Tag Archives: true-to-life romance

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.



Filed under About Katrina

How realistic is the contemporary virgin?

First off, welcome to my new followers! *waves* Just so you know, I’m a romance writer, so sometimes I blog aboout things relevant to all writers and sometimes I focus posts on the romance genre. Please feel free to comment and share even if you’re not a romance reader.

For those old followers (I prefer to think of you as “seasoned”, not old) who don’t know, my last post was Freshly Pressed yesterday, so it was on WordPress.com‘s homepage.  My blog picked up quite a few new followers, and I look forward to getting to know you all better.

Now for today’s post, which is cross-posted at The Season.

When I started reading romance *mumble mumble* years (okay, decades) ago, it was nearly impossible to find a heroine who’d had sex before meeting the hero. While this is completely understandable and realistic in historical romance, it’s always seemed curious to me that contemporary adult women were virgins.

Most of them weren’t just virgins but were about as inexperienced as I was at 14. (That is, not experienced at all).

As a teenager, I enjoyed reading about women who were a decade older but just as inexperienced as me. Considering I went to a religious high school, I knew sex would remain a vicarious experience for many years, and I’d probably end up like those heroines. Watching their long wait pay off with a hot man made me happy not to experiment with fumbling teenage boys.

I was also surrounded by messages from other forms of media telling me it wasn’t normal for teenagers to be virgins. TV, music, films—they all made me feel my friends and I were strange, while romance novels encouraged me that good things come to those who wait.

A couple of decades later, readers tend to complain when an adult heroine is a virgin. It seems unrealistic. Or perhaps it’s offensive to subject heroines to centuries-old double standards that real-life women are finally shattering.

But how realistic are contemporary adult virgins?

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Filed under Thoughtfulness

Erections, as written by women

As varied as the romance genre is, there are a couple things most romance novels have in common.

1. They are mostly written and read by women.

2. There is usually some description of arousal, both female and male.

Reading over and over how women describe the sensations men experience has made me wonder whether readers accept some cliches because we think they’re sexy, or whether we just don’t know any better. After all, I’ll never have an erection.

There’s one erection myth perpetuated in romance novels that really annoys me as a reader.

Let me preface this by saying that the romance genre is not about recreating real life exactly as it is. Although I love my novels to be realistic, real life isn’t always sexy and romance novels should be – at least, the ones I want to read will be. So I’m not asking for romance writers to be faithful to reality when writing about arousal – just to think beyond cliches and find a more interesting way to describe our heroes.

So what’s the erection myth that bugs me like no other?

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Filed under Thoughtfulness

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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Filed under About Katrina

Why my novel is more like my husband than my child

Wedding rings on bookI often hear writers refer to their creations as their babies, and fret about sending them out into the world to be judged and possibly ridiculed. I can understand the analogy, since a novel is a deeply important part of you that somehow takes on its own life.

My relationship with my novel, though, is more like my relationship with my husband, and here’s why.

1. My novel exists.

This is actually more about me being up-front with you from the beginning. I don’t have kids, so when I talk about relationships with children I’m talking out of almost complete ignorance of what that relationship is really like.

My novel may not be published, but I can print it out right now and make it tangible. Offspring will take considerably more effort to conjure up. Perhaps I could say that my future novels are like my children, since they’re just as nebulous to me.

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Filed under Thoughtfulness

Do you want your fiction realistic, or real?

View of Prague castle and St Vitus Cathedral from Charles BridgeI met my husband in one of the world’s most romantic cities – Prague (Czech Republic, not Oklahoma). We were sitting in a smelly classroom at an English language school. When we introduced ourselves, I arched my brow (which he thought meant I had attitude) and he spoke with a deep voice and British accent. We started falling in love almost immediately.

A love story worth writing a novel about? Meh.

This month, a new line of romance novels (True Vows) is being published based on real-life experiences. Their tagline is “Life romanticized,” and they’re advertising themselves as a new subgenre of romance: Reality-Based Romance.

