Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Writing the Small Town Romance by @JanaRichards_ #follow #amwriting #giveaway

Today on The Maze I welcome back author Jana Richards (@JanaRichards_; please follow her and enter her giveaway below!) to talk about...

Writing the Small Town Romance

I love small town romances. There’s something irresistible about a love story set in a town of quirky characters, unique businesses and even interesting pets.

Into that amazing, quirky little town we drop our hero and heroine. Sometimes they’re both natives of the town.  Perhaps they’ve lived there all their lives, and have harbored secret feelings for each other for years. Or maybe one of them has recently returned home, either permanently or for what they believe will be a short stay. In my small town romance FIRST AND AGAIN, Bridget Grant returns to her small hometown, Paradise, North Dakota, when both her business and her marriage fail, leaving her broke and out of options. Her plan is to work temporarily in her mother’s bar until she gets back on her feet, and then she and her daughter will move back to San Francisco. But when she reconnects with Jack Davison, her first love, she begins to rethink her decision to leave.

In other small town romances, one of the lovers is a newcomer to the town. They are a stranger in a strange land, a fish out of water. That describes Alex Campbell in ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE. Arriving from his hometown of San Diego, Alex ends up in Lobster Cove, a small town on an island in Maine. He accepts a temporary position as a doctor in the town as a way to pay off his medical school debt. He only plans to stay for two years, the length of his contract. When the story opens he has only ten months left. Of course everything changes for Alex when he meets Julia. 

Even though Bridget rekindles her love for Jack, and Alex is head over heels for Julia, love might not be enough. Bridget left Paradise nearly twenty years previously because she wanted more than the small town could offer her. A chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Bridget previously worked in some of the great restaurants of San Francisco, and then owned a large catering company with her ex-husband. Despite her recent setbacks, she’s got big dreams. Alex loves the excitement and challenge of a big city emergency room. Professionally, can he be happy in a town as small as Lobster Cove?

In FIRST AND AGAIN, Bridget begins a new catering company with her former high school nemesis, and reopens the restaurant in her mother’s bar and hotel business. In ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE, Alex discovers how challenging family medicine can be. So they both find meaningful work. But is it enough? Small towns are just that – small. They lack many of the amenities that city dwellers take for granted. There has to be something that makes people like Bridget and Alex want to stay, something they can’t get in a big city.

This is where those quirky characters come in. The thing about small towns is that they are communities. Their inhabitants care about each other and support each other when the chips are down. Showing this community caring at work is vital for a successful small town romance. The small town has to show that it is a worthy place for the hero and heroine to live and love.

Have you ever lived in a small town? What was the best thing about it? Would you like to live in a small town?

From today until April 11 at midnight, I’m having a promotion that I call “Over the Hump”. I need help getting over the 2,000 follower mark on Twitter so I can follow more people. So I’m holding a contest and giving away prizes. Check out my blog, Journeys with Jana, for more information, or enter the Rafflecopter contest below. Thank you for reading my post today!

And thank you, Jana, for sharing your advice on The Maze--which is indeed located in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia.

About First and Again
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Bridget Grant is back in Paradise. Paradise, North Dakota, that is.

She’s swallowed her pride and moved back to her hometown with her daughter after her divorce and the loss of her catering company. Now she’s trying to navigate the strained relationships she’d left behind – including her first love, Jack Davison.

Jack never forgot Bridget, or the day she left town – and him. When Bridget caters a lunch at Jack’s tourist ranch, old flames reignite. They have more in common than ever – Jack’s also a single parent. Though they both try to keep things casual, Bridget, Jack and their girls are starting to look a lot like a family.

But Bridget’s only planning to stay in Paradise until she’s saved enough to relaunch her business. Jack’s invested too much in his ranch to leave. And with their daughters involved both have a lot more at stake than heartbreak. How can they risk falling in love?

