Tag Archives: danger

The #1 Question All Writers Should Ask


by Lillian Csernica on August 11, 2017

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Stories grow out of two questions: What if? and What next?

If you’re like me, your stories tend to start out as a sudden flash of action or dialogue. Maybe you think of a character first, and then the problem. Either way, once you’ve got your basic idea on paper and it’s time to think about story structure, there’s one essential question you must answer:

Why now?

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In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge has to change his ways right now or he won’t live to see another Christmas.

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In The Hunger Games, when Katniss’ little sister is chosen to represent their District, Katniss has to take action right now to save her sister’s life. The only acceptable way is to volunteer and take her place.

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In Andy Weir’s novel The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney has to come up with some kind of life support system right now. Maybe NASA will mount a successful rescue mission.  Maybe Watney’s team will do it. That’s all off in the land of What Then? When you’re stuck on Mars with no hope in sight, right now means right now!

Answering the Why now? question will raise your stakes, heighten your action, and give your readers a story they’ll remember!

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Filed under Christmas, classics, creativity, dreams, editing, fairy tales, Family, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, memoirs, nature, publication, research, science fiction, travel, Writing

Getting Too Close to Nature


by Lillian Csernica on June 18th, 2017

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www,vancouverobserver.com

See this? This is a mountain lion. A cougar. A puma.

They can be 5 to 9 feet long and weigh 100 to 150 lb. They can run 40 to 50 miles per hour and jump up to 20 feet high. They’re also excellent at climbing.

This was in my back yard yesterday, in broad daylight.

As soon as I saw the big cat crossing our creek, I yelled up the stairs to my husband. We have three housecats, and I wanted all of them accounted for right then.

My husband came down. I told him what I’d seen. He asked me if I was sure. Hell yes I was sure! Back when I was 19, I spent a summer in Larkspur, Colorado working the local Renaissance Faire. Many of us lived on site during the week, including the tiger tamer and his menagerie. “Tiger tamer” isn’t really fair, because Bhaghavan treated his cats with the utmost respect and care.

That included the mountain lion. One day he took the mountain lion out for a walk and passed by where I was sitting. Bhaghavan brought the mountain lion over. The big cat promptly flopped down across my feet and started to purr.

Believe me when I tell you there was NO WAY I was going to rub that tummy!

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So yes, I do know a mountain lion when I see one.

Mountain lions are normally reclusive and avoid human habitation. To see one walking past my house in full view was both a marvel and a huge surprise. I believe the mountain lion was following a deer trail. It disappeared into the tree line on the other side of the creek.

We found our gray and white cat Hunter under the car. Rayas, the torby, was curled up on a lawn chair, apparently asleep. And Coco, the fluffy black longhair, was up a tree. Smart cat, Coco.

Yes, it’s wonderful to live in the mountains among the California coastal redwoods. Getting close to Nature is important. It’s also important to remember that Nature is perfectly capable of sneaking up on us!

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huntalberta.ca

 

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Filed under cats, Family, home town, Lillian Csernica, nature, veterinarian

A New Variation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?


by Lillian Csernica on January 26, 2017

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A strange thing happened today on the way to the grocery store.

As I was walking toward the entrance, I noticed a big brown SUV parked across the aisle. No big deal, right?  There are lots of SUVs around these days. What caught my eye was the driver’s side door hanging wide open. Then I realized I could hear the engine running. I took a closer look. There was no one inside the vehicle.

A security guard happened to be standing outside the store entrance. I hurried over to him and pointed out the SUV. The guard strolled over to the SUV just as a man walked up from behind it. They said something to each other that I couldn’t hear, then the one man climbed into the SUV while the security guard nodded and smiled.

When the guard came back, he told me the man said he’d just stopped for a minute so he could throw some trash in one of the Dumpsters. Really? The man parked that far away from the actual Dumpsters, then left the engine running and the driver’s side door open, in that part of downtown Santa Cruz?

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How did that security guard know for sure the man he was talking was in fact the owner of that vehicle?

I wonder what would have happened if I’d dialed 911 and reported a car abandoned with the engine running. How soon would a patrol car have responded? Would the same man have walked up and taken possession of the SUV?

I’m going to keep an eye on the police blotter section of the local newspapers and see if any Grand Theft Auto cases turn up that fit the time and location. What I saw could have been exactly what it looked and sounded like. Still, it bothers me.

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