Playing Hurt Book Birthday!

Confetti, balloons, and streamers, oh, my! My second novel, Playing Hurt, releases today! I can’t begin to describe just how excited I am for this release…

I think I might even be more excited the second time around than I was with my debut.

Playing Hurt is a steamy summer romance between two former athletes…and a book that took years to put in its current, publishable form.

Here’s the official jacket copy:

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

I initially drafted Playing Hurt around ’04 or ’05, and the original manuscript was strictly a summer romance—the sports subplot didn’t exist. After several rounds of revision (and after selling my debut, A Blue So Dark, to Flux), I re-read Playing Hurt, and realized my characters needed a good dose of backstory.

As I trolled the pages, I was struck by how athletic Chelsea seemed. (The outdoor adventures at a northern Minnesota lake resort were all present in the original draft.) So I started to think, “What if Chelsea’s an athlete?” But that slowly turned into, “What if she’s an ex-athlete?” And as I thought about Clint, I started to play with the idea that he also had to give up sports…

So I plunged into the manuscript, giving both Clint and Chelsea sports histories…and giving Clint his own voice! (The original manuscript was told entirely from Chelsea’s POV; the final published version alternates between Chelsea and Clint’s viewpoints.)

In all honesty, I’m pretty dictatorial when it comes to my characters—I basically tell them what to do. But Playing Hurt was one instance when I quit barking orders and listened to my characters…and by listening, I figured out what was missing…

...That just goes to show you that no book ever reaches a dead-end. No matter how stuck you think you are in a specific project, no matter how hopeless it seems, a solution will appear.

I had to share this, too: the moment my author copies arrived! A proud day for sure…


  1. Congrats, Holly! Happy Book Birthday :)

    Looking forward to reading Playing Hurt..

  2. I saw this talked about yesterday on another blog and added it to my Amazon cart. Sounds great and I love the backstory on the writing of the manuscript. Congratulations!

  3. Thanks so much for the congrats, guys! I'm thrilled!

  4. Congratulations! Playing Hurt sounds really interesting. I just adding it to my TBR list.

  5. Whoops! I meant "added"

  6. Aw, that is great! Congrats on the big day, Holly!!!

  7. Congrats on your book release/birthday!
    I'll be looking for it!

  8. There's nothing quite like the feeling of opening that box and holding your book for the first time. Thanks for sharing. Your book sounds terrific!

  9. Thanks again, guys! Jan, you're right--nothing like holding your "baby" for the first time!

  10. Congratulations! And thanks for the inspiration!

  11. So exciting! Forget the scissors. I would've torn open the box with my nails and teeth. But that's just me! Congrats!!!!


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