Friday, February 1, 2013

Turning a Setting Into Something Special

Today, we're celebrating five unique stories, all part of the Class of '85, all FREE today [February 2, 2013] and February 14th and 15th.
We hope you'll take advantage of this offer and enjoy.

Several years ago, using the RIFLE [Realistic, Interesting, Fun, Logical, Entertaining] Approach, four romance writers came together to create a four story contemporary anthology. The overall concept was based on five friends from high school who return to their hometown after twenty years when one of the five dies suddenly and leaves each survivor a legacy. Each novella focused on one of the four surviving male friends. Sadly, the anthology never came to fruition thought the concept morphed into The Class of '85, a reunion series for the Last Rose of Summer line at The Wild Rose Press.

The task then came down to 'inventing' the setting. Since we knew it would be a series of more than the original four stories, we decided to make Upstate New York our “World”, usingthe lake” [that's Ontario, Queen of the Great Lakes] as background flavoring. I spent hours exploring a unique neighborhood in the city of Rochester, took photographs and soon Summerville was born―on paper anyway.

As the ring leader [aka senior editor as well as one of the four originating authors it then came to me to lay the groundwork and either invent or expanded upon the social and political infra-structure of the town, further enhancing the “City/Town”.

As stories were contracted, the contributing authors tweaked the city/town into “The Hood” and then took it one step further to refine “The Set”. The inhabitants, primary and secondary were born and are unique to their individual needs and plot lines. The first 'alum' to make the reunion, “Getting It Right” was released in August 2010. By the Fall of 2011, twenty four stories were released.

Here's how creating a setting that speaks to readers worked for us and hopefully will work for you:

The World: Summerville, a town of 25,000, sits on a bluff over-looking Lake Ontario, Queen of the Great Lakes. Water sports are a popular outdoor activity. The area is a busy assignment for the Immigration and Naturalization Service as well as the Coast Guard and County Sheriff's Marine Unit, preventing illegal entry via the lake from Canada, drug trafficking and alcohol related marine incidents. A large transient migrant population in the region who work large farming operations make the area a hotbed for activists and illegal immigration―both in the past [for some of the characters] and current law enforcement personnel.

The City/Town deserved extra added attractions so we invented Summerville College, inaccurately termed 'the U' by locals. A co-ed, liberal arts school, it is known for its NCAA division I champion men’s lacrosse team. The town has a full service hospital which is code red most nights [the ER is full and can only accept chest or head trauma.] It's in desperate need of urgent care centers to cut down on bottlenecks in the ER and to put an end to patients using the ER's for a doctor's office.

For the sports nuts we offer the Hornets, a triple A baseball team, part of the Orioles system, and just as [un]successful and the Red Barons, part of the Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey system.

Local law enforcement is covered by the Summerville Police Department, headed by the former school bully. One of his former victims is now the County Sheriff. A former bad boy now advocates for victims of school bullies and non-responsive school systems. Note the over-use of the word ‘former’. Hmm. As an editor, I’m cringing as I read this.

Arts and entertainment are supplied locally with annual fine arts and artisans shows or by a thirty minute drive to Rochester which offers a symphony, several major museums and the Eastman School of Music.

The contributing authors also supplied “The Hood” by way of Down The Hill, Summerville's version of a slum, and Pill Hill and Castle Row, where the elite reside and never the twain do meet.

For “The Set”, where individual scenes take place one of the authors took a photograph of a local landmark and turned it into the Summerville Inn which is the setting for several of the reunion stories, one of which involves pre-reunion renovations, a reunion dance, and an elite awards dinner. A couple authors took a real-life former [there’s that word again!] orphanage located in Syracuse New York, renamed it, then picked it up and dropped it into Summerville. Hey, it worked.

Now for the good part: several of the Hood's inhabitants will be available for free over the next few months. They include:

*  A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for photographic journalism: “Embraceable You” by Kat Henry Doran
*  A retired rock star: “Lonely Road to You: by Jannine Gallant
*  A [former] socialite determined to pay off her ex-husband’s debts: “Promises, Promises”, by Silver James
*  A retired major league baseball player, now coaching the Hornets triple A team: “To Be, or Not”, by Margo Hoornstra
*  A former bad boy turned entrepreneur who falls for a woman in the midst of restoring an old house into a B&B: “Something More” by Keena Kincaid.

It is clear when imaginative people come together, any number of wonderful things can happen, including the creation of interesting, fascinating, unforgettable settings. We hope you'll enjoy these stories!


  1. And we're off!!

    Thanks for us authors' version of a trip down memory lane. Enjoyed it.

  2. thanks for the last minute bail out!!
    you're the best

  3. There are lots of calls put out for new series, but most don't draw me in the way this one did. Thanks to you for coming up with such a great premise and setting for this series.