Rochelle Weber is a Navy veteran and holds a BA in Communications from Columbia College in Chicago with an emphasis on Creative Writing. “Would you like fries with that?” Her novels Rock Bound and Rock Crazy are available in both e-book and print. The Thin Person Inside is coming in May, 2015 from MuseItUp, Inc. She edits for Jupiter Gardens Press, and is the Publisher of the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, winner of the 2013 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll for Best Writers’ Resource.
Rochelle battles bi-polar disorder, quipping, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.” Her song, “It’s Not My Fault,” won a gold medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition. She lives in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. She has two married daughters, four grandchildren, three step-grandkids, and one step-great-grandkid. Two cats allow her to live with them and cater to their every whim.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I'm not sure it counts, but when I was about seven I had chicken pox. I got bored with reading the Little Golden Books I had, and with coloring, and I wrote something like, "I have chicken pox. I am bored." Then I practiced ways to write my name if I were an author. My mother saved the composition book I used, and I came across it a few months ago. I remembered writing about the chicken pox, but practicing the names really cracked me up!
What do you read for pleasure?
I don't exactly have favorite books, I have favorite authors. The list gets longer and more eclectic every day. Robert A. Heinlein (sci-fi), J.K. Rowling (YA fantasy), Cyrus Keith at MuseItUp Publishing, Inc. (thriller ala Tom Clancy w/sci-fi elements), Elle Druskin (rom-com), Heather Haven (cozy mystery), Ginger Simpson, Marva Dasef, Roseanne Dowell, (all fellow Musers in the romance/cozy mystery categories, and I’m sure I’m missing some); M.S. Spencer at Secret Cravings (romantic suspense); M. S. Kaye (romantic suspense), Colleen Story (YA fantasy), and Estee Kesler (paranormal suspense) at Jupiter Gardens Press.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an old Kindle that does nothing but store books. It doesn't access the web other than Amazon to buy books. Oh, it does play MP3s, but I only use it to listen to books.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I do best with blog hops and listing myself on the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter. I've gotten good reviews on Amazon and BN, and I try to keep up with Facebook and Twitter. The first time I released Rock Bound I did a lot of Yahoo chats, but they always seemed to end up talking about men, drinking, men, sex, men, sex, and men and drinking, and I got really bored with it. People don't want to hear "Buy my book" every time you go on line, and I can only say, "I like Richard Dean Anderson," and "I don't drink alcohol; make mine diet cola," so many times. I don't even know who most of the modern sex symbols are, and I don't care about half-naked cover models with rock-hard abs. What's so cool about buff men, anyway? Who wants to cuddle up on a pile of rocks?
Describe your desk
Oh, goodness! It started life at the University of Illinois a couple of decades ago. It's metal that looks like wood and it's huge. It takes up half my living room. It has three drawers on the left, a regular drawer and a filing cabinet on the right and a middle drawer that falls on my feet and injures my toes if I pull it too far out now. It predates the computer age, and has a shelf with cubbies on the right that sits on top. My stereo and copies of my books are on the top of the shelf. The cubbies are filled with copies of "The Chicago Manual of Style," and "Strunk & White," as well as mail and albums of disks with software, audio books, and music. I also have horizontal file bins where I keep my medications, receptacles for pens, business cards, and vertical files, and of course my computer. It tends to get cluttered. I try to keep my apartment neat, but somehow my desk just kind of gets away from me, although it's a controlled chaos. You know--the kind where I can tell if something's been moved. I have a small cat condo underneath to rest my feet on, and a waste basket. It was a gift from a friend who worked at the U of I when they replaced their desks and either sold very cheaply or gave away the old ones, and it's kind of clunky in my little apartment, but comfy after a good decade of use by me.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm from the Northwest Side of Chicago. I grew up in the city; not the suburbs, but I'm old enough that my neighborhood was like a small town. If I did something I wasn't supposed to do at the other end of my block, it got back to my parents before I did, so I didn't get away with much. I went to Girl Scouts, sang in my church choir, candy striped at a local hospital, and won awards in Junior Achievement. By the time I was ten, I rode the CTA alone around my neighborhood. I never learned to drive until after I moved away and got married. I could walk, ride my bike, or take the bus, El, or subway to get anywhere I wanted to go. When I started high school I knew the major streets of the North Side like the back of my hand, and could get to or give directions to anyplace on the Northwest Side if you gave me block numbers such as 4000 north, 4000 west (Irving Park Road & Kedzie Avenue, where my Girl Scout troop met).
What's the story behind your latest book?
Kristen Jensen weighs three-hundred pounds when she goes into treatment for her food addiction. What could rock star Sean Wesley possibly see in her?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love hearing that someone enjoyed one of my books. When someone says my book made them laugh or cry, I kvelle (a wonderful Yiddish word I learned that means rejoice!) the whole day and then some. It probably shouldn't surprise me, because I put each book aside for several months before I rewrite it, and I've been known to laugh or cry at some passage I forgot I wrote, but when I hear it from other people, it just makes my day.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
First, I'd have to say my bladder. If nothing else, I absolutely HAVE to get up to use the restroom.
Then, if I didn't have deadlines and volunteer work to do, my cats would make sure I got up. After all, as far as they're concerned, my only reason for existing is to serve them, and when their dishes are empty it doesn't matter how tired I am. They will meow and walk up and down on me until I get out of bed.
Did I mention those pesky deadlines and volunteer work? I spend two days a week at the VA hospital near me helping people sign up for My Health eVet, a program that helps veterans refill their meds and look up their labs, x-rays, other tests, and doc's notes on-line, as well as e-mail their docs. I take along my laptop so if it's slow I can work on whatever is pressing--my next book, editing deadlines, or the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter. If it's not a VA day, I work from home, but I may work on my review blog site Roses & Thorns (http://rosesndthorns.blogspot.com), or social media as well.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I edit books, publish the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, read and review books for my site, Roses & Thorns Reviews (http://rosesndthorns.blogspot.com), watch British TV on PBS, play trivia, or sing karaoke when I have the energy to stay out that late. I also visit my kids and grandkids or my eldest granddaughter comes by and hangs out with me. I love to travel, but can't afford to do as much as I'd like to, and I volunteer at my local VA Hospital. In addition to working with My Health eVet twice a week, I also visit hospice vets, especially those at the very end of their lives. I've ushered a few across to the other side and participated in their Final Salutes. We drape the gurney with a red, white, and blue afghan and put a flameless candle on it. Our hospital is a hybrid VA/Navy hospital, so we get as many uniformed personnel to participate as we can. We line the hallway, play Taps, and salute as the gurney passes by on its way out of the ward. If there are family members or a chaplain present, they follow the gurney down the hall. It is very moving and much more fitting than draping the gurney with a white sheet and sneaking it off the ward when a veteran dies. I was a medic, so I'm not squeamish about holding a person's hand as s/he makes his/her transition. I'm just happy to be able to be there in the wee hours keeping them company at the last.
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