Tag Archives: Halloween

Halloween 99 cents Sale!


Don’t miss out! Makes a great “treat”!

Hopes and Dreams: My Writing and My Sons

by Lillian Csernica on October 7, 2016

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Halloween is my favorite “howl-iday.” Since October is the month of “things that go bump in the night,” I’ve dropped the price on The Fright Factory to just 99 cents from now all the way through Halloween itself!

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.

GET YOUR COPY NOW!

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Filed under classics, creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, Horror, Lillian Csernica, publication, research, sword and sorcery, Writing

My Favorite Moments (Kyoto Roundup)


by Lillian Csernica on December 9, 2015

There were a few moments during the trip that stand out as particularly memorable.

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Turning on the lights in our hotel room.  There was no main switch just inside the door.  We did find the switch for the bathroom (located on the wall outside the bathroom, which is just asking for pranks and accidents).  There were small reading lights at the head of each bed, along with a table lamp and a floor lamp.  How did we turn them on?  There was a slot on the wall in the entryway similar to a credit card reader, only this was vertical.  I put my room key in the slot, then pulled it out again.  Voila!  Light!

Two minutes later the lights went out.

We went through this twice more, trying to figure this out with brains that had long since turned to cottage cheese.  I called down to the desk for help and told them the lights wouldn’t stay on.  They sent a man from Maintenance, who had me show him what I’d been doing.  I had the process half-right.  To keep the lights on, one leaves the key in the slot.  So every time Pat and I left the room on an outing, we’d check to see who had a key in hand and who had put hers in the light “switch.”  This resulted in dialogue that would have done Abbot and Costello proud!

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Norimono, 19th C.

The taxi drivers.  I love Japanese taxis.  The lace antimacassars on the seats, the white gloves, the automatic passenger door….  Sometimes the drivers were quite formal, and that’s fine.  Other times we’d get a driver who was happy to have a chance to practice his English, or maybe he just thought Pat and I were entertaining.  (Can’t imagine why anybody would think that!

One driver said, “English is just three words.  I love you.  I miss you.”  My cynical sense of humor kicked in and I told him, “You’re missing one. ‘I want money.'”  Fortunately, we were at a stoplight right then.  The driver burst out laughing.  He mimed writing something down, saying, “I must take notes.”  That made us all start laughing again.

On our way back to the hotel from Kiyomizu-dera, we had a driver who wanted to be friendly, but as is often the case, he was nervous about speaking English.  He had the radio on, playing classic rock.  That was a welcome glimpse of home.  Once I said, “American rock ‘n’ roll!” that broke the ice.  By then Pat was speaking enough Japanese to get into the conversation as well.  The driver revealed his secret stash of chocolates and gave each of us one.  Music and chocolate are the perfect ways to go from strangers to friends.

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At the smaller gift shop inside the grounds of the Imperial Palace, Pat and I got into conversation with Yuki, the lady behind the counter.  She was surprised by how much polite Japanese we could both manage.  When we explained our purpose in Kyoto as doing research for our writing, she thought that was quite exciting.  Before we left, she brought out two little packets of those sugar star candies like the ones Chihiro feeds to the dust sprites in Spirited Away.  She insisted on giving them to us.  That was a lovely surprise!

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The weather was so mild at the start of our stay I didn’t need my jacket day or night.  As the end of October closed in, the nights got colder.  In Kyoto Station one night, everybody else had begun to bundle up and there I was.  As I came up to the escalator going down, I made way for the older lady ahead of me with a polite, “Dozo.”  It was a long escalator.  The lady turned around and said, “Are you cold?”  Her tone of voice was like my mother’s just before she’d tell me to put on a sweater.  This came out of the blue, so I was glad to be able to answer in English.  “Outside, yes.  Inside, no.”  The lady nodded and faced front again.  As we neared the bottom, she turned and wished me a good trip.  The whole thing was rather endearing.

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The ladies at the front desk.  Thanks to my endless questions, Miss Nakanishi and Miss Kinjo knew our daily itinerary almost as well as we did.  When Pat and I came back from that day’s adventures, they’d greet us and ask specific questions about that day’s activities.  I think my boundless enthusiasm for all things Japanese plus my grasp of Japanese history and culture resulted in answers different from the ones a more typical American tourist might give.  Over and over again, Japanese people would ask me, “How do you know about that?”

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Miss Kinjo is from Okinawa.  That gave me a perfect opportunity to ask her about the kijimuna, the “little people” of Okinawa.  They’re on the large side for little people, being about as tall as a seven year old child.  Flaming red hair makes them unique among Japanese folkloric creatures.  All they wear is a garment like a fundoshi made out of leaves.  Kijimuna are tricksters.  They can be helpful when they want to be, and you’d better not offend them.  Miss Kinjo said her grandmother had told her stories about what the kijimuna had done when her grandmother was a little girl.

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With Halloween right around the corner, I was curious to see how Japan handled that holiday.  I saw decorations and party goods and some costume supplies.  The Japanese kids don’t go trick-or-treating the way we do in America.  The idea of dressing up as monsters to go door to door demanding candy under threat of “tricks” might strike the Shinto mind as the basis for a Takashi Miike movie!

