When Romance Meets Rugby: Indie Writer Francine Beaton Tackles 10 (questions)
If you need inspiration to sit down and write that book that you've threatened to pen for years, then look no further than indie romance author Francine Beaton. Based in Pretoria, she is a prolific writer and South Africa’s own version of Nora Roberts in terms of her output - this week she is releasing Playing By The Rules, her 12th e-book - in the space of 18 months!
If you love stories about coffee, wine and rugby players, then Francine is your go-to author. She graciously agreed to answer ten questions for me. Here's what she had to say:
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Diligent. Helpful. Arty.
You have been very productive over the last 18 months and have three different book series out. What was the most difficult challenge you faced in getting published?
Self-doubt, but it is true what they say: you only need one person to read your book and believe in you. I found that one person in Sarah Bullen from The Writing Room, who mentored me for three months.
Everybody wants to write a book (especially at the beginning of each year). What’s your advice to aspiring writers?
If you want to write, put your bum on the seat and do it. Don’t find excuses. It might be bad but that’s why we call them drafts. The more you write, the better you'll become.
In writing so much, do you get to read any books? If so, which writer (s) do you admire and what is currently on your bookshelf?
Yes, I read a lot. I’m just as a prolific reader as I’m a writer. According to Goodreads I read 70 books last year and this year I’ve read 39 so far. However, I've read books I got from other sources. I’m a romance reader, but I like a good crime novel or two. In that genre I’m a huge Stuart MacBride, Ian Rankin and a Deon Meyer fan. In the romance genre, I have so many favourite authors, it's difficult to name them. Katy Regnery, Marquita Valentine, Rebecca Crowley and, of course, Nora Roberts, are only a few. My aim this year is to discover new authors, so I’m searching for books published by indie authors.
As an indie writer, you have to write and do your own marketing. What keeps you motivated?
Hah! I’m a sucker for reviews. And my fellow writers help me to stay focused. And an editor who is pushing for more.
Coffee or wine? You write about both. Which is your favourite beverage and why?
I’m a tea drinker – tea during the day, wine in the evening to relax.
What is the most romantic place you’ve ever visited?
It might be a cliché but I have to say Paris. There's just something about Paris in winter, that tugs at your heartstrings. But then, romance is where your love is. Any place could be romantic if you are with the right person.
People tend to look down on romance as a genre of fiction. What's your response to those who dismiss it as "fluff"?
I always say, “Each to their own” and “don’t show your ignorance.” Most of the critics of the romance genre haven’t read one (story), but they're quick to judge. They might try to use the same critique as they did years ago when you only got Barbara Cartland and Mills & Boon. I don’t judge those books, but what most people don’t understand, is that the romance genre has evolved over the years. Female characters are not all damsels in distress saved by a strong, silent hero. Not all romance books are written according to a recipe (as some suspect). Not all readers are lonely housewives or spinsters that have nothing better to do. I have quite a few male readers.
The Playing for Glory series is about a group of different characters. How do you make sure each one is unique and that you don't repeat yourself?
I’m a visual person. When I write a new story, I know who the characters are, what problems they face and what would be the ending. I have a photo of my character and I would study that photo for hours to get into my character’s head. Still, when the story develops, I learn new things about them. I don’t have to actively concentrate on making them different from my previous characters. They just are different.
As an Indie writer, how do you measure success?
I would’ve liked to say sales, but if I have to use that measure, I’m not successful yet. Reviews? They help a lot to know that there are people who read and like my books. For the mere fact that I’ve set out to do something and I finished it, is already a measure of success for me. I’ve published the book I dreamed about. And then another, and another. I guess success is the knowledge you’ve done something that not everyone can say, and that's to publish a book.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your latest book Playing by The Rules, that's out this week. And when can we expect your next book?
Unlike with Eye on the Ball, I don’t have something specific that triggered the storyline for Playing by the Rules although there might be two unrelated incidents that could’ve influenced it. One day when I was out shopping, I ran into former SA rugby coach, Heyneke Meyer, buying pancakes for his family. It emphasised just again that they are just normal family people like most others, doing the same mundane things you and I do. That was the first incident. Another incident was when my nephew, himself a rugby coach and a father of a little girl, said that his daughter would not have a boyfriend until she was thirty-five. When I read the phrase somewhere on the internet, stay away from my daughter, it fitted a title I had. By the way, when I visualised Coach Brady, I had a photo of Heyneke Meyer and that was long before I met him in the shop.
