Unsung Bibliographies


How often do you use the bibliography at the back of a book or the bottom of an article? How often do you create your own bibliographies for what you write?

A bibliography is one of my favorite tools. When I read about a topic that interests me, a good bibliography can direct me to more detailed sources, preferably primary ones like letters or diaries.

When I’m doing research for one of my own projects, the bibliography is vital to both the writing and the editing process.

Bibliographies in other books and articles point me in the right direction. They even give me ideas for people to interview.

Writing my own bibliography of used sources during research saves me a lot of time during the writing and editing processes, especially if the piece is part of a series.

I take notes longhand as I read, whether I’m reading in print or digitally. If it’s a short article and I can print it out, I do so, and put it in my project folder in the project bin. If it’s book-length, or an archival material, I take notes as I go. Sometimes I type my notes later. Often, I don’t, because I annotate and comment on the notes themselves (and clearly mark my own musings). When I look at the note as I wrote it, I remember the context of the moment in which it was written, and that helps me when I use it.

If I’m going to type up and/or submit the sources, I used the standard format by author’s last name.

In my own notes, however, I start a fresh page for each source. Title, author(s). Where published, publisher, copyright date.

Then, vitally important: WHERE I FOUND THE SOURCE.

I use the library A LOT for research. Where I live now has 38 libraries within network. I can order from any of them. Massachusetts also has the Commonwealth Catalog, which means I can order from libraries and some archives all over the state.

I also have a library card at a library in a neighboring town that is the only library on Cape which is part of a different network — through their network, I also have access to all of those libraries.

If I want to go farther afield and use the Interlibrary Loan Service, I go onto World Cat and hunt for what I want, then put the request through the ILL desk at my home library.

Important: If you use Interlibrary Loan (ILL), always ASK if there’s a fee involved. Some libraries or archives charge to send materials out of state.

In my notes, if it’s from my home library, I’d just write the name of the library.

If it’s from another library in the network, I’d write (name of library) via (name of network).

Notation: Vineyard Haven Library via CLAMS network
Translation: the book comes from the Vineyard Haven library on Martha’s Vineyard and came to me via the CLAMS network.

Notation: Plymouth Library via Old Colony network
Translation: the book comes from the Plymouth Library on the South Shore and came to me via the Old Colony network, which means I picked it up and dropped it off at the Sandwich Library instead of my home library.
(I could also order this via the Commonwealth Catalog and pick it up/drop it off at my home library, if I didn’t

Notation: Boston Public Library via Commonwealth Catalog
Translation: the book came from the Boston Public Library system via Commonwealth Catalog.

Notation: U Mass Amherst Library via Commonwealth Catalog
Translation: the book came from the University of Massachusetts campus at Amherst via Commonwealth Catalog.

Notation: Microfilm. University of Indiana Bloomington via ILL. $17.
Translation: It was not a book, it was a roll of microfilm. It came via the Bloomington campus of the University of Indiana through the Interlibrary Loan System and cost $17.
(Note: I own both a microfilm and a microfiche machine, so I can work with both at home, if I order them via ILL. If I didn’t, I could use one of the few machines left in the area at a library or possibly an archive, with permission).

If I get information from a digital online collection, I make a note.

This way, as I write and edit, if I need more than the notes I took, I know where I found it, and where to go back and look for it.

For plays, especially historical plays, I use bibliographies as part of the dramaturgy, and can offer the information and sources to the producing organization and the company.

If I’m writing an article, the bibliographic notes I make are often listed on my fact check sheet. Fewer and fewer publications pay fact checkers (which is ridiculous), but I’m from the days when that was the norm, not the exception. Sources and quotes were checked and confirmed. Off the record sources had to be approved, and had to be verified by at least two and usually three on-record sources, whenever possible. When it was not possible, sometimes it couldn’t be included in the article, or it had to be mentioned that it was an off-the-record source without additional verification.

I also make a note on the reliability of the source. For instance, a diary entry is going to reflect the writer’s frame of reference. If further research shows that individual has a particular reason to like or dislike an individual, or there’s something that influences that point of view, I’ll make a note.

For instance if I’m hunting down a reference to Elizabeth C. in letters between Vera T. and Emily W, and I’ve done my research, I know that Vera hates Elizabeth because she knows her husband has a crush on her. The fact that Elizabeth has no intention of committing adultery with Vera’s husband doesn’t mean Vera’s gossip about Elizabeth are true or un-reflected in her letters to Emily, and that has to be taken into consideration.

If I’m writing fiction about the event, I can decide how I want to interpret Vera’s point of view in the way that best supports the story I’m telling. If I’m writing non-fiction, I have to weigh it against the rest of the evidence.

Even in fiction, it’s vital to make note of where I choose something that supports the story I want to tell best, and where it veers from the best historical record we can put together of what happened. I often mention it in the acknowledgements.

Because even well-researched fiction is FICTION. The more rooted it is in reality, in my opinion, the more one can suspend disbelief. It might be emotional truth (the best fiction often tells emotional truths better than historical record), but it’s still fiction.

Bibliography as inspiration
I read a biography of a particular person, and there’s a reference in passing to someone not central to the subject of the biography. But something about that reference catches my interest.

