Category Archives: Awards

NaNoWriMo Round 2


by Lillian Csernica on October 12, 2016

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Back in 2014, I won NaNoWriMo by writing 50,000 words of Garden of Lies, the second book in my Flower Maiden trilogy.

I have just signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016. I hope to get to the 50,000 word mark on the third book of the trilogy. 7 pages a day, every day.

I thumb my nose at the Forces of Chaos that beset me on a daily basis. Come what may, I shall write my daily quota. By December 1, I will have at least half of the first draft of my new novel.

(Then comes the Labor of Hercules known as Editing the Manuscript, but I’ll get to that when the time comes.)

I send my best wishes to everybody else crazy dedicated enough to embrace NaNoWriMo!

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How We Survived a Three Convention Weekend


by Lillian Csernica on June 4, 2016

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Hi, gang. I made it through all four days of Clockwork Alchemy, BayCon, and Fanime.I would have written this post sooner, but the sudden discovery of John being WAY behind on preparing his Final presentation/exam in one of his classes caused me to devote what energies I had to making sure he met today’s deadline. I love that boy dearly, but some days he makes me crazy.

The weekend was packed with memorable moments.  This was John’s first time really participating in conventions.  (He did make a brief appearance at the Meet the Guest Reception of one BayCon about ten or twelve years ago. We had to keep him away from the buffet and out from under everybody else’s tables.) It was a spectacular weekend!  John even won a Hall Costume Award for his steampunk attire.

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Technolo-John meets Mega Man!

John had quite a few adventures, including playing the communications officer aboard the Starship Artemis. He made a light saber in one of the DIY workshops, and he discovered the joys of hanging out in the Hospitality Suite having munchies and watching “Wheel of Fortune” on a big plasma screen.  That might sound silly, but I was pleased to see John guessing the solutions with everybody else.

At Fanime, all the people in costume blew John’s mind. He’d been hoping to meet some of his favorite superheroes. Sure enough, one man was dressed as Nightwing, and one young lady wore a Raven costume. Raven told John how much she liked his steampunk outfit. That had him walking on air!

Business was good. I sold all but one of the anthology copies I brought with me.  Gave away all the beaded space-theme bookmarks and the Japanese art print bookmarks, all of which had this here blog’s URL on the back.  Shameless Self-Promotion! John got to see people asking me for my autograph as I signed their copies.  This is my idea of Take Your Kid To Work Day. Now John knows that I really am (kinda) famous.

Yarn Doll

Courtesy of Leigh Flynn

At Clockwork Alchemy on Sunday morning I had a good time teaching the Victorian Yarn Doll DIY.  Yarn colors included forest green, wine red, and navy blue, as well as what I like to call the “steampunk rainbow.” This is a yarn made up of several jewel tone colors suitable for the steampunk era. Traditional Victorian yarn dolls are either boys or girls.  Out of respect for the gender fluid community, I wanted to provide materials that were both inclusive and diverse. If you’re interested in making yarn dolls, Pinterest is a gold mine of methods, styles, and materials.

Mixy Award

This is the Mixy Award, created by Steve Mix in honor of those people who he feels deserve recognition for their ongoing contributions to fandom and the convention community.  At this year’s BayCon, Steve granted me the honor of presenting the Mixy to none other than my best friend and co-conspirator, Pat MacEwen.  Convincing her to bring the spiffy clothes and dress up on Saturday night was a bit of a challenge, because of course I couldn’t tell her why.

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Steve Mix was also responsible for the D20 challenge.  Several of us who are gamers past or present brought our best D20s to the con.  Whenever some of us would cross paths, we’d roll against each other. Best of five was the general rule.  Whoever won got to keep all the dice involved in that particular round.  I brought five D20s with me, and I left with five D20s, so I broke even.

In the bar of the San Mateo Marriott, the tables are glass.  That meant that in the evening when we had anywhere from three to seven people rolling at once, we made a glorious racket!  (I have to give the staff of the hotel credit.  They embraced the weirdness that is fandom like good sports.  The valets were having a great time collecting badge ribbons.) Steve has the best D20.  It’s made of some kind of metal, and it rolls high and hard.  I told him he should name it the “Deathstar D20”!

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The Snow Jedi

I’m going to break one of my own rules here and post a photo of myself in my jammies. That is indeed the very light saber John made.  This goes to show how much fun I was having. I actually asked Pat to take a photo of me looking like this. This had to be my best Clockwork/Fanime/BayCon ever!

