Those of you who’ve been following me for a while may remember Karina Fabian’s guest post on the submission process and my earlier interview with her. Most recently I had the opportunity to review Live and Let Fly, a paranormal fantasy released by Muse It Up Publishing earlier this year.
Let’s start with the back cover:
For a dragon detective with a magic-slinging nun as a partner, saving the worlds gets routine. So, when the U.S. government hires Vern and Sister Grace to recover stolen secrets for creating a new Interdimensional Gap—secrets the U.S. would like to keep, thank you—Vern sees a chance to play Dragon-Oh-Seven.
No human spy, however, ever went up against a Norse goddess determined to rescue her husband. Sigyn will move heaven and earth to get Loki—and use the best and worst of our world against anyone who tries to stop her.
It’s super-spy spoofing at its best with exotic locations (Idaho–exotic? Well, Idaho’s exotic to them), maniacal middle-managers, secret agent men, teen rock stars in trouble, man-eating animatronics, evil overlords, and more!
And on to the review…
As a reader, I quite enjoyed this book. Its main characters, Vern and Grace, are a great pair, with Grace’s calm and faith in God and Vern’s sarcastic narration. Their different personalities balance each other out, both directly in the plot and in the overall tone of the piece. Each also possesses a specific talent: Grace is a strong magical warrior, and Vern… well, he’s a dragon, which comes with all kinds of perks, most of them strength related.
One of my favourite things about this book is that the main relationship which ends up being the driving force of the story is that between best friends rather than lovers. It’s always nice to see characters who aren’t focused on finding romantic partners–though there is a romance sub-plot between two side characters.
That said, the best thing about this book is probably the range of mythologies it includes. While the main characters are Christian–Catholic, to be precise–and in this universe it’s made clear the Christian God does exist, several Norse deities are also included and real in the world of Faerie. My own spiritual belief is that all gods exist and are different representations of the same energy, so the idea of Asgard coexisting with the Christian heaven resonates deeply with me. It’s awesome to see something like this in fiction.
What else was awesome about this book? The Monty Python reference on page 27 and Vern’s insistence on mocking cheesy spy movies everywhere.
As a writer, I enjoyed this book, though I sometimes found the writing overbearing. The sarcastic narrative balanced out the religious references and sometimes ridiculous plot, but even the humour occasionally became overbearing. Sometimes I found the writing style overdone and thought it detracted from the story, but overall I didn’t mind it.
One thing interesting thing was the very deliberate censorship. Because Vern and Grace are (somewhat) strict Catholics, mentioning vulgarities without saying them outright fit in the context. Many of the jokes in the book also worked better because of the character’s religions. As a non-religious person, I usually don’t get through books about stricter religious characters, but Live and Let Fly managed to keep my attention with superb, if occasionally overbearing, writing. The characters are also well-written, well developed and a great team–without the chemistry between characters, I would never have finished this book.
What one line stood out to me most as a writer? I loved this one–or two, from page 109: “Daring rescue, close escape from death, injured knight, and exotic and comfortable transportation? Add that to true love, and you need a chaperone.”
Today I’d like to welcome Karina Fabian, author of several ebooks across different genres. I’ve interviewed her here before and today she’s joining us with a guest post to discuss the submission process and celebrate her latest novel, Live and Let Fly, to be released on April 20th. I hope you enjoy.
I’d like to thank Dianna for hosting me on the Live and Let Fly book tour. I’m especially excited about this one because it was a long time coming, and when she asked me to write about the submission process, I’m not sure she knew what she was getting into!
Live and Let Fly features a snarky dragon detective, Vern, and his partner, the magic-slinging nun, Sister Grace. I’ve told many of their adventures in short stories and novels, but this is their biggest case to date, as they will have to travel far from where they have friends or magic to help them in order to stop a Norse demigod from starting Armageddon in our world.
