Monday, April 27, 2009

Make a Choice: Read the Noticer and Change your Life

The Noticer is a small book filled with hope. Who can't recognize themselves at one time or another in the people helped by Jones. The story that I found most relevant was the one about the lovers. Unable to perceive the loved expressed by the other because of different communication styles, each felt abandoned and abused. Too often people grow angry and apart because of the way they perceive and misperceive the communications of others. It's a truism that we see what we expect to see, but if we can step outside the circles that enclose us, our perspective changes. What a great gift to help someone reorient his view of the world to move beyond anger, worry, or a feeling of uselessness.

In the character of Jones, Andy Andrews has given us all a great gift. Although none of us may be lucky enough to find Jones standing beside us in our dark hours, we have this elegant little book. Rereading the chapter that describes our anguish can open our eyes to the beauty of life. Life is a great gift; not one to be lightly tossed away. Today is the perfect day to notice someone important to your life and to become important to someone else by lending a helping hand: the way Jones would.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Enjoy Magic, Mensa & Mayhem with Vern, the Dragon PI

Enjoy a Romp with Vern, the Dragon PI, and his side kick Grace, a nun in the Faerie Catholic Church. Karina Fabian has created an imaginative world based on the Catholic religion, myth, fairy tales, and quantum theory principles thrown in for good measure. When Vern and Grace chaperon the contingent from the Faerie world at the Mensa World Gathering in Florida, anything can happen and does. Vern has his hands full with a stage-struck Dwarf, invisible brownies, and a variety of romantic tangles. The book is full of interesting supporting characters: Brunhilde the Valkyrie, Coyote the Native American trickster, High Elves, and even some interesting Mundanes, those humans living on the non-magical side of the Gap. Vern is a likable character who carries the action of the book. Although the mystery is a bit too mundane to exercise his prodigious talents, his antics coupled with amusing puns make the book well worth reading for a chuckle or two.

I asked Karina a few questions about the fun she had writing Magic, Mensa & Mayhem.

  1. Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is loaded with engaging characters. Which character is your favorite and why?

That's a tough one. Vern and Grace are of course, my all-time favorites, but for supporting characters, I'd have to say "Coyote." He's got no shame and a great sense of fun, and annoys Vern to no end. It's also fun to see how many dog-like attributes I can give him and still make him a chick magnet!

  1. Religion is an important part of your writing. Why did you decide to mesh fantasy with religion and how satisfactory is it?

Actually, I didn't decide to mesh religion and fantasy. It just sort of happened. In the first DragonEye, PI story ("Dragon Eye, PI" in Firestorm of Dragons), I needed a reason for Vern to be a cynical down-on-his-luck dragon. St. George seemed a good fall guy for it. Where you have a saint, you have to have a Church, so the Faerie Church came into being as deep background. Then Sister Grace appeared as Vern's new partner in "Amateurs," and things took off from there.

I'm both surprised and pleased at how the mix is working. In Faerie, the Church exercises a political as well as religious leadership, which is going to make for some fun conflict later in the series.

However, these stories are about mysteries, fun, twisting clich├ęs to the limit and the complexities of human (and nonhuman) lives. No one should be picking up a DragonEye, PI story expecting (or hoping for) a faith message. Like my publisher says, "These books are about some Catholics, but they aren't Catholic."

  1. You've built a very attractive world in Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. What are some thoughts you have on world building and how to maintain consistency?

My worlds tend to grow with the characters and the stories. I keep a glossary of creatures, characters, and places, plus I have a timeline for the stories. Ironically, the timeline eluded me until I started ordering stories by the ages of the children of one of the minor characters. That probably tells you a lot about how I think.

There's a glossary in the back of Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, and I'll post one on my DragonEye, PI, website...when I have the time... At some point, I should get someone to write the world up for me, like they did for Star Wars or Harry Potter. The Compleat Guide to the Faerie and Mundane. Gotta sell the stories first, though.

  1. What made you decide on a mystery for your latest book?

Since Vern's a dragon detective, mysteries are a must. I'd never intended to write mysteries, frankly. It's been an interesting experience, learning how to fit the clues, keep the progression. I watched a lot of noir films. For the next book, Live and Let Fly, I'm spoofing super-spy movies, so I immersed myself in Bond flicks. Such a tough life, being a writer.

  1. What was your favorite/ least harrowing part of the publishing process for this book? Tell us a little about your experience with Swimming Kangaroo.

I've had one of those dream experiences working with Dindy. We met at the MuseOnline writers conference. She was critiquing stories as a workshop, and I'd sent her "Amateurs." She asked if I had anything else, and I'd been working on a serial mystery for the North Dakota Mensa newsletter, The Prairie Dawg, which I thought would novelize easily. She liked the idea and I had a contract!

I had two terrific editors: Linda Anderson for content and Jennifer Walker for copyedit. You can read their interviews April 16 and April 23 on They caught a lot of errors and taught me a few things about my writing style that have made me a better writer.

Dindy let me have a big say in the cover art--one reason it ran a little late--and we found a talented artist Roe Mesquita who worked very hard to please me.

The only thing that could make this more idyllic is for B&N to stock it--and that's going to depend on you, readers. Since Swimming Kangaroo is so small, they will only put it on the shelves if people go to them and ask for it. Or, forget the big conglomerates and get everyone to purchase it from Swimming Kangaroo: (It's on Amazon, too, (and in Kindle format), but it really does help the publisher if you buy it direct.)

