Tag Archives: inspiration

Moments from the Women’s March

by Lillian Csernica on January 23, 2018


Joining the march. Stepping into the flow, holding my sign up high, seeing the people lining the route with their phones out, taking photos and making videos. Recording a piece of history. Thirty thousand people, according to the Santa Cruz Police Department.



A boy not more than ten years old marching ahead of me, holding up a cardboard sign that read, “I’d rather be home building LEGOs, but I have to build #TheResistance.



Two older women carried a banner with #MeToo on it. As we passed by, the two women offered people Sharpies so they could sign the banner. Only recently did I realize that I had faced sexual harassment several times in the workplace. I signed that banner!



A man carried a large piece of cardboard. On it had been painted the figure of a judge, complete with white wig and holding the Scales. The empty oval where the face should be allowed anyone to stand behind the cardboard and have a photo taken, proclaiming her or him “A Future Supreme Court Justice.” How cool is that?

Chanting “Hey, hey! Oh no! Donald Trump has got to GO!”


Our destination was the Louden Nelson Community Center. Inside on the stage stood the American Shrine. You can see from the photo that it was just breathtaking.

While I was inside the Center, I crossed paths with a woman and her son, who had Downs Syndrome. The mother asked if she could take a photo of me holding my sign. Sure thing! Then she asked if I would mind taking a photo of her and her son holding my sign. I tell you, that nearly brought me to tears.

Later, as I walked a few blocks back  to where I’d parked my car, drivers saw my sign. Horns honked and I saw some thumbs-up as people applauded equal rights for people with special needs.



On my way home, I stopped at Peet’s for a Green Tea Mojito, one of the few guilty pleasures I can get away with on my weight loss program. I had my Women’s March T shirt on, which got me into conversations with at least three people.

My favorite barista was on duty. She wanted to see my sign, so I got it out of the trunk and brought it inside to show her. She said she didn’t know many people with special needs, so equal rights for them wasn’t something she’d thought about. She was glad to see the sign and know about the issue. Accessibility and health care are SO important these days, now more than ever.

I need more exercise. Thanks to the Women’s March 2018, I exercised my constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. When it’s time for the elections this year, I will once again make my voice heard by voting.









Filed under autism, charity, dreams, Family, family tradition, frustration, Goals, history, Lillian Csernica, memoirs, mother, neurodiversity, perspective, Special needs, Writing

Reblog: 20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Writers

by Lillian Csernica on May 13, 2017


Looking for inspiration? Technique? Some solidarity and comfort? Somewhere on this list you’ll find what you need, along with so much more. Enjoy!


Source: 20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Writers

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Filed under classics, creativity, Depression, dreams, editing, fairy tales, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, Horror, Lillian Csernica, memoirs, research, romance, science fiction, steampunk, sword and sorcery, Writing

The Perils of Writing Short Fiction

by Lillian Csernica on February 21, 2017


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.


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.




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

News from NaNo Land

by Lillian Csernica on November 13th, 2016


It’s a good thing women are neurologically wired for multitasking. Without that advantage, I would be a smoking pile of rubble right now.


In addition to cranking out seven pages of fresh writing every day on my NaNo novel, I’ve had to edit and polish two short stories. The first weighed in at 3300 words, the second at 5300. Both were due today. I sent them to my editor last night. Go, me!

As if all that wasn’t enough fun, I’ve had brainstorms for at least two new short stories.


This is all good, but it feels like Finals Week. I’ve been downing so much caffeine I’m surprised my arrhythmia hasn’t started up again. The only cure for mental fatigue is getting away from reading and writing for a little while. (I never really thought of grocery shopping as being therapeutic, but today’s trip to the market qualified!)


So this is what the Big Names do all the time. Wow. Let’s hope I can keep this up after the formal end of NaNoWriMo. It’s good to be preoccupied with my writing. That really keeps the depression under control.

Capere keyboard!

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Filed under creativity, Depression, editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, neurodiversity, publication, steampunk, therapy, travel, Writing

How to Squeeze More Words Out of A Tired Brain

by Lillian Csernica on November 6, 2016


I’m sitting here yawning. Yesterday I left the house at 11:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until around 10 p.m. That means ten and a half hours. I spent three of those hours driving.

When I finally staggered up the stairway to my office and dropped my bags, I realized I had 90 minutes to get the day’s NaNoWriMo quota done. At midnight, that’s it. You’ve either written that day or you haven’t.

You know how your car engine sounds when you turn the key and the engine tries to turn over, but it just won’t catch? Yeah. That’s the sound my brain was making.


I was a bit ahead of the minimum total word count for Day 5, so I was strongly tempted to just let it ride for one day. No no no. I’d signed up for NaNoWriMo, so I’d made the commitment to write every single day in November. Every. Single. Day.

I did cut myself some slack. Make it to the ten thousand word mark, I told myself. Write that much, and you’re off the hook. That meant three pages, or 750 words.

Great. Now what? <sound  of car engine failing to turn over>


At times like this I brainstorm. I write down every horrible thing that I could possibly do to my characters. It doesn’t have to make sense, really, it just has to be possible within the story content already established. If all goes well, inspiration will strike, the engine of my imagination will turn over, and the writing flows.

Want some specific examples of how I torture my characters and get the day’s writing done? I’m happy to share.




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Filed under artists, creativity, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, Lillian Csernica, publication, research, Writing

Why Deadlines Are Your Best Friends

by Lillian Csernica on October 24, 2016


Yesterday I kept thinking I need to blog. Gotta blog today. Must write an original blog post.

And then I’d push on with the scene I was writing for my latest short story.

Between writing, research, more writing, and a few breaks to loosen up mind and body, before I knew it midnight was fast approaching.

So here I am today, showered, caffeinated, and making this blog post Item Number One on my To Do list.


I have a story deadline coming up. In fact, for this particular anthology I’m committed to delivering two short stories that relate to each other. I know I absolutely must get these stories written, edited, polished, and delivered before NaNoWriMo  begins. Once the starter gun fires and we race toward the 50,000 word finish line, I want to be focused on pouring all my writing time and energy into my NaNo novel.

People often think deadlines come at the end, when you have to hand in the homework, the article, the novel manuscript. A deadline can also mark the beginning of a project. This is why there’s #NaNoPrep, along with lots of advice on the Internet about everything you need to accomplish before November 1.


Deadlines also create accountability. If you know you’d better have something to read at your next writer’s group meeting, you’re more likely to get it written. Never underestimate the power of potential embarrassment as a motivational tool.

Deadlines keep me organized. Deadlines help me prioritize. Deadlines help me generate the creative pressure that makes the words keep coming. For me, deadlines are the surest protection against writer’s block.



Filed under Blog challenges, creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, Lillian Csernica, perspective, publication, research, steampunk, worry, Writing

NaNoWriMo Round 2

by Lillian Csernica on October 12, 2016


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!




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

My Writing Music

by Lillian Csernica on October 17, 2014


Many writers play music while they’re working.  I’ve found some great instrumental music that gets my imagination going and keeps me in tune with the cultural flavor of my Japanese historical romance, Sword Master, Flower Maiden.  Here are three of my favorites from Kiyoshi Yoshida:

This is great action music, such as a chase on horseback down a beach:

I like this one for the quiet moments when my hero or heroine is reflecting on some Big Moment:

Here’s one for after my hero and heroine have fallen in love:


I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do.  What music do you play while you’re writing?  I want to hear from all the NaNoWriMo folks out there!  What gets your creative juices flowing?


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October 17, 2014 · 1:29 pm

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

by Lillian Csernica on September 16, 2014



Well! Today is certainly turning out to be a day for wonderful surprises.  Someone gave me flowers.  It looks like I may be making actual progress with John’s current school difficulties.  Just now I discovered that rgemom, the dear lady who writes Three’s a Herd, has nominated me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Thank you SO much.  Life is good!

Here are the rules of the award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you


Seven Facts About Me

1) I own a handmade, hot pink, thong-wearing felt Hamster that has been autographed by Esther Friesner herself.

2) As much as I hate needles, I have given serious thought to the tattoo design I’d want and where it would be located.  Purely hypothetical, of course.

3. I really don’t see the point of celery.

4)I have a terrible weakness for blue-eyed Irishmen who can sing.

5) My original career choice was Marine Biology.  That came to a screeching halt the day I learned that in the process of dissecting the higher life forms, I would one day be called upon to work on a cat.  Nope.  Sorry.  Not for love or money.

6) Back when I was in high school I owned a Oujia board, the classic Milton Bradley model sold in game stores everywhere.  I no longer own a Ouija board, and I will never go near one again.

7) My middle name is Irene.  How often do you hear that one these days?


The 15 Blogs I Consider Inspirational and Award-worthy:

1) Tabula Candida

2) Broadside

3) Writers In The Storm

4) terribleminds

5) Make Me A Sammich

6) Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog

7) The Red Pen of Doom

8) Faithmummy

9) Katana/Pen

10) Bitter Gertrude

11) Deidra Alexander’s Blog

12) harm:less drudg:ery

13) Blogging From A to Z Challenge

14) Bone Speak

15) Cats at the Bar

 I hope to live up to the honor of this award in the posts that I write and the comments that I make.  Thank you again!


Filed under autism, Awards, cats, Depression, Family, Fiction, Food, Goals, history, Horror, Humor, science fiction, Special needs, Writing

Four Q&A About My Writing Process

by Lillian Csernica on March 28, 2014

Today’s post is part of a Writing Process Blog Hop I was invited into by one of my favorite people, Setsu Uzume.

As part of the Hop, I’m answering four questions about my personal writing process and then passing the baton to four other bloggers whose work I enjoy and respect.

What are you working on?

