I signed a contract for a new RomCom releasing this summer! Before I tell you the title or premise, I thought I’d take you through the inspiration, research, and plotting stages with me, so you can see where stories come from.
Author Sarah Monzon posted the picture below on her Facebook page.
This man is the assistant coach for her son’s sports team. But I recognized him from one of my favorite shows (The Firm). His name is Josh Lucas, and he’s an actor.
I thought, That would make a fun meet-cute for a single mom and the movie star coaching her kid. I reached out to Sarah with the suggestion. She basically said, “You write it.”
That sounded fun. I started by asking what might bring this couple together. Maybe I could do a fake dating trope. I’ve never done that before. The hero could want to pretend they were dating to keep the other single moms away, and the heroine might play along for a chance to help coach.
This is where I decided to make her obsessed with soccer. She’s a crazy coach, pushing her team of six-year-olds a little too far. She used to be the head coach, but she was removed from the position.
Then Sarah pointed out the fact that if other parents steer clear of her because she’s nuts, then the two wouldn’t have to pretend to date. Simply letting her help coach creates the needed buffer.
I told my critique partner Heather Woodhaven about the idea. She responded, “My sister-in-law is a soccer coach. You should talk to her.” And she set up a time for the three of us to meet for coffee.
The sister-in-law’s team won every single soccer game by seven points last year. If they’d won any game by more than seven points, she would have received a red tag, and after three red tags, she would have been removed. Perfect for my story!
Then came tales from her experience. Tales of…
Dance moms who bring their daughters to practice in tutus and full makeup.
Politically correct parents who cheer, “We’re all winners!” And cluelessly supportive parents who shout, “Go, my favorite sports team!”
Girls accidentally kicking off their shoes often enough that they needed to be duct taped on.
Not to mention the secret practices.
These characters pretty much wrote themselves. Now for…
I knew what would bring the hero and heroine together, but what will keep them apart? I don’t want to give away too much, so I’m just going to talk about theme here…
One of the little girls on my new friend’s team had a bad habit of kicking the ball as hard as she could out of bounds whenever it came near her. She sent it “out of play.” That’s exactly how my hero and heroine participate in the game of love. When it comes to the dating world, they are also out of play. Which gives the phrase a double-meaning and makes a great book title.
For this story, I’m excited to explore the importance of play. What makes people err on either the side of being too serious or not serious enough? Why is it easier to quit than lose? How much does it hurt to play your hardest only to find out it’s not enough?
To sum up, Plato got it right when he said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
Yes, I’m including some pretty deep stuff for a RomCom. But maybe that’s my whole point. The playfulness of humor makes it safe to be vulnerable, thus inviting authenticity and introspection.
In Out of Play, actor Skylar Hayes is unprepared for the pressure and attention that comes with coaching his niece’s six-year-old soccer team. He makes soccer-obsessed single mom, Bex Lawson, his assistant to both help win games and keep his fans at bay, never expecting their partnership to threaten the boundary lines of his heart.
This short novel will release in June as part of two summer love sets with some of your favorite sweet romance authors. Watch for Bright Lights and Starry Nights.
Now that you know my title and premise, what else would you hope to see in this story?