Friday, December 28, 2012



You've written a proposal and started writing. You are immersed in the characters and the storyline of this new novel. You've gotten 30,000 words into it. But you've gotten  'no' from publishers your agent submitted to. Maybe there are a couple that have not replied back, but it's been months. Do you finish this book you love? Or do you dump it and try to come up with something else hoping to get a contract?

I'm currently writing an Edwardian era novel without a contract. I love this story and my hero and heroine. This is a new era for me. I've loved the research -- the clothes, culture, innovations, the changes from a more rural relaxed life to a more modern urban one. The first book in this series takes place in Chevy Chase, MD, a then budding suburb of Washington DC. The story will then move to a small village way out in the mountains of western Maryland near the Savage River. It is a lovestory between two people of opposite natures, upbringings, and lifestyles. It's also about the love and compassion for orphans, for a down syndrome child, for the elderly, and the poor.

I hear you. What publisher would not want to contract a book like that?  

I can't abandon these characters that I've come to know so intimately.  I've had readers ask me when the book is going to come out, that they are excited I'm writing a romance in this era. I tell them, 'no contract yet'. My heart is being poured into this story like no other. If you saw the main characters and the storyline, you'd know why. Often it has become my escape from the worrisome world around me. I'm drawn back to another place and time, and into the minds of two people who fall desperately in love with each other, and committed to the lot God hands them.

If I shelf it, I know I'll lose something in the process. This is a writer's life. The business side is something else altogether. It is about sales, money, profit. For the writer it is our life's blood, our hearts, the air we breath. We have to write, no matter what. We keep on writing, and for those of us who are believers we keep trusting the One who gave us the gift of writing.

I'm trusting God on this project, even though I've gotten rejections. He will place it where it needs to be. I've been told I'm one of the hardest working authors in the Christian industry, that I'm easy to work with, and meticulous. Yes, I agree I am those things. And I'm patient. In God's good time this book, this series will be written and be in my readers' hands.

Writers have to be diligent in their work and patient in order to keep going. We face rejection and disappointment, that our writing has to be the thing that holds us up, that and faith. In the midst of all this there is great joy. Joy in a story unfolding that never was before. Joy in sharing it with others. Joy hearing from someone who read the story how it changed their lives. The sweetest thing I ever read in a review was a woman said after she finished reading Before the Scarlet Dawn, she went into her little girls and hugged them while they slept, being thankful to have them.

So, author. What do you do in a situation like this? You've gotten rejections. Do you finish this book you love? Or do you dump it and try to come up with something else hoping to get a contract? You finish it! You keep believing one day that book will find a place. It could be a diamond in the rough that later, maybe years later, you bring out and polish to a high sheen. Just don't give in or give up.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bringing back to your readers your out of print novels.

Ever hear the saying ‘take the bull by the horns’? Sometimes you have to do just that in order to make your dreams a reality. This post is about publishing a backlist of books that have gone out of print with your rights reverted back to you. Remember it is your career…no one else’s. It takes a tough skin in this business and you have to have initiative and passion to make it happen. No matter what rejections or delays come your way, know thisyour out of print books do not have to languish in obscurity.

Back in the early 1990s, I began writing after my cousin, a world famous romance writer, handed me one of her books. I read it and the desire to write stories rekindled in my being. First I wrote a novella, just to see what I could do. Then I wrote my first full-length novel, and I was so wet behind the ears that I had no idea about word count and ended up with a 150,000-word manuscript. 

In 2001, The Rebel’s Pledge went to a print on demand company, and was out of print by 2005. I went on to write and publish six more novels, and in the summer of 2011, I set out to revise The Rebel’s Pledge according to publishers’ guidelines, but had to set it aside for a time to work on The Daughters of the Potomac Series. My then agent presented the idea of publishing my backlist of books, three in total, to Kindle and CreateSpace, since I now have a following of readers. When I discovered that well known authors, such as Robin Lee Hatcher, Kathi Macias, MaryLu Tyndall, and Lena Dooley,  were reissuing their out of print novels, I was even more intrigued. 

Late in the spring of 2012, I finished my revisions and tightened up the book to 93,000 words. I decided to go ahead with it, with the help of my husband Paul. He uploaded and formatted the file. My son designed the cover. When I found a Charles I gown on a website made by a UK designer, I emailed her and asked for her permission to use the gown on the cover. She was more than happy to oblige, and I gave her credit in the book. 

