AUTHOR: Alice Roelke
BOOK TITLE: Peaches In Winter
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
BUY LINK: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=363&category_id=18&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1 [ not available yet ]
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I write in every genre that interests me. I like writing everything from science fiction to romance, YA to children's, fantasy, etc. I don't want to limit myself. I've read a lot about branding oneself, but I just have too much I want to write to stick with any one genre or type of story.
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
It’s a sweet romance set in the 1950s. A grumpy writer and a cheerful secretary who help each other heal from life’s hurts.
How long have you been writing?
Since I was eight years old. :) I’ve wanted to be a “real” writer since at least the age of thirteen. (I was surprised to run across one of my old diaries from that age where I was already talking seriously about this as a life goal.)
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
My parents read to us a lot as children, and I’ve always loved stories. I was writing my own since I was eight, and my first "books" were handwritten in lined tablets, many of them later typed up and put in manila folders.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I don’t outline as such, though I have lots of notes and plans as I work, and sometimes write scenes I hope will fit later in the story so I don't forget them. I think my initial process begins with characters and daydreaming.
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
It depends, but usually characters.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
In this book? I like both my main characters a lot. I see bits of myself in each of them, in their flaws and their good points. I liked that they turned out as they did; their flaws make me like them better.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Tackling romance. It took me years to get it finished. I wasn't very confident about my ability to write romance. The hardest part was just giving it a try--and then later, giving up on writing it "right" and just writing the story I had to tell. It's not a complex, unapproachable story: it's fairly simple, warm, and definitely sweet not spicy, but it still took a lot of bravery for me because it was my first proper romance and I didn't know if I could do it at all.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
This one took about five years because I gave up and set it aside for a while. This story required a little research but not a great deal. (That was another intimidation factor. But in the end I just wrote the story and tried to find out the answers I needed afterwards.)
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
Lack of confidence in my vision. Getting stuck.
Describe your writing space.
These days, my laptop. It's wonderful!
If I'm trying hard to concentrate and not distract myself, I put up a scenery background. Then I'll arrange my computer icons a bit, lining them up straight before I set to work. If I don't mind a little distraction, I'll put up a handsome celebrity background picture!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have some health issues that keep me from having really interesting hobbies like mountain
climbing. I mostly read, write, watch TV, listen to music, or play with my cats. I also love
bookstores, animals, farmer's markets, and Old Navy.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
It's hard for me to say. Some of my favorite authors, but by no means all, are Ray Bradbury,
Alexander McCall Smith, Georgette Heyer, Jim Butcher, Richard Adams, Lester del Rey, Jerome K.
Jerome, P.G. Wodehouse, C.S. Lewis, A. A. Fair, Rex Stout, and Tony Earley.
What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
I’m amazed how quickly it's grown. This is such an exciting time to be a writer, with so many new opportunities! I certainly can’t predict the future, but it looks strong for readers and writers.
What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release?
I have a SF/mystery novella (The Space Station Murders) and a SF/action short story (Those With Guns) both available from MIUP.
Coming soon are Watch Over Me, a young adult romantic fantasy novel, and The Girl and the Dragon, a Christian YA fantasy.
And I always have stories in the works that I’m hopeful about!!
What is your marketing plan?
Wing it! Like everything else in the writing industry so far. I can list specifics, but the fact is, I'm learning as I go. I have a lot to learn, and if I tried to learn it all before I did anything, I'd be too intimidated to start at all.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Don't give up. Maybe you feel jealous of people who are published and ask yourself, "Why can they get published but not me?" Let that motivate you. The reason they're published is because they didn't give up.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My author page on Muse It Up:
And my blogs:
What does author Jake Watterson need with a secretary? Nothing, that’s what! Until he meets Betty Ann…
Betty wanted nothing more than to be a secretary, to forget the past and a fiancé who jilted her. But sexual harassment from her boss left her jobless, struggling to survive in the big city. A new job with grumpy author Jake Watterson is the second chance she needs.
Unfortunately, she starts out on the wrong foot: talking too much and bringing the police round by her ignorance of city life. But all the same, he accepts her, and she can’t help liking him. He’s smart, handsome, and such a kind man underneath that gruff exterior. He talks to her like she’s a real person, not just a pretty face.
Warmth and attraction grow between the two main characters in this ‘sweet’ or ‘traditional’ romance set in the 1950s. Betty and Jake both have wounds on their hearts, but somehow, being near each other thaws the winter in their lives and heals their pain.
Betty is convinced that Jake could never look at her as anything but a secretary—and not even a very good one. Jake’s certain he’s too damaged and could never be good enough for the sweet and beautiful farm girl who’s entered his world, talking about life on the peach farm and baking him the most delicious things. But he’s falling hard for her.
Jake’s friend and publisher gets into the mix when he sees how beautiful Betty is and decides to start flirting with her, to Betty’s shy consternation and Jake’s jealous irritation.
