Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Author Interview - Rita Gerlach - Surrender The Wind

Rita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland. She has published three historical novels, and is editor of Stepping Stones Magazine, an online website focused on marketing, and the promotion of writers. Her fourth book, Surrender the Wind, an inspiration historical romance set in Virginia and England, is due to be released from Abingdon Press in Aug. 2009.

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!


Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

I love the cover for this book, it looks terrific...can't wait to read this, historicals are my FAVES!!!

Jessica Nelson said...

So I woke up and went to my dashboard, and there was Rita's lovely face, smiling up at me! LOL
What an awesome interview! Rita, you gave fabulous advice. I really love how you worded some of it. Excellent.

Thanks so much for the interview, guys.

And it's pretty cool that your trailer is creating a buzz. Congrats!

Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks for the great interview! I'm excited to read the book when it comes out, so the buzz must be working!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

I thought everyone would enjoy an interview with Rita. When I read the book, you can expect a review here at Christian Writer/Reader Connection. :)


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Renee -

One thing I learned from Rita's interview is the importance of getting the book title and cover out there. I'm sure this book will do well.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Maybe we should do blog trailers. What do you think of that idea? LOL! Probably way too expensive.

I'm grateful that Rita agreed to do the interview. :)


Rita Gerlach said...

Actually, I made my book trailer myself using Windows Movie Maker. It took time to learn all the ins-and-outs, but it was fun to do.

I will be blogging about it on InSpire. . .just some tips on how to do it without things getting too complicated.

Thank you for the interview. It is much appreciated.

I'm so glad you like the cover and have a desire to read Surrender the Wind. The online bookstores have it up for sale now.

Thanks. I hope you do read Surrender the Wind. It's not the same-ole-same-ole historical romance.

You are so sweet. It's amazing what a good photographer can do with touch ups. LOL


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

Thanks for stopping by and for an informative interview. I'm looking forward to reading Surrender The Wind.

Susan :)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Thank you, Rita, for such wise advice about reasons for writing. Congratulations on your book!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

Thanks for stopping by. I'm grateful for authors, who are willing to share their expertise.

Susan :)

Terri Tiffany said...

This interview was good and helpful. I love this line: 'No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.'

She explained well how to keep the middle from getting boring!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I like that line also. If our characters and plots don't move us, how do we expect them to have an effect on others?

Have a great day!

Susan :)

Daniel said...

I am a first time visitor to your blog. The interview was very useful and relevant.

I was especially impressed with the insight on how to promote one's book.

Good post.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Daniel -

Welcome to my blog! I post here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I'm glad you found the interview helpful. Rita is planning some posts on doing book trailers. You might want to pop over to her blog, InSpire, in the coming weeks. There's a link on my blogroll.

Susan :)