It’s a happy Thanksgiving for the winner of Ben Cohen’s calendar

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the U.S.! I always get a bit sad about being abroad at Thanksgiving. I love it just as much as Christmas, since it’s a time to be with family without the worry of finding the right gift.

Ben Cohen 2014 calendarSpeaking of gifts, one of you won Ben Cohen’s 2014 calendar. Huzzah! Here’s the original post where I announced the giveaway. Even though it’s too late to enter, I recommend reading the post. There are some videos of lovely Ben Cohen talking about his StandUp Foundation – and videos of him dancing and working out. Seriously. If you need a break from your family today, lock yourself in a room with those videos. He’s a stunning example of humanity!

Right…who won the calendar? It’s…Helen L!

Congrats, Helen! Please email me your mailing address: romancingkatrina[at]gmail[dot]com

If you didn’t win, you can support Ben’s work fighting bullying and homophobia by buying the calendar, women’s T-shirts, men’s T-shirts, and body products guaranteed to make your man look like Ben. (Don’t hold me to that last promise.)

Reviewers, download Mine Under The Mistletoe now

If you have a book review website, you can download Mine Under The Mistletoe from NetGalley now.

The other holiday romance novellas published by Carina Press are also available for download.

Escape from your family for a while or take a break from shopping tomorrow to load up your ereader!

Pre-order Mine Under The Mistletoe

While you’re doing your holiday shopping, make sure you pre-order Mine Under The Mistletoe. It comes out a week from today, so it’ll be a special treat to help you relax after an exhausting Thanksgiving weekend!

Blog tour starts tomorrow!

Brighton Walsh, Christi Barth and I are doing a blog tour together to promote our Christmas novellas and the anthology we’re all in together. There will be a giveaway!

Come back tomorrow and I’ll publish the schedule.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving!

Mine Under The Mistletoe by Kat Latham

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat LathamThanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

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Buy it at: | | | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | More buying options

Also available in All I’m Asking For: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology

All I'm Asking For: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology by Brighton Walsh, Kat Latham and Christi BarthThis Christmas, the producer of a small town holiday spectacular is swept away by a handsome Hollywood director. Being stranded in a snowstorm offers a couple a second chance at a future together. And an American in London helps a brooding Brit put the ghosts of Christmas past behind him.

Wherever you are, however you celebrate, this collection of three festive novellas will bring warmth to your holiday season.

Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:

Tinsel My Heart by Christi Barth
Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh
Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

Stories also available for purchase separately. | | B&N | Goodreads | Audible | More options

Giveaway: Rugby player Ben Cohen will hang out at your house all year

I missed a very important date last Thursday. I mentioned it on Twitter, but I’d wanted to mark it on this blog, too. My excuse is that Thursday was my first day home after five days in Ethiopia and two days running workshops for the charity partners funded by the foundation I work for. I spent Thursday getting a week’s worth of baby cuddles and slobber kisses (from Doodle Bug, not my husband. Thankfully, he doesn’t slobber.) and blowing a thousand tummy raspberries (that was for my husband. :))

Last Thursday (November 14) was StandUp Day, a day with a tragic origin but a really important message. It was the anniversary of Ben Cohen’s father’s death. Peter Cohen had courageously tried to protect an employee in his nightclub who was being attacked. He was savagely beaten into a coma and later died.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that Ben went on to found the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation after he retired from rugby. His foundation funds organizations that are fighting bullying and homophobia, and he marked the anniversary of his father’s death by asking people worldwide to stand up against bullying.

He’s also taking part in Strictly Come Dancing to raise awareness of the issues surrounding bullying. Here’s his latest beautiful dance.

I mentioned in my first post about him that I’m awed by gentle men, but especially by big men for whom gentleness seems to come naturally. That dance – to one of my favorite songs – makes me want to weep.

It occurred to me that those of you who only know about Ben from this blog might never have heard him speak about his foundation. I found this video very moving, especially the part where he talks about what he wants for his daughters since, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the main thing I want for my own daughter is love.

Ben Cohen 2014 calendarI tried to think of what I could do to mark StandUp Day, even if I’m a few days late. Then I realized that this week is Anti-Bullying Week in the UK, so I’m really not that late at all.

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give away twelve months of Ben Cohen to someone who leaves a comment on this blog.

Sadly, I can’t give you the real Ben Cohen. But I can give you his calendar. Throughout 2014, Ben will hang out – in his skimpies – in your kitchen, living room, office or bedroom.

Don’t let the fully dressed cover fool you. I haven’t seen inside the calendar myself, but I have seen the making-of video. Here’s what the lucky winner is in store for.

My only question after watching that is: How do I change careers from charity work to spraybottle operator?

Here’s how you can win Ben Cohen’s calendar

I’ll choose one person who leaves a comment on this post to win the calendar. The winner will be announced on Thursday, November 28 – American Thanksgiving.

You can leave one comment a day, but please make it a thoughtful comment. Don’t spam me, please.

