Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review Roundup of Greater Treasures

Get Greater Treasures on Amazon: 

The blog tour is almost over, and the reviews are in.  Here are some highlights from what reviewers and readers are saying about Vern's latest book:

Karina proves once more that she is a veritable fount of puns and one-liners, causing random hoots of laughter at the twists she puts into the language of the hard-headed dragon. Vern's smart-aleck character leaps from the page in 3D, weaknesses and all, but don't forget, the dragon always wins. This world she has created involves complex interactions between Faerie and Mundane, religious and anti, science and magic. Splashdown Book Reviews

Greater Treasures would be the perfect weeknight read for anyone who love pun-filled fantasy in the style of Esther Friesner. If you get huffy at the mix of spec fic elements, you can't abide religion in your fantasy, or magic in your religion, then you might want to skip this one. Or better yet, pick it up and give it a read. You might find your tastes expanding!

Rebecca Ryals Russel, One evening recently I read Greater Treasures while my husband was watching television.This is significant only in that he kept glancing at me then telling me to please be quiet because I COULDN'T STOP LAUGHING. It is clear Karina enjoys and understands the Noir detective style of story-telling. She has infused such a sly, smart-alec sense of humor into all of the characters in any of her DragonEye Pi books they are a delight to read. Greater Treasures is also short enough to be read in one or two sittings. But the best thing is that this story would be enjoyed and understood by anyone able to read--Middle Grade through Adult. 

“(In Vern), , I found someone who carries the weight of remorse, responsibility and the hope of redemption on very large shoulders. His humor comes out of a history of loss and the challenge of caring. His care for Sister Grace, a siren turned nun, drives this story.”

I love the idea of taking the Mystery that suffuses Catholicism and using it to drive the “magic” of another world. Yes, there are clichés being wielded here, but Karina uses our expectations to turn the story on Vern's wit.

 “It is a great read. You’ll keep following along with Vern’s adventures. And, the best part for me is the underlying story. Fabian’s research about the Lance of Longinus is well done and makes the book very interesting to read.” Dianne Sagan,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Circuit Torture, er Training: Sights of the Gym

Well, I did sounds of the gym a couple of weeks ago, so now it's time to see how the gym looks on a typical day.  Ready the slide show!

This is what the nine o'clock class usually looks like.  I attend the eight o'clock class, which means I'm on my own more often than not.  I don't mind, because then I can grunt and wheeze.  If I get too loud, Ryion will turn up the music or put in his earbuds.

Me and my personal torturer, er trainer, Ryion.  We are holding 60-pound barbells.  Yes, be impressed.

Remember what I said in a previous blog about how the headband rides up on my hair?  Yeah.  Not a good look.  Another reason to grow it longer--at least long enough for a topknot.
This is what muscle growth looks like. 
Once every four or five weeks, Ryion ups the pain, er, burn, by making us wear weight vests.  As you can see, there is an embarrassment factor as well, as the vests will squish all your fat into a nice spare tire.  Of course, you should have seen this the first time I wore the vest.  (No, no, I'm glad you didn't.)
So, do I look like Beyonce' at the Superbowl?  I was going for that expression.

The glory photo above?  This is right AFTER that shot.  OH!  Ryion, grab it! Grab it!
And this is when we tried to get that shot the day before.  HEAVY!  Heavy barbell!

Circuit Torture: Looking Skinny in Pictures (without Photoshop)

Rob's Home!  Finally, his deployment is over!  I'm still working out, but I'm trying to avoid blogging for two weeks, so today, here're some tips for looking skinnier--in photos, anyway:

Next week, I'll post photos on how these tricks worked for me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mini-Review: My Beautiful Disaster by Michelle Buckman

My Beautiful Disaster by Michelle Buckman

Summary:  When Dixie catches the eye of Vince, she’s in heaven. She thinks it’s love at first sight, and there’s nothing she wants more than to be Vince’s girl, no matter what it takes—until his nice-guy façade slips away.

Mini-Review:  I'm usually not into this kind of teen lit, but I make an exception for Michelle Buckman because she's an exceptional writer.   The plot is the usual after-school-special fare, but Michelle has an ability to show relationships and address faith issues in a way that rings true. You could believe this family lives down the block or goes to your church.  A great read for teenage girls and their mothers.

