Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's in a Name?

This week, I acquired several new monikers: Katrina, Kristina, Sabrina, and Fabrina. That's got to be a record for name massacres, though not an unusual occurrence for me.

I love my name. It's a beautiful name, but for some reason, it's one of those easily spelled names that's hard for people to spell.

Before we begin, it's Karina Lynn-Gay (Lumbert) Fabian. Feel free to refer back to it.

All my life, I've had problems with my name. Start with Karina. Seems intuitively, phonetically obvious, right? Nonetheless, I get Corrina, Carina, and any other combination thereof. "Katrina" seems to be the most common, though I've sometimes had "Sabrina" tossed in just to spice things up.

Then there's Lumbert. How hard can that be? Elementary school kids can spell "lumber" just fine, but ask an adult to to tack a T on the end and for some reason, they're baffled about the U. Maybe there's a silent T rule I was never taught.

Remember Barney Miller, and how no one could pronounce Officer Wojohowitz's name? He'd hold up his name plate and shout, "Wo-jo-ho-witz! It sounds just like its spelled!" I wanted to shout, "Lum-Bert. It's spelled just like it sounds!"

When I fell in love with Rob Fabian, I must admit there was a certain attraction to the name. Fabian. It flowed so nicely with Karina--all those i's and a's. And it was so easy to spell!

Ha! Fabina. Fabin. Faiban. And I can't count the number of times we've had someone lose a file or dry cleaning or what-have-you until we suggest they look under S. (Sabian) This despite the 60s singer who made the name famous. (Could he really have done it just for the money?)

The first time I was in a high school play, they spelled my name wrong in the program. Already stressed, I burst into tears. The teacher told me, "Some day your name will be in lights, and it will be spelled correctly." In the meantime, I've developed a sense of humor about it all. God loves me and calls me by name--my correct name.

I never wanted it in lights--just in print. Well, it's been in print--three craft books and two anthologies and counting. One of the craft books has it spelled "Katrina Fabian." It'll get fixed in the next print run.

Ironically, in the week that I experienced all these creative namings, I got a check for the reprint rights to an article I did on the questionable wisdom of giving your baby an unusual or hard-to-spell name. It was made out to "Karina Fabian."

Nice to see it spelled right where it counts.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Going to Minot!

Got more news we've been waiting for--Rob got a Squadron Command and we'll be heading to Minot Air Force Base, ND, late this summer!

Minot Air Force Base is home to two major Air Force units: the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Space Wing. The 5th Bomb Wing hosts a fleet of B-52H Stratofortress bombers. The 91st Space Wing maintains a fleet of 150 Minuteman III missiles located in underground launch facilities scattered across the northwest part of North Dakota.

What's Minot like? Here are the slogans:
Guardians of the Upper Realm.
Why not Minot? Freezin's the Reason!
Where the best go North--and are better when they go forth!
You don't need to lock your doors.

A Squadron Command is a big deal in the Air Force and a dream of Rob's for many years. I'm thrilled to see his dream come true at last. He'll be heading the 91st Maintenance Operations Squadon, which is a good fit for him, since it handles training and logistics. He's also done (and excelled in) maintenance operations as a Flight Commander at F.E. Warren AFB, so it'll also be something a little different. I'm personally pleased that we'll be living on base, so he'll have a short drive to work--if he doesn't ride his bike.

The base sounds terrific as does the community--lots of activities for the kids (including theater for Amber) and for us. (One of his friends who's at Minot told Rob that I need to get a couple of ball gowns. Yippee!) We're thinking of letting the kids try a year of school since it's on the closed community of the base and they are already looking forward to the youth center and being able to ride their bikes around the neighborhood and actually around the corner. There are zoos, great parks, snowboarding... And best of all for a shy driver like me, it's all pretty close and low traffic.

Can't say I'm looking forward to the cold or snow--I got spoiled here in warm Virginia--but as far as the base and the family opportunities, I'm psyched.

Most of all, though, I'm looking forward to Rob getting his stint as the "old man" of the squadron. He's so excited.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Guest Blog: March for Life

Yesterday, thousands of people met in Washington DC for a preaceful protest against abortion. Today, I tried to look up some details, but not Yahoo!, my local paper, or Google produced any results. The Washington Times had an article yeterday, saying they expected 20,000, but no follow-up today. Hmmm

Today, I have a guest blogger Joe Gillin, whose blog, Life at the Frontier, I highly recommend. I think his article speaks well for those 20,000 who braved the cold yesterday--and for the millions of us who were with them in spirit.