You can either leave a thoughtful comment of your own or answer these questions:

1. If you were to make a calendar, what would it show you doing? (My ideal calendar would show me in a different country every month. Realistically, though, I fear it would show me eating twelve kinds of cakes.)

2. What’s one thing you can do to make your world a kinder, gentler place? (I’ve noticed my tendency to call politicians bad names when I see them on TV. I’m trying to stop that because I want my daughter to know it’s never okay to call people names. We can disagree with policies and decisions, but I’m editing the personal insults out of my life.)

Good luck, and if Ben reads this, please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. I’m sure he’d be bursting with pride at how you’ve turned your personal tragedy into hope for millions of people.

Ben Cohen shakes his groove thang for equality

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Ben Cohen, a hugely successful English rugby player who’s taking part in the British TV show Strictly Come Dancing. He’s doing it to raise awareness of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which funds organizations that are fighting homophobia and bullying.

He’s also ridiculously cute. But that’s not important. Here’s his latest dance.

I know what you’re thinking as you watch that video. “Wow, what an amazing philanthropist. I want to rub my hands all over his firm stance on equality.”

Hey, you’re only human.

When this season of Strictly started, my husband and I were talking about what a shame it is that no one is paired up with a same-sex partner. Some of the male dancers and celebrities are openly gay (I don’t know about the women, but presumably some of them are too), yet they still dance with someone of the opposite sex.

I recently read an article that Ben Cohen felt the same way. In fact, even though he’s straight, he apparently wanted to be paired up with Robin Windsor, my favorite dancer on the show.

I know most of you are in the U.S. and might not be familiar with Robin Windsor, so let me tell you about him. Robin Windsor is built like a brick shithouse – but he’s not afraid to get a bit tearful when he and his partner are eliminated from the competition.

Big men with big hearts. They get me every time.

Because Robin’s so strong, he’s usually paired with celebrities who are average size or larger. If I were on Strictly, I would probably be paired with him.

But that’s not why I’m so fond of him. I love him because every year when he finds out who his partner will be, he looks like he can hardly believe his good luck. I can practically hear him thinking, “Score! *fist pump* No waif for me! Baby, you’re gonna learn how to dance!”

And because I can put myself in those women’s shoes (or Spanx, as the case may be), I can imagine how reassuring it would be to receive that look when standing next to a woman whose body will stop doing the cha-cha when the music stops, whereas my boobs and bum would keep on groovin’.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so a video must be worth a million, at least. Here’s Robin doing one of my favorite dance routines with his partner Lisa Riley last year. Make sure you watch all the way to the end. It’s brilliant.

I would looove to see Ben and Robin dance together, and not for some voyeuristic guy-on-guy fantasy, either (Really. Not at all. Seriously.). I’d love to see them dance together because the more we break down stereotypes, gender roles and unfounded fears surrounding homosexuality, the better our world will be.

Homophobia is pervasive and destructive. It creeps into even the most innocent conversations and touches people of all ages. My little girl, Doodle Bug (not her real name), is only six months old, but I’ve already been asked by two people how I’ll feel if she grows up to be gay.

Seriously? Why is this still a question?

Here’s my answer: I would love, LOVE for her to grow up and fall in love. More than that, I want her to fall in love with someone who loves and respects her in return. Whether that person’s plumbing is indoor or outdoor makes jack-all difference to me.

When I think about the qualities I hope she’ll find attractive in people – compassion, humor, intelligence – the nature of their genitals is nowhere on the list. I couldn’t care less if their genitals hang low, if they wobble to and fro, if they can be tied in a knot or indeed in a bow. Couldn’t. Care. Less.

I have friends whose husbands have slapped and punched them. I have friends whose husbands have told them they’re nothing. NOTHING. I have friends whose husbands coerced them into consenting to sex, which is not consent but rape. I have friends whose husbands have said, “I’ll kill you if you ever leave me.” I have friends who have been abused, defiled and threatened by the men who swore in front of their families and friends to love, honor and cherish them forever.

I have a friend who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. She was an aid worker and a rugby player. She was wickedly funny, brilliant, fearless and passionate. She’d just returned from a dangerous posting in Pakistan and was murdered in her own home by someone she’d once trusted.

Ask me again how I’ll feel if my baby falls in love with a woman who loves and respects her.

How many kids out there hear their parents asked that same stupid question but get a different answer? How many hear, “I’d be horrified if my child were gay.” How many are damaged by shame or by feeling like they’re alone in the way they feel?

While part of me knows that it wouldn’t be hugely groundbreaking to see two men dance together on TV, another part of me can’t recall seeing it happen when it wasn’t played for laughs (“Look at how uncomfortable the straight guy is, haha.”). And I can’t remember seeing two women dancing together when it wasn’t done for the titillation of straight men.

Me and Doodle Bug in LondonI want my daughter to grow up believing that everyone deserves respect. I want her to see healthy interactions between people who respect each other – whether they’re the same sex or not. I want her to watch Ben and Robin waltz together because I want her to grow up thinking that men dancing together is unremarkable.

Of course, she probably wouldn’t pay any attention. Right now her idea of a good time is being able to gum her own foot – or any foot close enough to divebomb mouth first. But if they waltzed barefoot, she’d be riveted.

