Monday, March 30, 2009


(Outside my window this morning: Gray sky and it looks like rain...again.)

I wasn't expecting it. A yellow manila envelop from Abingdon Press that arrived last week at my door. In it was a copy
of Publishers Weekly and three 'Fiction Samplers'. Publishers Weekly is an international news magazine of book publishing and selling. The headline brazened across the bumper of a vintage car (looks like either a 70s era Charger or Superbee) reads 'I BRAKE FOR CHRISTIAN FICTION' an the title for an article below it --- 'New Direction for Religion Publishing'.

If you subscribe to PW check out the full-page ad on page 21 for Abingdon's fiction launch. The words 'Get Ready to Relax'. A barefooted
woman is lounging on a cushy couch with a book in hand. Below is the header 'Abingdon's new fiction line coming fall 2009'. And directly under that are the seven novels that Abingdon will release. The covers are stunning, lively with color and eyecatching graphics and fonts.

When my eyes crossed the titles and I saw mine, it was a
s if I were in a dream. Someone needed to pinch me and wake me up. There was my novel, 'Surrender the Wind' in an ad in Publishers Weekly for Abingdon Press above Abingdon's slogan.

Dear Writer, there are publishers out there who will tell you that publishers do not promote their authors' books. These are mainly print on demand, vanity presses, and self-publishers. I am not knocking them persay, but only giving out the truth t
hat traditional publishers do promote their authors', the novels they print, and their fiction lines.

This is not to say I can sit back and do nothi
ng. No indeed. I will be promoting as well. But to have a publisher that has faith in my writing makes this journey worth all the years spent typing away at my computer. To have a publisher with the same goal as I have, to give my readers a respite from the world, is more than I could have asked for.

Be patient in your search for
publication. Do not rush it. When you are ready to submit, study how to write a query letter and book proposal. Make a list of publishers or literary agents you wish to submit to. Check the Preditors & Editors website to see if there are any complaints or warnings. If you get a rejection, know that this is the norm. It happens to every writer. Just move on. Keep submitting. In the meantime, be writing another novel.

Just don't give in or
give up.

(Surrender the Wind is now available on for pre-order. Amazon has discounted the novel at 20% off the cover price, from $13.99 to $11.19.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bad Days

In today's paper, I saw another name that caught my attention. Sadly it was in the obituary page. The lady, may she rest in peace, had a most unusual name - Cinderella Butler.

Cinderella lived to the ripe old age of 96, praised as
'a devoted wife and mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother who believed in God and led by example. She had a quiet strength which was felt by all who knew her and loved her and it was that strength and love and her trust in God's mercy that carried her home.'

In another post dated December 10, 1907 this couple,
Mr. & Mrs. Olin Rice, had a very bad week.

'One day last week while physically stroking a pet cat, Mr. Olin Rice, of this place was severely bitten by it. (I had to include this photo taken in the early 1900s. I doubt Mr. Rice's cat was a gentle looking as this little girl's. A cat bite can become a serious infection. My husband was bitten by a cat in the finger and was put the hospital when it became infected. He almost lost it.)

One day last week, Mrs. Olin Rice was cooking a lot of potato rinds and cabbage for chickens in an iron kettle, when, the water having all boiled away, the kettle exploded with a terrific report, scattering po
tatoes and cabbage oil around the room.'

Did you know you could feed chickens boiled potato rinds and cabbage? I didn't. I don't think I would have wasted
good cabbage on some common gallinaceous farm birds unless it was a side dish after their destiny to the dinner table had been fulfilled. Mrs. Rice must have stepped out of the kitchen and busied herself with something that took her mind off her pot of chicken feed. How many times have our mother's told us not to leave the kitchen when you have a pot on the stove?

I am curious as to why the kettle, most likely made of cast iron, exploded once the liquid had been boiled away. Imagine the potato skins and cabbage oil splattered over the walls and floors. I've never heard of cabbage oil either. Mrs. Rice must have let out a scream when the explosion occurred, and imagine her horror when she ran back into the kitchen and saw the mess she h
ad to clean up.

(Update on the writing. I submitted the synopsis and first three chapters to Barbara Scott at Abingdon Press for my next novel, Beside Two Rivers. On Friday my husband and I took a short trip over to the Potomac River near Harper's Ferry. This is a photo I shot with my digital camera. In the novel, there is a scene where my heroine is standing at the percipice of a bluff overlooking the river. I call this 'Darcy's Bluff'.)

(Surrender the Wind is now available on for pre-order. Amazon has discounted the novel at 20% off the cover price, from $13.99 to $11.19.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Funny Names from the Past

(Finished page proofs, and book proposal for the next novel.)

I don't know about you, but I love interesting names. It's probably because I
am a writer that I find quirky names so fun. Charles Dickens has to be the all-time master at coming up with interesting names for his characters, names like, Mr. Swiddlepipe, Beatle Bumble, Mr. Fizziwig, Mr. & Mrs.Jellyby, Mr. Turveytop, Mr. Smallweed, and the list goes on.

I have a habit, while watching British television shows, of reading the names in the credits. Even there I have found some quirky names, that have given me ideas for character names.

In my last post I mentioned the 100 year daily inserts of happenings in my hometown newspaper in central Maryland, the Frederick News Post. Here are a few names, along with their post from 100 years ag

Jan. 22, 1909

Officers are on the lookout for Frisby Dunn, of Brunswick, who is wanted upon the charge of passing an alleged worthless check for $20 upon Mrs. Susan Wyand, of Keedysville, Washington county, who conducts a small jewelry store in that town.

January 11, 2009 Arthur Harper, aged about 11 years, and Lee Volluse, about the same age, were placed under arrest last evening on the charge of taking several puddings and some ham from the meat store of Messrs. Kolb Brothers, North Market street.

