Category Archives: About Katrina

Learn more about what I write.

Checking in with 2011 goals

We’re now officially half-way through 2011, which hardly seems possible. Wasn’t it Christmas a few weeks ago? Didn’t I just sit down to write my goals for the year?

Back in January, I told you all about my goals for this year in the belief that making them public would make me more accountable.

I haven’t hit all of the ones I meant to by this time. It’s taken me a little longer than I expected to write and revise the two manuscripts I’m working on, but that’s okay with me because I’d rather take that time to improve them than to pointlessly send out work I’ve rushed through.

Things I have managed to do:

– go on my first research trip (to Bosnia)

– book my tickets for RWA Nationals (my very first writing conference!) and line up pitch appointments

– enter a couple of contests

– judge the Golden Heart, beta read for a couple of people, and continue weekly critiques with my partners

– connect with more people on Twitter and this blog

– blog at least once a week through WordPress’ PostAWeek challenge, and grow the number of blog subscribers and daily hits this blog gets.

The year may be half over, but that’s still a lot of time to achieve my other goals:

– completing the two manuscripts I’m working on

– writing the first draft of another story

– querying agents and keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll find the right agent for me.

Did you make goals for 2011? How are you doing with accomplishing them?

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Thanks for the day off, Wills and Kate

In honor of Easter and the royal wedding, I’m taking this week off. I won’t be online much, but I’ll be back with you next week, once Britain returns to normal.

In the meantime, enjoy the hoopla around Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. And if you’re not a royalist, enjoy the extra day off.

Here’s by far my favorite royal-wedding-inspired video. If the wedding were really like this, I’d probably watch it.

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My first blog award – and giveaway announcement

Heads up: I’ve got close to 100 subscribers on this blog, which thrills and humbles me. As a thank you, when I hit 100 I’ll give away a couple of book gift certificates to people who have subscribed and commented.

So if you’ve subscribed but never commented, find a post that interests you and let us know what you think! And thank you to everyone who’s gotten involved on this blog!

Last week I had the double honor of being Freshly Pressed by WordPress (I have the screenshot to prove it) and receiving my very first blog award!

The Versatile Blogger awardMichelle – whose awesome blog Tickling My Fancy covers writing, reading, music, film and photography – sent me the Versatile Blogger award.

Here are the rules. I need to:

* thank and link to the person who nominated me (thanks, Michelle!)
* share seven random facts about myself
* pass the award along to 15 new-found blogging buddies
* contact those buddies to congratulate them

Here are seven random facts about me

1. I nearly quit blogging at the end of last year. I’d run out of steam and ideas, but decided to throw myself into it for a few months and see what happened. Good decision!

2. I’ve lived in three countries – the US, UK and Czech Republic. This has messed my accent up beyond all recognition. I’m from California but my parents refer to me and my British husband as “The Europeans”.

3. I have a tiny crush on several professional rugby players – from the beautiful Brian O’Driscoll to the beautiful-in-my-eyes Martin Johnson. A cousin-in-law works for Leinster rugby and got Brian O’Driscoll to sign a card for my wedding. It was my second favorite moment, after kissing my new husband.

4. My career’s been a bit scattered. I’ve worked for a divorce lawyer, taught Sunday school, sold fabric, done data entry at a scuba shop and a boutique for women with cancer, massaged people at a spa (not at all in a sexy way), taught English to children from around the world and to Czech bankers, run an Amnesty International group, and volunteered with refugee advisers at the Refugee Council in London. All great fodder for a novelist.

5. Whenever I’m at home, I’m in my pajamas. Apparently, my grandfather (who died when I was 2) stripped to his boxers every day as soon as he got home from work. This seems to be an inheritable trait because I hate wearing real clothes at home.

6. The first time I met my future mother-in-law, a very respectable British woman, I used the word “dickweed”. Not one of my finer moments. Fortunately, we’ve moved past that. My goal is to one day get her to say it. I figure my greatest chance of accomplishing that is to ask her opinion of our current government.