I’ll go through the footnotes (yes, I’m someone who reads the notes, too), and through the bibliography to see where that reference originated. Then, I go on the hunt.

The bibliography becomes the start when there’s been a spark of an idea. The bibliography guides me to additional information, so I can find out if the idea is viable.

The bibliography may look like a list, but to me, it’s an invitation to browse more shelves in more libraries or archives, and enter even more new worlds.

Karina Fabian Talks MIND OVER MIND!

Karina Fabian and I first met at the Muse Online Conference, the first year I started teaching there. That’s about six or seven years ago. We take each other’s classes whenever possible, and support each other’s work. She’s a wonderful writer, teacher, and friend.

With MIND OVER MIND, she goes into a new and exciting direction, and she was kind enough to share some of the process with us.

Devon Ellington: What was the spark of inspiration for MIND OVER MIND?

Karina Fabian: Which version? This one has gone through so many revisions and major rewrites, it’s not the same book I thought up in high school and wrote in college. But let’s go to the very beginning (’cause I told the other stories on my virtual book tour earlier this month.)

I adored the Wrinkle in Time series and especially Charles Wallace, but Madeleine L’Engle never wrote about him as a grownup, except for a one-liner to say he was on a secret mission somewhere. So I made up my own adventures for him. One, imagined while I was in Junior ROTC camp, was about him helping an alien world fight a war and feeling very conflicted about it. I remember telling this story to a guy friend of mine late one night in the compound because the officers came to roust us back to our tents. I had really been enjoying telling the story, and it must have shown because this Army Major (?) exclaimed, “If I saw your face in the moonlight, I’d want to hang out here all night, too!”

Obviously, Deryl bears no resemblance to Charles Wallace, but I think I still get that look on my face when I talk about my stories–at least, if the reaction of my husband is any indication.

DE: When in the process did you know it needed to be a trilogy?

KF: The last major rewrite. Deryl had too many problems to overcome to make it a single book, and then I had some awesome ideas for Tasmae. You think Deryl goes nuts? Just wait for Mind Over Psyche. Tasmae is freeeeeaky! So, the last book finally resolves the war between the worlds.

DE: Did you have to do particular research for the book? Did you discover anything surprising that changed the trajectory of the book?

KF: I did some research on neurolinguistic programming, which is a very interesting field of psychology. I also spent a terrific afternoon in college working out the orbits of the two planets with my astronomy professor. I’m not sure the research changed the trajectory so much as when I decided to change the book, the research (which I’d done for a class in college a decade earlier) became important for the story.

DE: Did it feel strange to be in a completely different world than Vern’s? (Note: Vern the Dragon PI is one of the first characters of Karina’s with whom I fell in love).

KF: It is, but I love the variety. The DragonEye stories are snarky and sometimes serious, but always amusing. Sometimes, even slapstick. I love writing Vern because of his superior, smug way of looking at things. He is an immortal dragon, after all. (Incidentally, he compliments you on your excellent taste.)

With the characters in the Mind Over, I am human. They don’t laugh at danger the way Vern can. When Deryl acts snarky and superior, it’s usually in defensiveness. It’s also a very freaky experience to really get into the mind of someone who by all rights is insane. I do that once a book. It’s like LSD without the flashbacks and illegality.

KF: What are some of the other projects on your plate right now?

KF: For Vern lovers! Live and Let Fly comes out April 2012 from MuseItUp. Vern and Sister Grace are sent on a super-spy adventure to prevent a Norse goddess from destroying our world. Looks like Vern has a steady publishing home now, so Gapman will be the next one. That’s a superhero spoof.

Also, Mother Goose is Dead is out from Damnation Books. Vern wrote an article in it about the common fairy-tale-based scams. Get it and get smart–don’t fall prey to a Faerie scam!

I’m editing DISCOVERY, my first Rescue Sisters novel. Three nuns from the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue join a group of researchers and asteroid miners to retrieve a crashed alien ship. They find a device that can diagnose the soul, and the mission–and their lives–are endangered because not everyone can handle that discovery.

After that, I have to finish Neeta Lyffe II: I Left My Brains in San Francisco. It’s 80 percent done. I also need to write Mind Over All, the last in the Mind Over trilogy. (Book Two is at DragonMoon right now.)

In the hopper of my mind is another trilogy, Damsels and Knights, which involves Capt. Michael Santry, chief of the Los Lagos police and Vern’s least favorite person; some children’s short stories about a mouse moving into a church; the Witch Androvitch stories; and a space opera when Rob (my husband) and I can sit down and work out a plot. It’s been a long time since we collaborated on a story. Speaking of collaboration: I’m working on another story with Colleen Drippe, about a priest who gets transported to the fairy realm and turned into a dragon.

I also have two book tours coming up for FRIGHTLINER and NEETA LYFFE, ZOMBIE EXTERMINATOR, a DragonEye PI serial story for Christmas, and another for the new year.

DE: I am, by turns, officially exhausted and exhilarated by all that! I remember Neeta very well — so glad she found a home! I’m looking forward to ALL of these books — and I hope you’ll stop by here as each releases!

