Peaches In Winter
I started a romance novel in 2007. At first I was just writing it for my own fun. I certainly didn't think there was any market for the old fashioned tale I was having fun writing. (It's set in the 1950s.)
I wrote about a grumpy author who gets really depressed in the winter and doesn't like to leave his house, and can't get any writing done during winter.
His publisher hires a secretary, sight-unseen (only requirement being that she's cheerful!), and thus the grumbling Jake meets Betty Ann.
She annoys him on many levels, but he soon finds himself drawn to the cheerful, chattering farm girl who can't even type properly, but somehow brightens his days. She's an amazing cook, and somehow, he finds he can start writing again after all--but only when she's around.
Despite her cheerful nature, Betty is dealing with her own issues, having been jilted by her fiancé, and losing her last job because her boss tried to sexually harass her. Though she works hard to be professional, she finds herself drawn to Jake, and really appreciates how he makes her feel better about being who she is.
The story is definitely a "sweet" or "traditional" romance. I finally came up with the name Peaches In Winter, which I thought fit the season and the fact that the heroine came from a peach farm and it's her favorite fruit.
I wasn't able to finish it for a long time, because I thought I'd better write it as a Christian romance so it might have a market. That was the only market for sweet romances I was aware of at the time. However, it just didn't work for me. The story is about the characters, and too much spiritual content just felt 'off' to me. When I finally took out most of it, leaving in only a couple of things that felt natural to me (i.e., the heroine prays before she eats, or for people she's concerned about), then I was able to finish it this year.
I'm so very happy that I was able to write the story I wanted to tell--an old fashioned story--without trying to change it for what I thought the market would bear. It makes me feel happy inside. I'm so glad I wrote it from my heart instead of trying to conform to either modern or religious 'rules' for romance writing.
The thing I like best about my story is that both my characters have flaws, but I really like them both anyway. As I was writing them, I was rooting for them. The more honestly I tried to show they were both imperfect, the more I liked them both! Maybe it's just me, but if a character is too perfect, it annoys me. But at the same time, I wrote them as people I could like and respect, with their own moral codes.
My story ended up shorter than most print romances. I sent it to my publisher, Muse It Up Publications.
To my surprise (and of course, my pleasure!), they ACCEPTED it!
I can still hardly believe I'm now a romance author, or that the story I started for fun a few years ago will actually be read by other people.
It'll be out next August, as an e-book. It's 33,500 words.