Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Tenacity Interviews - Karina Fabian

After being a straight-A student, Karina now cultivates Fs: Family, Faith, Fiction and Fun. Winner of an EPPIE award for best sci-fi (Infinite Space, Infinite God) and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering), Karina’s writing takes quirky twists that keep her--and her fans--amused. From and order of nuns working in space to a down-and-out faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, she juggles the stories from at least three different universes in her stories. Ms. Fabian is President of the Catholic Writer’s Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. Visit her website at

1) How long have you been writing? By this, I mean seriously writing with intention for publication?
Since about 1995. I started with some small-scale magazines--many for free--and a monthly job at a diocese magazine. A few years later, I was writing regularly for a diocese magazine, the local weekly and a monthly agricultural mag as well as some freelancing. When we moved, I worked more freelance and for acf (radio). In about 2000, I moved to fiction primarily, and have had stories, two anthologies and one book published, with another novel and anthology under contract.

2) How many manuscripts/articles have you written that haven’t yet seen the light of publication?
Since I tended to query for articles rather than write them, almost all of my articles are published. However, I have scores of query letters that were rejected or never got answered.
I have two novels and eight short stories that are still not published. In stories, that's about 60 percent of my stuff.

3) What were the top three obstacles you encountered on the road to being published?
1. Self-doubt (initially)
2. Procrastination
3. Unfamiliarity with the market

4) Which personal strengths did you use to remain tenacious in your quest to be published?
I'm stubborn and in general, I believe in my stuff. I'm also a good learner and comfortable online, so I have made many friends and associates through Yahoo groups and online forums and conferences. I also have a philosophical attitude toward rejection. It's seldom personal or even a reflection on the quality of my writing as much as the fit and needs of the magazine.

5) Who believed in you the most? What role did they play in your ability to keep going?
My husband Rob believes in me. When I was still in the self-doubt phase, he would remind me that I'm good at what I do. He's also unconcerned about whether I make a living at this, which takes pressure off of me. That allowed me to move from nonfiction (which was tiring me out) to fiction.

6) Has your dream changed at all? Grown bigger? Smaller?
My dream has become more realistic. Rather than pinning all my hopes on the big NYC publishers, I'm concentrating on making the most of the books I have out with smaller presses. My goal is to be a steady and well-known mid-list writer.
I also hit upon a favorite universe, DragonEye, PI. I wrote a story with a character I loved, a cynical dragon detective, Vern. He has led me though many exciting adventures, usually with a liberal twisting of clich├ęs and a bizarre combination of myth and legend with religion and politics. I have several DragonEye, PI stories published, two novels by Swimming Kangaroo (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (out) and Live and Let Fly (coming late 2009)), plus an active website and newsletter, A Dragon's Eye View.
As a result, the Miscria Trilogy I had once tied my aspirations to is now not so important. In a way, that's liberating. I can look at smaller publishers for it and not feel the piercing of my ego.

7) What encouragement do you have for a writer who just received a “no” from a publisher?
Don't take it personally. More often than not, your story didn't fit their needs at the time or they have had something similar or just asked someone to write something on that topic or...
If they gave you comments, take them to heart but don't be disenheartened. Look over the manuscript to see if there's any way you can improve it, if you feel the need, but don't stress and don't stop. Send it to the next publisher on your list--and you should have a list!
Unless you are in the top one percent of writers, much of what you write will be rejected. To be blunt, if you can't take it, find a different job or self-publish so you have something to share with your friends. There's no shame in that, if your goal is simply to have your book in print.
If, however, you have a higher aspiration, then be ready. It's tough out there. Editors get tens to thousands of submissions each week. They don't have time to feed author egos. On the bright side, there are hundreds of publishers out there of varying shapes and sizes. This is a biz that rewards the perseverant author and the author who learns about the business of writing as well as the craft.
I find it interesting that both our feature authors this week listed "being unfamiliar with the market" as a main hindrance to early success. I think we need to take that to heart and ensure we are spending time learning all aspects of the writing business!
I bid you good writing.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I knew a little about Karina, but now I know more! Thanks for sharing this.

L. Diane Wolfe

Karina Fabian said...

Hi, Bonnie,

Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed answering your questions and hope they help your readers.

Karina Fabian