: Deryl Stephen’s uncontrollable telepathic abilities have landed him in a mental health institution, where no one believes in his powers.

But when Joshua Lawson, a student of neuro linguistic programming, takes part in a summer internship, he takes the unique step of accepting Deryl’s reality and teaches him to work with it. As Deryl learns control, he finds his next challenge is to face the aliens who have been contacting him psychically for years—aliens who would use him to further their cause in an interplanetary war.

Ydrel threw himself into wakefulness with such force that he sat up in bed. Still, the nightmare images clung to his mind: the beat of a hundred hearts, the smell of sweat and fear. He clutched his stomach and fought the urge to scream.

A hundred bodies crowded around him, crushing him against the splintered wood of the boxcar.

No, this isn’t real!

No room to move. No air to breathe. Suffocating. Drowning.

No, this isn’t me!

Confusion and fear. Fear the trip would never end. Terror of what waited at its completion.

NO! These aren’t MY memories!!


Ydrel threw up shaky mental barriers. The visions faded, just slightly. He forced his eyes open, drinking in reassurance from familiar objects.

He sat in bed, an oversized twin, backed up against pillows rather than splintered wood. Pre-dawn light shone softly through the blinds. On the nightstand, Descartes regarded him with one button eye. The only thing left from before his mother died, he’d slept with that bear until an orderly commented on his “abnormal attachment.” Since then it had stood watch over him instead, braced against the lamp. Even now, without any orderlies around, Ydrel resisted the urge to clutch it close to his chest, but he reached out to touch one tattered foot.

On the shelf beside the window sat a portable boom box, a gift from his first birthday here—his thirteenth. Five years ago, today. The maintenance man had disabled the volume control after Ydrel played it too loudly. Thereafter, he’d found other ways to block out the moans and occasional screams that penetrated the closed door. Happy birthday.

The stereo held up several books. He was studying them in case it called. He both dreaded and longed for the calls. Each episode only gave them more reason to keep him here, yet there was something as familiar and comforting about it as his old bear.

He turned his gaze to the far wall and the framed pictures of a nebula and the solar system by his half-empty closet. On his sixteenth birthday, he’d been allowed to decorate his room and he’d chosen those posters and a mild blue paint to replace the still–lifes and the institutional burgundy-and-pink color scheme. While it had been a relief to his eyes, it was also a constant reminder that they never intended for him to leave.

This is my room, he thought. In the asylum. Even after five years, he’d never call it home. He’d never give Malachai the satisfaction.


Calmer now, his mental barriers in place, Ydrel allowed himself to examine the vision that awakened him. Hundreds of bodies packed into a train car not suited for twenty. Most had traveling clothes, but had shed them against the heat. No room to move. The air was stifling and stale. No one knew where they were going. Some suspected, but said nothing. The destination was worse than the trip.

Ydrel sighed. Isaac was on the train to Dachau again.

Ydrel threw off the covers and dressed quickly in a blue t-shirt and jeans, socks and generic sneakers. Already Isaac’s projected fear was breaking down his mental defenses; Ydrel’s fingers trembled as he fumbled with the laces.

Once out in the corridor, he hastened to the old man’s room, forcing himself to keep his pace smooth, his face composed. Someone would stop him if he hurried or looked distressed, and any delay would be unbearable. As he walked he got into character. His stride lengthened; his face hardened. He held his hands relaxed but ready by his hips. When he got to Isaac’s door, he cast a wary look down the hall, then slipped in.

The old man lay on a standard hospital bed, his wide, wild eyes staring at the ceiling but focused on his inner horrors. His hands fluttered helplessly on the thin coverlet. He labored for each ragged breath.

Ydrel sat beside him and composed his own vision.

The train stops so suddenly that people would have been thrown down if they hadn’t been so tightly packed in. The sound of gunfire and shouts in German. The boxcar door opens with a rusty screech. Someone yells in Yiddish, then German: “Out! Now! Quickly, to the woods—to the south!” Relief from the press of bodies, then a new pressure as the flow of people pushes him through the door. Someone grabs his arm—

Ydrel grabbed Isaac by the arm as he pushed the new vision into the old man’s mind.

Isaac blinked, twisted toward Ydrel, then smiled, his eyes bright with tears. “Gideon! Old friend. Thank God!”

Mind Over Mind Materials
Title: Mind Over Mind
Author: Karina Fabian
ISBN: 978-1897942369
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Over-Karina-L-Fabian/dp/1897942362
Kindle Link: http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Over-ebook/dp/B005D94LI0

: Unlike her characters, Karina Fabian lives a comfortably ordinary life. Wife to Air Force Colonel Robert Fabian and mother of four, her adventures usually involve packing and moving, attending conventions, or giving writing and marketing advice in one of her many workshops. She’s always had an overactive imagination, however, and started writing in order to quell the voices in her head–characters who insisted on living lives in her mind and telling her their stories. Winner of the 2010 INDIE award, winner and finalist for the EPPIE and finalist for the Global e-book awards, she’s glad people enjoy reading the tales her characters tell.

Website: http://fabianspace.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karina.fabian
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/KarinaFabian
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