One of the first books out is Meet Me in Manhattan by Judith Arnold. It tells the story of high school sweethearts who split up and later reunite. You can see a pic of the real couple with Judith Arnold on the publisher’s blog.

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Filed under Thoughtfulness

What hits your hot button?

(Note: the hot button I’m referring to isn’t related to our previous discussion on how to heat up the fictional bedroom. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)

Last week I randomly clicked on a link to a review for Judith James’ Libertine’s Kiss. (I can’t find that link now, so if this description of the review sounds familiar, please let me know.) The review was thoughtful and complimentary, and awarded the novel 4.5 stars out of 5.

At the end, the reviewer gave her reasons why she’ll never re-read Libertine’s Kiss, even though she thought the book was well-written. It features two subjects she doesn’t like reading about, even in fiction: sexual abuse and domestic violence.

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Filed under Reviews, Thoughtfulness

Okay, so men don’t always suck at childbirth

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a documentary TV programme (I refuse to think of it as reality TV; it’s too good) called One Born Every Minute. It shows women in labor and features interviews with them and their partners talking about what it’s like to become a parent.

What I love is how honest the people taking part have been – like the woman whose son was born with his bowel outside his tummy, who admitted she struggled to bond with him during the days he was in an incubator. None of that “You forget the pain right away and immediately lose your heart to this little creature” stuff.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how all the fathers were completely useless. It was painfully obvious they didn’t know what their role was, what was expected of them, or what their wives and girlfriends needed from them – even though most of them seemed to want to help.

I felt I needed to write an update, in all fairness, to the three fathers I’ve seen since then who have been incredible.

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Filed under Thoughtfulness

What teeth can tell you about a character

Poor Kaki Warner asked me how my teeth are feeling after last week’s root canal. She got an email with far more info than even my dentist would want to know about my teeth (that’s not an exaggeration; my dentist is British and isn’t all that interested in my teeth).

It got me thinking about what teeth can tell you about a person. Growing up in Southern California, I learned early that there’s nothing wrong with cosmetic anything. My first lesson on this was my teeth.

Even though my parents never had much money, I had braces twice, a jaw expander twice, and porcelain fillings. I remember my dad insisting on paying more for white fillings and linking them to me one day getting a boyfriend. I’m not sure if he thought a man would want to check my teeth to make sure I’d make a good brood mare or what, but I was only about eight at the time.

Twenty years later, my British husband couldn’t care less about the color of my fillings. He grew up in a market town in England (which Lonely Planet describes as having its heyday in the 14th century, and going downhill since then). He remembers being a crooked-toothed boy in the dentist’s chair, and the dentist asked him, “Do you want to be a TV news reader when you grow up? No? Then you don’t need braces.”

This is why it always makes me laugh when I read a historical romance where the British hero flashes his straight white teeth.

In the seven years we’ve been together, though, I’ve had three root canals, two fillings, and two crowns. Hubby hasn’t even had a single cavity.

Maybe there is something to British dentistry after all.


Filed under Thoughtfulness

It’s the little things

You know how romantic it seems when a character makes a grand gesture to show someone they’re loved?

Bollocks to that.

Nearly a week ago I had a root canal. I’ve been in constant pain ever since, and only prescription-strength Ibuprofen has touched the pain. I’ve been moody and frustrated and, more than anything, HUNGRY. Hungry like a tiger.

I’m not one of those people who deals well with hunger.

And for the last nearly-week, my husband has been making me the softest foods possible. When I woke up – in pain and upset – on Saturday morning, he asked what I wanted to eat that day. “Just hummus and some soft bread,” I told him.

He brought back hummus, three kinds of soft bread, and the ingredients to make me soup and risotto. Last night it was really soft mashed potatoes (not a lump in the bunch) and veggie sausages.

Needless to say, as soon as I can purse my lips without wanting to sob, he’s getting a big ol’ smooch.


Filed under Thoughtfulness