Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

Here Comes the Rain Again….

by Lillian Csernica on February 9, 2017



I live in Santa Cruz County. Right now we’re getting hammered by another storm system. A creek runs along one property line of our land. To say that it’s “swollen” is right up there with saying the Grand Canyon is a big hole in the ground.

At the moment, the creek is sporting various clumps of tree debris, PVC piping from the neighbor’s irrigation system, and other bits and pieces washed away from yards farther up the creek. A bright yellow ball is bobbing in one of the little whirlpools off to one side of the main current.

California Storms


Driving is a chancy business right now. In my particular neighborhood there are a number of places where hydroplaning is a real possibility if you don’t keep your speed down. Fishtailing, spinning out, and taking out the neighbor’s trash bins are not happy options.



Spring promises to be glorious. The ornamental plum trees in my front yard are already showing buds that will soon become blossoms burst out all over the tree limbs like pink popcorn.

Acacia bushes line many of the roads around here. Their lovely yellow flowers spell doom for people with allergies.

The daffodils and pink ladies are already beginning to show. It’s nice to see the green and brown and gray of the mountains enlivened with colors.

School has been closed for two days, which has caused some logistical juggling around here. Word is school will be open, but I won’t believe that until the school bus for Michael shows up. I just heard something crack and splash out back.


The picnic table in the lower back yard was under water two days ago, which was more than a little alarming. I can’t help thinking about Sir Terry Pratchett’s marvelous Discworld book, SNUFF. Commander Vimes takes on the task of steering a hijacked riverboat ahead of a giant wave roaring down the river known as Old Treachery. The phenomenon called a “dam slam” results in a logjam of debris sweeping away everything before it.

I’m really hoping we don’t get to see one of those live and in person!



Filed under cats, Family, Lillian Csernica, nature

T is for Ticking Clock

by Lillian Csernica on April 23, 2013

The ticking clock is the key to creating edge-of-your-seat tension and suspense. The classic example is the red LED readout on the bomb ticking down those final seconds. In the more general sense, if your protagonist does not accomplish a certain task by a certain deadline, something really horrible will happen. This usually involves some kind of loss, such as the bomb exploding in the hospital or the Bad Guy killing the protagonist’s love interest.

That sense of “Time is running out!” keeps your reader hooked on the story. It’s up to you to maintain that level of interest with strong characters involved in plausible conflict that escalates toward the climax of the story. To achieve the full effect, you need not just the ticking clock itself but all the obstacles that get in the way and cost your protagonist precious time. Keep those obstacles believable and use just enough to maintain the escalation of the tension. If you go on for too long with obstacle after obstacle, after a certain point the pace flatlines because reader begins to lose interest.

What are some memorable ticking clocks?

Dickens‘ “A Christmas Carol“: If Scrooge doesn’t learn his lesson by the time the Ghost of Christmas Future is done with him, Scrooge won’t have any future at all.

The Bourne Legacy“: Aaron Cross races against time and everybody who’s trying to kill him in order to get what he needs to preserve the man he has become.

In the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, there are several novels featuring Granny Weatherwax. In what is perhaps her best adventure, Witches Abroad, Granny must face her ultimate adversary in a world of magical mirrors with Death himself on hand as time is running out.

Excitement. Challenges. High stakes. These are all parts of a good story. Add to them the pressure of the ticking clock and your readers will keep coming back for more.

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Filed under Blog challenges, fantasy, Fiction, Writing

Reinventing my personal space

by Lillian Csernica on March 12, 2013

Three months ago my husband and I bought a house and moved in.  What did I unpack first?  The manuscript, notes, notebooks, and other miscellanea involved in my current novel.  Then I went into the garage and began the excavation required to locate the boxes that contained my Japanese reference library (the novel is set in Satsuma, Japan, 1867).  Next came my favorite fiction, one whole shelf devoted to Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld books and another to Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series and another to Jim Butcher‘s Dresden Files.  I find these series to be inspirational.  Not only is the quality of the writing great for recharging my word batteries, seeing the commitment those authors have made to producing novel after novel after novel gives me concrete motivation to do the same.  I’m still looking for the boxes that hold my collection of ghost story anthologies.  I love a good ghost story, especially from turn of the century authors such as A.M. Burrage and Marjorie Bowen.  I’ll find them.

The point here is simple.  Underwear and a toothbrush and caffeine and those other daily necessities can be acquired easily enough.  The exterior space you live in affects your interior life.  I now own the space I live in, both outside and in.  I must take care to avoid unnecessary clutter.  I must surround myself with all that is positive, nourishing, and uplifting, sights and sounds and smells and textures that will support me as I labor through each day, writing the fireworks and sword fights and love scenes as well as helping John with his homework and listening to Michael struggle to tell me about his day.

Beware unwanted clutter.  Beware even more so unloved clutter that stirs up bad memories.  Feng shui says such clutter gets between you and what you really want, slowing you down and sucking away your energy and sabotaging your dreams.  I still have boxes to unpack and tchotchkes to deal with, but I shall be ruthless in the defense of the spaces where I dream, both in my office and in my heart.


Filed under Family, fantasy, Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing