Friday, August 05, 2011

Writing for a Niche - Jami Davenport

First, I would like to thank Lucy for allowing me to do a guest blog. Lucy was one of the first authors I met when I started writing for publication. She’s been a great resource over the years and incredibly supportive.

I’m a long-time female football fan. As a native of the Pacific Northwest, I’ve cheered for the Seahawks 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, and there have been a lot of 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 combined my love of writing with my love for football and started a working on a romance novel with a football player named Derek and his relationship with a childhood friend, 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 sellunless you’re Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Well, believe it or not, at the time I’d never read any of SEP’s books, so I bought them all and fell in love with 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 increasing popularity of eBooks and the increasing number of quality small presses, a whole new world has opened up for writers. In the past, if you didn’t write a book with mass-market, commercial appeal, you had little chance of getting it published. Now the smaller digital publishers are filling the niche markets -- areas larger publishers won’t touch because the mass-market appeal isn’t there, or they believe it isn’t.

I’ve never understood why 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 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 the process of writing Fourth and Goal, I did quite a bit of research with the help of my husband, a former D-2 college player. I wanted to make Fourth and Goal as realistic as possible. One of the highlights of my research came when I attended the Seattle Seahawks Football 101 workshop. 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. 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. Yet, 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 plan on writing more football-themed romances in the future. This book was so much fun to write, it almost wrote itself.

I’d love to hear of other football-themed fiction books you’ve read and loved, as I’m compiling a list for my website.


Fourth and Goal

Book 1 - Seattle Lumberjacks Football Series
By Jami Davenport

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 a 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 lustrous 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?

"I got sucked into this book. I mean, hook line and sinker sucked in. I was deeply invested in these characters."--Wendy, the Super Librarian

"Romance so real that you feel you are there."--Trixie, Blackravens Reviews

"I am thoroughly impressed with Ms. Davenport's ability to instill escapism in her story. For the duration, I was consumed with her tale of two friends to lovers intertwined with football." -- Yadira, Night Owl Reviews


Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Jami,

welcome to your guest blog. I am always looking for new sport romances and I am glad to have discovered your series now. Sounds really good.

Judy said...

I fell in love with NASCAR because of Harlequin's NASCAR series. I was introduced to the sport by writers who loved the sport. And I can tell when a writer loves it and when they're only using it for a backdrop. Invariably, the hero has to give up his career for the heroine. She's requiring him to give up a huge part of who he is. Once I discovered NASCAR, I then discovered football. Now, I enjoy both. Good for you for not giving up on Rachel and Derek!

Jami Davenport said...

Lucy, Thanks so much for having me here.

Danny and Judy, yes, I really enjoyed wrtiing this book. I love writing about football heroes.

Judy F said...

I love football really any time of romance books with sports in them.

Favs are SEP books, Deidre Martin and Rachel Gibson's hockey books. Marie Force's Line of scrimmage. Jaci Burton has a smoking hot sports line with awesome covers.
I will have to check out your books Jami

Jami Davenport said...

Judy, Aren't Jaci's covers to die for? I love all those authors you've mentioned. I'm a sucker for a sports hero. I'll pickup any book that comes out if it has a hot jock in it.

Dannyfiredragon said...

@ Judy, I also got hooked because the Harlequin Nascar series. Have you tried Kate Angell's Baseball books? They are funny.

@ Jami, Jaci's covers are really hot. I learned a lot about the different sports through the books

catslady said...

To be honest it's not someithing I thought I would think of reading but you made it sound really good and since I do like football, I do think I'd like it! That's one of the great things about blogs, you learn so much!

Judy F said...

I forgot about Kate Angels books love them too. Another author is Regina Hart Fast Break is a great book.

I just got Jaci's latest in the mail must bond with the cover for a while.

Lucy Monroe said...

Welcome, Jami! I still remember the first critique group I heard you read part of one of your stories aloud...made me laugh and I know I told you I loved it.

Can I just say that I really enjoy the kind of research you did for Fourth & Goal? Immersing yourself like that in your subject shows through in the story and adds to the all over passion of the book - I'm convinced of it. :) I love research! LOL

Anyway, I think the book sounds awesome and I'm going right now to buy it.

Jami Davenport said...

Lucy, Thanks again for having me here and for being such a great support over the years.

Catslady, if you like football, I'm pretty sure you'll like this book.

I love the Kate Angell books, too. I think she has another one coming out in a few months.

Moran V said...

Jami, the blurb sounds really interesting! I just added the book to my wish list and I hope to read it soon.

Dannyfiredragon said...

@ Judy F

I have to check on the book by Regina Hart. Haven't heard about that


I think Kate's new book won't be released till next year. At least the new baseball one.

Virginia said...

I am not into sports that much so I can't think of a book that I have read about football. I do enjoy some movies that are based around sports. Your book sounds really good and I think I would enjoy reading it because its different.


Jane said...

Can't wait to read your books, Jami. I enjoyed a few of Bella Andre's football themed books like Game For Anything and Game For Seduction and many more.

Jami Davenport said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I hope I've gotten you in the mood for a little football.

Judy said...

@Dannyfiredragon, I'm not familiar with Kate Angell. I haven't caught the baseball bug, yet, though one of my friends isn't giving up on me. :-)

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

I read Playing for Pizza by John Gresham [sp??] and was disappointed in the ending. I look forward to reading your book as I am a football fan!!