The sound of an approaching vehicle made her cringe. The driver would likely stop and ask what had happened and whether she was all right. The thought of having to explain her actions made her feel slightly queasy. She prayed for the person to keep on going, to ignore the woman in a pink apron walking alone down a gravel road.

No such luck. 

She heard the vehicle slow to a crawl as it pulled next to her. Righteous anger bubbled in her chest when she glanced over and saw Jack Davison roll down his window.
“Going for a walk?” he asked.

“Something like that.”

“Need a ride back to the motel?”

“No thanks. I don’t accept rides from people who laugh at me.”

She kept on walking, her head high. To her dismay Jack continued to follow her slowly with his truck.

“When did I laugh at you? I’ve only seen you once since you got here.”

“Once was enough.”

“You mean the night Tina gave you a hard time?”

Bridget didn’t answer. Perhaps it seemed petty to others, but Tina and Celia had humiliated her, and Jack had laughed at her. She wasn’t likely to get over it quickly.

“I wasn’t laughing at you. I enjoyed seeing Tina get taken down a peg. It doesn’t happen often, and frankly, I was impressed.” He paused a moment. “Are you sure you don’t want a ride?”

She glanced toward Jack and he grinned back, all innocence and boyish charm. Despite herself, she returned his smile. He was a hard man to stay angry with, and she really didn’t want to walk back to the motel and risk having other people pass her on the road.

“Fine. I’ll ride with you.”

He stopped the truck and gestured toward the passenger door of his half-ton. “Hop in.” 

She climbed into the cab, slammed the door shut, then buckled her seat belt. She smoothed the apron over her lap, suddenly feeling stupid and regretting her decision to accept the ride. Jack probably thought she was crazy, or at best, unbalanced. There was no way she could explain the fear that had controlled her life the last two years. 

“I have a punching bag,” he said, his eyes on the road ahead.

“Excuse me?” she said, confused. Had she missed part of this conversation? 

“When I can’t get things or people to do what I want them to do, or when I’m just plain pissed off, I go down into my basement and beat the hell out of Bozo the Clown.”

She stared at his profile. “Bozo the Clown?”

“I have an old Bozo punching bag, you know, one of those toys that’s weighted on the bottom so it keeps popping back up. Bozo takes a licking and keeps coming back for more.”

“Oh, I see,” she said cautiously.

He turned and flashed a dazzling smile. “No, I’m not crazy. At least no crazier than you. Everybody needs some way of getting out their frustrations or they’ll eat you alive. Mine happens to be beating the crap out of Bozo, and I suspect that yours is walking briskly down country roads.”

She relaxed against the seat. “Maybe.” 

“Next time lose the apron. You can’t pretend you’re a serious jogger if you’re wearing a frilly pink apron.”

“No, I suppose not.” She grinned, the weight of embarrassment lifting from her shoulders. Jack’s quirky sense of humor had always intrigued and delighted her. “Next time I feel the urge to take a hike I’ll throw on some jogging pants and tell everyone I’m training for a marathon. That ought to stop the gossiping.” 

“Sorry to disillusion you, but nothing’s likely to do that. Gossip and Paradise go together like peanut butter and jam. Most of the time it’s harmless, but if you’re smart you’ll try not to draw too much attention to yourself.”

“Trust me, that’s the last thing I want to do.” She untied the apron and pulled it over her head. “Doesn’t it ever get to you? The life in the fishbowl? Are you and your wife happy living in Paradise?”

He glanced at her, and she saw a momentary look of surprise in his expression before he turned his attention back to his driving.

“I’m happy enough. The fishbowl thing doesn’t bother me.”

“That’s good.”

“But if you’re going to live in a small town, you’d better get up to date on your gossip. I’ve been single the last ten years.”

The news took her by surprise. Was he single because of divorce or because his wife had died? “Oh, I’m sorry. Celia didn’t tell me.” She wondered why her sister hadn’t filled her in after all this time.

Jack shrugged. “Don’t worry about it.”

He offered no further information and she decided not to ask any more questions. After all, she barely knew him anymore.

Buy Links:
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