March 19, 1909

William R. Finneyfrock was the winner of the $50 lot located at Summer City on the Chesapeake Bay and donated to the holder of the lucky number 1148, by the South Chesapeake Beach Land Co.

January 13, 1909
Ex-Mayor Aquilla R. Yeakle was taken with an attack of acute gastritis, while in the store of Mr. Harry Flautt, in the City Hall building, yesterday afternoon. (We can only imagine...)

January 08, 1909

Mr. Charles Esterly, who is employed in the junk shop of Mr. John

Baumgardner, North Market street, met with a peculiar accident yesterday. Mr. Harry Lipps, another employee, was engaged in throwing iron to a pile, when one of the pieces hooked in his glove, causing it to fly into the air. In falling, the piece of iron struck Mr. Esterly on the head, cutting it in three places, making very ugly wounds.

January 06, 1909
The case of James A. Butts vs. Samuel C. Butts, a suit for $5,000 damages, was taken up yesterday afternoon before a jury. The plaintiff and defendant are brothers, and reside near Burkittsville. The suit was based on a charge of alienation of the affections of the plaintiff's wife.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Popularity Contest

Update: Working on Page Proofs until March 23.
The photograph here was taken at a social gathering of young people in 1909. Center is my grandparents.

From the Frederick News Post, March 17, 1909.

In a contest held in Taneytown last week, Miss Agnes Hagan, well known here, won a handsome lamp for being the most popular young lady of the town. The prize was given by a medicine man in the town during the week. There were 23 young ladies in the contest, and Miss Hagan received over 900 votes more than her largest competitor.

Taneytown is a small town in central Maryland, and back in 1909 it had to have been even smaller. So, judging by the size of what the town would have been like, Ms. Hagan had to have been among a small group of competitors. The article has some interesting points. She wins a lamp. By 1920 only 35% of homes had electricity and these were in urban areas mostly. Only 2% of farms had electricity. So it is safe to say the lamp Ms. Hagan won was an oil lamp. Why a medicine man gave it to her is unknown. Perhaps he made the lamp.

She was voted the most popular young lady in town, but it does not say why. It makes me wonder was it due to beauty and poise. Or was she know for charitiable contributions to the community, her kindness and generousity?

Or was this a town beauty paganant of sorts? Whatever caused her to win a lamp, she won it by a landslide. I can just see these 23 young ladies dressed in all white cotton spring dresses with large bows, their locks flowing over their shoulders and down their backs, their buttom-top shoes clicking along the floorboards. Were there opposing whispers after the winner was announced, scowls and frowns, jealouse looks?

The age of the contestants is not known either, nor where the contest was held. Imagine for a moment the difference this story would make if it were held in the church hall or the local tavern.

We will never know, but a writer can only imagine that is the way it may have been. Writers love drama.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Step Forward

In order to share with aspiring writers what happens after a contract is signed with a traditional publisher, I've recorded the different stages of book production up to this point. The stages so far have been the macro edit, substantive edit, book cover design, copy edit, and now proofreading the ARC.

On Friday, I received an email from the production editor at Abingdon with a pdf attached. This file shows the book just how it will look in print. The fonts for the title pages and chapter headings are stunning. I admit, I cried tears of joy when I looked at it.

This copy has been sent to a professional proofreader, and I've been afforded the chance to read through the text and if I find any problems to alert my publisher.

Also on Friday, which was a great day, I found out that 'Surrender the Wind' is now up on Amazon for pre-orders, at a 20% discount. The cover price is $13.99, but Amazon is selling pre-orders for $11.19! Books should be ready to be shipped either at the end of July or the beginning of August. Amazon is telling customers September, but that is incorrect.

I am offering a contest between now and the release date, where each month I will award a reader with a gift package of beautiful Victorian stationery of all kinds. If you pre-order, all you have to do is email me the confirmation from Amazon and I will throw your name into the hat.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


In these hard times, a good book is a perfect escape. As a writer, one of my major goals is to carry my readers away to a different time and place, to a time of raw courage and ideal love.

I was excited to find out that pre-orders for Surrender the Wind are now available from! The official release date is August 09, but readers can order their copies now and receive them as soon as the books arrive. The price is discounted 20% from the cover price of $13.99 to a price of $11.19!

What is Surrender the Wind about?

An American patriot of the Revolution struggles with his loyalty to his country, by accepting an inheritance from his estranged grandfather in England. Upon his arrival in Devonshire, he meets and falls in love with Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Amid the joys of new love Seth and Juleah face tragedy and trial. Seth is reunited with his grieving sister, who was taken back to England at the start of the rebellion. A nephew is believed dead. A woman is found murdered in the woods. And Seth is told his wife, Juleah, has perished in a fire. What is the truth behind these tragedies?

One man holds the answers - one that despises his American enemy for gaining two things he wanted most -Ten Width Manor and the woman he desired. Seth Braxton's arrival 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. To be a hero, he must stay in the battle.

Golden Keyes Parsons ~ Author of In the Shadow of the Sun King wrote: I was instantly transported to the world of the American patriot, Seth Braxton, and his struggle whether or not to return to England. Rita Gerlach's vivid descriptions and fast-paced action keep one turning the pages. I cannot wait for it 'Surrender the Wind' to be published, so I can read the final version.

It was an exciting day. Abingdon is working on an online bookstore for the fiction line. But it is not ready yet. When it is finished, I'll post the link.

I invite you to visit my website for full details, a synopsis of the story, and a pictorial of the setting. A chapter sample will be included soon to entice you to want more.

For those who pre-order, I will be announcing an exciting contest in a few weeks! One reader will win a beautiful packet of Victorian stationary, which includes floral notebooks, paper, shopping list, and 'to do' list.