Friday, April 27, 2007

Some of the many things I love about Rob

You know, you don't see a lot of door-to-door evangelists lately. I think I know why. They must have run up against people like my husband.

When my husband was agnostic, he had a lot of fun with evangelists who came to his door.

His dog tags said "Druid" and he would ague that Druids were favored by God. After all, how many Druids died in WWII? None! (No practicing Druids were in WWII that he knew of, but that's beside the point, of course...) After other similarly true but statistically insignificant examples, he showed them his potted plant and said he worshipped at the plant and they were welcome to join him. They left quickly and warned all his neighbors.

He also used his dog tags during military survival training. While a "prisoner" in the mock-POW camp, he tried to demand his Geneva convention rights to worship: "Just give me a stone knife and some blue face paint and leave me alone in the woods for a couple of hours. Come on! I'll come back when I'm done. Really, I will. I'll even forgo the virgin." Somehow, the trainers didn't buy it.

They did, however, buy his secret communications routine. Before the training, he and a friend found Tolkein's Elvish dictionary and learned a few phrases. Completely baffled the trainers. They even brought in linguists to try to figure out what they were saying.

Is it any wonder I fell in love with this man?

Ironically, I "converted" him with just seven words: "Want to come with me to Mass?" He came for the love of me and stayed for the love of God.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Homeschool Drop Outs!

We're homeschool drop-outs!

Some of you may already know that next year, we're putting the kids in "regular" school--on-base elementary for the littles and Catholic for the older two. We feel the kids need the experience and I can use the break.

Drop out #2 happened yesterday. It started with a last week's temper tantrums by our youngest (we suspect a food allergy) and ended with a failed Latin test. It was only Monday and I was already exhausted and hating the thought of going downstairs to the classroom. I found myself thinking, "Who cares about Latin, anyway?!" We'd spent five years in Virginia and had hardly seen anything aside from Kings Dominion--and that's an amusement park!

Even more, I thought about how we'd be ending our school experience: Mom stressed out and yelling about proper semicolon usage, kids thinking they're stupid or lazy because they didn't get a good grade on a test, and an incredible opportunity--living in the center of early American History--unexplored.

And, I thought, the kids actually enjoyed our impromptu short hike along the Fredericksburg battlefield, and we got a new truck with GPS navigation. I didn't have to fear getting lost on the roads; "Tecca" (we named the truck, yes) would tell us where to go.

I pulled the kids into the study and lined them up against the wall. I told them how I hated the way things were going and how I really wanted to have some fun and learn about some new stuff. They agreed they, too, were tired of books and papers and tests. So I gave them the proposition: we'd keep reading Bible, mythology, and history. Liam would continue with reading. Alex and Liam would have flash cards for math facts. Otherwise, we'd learn about something in the area one day, go see it the next and tell Dad about it when we got home. Each child has an assignment--the younger had to give some facts and the older have to give a report (oral or written). But otherwise, the curriculum, the textbooks and the assignments all go out the window.

Given the choice between braving a potentially dull museum and doing a potentially dull worksheet badly (and facing the Wrath of Mom), they chose museums.

We came up with a contract specifying behaviors and penalties as well as perks. Each child read it and agreed to it. I carry a copy with us for reference. (I have to--my memory is that bad!) Today was our first day out: a fact-finding tour. We went to the visitor's center, saw the video on Fredericksburg, got flyers on the attractions and took a carriage tour. Afterward, we explored some shops, had fudge and still made it to religious ed with time to spare. At home, the younger boys told Dad five facts and Amber and Steven gave 3-5 minute oral presentations. Overall, a successful first day.

So we're not only going to stop homeschooling next year, we're pretty much dropped out of homeschooling this year. I'm cringing when I see the unfinished textbooks, but when I think about the kids comparing the prices of antiques, talking about Hugh Mercer and his healing leeches or giving their dad a concise history of Fredericksburg based on a video and a carriage tour, I'm glad we decided to end on a happy note.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Publishing Pitfalls and Major Messes

I've had a weird couple of days. My mother-in-law had a biopsy (the chance of cancer looks slim, thank you, God!). I started a book I'm promised to review (Flashpoint by Frank Creed) and ended up unable to put it down, which meant the house stayed got messy. (I'll be touring Frank's book when it comes out--stay tuned!) Finally, we have an open house tomorrow, so we had the panic perfection clean-up job to do today.