Saturday, January 20, 2007
Why We March

This is a slightly revised and updated article I first wrote and posted in 2004 at this time.

Moday, January 22, marks the 34th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions which imposed abortion-on-demand in the United States. Once again, concerned citizens will gather on Monday for the annual March for Life, which in recent years has usually drawn more than 100,000 participants. Now, why do so many people consider it so important to take time on a weekday to come to Washington, DC at the coldest time of the year to make their voice heard on this matter?

Before I go on any further, I need to say a couple of things. First, nothing in this article is meant to condemn anyone who has had an abortion or has been involved in abortion in some way. Far from condemning those with an abortion in their past, the people in the prolife movement are about healing and forgiveness, and want it to be clear that there is hope after abortion. Post-abortion counseling can be found through many church denominations and pregnancy counseling centers.

And second, while the prolife movement consists largely of people with strong religious convictions who feel called by God to defend the defenseless, that doesn't make the protection of human life a narrow, religious issue. The facts that the defenseless exist and that they deserve protection in the human family can be persuasively advocated by non-religiously reasoned arguments.

First, let's start with a little scientific background (from the Science for Unborn Human Life website) about how each of us began our lives as unique human beings. A new human being is conceived when a sperm fertilizes an egg. The sperm has 23 chromosomes and so does the egg. But the fertilized egg has 46, half from each parent, and is genetically unique. These 46 chromosomes, which are fixed at conception, establish the child's sex and are a blueprint for how it will develop, both during pregnancy and after birth.

Blood vessels start to form very early, about 13-18 days after fertilization. Then, on about the 20th day - nearly the end of the third week - the foundation of the brain, the spinal cord, and the entire nervous system is established. The heart begins to beat on about the 22nd day after conception, circulating blood throughout the child. The arms begin to form on about day 26, followed by the beginnings of the legs on day 28, the same day that the mouth opens for the first time.

Both the eyes and ears are developing rapidly during the seventh week after conception. At this time, the thumbs, neck, heels of the feet and all of the fingers are also present. Taste buds begin to form during the eighth week after conception. All parts of the limbs are apparent at this time. In addition, the fingers and toes have lengthened and are completely separated.

By the end of the eighth week the overwhelming majority (several thousand) of the body's organs, structures and systems have already begun to develop. Few, if any, new structures begin to form after this time. During the remainder of the pregnancy, development consists mainly of growth and maturation of the parts of the body that are already present.

Isolated arm, leg and backward head movements begin at about 7 to 10 weeks after conception. During the ninth week, a regular pattern of breathing movements is observed, with a median frequency of about 30 breaths each hour.

These are just the highlights of how you developed during the first 2-3 months of your life. Now consider that a majority of abortions are performed during the tenth to twelfth week of gestation. Some are performed much later in the pregnancy, when the child has grown larger and any unbiased observer would recognize a baby when they see one.

So why if the evidence so clearly indicates that a unique human life begins at conception, how did the deliberate and violent destruction of that life come to be imposed as a 'constitutional right'? Time does not permit describing the whole history of abortion or the intertwining influences of the eugenics and population control movements. Let's start with the socially turbulent late sixties when a growing pro-abortion movement subversively exploited the legitimate aspirations of women for greater rights and participation in society.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former abortionist and co-founder of the pro-abortion group NARAL, has since changed his mind and heart and is now a leading prolife advocate. He points out the disinformation at the heart of the pro-abortion campaign.

- "The statistics that we gave to the American public about illegal abortions annually; the statistics we fabricated regarding the number of women dying from illegal abortions annually; all of these matters were pure fabrication and still persist to this very day."

- "We spoke of 5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year. I confess that I knew the figures were totally false. It was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?"

- "We in NARAL were in the business of coining slogans principally for the media . . . we scattered catchy slogans for them . . . to use . . . in their stories. Slogans like "reproductive rights", "freedom of choice", "pro-choice". For many years we've known them to be hollow and meaningless. They're just catchy and, essentially, without substance."

The movement made rapid progress. California, New York and a few other states passed 'liberalized' abortion laws (though some other states rejected them). But what imposed abortion on American law were two Supreme Court cases, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, pronounced on January 22, 1973. The combined effect of the two decisions was to effectively impose abortion-on-demand throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Since that time, over forty five million human beings have been exterminated by abortion in the United States.

Aside from the grave issue that was decided, the finding that abortion is part of a constitutional 'right of privacy' is considered an overreach of judicial power even by some legal scholars who describe themselves as 'prochoice'. The 'reasoning' was based on 'penumbras' the justices claim to have seen in the constitution.

Did you know that the two plaintiffs in the Roe and Doe cases, Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano, have filed affidavits to the effect that they were manipulated into their roles and that the decisions should be overturned? You would think that this development would be considered unprecedented in Supreme Court history, but I guess Dan Rather, Katie Couric, the New York Times, etc. forgot to inform you.

One fact that is becoming evident that abortion-on-demand is not such a great thing for women. Abortion has left many women emotionally and sometimes physically scarred. Campaigns such as Silent No More and Women Deserve Better are tapping into this hidden anguish.

Also evident is the effect on our society, with conflicting attitudes on how we treat not only the unborn, but also the sick, disabled and elderly. Consider the heart wrenching case of the judicially imposed death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Abortion has torn marriages and families apart, and led to a hardened and increasingly violent culture. The raging debate over embryonic stem cell research and human cloning shows the growing risk posed by a disregard for the dignity of every human life.

So, we have had for the past thirty years, a culture that in some ways has grown cynical, forgoing the promise of a hopeful future for instant gratification, or more often, the resignation to unimaginative 'solutions' that pit mother against child or people against the planet. One is reminded of a quote from the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats:

"The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere a ceremony of innocence was drowned."

These Supreme Court abortion decisions were assumed to have 'settled' the issue in our society. Yet much to the consternation of the pro-abortion establishment, the movement of concerned citizens to protect life has only grown in strength over the past thirty years. The prolife movement has pursued multiple paths: educating the public, lobbying and litigating for change, participating in politics, and especially reaching out to help women with unplanned pregnancies. On the political front, abortion played a decisive role in the 2004 Election results and in the confirmation hearings of John Roberts and Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court.

Particularly significant is that the change in public attitudes on abortion is most striking among young people (who've lost peers they've never met). This is manifested in polling results and an upsurge of prolife activism among college students, much to the consternation of their professors and, in some cases, their parents. Sort of adds a new twist to some lyrics from the sixties by Buffalo Springfield:

"Young people speaking their minds, Getting so much resistance from behind."

So the buses are starting to roll, as thousands from distant states once again journey to Washington, where many will gather in prayer the night before or the morning of the March. Then we will rally and march, knowing that those we are trying to defend would some day defend our nation, write great literature, cure disease, compose stirring music, and explore and begin to settle the Solar System.

But more than for their potential accomplishments, we speak out for them simply because of the inherent dignity of each of their lives. In so doing we are responding to a great calling as individuals and as a civilization. And we'll continue to speak and march and work and pray, confident in the hope that, one of these years, we'll no longer face the cold winds. Instead, we'll gather on a warm spring day to celebrate the inclusion of the youngest in the human family within the protection of the law.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tip: Cute Party Favors

A friend sent this link in her newsletter: http://www.plumdrama.com/ It's a place to buy personalized candy tins. The owner is offering a free tin to the Valentine of the first 25 bloggers who mention him. Since Rob is in Norfolk next month, it seemed like a neat surprise, so I checked out the site.

Yeah, they're gimmicky, but they're kind of cute, and considering the amount of money most parents spend on little party bags full of plastic junk that gets thrown out a week later, they're not a bad deal. They could make neat thank-you gift for Christmas to all the teachers, hairdressers, and anyone else you like to give a little something to. (Do we all really need another pretty candle or fancy soap?) If you need some kind of promotional gimmick and have the money to spend, they are worth looking at.

I'm going to bookmark them. It's a few years until Quinceneras or weddings, but may as well think ahead.

Friday, January 19, 2007

My wait with DAW

Caution: This post is almost as long as my wait.

