Category Archives: Conventions

Where You Should Be This Weekend


by Lillian Csernica on May 26, 2017

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It’s that time again! Convention season is well underway, and Memorial Day Weekend is a high point. This weekend you can find me at two, count ’em, TWO conventions!

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Clockwork Alchemy:

Saturday in particular promises to be a blast.

11:30 to 1 p.m. — Steampunk DIY! This year we’ll be making earrings. Get it it gear (ho ho ho) and join us!

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Steampunk, Satire, and Society

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BayCon:

Sunday is my busy day!

1:40 p.m. (Connect 5)  My reading! Come listen to an exciting excerpt from my newest Kyoto Steampunk story, “The Wheel of Misfortune.”

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Synergy 1) Historical Writing

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Connect 1) The Truth About Stuff!

I’ve come up with some rather unique items in the way of promo swag. Find me and see what heights of creative memorabilia could be yours!

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Breaking up with Ben & Jerry


by Lillian Csernica on January 18, 2017

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Tonight I consumed my last pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra.

Tomorrow morning I begin a medically supervised accelerated weight loss program.

When I was ten years old, my parents took me to see a dietician. I was already 5’6″, and already 152 lbs. Not good. Now I’m forty years older and 100 lbs heavier. Time to stop kidding myself about the health problems that are right around the corner if I don’t do something about my weight problem RIGHT NOW.

This is not a New Year’s Resolution. This is me deciding to act like a grown-up and stop indulging myself while blaming the depression, the difficulty of my life, some writing setback, or whatever other chaos afflicts me at that moment.

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I have a plan. I have professionals backing me. I have a guidebook and a journal and a food scale and the necessary supplements. I’m going to do this.

There are so many stories waiting to be written.

There are so many birthdays and Christmases and personal triumphs ahead for both Michael and John.

There are so many places in the world I have yet to see, just in Japan alone!

There may be setbacks. That’s OK. I know how to deal with setbacks. You just take a deep breath, focus on the next indicated action, and start moving forward again.

I can do this. I will do this. For me, for the kids, for my writing.

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Taking Inventory on Success


by Lillian Csernica on December 28, 2016

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Knee Update: As long as I stay off of it, my pain level is pretty low. If I’m up and around for more than half an hour, the twinges start. Driving is tough.

I go see my primary care physician on the 4th. “Hello, New Year! Do I need to see an orthopedic specialist?” Somewhere in the world they believe that what you do on the third or fourth day of the New Year indicates how the year in general will go. In pain? No thanks. Doctor appointments? Not a happy thought. Stoned on pain meds? Been there, done that. Tends to slow down my writing.

Speaking of writing, I would like to take a moment to review this year in terms of my career successes.

From Digital Fiction Publishing Corporation come these three titles:

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Killing It Softly is packed full of horror stories by female authors including the amazing Nancy Holder! In this volume you will find my vampire story, “Saving Grace.” Historical fiction, this story features a Russian Orthodox noblewoman who is hiding out as a governess in the castle of a 14th Century French nobleman. A party of pilgrims arrives seeking shelter. Among them is a German scholar who has an unhealthy interest in the schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

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Uncommon Senses makes available “The Family Spirit,” my Christmas ghost story which originally appeared in Weird Tales. This was the first deliberately humorous short story I’d written. Reading it aloud at conventions is always a lot of fun.

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This is the first short story I ever sold. Fallen Idol appeared in After Hours and was later reprinted in DAW’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories XX. Many thanks to Michael Willis and the folks at DFP for bringing the story into the Digital Age!

 

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From Transmundane Press comes this collection of fairy tales in the fine tradition of Tanith Lee’s Tales from the Sisters Grimmer. My story opens three years after the fairy gives the good sister the gift of speaking in flowers and jewels, while her wicked stepsister earned toads and snakes as punishment for her bad manners. “Happily ever after” is in the eye of the beholder!

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Sky Warrior Press just released Alterna-TEAs, a steampunk anthology full of danger and excitement. Tea is the pivotal motif to every one of the stories included here. My contribution, “Tea and Trickery,” launches the espionage career of translator Lady Caroline Worthington when she’s recruited by the head of British Intelligence. There’s a nefarious conspiracy afoot intent upon sabotaging Great Britain’s efforts to bring steam engine technology to Japan.

Here’s hoping 2017 sees the launch of The Flower Maiden Saga!

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Trip Report: Con-Volution 2016


by Lillian Csernica on October 6, 2016

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I had a wonderful time! As always, I was sharing a room with my usual traveling companion and parter in crime, Patricia H. MacEwen. There was a lot to see and do, between the panels and BoFs and the evening events and the hands-on workshops. Big kudos to Con Chair Jason and his Mighty Minions! (My apologies for not getting these links put in sooner. Last week included five appointments, two meetings, plus all the usual chaos.)

It’s Shirley Been 100 Years

I’m very happy to have been appointed moderator for this panel. I had to catch up on some background reading, which brought to my attention just how prolific Shirley Jackson really was. As primary breadwinner for the family, she had to keep the work going out and the money coming in.  At the same time she had to shoulder the load expected of a ’50s housewife. All four children were her responsibility, along with every household chore.  What an inspiration!

