January 16, 2019 · 8:28 pm
by Lillian Csernica on January 16, 2019
It’s time to clean up the NaNoWriMo novel. I have several intense scenes, some good action, and two or three potential plotlines. How do I clean this up? Where do I start?
First, I have to finish typing in all the handwritten material created during my coffeehouse marathons. That allows me a certain amount of editing, but mostly I just want to get all of the manuscript on disk. It’s comforting, really. I hadn’t realized just how much I did write and from so many different characters’ points of view.
Second, I need to figure out who the hero of my story is. Since this is meant to be a Kyoto Steampunk novel, the obvious choice would be Dr. William Harrington, main character of all but two of the seven short stories in the series. Who changes the most over the course of the story? Is it Dr. Harrington, or is it his daughter Madelaine?
(Yes, I did say seven. The latest Kyoto Steampunk short story, The Badger Epidemic, will appear in Next Stop on the #13, available at Clockwork Alchemy 2019!)
At the Night of Writing Dangerously, we all received tote bags which included a copy of Save The Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody. This book is God’s gift to the novel writer, thanks to Ms. Brody’s skill at breaking down and explaining in detail the fifteen story beats that are essential to a strong, successful story. Given what Ms. Brody demonstrates, I know I face crucial questions in sifting through my roughdraft to find the moments that match some or all of those fifteen story beats.
Having done a bit of flailing around while I did my best to achieve my daily word quota, I’ve written a lot of material that could take the story in at least half a dozen directions. Lining up the scenes I’ve written in something approximating chronological order should point the way toward further complications and rising action. While I often work from plot outlines, this time I’ve been extrapolating from the events occurring in the Kyoto steampunk short stories. The consequences of some of those events are now catching up with Dr. Harrington, Madelaine, Constance, and Nurse Danforth.
The novel length has allowed me to introduce new characters, three human and three non-human. The humans are members of the British expatriate society in Kyoto, all of whom have some degree of power to affect the course of Dr. Harrington’s stay. Of the three non-human characters, two are earthly gods while the third is a monster of uncertain provenance. There are few things I enjoy more than squeezing poor Dr. Harrington between the pressures of Victorian social etiquette and the unfamiliar rules that govern the gods and monsters of Japan.
Third? I don’t know what will happen next. I’m just as excited to find out as I hope my readers will be!
Filed under classics, Conventions, creativity, doctors, editing, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, publication, research, steampunk, sword and sorcery, travel, Writing
Tagged as Clockwork Alchemy, gods, Jennifer Brody, Kyoto Steampunk, monsters, NaNoWriMo, Night Of Writing Dangerously, Save The Cat!, suspense, Victoriana, yokai
May 23, 2018 · 10:46 pm
by Lillian Csernica on May 23, 2018
Friday 1:30 p.m. The Perfect Poison
Is it possible to create a poison that will kill only the target, no matter who else is exposed? Genetic engineering and personalized medicine may well collide in a perfect storm of individually targeted weapons rather than cures. What genetic markers would be most useful? What if you can target families or ethnic groups?
Saturday 1:00 p.m. Getting the Point
Understanding the pros and cons of the various points of view available to the storyteller.
Sunday 1:00 p.m. It Began with a Monster
200 years ago, Mary Shelley published the singular novel that set the stage for modern genre literature: Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus. In the two centuries since the full-novel’s publication, Shelley’s Frankenstein has flourished as a touchstone for authors and filmmakers across the spectrum, carving out a mythos and a creative playing field to rival the legends of antiquity.
Sunday 5:30 p.m. Religion in Fantasy & Science Fiction
Where are the Gods and churches and when they exist, what purpose do they serve?
Monday 1:00 p.m. Creative Writing for Kids
Come and learn the six basic elements of a good story. Plenty of fun examples and some exercises to help new writers experience professional writing techniques.
