Thursday, April 29, 2021

AFTER THE RAIN - Rita Gerlach - One Free Book

Welcome back, Rita. Tell us about your salvation experience. When I was 9, I was sitting in church and there was a big cross up front. I stared and stared. Then the realization hit me that Jesus had died for me. I will never forget the way my heart felt. It swelled up, that’s the best way for me to explain it. I prayed to God and said in my heart, that I believed Jesus died for my sins, that God raised him from the dead, and that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I was a talkative child and wanted to tell everybody what happened. My parents smiled and patted me on my head.

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.

After the Rain was published in 2015. It’s been out there up until 2021 when a young writer called me for advice on her career. We talked things over, and then she directed me to her website. I soon discovered how talented this young writer is, which included her ability to create stunning graphic designs. I hired her to redo the cover for After the Rain, and my heart soared at the prospects of a relaunch.

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, premiered in Atlantic City, and the first Model T rolled off the assembly line in Detroit. It is a year when the world faced one of its worst disasters in history, when the New Year would heal the wounds of loss.

Louisa Borden lives a privileged life in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a new and thriving community on the outskirts of Washington, DC for the well-to-do. Against the wishes of her domineering grandmother, she retreats from the prospects of a loveless marriage, and instead searches for her calling in life.

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.

Autumn 1908

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.

Jackson rubbed the velvety nose offered him and reached inside his pocket for a sugar cube. “Come spring, I’ll find you a mare. It gets lonely, doesn’t it?”

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 Ireland. Jackson smiled, grateful to be home, regretful he had ever left.

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 Washington. How long have your folks been away?”


“Seems longer. Are they coming back?”


Jackson took the letter in hand. Shanks was the last person he’d share information with. He already knew too much and was as much a gossip as the old women in the village. Chestnut Creek had its share of chinwaggers like any other place. But hereabouts they assumed too much, stretching a story beyond all proportions into a brow-raising whopper.

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.”

Jackson shifted on his feet. “Forget what?”

“You know—the earthquake out there in San Fran.”

For a moment, Jackson looked into Shanks’ inquisitive eyes. He had no idea what it felt like to have the earth buck under his feet, to hear it rumble like deafening thunder beneath the ground, to see the walls of buildings ripple and bend, then collapse into the street onto carriages, wagons, people, and horses—to hear the screams and calls for help. The fires—they compounded the devastation. Hundreds were dead or injured. Thousands were homeless.

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?”

“Sorry, no.”

“That’s okay.” Shrugging, Shanks moved his motorbike back. “I got to get going. More mail to deliver.”

“Thanks for bringing mine.” Jackson glanced up at the sky. “Looks like rain.”

“Ah, it won’t be for hours.” Shanks adjusted his goggles and turned the motorbike toward the dirt road. As he drove away, Jackson looked at the postmark on the envelope. September 21, 1908, the District of Columbia.

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.

Dear Son,

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 Washington have passed her back and forth without giving us a solid diagnosis. She’s tired and wants to come home. The lease on the house is about over and I want to bring her home by Christmas.

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, Jackson tucked his father’s letter inside his shirt. He would pack right away and head out. He had three dollars in his pocket, sixty in his dresser drawer, more than enough to cover the cost and get him to Washington by train.

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.

Jackson glanced down at the newspaper beside him. An announcement and the photograph at the bottom caught his attention. A woman dressed in a lace gown, her hair piled up and loose beneath a broad feathered hat, caused something electric to shoot through him. Her eyes fascinated him, and flamed a fire in his bosom.

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.

Jackson shook his head. The girl’s soft mouth, gentle smile, and liquid eyes pale in black and white, were enough to captivate. However, looks could be deceiving. A woman like her would not give him the time of day. If they met—which was a million to one—she would give him the cold shoulder and a haughty look—but boy was she pretty.

Only in your dreams, Jackson. 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.”

“I promise.”

“Wish you’d let Grant drive you to the station.”

“I need the brisk ride. Where is Grant?”

“He’s gone hunting.”

Jackson stepped outside and spotted Grant trotting toward the house. “He’s back. Looks like he got a brace of pheasants.”

Grant Robinson and his wife Clara had worked for the O’Neils as long as Jackson could remember. Two robust people who knew all there was to know about living off the land were a part of the family and Jackson loved them both.

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 Jackson. “Are you going into town, Mr. Jackson?”

“I got a letter from Pa. I’m going to Washington.”

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.”

Jackson put his hand on Grant’s shoulder. “That I believe.”

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:

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. - paperback - Kindle edition

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: Http:// 


Rita M Gerlach said...

Lena, thank you for having me on your blog. I had to smile when I realized I had sent you the first chapter, instead of the first page. Ah, well it gives readers a really big first peek into After the Rain. Thanks again, and God bless you and yours.

traveler said...

After the Rain sounds captivating and unforgettable. What an interesting interview. Thanks for your great writing. Anne in NM.

petite said...

This historical would be greatly enjoyed and savored. What a wonderful story. Pearl - NM.

Melanie Backus said...

Sounds like a must read!
Melanie Backus, TX

Lucy Reynolds said...

Would love to read. Thank you for sharing. Blessings from WV.

Sarah Taylor said...

Would love to read Sounds like a must read Blessings from Ohio

rubynreba said...

The cover is stunning. I enjoyed the interview. I would enjoy this book!
Beth from Iowa

Diana Flowers said...

After the Rain is a beautiful book as are all of Rita's novels! I 2nd that about Carrie Pagels & MaryLu Tyndall. Such generous, sweet, Godly women & great authors! No need to enter me. God bless you, Lena and Rita.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thank you for your kind words, Rita! You're such a great writer! I'd like to give Lena a shout-out, too! I met Lena at my first ACFW contest and she made me cry. She was my first paid professional critique and she gave me tremendous encouragement. Lena also was involved early on in the Christian blogging movement to reach out to readers and she helped me then, too! God puts us around each other to love, support, and encourage each other. Previous comment is from angel Diana Flowers who has been an absolute blessing and dear friend to me in the CF community and personally!

Rita Gerlach said...

Ladies, thank you for the kind words. Your posts mean a lot to me. God has been so gracious toward me in so many ways.

Alicia Haney said...

Good morning from west Texas, Hi,this book sounds like a very good read, and the book cover is Gorgeous, I love it! Thank you for the chance at this great sounding book! I am from west Texas. Have a Great weekend and stay safe. aliciabhaney(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

Rita M Gerlach said...

Alicia, hubby and I went through west Texas back in the early 80s on our way to an outdoor adventure school in New Mexico. Passed a little out of the way barbecue place near Lubbock that was amazing. It was the first time I ever saw tumbleweeds rolling across the dusty roads. Those were the days of our youth. We are settled in Maryland.

Caryl Kane said...

Hello Rita and Lena! After the Rain sounds like an epic adventure!

Caryl K in TX

Abigail Mitchell said...

This looks so good!
Abigail in VA

Mrs Brent Magers said...

I would love to read this!

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway, SC