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Around the World (A to Z Blog Challenge Wrap-Up)


by Lillian Csernica on May 6, 2016

 

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I had a marvelous time participating in this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge.  My technical skills as a blogger have improved, so I could add a greater variety of media to my posts.  My theme was Travel.  I didn’t want this to be just another travel advice blog, especially when there are so many out there who have traveled farther and know so much more than I do.

So I fell back on what I do best: laughing at myself.  I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of things.  It’s been my privilege to meet some wonderful people, generous, compassionate, and hospitable.  There’s a whole lot of the world left to see.  That means there are many more people I’ll be meeting, and many more stories waiting to be lived!

This year I really did challenge myself to pick words for each letter that would catch the reader’s eye.  Then I had to come up with aspects of my travels that suited the word I’d chosen.  I think I was most successful with “M is for Money.”  Looking more closely at the trips I’ve taken across the U.S. helped me relive those memories of my father with the perspective I now have as an adult.  I may well collect the posts from this year’s challenge and develop them more fully into an actual memoir.

Many thanks to all the folks who stopped by to take a look here, clicked “Like,” and maybe even left a comment.  It’s been a great pleasure to meet you and find out how you chose to post from A to Z.  Thank you to all of the A to Z Blog Challenge staffers who do so much to make this possible.  It’s a marvelous event, the product of what is clearly a lot of hard work.

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New Discoveries:

Djinniah and the English LanguageDjinniah and the English Language

My Travels in the Middle East and Beyond

Onomastics Outside the Box

Silvia Writes

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Ongoing Friends from Last Year and Beyond:

Ruralspaceman

Diary of a Dublin Housewife

Fae Forensics

Three’s A Herd

This Old Shelter

Sherrie’s Scriptorium

 

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G is for Gifts


by Lillian Csernica on April 8, 2016

Today I have some stories to tell that come from the United States of America.  My homeland is a big country.  You can do a lot of traveling without needing your passport!  Along the way I’ve had the pleasure of giving and receiving some wonderful gifts.

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San Francisco, California — I was at the San Francisco International Airport when I met a Buddhist monk with a heavy French accent.  We got to talking.  Like most holy men in public places, the monk was probably accustomed to people gravitating to him.  He seemed to understand a whole lot more about me than what little personal information came up in the conversation.  His gift to me took the form of sincere compassion and some encouraging words.  As a token of my gratitude I gave him a pewter sunflower with “Believe” engraved on it.  This is why I love to travel.  You never know who you might meet, or what might happen when you do.

Maui, Hawaii — The Hawaiian Lei Greeting has been a part of Polynesian culture for several centuries.  Many tour packages allow you to choose just how luxuriant you’d like your lei greeting to be.  Before the boys came along, I took a trip to Maui with my mother.  It was quite an adventure, including a luau and a submarine ride.  Magpie that I am, I got all excited about the leis made not from flowers but seashells.  Ever since I was little I’ve had a great fondness for seashells.  Mom has been to Hawaii more than once, so she had quite a few shell leis.  She has given them all to me, along with the kukui nut bracelet and earrings belonging to my great-grandmother.

Las Vegas, Nevada — Many years ago my husband and I stayed at the Excalibur.  My father and stepmother lived in Ohio at that time.  My stepsister lived in Vegas, so we decided to meet in the middle for Christmas at her house.  (I have several stories from that trip!)   In the Excalibur there was the usual casino floor with card tables and slot machines.  Downstairs, I found a whole floor for kids full of carnival games such as Skee Ball, the Ring Toss, the Dime Toss.  There were also a few games where you used what amounted to a small catapult to shoot a frog onto a lily pad or a witch doll into a cauldron.  I know how to play poker, blackjack, and even whist, but I’m not much for gambling.  On the other hand, I love to win prizes.  I must have won close to a dozen, most of them some type of stuffed toy.  I did not have room in my luggage for all of them.  Besides, it was really more about winning them than actually keeping all those toys.  So what did I do with them?  Remember, this was Christmastime.  I wandered around the hotel, giving the toys away to little kids (with their parents’ permission).