Filed under charity, classics, Conventions, cosplay, creativity, editing, fairy tales, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Lillian Csernica, neurodiversity, publication, research, science fiction, sword and sorcery, travel, Writing
Tagged as #BayCon2018, MG, monsters, point of view, poison, religion, YA
April 29, 2018 · 6:50 pm
by Lillian Csernica on April 30, 2018
Zaibatsu means “financial clique.” When the Tokugawa Shogunate was in its last days, a few far-sighted samurai families positioned themselves to take the best advantage of the changing political and financial landscape.
With the help of key Western advisors such as Thomas Blake Glover, “the Scotsman who built Japan,” these families were the leaders in Japan’s Industrial Revolution. That some of these family names are familiar right now in the 21st Century is a testament to the success of their business strategies.
The zaibatsu form the backdrop against which my Kyoto Steampunk series take place. Just as fairies don’t like cold iron, the yokai of Japan resent the presence of steel and concrete. So much of the natural splendor of Japan has been destroyed thanks to the greed of industrialists.
Thank you for joining me during the A to Z Blog Challenge for 2018. I hope you’ve found every letter both informative and entertaining. There is so much to know about Japan, yokai, and all the historical factors at work during the Meiji Restoration. I can’t wait to write the next story!
Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, nature, steampunk, travel, Writing
Tagged as finance, industry, Kawasaki, Meiji Restoration, Mitsubishi, monsters, pollution, Sumitomo, yokai, zaibatsu
April 28, 2018 · 1:53 pm
by Lillian Csernica on April 28, 2018
The yokai of Japan are many and varied. They go from humorous to horrifying. Some arise from the animistic principle in Shinto. Others are born from the angry, vengeful passions of the human heart.
These are a few of the more unusual yokai.
Dodomeki, the spirit of the pickpocket or thief.
Oni-no-Nenbutsu, the Demon who chants Buddhist prayers
From Ancient Origins:
The baku, otherwise known as the ‘dream eater’, is a mythological being or spirit in Chinese and Japanese folklore which is said to devour nightmares. The baku cannot be summoned without caution, however, as ancient legends say that if the baku is not satisfied after consuming the nightmare, he may also devour one’s hopes and dreams.
This is the Kawataguruma, a tormented naked woman riding on the wheel of an ox cart that’s ablaze. If this reminds you of the wanyudo, you’re right. Apparently the Wheel Monk has a female counterpart who rolls around collecting impure souls and putting curses on people.
Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, cats, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, nature, steampunk, sword and sorcery, Uncategorized, Writing
Tagged as curses, dodomeki, dream eater, Kawatagurama, monsters, mythology, yokai
April 16, 2018 · 6:00 am
by Lillian Csernica on April 16, 2018
In the Tokugawa period, yokai became very popular in ink paintings, woodblock prints, and carvings, especially the small and useful carvings known as netsuke. They were the must-have fashion accessory, so to speak.
A netsuke will play an important role in one of Dr. Harrington‘s upcoming adventures. Given that he keeps attracting the attention of the gods and monsters of Japan, it seems reasonable to expect the netsuke to be carved in the shape of something supernatural.
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
From the seventeenth through mid-nineteenth centuries, Japanese citizens of all classes wore the kimono—a simple T-shaped robe constructed with minimal cutting and tailoring—wrapped around the body and held in place with an obi sash. In order to carry small items such as tobacco, medicine, and seals, ingeniously constructed sagemono (a collective term for “hanging things”) were suspended on cords that hung from the obi sash (29.100.841). Stacked, nested containers, known as inrô, were specifically designed to hold medicine or seals (10.211.2081). Netsuke served as anchors or counterweights for inrô and sagemono (14.40.843a,b). A single cord was threaded through a cord channel on one side of the suspended container, through two holes (himotoshi) in the netsuke, then through the other side of the container, and knotted on the underside of the container (JP1954). A decorative bead, or ojime, slid along the cord between the netsuke and sagemono, allowing the user to open and close the container (14.40.878a,b).
Drawing of a man wearing an inro suspended with the help of a netsuke and held together with an ojime. (Wikipedia.com)
Netsuke are made from a dazzling variety of materials.
