Monthly Archives: March 2016

Norwescon: Fun Fun Fun!


by Lillian Csernica on March 31, 2016

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I’m home now, but there’s so much left of Norwescon that ought to be mentioned.  To all the people included in the events mentioned below, allow me to offer you my most sincere thanks for your hospitality, your generosity, and your wonderful senses of humor.

The Fukushima at 5 panel — Some very insightful and useful information.

The gracious lady who pointed out to me that I was wearing one ribbon I probably didn’t understand the meaning of, so I might want to understand it.  She explained, I was enlightened, and I kept on wearing the ribbon.

More ribbons than I have ever seen on one person at one time!

Owen — Some day I have to see that bow of yours up close and in action.

The Vikings two doors down — You folks were great neighbors.  Noisy, yes, but highly entertaining as well.

Cajun and his party crew — I have now tasted R’lyeh Punch, and I like it!  Also, thanks for the super-cool Mardi Gras beads.

Rand the Vampire — Thank you so much for your explanation of balloon burlesque.  I must look into the biography of Sally Rand.  She sounds like a most fascinating woman.

The crew for the Hospitality Suite — Good food and friendly smiles always available.  The book swap was a cool idea.  Loved your chili!  Hot but not too hot, especially with the guacamole.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport registration desk staff — They were cordial, helpful, and the cookies were always warm!  Thank you for making our stay that much more delightful.

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Everybody who got me pointed in the right direction every time I got lost, which happened a lot on Thursday and Friday.

The fabulous group of dedicated geniuses who make up the Norweson Con Com.  You people really know how to throw one hell of a convention.  I can’t wait to be there in 2017 for the 40th anniversary!

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More Norwescon


by Lillian Csernica on March 29, 2016

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I come to you tonight from Ashland, OR.  Pat and I are a little less than halfway home now.  Saturday and Sunday at Norwescon turned out to be much busier than I anticipated.  This is a good thing!

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nwc-leaderboard-728x90My adventures in the room parties on Saturday night deserve their own post, which I will be happy to compose once I get home and recapture a few wandering brain cells.

Let me just say that by the time I got back to my room, I was wearing two party wristbands on my left wrist, a “Drama Queen” bracelet on my right, two strands of large, genuine, and heavy heavy duty Mardi Gras beads, plus a coating of green glitter that went well with my Loki Charms T shirt.  Viva Norwescon!

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Norwescon Day Two


Lillian Csernica on March 25, 2016

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Slept late.  What a luxury!  There was a time when I’d stay up far too late, either roaming the room parties or hanging out somewhere talking with a group of friends.  Now that I’m older and (somewhat) wiser, I know the value of a good night’s sleep.

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There’s a programming track for kids that includes arts & crafts.  I’d been hoping the Decorate-a-T shirt make-n-take would allow me to create a customized souvenir for Michael or John.  There were no shirts big enough for the boys, but that was OK.  I came up with an idea for a pillow.  A medium shirt with 3 sets of sparkly blue dolphins leaping out of the waves should turn into a fun reminder of this con.

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During the T shirt workshop I got to talking with three young ladies who enjoy horror.  I brought a copy of  Typhon with me.  When I showed it to them, one of the girls pounced on it with the kind of enthusiasm that brings serious joy to a writer’s heart.  They bought it, complete with autograph and gold foil Autographed Copy sticker.

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I’ve been drinking Coke today.  Shame on me, but I need the caffeine.

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Make a Superhero Mask!  Yes, I went and hung out with the kids again.  No, I do not have a photo of my mask to show you.  I left that particular USB cable at home with my Kindle.  I am now the Bride of Cthulu!  The mask base is white plastic with the usual elastic string around the back.  I took a piece of lace meant to jazz up a wedding gown and glued it to the temples and the bridge of the nose. That way the point of the triangle, so to speak, hung down over the mouth, dangling pearl teardrops like really classy tentacles.  More pearls and some golden sunburst sequins across the forehead added the right amount of sparkle.

What’s my superhero name?  What’s my superpower?  You tell me!  I’m looking for inspiration!

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While I was making my way back through the hallways to the main lobby area, I happened across a jeweler selling marvelous steampunk items at bargain basement prices.  Bought John a glow in the dark star necklace with the word ZAP! on it in a red explosion, just like one of the sound effects on the old “Batman” TV series from the 1960s.  Better still, it glows in the dark!

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The dinner menu in the Hospitality Suite included hot dogs, chili, and chips with guacamole.  Pat and I shared a table with T-Bone, the Saturday night DJ.  He told us a very weird story he called “A Tale of Bamboozlement.”  I told him one of my stranger Ren Faire adventures.  Pat told us a of peculiar incident that happened while she was working for the Stockton Police Department.  Now this is what I call live entertainment!

