Welcome to Christian Writer/Reader Connection, Rita. What inspired you to write historical fiction?
I have always loved history. I live in a part of Maryland that is rife with it. Not far from where I live there are Civil War battlefields and Fort Frederick, a stone fort built during the French and Indian War. The lives of the people of the past have always interested me. Life was harder and shorter. People valued faith and family. In our society today we have lost many of the values our forebeares held dear. By writing a story set in the past, I can bring forward some of those ideals.
My favorite novels are historicals. Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice', Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre', and the novels of Rafael Sabatini.
I've seen your book trailer, blog, and Stepping Stones Magazine. How far in advance did you begin marketing efforts for Surrender the Wind? Do you have any marketing/promotion tips for pre-published writers?
I have a saying that marketing is getting your book into the hands of readers; promotion is building a name. My first step as an author, since Surrender the Wind has not yet been released, has been to create a buzz, to promote the name of the novel everywhere and anywhere I can. I began promoting it as soon as I signed the contract with Abingdon Press back in September. I sent out email announcements, posted on my blog about it, and built a new website. I put up a page on Facebook, as well as a fan page for Surrender the Wind. It wasn't until May 2009 that I finished the book trailer. The trailer has created a ripple effect. More and more people are viewing it, hearing about the story, and preordering the book.
From all the tantalizing blurbs, I see your characters face many hurdles. How do you maintain momentum through the middle of the story?
It is vital to holding your reader's attention that you keep the momentum going. Nothing will lose a reader quicker than a boring middle. I really have no formula to offer on how to maintain momentum. I simply build on the story, continue to create an atmosphere of danger and tension through action and dialogue. I show instead of telling. One important goal is to cause your reader to wonder what will happen next, and write with such power that they worry about your characters. Robert Frost said, 'No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.' How does a writer do this? Draw it out of yourself and reflect in your writing. Let your reader see, hear, taste, and touch what your characters are seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching. Let your reader feel your characters' pain through visceral actions and dynamic dialogue.
Do you have any parting words of advice for our readers?
Read. Read. Read. It's one of the best ways to learn the craft. Be patient with the work you do, with submissions, and with getting published. Do not write for fame or fortune. Write because you love to write, even if it means never getting published. Make the writing number one, and the publication of your work number two. It's tough to break in, and a new writer needs to know the realities of getting published and the work that follows. Do not every let fame and money be your motivation for being an author. If it is, you are writing for the wrong reasons.
Thank you so much for being part of our Happy Blogoversary month, Rita.
Thank you, Susan. It was an honor to be a part of your Blog's anniversary!