Category Archives: romance

The A to Z Blog Challenge Theme Reveal!


by Lillian Csernica on March 21, 2017

thmrevel

Once again I shall be celebrating the arrival of Spring by participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. This will be my fourth year, and I look forward to even more fun and meeting new friends.

In past years, my themes have included Travel Adventures, Unusual Items Made of Chocolate, and Bad Sword & Sorcery Movies.

This year I will be bringing you eye candy taken from another one of my secret passions:

sm2bart2bnouveau2bheading-min

Jewelry, housewares, and a few other surprises, at least one for every letter of the alphabet! I’ll be looking forward to your comments!

erte1

Save

8 Comments

Filed under artists, Blog challenges, chocolate, creativity, fantasy, Goals, history, Lillian Csernica, romance, travel, Writing

The Perils of Writing Short Fiction


by Lillian Csernica on February 21, 2017

stock-vector-giant-octopus-catches-old-style-sail-ship-hand-drawn-vector-illustration-317248694

Opportunity cost. Cost/benefit analysis. Return on investment.

I remember these terms from my Economics and Accounting classes. Little did I know I would one day be applying them to which writing projects I chose to pursue.

So far, the Flower Maiden Saga has inspired me to write three consecutive novels. The farther I go in editing and polishing Book One for the big agent pitch, the more of the causes and consequences of the main storyline I see. The core plots for Books Four and Five have already presented themselves.

This is wonderful. I’m excited about all of it. The thing is, my first love is writing short stories. Reading short stories in Asimov’s and Weird Tales and my English Lit. classes made me want to become a writer. The first time I walked into a bookstore and picked up a copy of The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI and saw my name on the table of contents right there with Ramsey Campbell and Ed Gorman, I very nearly exploded with happiness.

banknotes stack of money clipart

Short stories are great, but novels are where the money is. I’ve heard that many times. Novels take a while to write and a while to polish and package for publication. Not so with short stories. Short stories will get your name out there and keep it out there.

These are the five main perils of writing short fiction:

  1. Why waste a good idea on a short story? These days it’s all about writing novels. Give the readers what they want, over and over again. Build that brand. Make more money. Fine. If that’s what you want, go for it. Bear in mind there is much to be said for the art and craft of the short story. Hemingway’s “The Killers” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” remain vivid in my mind thirty-five years after I read them in high school.
  2. Short stories are often just one shots. That one shot might be brilliant, but then you have to go write another story. Is that one brilliant story continuing to earn royalties or selling well as a Kindle Single? I visit various writers’ groups online, and I find the emphasis on money to be disheartening. Short stories can be built into a novel. One of my favorite fantasy novels, A Bait of Dreams by Jo Clayton, started out as three short stories that appeared in Asimov’s.
  3. It can be difficult to pack a complex story idea into a limited word count. On the other hand, doing so can result in a stronger story. When I wrote “Fallen Idol,” my first short story sale, I got so caught up in all the research and characters and how-to books’ advice I thought I could rise to the challenge of writing a real novel. Fortunately, I had an attack of reality. All the research and ideas imploded, resulting in a much stronger short story.
  4. Unless you’re selling to the top professional markets, short fiction doesn’t pay much. If you’re sending out enough stories to generate an acceptable amount of sales, way to go! That’s not easy to do, even for the Big Names. I will say that anthologies that pay up front then give you a cut of the royalties can provide some worthwhile income.
  5. Here’s the Peril that cuts to the heart of what it means to be a writer. Are you going to write about what you want to write about, or are you going to write what you think will sell to the markets where you want your work to appear? The Digital Age has opened up a whole lot of  markets. They may not pay much. They may not pay at all. Still, you can get your words out there. Targeting a particular market is a perfectly reasonable career strategy. My first sale to Weird Tales was another day for joyful explosion.

canstock22870528

It comes down to those basic questions we all ask our main characters:

What do you want?

How badly do you want it?

What are you willing to give up in order to get it?

When you’ve answered these three questions, you will be on your way to navigating through the perilous process of telling the stories only you can tell.

quote-we-all-know-that-art-is-not-truth-art-is-a-lie-that-makes-us-realize-truth-at-least-the-truth-pablo-picasso-2915871

 

4 Comments

Filed under editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, Lillian Csernica, perspective, publication, research, romance, science fiction, tall ships, Writing

Taking Inventory on Success


by Lillian Csernica on December 28, 2016

welcome-2017-2

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:

512b5eujloel-_sy346_

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.

51ep-paieul-_sx322_bo1204203200_

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.

511zzaapral

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!

 

aheacovermytitle

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!

51tun7g23ml-_sy346_

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!

scroll20border

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Conventions, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, editing, fairy tales, Family, family tradition, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, Horror, Humor, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, love, publication, research, romance, steampunk, travel, Writing

NaNoWriMo 2016: VICTORY!


by Lillian Csernica on November 30, 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner

 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Bouquet of Rivals, Book 3 of The Flower Maiden Saga, weighs in at 50,064 words.