The first novel in my Japanese historical romance trilogy, Sword Master, Flower Maiden.  I’m plowing through the second edit right now, making adjustments for consistency in characterization as well as upping the stakes here and there.  In Satsuma, Japan, of 1865, an English girl raised to be the highest class of courtesan escapes the cruel samurai Nakazawa who demanded her as payment for her father’s gambling debts when she was just six years old.  Now, sixteen and determined to thwart her captor’s power-hungry schemes, Yuriko flees her guards and rushes straight into the path of bandits  pursued by Tendo Kazuhiro, a ronin watching over a nearby village.  Captivated by Yuriko’s beauty and courage, Tendo is determined to protect her from her enemies.  The love that blossoms between them makes them determined to defeat Nakazawa.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I think history is full of treasures waiting to be discovered, stories waiting to be told.  Laura Joh Rowland’s Sano Ichiro is a fine hero, an excellent leading man for a mystery series.  I hope Tendo Kazuhiro can live up to that standard of excellence as a romance hero.  Multi-ethnic romance is not well represented in the genre, especially in the subgenre of historical romance.  I happen to find Asian men very attractive, so Japan was a natural choice as a setting for my novels.  To bring a Caucasian woman into the Japan of the Tokugawa Shogunate and enable her to speak fluent Japanese took some doing.  I knew Yuriko had to be fluent in order to communicate with Tendo-san.  Only then could they achieve ishin-denshin, or “heart-to-heart communication.”

Why do you write what you write?

I write fantasy.  I write escapist genre fiction because there’s not enough love and magic and a sense of wonder in today’s world.  Part of the reason I write historical fiction is my enjoyment of political intrigue, foreign cultures, and the challenge of recreating my chosen settings on the page.  Short stories are a different thrill altogether.  I have to keep it simple, keep it tight, and still bring plenty of depth and solid story values to my tale.  I also write because I love language.  I love words.  I love being able to speak to someone from a foreign country in his or her own language.  So far my work has been translated into German and Italian.  I would be overjoyed if the Japanese trilogy was to one day be translated into Japanese itself.

How does your writing process work?

The answer to that depends on what I’m working on.  Generally speaking, I go through five drafts.  First draft: plot, dialogue, character and some setting.  Second draft: fleshing out character, making some plot events more intense and raising the stakes.  Third draft: Major revisions as necessary.  Fourth draft: filling in the background details, checking for consistency, changing any character names that conflict, as well as editing for length.  Fifth draft: beating the manuscript like an old rug to knock out everything that doesn’t need to be there then polishing what’s left.  In this draft I get down to what’s called the “microwriting level” and do quality control line by line.  Somewhere between the Third and Fifth Drafts I often call in my beta readers to help me see what I might be missing.  That kind of help is invaluable.

Setsu mentioned listening to music while she writes.  I do that too.  I choose the music based on the emotional tone of the writing I need to do.  When I wrote Ship of Dreams, U2’s “With or Without You” became Alexandre’s theme song.  Rosalind’s music varied from Berlin to Evanescence to Pat Benatar to uplifting instrumentals.

I hereby pass the baton to four writers who are well worth your time and attention:

Sandy Appleyard — “Author of hopeful memoirs and fiction.”  Sandy is a very kind lady with a generous heart.

Dorian Graves — In words and pictures, Dorian does amazing things.  I shall watch her career with interest.

Patricia H. MacEwen — Marine biologist, physical anthropologist, former CSI in Stockton, Pat’s Been There and Done That in places that would make most of us run screaming.  Look for her cover story on the latest issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction!

Blair Bonet — If you’re in the mood for something steamy and southern, start with Moonlight on the Bayou, first in the Benoit Erotic Romances.

Looking forward to your answers, ladies!





Filed under Blog challenges, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, history, Humor, Japan, love, romance, science fiction, Writing

The Less Traveled Paths

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Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

Ōrphic Flux

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Blasting my way through the blogsphere!

Arrowhead Freelance and Publishing

Making the world a richer place, one story at a time

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Here and now, with all of it.

Me In The Middle

a beginning, a middle, and an end…but not necessarily in that order

Sharon E. Cathcart

Award-winning Author of Fiction Featuring Atypical Characters


Eclectic Musings, Memoirs, Music & More

Kayla Lowe

Christian romance author/Editor/Freelance writer


Oh! Take a shit, read a story. - My Mother on flash fiction

Possibility & Light

Interesting Things by Cherrie Ali

"The Bransque"

Rejecting the Status Quo & Rebelling Against Mediocrity!!

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

The Less Traveled Paths

Looking for the hidden wonders of this world

The Writers Desk

The Italian Thing Blog

From Mage Mind

When a mage is sharing what's on his mind. Business, Motivation, Positive life, Success, Marketing and Good Ideas.

Plaisted Publishing House

Building Books - One Step at a Time

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

Ōrphic Flux

Tales of Wandering Souls

Pastel Bottle Rocket

Blasting my way through the blogsphere!

Arrowhead Freelance and Publishing

Making the world a richer place, one story at a time

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Here and now, with all of it.

Me In The Middle

a beginning, a middle, and an end…but not necessarily in that order

Sharon E. Cathcart

Award-winning Author of Fiction Featuring Atypical Characters


Eclectic Musings, Memoirs, Music & More

Kayla Lowe

Christian romance author/Editor/Freelance writer


Oh! Take a shit, read a story. - My Mother on flash fiction

Possibility & Light

Interesting Things by Cherrie Ali

"The Bransque"

Rejecting the Status Quo & Rebelling Against Mediocrity!!

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

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