I started writing DragonEye stories when I wanted to be in an anthology, Firestorm of Dragons. I created Vern for the anthology and adored him and the noir style of his voice. So I started looking for other stories for him. The premise is that he solves problems where magic is slipping into our world or technology into Faerie for nefarious purposes. I selected an Irish myth about pixies turning into bugs to fight a war. The idea sounds stupid in English, so I found someone to translate it into Gaelic. She just happened to run a magazine and asked me to write a serial story for it. I wrote the short story, “Amateurs” and for her a serial called “World Gathering.”
I took “Amateurs” to the MuseOnline writers’ conference. (It’s free, and worth years of writing courses!) A new publisher was offering to critique works, and she enjoyed “Amateurs” and Vern so much, she asked if I had a novel. I didn’t, but I did have this serial story I could expand.
A year later, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem came out, got great reviews and won the INDIE Award for best Fantasy. I suggested I write another and she agreed. Sadly, her life situation changed as Live and Let Fly was getting ready to come out, and she returned it to me. However, if it had not been for Dindy Robinson and Swimming Kangaroo, there would have been no Vern novels. I treasure our time together.
So, I started sending it around, the standard way: find the publisher; read the guidelines; submit; wait. Find another publisher, repeat process. I did this for a few years, while I continued to write DragonEye stories and started a newsletter, A Dragon’s Eye View. However, I didn’t get many bites.
In the meantime, Lea Schizas, who founded the MuseOnline conference, and I became good friends, and she started her own publishing company, MuseItUp. She is a big “Vern fan,” and told me that when I was ready, she’d be glad to consider my books. In April of last year, I decided I was more interested in getting Live and Let Fly published and moving on to other DragonEye books than I was in seeking that gold ring of a Big Six publishing contract or agent. I was also impressed with how MuseItUp has grown and all the work they are doing to cultivate faithful readers. I felt Vern and Sister Grace would find a good publishing home there, so I sent her the manuscript.
So this book did not take a traditional publishing route, but there are lessons to be learned.
1. Network. If I hadn’t met and befriended these lovely ladies at writers’ conferences, this book might not have even been written.
2. Write the freebie now and again. I didn’t get paid for the serial story “World Gathering” (which is now on my blog, btw, http://dragoneyepi.net). I did it for fun. However, it led to a book contract and some faithful fans.
3. Take chances, but know when to go the sure route. I still have a dream of being published with Tor or Baen or one of the other “big six” publishers. However, I appreciate the support MuseItUp is giving me for the DragonEye series, and I’ve learned a lot from working with its editors. I’m proud of the book, excited to see it in print, and know it will bring more fans for future books.
No one has the same submission process. It takes work and imagination—and perseverance. Good luck to all of you in the middle of the process.
Karina Fabian is a multi-published author with several ebooks in different genres available to the world. You can read my interview with her here or check out her website here. To purchase a copy of Live and Let Fly, click here.
Perfect Ten is a short story written by Karina Fabian and published by Museitup. It’s the story of a life insurance adjuster named Sheila who ordinarily lives a life without risks. She recently won a vacation, however, and this vacation leads her to Las Vegas and then to an anonymous dating service.
Sheila encounters the thrills of her life but finds out that Coyote, however attractive he may be, is not the perfect ten for Sheila.
As a Reader:
This is a fun little story that’s been sitting in my inbox for… a while… and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. Sheila’s a funny character with some odd quirks, and that makes this story work a lot better. The adventure she goes on surprised me entirely and kept my interest until the very end.
I highly recommend this story to anyone who likes what feels like a romantic comedy.
As a Writer:
There’s not too much to say about this one as I particularly enjoyed it. It stood up to scrutiny; the story could’ve happily stretched another few pages but it didn’t have to, and it has a classy ending. In particular I like the characterization of Sheila, down to the little cautious gestures-putting on her purse with the flap facing her side to avoid pickpockets. It’s a pretty well written story and I’m pleased that I finally got around to reading it.
You can buy it for just $2.50 here. It’s a fun little read and a great way to kill some time.
Today’s interview is with multi-genre author Karina Fabian.
1. When did you first decide that you wanted to be a writer?
There’s a big difference between deciding you WANT to be a writer and deciding to BECOME a writer. Frankly, the first isn’t that important. I decided to actually become a writer during the season of Lent 1996. I gave up reading fiction for Lent and took up writing, asking God to lead me in my writing. One thing He’s led me to is Catholic science fiction, which resulted in my latest book, Infinite Space, Infinite God II, and anthology edited by my husband and me.
