I’m thrilled to be here! My name is Jana Richards and I write contemporary romance as well as romantic suspense and historicals set during World War Two. My first Carina title, ‘First and Again’, will be published October 7, 2013. Let me tell you a bit about how my association with Carina Press came to be.
I started writing this book back in 2009. At that time it was called ‘Welcome to Paradise’, named after my heroine’s hometown, Paradise. Bridget Grant returns to her hometown when her marriage falls apart and their business goes under. Her daughter begins to act out and Bridget feels she has no choice but to get her out of the city. And since she has no where else to go, she goes home. But going home isn’t a piece of cake. She and her mother have been at odds for years, and she and her sister have never been close. And then there’s Jack. She left him twenty years ago to follow her dreams, even though he begged her to stay. Because I’m Canadian, I set the book in my home province, Saskatchewan.
In October 2009, I attended the Surrey International Writers Conference and had the opportunity to talk to Susan Wiggs in a blue pencil session. Her advice was to move the setting from Canada to the US, and after careful consideration, I decided to do it.
But life, and other writing, got in the way. I set ‘Welcome to Paradise’ aside and didn’t pick it up again until January 2012. The book made the move to North Dakota, and instead of previously living in Toronto, Bridget now was a former San Franciscan. I got the book into shape, and then I set it aside again.
I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I really liked it, and believed it was good. I thought about shopping it around with some agents. In the meantime, I was writing other stuff, working at the day job, and generally being busy. I never got around to putting together a list of agents to query.
Several months went by. In the fall of 2012, my friend Annette Bower sent an email to tell me that Carina Press was having a Feedback Week. They promised to give feedback on any manuscripts received during this week. Since I just happened to have ‘Welcome to Paradise’ lying around, I sent it in. The opportunity to get valuable advice from Harlequin editors was too good to pass up.
Let me tell you something else about me. I tried for many years to be published by Harlequin. I’m not sure how many manuscripts I sent them, but it was several. Each one was rejected. I was devastated at the time and nearly quit writing. I know now that those manuscripts weren’t ready and neither was I. Apparently I needed an extraordinarily long apprenticeship! I gave up trying to write for Harlequin and looked elsewhere. My friend Lesley Ann McLeod suggested I submit to her e-publisher. I was delighted and surprised when I was offered a contract. Over the next few years, I honed my craft writing for several small e-presses. I learned how to work with editors, and how to make my writing better. The people I’ve met have been a joy to work with and I love the stories I’ve created over the last few years.
Back to my story. I was sitting at my computer a few weeks after I submitted my story when the phone rang. Checking the call display, I didn’t recognize the number or the area code. I almost didn’t answer, thinking it was another telemarketer. But I have a thing about needing to answer a ringing phone, so I picked it up. I was shocked when Angela James from Carina Press introduced herself. I was even more shocked when she offered me a contract. I’ve never actually gotten ‘The Call’ before. In my dealings with my other publishers, I’ve always received ‘The E-Mail’. It made for a nice change.
Angela told me she has a connection with North Dakota since she went to school in Grand Forks. I live in Winnipeg now, just two hours from Grand Forks. Students from the university there often come up north during breaks, since the legal drinking age in Manitoba is 18 as compared with 21 in North Dakota. Enough said.
At present I’m dealing with edits and filling out forms for the art department so they can create a cover for the newly renamed ‘First and Again’. I can hardly wait for the book to come to life! In the meantime I have new release coming out May 17. If you’re interested in “There Goes the Groom”, please check out my website.
Have you ever received a surprise phone call, or email? Bonus points for one that really rocked your world.