We finally celebrated my birthday (3 days late) by going out to dinner and the bookstore. I wrote down all the publishers of sci-fi/fantasy on the shelves and looked them up. Of the 13 I'd not already approached, only two did not require agents, and neither is a good fit for The Miscria.

NOTE: Baen, Tor, DAW and Edge do not require agents, but I've already tried them. You can Google them for their guidelines. Luna does fantasy, but with romance/strong female-focus. Fantasy with Christian perspective--looks like epic legend stuff

Can't find the guidelines, but the book trailer is a riot:

And speaking of funny videos, check this one out:
My own van is a do-it-yourself job: half inch of congealed soda in the cupholders and fries stuck in the tracks of seats, and Hillary Duff in the CD player (shudder), plus pencils and pens, books, napkins and even some space clothes all around. Scratched done by sticks for that au natural look. Oh and let's not forget the ill-fitting seat cover that was a present.

Got one fun birthday present: Home Education Magazine ran the King Kluck Saga as "Mummification Most Fowl." It'll be in the May/Jun issue.

Like so many, I'm praying for the victims (and the murderer) of the Virginia Tech shootings. Please also remember all those who die in obscurity at the hands of violence as well.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Like Seinfeld, the Blog About Nothing

Why is it that I always have hundreds of things to blog about-until blog day comes?

When I'm on Yahoo or chatting with friends, I can go on and on. OK, that's not always a good thing, but sometimes, it is. Sometimes, I'll make a post or have a conversation and think, "Hey, I should fix this up into a blog entry." Then I make a mental note that goes into the circular file of my mind, never to be seen again. I honestly believe that physicists searching for black holes should start by doing an MRI on mothers who write. Certainly on me.

Maybe the problem is this blog is so eclectic. It's about whatever crosses my mind as it crosses my mind. However, I don't want it to be a journal (aka "me fest"). I can't think of anything worse than reading:

"Hi all. S&^%y day. Had cereal for breakfast, but the milk was gross. School was OK, but the teacher is mean. (Oh, wait. I am the teacher.) Gave the hermit crabs a bath… watched Dresden Files and read a couple of books…"

Actually, there is something worse than reading it. Writing it.

So I want to write things that you'll be interested in reading, but I'm also interested in writing. Thing is, I bore easily. So I don't want to start a dedicated blog on, say book promotion or writing. Heaven knows there are enough of those out there, anyway. I could blog about my writing, but that feels too narcissistic, especially given my current level of fame, about 5 on a scale of 1 to 100. I have the feeling plenty of struggling writers do that on livejournal anyway.

"Got another rejection letter today: Dear Writer. Thank you for your submission. We're sorry, but it doesn't meet the needs of our magazine. Got depressed and had a latte. Came up with a better idea--slug farming!--and did the research. Slug farming is fascinating. I may do a novelization--wonder if I can get the movie rights? It's like National Geographic meets The DaVinci Code! I'll post sample chapters…"

So I'm not into that, either. At least not twice a week, every week.

But I promised myself twice a week, every week. Which means blogs like today--would this be whiny blog or just directionless? Whiny. Hopefully, in an amusing way.

So, if you're reading this, let me know what interests you. I'd love some direction. In the meantime, I'm going back over all my yahoo groups and pulling out entries that make good blogs.

Come by the FabChat room Thursday at 8 PM for my birthday party chat. That's probably a narcissistic comment, except that I'm giving away presents.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My New Writing Goal

Got a rejection again on my fantasy manuscript for The Miscria. It happens, I know, but this was the last on my current "To Send" list, and I'm wondering where to send it next or if I should re-write it and how. I was also told by my publisher, Lida at Twilight Times Books, to slow down the marketing of Infinite Space, Infinite God and take a break until June. I've got book proposals waiting for answers and no story ideas eating at my brain. So, I'm taking the week off and reading some books for fun.

Rob belongs to the Sci-Fi Books club, so he buys books by the case, and I usually mooch off him. (Yet another reason I'm glad I married him!) This week, I'm working through The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. I love Butcher's modern fantasy noir style, his incredible depth of imagination in his fairy characters, and for his bizarre spooky yet humorous scenes.

For example, in Summer Knight, the wizard Dresden meets with Chicago Detective Murphy at a Super Wal-Mart at about 1 am. (Hey, it's public and it's open, right?) They get attacked by an ogre and a chlorofiend (plant monster with a cooler name). After a fight that spans the garden, hardware and automotive sections, they finally kill the monsters with the help of metal shelving, a chain saw, gasoline and a sterno can.

I can imagine Jim Butcher, walking around the Super Wal-Mart at 1 AM, choreographing all this:
Jim (muttering): Weed-B-Gone? Nah, probably take too long… These shelves, though. Sturdy, metal. They hate metal. Won't stop it. What else? Oooo--chain saw!

Wal-Mart Lady: Can I help you?

Jim: Would you mind unpacking that chain saw, holding it next to your leg, wrapping it with that camping blanket and walking a bit? I want to see if it looks convincing.

Wal-Mart Lady: Sir?

Jim: (looking at another shelf) These cans of lighter fluid don't hold enough for engulfing the average ogre--do you keep gasoline in the store?

Now Jim could get away with this because he's a fantastically published (and fantastic) writer. I want to be there some day!

Yes, my new goal: to be well enough known that I can go into a store and plan havoc--and not get evicted by security. Got to have your dreams, right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Infinite Space, Infinite God Book Review Highlights

April 1-7, the Christian Fiction Review Blog roll hosted Infinite Space, Infinite God. As a part of it, I posted some behind-the-scenes stuff on my own tour blog, Here are some highlights from the others:

From the Lost Genre Guild:
All of the ISIG short stories are well-crafted and entertaining—the latter a real surprise for me considering that I do not number among the millions of sci-fi fans in this world. The range of intensity in this volume kept me reading because I couldn't predict what I'd discover when I turned another page. We see the teenager Frankie off to evangelize to alien beings; we sit with Saint Francis of Assisi as he ministers to the needs of a mannaro; we make the pilgrimage alongside an IRA 'terrorist' as he makes his way through the stations to enlightenment. The three described above: "Interstellar Calling," "Canticle of the Wolf," and "A Cruel and Unusual Punishment" were my favourites. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stories included in Infinite Space Infinite God and liked the fact that they forced me to ponder and question. And one more thing, it is pretty darn refreshing to read good fiction that does not haul out the fictional stereotypes of maniacal monk or preying priest or nasty nun.

From David Brollier on
About "The Harvest": This was one amazing and complex story of the unfolding of truth, the revealing of evil and the emergence of love. Lori… did an absolutely superb job in answering a universal question about what it means to be human. This carries with it so many other lessons that it could easily have been the only story in the book and I would have loved it none-the-less. Thank you for helping us to see a universe a bit larger than the one we had believed in beforehand.

About "Hopkins' Well": The feeling of “being there” in this story is powerful. No writer could ask for a better portrayal.

About "Interstellar Calling": I truly loved this story...because the story spoke to my heart.

About "Mask of the Ferret": It's the complexity and drive of the story that gets to you… Excellent. Truly wonderful.

About "Little Madeleine": I enjoyed the story, especially since accepting the truth was in itself another battle that she needed to fight… “Little Madeline” is one of those rare stories that takes you smack dab into the center of life's problems and then shows you the choices you, or rather that of the heroine in this case, have.

From Caprice Hokstad on
I always want more, more, more. Just as I was starting to get to like a character or a setting, BAM, the story was over!

From Grace Bridges at
Are you ready to have your imagination expanded beyond what you thought possible, while doing some serious thinking? Then this is the book for you...

This anthology blows classic speculative fiction out of the water time and time again with amazing twists on the eternal question: “What if…” while giving you just enough time… to ponder a little along these lines for yourself…. “What if” really is a much bigger question than I ever thought…

I believe good science fiction should, among other things, always stretch your brain – and that’s just what this collection has done for me…fifteen times over. Watch out world – the Fabians are coming! And it looks like they're bringing their friends...

Oh, yes, we are, Grace! Watch out for the arrival of Infinite Space, Infinite God, coming to Amazon, B&N online and by order from other fine bookstores starting August 15.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Explained, Gen X (or maybe Y) style:
You laugh, but when WalMart has a man in a bunny suit ready to have kids hippety-hop onto his lap and tell him their Easter wishes, how far off can it be?

Saw this in a poem on ShoutLife:
"It's Friday, Pilate's strutting around washing his hands 'cause he thinks he's got all the power and the victory."

I feel sorry for Pontius Pilate. As governor over a Jewish state in the Roman Empire, he was charged with keeping the peace and running an orderly state. Then come these local religious leaders insisting he kill a man that he considers innocent or they'll let it be known he (Pilate) is a traitor to Caesar. Just beating Jesus didn't appease them. Offering to set him free nearly started a riot. They'd rather have a dangerous revolutionary than a gentle man. Then there's the law/tradition that said they--not he--had the right to choose who he'd free that day.

He was manipulated both with political blackmail and the threat of riot--which meant many innocents being injured or killed.

So where's his power here? Where's his victory?

The washing of hands was more than "I refuse to take responsibility." It was a way to say, "I don't want a part of this." Didn't the disciples knock the dust off their sandals when they left a city that rejected them?

I think he was more likely slump-shouldered with what he'd felt forced to do or storming about in frustration than strutting with power and victory.

Of course, in 20-20 hindsight, it was the only decision he could make for the sake of all our souls, even his.

Tonight, as I pray for all political leaders, I make a special mention for him.
On Good Friday, we went to Confession and part of the Tre Ore. (A Catholic tradition: A three-hour service in honor of the three hours Jesus spent dying on the cross. We sing, meditate, pray and hear the last seven statements. It was a beautiful ceremony.) Also on Friday is the Veneration of the Cross, where we hear the story of the Crucifixion and give honor to the living cross by which we are saved.

I didn't want to go. I'd had a bad day--despite the TreOre--and was way behind on work. At 6:30, I was sill grading papers and hadn't even touched the manuscript that's due this evening. When Rob came home and saw me, he just gave me hugs. But those hugs and the Tre Ore strengthened me, and I reminded myself that I've been feeling my priorities shifting--and not in the best way. So at 7:00, I steeled myself and got everyone ready to go.

I'm so glad we did. Our family had a minor miracle happen at that service. Like Mary, I'm going to keep it in my heart, but I'd appreciate it if anyone reading this would pray that the seed planted at that service continues to bear fruit.

Have a blessed Easter.

Karina Fabian

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reading Your Book backward

Gotta do a short post today because I'm proofing the copy of Infinite Space, Infinite God for the publisher. The pre-release promotional copies come out by end of April--if I can get the galley copy to Lida at Twilight Times by Saturday.

I remember the first time I'd seen a galley copy--now called a proof copy by some. I had interviewed Kathleen and W. Michael Gear, and they sent me a copy of their latest book to review. I'd thought it was called "gallows copy," which seemed to fit in my mind. Simplistic gray cover, every error still unchecked--it looked pretty grim to me. I remember being astounded at the errors you found.

Loved the book anyway.

Now it's my turn to put on my editor's hat again, switch my mind to "Anal-retentive grammarian" and read Infinite Space, Infinite God yet again. Only this time, I'm reading it backwards.

Yes, backwards. There's no better way to catch a missing comma, a mis-capitalized word or an awkward phrase than to remove the sentence from its context and look at it in isolation. It's interesting, too, how seeing it in the book form makes a difference. Even though it's been checked twice by me in print and on the computer, by my editor, by a copy editor and again by me on-line, I'm still finding errors, missing words and differences in format. (BTW--you may not realize it from my posts sometimes--I tell folks my Native American name is "Fingers-Stumbling-Over-Keyboard"--but I'm a very good editor when I put my mind in reverse.)

I'm also finding there's no better way to appreciate the terrific writing of some of the contributors. You can tell who writes the great story and who has great writing in the story. last night, as I went over Maya Bohnhoff's "Cruel and Unusual Punishment," I would pause now and then to share a line with my friend over the IM. I paused with Colleen Drippe's "Far Traveler" to write in the margins, "Like this line!" Now, I'm in Rob's and my "These Three," and there are still lines that make me think, "Yeah, got it that time." I'm gaining a whole new appreciation for the talent that shared their stories with me.

I won't go so far as to suggest that you read your favorite book backward, but it is an interesting exercise in writing. And it's very useful when editing.

So, back to the grindstone--222 pages to go and counting down!