Ironically, after my last post, I heard from DAW about my trilogy, The Miscria. After 2 years, 3 months of consideration, it was rejected. I want to thank Peter Stampfel, the editor and first reader at DAW, for his kind words and patience. He encouraged me to write the second book in the trilogy and kept me up-to-date on the wait. Even though they will not be publishing The Miscria, it's been a valuable experience.

As I shared this news on writers' groups, the most common response was "Why would you wait 2 years?" Here's why I waited.

DAW is a big publisher and some of my favorite authors got their start with them, so publishing with them would have been the fulfillment of a dream.

I did receive responses from DAW. The first was a request for the second book in the trilogy along with a warning that this was going to be a timely process and a request for patience. DAW is a big publishing house with a small staff. They were undergoing organizational changes. They had been acquired by another company that promised more staff but hadn't delivered…

For a year, I've talked with Peter Stampfel quarterly. On the phone. Peter was a stressed, busy man; I could hear it in his voice. Nonetheless, he took 10-20 minutes to talk to me and answer my questions. He remembered the books and enjoyed them. They were on the top of the second read pile, ahead of others that had been there even longer. The second reader had not even touched the pile. She was also in charge of already-commissioned works and was having trouble with authors not meeting their deadlines. He even put me on hold while he went to find out answers to my questions ("Why did you select this first-time writer? Was he agented? Was he in the slush? How long did he wait?")

It's been an interesting education into the publishing world. Perhaps it's not the most courteous of things to make someone wait so long, but I also went in knowing DAW has a waiting time of 3 years in some cases, and that for some publishing houses, these kinds of waits on unagented manuscripts are not unusual.

There's also a responsibility on us writers. We have an obligation to only send out our best. We've all read laments from agents and editors about the dreck they have to go through to find the gems--and with computer technology, that has only gotten worse. We also have an obligation once we've "made it" to be true to our craft and our obligations. (Once when I called, they were having problems with an author who hadn't even started a book that was slated for release--he or she was spending too much time on the Internet. I know someone who ghostwrites for another author because that person is unable to complete his contract. The contracted author has not even read "his" latest books, yet guess who gets a portion of the royalties?) That's also one reason why so many publishing houses are looking for agented work--they can be reasonably sure the agent has QC'd the manuscript and will watchdog the author about his obligations.

So, despite my jokes about my manuscripts "collecting dust" at DAW, I do not believe I was neglected then rejected. Nor was I sitting around pinning my hopes on an impossible dream. It was a considered gamble that didn't pan out. And you all know I've been busy in the meantime. BTW--I have more interviews out on Infinite Space, Infinite God--check out the web site.

Monday, I begin again, a little less patient and a little wiser. The Miscria will find a publishing home, and perhaps I'll try DAW again later--with an agented contract.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hating the Waiting

God grant me patience--and make it fast!

The thing I hate most about writing is the waiting. I can handle the times when a story won't work its way out of my head--I plow through it or go on to some other project. I can handle critiques--they either make me a better writer or aren't worth my attention. I can even handle rejection--I whine for a few minutes, maybe have some chocolate, then I brush it off and go on. But waiting!

Waiting to a Catholic writer is like getting an early glimpse of Purgatory.

I handle waiting in two ways. The easiest is selective amnesia. Despite messages on my calendar, saved e-mails, and notes made on the folders, I've probably forgotten about half the query letters, stories and essays I've sent out. Once in a long while, I go back over my files. I could make a TV show: The Untold Stories Behind the Untold Stories. Tonight's Episode: "The 'Must Sell.'"

SCENE: Late night. Our author, with wild hair and pajamas, hunches over her desk. She's sitting away from the desk and must reach to write on it. A baby lays face down across her lap.

VOICEOVER: NARRATOR: September 2000: It was 1 AM on a Thursday night. The baby had been nursed to sleep for the second time, and writer Karina Fabian had finished a story. The printer hums as she fills out the envelope.

VOICEOVER: KARINA: It was definitely my best work, and I was determined to get it published. I'd researched the markets and made a list. As always, I made two envelopes that night. One would go off right away. The other would wait in case the first one was rejected.

SCENE: Flipping calendar, children growing, dust collecting on the story.

SCENE: Different house, full of the sound of playing and sometimes bickering kids. Our author, now with wrinkles and wild hair, but no pajamas, sneaks into her office, closes the door on the sound, and sighs. She opens the drawer, pulls out a file. There's still one envelope in it. She pulls out the manuscript, puzzled.

