Introducing Katie Graykowski, 2013 Golden Heart Finalist!

Katie GraykowskiToday’s interview is with Katie Graykowski, author of Place Your Betts, a finalist in the Contemporary Single Title category of Romance Writers of America’s® 2013 Golden Heart® contest for unpublished manuscripts. This is the premier contest (worldwide) for writers of the romance genre. Welcome, Katie!

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’ve been married for almost 19 years to a very loving, patient, and tolerant man. I have a daughter and 3 K-9 kids. I live on the top of a hill outside of Austin, Texas where my home office has an excellent view of the Texas Hill Country. When I’m not writing, I’m scuba diving.

Now tell us about your manuscript, Place Your Betts!

Place Your Betts is a classic reunion love story small town Texas style. In other words, two people fall in love…again, somebody gets pregnant (spoiler alert—it’s NOT the hero), someone almost gets gored by a bull, they eat some fried food, and everyone lives happily ever after.

How do you feel about the Golden Heart experience?

It’s always an honor to final in the Golden Heart; this is my second time. What I learned from my first final in 2009, is that you need to focus on polishing your manuscript. While it’s wonderful to work on your website, tweet, Facebook, and spend giant amounts of time online shopping for the perfect GH dress, polishing that manuscript is going to get you further. Of course someone told me this back in 2009, but I didn’t listen. This time, I am neck deep in my manuscript—online shopping be damned.

As far as the process, Carol Ritter with RWA® is a Goddess. She runs the Golden Heart and RWA like a well oiled machine. I can’t say enough good things about her. And just wait for the conference—people you don’t know will come up to you and congratulate you on finaling. Overall, you feel like a princess.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? And/or for this story, in particular?

Ideas come to me…just like people. I guess I’m one of those people who have that please-tell-me-your-life-story-and-don’t-leave-ANY-insignificant-detail-out kind of face, because whether I’m in the bathroom at PF Changs or on a transatlantic flight, strange people feel like I really care to know their life stories. FYI-when the iPad comes out of my bag and I put on my headphones, stop talking to me…YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

As for the story idea for Place Your Betts, I don’t know. Betts has been with me for a long time. And I like the idea of a story where the heroine goes onto fame and fortune while the hero stays home and raises the kiddo. Plus, someone almost gets gored by a bull—what’s not to love?

What has your writing journey been like?

My writing journey is kind of like Little Orphan Annie goes to Six Flags. I was a little orphan writer (minus the red hair and tap shoes-although, I sure could use some tap shoes) finishing my first manuscript when I stumbled across Austin RWA. They have adopted me and have taken me on a rollercoaster ride with twists and turns, loops upside down, and occasionally makes me feel like I’m about to crash and burn. But I don’t because someone from ARWA is always there to talk me down off the ledge, push me in the right direction, or bitch slap me into not giving up. Breaking into the publishing biz is hard and anyone who says that it isn’t has WAY better medication than I do.

What’s your ideal writing environment?

My ideal writing environment—a lonely stretch of beach where a legion of heterosexual cabana boys fight to do my bidding…but I’ll settle for my home office with the door closed.

How can fans (and agents and editors!) reach you?

My website should be up soon, but until then, please contact me on Facebook or at kgraykowski at yahoo dot com.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Leslie, thank you for inviting me to blog with you today. And good luck with the Golden Heart.

Thank you, Katie, for visiting Leslie Lynch Writes – and we wish you the very best in your publishing future!

This entry was posted in Creative Process, Creativity, Leslie Lynch, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Introducing Katie Graykowski, 2013 Golden Heart Finalist!

  1. Leslie Lynch says:

    Hi, Katie! I identify with soooo much in your post. I learned how to scuba dive in another lifetime, many years ago. Didn’t do it much, but loved the beauty of the underwater world. My writers group, Louisville Romance Writers, has provided exactly the same kind of support and encouragement (well, okay, kicks in the keister!) as ARWA has for you. I am indebted to this wonderful group of writing friends, as I can tell you are with yours.

    Gotta say I LOVE your voice. Glad to hear you are married to a tolerable man. 😉 And I love the description of Place Your Betts! Best of luck with your publishing career – and THANK YOU for making time to visit today!

  2. Hi Katie and Leslie,
    Katie, I (a fellow Lucky 13) was lucky enough to read the first chapter of Place Your Betts as a category coordinator in our chapter contest last year and it just bowled me over. It really sparkled and it is no surprise to me AT ALL that it finaled in the GH! And it was hilarious. Your same sense of humor/voice is evident in your post today. I wish you all best!

  3. Leslie Lynch says:

    Tolerant man! Yes, glad you are married to a TOLERANT man! That is a requirement for writers, one that was not specifically addressed in wedding vows, yet uber-necessary… 😉

  4. Katie Graykowski says:

    Tolerable…tolerant…they’re one in the same! Thanks for all the kind words.

  5. Emily McKay says:

    Hi Katie, I loved reading your interview! You should blog more often!

  6. Great interview Katie! I think you’re a very talented writer and I’m with Emily about you blogging more often.

  7. Kay Hudson says:

    Hi, Katie (and Leslie)! I enjoyed meeting you at West Houston RWA when you were a finalist in the Emily contest (although I probably seemed pretty frazzled–running a chapter is quite a lot like herding cats). So I wasn’t at all surprised to see you on the GH finalists list. See you in Atlanta!

  8. Great interview Katie (and Leslie)!

    Totally hear you on the roller coaster ride action, and we’re lucky to have RWA and our chapters to support, shout and give us a shake when needed. Your manuscript sounds fabulous! And now I’m really hungry since you mentioned fried food.

    Hey, whaddya mean I should be revising instead of shopping?