You know what I really want? I want Doodle Bug to come to me in twenty years and say, “Mom/Mum, what was the big deal about Ben Cohen?” Then I can explain to her that it used to be remarkable for a straight athlete to stand up for equality, respect and basic human dignity – and we can both marvel at how far the world has come.

Right. I’ve never been too comfortable around horses, so I’m going to slide off the high one I’ve been on since I started writing this post. If you have time, go check out the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. Maybe support them by buying a T-shirt or making a donation. If you don’t have spare cash, then do something for free: tell your friends about them on Facebook or Twitter.

Do it to support a whole load of organizations that’re fighting bullying and homophobia. Do it for Ben’s chest. (There’s no connection, but look at that chest. Did you notice it? You might need another look. Go on, I’ll wait.)

Dancing in Ethiopia

I’m going to Ethiopia for work this weekend, so since I’ve been thinking about my coming trip to Ethiopia – and dancing – here’s a video I took when I went to Ethiopia last year. It’s in a dance club in Bahir Dar, a city along the Blue Nile.

Ethiopian dancing is so freaking cool that I think we should campaign to get it added to Strictly. I may not be able to watch Ben and Robin waltz together (such a shame!) but maybe they could stand next to each other and bust a few of these moves. (If you don’t have ten minutes to spare, fast forward to 7min 30sec and watch till the end. Those are the moves I want to see busted.)

In other news, I handed in the final edits for the second book in my London Legends rugby club series. Yay! Playing It Close comes out on April 14, and it stars Liam, the team’s fly half. I really, really enjoyed writing his book, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Also, don’t forget that my Christmas novella, Mine Under the Mistletoe, comes out on December 5th. You can pre-order it now.

In fact, I think I’ll give away a copy of Mine Under the Mistletoe to someone who leaves a comment on this blog post – a reward for reading all the way to the end! I’ll choose a winner when I’m back next week.

That’s it from me! I’m off to Ethiopia, where I’ll be training African journalists who cover HIV issues, helping them improve their writing, blogging and social media skills. One of my key messages is to keep their articles short and to the point. Ha!

Have a great week everyone!

If you liked this post, you might like:

The appeal of a sports hero – & a new chance to win Knowing the Score!

I’ve never been athletic. My high school P.E. teacher probably thought I was malformed, since I got debilitating period cramps every Tuesday, which happened to be the day of the week we had to run the mile. Weird, huh?

But there are many things I love about sports, even if I’m not a keen participant. I love watching people push themselves to the limit. I love the triumph of an underdog over Goliath. My heart breaks when the underdog comes close but fails at the last minute.

The Winning SeasonAnd I love a sports romance hero. They’re committed, savvy and…sorry, I drifted away looking at those pecs. What was I saying? 😉

For those of you who love sports romance too, check out Alison Packard’s brand-spanking-new release, The Winning Season. I’ve already bought it and can’t wait to read it.

To celebrate her release, several of us Carina Press authors are giving away our contemporary romance novels this week on Alley’s website. It’s all part of the Sizzlin’ Summer of Contemporary Romance. Today is my turn. Love sports romance heroes? Enter to win my soon-to-be-released rugby novel, Knowing the Score, at Alley’s site.

And here’s more info on Alley’s book!

The Winning Season by Alison Packard

Publication date: July 15, 2013

Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job, publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team’s newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She’s got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly’s not about to let that happen.

Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he’s loathed his entire life—a team with little or no chance at the post-season.

Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team’s schedule on the road, they can’t avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.

Read an excerpt

Buy it at | Barnes & Noble | Carina Press | Books-A-Million

Do you like sports romance heroes? Why or why not?

Writing sexy books with your mom in mind

My mom is infinitely cooler than I am – always has been, always will be. I first started figuring this out when I was a pre-teen and my friends wanted to spend more time talking with my mom than with me because she gives such great advice and is a wonderful listener.

She’s the kind of open, honest person that every girl deserves to have as a parent. When I was young, she answered all of my questions about sex very frankly but also in a way that helped me understand that sex belonged between people who loved each other. It was a special act, but one that had appropriate words. Respectful words.

Me and Mom
Me and Mom

When I first told my mom I was writing a romance novel, she was thrilled. She’s not a romance reader, but she immediately asked if she could read my novel. For some reason, this weirded me out a little. It’s one thing to be seven and ask your mom where your baby cousin came from. It’s another to send her the sexy novel you wrote.

The first time she asked, I was totally unprepared for the question. I was just writing it to help me stay sane while a nasty hosebeast of a work project tried to drown me. Read my sexy story? No way – no one would ever! So I just cringed and said, “Maybe when it’s finished,” knowing full well that I would probably never finish it.

Then I finished the draft and she asked again. “Maybe after I’ve gotten feedback from a few other people. It’s really rough right now, Mom. I don’t want you to see it until it’s ready.”

After a while, she figured out I was just making excuses and she asked, “Do you feel awkward because it has sex in it?”

Continue reading “Writing sexy books with your mom in mind”