Now, with Kindle they have templates you can use that will upload your title onto the one you choose.
One piece of advice. Before you approve your Kindle copy, upload the book to Create Space for paperback. Order a review copy, and check your front and back cover, and inside layout. Sit down with red pen in hand and carefully read through your hardcopy, circling anything you want to change. You can go back to your book and make corrections before you approve it.

Here are the nuts and bolts of Amazon Kindle. Authors upload their book, cover, and go through the steps toward approving their book for Kindle. They set the price, although with Kindle Publishing Select there is a low and high end price you can go. You own all the rights but with KPS you keep your ebook version exclusive to Amazon Kindle. Authors received a 70% royalty. Amazon has the Lending Library, and for each time your book is acquired through LL, you receive a royalty depending on the amount Amazon has in an overall pot and how many books are loaned out that month. Authors are given a 90-day window to belong to KDP Select. During that time, you are given 5 days to offer your ebook for free. What? Give it away? That’s right. Your ebook will get into the hands of hundreds, maybe thousands of readers. You have a greater chance readers will want your other books. The Rebel’s Pledge hit the bestsellers list in its genre through this program. 

I am now exploring Amazon’s audio book program. It would be thrilling to have an audio version of The Rebel’s Pledge. It is astounding to me but the ebook version of The Rebel’s Pledge is out selling my other novels. It could be the price and word of mouth. It's only 2.99. Who knows?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Christmas Cookies

Here's a fun Christmas cookie recipe. Chocolate Meltaway Brownie Bites!

If you have a book club, these would be a hit served with hot chocolate.

From Hershey's Kitchens

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Comfort Food for Writers & Readers

Hershey's Peanut Butter Brownies


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • 1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted*


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2 baking pan.
  2. Combine melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl; beat well. Add flour, cocoa and milk; beat until blended. Stir in 1 cup nuts. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or just until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Melt 1/2 cup butter and peanut butter chips in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add sweetened condensed milk, stirring until smooth; pour over baked layer.
  4. Place chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 45 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Cut into bars. Cover; refrigerate leftover bars. About 36 bars.
You can find this recipe here:

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Review by Brenda Hurley for Before the Scarlet Dawn,

"Before the Scarlet Dawn" is the first book in 'The Daughters of the Potomac Series'. The story begins in Derbyshire, England, in 1775. Eliza Bloom's father, a Vicar, is on his deathbed. The love between him and his daughter is a true Christian love, both unconditional and deep.

Immediately following his death, Eliza is evicted from the only home she has even known. Meeting up with a childhood acquaintance, but now a grown man, Hayward Morgan catches Eliza's eye and heart. However, Hayward is prejudiced against Eliza's social standing, and believes she is 'beneath his station' in life. He knows that Eliza is beautiful in outward appearance, but she also possesses a beautiful and strong-willed inner spirit.

Through a turn of events, Hayward marries Eliza. Traveling with her devoted maid Fiona (who is like a mother and friend to Eliza), the three travel together to Maryland in America, to begin life anew in the vast wilderness and colonies.

Eliza eventually gives birth to a precious daughter, Darcy, whom she loves dearly along with Hayward. Eliza wants nothing more than for Hayward to actually "say" the words 'I love you', aloud. But from his domineering and cruel father, he learned NEVER to say those words to any woman, nor to announce any sentimental feelings -- as that would surely be considered a sign of weakness. His father taught him that -- 'man is the master, and to be obeyed', and woman the door-mat. And now, being a proud, prejudiced and stubborn individual, Hayward can only love Eliza's outer beauty. As to loving the person she is on the 'inside', his love is conditional and hardened toward her -- to prove he is 'the man' of the household, and, in control.

When Hayward goes off to War to be a Patriot, the days turn into several years. Eliza never stops loving Hayward with everything in her, hoping that both patience and time will win him over to saying he loves her. Many hardships come along in his absence though -- trials, ordeals, terror, and losses. But also comes along the neighbour Halston, who is more than willing to help the ladies out through these various trials and ordeals -- while showing and expressing his true inner feelings without shame.

