My love affair with football goes back many years to watching high school football. I grew up in a small North Central Washington town where football was the only thing to do on a Friday night in the fall. After high school, I attended college at Washington State University, and I never missed a home football game. By the time I graduated from college, football was in my blood. Back in the old Kingdome days, I held season tickets to the Seahawks for several years.
Never a fair weather fan, I stuck with my Cougars and Seahawks through the good and bad times, always holding out hope for the best. My interest in football players and what makes them tick led me to dream up stories about them. Over the years, I toyed with writing Romance novels with football heroes.
Reading a book with a football hero is my own brand of fantasy football. My idea sports hero is arrogant, fit and driven, a man’s man who commands respect from other alpha males. He knows what he wants, and he goes after it with single-minded determination. His inborn competitiveness defines him. At the same time, he’s a good guy with a soft spot for kids and animals, even if he appears to be a very bad boy on the surface. Deep down he’s vulnerable, and only the heroine can touch his vulnerability and chip away at his brash armor. What’s not to love about a man like that even if you don’t care for the sport that he plays for a living?
In 2004 I started writing seriously for publication. My first completed manuscript was a football hero Romance novel. After joining a couple of local RWA chapters, it wasn’t long before I started hearing the “rules” of Romance writing. Right up there at the top was the “no sports heroes” rule. I was shocked and more than surprised. It never dawned on me that jocks would be a “hard sell.” After all, who doesn’t love a hunky football player? Well, according to mass-market-paperback publishers at the time, not too many readers.
Certain my book would be the exception, I submitted to several publishers. Every one of them gave me the same answer: Thanks, but no thanks. Sports heroes don’t sell. With extreme sadness, I put my book away and focused my writing in other directions. My first book published book was released in 2008. In the meantime, my own insatiable interest in reading books with sports Romance heroes was filled rarely by a few authors who managed to get their sports Romance novels published; they were few and far between.
Luckily for readers, digital presses have opened up niche markets in the past few years. The demand for books to fill those niches is growing in leaps and bounds. Digital publishing is a big boon for those of us who choose to write books out of the contrived “mainstream.” Since that time years ago, the landscape has changed most certainly.
A few years ago, I dusted off my football hero Romance, rewrote it from scratch only keeping the basic idea and the characters. I made a few changes based on some suggestions I’d received and submitted to a few reputable digital presses. Within a week, I had three offers for publication. It seems digital presses don’t have an issue with football hero Romances. In fact, digital publishing has opened up a whole new contemporary Romance genre centered around sports heroes. I’m thrilled to report that the sales rankings on these books are quite good.
After a slow start, my own sports Romance novels are out-selling the rest of my books. In fact, I’m so happy with the reception I’ve received for the Seattle Lumberjacks series, that I’ve contracted with Boroughs Publishing Group to write several more sports-themed Romances. Backfield in Motion is scheduled for a fall release and the next Seattle Lumberjacks Romance is already being written.
The moral of my story is write what you love, not what’s currently selling, because the market changes frequently, and you won’t be able to keep up with it. Besides, I firmly believe readers can tell if an author is passionate about their story or if an author is merely following the trends. The digital market has opened up multiple opportunities for writers. If you’re a reader, you have to be thrilled at the direction publishing is taking, as your choices are endless. You don’t have to settle for reading only those books that certain publishers deem marketable when you want a different type of story.
If, like me, you love a good sports hero Romance, you should be in heaven as this niche genre is here to stay. So read on and get your sports hero fix, I know I do every time I write another Seattle Lumberjacks Romance.
Fourth and Goal (Seattle Lumberjacks #1)
In a game played on and off the field, only one of them will emerge the winner.
Armed with an uncanny ability for evaluating football talent, a dogged determination to succeed in a man’s world, and an empty bank account, Rachel McCormick agrees to help struggling wide receiver Derek Ramsey get his game back. Rachel believes Derek, her former best friend and lover, knows the truth behind the points-shaving scandal which ruined her father. She vows to expose the secret even if it destroys Derek in the process.
When Derek’s coach suggests sex as an excellent tension reliever the night before a game, Rachel takes one for the team. The next day, Derek has the best performance of his not-so illustrious pro football career. As Derek and Rachel rack up nights in bed and other places, the team racks up wins on the field. Rachel is torn between her loyalty to her father and her growing affection for Derek.
Now it’s fourth and goal, one second left on the clock. Their hearts are on the line. Do they trust each other enough to go for the long bomb or do they get dropped for a loss?
Forward Passes (Seattle Lumberjacks #2)
Quarterback Tyler Harris is about to find the woman who can get past his defensive line and reach his heart.
With two championships in as many years, superstar Tyler Harris is the best quarterback in the league. Gorgeous and rich, he’s at the top of his game. But everyone’s looking to take him down. There’s a building media frenzy around an unfortunate accident, and the only safe place seems a rundown mansion deep in the San Juans and owned by his late great uncle. There, Tyler gets sacked by the sassy redhead next door. It’s more alive than he’s felt in years.
Lavender Mead has a good reason to dislike jocks, namely an absentee father who deserted the family to coach college football. Maybe that explains her penchant for bad boys who play ball for a living and break hearts for a hobby. Her new neighbor seems just the type. Yet, something is different about Tyler, and sometimes love requires a Hail Mary. You draw back your arm, pray…and give it all up to fate. And sometimes you win your ring.
Down by Contact (Seattle Lumberjacks #3)
After twelve years in the league, all Zach Murphy wants is a Super Bowl ring. He’s been about hard hits not smooth manners, about breaking quarterbacks not making small talk at cocktail parties. But now he’s shattered something else. After dumping a tray of drinks on the team owner’s snooty daughter and accidentally feeling up the Governor’s wife, his tenure with his team looks perilously short. And things are getting worse.
Life is looking up for Kelsie Carrington-Richmond. A onetime beauty pageant star and mean girl, she only recently stopped living out of her car. But those times have passed. Her finishing school for real men has a real shot, and the Seattle Lumberjacks have hired her to polish their roughest player.
Except…it’s Zach. Long ago she broke his heart. He’s just the beast she remembers—gruff, protective—but she’s nothing like the beauty from his past. Yet, getting knocked down happens, and getting back up makes a contender. And they both have the hearts of champions.
Backfield in Motion