 

Seattle, Washington –I had gone up to Vashon Island with a friend to visit the All Merciful Saviour Russian Orthodox Monastery.  I’ve been blessed to know Abbot Tryphon and Hierodeacon Paul for more than 20 years.  That visit deserves its own post.  Right now I want to mention yet another meeting in yet another airport.  In the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, I was waiting for my flight to be called.  My friend and I got into conversation with two ladies who admired my friend’s earrings, which I had made.  As it turns out, one of the ladies also made her own jewelry, including the pair of earrings she was wearing.  I don’t know what prompted her to do it, but my fellow jeweler took off her earrings and gave them to me right then and there!  People are so kind.  We forget that, with all the conflict and grief in the world.  I will always treasure those earrings as a reminder of that trip and a reminder of the difference an generous impulse can make.

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A to Z: Another Year, Another Adventure!


by Lillian Csernica on May 3, 2015

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Time now to look back on the 26 days of reading, writing, thinking and replying.  I’d like to begin by saying thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog.  A special thank you to the folks who hung out with me, added their observations, and made the whole adventure that much more enjoyable:

Alex Hurst

Jazzfeathers at The Old Shelter

Sue Archer at Doorway Between Worlds

Sourcerer

Lori MacLaughlin at Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams

Pat MacEwen at Bone Speak

Sanch at Living My Imperfect Life

http://www.flowerpicturegallery.com

What Worked:

1) A crazy topic.  I suppose I could call this “a unique theme.”  I had no idea so many people out there enjoy bad sword & sorcery movies as much as I do.  Now we know about each other, so we can form a support group.  LOL

2) Good graphics.  Some of the movies I chose were rather obscure, which made finding graphics for them more difficult.  That in turn made such content more valuable.  Some of those costumes really have to be seen to be believed!

3) Replying to all comments, even if I just hit “Like” now and then.  Give and take is what it’s all about during the A to Z.  It’s just plain polite, of course, but running around seeing what my new friends were creating made this experience organic and exciting.

4) Links.  Good links, informative links, links that lead somewhere worth the click time!

What Didn’t Work:

1) Not getting enough posts written and scheduled ahead of time. I started off with a week’s worth of posts ready to go.  That kept my head above water until around mid-month when my other writing commitments began pushing the blog posts down the priority list.

2) I couldn’t do justice to these movies in really short posts, so it would have been wiser to plan ahead and budget my time accordingly.  The real pleasure for me in talking about these movies comes from the behind the scenes trivia, the little details about special effects snafus, and the consistency errors.

3) Finding the graphics.  This is a two-edged sword, har har.  It sucked up a lot of time, hunting down the graphics, finding the right sizes, and tinkering with the posts until the layout looked just the way I wanted it to be.

4) Toward the end of the month time got tighter and tighter, so I did not make it as far down the list of participants as I’d hoped to go.  The flip side of that was the problem with several of the links I did visit in the lower 1/4 of the list.  Often the links didn’t lead anywhere, or the blogs hadn’t been updated in ages.  That put a dent in my enthusiasm.

I know people are posting their stats and measuring the traffic on their sites.  I respect that, and I pay attention to those numbers when I’m thinking in terms of business and self-promotion.  The A to Z Blog Challenge is something I do for fun.  Last year my theme was chocolate.  This year, bad sword & sorcery movies.  I’ve made some new friends, found some great resources, and I reached my goal of completing the challenge.

Thank you to Arlee and Alex and all the folks who helped out in the A to Z.  I’ll be back again next year!

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NaNoWriMo Finish Line!


by Lillian Csernica on November 26, 2014

 

 

GARDEN OF LIES

50,156 total word count so far.

Not bad for my first try!

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NaNoWriMo Week Three: Time to Hit Turbo!


by Lillian Csernica on November 21, 2014

As of this moment, my official word count is 37,100.  That leaves 12,900 words to be written in the next 9 days.  1433 with a repeating decimal per day and I’ll bring it in by the 30th.  I’ve been writing between 1700 and 2000 per day, so the NaNoWriMo site tells me I’m looking at hitting the finish line on the 27th.  Thanksgiving Day.  Holy cats.

I have to say, I am doing what I really hadn’t thought I could do.  10,000 words per week?  That’s 40 pages, according to standard ms format.  Writing every single day, come hell or high water?  Now that the rainy season has finally arrived, high water is not an impossibility, given that one border of my property is marked by a creek.  As for the hell….  Some days are better than others, some days are worse, but the writing still has to get done, yes?

I must confess that this week I’ve had to push myself harder to get the work done.  November is one of my busier months.  Michael’s name day is Nov. 7th, the Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangels.  There are four important birthdays this month, including my father’s on the 18th and John’s on the 23rd.  And then we have Thanksgiving.  This alone involves a complex list of questions and decisions that have to be made and remade every year:

  • Where are we eating?
  • Who is eating with us?
  • What are we eating?  Who can eat what?  What can’t we have due to food allergies, lactose or gluten intolerance, and any possible philosophical or religious conflicts?
  • Do we have enough room?  Where will we put the kids?
  • And then there’s the usual chaos surrounding making sure we have all the cooking utensils, pots, pans, baking necessities and enough matching pieces of everything to set a nice table.

This year, for some reason I’ve decided to get crazy and make some napkin rings.  Curse you, Pinterest!  You have so many pretty pictures, and you make it all sound so easy!  I raided a fabric store today for craft glue, ribbons, and a bizarre variety of buttons.  You know you’ve gone off the deep end when the ladies who work at the store can’t resist asking what you plan to make.  That particular pile of supplies will go toward both napkin rings and Christmas ornaments.  That explanation lowered the Weird Level of my purchases to something that made sense.

And yet I cannot allow myself to be distracted!  No messing around with craft projects until my daily word quota has been written!  One of the big reasons I enjoy making jewelry is because it works parts of my brain that I don’t necessarily use while I’m writing.  I use a different department in the Idea Factory, so to speak.  It also keeps my hands busy while the novel’s characters are having private meetings in the back of my mind.  They’re busy making decisions and mounting conspiracies, so when I go back to the keyboard to have another go at writing, I’ll discover mutiny on the page.  They wanna do what they wanna do.  The great part about NaNoWriMo is I just let my fictional people run wild.  This is like the Dress Rehearsal.  Get it out of your systems now, boys and girls!  That way when we buckle down for Opening Night, we’re ready to put on the professional performance.

Still, it is hard to maintain momentum over this long a haul when I’ve never done it before.  Gotta get there.  Gotta make it to the finish line, if only to give my agent a heart attack when I tell her I’ve already written half of the sequel to Sword Master, Flower Maiden.  It’s important to know how to motivate yourself, right?

Idea Factory

The Idea Factory

 

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Never A Dull Moment


by Lillian Csernica on October 26, 2014

 

 Monday — Did one last copy edit on Sword Master, Flower Maiden before I emailed the manuscript to my agent.  Does the story work?  Will she like it?  The waiting begins.

 

 

Tuesday —  Chris and I took John to see his neurologist for a checkup.  We discussed John’s medications and the difficulties he’s having with his schoolwork.  The doctor was not happy to hear about the communication trouble we’ve been having with the various people who help John at school.  The doctor’s orders: “Less homework, more social interaction.”

 

Wednesday — John’s triennial IEP.  He’ll be sixteen at the end of next month, so that means this was the last triennial he would have before he graduates.  That being the case, the school officials did all the appropriate assessments to compare those results with the assessments done when John was thirteen.  This meeting took three and a half hours.  Chris and I brought a letter from the neurologist giving his orders.  I had copies of emails I’d exchanged with John’s caseworker/teacher.  I asked for John’s one to one aide to be present.  I went in there with a list of questions and concerns and I walked out with every single one of them answered and addressed.  That was essential.  We’re facing John’s “transition,” which means we have to start looking at how he will function in the community once he graduates from high school.  This is stirring up all kinds of conflicting emotions inside me.  It’s not easy to focus and make long term decisions.

Thursday — I had an appointment with my new therapist.  Good timing on that one, right?

 

 

Friday — Another appointment, this one with my psychiatrist.  He thinks I’m doing pretty well handling the daily ups and downs around here, to say nothing of the big stuff like the IEP.

Saturday — My mother and I took John down to the community center where he was part of a “Zombie Flash Mob.”  He’d been attending the dance classes for three weekends, so he was looking forward to it.  We got him dressed up in some old clothes that we slashed up and stained red here and there.  The Mob organizers had makeup artists on hand, so John got quite the makeover.  When he looked in the mirror, he must have jumped a foot!  While we waited for Zero Hour, John and I joined the folks who were making masks.  John made one that looked like “Raven” from the Teen Titans.  I used green paint, green glitter, and pipe cleaners in red, brown, green and yellow to create Medusa!