Learning of Hayward's eventual death, Eliza in a weakened state of heart and mind, a time of devastation from extreme loneliness and despair -- turns to Halston's open arms ... to be consoled and comforted.
Later, it is learned that Hayward did not die in the War, and he returns home. Eliza has to live with her shame and deceit, until eventually Hayward guesses her secret.

In shame, anger and unforgiveness ... he sends her away from their home, away from their daughter, and back to England. Although Eliza begs and begs for Hawyard to forgive her, he cannot break the walls of pain, ice, and hardness around his prideful heart.

Eliza, so filled with her grief and guilt, searches for a new life. And mostly, for forgiveness. Can she once again find it ? Can God forgive her, and restore her heart to peace and contentment ? Will she "let go, and, let God" heal her ?

If you have ever struggled with being forgiven, then this book is for you. Read on to find out what happens in this exciting saga -- where you will identify with -- life's -- battles, hardships, pain, and even .... overcoming.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Remember the days when publishers would send writers on tour? They had an itinerary, go from town to town, bookstore to bookstore, signing their latest novel. They still do, if you are a bestselling author and can be away from home for a while and your publisher is willing to pay all the expenses.

Yet with the Internet virtual tours can take authors around the world, and readers everywhere can get to know them. Of course face-to-face is always preferable, but it's not always doable. 

I'm on tour for the entire month of November. Beside Two Rivers will be on a different blog each day. I hope you stop in. Each blogger will share their opinion of the book and I'll be stopping in to talk to readers.

Here's the schedule. You might know some of these bloggers.

Beside Two Rivers Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

Monday, November 5
Book Review at Maureen’s Musings
Tuesday, November 6
Book Review & Giveaway at Colloquium
Thursday, November 8
Friday, November 9
Book Review at Broken Teepee
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Monday, November 12
Book Review at Five Alarm Book Reviews
Book Review at Ashley’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 13
Book Review at 4 the Love of Books
Wednesday, November 14
Book Review at Bookworm Lisa
Thursday, November 15
Friday, November 16
Guest Blogging at Yamina Today
Monday, November 19
Book Review at Everyday Is An Adventure
Book Review at Hardcover Feedback
Book Review at Day By Day in Our World
Tuesday, November 20
Book Review at Splashes of Joy
Wednesday, November 21
Book Review at Legacy of a Writer
Thursday, November 22
Friday, November 23
Book Review at The Book Connection
Monday, November 26
Friday, November 30
Book Review at Sincerely Stacie

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Writing Your Character's Memories

One challenge I have faced in Beside Two Rivers, the second book in the Daughters of the Potomac Series, is dealing with the bits and pieces of Darcy's childhood memories she has tucked away in her mind. They deal with her parents and the days she lived at River Run, their estate along the Potomac River. Darcy's memories are crucial to the story, and to avoid dumping backstory into the narrative, I had to weave her memories into the tapestry of the incidents she experiences.

Childhood memories, or memories in general, can have a potent affect on the reader and add depth and motivation to your character. But they most be brief, intense, not long and drawn out. A few keys to writing memories into your novel are as follows.

Remember to use sensory influences - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.

Do not tell all. Allow the reader to wonder what your character's memories mean. Allow your character to wonder the same.

To avoid 'telling' allow your character to react to the memory. Perhaps they grip their hands together, or their eyes fill up with tears. Some kind of reaction to the memory adds depth.

Use one particular memory to be center stage but only an image. One example in Beside Two Rivers is Darcy remembers the swing made for her, tied to a massive tree, and remembers it in winter, its ropes encrusted with ice. This was her place of refuge and on a day when she rides out to see the old house, the swing is long gone.  

Her refuge is no longer there, but she remembers and it causes a craving in her heart to feel that sense of protection again and finds a new place of refuge, a secluded cliff high above the river. Just as she was able to swing high and see her world in a different perspective, the cliff enables her to stand high above the gorge and see a wider world about her.

When revealing a memory, make it poignant, make it reflect on a serious event.

Create in your characters actions that imply their pasts and how it shaped their future, instead of writing out long accounts with a lot of detail.

If you are writing a series, be sure that the memories your characters reveal in the subsequent books are in line with the prequel.

* * *

Share with us your thoughts on the use of memory in your writing. Are you writing a novel where the events in your main character's life are influenced by the past?

Do you have a particular childhood memory that is only an image that brings you joy when it is recalled?