    Can’t wait to meet you in Altlanta!

  9. dmulcare says:

    Two questions for Katie:

    1) Please explain what you mean by polishing your manuscript and what guidelines do you follow? Do you seek outside comments, such as those offered by a critique group?

    2) I’d like to hear how you were adopted by the Austin RWA.

    Thanks for sharing with Leslie and her readers.

    God Bless,


    • Katie Graykowski says:

      When I talk about polishing my manuscript, I mean making sure that it’s as close to perfect as possible. And I don’t mean line edits–while it’s important to know where that comma goes, it doesn’t make or break your book. With a final revision, I look for:

      GMC(Goal, Motivation, and Conflict)-does it make sense and come across as strongly as I’d like
      Character ARC-do my characters learn something and does it really show in my manuscript
      POV-have I written the scene in the best point of view
      Scene and Sequel-does every scene in my book do at least two of these things–move the story along. show my character arc, give info about my character, move the GMC along, show setting, strengthen my story theme
      SHowing vs telling–am I showing the reader the story or just telling it to them
      Subplots-do they add to the story or take away from it.
      Setting–is it clear
      Description–is it clear without being too wordy
      Characters-do they feel and act like real people

      These are the big ticket items that I look for during a good polish. I’m sure other writers have their own list.

      In my experience, it’s best to do this polish after taking some time away from the manuscript. Then, read it all the way through without changing a thing–make notes in the margin (okay-yes, I do this on paper–don’t have a cow…I recycle every molecule) or in a notebook. The quick read through (Thank you April Kilhstrom for suggesting it) gives you a good idea of how a reader will see your work when they read it for the first time.

      As far as comments from a critique group…yes and no. I’ve had some fantastic critique group help and some really bad critique group help. When taking advice (even mine) consider the source. And also your gut, if the advice doesn’t jibe with what you want for your story, smile and nod and don’t change a thing.

      I found RWA-Romance Writers of America and then my local chapter Austin RWA or ARWA. From my first meeting, our members took me in and taught me the craft of writing. Someone offered to read my manuscript all the way through (Skyler you are a saint–FYI-after reading my first manuscript, she suggested that standup comedy would be a better career choice over writing), another person invited me to a writing retreat (Shelley–thanks for not laughing in my face when I asked what correct formatting actually meant), someone else invited me into a critique group (a very good one that no longer exists-shout out to the PITTS–who aren’t). Writing is a job just like everything else. You may know the basics but you still need to go through training and other writers are the best source of information. Also, writers are some of the most generous people in the world–they give of their time and knowledge like no other profession I’ve ever seen.

  10. Alexa Bourne says:

    Great interview, ladies! Katie, get back to blogging! I love your voice!

  11. Fun blog. Katie, you made me smile in the middle of an exhausting day. Thank you. 🙂

    I must have that kind of face, too, because people end up telling me — in great detail, sometimes — all about their lives. Cab drivers, moms at my kid’s preschool way back when, strangers on the subway. Everywhere. Maybe it’s a prerequisite for being a writer? We’re curious about humankind, and humankind decides to give us a glimpse into their souls. (Even if we’re juggling three grocery bags and an irritable kid at the time.)

    Leslie, I’m glad you decided to do this, it’s a fun way to get to know each other better.

  12. Sheila Athens says:

    Glad to get to know a little bit more about you, Katie! I love learning about the writing journeys of my fellow Lucky 13s. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Nan Dixon says:

    Oh Katie! You had me laughing at spoiler alert. I have seen your name on the contest circuits and it is so nice to finally meet you–at least online.
    Sorry I was so late getting on line – I’m heading out to a graduation and my phone (or something in Wisconsin) wouldn’t let me access the website. So glad to get to know you and can’t wait to meet you in person!

  14. Amy DeLuca says:

    Hi Katie! Enjoyed reading about you and I appreciate your sharing your previous GH experience and what you look for when you polish. Good luck in Atlanta- hope to meet you there!

  15. Great interview blog, Katie and Leslie! Congrats to both of you on your Golden Heart nominations! And thanks for going into detail on how you polish your manuscript, Katie. Always good to learn how other authors handle this. One can never stop learning. Looking forward to seeing you at the RWA national conference in Atlanta!

  16. Leslie Lynch says:

    Katie, thanks for such a thoughtful and detailed (and yet concise!) explanation of polishing a manuscript! I am in awe. I am so glad you visited today, Katie. You made this corner of the blogosphere a fun place to be. 😀

    I’m also glad that so many wonderful people stopped by. Thank you, everyone, for a great conversation and great company! I’m looking forward to meeting most of you in Atlanta!


  17. kimmaccarron says:

    Hi, Katie!
    I hear exactly what you’re saying about polishing versus too much social networking. It’s a struggle though. I’ve been revising and editing my manuscript, and I haven’t even gotten to the polishing stage yet. But I’m working on it, and I’m not stuck 24-7 on the loops and blogs like I did when I finaled in 2010. The excitement is still there, but I know to get my manuscript really ready. I didn’t do that the first time. I guess I figured if it was good enough to final, then every editor in the world would be arm-wrestling for the chance to get their hands on it. No such luck. 🙂
    Your book sounds amazing. I love the second-chance stories. There’s something so powerful about going back and getting it right the second time around. And you’re right! You had me at bull goring. LOL.
    Awesome post. And thanks for explaining further your own way of polishing.

  18. Piper says:

    I’m jumping in, since Imjust learned Leslie was doing this! I love the sound of your story Katie, and you comment to Don was a mini writing lesson. Mind if I print it off? I love craft discussions!

    • Katie Graykowski says:

      Piper, thank you for your kind words. And yes, I’d be honored if you printed and used my manuscript polish plan.

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