll take good care of him, don’t worry.”
With sadness in his heart, he went out to the barn and saddled Ransom. Alongside the tracks Shanks’ motorbike had made, he galloped his horse down the road toward the train station.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I have a Facebook page and an author’s page:
My website is here: http://ritagerlach.wordpress.com/
Thank you, Rita, for allowing me to be a part of the relaunch of this book. I’m eager to read it, since I love all your books I’ve read.
Readers, here are links to the book.
https://amzn.to/3nvyv1K - paperback
https://amzn.to/3e3R9L5 - Kindle edition
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