7. If I could do any job other than the one I have now (web editor for a charity and unpaid novelist), I’d be a travel writer. I can’t travel enough. My two favorite places so far are Cesky Krumlov – in southern Bohemia – and Hiroshima, but I’m looking forward to going to Croatia and Bosnia in a couple of weeks.

New-found blogs I love

I’m cheating a little bit here. The first nine of these are blogs I’ve discovered in the last few weeks, but the last six are ones I’ve followed for a while. They all deserve a massive shout-out and are great places for writers.

Here are 15 fantastic blogs I love.

1. Tickling My Fancy – Michelle works in the auto industry, so her blog provides an outlet for sharing her thoughts on writing, reading, music, film and photography.

2. Whimsy, Writing, & Reading – Contemporary YA writer Angela Scott talks zombies and writing on her very funny blog.

3. Lessons from the Monk I Married – Katherine Jenkins married a former Buddhist monk and shares the valuable life lessons she’s learned through their journey together.

4. Falling in Love with Romance – The thing I love about Suzie Quint’s blog is that it focuses on the craft of writing. It’s practical and very helpful.

5. Isn’t it Romance? – Tumperkin is a lawyer by day and romance novel lover by night. She writes about all things romance.

6. Angela Perry; History, Re-imagined – Angela’s very cool blog features thoughtful posts, images and flash fiction based on those images.

7. Uninvoked – A.M. Kuska is a writer working toward publication. She blogs about writing, posts book reviews and writes thoughtful posts that’ll appeal to all writers.

8. Don’t pet me, I’m writing – Tawna Fenske’s blog is hysterical. Just go. Go now. You need a laugh, and this is it.

9. Philosophy of Romance – Vince Mooney is writing a book about the romance genre, and on his blog he analyzes novels in a way that’s different than any other romance blogger I’ve seen. Truly amazing and helpful stuff.

10. Ashley March – Whether you’re a writer or a reader, you’ll love Ashley’s blog – and the lovely lady herself.

11. Jami Gold – Jami’s blog covers writing in such a unique and thoughtful way that I’m constantly jealous I didn’t come up with her posts first. *shakes fist*

12. Joanna Bourne – I’ve devoured Jo Bourne’s books for the richness of their language, characterization and historical research. Jo’s blog is a treasure trove of beautiful ponderings.

13. Two Nerdy History Girls – Bestselling authors Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott share all the juicy tidbits they learn from their extensive historical research.

14. Terry’s Place – Romance and mystery author Terry Odell shares her experience and really valuable writing tips.

15. Roni Loren – There aren’t enough words to describe how brilliant Roni Loren’s writing blog is. A must read for all writers.

If you have favorite writing blogs, feel free to share them on my page for writers!

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A birthday weekend fit for a romance novelist

My birthday is tomorrow. I know, it doesn’t give you much time to shop for me. But don’t worry – my husband’s already given me the best gift ever, so you don’t need to get me anything.

Almost every year since we’ve been together, my husband has taken me away for my birthday weekend. Each time he’s made the location a surprise. This year, I had a couple of clues: we were going for one night and driving, so it had to be somewhere near London.

On Saturday morning, we got in the car and that’s when he revealed our destination: Rye in East Sussex. You might not have heard of it before. It’s a very small town just inland from the south coast. Henry James lived there for several years. My husband said he chose it because it looked like it would appeal to an American (in other words, it’s got really, really old stuff) and to a romance novelist.

He was right on both counts.

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Finished the draft! Need a beta!

Silhouette of a jumping man

Credit: Asif Akbar/sxc.hu

After one year and two weeks, I’ve FINALLY finished the first draft of my novel.

*insert appropriate noises connoting excitement and nervousness here*

I’ve been editing and polishing as I go – which is one reason I’ve only written the last scene this weekend. It’s 343 pages (96,500 glorious words) but there are around 250 pages that only God and I have seen. They need work. Probably a lot of work. But I’ve stuck with this story when I was tired, stressed, and frustrated, so I’m not giving up now.

