Ask me Anything on any of my books - Rugby, Romance and Food (but not diets, please!)

Francine Beaton
May 13, 2018

Hi! I’m Francine and I write contemporary romance. My debut novel, Eye on the Ball is a sports romance with a little twist. It is the first in a series called Playing for Glory and was re-released in April. My second novel, Taste for Coffee, will be released soon – I hope.

I love traveling, food and drink but not diets. If I don’t write, I manage to steal time to read, paint or taking photos. And chasing after the cat.

Check me out online:

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Why bother with contemporary, since so many other people are already writing it?
May 18, 3:28PM EDT0

That's a good question but that is what I write. I would've loved to put my books into a category where there are only a few authors and you can easily get to the top 100 ranking on Amazon or lower, but I'm not here to write fan fiction. It is not about "bothering" with contemporary. I write what I write. It is as simple as that.

May 19, 1:52AM EDT0
Do you ever see yourself writing a hero who’s, like, lovable but kinda hapless?
May 18, 3:07PM EDT0

Yeah, I would like to. I'm actually working on one but he is way down the line, unfortunately. He is this big teddy bear kind of guy but oh, so clumsy. You shouldn't let him loose in a florist shop full of glass vases ...

May 19, 1:54AM EDT0
How long have you been reading romance? Do you remember what that first one was about?
May 18, 1:38PM EDT0

I grew up in South Africa in the seventies in a middle-class household. Holidays my sister and I spend at the local library. When I was eleven, I already read all the books in the children's section and I started with the books in the adult section. It was an Afrikaans book and as most Afrikaans romances of that time (and probably still is), it was sweet clean romance. It was called Volmaan oor die Tiber (Full Moon over the Tiber) by Susanna M Lingua. It was about a woman who found out that she only had four months to live. She decided to spend her last days in Rome where she met this brilliant brain surgeon who went on to save her. 

Very, very sweet indeed. Susanna M Lingua loved to write about Italians or Portuguese royalty or millionaires. My other favorite was Ettie Bierman, who wrote all these stories about air stewardesses and sexy pilots. Well, those days they didn't call them sexy. I don't think the word sexy was even invented then! :) 

I discovered Mills & Boon when I was about fifteen or sixteen but I don't remember any of those stories.

Last edited @ May 19, 2:04AM EDT.
May 19, 2:04AM EDT0
Is there something you’ve learned from a romance that you’ve never forgotten?
May 18, 12:26PM EDT0

Communication. Communication is key in any relationship. Another one is the rule not to keep secrets. It will come and bite you. 

On a more serious note. A few years ago I read a book (I really can't remember the book's name or the author even, but I learned from that book about fybromyalgia. Only a couple of years later a friend of mine was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I still remembered what the heroine was supposed to do and not do to ease her symptoms. It was amazing.  (And yes, after I read the book, I went to research the disease, and that is why I remember it so vividly.)

May 19, 2:23AM EDT0
What do you think is the purpose of sex scenes in romance novels?
May 18, 8:08AM EDT0

Don't quote me on this, but I sometimes feel that too many sex scenes are used to hide a story with not enough meat. I only write a sex scene when it is an integral part of the storyline. There should be some kind of an outcome or result because of the act, or it should be the result of something that had happened before.  Sex scenes should rather be used cautiously. It can ruin many a good book. 

May 18, 12:08PM EDT0
What was the best meal you have ever tasted?
May 16, 10:53AM EDT0

My Mum used to say that hunger is the best chef and it's true. I remember one day playing a netball tournament from 12:00 to six on a Saturday afternoon. It was winter, and it was cold and I was tired and hungry - and my Mum made this "concoction" with all the leftovers from the week. It was amazing, but I think it was just because I was so hungry.

No, seriously, in recent years my best meal I had was in a small pub in Falkirk, Scotland and I had Cullen Skink. It may not sound nice, but it is haddock soup. It was amazing. Also, in Paris, I had an Entrecôte (ribeye steak), in a small little restaurant. It was only the old man and his wife but it was amazing. So was their onion soup. I don't think I'll find the place again, unfortunately.

May 16, 1:13PM EDT0
You mentioned your hobbies include to reading, painting and taking photos. What inspired you to start creating art? What do you like to paint?
May 16, 5:42AM EDT0

Flowers. I love flowers. I would've liked to be a florist but when I left school, it wasn't an option so I started photographing them. Then I painted them - not as well as photographing them - not yet anyway. 