Kaiju, As Far As The Eye Could See!

This panel brought me the best of both worlds. I got to participate, drawing on my fascination with Japanese culture. Then I had the pleasure of listening to my fellow panelists and learn from their amazing expertise. Wanda Kurtcu made an excellent moderator, keeping us all in line when the synergy of ideas got too rowdy!

Fear of the Other

The diversity of panelists made for a variety of perspectives on this topic. We were happy to welcome Garrett Calcaterra to his very first con! He got thrown in at the deep end, and he acquitted himself very well. Keep an eye out for his YA fantasy series, The Dreamwielder Chronicles. The first two books are available now!

Stranger Things BoF

I managed to catch the last thirty minutes. Lively and intelligent discussion of our favorite characters. Debates about their true motivations and upcoming loyalties or desertions. Much love for the Christmas lights as a communications device! Many thanks to Mark Gelineau, our host and moderator.

DIY Room: Monster Pop-Up Cards

It’s not often I have time at cons to go indulge myself in a programming event just for fun. Trish Henry displayed her amazing skills at paper sculpture by walking us through the basics of making a pop-up card. We started with a heart. From there people made butterflies, a dragon, even a house! Trish provided plenty of colored paper, glitter pens, other decorative supplies, and chocolate eyeballs! Does it get any better than that?

Green Room

Minions #1, #2, and #3 provided simple, hearty fare that was ready and waiting no matter what time I wandered in. Chili over potatoes both baked and quartered, veggie pasta with an excellent sauce, and much to my utter screaming delight, my absolute favorite: homemade biscuits with sausage gravy. Snack baggies held a choice of popcorn, M&Ms, and even wasabi peas!

The Party Floor!

When I first got off the elevators on my way to my hotel room, I all but walked into a sign that proclaimed the hotel’s policy of keeping things quiet between nine p.m. and seven a.m. That made me burst out laughing. I was on Three, where the Quiet Zone started. The Party Floor was on Two, and it was crowded! Walking the big circle brought me to a new sign every three or four doors, heralding another party with another theme. On Friday night I spent most of the evening hanging out in Kevin and Andy’s ’60s themed bash. On Saturday night the ConJose party was the place to be. Gorgeous lighting effects, lots of comfy furniture, and some salted dark chocolate caramels that were divine!

I’m looking forward to Con-Volution 2017, at the San Ramon Marriott!

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How to Escape Giving Negative Critiques


by Lillian Csernica on August 23, 2016

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Whether or not you’re involved in a writing group, there comes a time when one of your fellow writers will ask you to read his or her manuscript. If this person has already done you the favor of reading one of yours, you are more or less honor bound to return the kindness.

If you and your colleague are at a comparable level in your writing skills, this could turn out to be a very pleasant and profitable exchange of ideas and perspectives.  This is the best case scenario, and the reason why I urge anyone seriously considering joining a writer’s group to bear in mind these potential issues.

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Sooner or later, the moment will come when you are faced with the terrible prospect of reading a manuscript that is so bad that every page is absolute torture.  No amount of cheery and euphemistic commentary can conceal the fact that this particular stack of paper besmirched with little black ink marks is really, really bad.  Your eyes ache, your fingers are cramped from making copy editing marks, and you’re left with the unhappy knowledge that reading this mess has taken up hours of your life that you will never get back again.

What can we do to protect our sanity, our writing time, and the integrity of our relationships with colleagues while still sparing ourselves the ordeal of forcing ourselves to endure really bad writing?

Honesty  There are some types of fiction that do not appeal to me, so I rarely read them. Regency romance. Westerns. Space opera. Really gruesome horror. Since I don’t read much in these genres, I’m not a very good judge of what works and what doesn’t according to the usual reader expectations. Therefore I can step aside with a clear conscience.

Time  Life gets more and more crowded every day. Finding the time to do our own writing and editing can be difficult enough. Making time for additional critiquing may not be possible. If one has a standing commitment to a regular writing group, that’s one thing. That commitment must be honored. Outside of that, however, a judicious application of the word NO might be essential.

Referral  If you know somebody in your circle of writing acquaintances who might be willing to take on the burden of this critique, present your appeal with full disclosure.  If your colleague agrees, make the connection between the owner of the manuscript and the willing victim, give them your blessing, and exit stage left.

What do you think? Am I being reasonable here? Or am I being to harsh in declaring some manuscripts way too much of a not very good thing?

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A Personal Glimpse Inside Autism and ADHD


This weekend Withteeth and I went to a writing conference. I haven’t talked about my writing in a while, but it is still something I’m pursuing. However, conferences are incredibly difficult for me. As such, I wanted to write a bit about the struggles with anxiety and how to deal with it both for people […]

via How to Deal With Anxiety — hessianwithteeth

I’d like to express my gratitude to hessianwithteeth for giving us all these insights into such complex and demanding experiences.

It’s so wonderful that people with visible disabilities are gaining recognition and inclusiveness. Life can be even more difficult for people with conditions that can’t be seen from the outside. My own Major Depressive Disorder has been gaining the upper hand these past two weeks, making this issue all the more immediate and important to me.

