Tag Archives: Nebula Award

All Writers Need This Skill


by Lillian Csernica on August 22, 2017

eavesdropping

colbyechonews.com

What is that skill? Eavesdropping.

From Wikipedia:

An eavesdropper was someone who stands at the eavesdrop (where the water drops, i.e., next to the house) so as to hear what is said within. The PBS documentaries, Inside the Court of Henry VIII (April 8, 2015)[3] and Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace (June 30, 2013) include segments that display and discuss “eavedrops”, carved wooden figures Henry VIII had built into the eaves (overhanging edges of the beams in the ceiling) of Hampton Court to discourage unwanted gossip or dissension from the King’s wishes and rule, to foment paranoia and fear,[4] and demonstrate that everything said there was being overheard; literally, that the walls had ears.[5]

I recently made the observation that cell phones have taken all the fun out of eavesdropping. When I said this, I was referring to texting. People have all kinds of conversations that people nearby can’t overhear, aside from the clicking of the keyboard.

A friend of mine pointed out that I was quite mistaken. He lives in San Francisco and makes frequent use of public transit. This gives him the opportunity to listen in on the amazing variety of really personal subjects people discuss when making actual calls on their cell phones.

Good point! This makes me feel better, even though most of the conversations I do overhear aren’t worth the time or attention.

40409707-gold-digger-at-work-from-the-wild-west

Eavesdropping is like panning for gold. You have to sift through a lot of mud before you see the gleam of real treasure. That one gleam can spark an idea that makes all that mud worthwhile.

When my younger son was little, he did what all little kids do, which is eat with his hands. At that time we had four cats in the house. Put these two facts together, and you get the day I heard myself say:

“Don’t get the cat sticky!”

People say the most absurd things, especially when they’re trying to be clever. I was sitting in the local Italian bakery on Sunday, writing in my journal while I ate a Lobster Tail. (I know, it’s not on my diet. I was celebrating my latest sale of a short story.) Two women came in and studied the goodies in the bakery cases. One said,

“The gelato is good, but the pastries are just a little too Italian for me.”

Sorry? What? If she didn’t like Italian pastries, why on earth had she come to an Italian bakery? Questions like this can get your imagination fired up. I could brainstorm ten crazy answers to that question. At least one might be worth building into a new story.

One of the greatest proofs of the value of eavesdropping is Harlan Ellison‘s short story Jeffty is Five. Mr. Ellison has said that the title came from a conversation he overheard. The actual statement was, “Jeff is fine. He’s always fine.” By hearing it as “Jeff is five. He’s always five.”, Mr. Ellison found the seed of an idea. It flowered into a story that went on to win the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and a nomination for the World Fantasy Award.

 

93a3643e7c4472efdbaf5bbdcb83bc14-minions-despicable-me-funny-minion

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under Awards, cats, creativity, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, Lillian Csernica, publication, research, science fiction, Special needs, Writing

Three of A Kind


by Lillian Csernica on May 20, 2013

27408-blogeverday

 Today I play catch-up.  I spent the weekend at the San Jose Hilton where the 48th Annual Nebula Awards were held.  For those who don’t know, this is the annual award ceremony held by SFWA.  I am an Active Member, so it was a great pleasure to join my colleagues and hang out with some of the Big Names.  Came home with a brand-new SFWA tote bag (I am notorious in the family for acquiring tote bags) that was stuffed full of great science fiction and fantasy novels.  Now that’s my idea of some nice party favors!

 

Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

When I was five years old, my family lived in a three bedroom house not far from where I’d eventually go to kindergarten and elementary school.  We had not one but two back yards.  The first back yard had a big patio and then a grassy lawn with orange and lemon trees.  The second back yard was an empty dirt lot.  My father grew up on a farm in Ohio, so he knew how to turn that ground into a vegetable garden.  I remember being out there with Daddy, wearing sandals and a hat and sun glasses with a little summer dress.  I was carrying a plastic sand pail with the seed packages in it.  We’d move along the furrow with Daddy using a hand trowel to make deeper holes for the seeds, then I’d drop a seed into the hole.  The garden hose was involved at some point in this process, wetting the ground where we planted the seeds.  Spending time with Daddy on the weekends was special, because he worked the swing of graveyard shifts and slept during the day.  I never did get to know much about Daddy’s childhood, but this was like seeing some of what he did on Grandma’s farm.

I don’t remember much about weeding or harvesting the vegetables, but I do remember my mother sitting and the dinner table with a big bowl of peas in the pod.   She’d call me to help her shell the peas.   I had small hands, but that just made me faster than Mom.  I had to be careful, though, because if I slipped peas went bouncing everywhere.  There were other times when we’d be shucking ears of corn or snapping beans or peeling cucumbers.  Mom gave me cooking lessons when I was little, so growing our own vegetables and doing all the work to prepare them made cooking and eating them a lot more meaningful.  My sister had this nasty ability to make corn kernels squirt across the table at me.  She never got caught, either.

 

Day 19: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.

Janice Heck: My Time to Write

Janice’s blog is a lot of fun.  Great nature photos, fun stories about her family, and always a final word from her cat.  The header with the maneki neko collection is pretty cool too.

Kristin Lamb’s Blog

Strong writing, well-informed opinions, inspirational commentary on the writing life.  My idea of what a mentor should be.

Three’s A Herd

It’s comforting to listen to the ups and downs of another mother who has more than one child with special needs.  Running such a household is more than just “a challenge.”  It’s a balancing act involving logistics, time management, awareness and support of various people’s various needs, and never losing sight of one’s own well-being.

Hunter’s Writing

A fabulous treasure trove of writing resources.  Easy on the eyes, full of items that make you want to stay a while.

Ruralspaceman

This fine gentleman’s tales of life in his household are told in such a wonderful, whimsical style.  I highly recommend the entry about the family dinner, rendered as the agenda of a meeting.

 

Day 20: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.

 I’m trying to give up drinking Dr. Pepper and/or Coke.  Too much sugar, caffeine, carbolic acid, sodium, and chemicals.  This is very difficult, because we’re heading into hot weather and I have a terrible sweet tooth.  Also, I tend to eat spicy food, so if I don’t have some fizzy beverage, I end up feeling like an inflated balloon.  New York Seltzer is great, but I can’t find it anymore.  Hansen’s is all right, but I have trouble getting Mandarin Lime.  I can’t stand Cherry or Kiwi Strawberry.   There’s also a certain somatic component, like the one involved in smoking.  Sometimes it’s just nice to have the cold can and take that swig every so often.  The habit itself is no big deal as long as I find a replacement that gives me the fizz without the unwanted ingredients.

4 Comments

Filed under Blog challenges, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Writing