Shannon here: Alyssa Roat shares the inspiration for her Contemporary Romance with co-author Hope Bolinger, Picture Imperfect. All comments will go into Monday’s drawing. Deadline: Sept 11th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Alyssa:
“You don’t see many sweet Christian romances written by twenty-somethings,” Hope mused to me.
It was our usual “lunch break” call, and I’d been chatting with my co-author, Hope Bolinger, about publishers I knew who were looking for sweet Christian romance.
“That’s true.” I clamped my phone to my ear with my shoulder while spreading peanut butter on bread. “It would be fun to see more Zillennial authors in the genre.”
We’d written young adult books together, but neither of us had ever forayed into the adult market. In that odd age between Millennial and Gen Z, Hope and I weren’t far removed from the YA demographic ourselves.
“Well, why don’t we try?” Hope suggested.
“We could have characters working too many jobs and dealing with student loan debt.” I began warming to the idea, glancing at my oven that hadn’t worked in months and the rock-hard couch my roommate and I had gotten for free that was probably older than me. “And living in cheap apartments with loud neighbors.”
“People who are still working through childhood trauma and trying to find their place in the world.”
“Exactly. And they can fall in love through it all.” I chomped into my peanut butter toast, the lunch of champions. “With our trademark humor, of course.”
A lot more planning, thought, and care went into it (and a contract with Mountain Brook Ink), but in the end, we had a series—Roseville Romances, books featuring twenty-somethings in the arts trying to make their way in the world while finding love.
Picture Imperfect is our first installment, following a high-achieving writer and procrastinating illustrator as they struggle to work together to complete a picture book to save a nonprofit.
We hope to entertain, to edify, and to explore what it looks like to find love as a young person today, in a perfectly imperfect way.
Excerpt from Picture Imperfect by Alyssa Roat & Hope Bolinger:
“Really?” Mr. Knox’s mustache twitched like an angry caterpillar. He slapped the papers down on his desk.
Caroline winced. “Well, no, the squirrels are uprooting all the sapling tree people because…” She trailed off at his look. “It wasn’t my best idea. Do you like the others?”
“Let’s take a look, shall we?” He whipped open the folder. “An unwary duck gets eaten by a fox.”
He glared. Caroline couldn’t meet his gaze. Her eyes darted toward the window, where water dripped from melting icicles, falling to the ground, like her hope.
Mr. Knox snorted and shuffled to another page. “A child doesn’t do her homework and gets turned into a book monster.”
“I…thought it was relatable.” She shifted her feet. “And teaches kids not to procrastinate.”
“A bird loses the power of flight and has to learn the feeding methods of woodland rodents before ultimately succumbing because of its lack of adaptive traits.”
“Two wayward children are lured into a house with chicken feet and…” He squinted at the paper. “Are eaten by an ugly old woman who rides in an iron kettle? What is wrong with you?”
Caroline straightened. That was her favorite. “That one is actually inspired by Slavic folklore and tales of Baba Yaga…” She wilted under his stare. “I thought maybe Eastern European legends don’t get enough representation.”
Mr. Knox shoved his chair back and stomped back and forth. “I asked you for a children’s book. A children’s book! How hard is that?”
Caroline pushed a wayward strand of hair behind her ear, face burning. It should be easy. She could write tens of thousands of words for a novel. Why was this so hard? It felt like getting rejections in college all over again—but worse, because her boss paced in front of her, red-faced. At least she couldn’t see those disapproving editors.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Knox. I’ll do some more research. I—”
“Enough.” He held up a hand. “No more research. Clearly it’s led you to…to…this.” He stabbed a finger toward the papers. “When are you talking to the illustrator? He seems like a nice guy. Probably knows something about kids.”
“Later today, actually.” Her voice cracked into a squeak, and she winced.
He collapsed into his chair. “Good. Have you ever read a picture book, Penn?”
“Not many,” she admitted.
The eyes of the trophy heads stared down in judgment.
“Let me tell you what kids like.” When she remained standing at attention, he pointed at her. “Write this down.”
She pulled out her notepad and fumbled to poise her pen above the paper.
“Happy things. Glitter. Humor. Rhyme. Llamacorns.”
“Llamacorns?” Caroline looked up.
He waved a hand. “You know. Unicorn llamas. My niece loves those things.”
“Right.” Caroline wrote down llamacorns.
Mr. Knox sighed and rubbed his forehead. “You came highly recommended, Caroline. Don’t make me regret this.”
About Alyssa: Alyssa Roat grew up in Tucson, Arizona, but her heart is in Great Britain. She has worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry as an agent, editor, writer, and marketer. Alyssa is the author of the YA contemporary fantasy Wraithwood as well as the co-author with Hope Bolinger of the YA superhero chat fiction romance Dear Hero and the sequel, Dear Henchman. Her name is a pun, which means you can learn more about her at alyssawrote.com. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Picture Imperfect:
Can a struggling career woman and a procrastinating artist save a beloved nonprofit?
Aspiring novelist Caroline Penn expected a promotion, not a picture book assignment. But when her employer, the non-profit Helping Hope, runs into financial trouble, this book might be the solution. With the company struggling to stay afloat, she and the illustrator will need to collaborate on a strict deadline—no problem for a workaholic like Caroline, right?
Andy Jackson, a “starving” artist, pays the bills by taking on graphic design gigs, but his perfectionism gets in the way. If only he could focus on a project for once, perhaps he could achieve his dream to make art for children for a living.
When the two are thrust together to create a book, Caroline can’t seem to write for children, and Andy can’t meet a deadline to save his life. As time ticks down to release day, the two must face their pasts and insecurities. If they can avoid strangling one another for long enough, they may just bring to the table what the other is missing.
If not, the fate of their careers—and a beloved nonprofit—hangs in the balance.
Available Nov 1st!
Preorder your copy now! Alyssa’s books – Amazon
Question for Readers: Hope and I stepped outside of our comfort zone to write in a new genre. Who are some of your favorite authors who write in multiple genres?
Come back Sept 7th for Kimberly Rose Johnson!