This is what Halloween looks like in Kyoto:

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Filed under chocolate, cosplay, fairy tales, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, Halloween, historical fiction, history, Humor, Japan, Kyoto, memoirs, research, travel, Uncategorized, Writing

Clone Me, Please!


by Lillian Csernica on October 7, 2015

Stress.  It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Today Chris took Michael in to have blood drawn so the doctors can see if his kidneys are still improving and the new diet is providing correct nutrition.

Tomorrow I take Michael to the specialist who will check his muscle tone, adjust his Baclofen pump if necessary, and decide whether or not Michael can return to school on Monday.

Tomorrow is also the day I see my therapist.  Thank God she’s willing to do a phone session.

I just got email from John’s teacher/caseworker offering me four dates and times in the next two weeks for John’s annual IEP.  Today is Wednesday, right?  The first of the four choices is this coming Monday.  I need notice, dammit!  We run on some very tight schedules around here.

The second date doesn’t work because in order to attend the IEP Chris has to take a day off of work.  The second choice is a week from today, also a Wednesday.  Taking a day off in the middle of the week causes problems.

The third choice is the 19th, which doesn’t work because I’ll be packing for a week away from home.

The fourth choice doesn’t work because I will be on a plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

On the 16th I have a doctor appointment.

On the 26th Michael has a checkup with his gastroenterologist, whom we kept up to date on all of Michael’s travails during his two months in Oakland.  I should be at that appointment, since I’m the one who was at Ground Zero for all the hospital events, but I will still be away from home.

And the 31st is Halloween, of course, which is one of John’s favorite days of the year.  One of mine as well, because I really do enjoy seeing the costumes and giving out candy and/or little toys.  It will be nice to end this month on a festive note.

The 31st is also my deadline for two 2500 word short stories that must be set 30 days apart and relate to each other in some way.  I have a roughdraft on the first story.  I’m 1/3 into the second story.  There will be no doing five drafts per project on these.  I’m going to have to slam them out and hope for the best.

Think happy thoughts for me, my comrades-in-stress.  How do you folks handle this kind of high intensity scheduling?

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Filed under Baclofen pump, Depression, doctors, editing, Family, Fiction, frustration

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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Filed under autism, Awards, chocolate, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, history, Horror, Humor, romance, Special needs, Writing

Conventions: Business and Pleasure


by Lillian Csernica on October 22, 2013

Hi there!  I just got back from a total of five days away from home.  Much to my delight, I had the pleasure of being one of the pro guests at Conjecture/ConChord.  Many thanks to Allison Lonsdale who took on not just Programming but Publicity and Publications as well.  She did a marvelous job.

Let’s talk about conventions.  Networking online is very important in the Digital Age, but there’s still nothing better for cementing relationships (business or personal) than just hanging out together shooting the breeze.  My sister-in-law gave me a t-shirt that reads “I’m raising a child with Autism.  What’s your superpower?”  I wore this t-shirt on Saturday with the specific intention of letting other people know that autism is part of my life and I’m willing to talk about it.  Among folks in sf/f fandom there are people on the spectrum, Aspies in particular.  Sure enough, I got into at least three different conversations with people.  The great thing about wearing the t-shirt was the way it helped us all hop over all the complicated social interaction involved in meeting people for the first time.  Granted, cons tend to encourage a less formal atmosphere, but it’s still not easy to start talking about being on the spectrum or having children who are on there somewhere.

Please go visit Lesson Plan For Life: How a Man on the Spectrum Learns to Live.  The young man who writes this blog is lively and dynamic and determined.

The business aspect of conventions is important too.  Shameless self-promotion is even more important today than it was when I started going to cons back in ’93.  There’s so much competition, there are so many blogs and websites and e-zines.  You have got to get yourself out there, shake some hands, pass out bookmarks or magnets or whatever freebies work for you, and establish yourself as a person behind your name, behind your “brand.”  I was happy to have copies of Mystic Signals and Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2 with me.  Nothing proves you’re a pro like having publications in front of you.  Here’s a tip:  if your work appears in electronic format, get a good cover image, make a color copy, and laminate it.  Now you have something you can carry around to con after con.  It’s even more valuable if your name appears on the cover!

Meeting other writers at cons can begin the daisy chain that leads you to an opportunity, be it a market or an editor or an agent.  The wider your network of contacts, the likelier you are to hear about such an opportunity in time to act on it.  I really hate hearing about a great anthology only to find out the window of opportunity will close before I can get a story ready for submission.  The more people who know you personally and whom you know, the stronger the connection and the likelier you are to think of each other when these opportunities arise.

