Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Meet Katrina DeLallo - Rate Your Story Judge

It’s Wednesday!  This week, we’ve got the perfect author for the season.  With Easter just around the corner—a time of spiritual reflection and, more commercially, a time of fantasy and magic—our Author is right on cue as her two biggest passions are Christianity and fantasy stories.  Please welcome one of our gentlest judges (I personally like to think of her as the 'Paula' of our Panel)...

Author Katrina DeLallo!
Miranda:  Welcome!  Katrina, I ‘think’ you’re officially our youngest judge.  But I know you're not new to writing.  When did you begin?

Katrina: I’ve been scribbling on paper since I can remember. There’s a picture of me when I was two where I’m lying on the floor drawing on a piece of paper. I haven’t changed much. I still write and draw constantly. (I have a lot of sisters that inspire me with ideas.) I currently work at an optometrist’s office full time, and my writing gets done in the evenings, or in quiet times at work.

Miranda:  I bet a lot of other writers who visit Rate Your Story have similar stories, especially about working a full-time job and squeezing in writing.  Many times, people don’t feel comfortable officially telling others they’re a “writer.”  Can you share with readers some of the first things you did to establish yourself as a writer?

Katrina: Well, I didn’t think I could write until I took the evaluation test from the Institute of Children’s Literature (ICL) back in 2008. My results were encouraging, and I enrolled in the ICL Writing Course. I graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature on August 30, 2010. During that time I joined the Institute’s Writing Retreat (fabulous!), started contributing stories to the Monthly Write Off they have there (most of the time you get critiques!), joined a Critique Group over at Critique Cafe, purchased Market Research books, and began submitting. I subscribed to Duotrope’s Digest, Children’s Writer, and just researched bunches of publishers.

Miranda:  Great process!  Since many of our writers are still pre-published, what do you take into consideration when judging a submission to help mentor them?

Katrina: I presume they know the “show, don’t tell” rule, and basic grammar and spelling rules. So I rate on how well I think a story fits a particular age group, how concise it is, and how “tightly” the story is written. If I read it and I’m mostly hooked, it gets a better rating. If it becomes WORK to read it, it doesn’t get such a high rating, even if the story is good, because I know an editor will not take the time to work through the pacing the way I would.

Miranda:  OK, we all know you’re a fantasy lover.  What are some lessons you've learned about world-building and writing stories in that genre?

Katrina: Make your world authentic. I hate worlds that aren’t “real,” where they took earth, added some fancily-named creatures and called it Somewhere Else. And I’m sorry, but adding apostrophes to gibberish (like Kwet’zl) does NOT make that a fantastic world. Worlds have to have rules and origins same as earth does. If they have magic, there has to be a reason for the magic. There has to be a reason for the cultures and the people, and the dialogue SHOULDN’T be modern, unless you’re writing sci-fi. There should be back history... you don’t have to share that back history with your reader, but the writer should have that history for themselves, to KNOW their world. Their knowledge will come through the tale.

Miranda:  Fantastically laid out!  Thanks.  Now, earlier you said that you love getting critiques and joined a critique group.  How did you form your first critique group?  Has it been helpful?  Would you recommend new writers join one?

Katrina: My first (and present) critique group was started probably about two years ago in May of 2010. One of the moderators at Writer’s Retreat started the Critique Cafe site for all us newbies just getting a foot in the door of the writing world. Mine’s a fantasy/ mystery group of writers for MG and YA writers, though we also critique PB’s, fiction, and queries for each other. We’re pretty accommodating. We’ve been together pretty much since day one, and it’s just wonderful. There’s nothing like getting those extra eyes to critique your work, and since everybody contributes a little differently you can see where your ms needs work because EVERYONE critiques that one part the same. I definitely recommend every writer joins at least one critique group. You’ll get honest help that way.

Miranda:  You also like to write Christian stories.  Do you have market or writing tips for our writers who like to craft stories in the religious/spiritual realm?

Katrina: Not really. I’m a very Catholic writer, so a lot of my writing tends to be very God-oriented and with spiritual conflict. Actually, spiritual themes tend to bloom in a lot of my fantasy writing, so my Christian stories and fantasy stories are actually quite paralleled, aside from the world in which the events take place. I do recommend the Christian Writer’s Market though, by Sally.... Fabulous! 

Miranda:  Enough about Katrina DeLallo, the writer. Tell us more about Cat when she's not writing!

Katrina: Unfortunately, Cat has many interests. When I’m not writing, I’m either:
  1. Reading
  2. Drawing
  3. Making Clay Creations
  4. Researching
  5. Singing
  6. Browsing Writer’s Retreat.
Miranda:  Nice!  Where can we stalk the Cat?

Katrina: I can be stalked... er, found at,,,

Comments are open!  Have a Happy Easter and enjoy the beauty of spring.  Get writing!


  1. I was lucky to have Katrina as a Rate Your Story judge. She gave me pointed feedback and even included some line-by-line suggestions that were super helpful. Terrific to learn more about her!

    1. I'm glad I was able to help. :)

      Oh, and I somehow neglected the last name of "Sally" who compiled 2011's Christian Writer's Market Guide. It's Sally E. Stuart. Sorry about that! I think this year's Guide is by Jerry B. Jenkins. Highly recommend it for Christian writers.

  2. Me too i had Katrina as a judge and even used her critique service after that and she had some really nice ideas! I do hope though i didn't forget to send you a thank you note??? If so, katrina, my deepest apologies and a late thank you :-)

    1. You're welcome, Johanna. Yes, you sent me a very nice thank you. Thank YOU back!


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