The Evolution of a Book Series ~ The Daughters of the Potomac
By Rita Gerlach | November 16, 2012 No Comments
Yamina: Well, today I am more than excited to have author Rita Gerlach do a guest post her; especially since she is offering something I haven’t had for a while here on the blog – a discussion on the process of writing, which I always love to hear about from published authors. So thanks for joining me this afternoon, Rita, and for sharing your insights. Take it away!
The Evolution of a Book Series, by Rita Gerlach
Three years ago, after I had signed a contract with Abingdon Press for my stand-alone novel ‘Surrender the Wind‘, I sat down at my computer and wrote three words.
Winter came early.
In my mind’s eye a heroine by the name of Darcy Morgan appeared in the year 1778, the setting—the Maryland wilderness. I titled the novel Beside Two Rivers. In my notebook I wrote: the place—along the Potomac River in Maryland. Time—the Revolutionary War era.
When I had enough chapters to submit to my editor, I sent them off. She called me and said as is she could not accept it. The writing was good, the narrative strong, but something wasn’t right. I knew I had to trust her, and explore the story deeper.
It was enlightening to have such a deep conversation over this book with my editor. But even more amazing were the revelations that unfolded one morning while I was in the shower. It hit me like the water suddenly going to freeze mode. I had written a good portion of Darcy’s story in Beside Two Rivers. But I realized I had to write her mother Eliza’s story. And then! I had to write Sarah’s story. Thus the series Daughters of the Potomac was born in my heart.
Once the idea for the series took shape, I had questions.
Who are these heroines?
What are their backstories?
What do they look like?
What are their beliefs, their goals?
What do they want?
How did their childhood affect their lives?
What does love mean to them?
Eliza, Darcy, and Sarah became to me persons who once lived, breathed, and walked this earth. If I could not achieve that, my readers will not connect to these heroines.Each began to take form in my imagination. The best technique for me is writing the scenes out by hand first in the notebook. Writing freehandcauses the words to flow out of me. It is raw, unedited prose. While immersed in this, I wrote a proposal and sent it to my editor. She accepted the proposal enthusiastically. I will not deny how challenging it has been to write these books, with each woman’s story meshing with the others. But with any challenge, there is joy in accomplishing the task.
These books are not in the category of formula romances. They are what I like to call Inspirational Historical Dramas. You will find romance, but you will also find stories about relationships between people. The stories are about forgiveness, redemption, loyalty, and the power of love. Each character has good points, but they are also flawed human beings that make mistakes and fall hard, and at some point struggle through the adversity, dust themselves off, and move on with the help of those that love them.
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