Let’s not overlook the Fun Factor.  Writing is a hard, lonely, often frustrating business.  Nobody understands writers like other writers. Howard Tayler, creator of Schlock Mercenary, was the Artist GoH.  My husband is a long-time reader, so I seized the opportunity to get Chris a sketch card and one of the Tagon’s Toughs coins.   On Sunday afternoon as Conjecture/ConChord was winding down, I found myself on the patio outside the Con suite, eating too much Halloween candy and chatting away with some new friends I’d made.  Who should come out and join the group but Larry Niven himself?  Yow!  We had some fun talking about the time I met Dr. Jerry Pournelle.  Earlier in the day My partner in crime Pat MacEwen and I crossed paths with GoH Esther Friesner in the Dealers’ Room.  Esther and I share an interest in Japan, so she was telling me about her adventures in Tokyo.  If it sounds like I’m name dropping, I am and I’m not.  Conventions create the circumstances that allow you to hang out with your idols, whether or not you’re also a professional writer.  If that isn’t Fun, I don’t know what is.

So here I am, home again.  I’m fired up to finish the edit on the Japanese novel, to keep converting my published work to electronic formats, and to write new material Pat and I thought up during the ten hour drive down to San Diego and the ten hour drive home again.  The adventure continues!

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Filed under Conventions, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, history, Humor, Japan, romance, science fiction, Special needs, Writing

The Stress Meter Blew Up


by Lillian Csernica on October 14, 2013

Yes, that’s right, the Stress Meter blew up yesterday and I’m still picking pieces of shrapnel out of my psyche.

Here’s my Deal With It list:

John is having trouble adjusting to the amount of homework high school is piling on him.  This has been resulting in discipline problems, noncompliant behavior, shouting matches, and punishments (loss of privileges).

Michael is having more seizures more frequently.  Last weekend he had a tonic clonic seizure, which is the worst one short of staticus epilepticus.  He’s tired all the time, his cognitive functioning is down, and he’s getting combative more often.

John’s aides are having problems keeping organized regarding his homework, projects, etc.  His school aide does not communicate with us very well.

I’m starting to have anxiety attacks again.  So far it’s been one a day, but if matters don’t lighten up around here, I may have to speak to the doctor about my medication.

Last but far from least, I had to fire one of Michael’s three nurses.  Understand that given the nursing shortage, we’re going to have a hell of a time replacing her, so I did not fire this woman on a whim.  Truth be told, my husband never should have hired her in the first place.  I trusted his judgment when I should have gone over the woman’s resume with a microscope.  I’m so happy she’s gone.  That lightens my load right there.  When the two other nurses start coming to me with their concerns about the third one, that’s a serious warning that must be taken seriously.  So she’s gone.  Hallelujah.

Did I mention my workload?  I’ve got the novel edit, I’ve got my first ebook project to edit, I’m waiting on the second half of the book doctor job I’m doing, and I just finished reviewing eighteen short stories in one issue of a major spec fic ‘zine.  Still waiting are a novella and four short stories in a brand new ‘zine.  Then there’s the little matter of all the short stories I’d like to complete, the new ones I’d like to write, and the ones that are out to market coming in and out.

I lost two sales due to the markets closing their doors.  That really sucked.  The editors were sorry, I was sorry, everybody was sorry.

This coming weekend I’m blowing this popsicle stand and heading south for San Diego.  The folks at Conjecture/ConChord have been kind enough to invite me to be a pro guest.  I’m taking along the Halloween party gear with plans to whoop it up.  While I’m gone, everything here is Somebody Else’s Problem.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

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Filed under Depression, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Horror, science fiction, Self-image, Special needs, Writing

Autism + Adolescence


by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2013

I love my son John so much.  He’s come so far from the days when we had to have a behavioral specialist and a one to one aide come to our home and “play” kindergarten with him until he got the hang of his first icon-based schedule.  He’s become popular at his middle school for his participation in dress-up days.  On one Superhero Day, he was the only person in the entire school who dressed up!  He went as “John-zuka,” with a costume he and my sister had put together.  (She sews, I don’t.)  Thanks to him, his grade won five spirit points.  John was the Man of the Hour, much like Harry Potter winning points for Gryffindor.

Now John is fourteen.  Oh Lord, is he fourteen.  

Because of John’s anxiety issues, he bites his fingernails.  We got him to stop doing that by convincing him if he kept biting his nails he couldn’t paint his nails black this Halloween as part of his planned Frankenstein costume.  So now he’s chewing on his cuticles to the point of drawing blood.  It took three of us to get the Band-Aids on his fingers last night.  Two to hold his arms and one to actually apply the Band-Aids.  The boy is six feet tall, built like a wrestler, strong as an ox, and very very stubborn.  He almost lifted me off my feet, and I’m no petite little china doll.

Remember when you were a teenager?  Not a child, but not an adult?  Caught between all the things you had to leave behind, confused about everything that was coming at you?  And then there’s the whole issue of hormones and a new awareness of the opposite sex and learning all the social rules that go along with being just classmates or friends or boy/girl-friends or what we used to call “going steady.”  So  much to learn, so many opportunities for confusion, for mixed signals, for embarrassment and humiliation.

Now add to all that the symptoms and processing disorders of autism.

This fall John will enter high school.  It’s a whole new stage of life.  He already has a lot going for him, and he will have a good team of teachers, therapists, and caseworkers to back him up.  There will be the hard days, the days when frustration and anxiety get the best of him.  There will be days when I’m so exasperated I think my head will explode.

I love John.  On the hard days, I’ll try to make sure I give him extra hugs or praise or whatever it takes.

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