Mine? The huge sycamore tree on the hill past the next yard, that I saw from my swing in our backyard. The tree is still there. And when I would visit my parents, and see that tree, I felt happy thinking back to those summer days, pumping my legs on the swing to go higher and higher in my shorts and red keds.
I'm in the photo to the right, at age 15.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rita's Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Over the years, I've collected a lot of great recipes. It was back in the 70s in a high school home economics class ( do they even still have those?) that I first made this recipe for pumpkin bread, and it became a family favorite. It's a recipe that would have made June Cleaver proud. 

It's delicious on its own. But it's really good toasted with a slathering of butter on it for breakfast, or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

So here we go....



1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 box of raisins ~ optional
1 cup of chopped walnuts ~ optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray.
  2.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. 
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. 
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended.  Add raisins and walnuts.  Pour into the prepared pans.
  5. Bake for about 60-70 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool the loaves before removing them from the pans.
How far back do you think this recipe goes? Could I use it in a novel set in the early 1900s?
If you haven't stopped by my website, please do.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Different Kind of Book Signing...

Hello Friends,

I think the highlight of Autumn for me, aside from Thanksgiving and Caramel Apple Day at my sister in law's house, was a Ladies Tea I attended yesterday, Saturday, October 13. I was invited to be the guest author and bring books for the attendees. I had never been to a ladies tea before, so this was a new experience.

My hostess set up a table with all the deckings of Fall...paper leaves, tapered candles, tea candles set in glass dishes surrounded by popcorn kernels, pretty dessert plates, individual tea cups, platters of scones, apple cider, and maple leaf cookies. She provided for me a table where I could set out books. Although the tea was quite elegant, the atmosphere was casual.

Honestly, I have never much enjoyed book signings. You sit behind a table just waiting for someone to purchase a copy. Some people just walk by. Others stop, pick up your book, look at it, set it down and move on without a word, except for a response to 'hello, I'm...'. Of course there are friendly people who do buy a book. But most authors will tell you, it's not as exciting an adventure as you may think. You feel like a sales woman more than an author.

The contrary with the Ladies Tea. It was a time of fellowship. We chatted as a group. We talked about how our parents chose our names, family history, and writing. The questions the ladies asked were so fun and prompted a lot of discussion. When we were finished, the ladies bee-lined it to the table and I was so touched by their enthusiasm to buy signed copies. One precious lady bought two sets of all my books.

If you have an author in your area, and you enjoy teas, why not host one? If you are part of a book club, why not host a tea for the next book discussion? Give the tea a title. For example, your club has just finished reading Pride & Prejudice. Call it 'Tea at Longbourn'. Or 'Tea with Elizabeth and Jane'. A Christmas Tea for your book club would be an elegant addition to the Holidays.

And I can't close without suggesting a tea for my books with your book club. There are discussion questions in the back of all my Abingdon Press novels.

Here are a few websites about Tea Book Club meetings that may spark your imagination by giving you some great ideas.

Eras of Elegance 'How to Host a Victorian Tea Party'.
A Book Club Tea Party Guide.

Photos were taken by Babett Horn, my hostesses. She knows her stuff!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


. . .is a source for inspiration. Why is that true for a writer?

Place sets the scene.

Place brings the story alive in the writer's mind even before the writing begins.
Place helps the reader visual the actions in a story and the characters moving through it.
Place provides the atmosphere.
Place can become a character in and of itself.



When I think of 'place' in great literature, I think of Tara in Gone With the Wind, Thornfield in Jane Eyre, Manderley in Rebeccah. Then there are titles such as Northanger Abby and Wurthering Heights.

In a recent interview I was asked what inspired me to write the Daughters of the Potomac Series. I answered . . .It is never ever one thing for me, but a combination of things that inspire the development of a story. But if I were to narrow it down to the barebones, I’d have to say the Potomac River. I live in a historically rich area. The Potomac is not only beautiful but it is rife with history. Everyone has heard about Harpers Ferry. Within a few miles south and a few north of there, is the major setting for all three books. 

On the Virginia side, there is an overlook, and when I visited there and looked down into the deep gorge, across to the Maryland Heights, my mind drifts back to the past. So, instead of a person or a historical event being the inspiration for this series, I found it in a place where the water flows placid over boulders and joins with the Shenandoah nestled between the lush hills where three states meet.

