New Cover for Trying Sophie

A couple of months ago, there was a bit of a kerfuffle when an author released a new book with a cover that looked eerily like the cover for Trying Sophie (same font, same font placement, similar green overlay). At first I ignored it because there's only so much you can do with a romance cover, but then I received a handful of emails from readers I'd never interacted with angrily (on my behalf) letting me know about the look-alike. I approached the author and after a short conversation, decided to chalk it up to coincidence (after all, what else could I do?). Still, in the back of my head, the similarities kept niggling at me. Then, a couple of weeks ago someone wanted to hire me to design her covers, but having seen the similarities between Trying Sophie and that other book, stated she was worried that I recycled my designs!! Basically, she thought I had copied my own book cover for that other author! That was when I realized I couldn't ignore the situation any longer and decided it was time to give Sophie a facelift. Since I was also in the midst of designing the cover for Ruck Me (Dublin Rugby #2) and getting ready to schedule the tour for its release, it was the perfect opportunity to do a whole series re-brand. 

One of the things I fought for a very long time when I first started doing covers was the whole shirtless dude phenomena. Unfortunately, if you know anything at all about romance covers, you know they are ubiquitous and likely aren't going anywhere any time soon. Still, at the back of my mind, I wondered ... what if? Could I get away with designing a cover for Trying Sophie that bucked the trend? I thought long and hard about it y'all. To the point where I even designed a cover using the couple that you've seen on several of my teaser images for this book.

One of the designs I considered and then nixed ...

One of the designs I considered and then nixed ...

I love this guy. He just *looks* like a rugby player (even though he doesn't match the description of Declan - at all).

I love this guy. He just *looks* like a rugby player (even though he doesn't match the description of Declan - at all).

The thing though about the cover with the couple? While beautiful and I love it, it just didn't speak to me for this series. Declan and Sophie are **smoking hot** and these guys look sweet. Oh, I'm sure people could imagine them getting it on every now and again, but those of you who've read Trying Sophie know that sex is a huge part of this book. And it's going to stay that way throughout the series. These aren't erotic novels by any stretch of the imagination, but it's safe to say they skirt the line of what you find in standard romance novels. (I'm still scratching my head over the reviewer who only gave it three flames on her heat index - I can't imagine what an author needs to do to score a five!) Also, the other problem with this version is that nothing about it says SPORTS ROMANCE. This could be any story, about any type of couple. I want readers to know this book has an alpha athlete at its core.

So ... it was back to the drawing board. 

I talked it over with a few authors I respect (plus some of my beta readers) and took their insight and feedback into consideration, ultimately deciding to do an amalgamation of the two covers - my original and this one. 

And thus, the new Trying Sophie was born.

Same original dude, a stadium background blend, and the new fonts and voila! I can't stop staring at it. I love it so much. And having done all the covers for the series - Ruck Me, Break Down, Locked in Love, and Winging It - they look marvelous lined up all in a row. Now, I just have to get back to writing so you can get them in your hands. (Speaking of ... the cover reveal for Ruck Me is on June 30 and the release date is July 26. If you'd like to sign up to participate in these events, my tour is being hosted by Give Me Books and the link can be found here.)

So, what do you think of the new cover? Like it ... or love it?

How I Decided to Write a Rugby Romance

One of the things I've been asked a lot this week is why I decided to write a rugby romance so I thought it would be fun sharing with you all not only how Trying Sophie came to be, but also how I first discovered rugby and what an important role it currently plays in my life.

As many of you know, my husband and I are Americans who are on an expat assignment in Ireland with his company, having moved here in September 2015. With only a two year visa, we told ourselves that we were going to throw ourselves into all the activities we could manage in order to get the most of our time here. The week we landed in Ireland last year was smack dab in the middle of the Rugby World Cup, which for those of you who don't know, is basically a competition that takes place every four years that is all about elite rugby being played at the highest level of the sport. If ever there was a good introduction to a sport you're unfamiliar with, this was it. From our temporary housing, we walked over to one of Dublin's historic pubs to watch the Ireland v Italy match, which Ireland won easily. Despite us having a friend back home who plays, we knew nothing about what was happening on the TV, but the crowd's energy was infectious and soon we were cheering along with other fans. To help keep players straight in my head, and to talk about them with my husband, I even gave them nicknames. We left the pub that night having had a great time and decided we'd go back for the next match. By that time, we'd moved into our house so that time we walked down the street to our local which was at full capacity. This time, I'd read up a bit on the game so I had a better understanding of what was happening, even if I didn't quite know who was who or understand all the intricacies. This was the Ireland v France match and it ended up being a turning point in my love of the sport. You see, early on, several of Ireland's star players got injured pretty bad which necessitated bringing on several back up players. Now, when you're playing for your national team, obviously you're an amazing athlete, but there's just something about the underdog story that speaks to me. Maybe because I was never chosen first for anything, I love the idea of "second best" coming in and making good on their promise. And that's what happened during this match. Spoiler alert: against all odds, Ireland won! I walked out of the pub with a huge grin on my face, talking about how I couldn't wait to go to some local matches. Unfortunately the next week Ireland was trounced by Argentina, but my interest was firmly on its way to being cemented. Fast forward a couple of weeks later, and we were sitting in the stands at our local professional rugby team's match against a team from Scotland and seeing it live and in person was such a thrill! Even with the "B" team on the field (the internationals were resting up from their showing at the RWC), the game was electric and pulse-pounding. I knew then that I was a fan and I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the sport.

It was around the time that we were attending more and more home matches that I started thinking about what book I should write next. A few friends were going to participate in NaNoWriMo so I decided I'd give it a try - again. One thing you should know about me: I fail every year at this writing exercise. I knew I wanted to write about a rugby player but that was all I knew. The more I thought about who he was, the more crystal clear my heroine became. She had to be strong, she had to be independent, and she had to challenge him in a way no other woman ever had. And then a funny thing happened, as Sophie came into clarity, Declan did too ... and then the supporting characters just fell into place. 

All told it took me almost a year to write Declan and Sophie's story, and I know in the world of contemporary romance - never mind contemporary sports romances - that's a long time, but I wanted to do it justice. One thing you'll notice if you've read Trying Sophie is that it's what we liked to call a slow burn and everything happens in due course. This is no overnight insta-love story but rather one that mimics a lot of how relationships happen in real life. Despite their immense attraction to one another, Declan and Sophie take the time to get to know each other (and themselves!) along the way until they both realize that the other is it for them. I wanted to write the type of book that I enjoy reading most, and I accomplished that with Trying Sophie. The only sad thing was having to put the final period on their love story. Thankfully though, there's a whole slew of Dublin Rugby players' stories to explore, so I hope you'll stick with me for those as well.