Get it on Amazon:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Meet Cambridge Ramada

One of my favorite characters in The Maltese Falcon is Kasper Gutman.   I liked that he was affable yet dangerous, had cunning and intelligence, and in the end, could shake off defeat and consider it an adventure.  He was also comfortable with his weight, and didn't keep him for dressing well.  Here's a clip of him with Sam Spade in the movie:

I kept those qualities in his Greater Treasures analog, Cambridge Ramada.  I needed a good buy (or at least one who was neutral) to offset my villains.  Ramada is a private detective with an unusual specialty: artifacts and valuable items (lost stolen or simple greatly sought after).  He's been on the trail of the Lance of Longinus for a collector, and that trail crosses Vern's.  Here's their first meeting:

Mr. Ramada surprised me by having one of the more modest suites in the hotel, with a long couch and a large, sturdy chair. He needed it, too. I could live for a week on this guy—if my taste buds could handle that much blubber. He was either an early riser or Junior had called him before he started following me, because Ramada met us dressed in a casual outfit obviously tailored to compliment his girth. Maybe he'd planned to take Junior to the Country Club after he was done with me.

"Well," he said, not bothering to rise from his comfy chair, "this is not quite what we'd had in mind."

"Next time, send somebody less hygienic," I replied. "You should pour that bottle of cologne down the sink."

"Yes, why don't you do that while the dragon and I talk?" Ramada waved toward one of the bedrooms, and like a sulky teenager, Junior disappeared into it. "I'd offer you a seat, Mr.—?"

"Vern will do. What I really want are answers. Why'd you send Junior Detective Boy after me?"

"Junior Detective Boy," Ramada chuckled like he was trying to force it out of his throat and the roof of his mouth simultaneously. Maybe he was trying to sound like Sydney Greenstreet playing Kasper Gutman, but it came out like an asthmatic Beavis and Butthead.

"I hope you're not going to tell me you're looking for a black bird," I said.

Again the laugh. "No, nor will I say Peters is like a son to me. And I think you're suspicious enough of your client? She did not steal something from me, though it is true we are both after the same object. You are familiar with the Lance of Longinus?"

Want more?  Get Greater Treasures on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weight Loss Update 4: How Real People Lose Weight

Hey, time again!  Here are photos and stats on my progress in losing weight and toning up.

As usual, let me remind everyone that I am on no particular diet.  I still eat pizza and chimichangas, drink soda, and have desserts now and again.  What I have done is reduce the number of sodas, cut down desserts by more than half, and drink a gallon of water nearly every day.  (I don't always make it).  So what you see is mostly the results of five hours of circuit training a week.

Also, I am making no attempt to suck in my gut, alter my pose or do anything to make myself look thinner in the after picture.  This is how you'd see me at any particular moment.

Here are the stats.  I'd like to note that my arms have not changed much in size, but it's muscle now instead of wobblyfat.  (I accidentally missed the space between "wobbly" and "fat" but I love that word!  Wobblyfat.  Say it with me: wobblyfat.)

15-Jan 17-May
total loss

weight 169 153.3
15.7 lb dec
body fat 38.5 32.6
5.4 dec
chest 38.7 35.9
2.8 dec
bust 41.1 38
3.1 dec
waist 39 33.5
5.5 dec
hips 42.8 38.8
4.0 dec
abs 42 36.7
5.3 dec
thigh 22 23.5
1.5 inc
calf 15 15
bicep 11.6 11.5
.1 dec
forearm 10 9.5
.5 dec
neck 15 13.8
1.2 dec

Monday, May 20, 2013

Back Cover Blurb: Need Your Input

It's that time again, already!  Mind Over Psyche, the second in the Mind Over trilogy, comes out in September, and I need to get a back-cover blurb to my publisher this week.  I've narrowed it down to these.  Please vote and/or give comments.  I will have time to tweak, but we need something to send to advance reviewers.

1. Desperate to escape the insane asylum, psychic  Deryl Stephens teleports to Kanaan, a world of telepaths who regard him as an oracle.  But freedom comes at a price.  The Kanaan expect their oracle to teach them to use their powers to wage war.  Meanwhile, he’s falling in love, but to be with her means to share his psyche, which could drive her insane.  Most dangerous of all, he hasn’t escaped the Call of the Master, enemy of the Kanaan.  The Master will forge Deryl’s powers into a weapon to kill all he loves or strip destroy his mind trying.

 2. Deryl Stephens has finally conquered his psychic abilities and escaped the asylum to Kanaan, the planet whose inhabitants have believed him to be an oracle.  Confronted with Deryl the man, however, the people wonder if he will bring their world peace or destruction.  The answers lie in the recorded memories of a 5000-year-old predecessor of the Miscria, memories that are driving the current Miscria insane.  Now Deryl must risk his newfound sanity to save the Miscria's and unlock the secret of his role on Kanaan--before the Kanaan decide he's too dangerous to live.

3. Deryl Stephens has finally mastered his psychic abilities and escaped the asylum.  He even found his way to Kanaan, the world where he’s considered an oracle.  He’s met Tasmae, the last of a line of people called Miscria who contacted him in his insanity—and the woman he’s drawn to.  But paradise has problems:  He’s accidentally dragged his friend, Joshua, on his interstellar escape and doesn’t know how to get him back.  The Kanaan are suspicious of an oracle brought to life.  And the memories of the first Miscria are driving his love Tasmae insane.  Deryl must sacrifice his own newfound sanity to save Tasmae’s and unlock the secret of his role on Kanaan.  And soon, before the Kanaan decide he and Joshua are too dangerous to let live.

 4.  (A different approach):  Deryl has no home until he escapes the asylum and  teleports to Kanaan, a world of psychics like himself.  There, he meets Tasmae, who believes he is the Oracle of God come to life—and her destined mate.  But acceptance comes with a price.  Tasmae would have him teach her the ways of war, and he’d rather die than kill.  He is plagued by voices from his past, and soon Tasmae is, too.  Even worse, he comes under psychic  attack by the Master, enemy of the Kanaan. Deryl must discover his true purpose on Kanaan and defeat the Master before he destroys those he loves—and the only home he’ll ever know.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Self-Publishing: Another Arrow in My Quiver

When I tell folks that I self-published Greater Treasures, some assume that I'm changing direction from my previous path of traditional publishers. I'm not.  I have enjoyed working with each of my publishers.  They've all treated me fairly, been great help in polishing my novels, and do their best to promote my books and support my writing efforts.  In fact, I credit them with giving me the confidence and tools I needed to embark on this adventure.

I chose to self-publish the novella for several reasons, which I've talked about on the blog tour, but today, I want to talk about using this as a marketing tool.  They say the best way to gain more readers is to write and publish more stories.  Self-publishing lets me do that a little more quickly and according to my own schedule.  In addition, since I'm bearing the expenses and not having to share the profits, I can price the book as low as I want to encourage more readers.  I've chosen to put it on Kindle Select for at least a while for that same reason--folks can borrow it for free, and I can pick freebie days without having to coordinate with my publisher, who had to work with scores or hundreds of other authors and books.  Also, I can promote my traditional books by adding samples of my other books.  The print version of Greater Treasures has the first chapter from both Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem and Live and Let Fly, even though they are published by two different publishers.  It's my hope that my self-published book will help sell more of my traditionally published works.

There's no reason in this day and age to have to pick between self-publishing or traditional publishing.  It's just another arrow in your writing and marketing quiver.

Get Greater Treasures on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Circuit Torture: No post this week

Sorry, guys.  My computer is acting up and blogger is being affected.  This is about all I can do this week.  Glad I pre-scheduled some blogs.  My husband, Colonel Rob Fabian, comes home next Sunday, so hopefully, he can help me figure this thing out.

Keep exercising--and keep laughing!  It burns calories!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Marriage Retreat and Feeling Good about my Marriage

Today, I ran across a movie called The Marriage Retreat.

When a group of best friends decide to go on a marriage retreat in the mountains for no deeper reasons to relax and have a little fun, they discover the true state of their marriages and how far apart hey have drifted. Once there, Dr. Sullivan (Fahey) and his wife Katrina (Jackson) challenges them to confront their own sin to heal their relationship issues through some rather unconventional methods grounded in Biblical principles. Now with their marriages unraveling, the couples struggle to resolve their issues when relying solely on their own strength. When it seems like all hope is lost, true love is revealed and they soon discover it's not what they're not missing in their relationships but who. Ultimately, they begin their journey finding their way back to the ONE they love. 
 The movie was light and funny.  While the resolutions were a bit pat, I laughed quite a bit and shed a few tears.  It was exactly the escape I needed that night, too.  I definitely recommend it.

It got me thinking about my own marriage, which is a happy thing.  I had the incredible blessing to meet, recognize, and marry my soulmate.  Of course, a lot of people do that, but now all are still so thrilled to be married after 22 years.  As I watched the movie, I thought about some of the reasons it is so.  Here's what I came up with:

1. Engagement Encounter/Counseling:  The Church expects engaged couples to have counseling where they really discuss the big issues of life and marriage--money, kids, jobs, dreams...  Rob and I didn't have months for the counseling (I was going overseas), so we did an intense weekend called Engaged Encounter.  Amazing experience!

2.  Communication:  Rob and I are simply open and honest with each other.  It comes naturally to us.  When something is heavy, it may take awhile, but we don't harbor secrets (unless we've signed a non-disclosure agreement with Uncle Sam, of course.)