6. Any closing thoughts?

Just that if you like dragons, mystery and satire, I invite you to join the DragonEye, PI website by registering at In April, I'm giving away the story "Amateurs" to members, plus you get the DragonEye newsletter, A Dragon's Eye View.

Thank you so much for the interview and the compliments on Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. I had a great time writing the book and look forward to many more adventures with Vern and Sister Grace!

Title: Magic, Mensa & Mayhem

Author: Karina Fabian

Publisher: Swimming Kangaroo

Tel: 817-717-5375

Fax: 817-548-1473

Genre: Fantasy

Released: Marc h 2009

Retail Price: $13.99 (print- US) 11.99 pounds (print – UK)

$3.99 (electronic)

ISBN: 978-1-934041-78-9

Available soon from Ingrams, Amazon and Kindle

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Vivian Zabel's Midnight Hours – A can't put down crime story

While struggling to recover from a debilitating gunshot wound, homicide lieutenant Martin Rogers discovers an online "interest" may be a serial killer, responsible for the death of several disabled men. Martin's interest changes from that of a man for a woman to the interest of a homicide detective for a suspect when Midnight attaches a photo of herself to an email - identical to that of one folded in the pocket of a dead paraplegic. Confusion reigns when an Assistant District Attorney is discovered to be the unknowing model for the face in the photo. Lt. Rogers and friends set up a sting to capture Midnight, but she disappears like wisps of fog. Every lead results in dead ends and more confusion. Midnight brings death on the internet. Preying on helpless men, she offers love but gives them a grave, but who and what is Midnight? Martin must find this killer before she can add him to her list of victims.

Hey, look who showed up -- Midnight herself!

Message from Midnight:

I might be willing to visit with you, but I don't usually have much to do with women. Now if you were a man ...

I don't know what all the hype is over some boy or prairie dog. Huh, not interesting at all. Me, on the other hand, I'm interesting. Oh, the stories I could tell --

As far as making some crippled detective a hero ... the idea makes me fume. I had him twisted around my finger. Odd, I still don't know what turned him away from me. I never thought he was smart enough to catch on. Him suddenly getting bright enough to know I was after him, and not romantically, didn't change my plans, just caused me to move his time for death from later to sooner.

You seem intelligent, though, wanting to meet and visit with me. After all, without me, there wouldn't have been a book. Hey, look at the title -- Midnight Hours, not Martin Hours or something like that.

Sure Hope she likes my review -- or I'm in big trouble!


While recovering from an accident that confined him to a wheel chair, Police detective Martin Rogers finds an interest in life through an Internet connection with a lovely woman. Or is she what she seems? She has given Martin a reason for living, but when she sends a picture of herself that is a duplicate of one found in the pocket of a dead paraplegic, Martin and his police buddies wonder if she's given him a reason for dying.

The author makes you believe in the reality of her characters. Details of the investigation are true to life. The Oklahoma countryside is beautifully described and gives the novel a strong sense of place. The plot is filled with surprising, but thoroughly believable twists that keep the reader guessing up to and beyond the last page.

Zabel has created a fast moving plot with characters you come to care about, a satisfying romance, and suspense that keeps you reading. Readers of crime fiction will appreciate Zabel's latest novel and will be hoping for more. I love a good murder mystery. I recommend this one highly for readers who are looking for interesting and believable characters, a tension filled plot, and a realistic setting.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Meet Kevin McNamee - Writer and Poet

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet living in Yonkers, NY. He primarily writes for the children’s market. His work has appeared in Beyond Centauri and he has several children’s picture books being published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. His first book, “The Sister Exchange” is due to be released in 2009. He is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

When Kevin isn’t writing, he spends his time playing hide and seek, at the insistence of his four year old daughter, and at his day job, at the insistence of his wife. When time permits, Kevin also enjoys fossil hunting, home-brewing beer, and gardening. He is currently engaged in an epic battle against roving gangs of crazed squirrels who are digging up everything in sight. Kevin notes that the squirrels are winning.

To find out more about Kevin, visit his website at or visit his blog at

I asked Kevin a few questions about his writing.

What is going on with your writing these days?

Right now, I have several stories in various stages of completion, one story that has been finalized and critiqued and needs a final revision, and a few that are finished and have been sent out to various publishers.

What are your future goals for your writing?

I’ve been focusing primarily on picture books and I would like to branch out to middle readers and Young Adult novels. I have two middle readers in various stages of completion.

Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

There’s no such thing as a typical writing day for me. I try to do something writing related every day. But what I’m doing may vary. Sometimes I’m writing new material, sometimes I’m revising, sometimes I’m critiquing, sometimes I’m researching, sometimes I’m promoting. Due to the demands on my time, I’ve needed to adopt the philosophy of doing what I can, when I can.

Why do you write?

I first started writing in the second grade. I wrote a poem that was displayed outside the classroom and I liked seeing my poem and my name in public like that. I found that I took to writing naturally. Growing up, I was a constant daydreamer and would construct stories in my head all the time. Eventually, I started writing them down. Throughout my teenage years and throughout adulthood I always felt compelled to write. Although there were many, many times that I put creative writing on the back burner, I found that I was still writing at my day job; memos, procedures, proposals, requests, and I was receiving recognition for it. I realized that writing had been a constant in my life, but I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write. Now I make sure that I write what I want as well.