Sunday — Here I am, folding clean laundry, putting up the last-minute Halloween decorations, and trying to catch up on everything else I had to push back this week.  My mother is downstairs with John working on her Halloween costume.  She’s going as a tree.  That’s right, a tree.  Complete with bark, leaves, a bird’s nest, and a squirrel.  Mom will be entering a costume contest.  Both Mom and my father contributed to my competitive streak.  In my family we’re quite fond of trophies.  😀  Another thing we’re quite fond of is naps.

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Crossing the “Finish it!” Line


by Lillian Csernica on October 20, 2014

Today is a glorious day for me.  Today I sent my novel manuscript to my agent.

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced the exhilaration of this singular experience.  Sword Master, Flower Maiden is 90, 000 words long.   All those words have been written, rewritten, cut and reorganized and cut and polished and cut a bit more.  I think I have an inkling of how a gem cutter must feel when the diamond comes out just right.  Patient application of both art and craft has brought out the special quality in the heart of the stone.

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I want to go out and party.  I want to eat ice cream.  I want to drive down the coast hanging my head out the window while the breeze whips my long hair into impossible knots.

This is what happens when I finally reach that point where I can say, “Yes, the book is done!”  My agent may disagree, and that’s OK.  She showed me how to make Ship of Dreams a stronger and better story.  I have faith in her knowledge and her instincts.  Until she gets back to me, I can do the happy dance that goes along with this stage of writing and publishing a novel.

So now what?  What do I do now that I have Finished My Novel?  I start writing the next one.  “Wait!” you might say.  “Don’t you get a break?  Don’t you get to relax for a while?”  Sure.  Tonight I’ll eat ice cream and watch “Cupcake Wars” on Netflix.  Tomorrow I keep working on the plot outline for the sequel.  NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.  I want to be ready to take a flying leap into the adventure of cranking out 50,000 words in just 30 days.  Time to pull a kitchen sink and throw everything into the ms that seems like a good idea at the time.  I’ll sift it later and make those creative decisions that move my hero and heroine forward on both their personal character arcs and on the major story arc as a whole.

I did do something really cool to celebrate finishing this novel.  I bought myself a present.  Thanks to the nice folks at Teespring, I now have a black long-sleeved shirt with a message on the front that reads:

“I CREATE HAPPILY EVER AFTERS. 

What’s your superpower?”

So here’s a high five to all my NaNoWriMo comrades, and to all my fellow novelists.  Let’s cheer each other on as we cross our individual finish lines.

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Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Virgin


by Lillian Csernica on October 14, 2014

 

Yes, it’s true.  As chaotic as my life is, as crowded as my days are, I have indeed signed up for NaNoWriMo.

Why, you ask?  Why do I intend to put myself through the hardcore boot camp of daily word count production?  Two reasons.

ONE:  Today I finished editing Sword Master, Flower Maiden.  I still have to run it by my agent, but I think I am very close to declaring this book FINISHED!

TWO:  NaNoWriMo is a great way to jump start Book 2 in the trilogy, which I have given the working title Garden of Lies.

1700 words per day, every one of the 30 days in November.  That’s about seven pages per day.  When I’m in good form, I can write five pages in 90 minutes.  I’m going to be logging my daily word count on my profile at the NaNoWriMo site, so people can watch my book grow.  They cheer me on, I cheer them on, and we all create literature together.

Do I have the book all plotted out already?  No.  I have this messy pile of notebooks and loose papers and a pile of research about the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, where the book will take place.  Once I hear from my agent and know what to do about Book 1, then I’ll be ready to settle down with the pile of notes and research and see how much I’ve already got.  Having taken inventory and gotten organized, I will then dump it all into the appropriate sections of Scrivener.  Gotta set up my workspace for this new adventure.

I’m already getting excited.  I know how to write fast without thinking too much about it.  I know how to pick my subject and keep that pen moving until the timer goes off.  Will I use a timer?  Probably.  Will I use it every day?  Depends on how well the work is going.  If I hit a dry patch, I might need the timer do nag me into being productive.  Other days I may go wild and crank out all kinds of material.  Bradbury said, “Throw up in the morning, clean up at noon.”

How about you people out there?  Any NaNoWriMo veterans?  Any words of wisdom for this newbie?  I welcome whatever gems of knowledge you see fit to share.

Anybody want to be writing buddies?  I’m not entirely clear on that concept.  I don’t get out of the house without major logistical planning, but I’m sure I can provide some kind of support and maybe even advice.  I’ve written four complete novel mss.  This will be the first time I attempt to do so under such a compressed time frame.  We shall triumph together!

 

vidyasury.com

 

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