Guest Post with Francine Beaton

Rugby meets romance

What has Fourth of July, rugby and romance in common?

The obvious answer should be, absolutely nothing. It was, however, what led to the writing of the Playing for Glory series. On 26 February, I’ll release the third book in the series, and the first I’ve ever written, Leading from the Front.

A chance meeting with a rugby player from Jersey on a Fourth of July boat cruise on the Hudson planted the seed although I didn’t know it then. Before, and even during that meeting I not even dreamed about writing a novel, so a rugby romance was out of the question. It was only on the long flight from New York to Johannesburg while struggling through another rugby romance, the seed was planted.

I’m not mentioning the writer or the book, but it was absolute garbage. It felt as if the author knew nothing about the game, fitting in sex scenes on every second page to cover for the bad storyline. I suddenly thought that I’m sure I can write a better rugby romance than that. When we arrived in Johannesburg, I already planned a series. I’ve never written a book before and never dreamed of writing one either. It was just a random thought. But it seemed that I unpacked my muse along with my dirty laundry. Two days after our return from New York, I started writing. That was the end of July 2016.

I wrote non-stop for the next six months, finishing about six novels during that time. The first ones were just as bad as the one I read on the plane. It didn’t stop me though. In May 2017 I attended a Romance Master Class in Cape Town with writing coach Sarah Bullen of The Writing Room. Just before that class, I’ve finished the seventh novel in the series I called Taming a Buffalo. I took that book called Under the Mistletoe along to the course. During the course, Sarah read parts of the novel and encouraged me to continue. Over the next three months, Sarah helped me to polish the book. She also advised me to change the names of the books and the series name to something that relates to sport. Under the Mistletoe changed to Eye on the Ball, which was first published in April 2019 by Roane publishers who had closed their doors at the end of 2018. Since then I’ve got my rights back and started to self-publish. 

The series Playing for Glory, as well as the prequel series called Kick-Off, consisting of three books, all deals with the players and management of a fictional rugby team based in Pretoria. Because rugby is a professional sport, I had no choice than to create my own team called the Buffaloes, playing in a fictional series called the International Club Challenge. 

The Playing for Glory series was supposed to be typical sports romances with sizzling sex scenes. It didn’t stay that way. My characters seem to follow their own destiny and it doesn’t matter how hard I tried, they stay true to themselves. I still blame it on Jakes in Eye on the Ball. Although Jakes had the looks, the physicality, macho male image, the intelligence and other attributes to make him an alpha male, Jakes wanted to highlight important issues that had nothing to do with his looks. With Eye on the Ball I wanted to show the readers that even though men like Jakes are physically tough, playing a hard and physical game, they may struggle with the same insecurities other people suffer from. They may be emotionally vulnerable and that is okay. It is, however, important to talk about it, and sometimes show your sensitive side before it is too late.

Leading from the Front is my ninth book. Two of those nine books are in Afrikaans, my home language, and the rest in English. Leading in the Front was supposed to be the first book, but again Jakes had a different idea.

 

LEADING FROM THE FRONT

Temptation can come in any form.

 

As long as it wasn’t Melissa Roux. Daniel Cooper had known that since the first moment he’d seen the new physio for the Buffaloes. As captain, he had to set an example and falling head over heels for the feisty blonde with the endless long legs wasn’t the way to do it.

 

Melissa knew Daniel was going to be a problem from the first day she walked into Buffaloes Stadium. There was no way she was going to risk her career for an arrogant chauvinist who called her a blonde bimbo. For that, she worked too hard to get her dream job.

 

Neither had reckoned with the undeniable chemistry between them and the famous Cooper curse. When he couldn’t hide it anymore, Daniel made a simple request which had more repercussions than he expected. In his quest to find the truth, he made another error in judgement, risking not only Melissa’s career but also the loyalty of his team and the Club.

 

Daniel and Melissa both had to make important decisions: what’s more important? Your career or love? 

 

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What’s the problem with sex?

I started this huge journey into the world of writing when I self-published Falling to Pieces on 26th July 2013. I say I started it then because I strode into this world blindly, flinging my book baby on the proverbial table and proclaimed it good enough to be ‘out there.’

Falling to Pieces is a paranormal adult romance and a true example of raw, unadulterated writing from the heart. I bled onto those pages, and it was the same with the sequel, Falling into You.

Readers loved it. It did very well for a debut novel and I’m proud of what has been said about it. I never submitted it to a publisher, not because I don’t think it’s good enough, but because it’s precious to me and I was not open to change.

However, what was said behind my back by people I knew personally, was devastating.