I love painting still lifes. Fruit. Glass. 

May 16, 1:08PM EDT0
What is your favourite thing about traveling? What country is next on you bucket list?
May 16, 4:53AM EDT0

Ooh, I think my bucket list is about two pages long! :)

My favorite thing about traveling is the excitement of getting exposed to new places, new things, new food, new people. I love photography, and I love photographing all these places and things that are different than what I'm used to. Especially in Asia. I haven't been to all the places in Asia yet, but they are on my bucket list. Sometimes, just because the name sound so nice. Think of places such as Ho Minh City. It sounds... exotic.

Let me see - if I have to choose now, which place I would like to go to?  I can't choose! I really want to go to Argentina and Chile and Mexico. And Norway and Sweden. And New Zealand. And although I've been to Italy, I would like to go to Milan and Tuscany. I would like to go to the wine region of France and see the lavenders. And the tulips in Keukenhof Gardens. And I would like to go to New Orleans. Don't ask me why. And Japan when the cherry blossoms are blooming. I like following the sun, the flowers and the wine, I guess. :) 

May 16, 1:00PM EDT0
What would you make for dinner if you have only 30 minutes of preparation time?
May 15, 11:24PM EDT0

If I don't defrost the soup I've cooked last week? I guess Bacon Carbonara or any other pasta. It's quick and easy (especially if you buy prepared sauces, but I don't always do that). Also, I don't like mushrooms so I don't need to chop that up, and my daughter doesn't like onions in pasta (except bolognese), so that saves me from chopping that up too. It probably is not bacon carbonara then, is it? But it is our family favorite. Or I'll make a quick and easy bolognese sauce with pasta. We like pasta.

If they want something fancier, they need to give me a week in advance! Luckily my husband loves to cook so I don't have to. And my daughter is also becoming more adventurous. 

May 16, 2:14AM EDT0
What review from an author, critic or a fan that meant the world to you?
May 14, 4:28PM EDT0

Every review means the world to me - I only a have a few! I guess the ones that meant the most to me was when my sister read Taste for Coffee and said that she was so involved with the story that she forgot that I was the author! Well, until she reached the sex scene! :)

My other great review was from an Amazon customer for Eye on the Ball: 

Eye on the Ball was a delightful debut and fun to read. I loved that the story took place in Denver and then South Africa. Francine Beaton is unique and fresh. The romance between Jakes (a rugby player in Denver for rehab from an injury) and Ange (a feisty waitress) builds slowly and even wallops the characters. Jakes’ injury woes are written so well, I swear I felt it! Beaton also captures the characters’ emotions beautifully and takes you on a ride as they each grow to find happy ever after. But it’s not automatic. No insta-love here. Beaton makes her characters work for it. And everyone is satisfied when they do. I look forward to the next book by Francine Beaton.


May 15, 6:31AM EDT0
What is the greatest fan encounter you've ever had?
May 14, 3:18PM EDT0

No, sorry. I'm still waiting for that one! :) I hope it will happen soon!

Although, I had breakfast with my daughter the other day and two ladies at the table next to me kept on staring at me. Does that count?

May 15, 6:26AM EDT0
What is the biggest romantic betrayal that you have ever created for one of your romance novels?
May 14, 7:48AM EDT0

Ooh, let me think...

I think it's Marcus. Without giving away too much of the story, I'll tell you about Marcus. He is the eldest of the Walker brothers, eight years old when his father married Anna Sinclair, a widow with three children, of which Anni is the youngest at three years old. Anna and Marc senior had three more children. The Blue Mountains Series is their stories and My Blue Heaven tells Anni and Marcus' story. 

When Anni turned 14, Marcus realized that his little sister was growing up - and she is not his sister. On her 18th birthday, Marcus told Anni that he waited long enough for her to grow up. During the long summer months on Blue Mountains, Anni and Marcus became lovers. That was until Anni caught Marcus in bed with an old family friend - an older, more sophisticated woman. That day Anni did what Marcus told her to do: she grew up. 

Okay. That's it. Definitely Marcus. 