3.  "Wives, submit to your husbands."  Yeah, lots of female hackles rise at this, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.  It's very easy for me, because Rob is a man with sound judgement and the ability to look at things objectively.  I know I can come to him with little problems, like how to respond to someone who had made me angry.  I also trust his wisdom in the bigger issues.  In a practical sense, that means moving every couple of years because of his military career and sometimes, setting up house or taking care of the kids on my own while he's on an extended TDY for a class or deployed.

4.  "Husbands, love your wives."  This was one thing I liked in the movie, Marriage Retreat.  Dr. Sullivan chides the couples that love isn't just about feeling good around your spouse.  For men, that means supporting and caring for their wives.  In the movie, the husband's each had an issue there:  one with finances, one with emotional support and reassurance, and one with supporting his wife's dreams.  Rob does this very well.  When we first dated, that meant not freaking out when I told him I was taking an assignment to Italy; when we married,  working like crazy to get an assignment where we could both be (Japan, more's the pity, huh?).  He's kept us financially fit, and now that he's retiring, he's striving to find a job that will help him with his dreams while still providing for us.

5.  We are a team.  Despite the submit/support roles, it's not all one or the other.  I set rules that he follows.  He comes to me for advice.  When we get mad, we back off until we can attack the problem and not each other.  We bow to the others' common sense.  (He brings in the dough, but I do better at paying down the bills.)  We put up with each others' foibles--he needs time online to decompress; I am an indifferent cook.

6.  We laugh.  We kiss. We love.  We enjoy each other.  Marriage isn't just supposed to work; it's supposed to bring joy.

Of course, the overall thing is we recognize God's role.  He set the real ground rules and is there to love and support us.  He leads us to compassion when we are not so inclined, and keeps us on track.

 At the end of the movie, Mrs. Sullivan tells the couples that she doesn't want to see them back.  I sometimes think that Rob and I ought to go to a Marriage Encounter, but really, it's more of a nostalgia thing.  We've worked hard to build an awesome marriage. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Exclusive Scene From Greater Treasures

As some of you who follow me know, Greater Treasures came to me while watching The Maltese Falcon.  Naturally, I had to change a few things, one of which was the falcon itself.  After all, if someone offered Vern a cure for Grace in exchange for a bird statue, he'd probably fly to his lair in Faerie and dig one out of his treasure pile. So I replaced it with the Lance of Longinus, which is the spear used by the Roman centurion to pierce Christ's side.  That, of course, changed things.

Here is the scene when they unwrap the bird in the movie:

Here's my take:

Then, she turned to me, her eyes pleading and innocent. "Please, Vern, please. We are certain it's the real one; even more, those from whom we were stealing it know it's the real one. They're the real enemy here. And he's in their employ!" She pointed theatrically in Ramada's direction, but he only chuckled. "After what you told me, I know we have to spirit it away. I wish I had an antidote, I really do. But isn't it more important that we get the Lance away from here? I've been watching the news. I know there's a big Fourth Reich cell here. They're behind all that, too, don't you see? Help us, Vern. Help us get the Lance. We'll escape to Faerie, have it destroyed…”

Her solilo-plea was interrupted by a knock on the door. The courier, right on time. I took the package between my teeth so no one would be tempted to wrest it from me.
"Pay the nice man, Eva," I instructed through my mouthful.

Despite her feigned tension, she managed to "Tuh!" but Ramada, chuckling all the while, paid the delivery fee and tip.

They gathered around the table as I ripped apart the packaging. They began ooh-ing and aw-ing at once.

"It's amazing!" Ramada murmured.

"It's beautiful!" Eva breathed.

“It’s ours,” Weylin hissed.

"It's fake." I chanted.

They turned to me in surprise. I rolled my eyes. "You can't fool this nose. The blood staining the shaft? Not more than five hundred years old. The shaft itself is aster plantanoides. They didn't have Olmsted Norway Maples in the Roman Empire. You're looking at a bona fide copy—no power potential whatsoever."

Eva gave a small gasp. Weylin opened and closed his mouth several times, but nothing came out.

Ramada sighed deep within his throat. "A shame, a shame. Nonetheless, my employer is more interested in the historical content. As I am the one most likely to obtain an antidote, may I assume the prize goes to me?"

"No!" the other two shouted in desperate unison.

On cue, sirens began to wail outside.

"Actually, I think the police will have to decide that..." I said as uniformed officers burst into my lair, guns drawn.

Vern does not get off as easy as Spade does, however.  Want to know more?  Get Greater Treasures on Amazon: