Writing What Matters Most

It’s good to sit back and assess your work sometimes. Not the book you’re writing now, but your work as a whole. It’s helpful to know who you are as a writer, what themes keep recurring, because it will reveal what matters most to you. Even though I hope to profit from my writing one day, that’s not the main reason I write. A big part of why I write is self-discovery. And it’s true for more than just my fiction–or it should be.

For most of us, blogging and social media don’t come naturally, so we need to think about what theme or focus our efforts should have if it’s something we want to do. But it needs to be something we want to write about, talk about. That’s why identifying what matters to you  can help you find your place online. For me, the most natural place to start is with my fiction writing, which is my first love.

Beauty is not always what it seems. This is the underlying theme in all my fantasy writing–in my shelved novels, in my current projects, in the short fiction I’ve published. Sometimes it’s more direct than others, but it’s there all the same. It’s something I care about exploring, and when we try to connect with other writers and readers online, we should do it by discussing the things we’re passionate about.

I want to twist things over and see their other sides. I want to write fiction about these things, and I realize now that I like to blog about these things, too (and find them on Pinterest, of course, because I’m a total junkie). What matters to you, my writer friends? It’s always interesting to see what recurring themes crop up in other people’s writing. I look for these things when I read multiple books from an author. I find that the authors I love best are those with recurring themes that matter to me, too.

It’s easy–for me, at least–to feel uncomfortable blogging and on social media. At first glance, it seems so different from writing fiction, which is where I am most comfortable. But I’m slowly taking a new approach to how I tackle online writing. Because I figure if I’m going to spend time writing anything, I might as well write what matters. Why waste time on what does not?

New Website, New Pen Name

Well…the title of this post pretty much says it all. In my last post, I mentioned that I had some new things in the works. One of those things was deciding which genre was better for me to pursue as a writer at this point in time, and whether or not I wanted to start over entirely with a new site and name. First, I want to tell you that this site IS staying up. I love my fantasy writing, and I have two brand new drafts to revise, so I’m not going anywhere. But I have other work which is nearly ready to submit. I don’t know if you’d call it sci-fi romance or quirky romance or what.

Anyway, I have created a new site for promoting my new direction as a writer, and I’m putting all my efforts behind that identity for now. You can find me here now.

Wish me luck!

Author Review: Julianne Donaldson

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book review, either here or at the former Debuts and Reviews. As much as I’ve missed it, though, thoughtful reviews are a lot of work, so it takes a very special author to drag me back for one. Of course, you know by now that I’ve found such an author—you read the title of this post, you clever thing, you!

Julianne Donaldson is the author of two “proper” Regency romances: Edenbrooke, published in 2012, and Blackmoore, released just last month. Rather than review each individually, I’d like to look at Donaldson’s writing traits as seen over both novels, which is why I’m calling this an author review, not a book review. Donaldson is a master of breathtaking emotion and sizzling romantic tension—all while keeping it clean (thank you, finally, someone outside the inspirational genre who can write romance without resorting to bedroom scenes!). It’s been a long time since I’ve found an author I enjoy this much. Here’s what each book is about:

Edenbrooke: “When Marianne receives an invitation to spend the summer with her twin sister in Edenbrooke, she has no idea of the romance and adventure that awaits her once she meets the dashing Sir Philip.”

Blackmoore: “Having decided she will never marry, Kate Worthington plans to escape her meddlesome family by traveling to India. Her mother agrees on the condition that she gets—and rejects—three marriage proposals. To fulfill her end of the bargain, Kate travels to the manor of Blackmoore in northern England, where her plans go awry.”

In any novel, but especially a romance, developing a depth of emotion in your characters is key to a good book. Why should the reader care if the protagonist reaches her goal if the protagonist doesn’t care? But there’s a difference between showing the reader your character’s emotions and making the reader feel those emotions with every ounce of themselves. In Blackmoore especially, Donaldson accomplishes this by infusing her character Kate with longing so boundless that it feels as if a bottomless pit has been turned inside-out in your chest. From Blackmoore’s’ first line, you sense it, even though it’s not until a little later that you get a feel for what Kate longs for.

Connected to Donaldson’s mastery of putting emotion on the page is her ability to strike sparks between hero and heroine. Because we so intimately see the heroine’s emotions and past, it is all the more squirm-inducing when she matches wits with someone who threatens to conquer her resolve not to fall for him. And speaking of matching wits! The banter in these books! No one writers banter like Julianne Donaldson. The scene in Edenbrooke where Marianne pretends to be a milkmaid, and then the one where she first encounters Philip again at the river—I can’t describe them. Just read them. Donaldson can set a whole room on fire without hero and heroine having a single physical touch.

And that’s amazing. These books aren’t about characters with a physical attraction alone. Donaldson doesn’t just write romance—she writes love. She writes real love, not society’s imitation. Love that is deep and selfless, between people who not just claim they’d do anything for each other, but put their money where their mouth is and make sacrifices for the one they love. And maybe it’s this more than anything that makes Donaldson a master of striking sparks. Books about characters with chemistry—even well-written ones—aren’t difficult to come by. But books which really delve into what true romantic love means are hard to find.

I have read Blackmoore twice, and devoured Edenbrooke in one night, and each reading has left me feeling three things. First, a complete infatuation with these stories and characters—which I want to revisit over and over again. Second, a rekindled fire to get back to my own work-in-progress and write and revise and write again until it is just as passionate and wonderful. And third, a bit of despair, because matching Donaldson’s work seems such an insurmountable task.

(But no—I will not be intimidated by despair!)

I try to be balanced in my reviews and point out both the good and the bad, but I’m wracking my brain here, and the only thing that bothered me about either of these books is so small that in any other review, I’d consider it not worth mentioning. And in this case, explaining the very small issue I had would involve spoilers, so I won’t do that.

No matter your usual fiction genre, if you enjoy well-written emotion and evocative romance in your reading, I highly recommend Julianne Donaldson, who is destined for a spot on my list of favorite authors. (Which, by the way, is a really odd list. Seriously, how does Jane Austen end up on the same favorites list as Brandon Sanderson?)

New, New, New

I have updated just about every page on this site! Whew! I know I don’t have a lot of pages, but still. The About page is new, the My Writing page is new, I posted the first chapter of Hex, and I updated all my sidebars. I had planned to do this much earlier this year, but…well, I didn’t. :)

I’ve taken down the Twitter widget because I never use Twitter, but I’m very active on Pinterest if anyone wants to look me up, and while I’ve not had a great history of keeping current on Goodreads, I’ve still been better at it than at updating this site. But I’m planning to be here on the site more often in the future, so come back soon!

Happy 2013!

Time to dust off the site! If you’ve found your way here, I’m happy to have you! I let my domain renewal lapse a couple months ago, but now I’m back in business and ready to get things up to date and up to speed. New Year’s Resolutions and all that.

So I hope to be seeing you soon. Have a great 2013!

New Excerpts and Coming Changes

To avoid any ado…

1.)   I’ll be pulling the old Hex excerpt from this site and replacing it with what you’ll see below.

2.)   Accompanying this switching of excerpts, a few changes will be coming to this blog and site. At one time, I blogged quite a bit, but since my blogging has dwindled, I’m modifying the feed into a monthly “column” of sorts called Musings, where I’ll spend a little time once a month trying to be insightful and witty and, you know, stuff. I just can’t keep up with a blog anymore—obviously, judging from my lack of posts. But I am on Twitter now. I’m still new and getting my bearings, so please stick it out if you decide to follow me, and I promise I’ll try to figure it out. You can find me under the name KatieVLovett.

And now for the excerpts.

(The longer excerpt previously included on this page has been removed while I do another round of revision. These new excerpts are the opening paragraphs of each of my point-of-view characters’ first point-of-view
scenes. Sorry for the patchiness of these excerpts; my revision methods are weird and all over the place, so these are the things I’m able to share right now—and again, sorry they’re so disjointed.)



It was witchcraft, it was magic, it was holiness and sin, the cloud of gray and grim that hung over the autumn land. Hexeri. As if nature itself was held in thrall by the otherworld—and it was. Stina knew that. She was a Lutheran after all. She knew that forces dark and light waged war in that other realm, that good would one
day triumph, that love would conquer all. She held fast to that belief as she clutched her cloak tight beneath her chin, spreading grain for the chickens on the ground.


Notes, a hundred thousand notes, filled Varick’s ears. But each song belonged to the same woman. She had hair of pale sun and eyes of pale sky and gown of pale green and soul of black coal. Her voice had the beauty of heaven’s nine choirs, but the menace behind those perfect notes, the vice within her words, marked her as a demon from hell. And Varick was in her arms, wrapped in her hate and swathed in her hair. He was a prisoner of her embrace.


Stina Warman was a summer rain in all its many forms and ways. She was the cool, wet mist on an upturned face; she was the gray of silver damask in the billowing sky above; she was the downpour you could not
ignore, soaking you to the bone; she was the calm that comes after the rain, when the skies are milky and the air is clean. She was the storm under which Johann Oppenheimer wanted to spend the rest of his days, but someone had built a roof over him.

Happy Belated New Year

Very belated, I should say. I will sum up. Life sometimes takes a turn for the tragic, and the past few months have been so for my family, which is why I’m so behind on keeping up with this site. But life also goes on. So here I am.

A couple bits of news. First of all, the fabulous book blog Debuts and Reviews, which I’ve had the honor of contributing to, is now gone. Tia, Supreme Overlord of Debuts and Reviews, is a published author now (yay!), and her busy schedule makes it nigh impossible to run a book blog and still keep up with her writing. So I am no longer doing book reviews. But the URL is still alive and well, as Tia is using it as her author blog, so do visit.

On the writing front, things are going quite well, other than that I’m on a bit of a delay. Back when I wrote my first draft of Hex in 2007, I never imagined that at the time of my revision, I would be going through the same tragedy as one of my characters in the book. It kind of hampered my progress. At first, it was too difficult to write. After that, it was actually kind of theraputic, but I had to watch myself and make sure that everything I was putting into those scenes was essential to the scene and the book, rather than letting myself drone on and on, and letting my own feelings about the situation get in the way. But! I am at last finished, and submission will soon commence. So keep your fingers crossed.

I’d like to start monthly reading posts again soon, but I’ll have to wait until things slow down a bit first. I will tell you that I read Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings and looooved it, and that I read Kristen Britain’s Blackveil (Green Rider 4) and am so, so mad at a bunch of Sacoridians! I spent much of yesterday yelling for King Zachary to cut off people’s heads. (And so I must say that the book is good, well-written, and awesome, but I would feel weird saying that I liked it because I’m furious at a bunch of fictional people for doing terrible things to other fictional people. And I’m going to stop ranting now, but if anybody who’s read it wants to have a nice long chat about this book, we can start a special thread.)

Hope everybody’s new year is going swell, and happy early Valentine’s Day!