What’s new and when to expect it? I’m working on the second book in the Taste for Love series called Taste for Wine, which I hope to publish in the next month or two. I’m also finishing a standalone romantic suspense which I would like to submit to publishers.
I finished both Wrecking Ball and Blood Brothers, book 5 and 6 in the Playing for Glory series. I need to do the final re-writes for them and they will be published with two other rugby novellas, Choices and Concussion in October/November, in time for the Rugby World Cup.
I also need to finish the next three books in the Blue Mountain series and the second book in the Kick-Off series.
I’m developing two new series which I want to write next year. One is a Scottish billionaire series and I will research that in October and November while I’m in Scotland. The second series is a small town romances series set on a game farm in South Africa. I’m busy with the research for that but will only complete it next year.
And that makes 10 questions answered by Francine. Are you as inspired as I am to sit down and write a novel? What are you waiting for?
Biography: Romance author Francine Beaton published her first romance novel — a contemporary sports romance called Eye On The Ball — in April 2018 after she first started writing in July 2016. Her latest novel, Playing By The Rules, will be the fourth in her Playing For Glory series and her 12th novel. Francine currently calls Pretoria home until the travel bug bites again. She loves travelling to faraway places and considers Scotland her second home. When she’s not reading or writing about love and Happily Ever After, she’s most likely busy painting or taking photos of everything that catches her eye. During rugby season, you’ll either find her next to the pitch or in front of the television, following her favourite teams. It’s probably not difficult to figure out why her debut novel, Eye on the Ball, as well as the series, Playing for Glory, has rugby as a theme.
You can find her latest book here:
“If you know what’s good for you and your career, stay away from my daughter!”
Ulrich Fölscher wants to play rugby for the Buffaloes and the Springboks and eventually become the best chef in town. In that order. There is no place for romance in his life. Obeying Coach Brady’s command is easy, until he meets his daughter Samantha. She is everything he needs – warm, bubbly – and possibly, the missing ingredient he lacks to spice up his life.
Sammy is a professional athlete and she too knows the rules. But it is hard to resist Ulrich’s quiet strength, focused determination and, most of all, his delectable kisses.
Both know how to fight for what they want. But as their desire for each other intensifies, so does the pressure to make a choice. Can Ulrich and Sammy continue to play by the rules or risk it all for love?
Playing By The Rules, is the fourth standalone sports romance in the Playing For Glory series, it follows the lives of red-hot professional rugby players and the women they love.
Sammy’s heart fluttered as she appreciated the fine specimen standing in front of her. Fine? Hah, that was way too lame a term to describe him. He was gorgeous from the top of his short, spiky black hair to the designer sneakers. The charcoal grey t-shirt looked too tight to contain the expansive chest and muscled arms. The jeans suffered an identical dilemma as the t-shirt.
She swallowed the drool as her gaze returned to his unsmiling face, only to get lost in eyes as blue as the ocean. He sounded annoyed but his eyes remained as calm as the sea on a windless day. He couldn’t hide his grumpiness but it didn’t matter. He was still one of the most attractive men she’d ever seen. How would he look when he smiled?
His abrupt words interrupted those thoughts. “Can I help you?”
She babbled. Obviously. She did that when she was nervous and this man made her uneasy. Not nervous as when you’re scared. No, it was more like when you know something exciting was about to happen, and you didn’t have a clue how it would turn out.
“Yes, please. My phone’s battery is dead, and so is my car’s. I must have left the lights on.”
Heat spread across her cheeks as she went on without drawing a breath, “I do it often. I know, don’t say it. My dad says often enough I’m scatterbrained, and if my brothers want to irritate me, they say it is my blonde genes coming out strongly. Anyway, I need to contact my dad to get the recovery people, unless you have jumper cables. I should’ve invested in some since I’m constantly doing that.”
She finally got to the reason she accosted him, “May I use your phone to contact my father, please?”
His mouth fell open as he gawked at her. It wouldn’t surprise her if he thought she was a mad woman. She sounded like one. When she finished, he took a deep breath, most probably on her behalf as he waved his palm in a gesture for her to slow down. The embarrassment disappeared when he spoke, but Sammy didn’t hear half of it. How could she focus on words when the sound was so distracting?
“Okay, okay, slow down. I’m sorry. I don’t have jumper cables.”
Oh, my word!
That was all flitting through Sammy’s lustful mind. If she thought he was attractive before, his voice added that something extra. She wouldn’t mind listening to that smooth baritones the whole time.