Tag Archives: Research

When the Story Shapes Itself


by Lillian Csernica  on October 23, 2014

My NanoWriMo prep is well underway.  The plot outline is rough, but I wrote one.  I have my list of major and minor characters.  Today I brainstormed all the probable settings where significant action would occur.  That’s when it hit me.

I have to get Tendo and Yuriko all the way from the Ryukyu Islands off the southwest coast of Kyushu, the southernmost island of the Japanese archipelago, across Shikoku, and on to Honshu, the main island where Kyoto is located.  How much of the trip do they make by land?  How much do they make by water?  How many horses will the party need?  Will they take ferries, boats, or ships?

I have to figure all of that out before Nov. 1.  Welcome to writing historical fiction.

This does bring me a certain amount of relief, because I now know what Tendo and Yuriko are going to be doing for the first several chapters of the book.  Oh sure, I could just open in Kyoto with Tendo in his new position as a member of the Imperial diplomatic corps.  Trouble is, I’d still need to fill in the gap regarding how things went while he worked at the Satsuma Embassy on the Ryukyus, and that would be told in flashback.  BO-RING.  I think it would be much better to show the still newly married Tendo and Yuriko having to cope with yet another drastic change to their lives.  How are they dealing with married life?  Neither of them has had a serious relationship before this, and now all of a sudden they’re married and yet still on the run from their enemies.

 

 

I’ve decided to give Tendo and Yuriko one of the minor but important characters from the first book.  They will be taking Matamori along with them to Kyoto.  I don’t want to get into the entire plot of Sword Master, Flower Maiden right now, so let me just say Matamori is the Captain of the Guard for Kobayashi, the samurai lord whom Tendo’s father serves.  Kobayashi is the one ally strong enough to really protect Tendo and Yuriko from the evil schemes of Nakazawa, the bad guy.  Kobayashi wouldn’t send Matamori with Tendo and Yuriko if he didn’t believe their very lives were in danger.  I did not make this decision consciously.  Once I understood the length and difficulty of the trip to Kyoto, I knew I had to dramatize it.  Matamori showed up in my mind’s eye, riding along beside Tendo on horseback.

The story is already showing me how it needs to be told.

The trip to Kyoto will put Tendo and Yuriko under pressure.  This is a big promotion for Tendo, so he has to live up to it.  First he has to reach Kyoto alive.  Yuriko is still making the adjustment from first rate courtesan-in-training to the proper wife of a samurai civil servant.  Yes, they love each other with all their hearts, but will that be enough to keep them together?  A road trip of any sort means obstacles, delays, goods inns, bad inns, potential ambush, and several long boring hours just getting from one place to another.  This is the great part about mixing both travel by land and travel by water.  I wonder if Tendo gets seasick?  That would be embarrassing.

So much to research.  So much to discover.  A whole new adventure about to begin!

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Filed under fantasy, Fiction, Goals, history, Japan, love, marriage, romance, Writing

Stress: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore!


by Lillian Csernica on March 26, 2013

It’s been a long day, the kind of day I want people to witness when they make ignorant, offensive remarks about my life.

I am not feeling well right now.  Never mind the details.  It’s enough to keep me from leaving the house.

John played a Narrator in his class’ Reader’s Theater production this morning.  He really wanted me to be there.  Fortunately, Chris decided to go in my place.  Chris doesn’t get to be part of school day events very often. so it was a nice surprise for John.  I was happy John’s teacher got to have some face-time with Chris.  I was hoping for a smooth afternoon since John was in a good state of mind after the performance.  Nope.  He was uncooperative and defiant and things wound up escalating into a full meltdown, teenage version.  By the time I worked up the strength to come downstairs and get in the middle of it, there was no way I could interrupt the cycle John goes through.  His aide couldn’t prevent it, and the confrontational style of other people in the house didn’t help matters.

On top of all of that, there was Michael‘s day.  It started off with a really unpleasant diaper situation.  Once that was cleaned up, it was time to get Michael ready for his MetroParacruz ride to the dentist.  (MP is a minivan service for the special needs and senior citizen population in our area.)  Due to my being out of action, my sister rode with Michael and then later, after John’s performance, Chris went to the appointment to add any required parental authorization.  Michael has what’s referred to as secretion management problems, which means he drools a lot.  That results in serious plaque build up on his teeth, which can cause various dental problems.  So every three months he has to get his teeth cleaned.  The problem is, in order for the dental hygienist to do a thorough job, Michael has to be put under anesthetic.   Michael needs more teeth pulled because more are coming in and the narrowness of his jaw due to hydrocephaly means there’s no room.  Convincing the insurance company to give us the anesthesiologist for oral surgery is very very difficult.

And this evening Michael is showing flu-like symptoms including vomiting, which is extremely dangerous for him because it can lead to aspiration pneumonia.

This is why I have all three kinds of insomnia.  I’m too stressed out to go to sleep for fear of what medical crisis might arise when I’m not awake to cope with it.   After about five years of experimentation, my current doctor and I have finally arrived at a combination of meds that helps me sleep without turning me into a zombie.  Sleep is good.  Sleep is essential.  Do not underestimate the importance of sleep.  Lack of sleep screws up your brain chemistry and that does bad things to the rest of you.

Having said all this, let me close by offering my prayers and support for all special needs families everywhere.  I know many of you have a lot harder than I do.

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Filed under Family, Special needs