A skeleton beating on a fish drum. Made from narwhal tusk. (pinterest.com)
Two of the most commonly used materials for netsuke were ivory and wood, with boxwood favored for its fine grain and durability. About 80 percent of surviving antique netsuke were carved in various types of native Japanese wood—cypress, cherry, black persimmon, yew, camphor, zelkova, and camellia. Elephant tusk ivory was one of the most popular materials for netsuke carvers for centuries (10.211.1444). With the enactment of international trade restrictions on elephant ivory in 1989, however, netsuke carvers turned to other sources, including fossilized mammoth and walrus tusks. Extant eighteenth- and nineteenth-century netsuke made of or inlaid with coral, shells, metals, ebony, porcelain (91.1.213), cloisonné,mother-of-pearl, and various nuts attest to the skilled carvers’ ingenuity in conveying the plasticity of these materials, despite their hardness and resistance to wear (10.211.780).
A fox spirit pretending to be a priest. Made of wood. (pinterest.com)
The nure-onna, a monster with the head of a woman and the body of a snake. This one has a monkey on her back.
Pumpkin, 19th Century, Hirado ware. Porcelain with blue glaze.
Filed under #atozchallenge, art show, Blog challenges, cats, classics, creativity, Family, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, nature, research, steampunk, travel, Writing
Tagged as boxwood, fox spirit, ivory, monsters, narwhal, netsuke, yokai
April 4, 2018 · 6:00 am
by Lillian Csernica on April 4, 2018
Many dangers lie in wait for Dr. Harrington, his wife Constance, and their daughter Madelaine when they move their entire household to Kyoto, Japan. While it is a great honor for Dr. Harrington to be chosen by Queen Victoria and the Emperor Meiji, it is a challenge that will demand all the strength, skills and social graces possessed by each family member.
Nurse Danforth rises to the challenge of saving Madelaine’s life by confronting Amatsu Mikaboshi, the Japanese god of chaos.
Madelaine, just nine years old and already a mechanical genius, must survive a life-threatening fever. Then comes the challenge of convincing Dr. Harrington the gods and monsters of Japanese mythology and folklore are real and must be taken seriously. When Madelaine is targeted by one especially clever monster, she must draw on her skills both mechanical and folkloric to protect her family.
Constance exists in a state of endless bewilderment as she fights a daily battle to bring all the graces of Victorian England to the strange and incomprehensible world of Japan during the Meiji Restoration. This might not sound as dangerous as the threats faced by Dr. Harrington and Madelaine, but success as a hostess in support of her husband’s social position was a Victorian woman’s reason for living.
Dr. Harrington takes on the lion’s share of danger. Amatsu Mikaboshi‘s determination to restore the balance of honor lost in his confrontation with Nurse Danforth puts Dr. Harrington in the perilous position of protecting the Abbot. Dr. Harrington also faces political and ethical pressures when he follows the Abbot of Kiyomizudera’s advice and does what must be done to escape the wrath of the wanyudo.
Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, cats, charity, doctors, Family, family tradition, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, legend, Lillian Csernica, marriage, mother, parenting, steampunk, travel, Writing
Tagged as Amatsu Mikaboshi, characters, gods, Kiyomizudera, monsters, Victoriana, wanyudo, yokai
March 18, 2018 · 10:46 pm
by Lillian Csernica on March 19, 2018
Welcome to my fourth adventure as a participant in the A to Z Blog Challenge!
This year I will be taking you into the depths of my fiction. Thanks to the wonderful folks behind Clockwork Alchemy, I have two short stories in each of the three convention anthologies published so far. You can see all three covers in the sidebar. History is my passion and historical fiction my favorite reading and writing pleasure. With that in mind, my A to Z Challenge Theme is
Come and meet the main characters such as Dr. William Harrington, eminent British physician, his wife Constance and their daughter Madelaine, a genius at creating clockwork automata and a keen student of Japanese language and culture.
Meet his adversaries who hail from various corners of Japanese mythology!
Meet the people of Japan who bring their strengths and weaknesses to the battles Dr. Harrington must face as he struggles to carry out the mission entrusted to him by Queen Victoria herself.
Join me for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. I will take you behind the scenes into the creative process and amazing historical details that shape Dr. Harrington’s adventures!
Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, classics, doctors, fairy tales, Family, fantasy, Fiction, historical fiction, history, Horror, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, parenting, steampunk, sword and sorcery, Writing
Tagged as #themereveal, alphabet, clockwork, gods, monsters, mythology, politics, yokai
March 1, 2018 · 1:24 am
by Lillian Csernica on February 28, 2018
April is coming. That means the A to Z Blog Challenge.
Those of you who joined me last year may recall my theme was Art Nouveau jewelry. We had a good time with that, I think. Lots of people said nice things. I began my life of Pinterest joy and now I’m up to a dozen different boards.
So here’s my question to you: What do you want to see this year?
I’ve covered writing terms, sword&sorcery movies, all things made of chocolate, and yes, the art nouveau bling.
I could go with a steampunk theme and tell you strange tidbits of technological history and the men and women behind them.
There’s a world of info about Japan I could share.
We could go for classic monster movies, the Golden Age of Universal and the everlasting talents of Karloff and Cheney and Rains.
Give me your ideas! Tell me what you want to see me tackle. I live to amuse you, so bring it on!
Filed under Art Nouveau, artists, bad movies, Blog challenges, chocolate, classics, creativity, editing, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Food, Goals, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, research, steampunk, sword and sorcery, travel, Writing
Tagged as A to Z Blog Challenge, chocolate, ideas, Japan, Jewelry, monsters, movies, suggestions, writing terms
October 30, 2017 · 4:25 pm
by Lillian Csernica on October 30, 2017
Just in time for Halloween, Killing It Softly 2, another collection of short stories to be read with the lights on and the doors locked!
Part 1 – Another Space, Another Time
The Whims of My Enemy – Amanda J. Spedding
A Moveable Feast – Jenny Blackford
Softly into the Morning – L. D. Colter
Whispers in the Wax – Tonia Brown
The Screaming Key – Lillian Csernica
Framed – Diana Catt
Bloody Rain – Rie Sheridan Rose
The Idlewild Letters – H.R. Boldwood
Kristall Tag – Holly Newstein
The Adventure of My Ignoble Ancestress – Nancy Holder
Part II – Monster Party
The Devil’s in the Details – Stacey Longo
Octavia – Chantal Boudreau
The Skeench – Debra Robinson
Sandcastle Sacrifices – Jennifer Brozek
Unfilial Child – Laurie Tom
Milk and Cookies – M.J. Sydney
Figaro, Figueroa – Karen Heuler
Scarecrow – Vonnie Winslow Crist
A Great and Terrible Hunger – Elaine Cunningham
Part III – Cognitive Deception
Belongings – Abra Staffin-Wiebe
Evil Little Girl – Barb Goffman
Blue – Julie Travis
The Devil Inside – Shannon Connor Winward
Shining Brook and the Ice Moon Spirit – Jean Graham
Damaged Goods – Lindsey Goddard
Project Handbasket – Rebecca J. Allred
Behind the Eight Ball – Lena Ng
A Faithful Companion – Deborah Sheldon
Omega – Airika Sneve
Part IV – The Changed and the Undead
Little Fingers – Christine Morgan
Golden Rule – Donna J. W. Munro
Fifth Sense – Tina Rath
Cycle – Rebecca Fraser
The Hand of God – Gerri Leen
Vile Deeds – Suzie Lockhart
The Holy Spear – Barbara A. Barnett
Skin and Bones – Rebecca Snow
Death Warmed Over – Rachel Caine
Many of the contributors here also appear in the first Killing It Softly anthology, also well worth your attention.
Filed under creativity, editing, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Halloween, historical fiction, Horror, Lillian Csernica, mother, publication, steampunk, sword and sorcery, Uncategorized, Writing
Tagged as anthology, Digital Fiction Publishing, Fear, Killing It Softly, monsters, women
October 20, 2016 · 10:26 pm
Don’t miss out! Makes a great “treat”!
Hopes & Dreams: My Writing and My Sons
by Lillian Csernica on October 7, 2016
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
Tagged as folklore, Halloween, monsters, sale, suspense, The Fright Factory