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Around 9 p.m. I went back up to our room to drop off my tote bags, shopping bags, and some art Pat bought from the Tarot of Brass & Steam booth.  In the hallway outside our hotel room were people with Magic: The Gathering decks.  There were also people wearing Viking-type clothing.  Two doors down a pumpkin beer party was underway, put on by a group of historical re-enactment folks who enjoy Viking lore.  Somebody lent me a helmet that looked like the upper half of a pumpkin with the mandatory two horns sticking out of it.  Now that I met the dress code, I hung out at the party for a good hour, sampling three or four remarkable brews from Seattle micro-breweries.  I do mean samples, given out in the little plastic cups often used by Mexican restaurants for servings of pico de gallo.  I rarely drink, but when I do, I do it for a good cause.  This was a good cause!

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Parties are raging here in Wing 5.  I can hear the multitudes out in the hallway whooping it up.  I should get on out there and see what other adventures await me!

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North By Norwescon


by Lillian Csernica on March 24, 2016

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Hi there!  I come to you from Seattle, Washington, home of Norwescon, the finest science fiction convention in the Pacific Northwest.  We’re here at the DoubleTree Inn by Hilton at SeaTac.  Lovely hotel, somewhat confusing at first, given that there are 7 wings and plenty of event spaces.  Yes, the hotel does still give out chocolate chip cookies when you check in.  That’s my kind of welcome!

This adventure began on Tuesday at 1 p.m. when I hit the road for Stockton.  That’s a two hour drive from my house over the Altamont Pass.  I haven’t driven that far all at once in almost 30 years.  Neither have I driven on Interstate 5 North since late August of 1987 when I was in the car accident that left me for dead on I-5 South.  Was I jittery?  Oh yeah.

Pat and I have made many a road trip together.  Stockton to Eugene, 6 hours’ sleep, then Eugene to Seattle saw us arrive here at the hotel an hour or so before Pat’s first Programming item.  There was joyful chaos all over the place as people checked in, other conventions passed out ribbons and promo materials, plenty of folks were already in costume, and we were clearly ready to party like the book-loving fan boys and girls that we all are.

Tonight’s highlights:

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Lots of fun on the Alien Communication panel.  Did you know giraffes can hum?

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Crossed paths with Dean Wells, one of my favorite people. I met him many years ago when I was a pro in his section of a writer’s workshop.  He’s gone on to publish in markets such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  I am very proud of him.

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The Art Show reception was a total blast.  Gorgeous paintings and sculpture and jewelry and housewares.  Pat and I went nuts over the Tarot of Brass & Steam.  Oh my stars and garters!  I would LOVE to have those artists illustrate my steampunk stories from Twelve Hours Later and Thirty Days Later!

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Now it’s after midnight.  I’ve been up for 18 hours and I haven’t gotten a whole lot of sleep in the past few days, so it’s time to take advantage of my queen size bed and call it a night.

Tomorrow:  More adventures from Norwescon 39!

 

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What’s My Theme?


by Lillian Csernica on March 21, 2016

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It’s that time of year again!  The A to Z Blog Challenge will soon begin.  My theme?

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Join me for 26 days of my adventures around the world!

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Here I Go Again


by Lillian Csernica on March 16, 2016

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I know.  I said I wouldn’t do it anymore.  I’ve learned my lesson.

Then somebody came along and made me an offer that brings with it a lot of benefits.

I’m going to join a writer’s group.

In the past I’ve had some unfortunate experiences.  Personality conflicts.  Hidden agendas.  The gap in experience between some of the writers was so great that we couldn’t do each other that much good.  In some cases it was a matter of logistics that just didn’t work out.

Online writer’s groups don’t really appeal to me because the biggest plus that comes with participating in a group is the brainstorming, plot twists and bigger stakes and stronger motivations for the characters.  We bounce ideas off each other and the person whose work we’re discussing makes lots of notes, to be sorted out later at home.

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In this group, which meets this coming Saturday, there will be three people I’ve known for over twenty years.  I have collaborated with two of them on separate projects.  With the one, I’ve sold three stories.  With the other, two stories and a novel series that is still a work in progress.  One member is new to me, but I’m told he writes in genres where I have more experience than the other three, so we should all be able to do each other some kind of good.

I confess I let myself get talked into this by the member of the group whose advice about writing has led to many improvements in quite a few of my stories as well as my novels.  I have packaged up the first fifty pages of Sword Master, Flower Maiden and emailed it to all of them.  I’ve been reading through the ms as I prepare a new synopsis for query purposes.  The book needs more tinkering in terms of pace and the use of Japanese language.  We’ll see what my fellow scribes have to say.  We’re all history addicts, so that makes for a happy foundation.