Remember. You are not alone!

Lillian

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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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See Me Live and In Person!


by Lillian Csernica on May 27, 2016

Come one, come all!  See me make a public spectacle of myself in the best sense as I talk about writing and history.  I’ll be demonstrating the making of Victorian yarn dolls!  Looking forward to seeing you there!

 

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BayCon 2016: It’s All About Space!

Magic Vs. Religion

Friday 13:00 – 14:30, Collaborate 2 (San Mateo Marriott)

Does it matter to the characters? Does it matter to the readers?

Jay Hartlove (M), Lillian Csernica, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Maria Nieto, Teresa Edgerton

Monks in Space

Saturday 10:00 – 11:30, Synergy 5 (San Mateo Marriott)

Many monastic traditions stress the importance of silence and solitude. Leaving behind all the material comforts of Earth for the “final frontier” of dwelling in a monastic community or as a hermit in space would take on additional significance and spiritual impact. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism all have monastic traditions. The First Nation Peoples the traditions of solitude, fasting, and appealing to the spirits to grant a vision of that person’s purpose in life. The mission into space could be a vision quest, or the result of it!

Lillian Csernica (M), Mrs. Laurel Anne Hill, Jennifer Nestojko, G. David Nordley

Autograph Session: Csernica, MacEwen and Wade

Saturday 14:00 – 15:00, Convene Lobby (San Mateo Marriott)

Juliette Wade, Lillian Csernica, Patricia H. MacEwen

The Space To Move Forward

Sunday 16:00 – 17:30, Connect 1 (San Mateo Marriott)

Using creativity to counter depression, PTSD and survivors guilt

Steven Mix (M), Lillian Csernica, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, Fr John Blaker

So You’re Ready to Publish

Monday 13:00 – 14:30, Connect 1 (San Mateo Marriott)

Do you Self-Publish or Traditiional Publish? Get an agent or try to go it alone?

J. L. Doty (M), Lillian Csernica, Teresa Edgerton, Kyle Aisteach

 

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Clockwork Alchemy: The Arts of Steampunk
The Undiscovered Countries

Saturday 7pm – 8:50pm Location: The Academy (San Martin Room)

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DIY Victorian Yarn Dolls

Sunday 10am – 11:50am Location: The Workshop (San Juan Room)

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The 3 Rules of Writing Historic Fiction

Monday 11am – 11:50am Location: Author’s Salon (Monterey Room)

 

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So, How Was Your Day?


by Lillian Csernica on May 16, 2016

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My day began at 4:15 a.m. when Michael had a serious coughing fit.  Fortunately, I’d fallen asleep on the couch again, so I could dash through the kitchen to his room.  I spent the rest of the night on the couch in his room, getting up every time he had another coughing fit or I didn’t like the way his breathing sounded.

He had no fever and his blood oxygen level was OK, so I sent him to school

Took a nap.  Did my laundry.  Tried to get more writing done.  Failed miserably.

It's not the destination, but the journey that counts. Unless you're stuck in traffic. Then it's the destination.

Picked John up from school.  The usual traffic chaos ensued.  I’m not sure which I want more, an air horn or a laser cannon.

Drove to the tire repair center so I could get the new right rear tire put on in place of the spare.  Yesterday I got my first flat tire.  That was not a pleasant experience.  Had to call Chris for help.  It being Sunday, no garages were open.

The tire hadn’t come it yet.  It would arrive within the hour.

So John and I sat in the Burger King across the parking lot.  He did his homework and I cut more text out of the synopsis for Sword Master, Flower Maiden.

The Tire People called me, put my tire on, and I took John home.

Michael was not doing well.  The coughing situation continued at school.  My sister was on duty with Michael this afternoon.

I happened to go next door to talk to my neighbors, the ones on the left side, not the ones on the right who have the child I refer to as the Cute Little Hellspawn.  The man makes guitars and has forgotten more than I’ll ever learn about all the different parts and the amplifiers and speakers and all the other equipment that goes with playing guitar.  I spent most of an hour there listening to him talk about his guitars and play a few for me.

So of course, when I went back home, all hell was breaking loose because nobody knew I was next door.  My fault.  I should have said something before I left.

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We were out of Benadryl.  I had to drive to the store and buy some.  So I did.

I get home, and my sister had called one of our R.N.s, who said Michael would do better to take Tussin than Benadryl.  Did we have Tussin?  Sure, two doses worth.

So I drove back to the store.  Mind you, it was after seven p.m. and I hadn’t even managed to eat dinner yet.  I was tired, grumpy, and my vision seemed a bit blurred.

That’s when I realized I’d left the house wearing my computer glasses.

At the drugstore, there was a Perfect Storm of a new, inexperienced checker at the register, the customer ahead of me had a ton of items, and the debit card reader was acting up again.

I am home now.  I have a pile of manuscripts to read.  I have a synopsis to edit.  I have laundry to fold and put away.  And then there is the list of things I still have to do to get ready for BayCon and Clockwork Alchemy.

So tell me, how was your day?

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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:

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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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