So here’s the deal. I’m looking for people who’d love to read it and give me feedback. Ideally, I’m looking for people who like somewhat dark, emotional contemporary single title romance. I’d love it if you could give me your feedback by mid-to-late February so I can digest it and rework anything I need to.

I’d like pretty high-level feedback (what works, what’s confusing, what’s unrealistic and makes me sound like I’m pulling things out of my butt, etc), though, if you’re inclined to point out awkward sentences then by all means please do so.

If you’re a writer, I’m happy to do an exchange with you (because of this, I will probably only take a few beta readers, as I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep).

Feel free to leave a comment below (even if you don’t want to beta read for me) or email me at romancingkatrina [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for celebrating with me!

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Oh, the things you’ll do!

When I graduated from high school, one of my relatives gave me the Dr Seuss book Oh, The Places You’ll Go! The title became my mantra in the seven years or so afterward, as I grasped every exciting opportunity that came my way. I moved from San Diego to Chicago to L.A. to Prague to London by the time I was 26. I took interesting jobs, got two degrees and a teaching certificate, and made a fantastically diverse group of friends.

This year feels like I’m on the cusp of huge changes in my personal life, my writing career life, and my day-job life. I wanted to share with you some of the things I’m most excited about, and the goals I’ve set for 2011.

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2010: How writing and writing buddies got me through a shit year

My friend Suzanne Johnson wrote a great post at Write in the Shadows about how her writing career developed throughout 2010. For me personally, this year has hit higher highs and lower lows than any I can remember. For months I said I just wanted to get the year over with, but when I read Suzanne’s post and decided to write one of my own, I realized that writing – and my new writer friends – got me through it.

Here’s where I went on my roller coaster ride.

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Adopting a pseudonym after developing a social media presence

Venetian maskI’ve been mentally bouncing back and forth between taking on a pseudonym now or waiting until I (hopefully) get a contract to publish a novel. There are reasons for and against adopting a pseudonym before publication, and lots of other bloggers have written about them. My friend Roni Loren wrote a fantastic post about reasons to consider a pseudonym and how to choose one.

I have another reason to add to her list. Some of you know I work for a humanitarian charity. My job mostly involves working on the web, not traveling to dangerous lands, but last week I went on a personal security course my organization runs so I’d be able to go overseas if the opportunity ever arose. There was a session on online security, and I discovered a humanitarian worker was deported from a foreign country last year because the authorities had Googled him and discovered his political affiliations on Facebook.

As a web editor, I know my employers (and potential future employers) would most likely Google me. But the thought of being kicked out of a country because someone doesn’t like the fact I write romance had never occurred to me.

So I’m going with the safe option and taking on a pseudonym now.

But where do you start when you’ve already been active online for over a year?

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Comfort books: Sucking your thumb and reaching for your blankie

2010 is five-sixths of the way over, and already it’s the kind of year that has me counting toward its demise in fractions.

It’s been the toughest year of my adult life.

Not everything that’s happened this year has been awful. In fact, I’ve made lots of new friendships, developed new skills, and invested time in my dreams.

But combine all that excitement with managing The World’s Toughest Project at the day job (a project that had me working at least six days a week for a several months), and trying to comfort and distract my husband while his mother suffered through months of cancer treatment, and it all adds up to stress and exhaustion.

Mum-in-law’s now recovering well, and work has become manageable again, so it’s time to be thankful for all the people who helped me through – whether they knew they were doing so or not.

There are loads of friends I could thank here, but since I try to regularly let them know what they mean to me, I thought it’d be better to thank the authors I’ve never spoken to, who helped distract me without knowing it.
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Igniting the flame

The first 15 pages of my manuscript All Things Easy won the single-title contemporary category of the Ignite the Flame contest!

Thanks, Central Ohio Fiction Writers. It’s been a really tough few months, and this has perked me up. I really do appreciate it.

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