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If I can just get up to speed on the projects of two members, prep my comments, and be ready to participate by Saturday, I shall enter into this group situation with fingers crossed and notebook at the ready.  I’m hoping I come out of it with the help I need to get my work to a better level of quality that will sell to better markets for better prices.  We’ll see.

I’m a fan of ’80s rock, those glorious days of the Hair Metal bands.  Bon Jovi remains my favorite, but in this particular instance, Whitesnake provides my theme song.

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My 3rd Blog-iversary!


by Lillian Csernica on March 11, 2016

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Three years ago today I began my adventure into the world of blogging.  I have met many delightful people in the course of reading comments here and leaving my own replies on other folks’ blogs.  The A to Z Blog Challenge is coming up next month.  I look forward to participating once again.  This is a wonderful way to meet new people and learn interesting tidbits about a wide variety of topics.

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As the sign says, on Monday, March 21, all of us who are participating will be declaring the zany topics we’ve chosen.  The first year I participated, I chose writing terms.  For the second year, unusual items made from chocolate.  Last year I came up with 26 really bad sword & sorcery movies.  This year?  I shall be exploring one of my favorite subjects.  Be here on the 21st for the big unveiling!

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Let me offer a deep and sincere thank you to every single one of you who has been kind enough to stop by, take a look, and even leave some comments.  It means so much to me.  That sounds corny, but it’s true.  We may never meet face to face in this life, but even so I am so glad to have the opportunity to share ideas with you and hear what you have to say.

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Life with my two sons can often be difficult to the point of heartbreaking.  I thank you also for all your prayers, kind thoughts, and good wishes as my boys and I have made it through one of our more difficult years.  God bless you for giving me some virtual shoulders to lean on when I’ve been in serious need of support.

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Beware the token character


Diversity has become a priority issue in speculative fiction. This blog provides some excellent Dos and Don’ts on the subject.

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The We Need Diverse Books campaign is a wonderful initiative which has gotten a lot of people talking, and inspired many writers to create diverse characters. However, we should also beware using diverse characters as tokens.

1. Don’t have diverse characters for the mere sake of diversity. Even if your book is set in a known multicultural place like New York City or Los Angeles, it’s still not realistic to create some Rainbow Tribe to show off how diverse your book is. How realistic is it for every single member of a group of friends to represent a different ethnicity, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, etc.?

2. Constantly bringing up a character’s diversity is pretty awkward. People of my generation probably remember how every single Baby-Sitters’ Club book mentions, in the requisite infodumpy Chapter 2, that Jessi. Is. Black! While I do appreciate knowing a detail like that, so…

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Family: The Other F-word


by Lillian Csernica on March 6, 2016

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Life is hard when you have one special needs child.  Life gets exponentially harder when you have another child, especially when that child turns out to have special needs also.

The thing that makes life unbearable is when you run into the family member who knows more than you do about everything.  This person isn’t a doctor, a nurse, or a therapist of any sort.  This person might have teaching experience, might have volunteer experience, might even have some experience of special needs with his or her own child.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.” — Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

It’s bad enough that as a mother I’m under my own constant scrutiny, watching to see if I’m doing what the doctors and therapists tell me to do so my sons will grow up realizing as much of their potential as possible.  It’s bad enough when people who mean well but who have no real idea about daily life in a special needs household come to me with questions or suggestions that I know won’t work, I’ve tried and modified, or found effective five years ago.  Right here, right now, I know what’s best for my sons.  Why?  I’ve devoted my adult life to finding out.

What really hurts, what goes so deep that the emotional bruising lingers for days, is when a family member decides to tell me I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m doing it wrong, or I’m just doing nothing.  Yes, that’s right, just the other day I got a lecture on what a lazy, careless, thoughtless, inconsiderate mother I am.

Every mother knows how much this kind of attack hurts.  No matter how hard we try, there’s always that little nagging voice inside us that sees what we don’t do.  The greater effort we could have made.  The times when we were selfish enough to give ourselves a break.

One of the people I ought to be able to count on for support has just hit me where I live.  This person does not have a sterling track record in the parenting department, but if I dare point that our then I’m just being cruel and trying to dodge the real issue.

The nice thing about people you hire to work with your children is your option of firing them when the time comes.  You can’t fire family.  Blood is blood, even when there’s a strong temptation to spill some.

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What IS W.A.N.A.? A Nursery for Stars—WE ARE NOT ALONE


NOTE from Lillian:  If you don’t know about Kristin Lamb, then it’s my pleasure to introduce you to her.  She’s the mentor all writers want and need.  Don’t be a wannabe, join the W.A.N.A.Tribe!

 

Yesterday, a minister commented on one of my posts and said something that made me really think, “Sometimes even the ministers need ministering.” My purpose with my blogs and teachings …

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