VOICEOVER: KARINA, TEARFUL: I don’t know what happened. There were children, and other stories, a new book…I became confused. I neglected it. I should have followed up. I blame myself, but--why, why didn't I get a letter?!

VOICEOVER: NARRATOR: Why, indeed. Today, the investigative reporters of The Untold Stories will follow that story to its bitter end. Did it find its way to the editor? Did the editor see it? Did he have big plans for it, but was suddenly killed when a 300-pound manuscript written in pencil fell from his "reject with malice" pile? Or did he shred her story in a case of mistaken identity and caffeine-induced fury? Was there a rejection letter? What about follow-ups--were they sent? Received? Find out after these words from "Writing Success in 30 Days or Less."

Sometimes, I get a terrific surprise--like when I got a $40 check for a story that I had written for a magazine six years before and heard nothing more about. It was one of my first stories, written specifically for that magazine, so I'd pretty much given it up for unpublishable. Other times, I'll look at a forgotten story and think, "Whew! Hope it was lost in the mail!"

With novels, however, I obsess. How long do I wait until I follow-up? E-mail? Call? I've been known to have days where the fate of a manuscript comes to my mind and I can't concentrate all day. I pace, edgy and restless as a lioness in her cage, debating. It's been 3 months since my last e-mail? Do I follow up? The guidelines say… Maybe I should give it one more week… No, no. Call him. Be friendly. Just gotta know, just gotta know…

This is what's happening with my fantasy trilogy. It's at my dream publisher, waiting. Waiting. I wrote, got encouraging words, even a request for book II. Sent the book. Waited. Wrote again. After a year, I called. Every quarter, I call, get encouraging words and a request for patience. I wait, look for an agent. (Waiting there, too.)

I fill my time with other projects. I have a terrific anthology out, Infinite Space, Infinite God--another long awaited dream--and I've got stories and series and novels to write.

I try not to imagine myself as some desperate teenager waiting by the phone while the guy who said he'd call me is out cavorting with other girls with flashier covers and popular names like "Mercedes"…

I wonder if God isn't holding this back until I'm more ready. Right now, my kids are at the laughing, playing, bickering stage. My life is full with their raising, loving and learning. Do I really need more?


I know the publishing world is swamped, and with books as good as mine, but I so hate waiting!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chicken ala King, Egyptian Style

The saga ends. Today, we entombed King Kluck.

According to our book, the mummification process takes about 40 days. In the dry Egyptian heat, perhaps. In double baggies in a cool garage in Northern Virginia, the process is slightly longer...if by "slightly" you mean months.

And, got to admit, the salt hasn't been changed in a month. After awhile, the project just sort of lost its charm...

This week, we learned about King Tut, and I decided it was the perfect time to put an end to the Kluck who would be King. The boys were enthusiastic--"Yay! We're getting rid of King Kluck."

Then I told them they had to participate. "Oh, it doesn't smell so bad," I cajoled, but they weren't buying it.

Again, Mom handled the gross stuff, so while they prepared the sarcophagus and took photos, I pulled the fearsome fowl out of its bags and wiped off the salts. The smell had gone into stealth mode, lulling us into a false sense of security ("Hey! It really doesn't smell so bad!") then leaping out to attack our noses like a crazed cobra. Nonetheless, we soon had him wrapped in linen with the following trinkets tucked inside:
--a safety pin for, well, safety
--a coin and jewels for wealth
--a match and candle for light and warmth
--sea shells for the ocean it probably never saw
--a Chuck E Cheese ticket for fun
Next we wrapped him in foil to represent a golden tomb. He looked like a football and the next few minutes were spent trying to keep my merry mummy-makers from chucking the cluck around the room. Of course, Alex still wanted nothing to do with the odoriferous object, which meant Liam was only to glad to shove it under his nose. (Something I never thought I'd have to say: "Quite teasing your brother with the mummified chicken!") Nonetheless, we got him safely in his box, which only yesterday brought us a Neopet from E-bay.

"Hey, Mom. Can we sell him on E-bay?" Liam, my 6-year old entrepreneur, asked.

I started to protest, then thought about the Virgin Mary cheese sandwich and the Jesus potato. At least we wouldn't be saying ours was divine. (In fact, I can't think of anything less divine.)

