Now we would like to welcome author Jami Davenport, joining us with her Seattle Lumberjacks series!
Writing for a Niche
I’m a long-time football fan, and I’m also a Romance writer.
As a native of the Pacific Northwest, I have been a Seahawks fan since their infancy, including being a season ticket holder during the Kingdome days. I’ve stuck with the Hawks through the good and lean times.
I’ve written since I was old enough to write words, but I never shared my stories. They were private to me. Many years ago, maybe ten or fifteen, I started a working on a Romance novel with a football player named Derek and his relationship with Rachel.
About five or six years ago, several friends encouraged me to share my stories and write for publication. I joined an RWA chapter (Romance Writers of America) and took tons of craft workshops. The first rule I was told about Romance writing was sports heroes don’t sell unless you’re Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Well, believe it or not, at the time I’d never read any of her books, so I bought them all and loved them.
Still, since sports heroes don’t sell, I stashed the partially completed book in a trunk and moved on to a book with more commercial appeal. Three years ago, I signed my first publishing contract. I’ve since published three novels as Jami Davenport and six additional novels under another pen name. However, Derek and Rachel’s story continued to beckon to me over the years.
With the popularity of eBooks and the increasing number of quality small presses, especially my publisher, Boroughs Publishing Group, a whole new world has opened up for writers. In the past, if you didn’t write a book with what was defined as mass-market, commercial appeal, you had little chance of getting it published. Now the smaller digital publishers are filling the niche markets -- areas certain publishers won’t touch because the mass-market appeal isn’t there, or they believe it isn’t.
I’ve never understood why certain publishers believe that football hero Romances don’t sell. After all, over 45 percent of NFL fans are women. Perhaps, it’s because many of the football hero Romances published today are written by authors who know nothing about the game and use it as a background prop. The female characters in their books aren’t football fans, rarely go to a game, and in several books the hero quit the game for the heroine. I didn’t want my book to be that kind of book.
Keeping that in mind, I dusted off my old football Romance and completely re-wrote it. I’ve never been one to write to trends or to write specifically what sells, and I hoped to share my passion for football with my readers. Fourth and Goal, my first Seattle Lumberjack Romance, is a different kind of football hero Romance, one in which the heroine loves football and is as knowledgeable as most men. My hero is a struggling football player, attempting to get his game back. The story not only follows the romance between hero and heroine, it also follows the team’s ascent from basement-dwellers to championship contenders. In fact, my editor stated this book was a football story with a romance, rather than a romance story with some football.
In the process of writing it, I wanted to make Fourth and Goal as realistic as possible. For starters, I attended the Seattle Seahawks Football 101 workshop. As a result, I toured the Seahawks training facility, listened to players and their wives talk about life in the NFL, and participated in some of the same drills the players use to hone their timing and reflexes. This workshop was entertaining and informative. Not to mention, I loved the goodie bags and raffles. The attendees met current players and their wives, former players, the head coach, and the TV personalities who do game commentary.Almost all NFL teams sponsor a Football 101 clinic in October to benefit breast cancer awareness. I highly recommend attending one of these workshops if you get a chance.
I watched even more football than I normally do and asked all sorts of questions of my husband, a former D-2 college player. I did online research, read books on football, became intimately familiar with the NFL Channel, and tried to get a feel for the game, which is somewhat difficult as I’ve never played football. I hope I’ve captured it somewhat accurately.
I enjoyed the opportunity to be able to combine my passion for football with my writing. I’ve since published three books in the series and book 4, Backfield in Motion is due out in the fall. Books 5 and 6 are plotted and I’ve begun writing book 5. Football Romance is alive and well and a growing genre in Romance—and one of my personal favorites.
Borough's Publishing is giving away one grand prize, a five-book subscription to their Lunchbox Romances including one story by Jami Davenport, Love at First Snow to one winner from all the different tour stops.
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