Way back in February, I had the best phone call of my life. Carina Press wanted to buy Out on the Ice, my female/female hockey romance. Twenty years of trying to get a “yes” had finally made up for hundreds of “no”s. Dream come true! I would be a debut author this August. I could finally do all those things I’d been looking forward to for so many years.
And then, everything changed. It has been so odd being a debut author in the year of Covid-19. To be beyond excited about achieving a hard-earned goal while there is so much fear, sadness and anger in the world. The authors who debuted in the first few months of the lockdown had to completely change their marketing strategies. “Pivot” was a term that barely scratched the surface. There were canceled appearances and signings and in-person release events. It really sucked for them.
I have been lucky in some ways. As my book is a digital release, I already knew most of my efforts would be online. And romance, the genre where happiness is guaranteed, is needed now more than ever. And people seemed genuinely looking forward to a hockey romance featuring two strong women. Positive queer representation is in demand (and rightly so!). It’s nice to offer hope and happiness when we need those moments of escape.
The hardest part has been the little things. The dreams that had to be let go. Everyone has been affected by 2020’s wrath, and it does at times feel insignificant to mourn such trivial things. But I’ll tell you, ever since my first Romance Writers of America conference in 1999, I’ve wanted to wear a special ribbon on my nametag. It used to say “First Sale,” and now says “Debut Author.” Every time I attended that conference, I chanted in my head, “Someday. Someday.” I even took one from a bowl full of them at last year’s conference to pin on my bulletin board as inspiration.
All in-person conferences were canceled or went digital this year. I still wore my damn ribbon, though, to the virtual Chicago-North Spring Fling Writers Conference. No one could see it, so I wore it just for me! It would have been so cool to chat about quiet Caro and outspoken Amy’s love story with fellow romance writers and readers. There’s been a big loss of those personal connections for debut authors to get their name out.
It would have also been nice to celebrate the steps toward publication with my critique partners and local writers group. They helped me get here! We used to meet once a week to get some words down and work out plot problems. Now, it’s a push through exhaustion and stress to get any words written at home. Creativity has been hard to come by. Routines have been disrupted. We can’t just go to Panera to get away for a few hours and focus.
I almost didn’t have postcards printed. Who am I going to give them to? The only places I go are the grocery store and Target. My day job is still closed to the public, so no chatting with clients and handing them a reminder card. Here in the heavily populated Chicago area, people are still being cautious about no- or low-contact. Forget signing books for loved ones because my special limited print run is majorly delayed. Thanks, Coronavirus. You suck.
In many ways, it’s been par for the course on my path to publication. It’s certainly been a long, strange trip, so of course I debuted in the year of a global pandemic and social unrest. Why would it go smoothly? Myself and fellow debuts have tried to find a silver lining. More people at home means more time to read. NHL hockey being played in August makes my release actually timely. We can support great indie bookstores across the country by having them mail out autographed books.
It will definitely be a conversation piece for years to come. A wonderful writer friend gave me a canvas tote bag with my cover on it and “I Debuted In A Pandemic 2020.” It’s to be used when we can all meet again at conferences and events. And it will happen someday. I mean, I write romance. There will always be a happy ending, even if it’s a bittersweet one.
Caro Cassidy used to be a legend.
During her career, Caro was one of the best defense players in women’s hockey. These days, she keeps to herself. Her all-girls hockey camp is her life, and she hopes it’ll be her legacy. Sure, her new summer hire is charming and magnetic, but Caro keeps her work and personal life strictly separate.
Amy Schwarzbach lives life out loud.
Amy’s as bright and cheerful as her lavender hair, and she uses her high-profile position in women’s hockey to advocate for the things she believes in. Ten weeks in Chicago coaching a girls’ training camp is the perfect opportunity to mentor the next generation before she goes back to Boston.
Letting love in means putting yourself out there.
When the reticent head coach offers to help Amy get in shape for next season, her starstruck crush on Caro quickly blossoms into real chemistry. As summer comes to an end, neither of them can quite let go of this fling—but Amy can’t afford a distraction, and Caro can’t risk her relationship becoming public and jeopardizing the one thing that’s really hers.
Kelly Farmer (she/her) has been writing romance novels since junior high. In those days, they featured high school quarterbacks named Brad who drove Corvettes and gals with names like Desireé because her own name was rather plain. Her stories since then have ranged from historical and contemporary male/female romances to light women’s fiction to LGBTQ+ romance. One theme remains the same: everyone deserves to have a happy ending.
Kelly was a 2015 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Finalist in the Contemporary Romance category. She is past president of the Chicago-North Romance Writers and is also a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association.
When not writing, she enjoys being outside in nature, quoting from 80’s movies, listening to all kinds of music, and petting every dog she comes in contact with. All of these show up in her books. She also watches a lot of documentaries to satisfy her hunger for random bits of trivia. Kelly lives in the Chicago suburbs, where she swears every winter is her last one there.
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Authors Unbound Genre: Contemporary Genre: Romance Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Lesbian Pairing: F/F Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Guest Post Tag: Sports Authors Unbound Kelly Farmer Out on the Ice