Tag Archives: Fear

Available Now on Smashwords!


by Lillian Csernica on August 15, 2017

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Horror can be anything from the most elegant ghost story to the total freak-out of a bloodthirsty serial killer. The Fright Factory can show you how to make the most of your story ideas. Choose the best setting. Build a better monster. Learn the fine art of creating suspense! It’s all here, including an essential list of the worst horror cliches no editor wants to see.

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Want to find out if I really do know what I’m talking about? Fallen Idol appeared in DAW’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories XX. Just 99 cents from Digital Fiction Publishing!

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Filed under bad movies, creativity, dreams, editing, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, Horror, Lillian Csernica, publication, research, science fiction, Writing

My Personal Chariot of Fire


by Lillian Csernica on January 20, 2016

“Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17). All around them, but beyond the capabilities of the five human physical senses, was all the protection necessary. Elisha would be no prisoner that day. His would be captors would be.”

Today I picked up my car.  Today I drove it home from the dealership.  Today I stopped at the grocery store, I put gas in the car, and I drove home.

I was not afraid.  I did not have an anxiety attack.  In fact, I was happy and excited.

I have been a prisoner of my own fears about driving for a long time now.  Almost thirty years.  It’s called learned helplessness, and it’s born of a vicious emotional cycle that includes hopelessness and depression.

Another condition I battle on a daily basis is anticipatory anxiety.  This robs the future of hope and positive thinking.  I told myself I wasn’t afraid of my driving.  I was afraid of everybody else on the road who drove like maniacs, speeding and changing lanes without signalling and coming right up on my rear bumper like they wanted to shove my car aside.  That was true enough.  I think the real truth was, I could no longer face the responsibility of being the driver.

When I was in the car accident that did in fact kill me, my driving had very little to do with what happened.  My employer had assured me he’d replaced the two right tires on the company car, which were worn down to the point of being dangerous.  He lied to me.  I trusted him, so when we loaded the car that night for the drive from Long Beach to San Francisco, I believed him and I did not check the tires myself.

“Put not your faith in princes and sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.  When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”  (Ps. 146:3-4)

Five years ago I took two sets of driving lessons to brush up on my driving skills.  My teacher said I’m a good driver.  I have good reaction time and I’m good at judging braking distance.  I have driven on Hwy 17 all the way down to Capitola and back in the car with my teacher.

And yet, I still couldn’t internalize that knowledge to the extent that I would agree to pick out a car and drive it.  My husband said he’d get me a car, but not until he was sure I would in fact use it, and use it all the time.

Why now?  Why did I suddenly stand up last Saturday and say, “Fine.  Let’s do it today.”?  All I can say is the time was right, and I was ready.  We found a car that was everything I wanted, at a price we could afford.  It was raining, but I didn’t let that hold me back.  I got into the car and I test drove it so my husband could listen to the engine.  I was alert, I was focused, and I kept moving forward through the process of evaluating and the buying the car.

My car has become my chariot of fire.  Just as Divine Protection was present but unseen for the Prophet Elisha, so I believe God is watching out for me.  I may not always have faith in myself, but I do have faith in God.  Just look at what we went through this past summer with Michael’s hospital stay.  When Michael needed a priest, Fr. Ninos got there before the ICU team took Michael to be prepped for surgery.  I still don’t know how Fr. Ninos got there so quickly, but he did, and I give thanks every day that my boy is still alive and healthy.

When the depression has been really bad, I have begged God to help me get better.  I have prayed for strength and for courage and for the determination to defeat all the symptoms that have crippled me emotionally, kept me from writing, and prevented me from being a functional member of my family.

“The Lord is my  light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?” (Ps. 12:1)

It’s time to move on.  No more thinking I’m helpless.  No more being afraid.

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Filed under Depression, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Family, frustration, Goals, hospital, perspective, Self-image, therapy, worry, Writing

Facing the Abyss (NaNoWriMo Prep)


by Lillian Csernica on October 29, 2014

I will never go bungee-jumping.  Not for love or money.  I watch videos of people doing that and I think, “Oh my God, are you insane?”  It’s one thing to be an adrenalin junkie, but it’s another thing to jump off a bridge when all you’ve put your faith in is a glorified rubber band.