So I told the kids if Dad will make an account, we can stick King Kluck on it.

Maybe I should go back and see if I can mold its corrupted flesh into a likeness of Elvis.

Addendum: Rob says E-Bay is no long accepting decaying-food-related items. Maybe they caught a scent of what was coming!

Liam, don't tease your brother with the mummified chicken!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Code Filk II

Music I'm Listening To: "I Can't Get Code Satisfaction"
Mood: Despairing
Position: Fetal

This weekend, my ISIG website went the way of a confusing, twisted SF series. Yes: Lost. You can see it, but I can't access it--and it's all my fault!

Put on your old Rolling Stones and sing along as I tell my tale of woe.

I can't get code satisfaction
I can't get no website action

It all started when I decided to add a media room to my FabianSpace website. I bought a book on HTML and tried to create one using the site's template.

So I type and I try and I type and I try
I cant' get no!

After several frustrating attempts, I decided to scrap the whole endeavor and go with tripod. I'd already used it for my ISIG site. It was easy to set up, easy to update and the site looks terrific. Why bother with HTML when I could do it there?

When I'm typin' in website code
And I can't see which way to go
the program's saying No and No

I logged onto Tripod with my ISIG account and looked at the available space. Hmm... I really want to do a lot more with the ISIG site and a whole lot with Tripod.

No problem. I'll just create a new account.

I'd missed some vital information
that affects my website situation

At this point, those of you with experience on tripod and other sites should be crowding the monitor, shouting at me like we all did to those ditzy teens in the slasher movies:

"No! Don't do it!"

I opened the new account window...

"Stop! Go back! Close The Window!"

I put in my name and address.

"Different e-mail! At least use a different e-mail!"

I put in the same e-mail as the ISIG account.

"AAAARGH! I can't look!"

I can't get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that's what I say

I can't get code satisfaction
I can't get no website action...

Actually, the website building went great. I found a template, modified it to resemble the FabisnSpace site--banner and all--and soon I was doing the website equivalent of getting lucky never knowing the doom that awaited.

(Rise in volume, please..)

'Cause I typed and I typed and I typed and I typed
I can't GET NO!!!!

(Volume down, now--you're scaring the neighbors)

When I'm doin' Tripod, see
And the site is looking so great
Something's much to easy....

Four hours or so late, I had a KICKIN' media room: photos, graphics, media releases, lots of useful information about me and my stuff...a CHAT ROOM! Yes, I, Karina Fabian, Queen of the Coding Chickens, figured out how to put a chat room on my site! SCORE!

All that was left was to get some information from my ISIG site and put in an announcement there.

But you can't get that site 'cause it ain't the same
As the one now in your name
I can't get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that's what I say

I can't get no satisfaction
I cant' get no ISIG action

I logged out, logged in as isigsf. Tripod says "Problem with member name of password." I try again. Same result. I ask for my password. It says I've given invalid info. I opened up the unhelpful help desk and started a ticket. I got back a reply saying someone changed my password. I tried the new password. It didn't work I opened another ticket...

And I typed and I tried and I typed and I cried
I can't get no!

So now I wait for the Tripod help desk to open, trying not to cry and hoping the 'Net police don't arrest me for web-building with out a clue.

I hope I can get access to the original ISIG website. If not, I guess I'll rebuild it. It's been an incredibly valuable resource.

But this time, I'll just put it in my karinafabian account.

Hey hey hey, that's what I say

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Random Thoughts to Clear My Files

Since NaNo and the Virtual Book Tour Primer had been taking my attention, I'd been keeping a backlog of interesting things to blog. Of course, I now cannot remember a post's worth of stuff to say about them, so I'm going to toss them out to you:

Anousheh Ansari Space Blog: Want to know what being in space is really like? Anousheh, one of the world's first space tourists, tells you her experiences. Great for story research and fun to read.

How Will Internet Change Our Novel-writing? An interesting discussion by novelists Walter Kirn and Gary Shteyngart say about how instant communication, text messaging, e-mail, and IM-ing on multiple levels changes the way we communicate and how that will translate into novel writing. The wartime conversation between the President and the Secretary of Defense is a scream.

Spam Gets Gibberliterish: In order to avoid spam filters, spammers have been adding random text into the subject lines and texts of their messages, with amusing results:

Hi....look...straightened edge. He folded without a sound and I (graphic for "pharmaceuticals"{you know the kind} inserted here)happywhat a team we would make! Patience, doctor, I murmured and slipped him the packet..finally decided to wear a one-piece ship suit

In a subject line: And fro to the fish that went in this people that which is weak

It kind of takes me back to when I lived in Japan and we'd come across badly translated English. I love "And fro to the fish!" I need to use that in a story someday.

My Virtual Book Tour has moved into January, with one more visit scheduled and one in the wings. It's been a lot of fun, but now I'm turning my attention to when Infinite Space, Infinite God comes out in in print this August. Check here for details on both.

My Faith-Filled Fiction Newsletter has 25 subscribers! If you'd like to join up, e-mail me.

This weekend will be the last for King Kluck. Mummifying something in Virginia is not a task for the weak of stomach. I'll have a photo soon.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy Dancing

Found out from my publisher today that Infinite Space, Infinite God has sold 30 electronic copies since its release on fictionwise. I'm crediting the virtual book tour along with the terrific writing of the contributors.

I've also gotten my 21st subscriber to my Faith-Filled Fiction newsletter. Issue One just came out yesterday! (If you'd like to subscribe, contact me and put FFF in the subject line, or leave a comment below.)

So I'm doing a little Snoopy-style happy dance, which looks very silly in a 39-year old, but what the hey!

Please vote for my website and blog! Visit http://museitupclub.tripod.com/themusepeerawards/ and vote for one of the following:



The contest is also to get more traffic to our sites, so browse around while you're there. There are a lot of great writing sites.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Virtual Book Tour Primer

I'm pleased to announce that I've written my first issue of Faith-Filled Fiction, a newsletter about understanding and writing religions in our stories. If you'd like to subscribe please contact me and put "FFF--Yes" in the subject line.

We've learned a lot about what a virtual tour is, what it can do for you, and how to set one up. Today, I want to talk about why you should bother.

* Getting the word out. Virtual book tours probably will not get you a lot of sales, but they are effective at generating a buzz about your book. By getting onto blogs read by your target audience, you are using your time more effectively than if you just send out random press releases. In addition, the more your book is mentioned, the more likely it will show up on search engines, increasing the chances that someone looking for something related to your book will have your title or website appear on their screen.
--And, of course, it's immensely better than doing nothing at all.

* Learning to approach people for interviews. For many of us, it's easier to e-mail someone who writes a blog for fun than, say, approach a television studio that needs to turn a profit. Nonetheless, you need to be able to present yourself to either with confidence and convince them that interviewing you is worth it to their readers.

* Giving a good interview. One thing books on marketing your novel recommend is to make up interview questions and answers before doing any live interviews. With a virtual book tour, you'll have others giving you the questions. Even better, because you're doing everything via the Internet, a virtual book tour interview gives you a great opportunity to think about your answers, research them, ask others, and really put your best foot forward. You can then use that information when you do a live tour.

I've been amazed on my own book tour how much I learned about myself, my book, and the genre. Bloggers, even those with small audiences, nonetheless took the time and effort to ask me some very thoughtful questions. I found myself having to research for facts to support my answers and even going to my writer friends for opinions on how they'd respond. As a result, I'm going to be much more confident when I do live interviews. (I have one tentatively scheduled this summer on FastForward.)

* Gathering information to use elsewhere. Another way to promote your book is to write articles about the topics it covers. Your interviews not only give you information, but also let you know the kind of things people are interested in. You can then use that to write articles to submit elsewhere. I have an article due on Catholic Science Fiction for Hereditas this month, and I'll be pulling liberally from my many interviews.

* Having fun! What can be more rewarding to a just-published writer than to talk about his or her new book? Virtual book tours let you do that on your own time, in your own home, with the chance to go back, reword, rethink and put your best foot forward. They're a good confidence builder.

That's it for the Virtual Book Tour Primer. I may post articles from time to time, and of course, I'll answer questions. (Is anyone out there reading this?!? Ask me your questions!) In October, I'll be hosting a Virtual book Tour Workshop at the FREE MuseOnline Writers' Conference.

If this primer helped you, please leave me a comment! In the meantime, thanks for dropping in and let me know how your virtual book tour goes!