Gretchen Roufs' portraitKatina Z. Jones once looked around at the thousands of books in a local bookstore, and thought, “No wonder it’s so hard to sell a book.” Then, she says, “I remembered that 23 of them are mine.”

Katina wasn’t thinking about owning 23 books. She was thinking about the 23 books she has written. Katina, communications and media relations manager for GOJO Industries Inc., Akron, Ohio, is an award-winning author and editor in her free time.

Her first venture into the professional writing world was to make a list of all of the magazines for which she’d like to write. Katina submitted an article to a national women’s magazine, they published it, and her professional writing career was off to a roaring start. Katina got started writing books because she met an agent at a writers’ conference, and he hooked her up with some book-publishing opportunities.

Katina writes at night and on the weekends. It gets tricky to balance work and family, and Katina’s approach is creative. When a local publisher found out that Katina had small children, they asked her to write a children’s book.

The publishing company had the idea that they would dress little dogs (Chihuahuas, to be specific) in clothes, and have the dogs act out a story. Katina’s job was to actually tell the story. “I hired my daughter Lilly, who was 8 years old at the time, to help develop the story line,” Katina said. Lilly’s compensation? “I paid her with Barbie dolls. I wrote two of those books and then moved on to other things.”

The Everything Get Ready for Baby Book was Katina’s personal favorite and another family affair. It was first published in 1997, and 50,000 copies of it have been printed. “We call that book ‘Madelyn’s twin’ because I wrote it when I was pregnant with our daughter Madelyn. I literally dropped the final copy of that book in the FedEx box on my way to the hospital to have the baby,” according to Katina.

“Madelyn, who is now 8, loves to read that book. Especially the letter that I wrote to her in the book itself, telling her about the look on my husband’s face when we found out that we were going to have a girl.” That book was recognized by Shape® magazine as one of the top parenting books for 1997. “Plus,” as Katina says, “it got me off the hook for writing a baby journal.”

Katina’s books also include I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding, which she co-authored with Jessica Simpson. If you don’t know who Jessica Simpson is, do what Katina did when her agent contacted her about co-writing the book — ask your kids. That book is out of print, but it is a collector’s item (Jessica is now divorced) and is going for over $230 a copy.

One of the books that Katina wrote is high on my personal “to read” list: The Everything Feng Shui Decluttering Book. The book shows you how to organize your desk and closets in order to enhance your physical and spiritual well-being.

I know that Katina’s desk is clear, because I asked her about it and she said, “It’s immaculate. Our basement at home, however, is a feng shui nightmare.”

Hmm...sounds to me like a new book about basements is about to be born.

Gretchen Roufs, an 18-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns Auxiliary Marketing Services of San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in “freetime,” contact her at