 

stock-vector-japanese-summer-festival-romance-vector-graphic-102024409

3 Comments

Filed under Awards, creativity, dreams, editing, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, love, research, romance, travel, Writing

NaNoWriMo Round 2


by Lillian Csernica on October 12, 2016

nano_feature

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!

nanowrimo-eve-1-320x213

Save

8 Comments

Filed under Awards, creativity, Depression, dreams, editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, historical fiction, Humor, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, love, marriage, nature, romance, sword and sorcery, travel, Writing

How to Escape Giving Negative Critiques


by Lillian Csernica on August 23, 2016

k7417900

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.

canstock33323274

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?

book-editor-clipart-1

 

8 Comments

Filed under Conventions, creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, homework, Lillian Csernica, publication, romance, science fiction, steampunk, Writing

Reblog: No Alphas Here by Polly J. Brown


Beta readers have been on my mind a lot lately. Over the past month, I’ve been polishing up my manuscript, reviewing critique comments and suggestions, and fixing plot holes or inconsistencies. My goal is to send it to beta readers in the next few months before I begin the querying process. I’ve also been a […]

via No Alphas Here by Polly J. Brown — Happy Authors Guild

1 Comment

Filed under creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, perspective, publication, romance, science fiction, steampunk, Writing

Playing the Writer’s Accordion


by Lillian Csernica on June 22, 2016

6193974_orig

First you expand by writing.  Then you compress by editing.  Expand, compress.  Expand, compress.

The trouble is, right now I’m compressing the synopsis for Sword Master, Flower Maiden while also expanding a short story that needs to get out to market.

Playing two separate accordions at once is no simple task. Just when I’ve settled into the mindset to murder my darlings in the synopsis, it’s time to switch gears and open the taps for the short story’s new scenes.

marche-manufacturing-castelfidardo-accordion-cp5fak

Can I work on one project at a time?  Can I finish it and then move on to the other?  I could, but that would slow down my productivity even more.  I have to work on multiple projects at once. The satisfaction of completing a short story and getting it out to market helps me endure the day after day grind of writing a 100,000 word historical romance.

There are days when I do get tired of being neck deep in the details of Japan under the Tokugawa.  I want to run away to modern day and drop some creature of folklore into a situation that causes havoc for all concerned.  I like blowing things up.  It’s very therapeutic.

Sex scenes aren’t as much fun as non-writers seem to think.  Those scenes take a lot more work and attention to detail.  This is why my favorite scenes in Ship of Dreams are the sea battles.  I just loved figuring out how the Black Angel would disable Vasquez’s galleon so he could rescue Rosalind before sinking the ship.

stock-photo-20744432-accordion-player-dressed-in-traditional-costume-montmartre-paris-france

 

So I’m back to my daily 1000 word quota.  And I’m pushing forward on the support documents, so to speak.  And I’m hauling short stories out of inventory, ripping out the seams, adding panels, and freshening the trim.

Whoops.  Just mixed my metaphors.  Oh well.  Tell me you’ve never heard an accordion hit a wrong note!

acca5

2 Comments

Filed under creativity, editing, fairy tales, Family, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, history, Humor, Japan, Lillian Csernica, love, pirates, publication, research, romance, therapy, Writing

How to Avoid Cheating on Yourself


by Lillian Csernica on June 11, 2016

can-stock-photo_csp28104922

We’d been together for years.  It’s hard to remember a time when we haven’t been together.  I knew it would be a big commitment.  What we’ve built together is strong.  There are good days.  There are bad days.  In the end, we’ve always ended up working at it together again.

Then it happened.

I didn’t see it coming.  I really didn’t.  One minute I was trudging along in my happy little rut, taking care of that day’s To Do list.  The next….

Nothing equals the excitement of a new beginning.  A fresh start, full of all the possibilities, the starry-eyed joy that you feel before any of the mistakes start happening.

I wanted to stay up all night.  I wanted it to last forever.  That feeling.  That sense of power, of fulfillment.  It’s addictive.  It’s also a trap.

The fast fix.  The one night stand.  Getting it all in one quick and dirty burst.

Short stories are such sluts.  They’ll let anybody write them.

I’d betrayed my novel.  It sat there at home, waiting for me, while I was off having a fling with A New Idea.

It’s so difficult.  At times the temptation is intense.  I just want a project I can finish!  I love typing “END.”  Is that so wrong?

My novel has to come first.  Oh, I can have my little stories on the side, but I have to do the day’s work on my novel first.  Then, if I have any energy left, any lingering “unmet needs,” only then can I go run off and play with some trollop of a short story.

They call it “career management,” but it feels a lot more like couples therapy.

500_f_104200141_lgtq0imj0p4yr7yrtuipxtiyj7w2lagx

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under creativity, Depression, editing, fairy tales, Family, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, history, Humor, Lillian Csernica, love, marriage, perspective, publication, research, romance, therapy, Writing

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!

 

cihectmugaes6qm

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

 

ca_logo_2016

Clockwork Alchemy: The Arts of Steampunk
The Undiscovered Countries

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

————————

DIY Victorian Yarn Dolls

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

————————

The 3 Rules of Writing Historic Fiction

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

 

1 Comment

Filed under art show, artists, Conventions, cosplay, dreams, editing, fairy tales, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, history, Humor, Lillian Csernica, neurodiversity, pirates, publication, research, romance, science fiction, special education, steampunk, Writing