Then Betty’s fiancé who jilted her shows up on her doorstep, hat in hand…
Betty Ann faced the secretary pool’s main desk. She wore her best flower-print dress—her only store-bought one. “Please, Miss Johnson, I’ll work really hard. I won’t lose my next job, I promise! It really wasn’t my fault I lost the first one. You’ve got to believe me.”
She had brushed her hair till it curled neatly around her shoulders, but her face felt pinched and small, ready to dissolve into tears any minute now. She dearly hoped she wouldn’t. She knew her boss thought her far too young already.
In the background, the sound of typewriters clacking echoed from the back room. Nearby, a radio played, and the swinging sounds of big band music floated out. A telephone rang, and someone answered it. It was another busy day for the Jefferson Secretarial Agency, another busy day in 1957—for everyone but Betty Ann.
Miss Johnson, an elderly woman with her glasses attached to a beaded string, sat behind a big oak desk and answered Betty patiently. “I’m sorry, Miss Keene, but whether it was your fault or not, most of our secretarial jobs require the ability to type—and type well. I don’t know how you graduated secretarial school without that skill, but apparently you did.”
Miss Johnson adjusted her glasses and peered over them. “I don’t think I have to remind you,” she drawled, “that you don’t need to come in every day and ask for work. You were informed the agency would contact you as soon as we received a job offer for you.”
“I-I know,” faltered Betty Ann. Her voice shook. “But—” I’m not going to cry, but I’ve got to find a job! I can’t go home yet; I just can’t.
“It’s hard to be patient, I know.” Miss Johnson’s voice continued, not without sympathy. “It’s never easy waiting for a job, but maybe you shouldn’t. Take my advice, Miss Keene—go home. It’s going to be a long wait if you stay here.
“You’ve got good qualities: you’re cheerful, pretty, and apparently you know everything there is to know about peach farming. It shouldn’t be hard for you to find a husband. Why don’t you go back to the country and marry a nice farm boy, because here in the city, we don’t need— Excuse me.”
The phone rang. She broke off talking to Betty and answered it. She listened for a moment. A look of awe slowly overtook her tired features.
“Yes. Yes, Mr. Armstrong. Cheerful, you say?” Her eyes flicked up to Betty with growing wonder. “I think I have just the girl.” She wrote an address down and nodded. “I’ll send her right over. Thank you for using Jefferson Secretarial Agency.”
She hung up and looked at Betty Ann with a dazed, amazed expression.
“Well, Betty, it looks like you have a job after all. Mr. Anderson is a publisher who wants to cheer up one of his authors. Apparently the man hates winter. Mr. Anderson wants to find him a cheerful secretary.”
“Thank you!” Betty Ann clasped her hands together, a huge smile overtaking her face.
Miss Johnson gave her the address, questioned her to be sure she would know how to find it, instructed her not to be late, and with a perplexed frown growing on her face, watched Betty leave.
Betty left her coat in the agency cloakroom. It was ugly and worn and certainly wouldn’t make the best impression at her new job. She hurried to the address Miss Johnson had given her, checking the street signs, and following Miss Johnson’s instructions carefully.
On the walk, she sniffed the air, smelled the heavenly aroma of fresh baked bread. Maybe she could risk spending nearly the last of her money. She hadn’t eaten yet today, and she’d need some energy for her new job.
Her new job! Yes! She clasped her hands together and grinned up at the clear blue sky.
She stopped at a bread store, bought a day-old roll, and crunched it on the way.
Everything was going to be all right, she realized, walking with a little skip in her step, smiling up at the watercolor-blue sky.
The wind was brisk, and she shivered. But it was only a short walk to the address, and she moved quickly.
She spotted trees in the city park, their tall, empty branches making dark lines against the sky. Remembering something from her life on the farm, she headed over to them, beginning to hum happily.
* * * *
Jake Watterson shuffled out of his bathroom, bleary-eyed and scowling, one hand wrapped around a mug of orange juice, the other scratching his chin stubble. He picked up the heavy receiver on what must have been its twentieth ring and snarled, “Yes?”
“Jake, that you? Sounds like I woke you,” said his editor with unwholesome cheerfulness in his voice.
And you sound really apologetic about it. “Well you didn’t. What do you want? I’m eating.”
“Hire a cook again? Good for you. Listen, I just called to ask how your new book was com—”
With a wordless growl, Jake slammed the receiver down.
Within moments, the phone rang again. Jake ignored it for another twenty rings, by which time he had finished his orange juice and was starting to feel more human. He picked up.
“What do you want, Matt?” he asked.
“I want you to start working,” said editor Matthew Armstrong. “And I have an idea that might help.”
“Listen, don’t get mad. I’m having a secretary sent over to help you.”
“Matt—” Jake ground his teeth.
“Hey, don’t interrupt. Let me fin—”
“You know I don’t like giving dictation.”
“—ish. I know you say you don’t like doing dictation—don’t interrupt—but I also know that for the past three years you haven’t done a lick of work in the winter months. Why, you haven’t typed a single word since October!”