Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Writing to Improve Your Skills

Guest author today is Karina Fabian, who has taken the time to write a special post for Slow and Steady Writers and to visit us on her book tour. 

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina  has imagination that takes quirky twists that keep her--and her fans--amused.

Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon, zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in her worlds. 

Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training.  Read about her adventures at http://fabianspace.com.  

And please leave a comment below for a chance to win a free electronic copy of Greater Treasures

Writing to Improve Your Skills

By Karina Fabian

If you are not rejected at least three times a week, you aren’t really trying.

I used to have a fortune cookie paper with that on it taped to my computer screen.  Nowadays, I’m not really trying, not by that definition, anyway.  I’ve been sticking with a couple of paying gigs, and writing novels and stories for opportunities that catch my eye, which means I’m not submitting very often. 

However, when writing, that maxim holds that to succeed, you must produce and submit.  Whatever genre or venue you choose—science fiction novels to business articles—you can only succeed if you try.

In addition, you want to be smart about your work if you want to grow.  Hope Clark has a fantastic rubric in her book, The Shy Writer.  (http://www.amazon.com/THE-SHY-WRITER-Introverts-Writing/dp/1591135834). I don’t remember the exact details, but it goes something like this:

25% easy writing:  Stuff you know you can sell, stuff you do for fun, stuff you do for free and can write in your sleep

50% writing with some challenge:  You’ll have to find the market, use your imagination, stretch your skills.  It’s writing that takes a little work.

25% aim high:  Write for the magazine or publisher you might not be ready for, something that challenges your skills.  The longshot stuff.  Eventually, you’ll start reaching some of these, and your skill will grow as you push for them.

When Hope mentioned this in a guest chat, I decided to see how that worked in my world.  Here’s what I came up with:

Easy: blogs and self-publishing stories that I love but have not found a home for.  Greater Treasures is the first in the self-publishing venture.  Also the articles I write for Community Entrepreneurs.  (I’ve done business features for decades now.)

Medium challenge: Anthologies that catch my eye, stories or articles that go outside my usual genre.  Sometimes, the opportunity might come to me, but the challenge is to be worthy of it.  Also, the current novel I’m writing, which has a publisher waiting.

Aim High: I have two novels I believe are worthy of the big traditional publishers and which I’ll keep shopping for several years before giving up on them.  I have a couple of other novels in mind to write.  Not sure if they will be aim high or medium challenge yet.
I probably need more in the aim high category, but with the rest of my life challenging me as it is, I’m content to wait.  Your proportions might vary as well, but always strive to have something in each category.

Remember, too, that to succeed in writing, you must also submit.  Send out your works.  Take the chance. Accept rejection, learn from it if you can and keep on.  Whether it’s three times a week or once a year, success depends on producing and submitting.

* * * *
About Greater Treasures:  Most people associate the DragonEye stories with high humor ranging from puns to slapstick, and in fact, the first stories and the novels have certainly been crazy fun.  But the life of a cynical dragon PI isn’t all laughs, and Vern has had a few chilling stories to tell me.  Some of these, I’ve sold to anthologies, but some are too long for that.  Thus, I’ve decided to start publishing them on my own. 

One thing I like to do for DragonEye stories is watch old noir films.  Greater Treasures came to me while watching the Maltese Falcon.  If you’ve never seen it, I recommend it.  (Then, reread the story to see if you catch the in jokes.)  I needed something with more “oomph” than a bird statue, and since Vern has some history with the Lance of Longinus, it made a good fit.  I enjoyed looking up all the conspiracy theories about the use of the Lance by Hitler, which is where the neo-Nazi angle came in.  To say more would be spoilers, so please, enjoy the story.
And if you do, be sure to check out Vern’s other tales at http://dragoneyepi.net.

Thanks Karina for all the information and advice. So glad you could visit us today.

And thanks for the chance to win an e-copy of Greater Treasures by leaving a comment below.


  1. That's good advice, Karina. Too often writers fret about not being published when they don't submit anything. The Lance of Longinus. I've seen it! In the Hofmuseum Vienna in 1977. "The Spear of Destiny. It's quite small but awesome. I first heard of it in the book 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail.


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