Monday, December 31, 2007

Blog Blessings

My friend Ann Lewis blog blessed me this past week. In a blog blessing, you bless, praise and pray for three blog friends. So today, I pass on my blessings:

First, naturally, back to my friend Ann Lewis. Ann is a terrific friend, a great writer, and a wonderful and patient webmistress. We met about a year and a half ago, and became fast friends--something that actually is rare for me. Even though we've only met in person twice, we talk almost every day with Yahoo IM, often while writing or working on a project. I love bouncing ideas off her because she knows how to get right to the one thing that either wasn't working or will make my story so much MORE. Her stuff, primarily mystery romances involving Dr. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame, are wonderful and absorbing to read. I can hardly wait for them to be published. My prayer for her is that she have the graces she needs to successfully navigate the next year with its many challenges, from having a strong-willed three-year-old to finding a publisher for the Watson Chronicles.

Next, I want to bless Lea Schizas. I met Lea when my publisher at Twilight Times suggested I present at the MuseOnline Conference. She got me involved in marketing, web-building and networking with other writers. You think I'm busy? You should see all the pies she has her fingers in, yet she manages to do them with such grace and giving. She inspired me to write a really funny "romance" involving Coyote the Trickster and to start an online conference with the Catholic Writers Guild and Canticle. It's because of her influence that I've made so many friends on-line. My prayer for her is that she continue to have energy for her many tasks.

The next two aren't really my friends, but I admire their work and their attitude, so I'm blessing the Curt Jester and Jimmy Akin. These two gentlemen run blogs with a conservative Catholic viewpoint. I find these gentlemen not only know their stuff but also think. My prayer for them is that god continue to grant them wisdom and that those that need to "hear" their words find their blogs.

Now, just for fun, I want to bless my character, Vern the dragon. He's given me a lot of fun and a whole universe to explore. My prayer for him--that I have the time and dedication to write him lots of case summaries in the next few years--and that lots of people read all about him!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I love this house! Have a Mad Russian Christmas!

Music: "Mad Russian Christmas" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Thursday, December 20, 2007

blogger course

I've been taking an on-line class called Simpleology 101. It's got some good information, but I do my best to ignore the hype. However, they sent me an interesting offer: They'll send me their newly-developed e-mail blogging course for free if I post the following message about it in my blog.

Hey, I like free stuff and would like to be a more effective blogger, so here ya go.

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Lunchbox Notes

This is the first time in 5 years that our children have not homeschooled, and I've had to deal with packing lunches. One thing I felt was important--as much to me as to them--was that I include a little note. After the first week, "I love you" and "Have a great day" got tiresome, so I started writing pithy quotes--funny, profound or Biblical.

Yesterday, Steven, my 8th grader, asked me to stop including noted in his lunches. It seemed one kid had made a sport of snatching them out and reading them aloud. (You can guess the tone he was using if it made my usually oblivious child embarrassed.)
This started quite a discussion on lunch box notes. I didn’t want to stop writing them--it was my way to let them know during the school day that I loved them, and I found that is very important to me. Amber said her friends often pass them around and have told her she's lucky to have a mom who packs her lunches and gives her notes. Alex told me he saves his to he can re-read them. Rob, my husband, wanted to know why Steven wasn't defending his lunchbox better.

In the end, we came up with a better alternative. The next day, I packed his lunch with this note:
Eavesdroppers are seldom admired, but people who steal lunch box notes to read aloud are especially pitiful! Merry Christmas from Steven's Mom

Of course, Steven, somehow not getting the concept to the Gotcha! Factor, warned him and the kid has decided to lay off lunchbox notes. In the meantime, one of Amber's friends whote "HI MOM!" on one of Amber's notes.

Guess I've got another person to write for.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Suprises: Websites and Wonders

Work on my new website continues at a snail's pace. Right now, we're trying to figure out how to change the colors on the skin--or find a new skin. We're going with something lighter because, as I said, it seems my writing is moving in a somewhat different direction.

In the meantime, people are still looking at the site, and that's led to a terrific Christmas surprise.

Rob has often mentioned to us the childhood friend that saved his life, John Wells. They had been digging in a ditch, making a battleground for GI Joe, when the cave they'd managed collapsed on Rob. His friend, though only eight, dug Rob out, got him to the highway and got them a ride home. (This was on the Air Force Academy.) Rob's parents took him to the hospital, where they discovered one of his ribs had been broken and had sliced his liver to shreds. Rob said one surgeon was ready to give up; the other said, "No. I've seen this in Vietnam." To this day, Rob says two people saved his life: that surgeon and his friend John Wells. He and John lost track of each other, as happens to military brats, but Rob has never forgotten him and has told our children the story many times.

Would you believe that John has often thought of Rob, too? And that he would feel he's the one that owed Rob a debt of gratitude; for my bibliophile husband infected him with a lifelong love of books.