‘Ugh, it’s about her and her husband having sex.’ Please, allow me to say that I was cornered into calling the male protagonist Marc, lets just say that’s why what happens to him, happens to him.

‘Vampire novels are stupid and you’re stupid for reading it.’ An ex-boyfriend to his wife when she read it.

Even to… ‘Ugh, it’s stupid, there’s a page number missing.’

‘It’s a cross between Twilight and Fifty Shades.’ I liked both of those books, but what an insult to my feisty and strong heroine.

‘No, no, it’s more like True Blood.’ Well, why can’t it be, you know, like Falling to Pieces, FFS!

There’s loads more, but I won’t bore you with the details.

Luckily, I was well into Falling into You by the time most of this got to me, but when I came to the end of the series I felt I wanted to be taken more seriously as a writer and I walked away from the Falling Series and side-stepped into contemporary romance. In all fairness, my ex-husband, Mark begged me not to finish the series at book two. It was possibly the only advice he’d given me that I should have taken.

I got a publishing contract for Kissing Cassie and then for Kissing Katie. I can imagine that caught in a few throats. I hope it choked them. By then I’d left the Royal Air Force camp life and besides a few bits of bait I threw to the hounds I didn’t hear that much from them again.

Away from the nasty circles and with a publishing deal under my belt I thought life would be much easier. I was wrong…

At first I thought it was the vampire thing that made me a lesser novelist in some eyes. I strived to conform to what a romance novelist should be, HEA’s and sunnier characters radiated in my contemporary romances and there was hardly any death or bloodshed.

But still there was the sex. No, not sex, lovemaking. Maybe that makes you cringe but in my view I don’t write erotica, I write adult romance or steamy romance. I’ll come back to what I believe the difference to be at a later date. It’s not that I have anything against erotica, I’ve read a few and they have just sort of made me giggle more than anything.

Not so long ago I congratulated a fellow author on her publishing deal with a very good house and I told her that I was going to read it on my holiday. She replied, publicly on the FB thread, that I may not enjoy it because it’s not that sort of book, as though I’m incapable of reading or indeed writing anything else! I pretended not to be offended and merely pointed out that I’d been reading a lot of thrillers, actually. Funnily enough, I never did buy her book, but I did read two rather good books sans sexual content. I’m sorry if you’re reading this and now know you offended me, because I know you’d be mortified.

Look, it could be that I’m wrong about this. It’s just the impression I get. Maybe I’m just a crappy writer and it’s nothing to do with the sex? But then, I honestly don’t think some of the people who have made snide remarks have even read my books. I would be really interested in hearing from any adult romance writers who may have experienced negativity.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on all of this over the last few years whilst I haven’t been writing. When my publishing house folded, I re-read, edited, rebranded and rereleased my two contemporary novels. I got the chance to look at them through fresh eyes and I thought they were great if I don’t say so myself! It’s strange what your mind can do to you when you don’t feel very successful and you feel judged by others.

So, will I stop writing? No way. I love it too much. Will I stop writing raunchy scenes? No, I’m good at it and it always seems to be a natural progression for my characters. I don’t sit there thinking, I must write a sex scene now, it just happens. Will I be adding a new book to the Falling Series? Yes, several!

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment if you’re so inclined!

Lucy 🙂

A Time For Change!

Hi to all of you lovely people…yes, you there, the one that has bothered to open this blog post and give it a read!

I’ve been posting plenty of reviews here over the past few years as well as my rants, usually about something that happened on FaceBook, aptly named by my step-father as ‘the book of the devil.’

Upon great reflection it has come to my attention that my rants have had far more attention, and therefore that’s what I’m going to do! JUST KIDDING! But, my posts will be more centred around my observations and experiences. You will not see me writing about the bloody casting of The Little Mermaid though, I mean…why is this even a thing?

I’ve recently become a reviewer for a lovely FaceBook page called Rainey Day Book Reviews (link opens in a new tab) and you can still follow my reviews by hitting the ‘like’ button. I’m joined by the lovely Lorraine Leatham, the pages original owner and Grace Coronado who joined at the same time as I did. If you’d like a review, please do get in touch by messaging the page or e-mailing us at raineydaybookreviewcrew@gmail.com.

I’ll also still be posting cover reveals, interviews, new releases…I’ve been offering, but strangely they haven’t been taken up. This must be a really rubbish blog! If you’re looking for content for your blog, you go right ahead and message me! I’d snap your arm off for the promo!

On a final note, and because I’m here, please don’t forget to enter my giveaway, share it around, for the love of all that’s holy…do something with it! L.T. Kelly’s Giveaway

Thank you!

Lucy