When it was time to start a new chapter in her life, Jan Cheves turned to unfinished business.
“I had a children’s book project that I had wanted to do,” she said. “When my husband died a couple of years ago, I thought it was time to start chasing a dream.”
Cheves’ publishing company, JTC Sports Inc., originally concentrated on non-fiction books in the sports arena. JTC published “Training Soccer Champions” by Anson Dorrance, head coach of the UNC-Chapel Hill women’s soccer team and “Standing Fast” by Olympian Michelle Akers.
Cheves, 57, polished her publishing skills in the 1990s while working as general manager for Durham-based Coman Publishing Company. Coman produced both national and regional publications, including “The Wolfpacker” and “Diehard Magazine,” the official newspaper of the Boston Red Sox.
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During that time, she launched JTC.
After leaving Coman, Cheves went into real estate.
“I put publishing on the back burner,” she said.
Her love of sports led to current projects involving children’s books. One of them is a multi-media project, “The Sports Zoo,” which is a toddler alphabet book.
“It came out of my imagination when I had two young children and was working at a publishing company,” she said. “At that time I couldn’t find books for our very young children that dealt with sports.”
“The Sports Zoo” begins with a book to introduce the concept.
“We want to try to catch children before they become sedentary,” Cheves said. “The book teaches them there’s an activity for everyone. There’s something for every child to do to stay active.
“It brings back the joy to physical activity.”
An interactive website and an app for smart phones will offer animated games as well as in-depth rules and stories about sports.
“The goal is that you will walk through the zoo to the different sports,” she said. “In the museum, you can click on links and hear sports stories.
“We are trying to be socially conscious. Grace the giraffe has a prosthetic leg. The zoo has recycling containers.”
A second children’s project, “Lessons from the Secret Lives of James Boo 002,” is the first in a series of print books meant to introduce early readers to historical figures.
First printings for both books are planned for this summer.
Cheves, whose home is in Cary, has been living with her daughter in Tampa, Fla., the past few months.
Sports has long been a focus in the family. Her son is a golf coach at James Madison University and her daughter is a runner. Cheves runs the Joe Cheves Jr. Invitational golf tournament, an annual event in Morganton.
“I’m so passionate about publishing and sports,” Cheves said. “I’m an avid book reader and I think books are so good for people.
“You can go anywhere and do anything through books.”