Here are photographs I took of the Potomac River area. Below are a few photos where my heroines journey in England.

The Hope Valley in England...

How important is 'place' to you in a story. 
Share in a comment your favorite 'place' in a book you've read. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012


After a long anticipated wait BESIDE TWO RIVERS has been released! Book 2 in the Daughters of the Potomac series.

From the banks of the Potomac to the misty moors of England, comes a tale of love won and love lost, and the faith to find it again.  

Vaguely can Darcy Morgan recall the day her father returned home from fighting in the American Revolution.  When he discovers his unfaithful wife had borne a child in his absence, the marriage is broken, and Darcy’s quiet childhood along the two rivers was changed forever. 

She grows up believing her mother dead and that her father journeyed west to the lands beyond the Blue Ridge. Her indulging Uncle Will, excitable Aunt Mari, and her five female cousins, cannot shield her from thinking of the mother she loved and the father she barely knew, nor can she escape the fleeting images in her memory of the babe Ilene and Ilene’s surrogate mother, Sarah, or the grandmotherly servant, Fiona Goodall.

In this dramatic saga that began with 'Before the Scarlet Dawn', Darcy seeks to unravel a lifetime of memories unaware that the young Englishman who loves her holds the answers. Her search takes her far from her beloved home along the Potomac, to a manor house in faraway England. Soon the secrets of the past slowly rise to the surface. Will she be reunited with the most important people in her life? Will Hayward and Eliza find peace and reconciliation? Will Darcy's faith sustain her to make the difficult choices, and will the love she and Ethan share endure?

Beside Two Rivers is the sequel to Before the Scarlet Dawn.


"Beside Two Rivers is much more than the sequel to Rita Gerlach’s popular Before the Scarlet Dawn. It’s the heart-rending story of true love threatened by secrets and deceit, of family torn apart by tragedy, and most of all, of the redeeming power of love and faith. Filled with vivid descriptions of life along the Potomac and rural England during the late 18th century, this is a story that will linger in readers’ memories." - Amanda Cabot, author of Summer of Promise and Christmas Roses

"Beside Two Rivers stirred me like no other book has. Rita Gerlach has an epic style to her writing that is guaranteed to sweep you away to another place and time. With a deeply emotional storyline, characters of uncommon depth, heart-throbbing romance, and the boundless love of family lost and regained, this is truly a magnificent novel!" - MaryLu Tyndall, author of the Surrender to Destiny Series and Veil of Pearls

"This is the epitome of romance with a flavor of Persuasion. I definitely had a flavor of regency in the wilderness that touched me like no other. Bring in a mix of Jane Austen with a kick of Laura Frantz and I'm on every page. Goodness, just looking back at my thoughts I feel like Rita Gerlach is presenting the best of all my favorite authors on the page! That and with Darcy's wit she even gives me a humor worthy of Mary Connealy. Could it get any better?” - Margaret Chind,

"What do you get when you combine authentic history, picturesque settings, dynamic characters and a feels-like-you're-there storyline? You get a Rita Gerlach novel, and in Beside Two Rivers, book two in her Daughters of the Potomac series, she delivers all that and more. My advice to readers: Make room for this one on your "keepers shelf." My advice to Rita: save space on your "awards wall," because this tale is sure to earn a bunch!" - Loree Lough, best-selling author of more than 85 award-winning books, including Honor Redeemed, book two in the First Responders series

 Actors Rita would choose if Beside Two Rivers was made into a movie…or her dream of a Masterpiece Theater Series.    
 British actor Dan Stevens as Ethan ~ British actress Imogen Poots as Darcy    

 Beside Two Rivers is available in both ebook and paperback in bookstores everywhere.
For purchase online.


 Side Note: Book 3 in the series, ‘Beyond the Valley’, will be released February, 2013, and is available for preorder.


After a long anticipated wait, Beside Two Rivers, by Rita Gerlach, book 2 in The Daughters of the Potomac Series, is now available. Beside Two Rivers is a tale of love won and love lost, and the faith to find it again. Eliza's daughter seeks to unravel a lifetime of memories and the absence of her parents, unaware that the young Englishman who loves her holds the answers. 

If you would like to help me promote this book, please feel free to copy and paste this post with the book covers to your blog.