2. What was the first story you ever wrote about?
How far back shall we go? I still have the tall tale I wrote in fifth grade somewhere in my files. However, the first story I sold was “Ergo,” about an artificial intelligence trying to prove its existence by recreating an experiment done by Descartes. Descartes isolated himself from all outside stimuli until he came up with “I think; therefore, I am.” Trouble was, the AI wanted a control subject, so it isolated a human, too. The AI had many interesting thoughts; the human went insane.
3. What genre do you enjoy the most?
Fantasy and science fiction. I like to escape into new and wild worlds.
4. What do you think is the most important piece of advice for new writers?
Don’t take rejection personally. Writing is a creative art; publishing is a business.
5. Can you share with us a bit about your writing process?
Sometimes, I have an idea, but usually, I start with a character I love. Then I torture them for plot purposes. Er, I mean, I give them a challenge, and if they’re able to handle that, I increase the torture–er, challenge. I’m a pantster, which means I write from the seat of my pants, usually with a rough idea of the beginning and the end. I let my characters lead me through the story. I don’t usually do a lot of research beforehand, but write and research as I go. When I get stuck, I talk it out with a friend or put the ideas and plot points on post-its and play with them on the wall until I can start again.
When I write fantasy, I’m usually in it for the humor, so I love to take a cliché and stretch it or twist it until it tickles. (I was going to say “screams for mercy,” but that’s not really humorous.) When I’m not, I like exploring new ideas and trying to apply common sense to their application. I do that in humor, too, incidentally; it’s amazing how funny applying common sense to a well-known idea can be.
6. What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you and why?
Starting a challenging scene. That’s when I apply Ann Lamont’s advice in her book, Bird by Bird and tell myself that I just have to get the sh*&&y first draft done and I can fix it later. Usually, what I get written isn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared. Sometimes, it turns out better than I’d hoped.
7. Do you find that different genres challenge you in different ways?
I do have to apply myself differently. However, really, the process is the same: character, situation, research, write.
8. Which of your books did you enjoy writing the most?
The last one I wrote, always. And the one I’m working on at the moment is my favorite. Except for Discovery. That’s my science fiction novel and it’s been a bear–a real love/hate relationship. I think I’ll be proudest of it when it’s done. Until then, there are days I want to drop-kick it into the recycle bin.
9. Can you tell us a bit about your most recent project?
I have two coming out within two weeks of each other:
Infinite Space, Infinite God II came out November 15. It’s an anthology of 12 sciecne fiction stories with Catholic characters and themes, and is the second my husband Rob and I have written for and edited. We really enjoyed working with the authors, and the stories are fabulous. What I like about this anthology is that there’s a lot of adventure and excitement. There’s also a nice mix of different subgenres of science fiction. Folks can learn more at http://www.isigsf.com
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, comes out Dec 1. This is a comedic horror about a zombie exterminator. Neeta is strapped for cash and agrees to host a reality TV show where she trains up zombie exterminators. Can she keep her bills paid, her ratings up and her trainees alive and still maintain her sanity? Really Long Link for more details.
10. What are you working on right now/what should readers be looking forward to?
I’m “between books” at the moment. We have a situation at home that’s requiring a lot of my physical and emotional energy, and with two books coming out within two months, I’ve had a lot of marketing work to do. However, I am still working on Discovery, my science fiction novel; and I’m deciding which story to tackle next: Gapman (superhero spoof), Redcap (Twilight spoof) or Damsels and Knights (paranormal trilogy.) In addition, my father and I are thinking of writing a book about life as a Catholic deacon. However, the writing goal right now is to write a sentence or two each day–very low key.
BIO: Karina Fabian’s writing motto is “Fiction, Faith, and Fun.” A writer of science fiction, fantasy, horror and devotionals, her books have won multiple awards, including the INDIE for best fantasy, the EPPIE for best science fiction and the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. Learn more about her at http://www.fabianspace.com.