Last week, John found us through my website. Rob shouted with joy: "That's my friend! That's they guy who saved my life!" Me, I'm a sentimental biddy; I still have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. What an incredible gift!

So John, even though I already e-mailed you, I want to say this publicly:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the gift of my husband. God bless you and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Gifts for the Author that Don't Collect Dust

Rob likes to complain that I am a hard person to buy presents for--and he's right. I just don't want a lot of stuff--and the things I do want, I have to earn myself: a book contract with a big publisher, an agent, for Infinite Space, Infinite God to sell out. No one can give those to me. There are a few things, however, that could help me achieve those goals.

I think they might work for other writers, too, so here's my version of a Writer's Wish List. (And guess what? Most of them don't need dusting or have complex instructions written by someone with limited command of English! What could be better?)

--Buy ad space for the person's book in a magazine, convention magazine, fanzine or on-line venue that caters to their readership. (You may need to get the person's help in making the ad, but it's still a great gift!) Ads can run anywhere from $20 to $2000, depending on the venue. Sometimes more expensive is not better, either.

--One of the many guides to agents or publishers out there is always a good gift, but better yet--look up a half-dozen leads yourself and give your author the website link and requirements. One of the hardest things for me is researching the agents or markets. If you've read your author's rough draft or heard the story often enough, you might be able to point them in the right direction.

--Hire the services of a good editor. Every manuscript can use a good polish by someone with a keen eye and experience. Caution: make sure the editor is reputable (have they edited books that went on to sell with traditional publishers?) and make sure your writer will consider this a help and not an insult.

--Membership in a writer's association: You may have to ask your writer friend about this one, to find out which one he likes or qualifies for. Again, these can be very cheap (The Catholic Writer's Guild is only $24 a year) or up into the hundreds.

--A domain name. There are several places that let you create websites for free, but it's always better to have your own domain name. This can be as simple as

--A conference. Offer to pay their fee to a writer's conference. Again, these can vary greatly, and of course, there is the expense of travel, hotel, food, etc., but it can be done.

--Set up a book signing. If your author has a book out and is nearby, offer to do the legwork to arrange a booksigning for them. It's really not hard--call the store, get them to agree and order some books, and show up with pen in hand and a notebook for taking names to start a fan list. If it's a stay-home parent, offer to watch the kids for 3 hours so they can do this.

--Arrange a Virtual Book Tour for them. Go to my Virtual Book Tour Primer for more information.

--Offer your services. Authors need to do more than just write stories. They need to research, contact editors, send out queries, track expenses, keep files, compile lists of contacts, fans, bookstores, markets, etc. If you are the organizational type, offer to take some of those piles of papers, post-it notes and typo-filled e-mails to oneself and put them in a database or file or whatever form your author can use. (Come to my house first, and I'll show you what I mean! Really, no charge!)

So if your author has enough pens, notebooks, writing manuals, and programs, consider one of these ideas. You'll do more than make their season bright--you'll help them make their career brighter.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Announcing Twisted Fairy Tales Anthology

I am pleased to announce the release of “Twisted Fairy Tales” by Eternal Press. Familiar children’s stories re-written for adults. Sometimes weird, sometimes sexy. My own story, “Cinders” is definitely in the weird category.

Check it out at

I'm happy dancing. I've been seeking a home for this story for over 11 years. Perseverance pays!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

30K for Christ: Goal not met, but I won

This year, I decided to opt out of NaNoWriMo and instead join my Guild's 30K for Christ project. 30K is more open-ended, so I could work on my last book in the Miscria Trilogy: Savior Psychic. it's been on my back burner for a year at least, and I'd felt both guilty and stubborn about it. After all, Miscria I: Asylum Psychic still hadn't sold; why bother? (Yes, the answer is "Bother because the story is in you," but some days, that's hard to remember, isn't it?)

At any rate, I didn't make the 30K goal, but I do think I won in a lot of ways:

Above all: I prayed about my writing more.

1. Once I made myself write, my characters led me out of a lot of plot problems I was having when I was just imagining things. It always amazes me how getting it on paper can make the problems seem easier to solve.

2. I pushed through some of my self-doubt demons. They will return again, I know. For now, however, I've conquered them, and each time I do that, they get weaker.

3. I dedicated some of my writing time to re-crafting my agent letter. It's much stronger thanks to some wonderful critiques, so I'll be ready to send it on in December.

4. And, hey--I'm 21K farther than I was on Nov 1!

That's really the goal of a writing month like this: to push past blocks, to face our fears and to learn that yes, we can do this. We've only to set our minds to our craft.

I'll have to slow down again, as I need to catch up on stuff I let slide, but I intend to keep forging ahead. I hope all who participated in write-ons like this continue to do so as well

So, to everyone who did NaNoWriMo or 30K for Christ, I salute you. We're all winners, regardless of how many words we wrote. Congratulations to all who participated!

Karina Fabian
aka Madame Prez'