His half-brother Nathan Sinclair  (Summertime Blues) came very close second when he pretended that he didn't know the woman with whom he had a brief affair. 

I think that family is seriously messed up. I think it must be all the wine they make - and consume - on Blue Mountains.

It could also be Daniel in Leading from the Front (Book 5, Playing for Glory series). One moment he kisses Melissa senseless, the next day he complained about her, causing Melissa to lose her dream job - something she had worked hard to get. It's not easy for a woman in a man's world. The fact that Melissa had warned Daniel that it was her biggest fear that she could be compromised if ever anything went wrong between them, made it worse. He was the team captain. And there he proved her right...

May 14, 8:09AM EDT0
What do you think is the greatest romance novel of all time?
May 14, 7:35AM EDT0

Now, there you have me!

I do believe it is a matter of taste. You may argue that some of the old classics were some of the best romances written. Probably, but I don't like reading them so I may disagree.

I like modern romances and I may give you a different answer every week - depending on which one is my favorite. Let me rather give you a few of my all-time favorites:

1. The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough

2. Me before You - Jojo Moyes

3. The Fault in our Stars - John Green

4. Lastly, but my current favorite - Outlanders Series by Diana Gabaldon

Sorry I couldn't give you a more academic answer. :)

May 14, 7:51AM EDT0
Do you think women resort to romance novels because they are trying to compensate what they're lacking in the real world?
May 14, 5:49AM EDT0


Do you think men like crime novels because they lack aggression in their lives?

Don't generalize. Not all women like romance novels. Not all men like crime novels. I know many men who like and write romance novels. More women may read romance novels because yes, women like love, and laughter and happily ever afters. There's nothing wrong with that. 

It is not to say that you like a specific genre you lack something in your life.  I'm not going to give you the facts here, but I would like to refer you to the following blog post:

May 14, 6:15AM EDT0
What made you write about sports romance in particular?
May 13, 11:29AM EDT0

I just love the game. I grew up with it. I might have explained in one of the other questions that the idea came on a long flight from New York to Johannesburg. I was reading a rugby romance (I won't say which one, because after the previous World Cup, a load of them were flooding Amazon). I guess the fact that the person who wrote it didn't know much about rugby (rugby union, I mean), just irritated me. That, and a chance meeting with a young rugby player from Jersey while on a 4th of July cruise was probably the inspiration behind the series. I mean, we were having a party. Why would we talk about rugby? Anyway, by the end of the flight, I had planned my series. Preposterous of me, probably, but I do love the series.

May 13, 11:36AM EDT0
Do you write your truth into fiction and how so? Or if everything you write is created by your imagination, where do you get your inspiration?
May 13, 5:01AM EDT0

I guess there is a lot of truth in my fiction. I had to write the truth, really considering the type of romance I'm writing, especially the rugby romances. If someone reads my book who knows how it works in professional rugby, I need it to be authentic. I had to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions although I admit that I had to adapt some facts to fit the storyline. Sometimes I think it would be better if I could write about something that didn't exist. Nobody could then tell me I talk rubbish or not :)

Not everything is the truth though. For the series Playing for Glory, I had to create my own team, for example, with a new stadium, etc, as there is already a professional rugby team in Pretoria. I needed to create a new competition too - all due to copyright, trademarks, etc. 

It is the same with my coffee shop romance, Taste for Coffee. I needed to know how things work in a coffee shop. I try not to get too technical. I don't want to bore my readers with too many facts. 

You will also find something about one or more of my characters that is the truth about me, or someone I know personally. Angie, for example, is an artist. I also paint - mainly for myself or to give to someone as a present. Richie Campbell, the Scottish winger for example in book 3, Wrecking Ball, is a keen photographer. I'm also a keen photographer. 

It doesn't matter whether it is truth or fiction, I get my inspiration from the world and people around me. 

May 13, 11:07AM EDT0
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?
May 12, 10:40PM EDT0

Funnily, this is one of the topics we discussed at a workshop on Author branding yesterday. It doesn't matter these days if you are with a big publishing house or not, the new authors and lesser-known authors anyway have to do their own promotions. The budgets go to the already well-known, best-selling authors. 

Even with my previous publisher, I had to do my own promotions and that is something I still struggle with. I rely mostly on social media but that is not the only option or the most feasible. I've used a couple of social media promotions on AskDavid for Twitter (I'm so scared of Twitter) and Titan In-Korp. I don't know if it's helping, really.