Nov. 1 is fast approaching.  I’m standing on the bridge right now, staring down into the abyss that is the emptiness I must fill up during the NaNoWriMo challenge.  Do I have a safety line?  I believe I do, in the form of my plot outline.  I know my beginning, my middle, and my ending.  I also know from past experience that these will change as the story takes shape, as the characters insist on making their own choices, and as I get more research done.  That’s fine.  I am a Planner.  I do not start a novel with the same wild-eyed glee I might feel when I hammer out a hot short story idea.  I keep a running list of all my alternative choices, ideas, possibilities.  Now and then that makes me crazy, but sooner or later I get it all sorted out.  I think of this pile of alternatives as paying somebody to inflate one of those big airbags the stuntmen drop into when they’re doing some stunt from extreme heights.  I’ve got a good, sturdy, glorified rubber band in the form of my plot outline, but I also believe in taking out a life insurance policy.

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I’ve had days where the story has fallen apart on me.  The characters deflate, the plot hits a massive snag, my research is struggling with my imagination, and the words are not coming out the right way.  That stage is almost unbearable.  All I can do is soldier onward and keep trying until something pops back into place or I shake the kaleidoscope and a better pattern emerges.  This is what separates the serious writers from the dilettantes.  Can you hang in there when writing isn’t any fun anymore?  Can you keep going when you really do have to sit down at the keyboard and open a vein?  Fortunately, the NaNoWriMo community is really marvelous at cheering on all the participants.  I have three writing buddies, and I hope to have more.

What doesn’t help is having Major Depressive Disorder on top of a writer’s usual set of woes.  I anticipate some days when I’m going to get discouraged.  On the other hand, having lived in the Pit with the Black Dog gnawing on my guts for months or even years at a time, I can say the boing-boing of bungee jumping doesn’t seem all that intimidating.  At least you get yanked back up again.  I suppose a better parallel for that would be Bi-Polar Disorder, but you’re supposed to write what you know, and I know about depression.

 

I’m feeling that same flutter just under my ribs, that anxiety-induced rush of adrenalin that happened the first time I stood at the end of the high dive.  The board never looks at all high from the water, but once you’re all the way up there looking down, it’s a much different view.  You might think this is no big deal for me, given that I just completed a 90,000 word novel.  It took me eight years to write that novel, from the very first idea to the moment I decided it was time to send the manuscript to my agent.  Now I’m going to try to write a bit more than half that amount in just thirty days.  Part of me is screaming, “Oh my God, are you insane?  You’re really going to jump off that bridge?  What if the outline falls apart?  What if the rubber band breaks?”

Yes, I’m scared.  On the other hand, all the really good stories start with “What if?”

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Filed under Depression, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, history, love, romance, Self-image, Writing

Fear:My Friend and Enemy


by Lillian Csernica on May 7, 201327408-blogeverday

Day 7: The thing(s) you’re most afraid of

When I first started to sell my short stories, I sold mainly to horror markets.  Horror was big at the time, so there were quite a few magazines and anthologies.  I’ve been asked more than once why I wrote horror.  In my experience, there are three types of horror writers:

The people who write about the struggle between good and evil.

The people who are on the side of the monsters.

The people who write to kill their own monsters.

I fall into the third category.  I have very little control over my world and the conditions under which I live.  I can take some of those conditions and a few of the people, change them and reshape them, then pin them down on paper where I have all the control I need.  In my stories good triumphs over evil.  The monsters die.  It might not be a total victory for the protagonist, because if there’s one thing I believe in its the spectrum of human (and inhuman) behavior that lies between what I consider to be Good and Evil.

I had to give up writing horror because events started happening in my life that supplied me with way too much raw material.  I’m prone to nightmares anyway, have been since I was a child.  I could not commit myself to living with writing horror all the time, not when real life had become so difficult and tragic.  That’s when I switched to writing romance novels.  Nothing like exotic locations, a hot love story, and happy endings as an antidote for that lingering sense of being watched or the endless fear of the dark.

What are the things that most frighten me?

Dying before I can find the right people to act as guardians for Michael and John.

Having a stroke or being diagnosed with a form of dementia that will rob me of my writing mind.

Being blinded, or going blind.

Never being free of some of the problems that keep me from achieving my full potential as a human being.

Great big bird-eating spiders

There are other things, but those are the major categories.  I fear loss.  I fear separation.  I fear endings and goodbyes.

 

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Filed under Blog challenges, Depression, Family, Fiction, Horror, Special needs, Writing