Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jana Richards and The Class of '85

Posted early due to severe weather and possibility of power outage.

Writing for a Series
When I heard that the Last Rose of Summer, the mature romance line of The Wild Rose Press, was creating a series revolving around the 25th year reunion of the fictional Summerville High School, I immediately wanted in. The Last Rose of Summer line features heroes and heroines who are well past their twenties and have done a lot of living. At this point in their lives they know who they are and what they want. They’re ready for second chances, at life and at love.
And so the Class of ’85 was born. In each story, one or both of the main characters is a Summerville High School alumnus. In some of the stories, the characters may have lived in Summerville all their lives, while in others it is their first visit in years. Sometimes old loves are rekindled and sometimes brand new romances take flight.
One of the challenges of writing for a series is making sure to get details right. If an earlier story in the series talks about the formal dinner and dance happening on Saturday night, then yours better happen on Saturday night as well. To keep us on track, our editor Kathy Cottrell, created a Yahoo group for us so that we could stay in touch. Information was tracked on a spreadsheet there, and pictures of a real town on the shores of Lake Ontario gave us the feel of what the fictional town of Summerville would look like. As a latecomer to the reunion, I’ve had the extra added benefit of reading many of the stories already published. I got a good feel for the reunion and like many of the other authors, I was able to give repeat performances to a couple of previously featured characters.    
High school reunions are fraught with anxiety about how we look. We want people to say “Wow, she looks great!” instead of “Boy, has she aged!” Or even worse, “Boy, did she gain weight!” I know this from experience. When I attended my own high school reunion, I was seven months pregnant, a happy time for me, but unfortunately I wasn’t at my optimum weight. If I’d been given a choice, I would have opted to have the reunion the following summer, after I lost the baby weight!
We also want our former classmates to see how well our lives have turned out. We want to show off pictures of our beautiful homes and our darling children. We want to impress them with our high-powered, well paying jobs. I think the whole purpose of a class reunion is to determine who has lived up to their potential and who hasn’t, and who surprises us by doing something unexpected.
In my story, “The Girl Most Likely”, Cara McLeod’s life has not turned out the way she’d envisioned back in high school. She thought she’d have the perfect marriage, the perfect career, perfect children and a perfect life. Well, one out of four’s not bad. Cara does have two beautiful daughters. But her marriage has ended in divorce, and as for her career, she’s working in an entry level position, and calls herself “the world’s oldest junior assistant”. Even worse, to Cara’s way of thinking, she’s gained about twenty-five pounds. When she receives the invitation for the reunion, her first instinct is to throw it in the garbage. The last thing she needs is to be reminded of all her failures.
But life has a funny way of pitching curveballs. Cara had no idea that getting ready for her twenty-five
year reunion would mean a whole new career and a brand new chance at love. Here’s a blurb:

Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

And here’s an excerpt from “The Girl Most Likely”:
He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”
He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”
“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”
“Thanks Finn.”
“For what?”
“For believing in me.”
“Are you going to be okay now?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”
He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?
“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”
“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”
She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”
Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.
If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?

Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy.  She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side.  She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby. Unless it’s forty degrees below zero, of course! When it’s that cold outside you can find her in front of the fireplace!
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, along with two university aged daughters and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.net

Here are two more of Jana's works:



Joanne Brothwell said...

I loved hearing about the Girl Most Likely last year at the retreat. I fell in love with these characters then, and can't wait to read the full story. Great work!

Karyn Good said...

Reunions of any kind are strange things! The Girl Most Likely sounds like a wonderful story. Can't wait to read it!

Jannine Gallant said...

Hi Jana,

Great excerpt. I love your older woman younger man concept for the series. Can't wait to check it out and see which characters from previous stories turn up in yours!

Jana Richards said...

Ah, thanks Joanne! I hope you enjoy The Girl Most Likely. I had my ups and downs writing it, but in the end I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jana Richards said...

Reunions are very strange! We tend to remember people as we last saw them. So it's a shock when you meet someone you haven't seen in twenty-five years. How did they get so old?


Jana Richards said...

Hi Jannine,
I only used a couple of minor characters mentioned in one of the other books. The rest of the people who showed up at the reunion in my story are newbies never seen before! Having continuing characters is one of the things I really liked about your books.