My next step is to reach out to people away from Social media and that is not as easy as it sounds. I hope being part of the Africa Online Bookfair during 1-3 June and the first Indie bookfair in Pretoria on 14 July, would help me to get in touch with more readers. My next step would be to get my name in the local media, specifically, and also to establish my website and newsletters and to get more reviews. Next year I'll be in the UK, and I hope the exposure at the numerous book fairs would help to establish a new following. I know I'm a fairly new writer and still have to build my name. I guess the more books you have out, the easier it gets, so I'm working hard on getting two more full-length novels out this year (they are with the editors now), and two or three novellas. And before someone says anything, I've written most of these before I started to publish. They were ready for publishing before Eye on the Ball was published.

If you know ways to promote yourself, without spending a fortune, please let me know. :)

May 13, 1:45AM EDT0
Do you have a favorite team in Rugby? How long have you been a fan of the team and the sport?
May 12, 10:25AM EDT0

First of all, I apologize for only replying now. I had been on a workshop yesterday and returned just in time to see my team beat the Sharks in SuperRugby. 

So, yes. I have a favorite team in rugby since I  can remember. Rugby is my favorite team sport. I supported the Bulls/Blue Bulls while they were still called Northern Transvaal. My dad was an avid supporter, and so was my Mum. I had three older brothers who all played rugby and so had most of my male friends. We had a few crappy years but since John Mitchell took over the coaching, I have hope for my team again - the only one in South Africa who had managed to win the SuperRugby title - three times.

Nowadays I have a few favorite teams - internationally. Locally, I'll always be a Bulls supporter but if they play against international competition, I'll support my other local teams too. The Lions and the Cheetahs are my 'other' teams.

I also support a few other teams in the US and the UK. In the US it is the Glendale Raptors and Austine Elite. These guys are great to help me with research. Both are now playing in the US professional league.

In the UK I support Worcester Warriors and Harlequins - don't ask me why. In Scotland specifically, I support Falkirk, Edinburgh. and Glasgow. Apparently, there is another team I need to support in Glasgow, apart from the Hawks. I need to do my research when I get there. 

May 13, 12:34AM EDT0
What are your biggest pet peeves in the romance genre?
May 12, 9:48AM EDT0

Hmm, should I answer? Yes, why not? 

My biggest pet peeve is writing according to a recipe and then smirk at other writers when they can't publish a book a month. 

Someone asked here whether I follow the trends or use a classic approach. Following the trends is another pet peeve. After Fifty Shades of Grey, everyone wanted to write similar books. Everyone wants to emulate Nora Roberts or Nicholas Sparks or one of the more well-known writers. Just write what you like. 

My only other problem with the romance genre is that you get stuck in a subgenre or category when you feel in your heart that your book is so much more than that.

I must say, I love being part of this genre. Apart from one person who I won't even need to mention, most of the authors in this genre is friendly, helpful and supportive. It is really amazing being part of this group of writers. I'm specifically talking about the people I met through ROSA (the Romance Writers of South Africa) and the RNA (Romantic Novelist Association of the UK). Some I haven't met personally, but just through the Facebook groups, but I received some valuable advice from them.

May 13, 1:34AM EDT0
What are some of your hobbies when you are not chained to the writing?
May 12, 8:12AM EDT0

I love reading, so yes, that is my first go-to escape from writing. A couple of years ago, I started painting - oils specifically and I also do mixed media painting. While writing Eye on the Ball, for example, I attempted the same scenes Angie painted - the snow scene and the cosmos painting. I've never finished them, unfortunately. I can't paint people so I used mixed media for Jakes' paintings.

My other go-to escape is photography. I didn't have any lessons in either painting or photography, but I love doing it. Over the years I attempted other hobbies, but these two stuck.

Lastly, I love traveling but these days I use it for research and also to take more photos. I also love spending time my family and socialize, going for coffee with a friend. 

I don't watch much television, apart from rugby. If I do watch, it might be a romantic movie or a crime series (I love NCIS). I had, however, discovered Netflix and Outlander. I'm hooked - I haven't even read a book this week. I'm watching the first series now and there is more to come. :)

May 13, 1:20AM EDT0
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