Tag Archives: writing

Where You Should Be This Weekend


by Lillian Csernica on May 26, 2017

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It’s that time again! Convention season is well underway, and Memorial Day Weekend is a high point. This weekend you can find me at two, count ’em, TWO conventions!

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Clockwork Alchemy:

Saturday in particular promises to be a blast.

11:30 to 1 p.m. — Steampunk DIY! This year we’ll be making earrings. Get it it gear (ho ho ho) and join us!

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Steampunk, Satire, and Society

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BayCon:

Sunday is my busy day!

1:40 p.m. (Connect 5)  My reading! Come listen to an exciting excerpt from my newest Kyoto Steampunk story, “The Wheel of Misfortune.”

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Synergy 1) Historical Writing

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Connect 1) The Truth About Stuff!

I’ve come up with some rather unique items in the way of promo swag. Find me and see what heights of creative memorabilia could be yours!

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How to Plan For Success


by Lillian Csernica on January 2, 2017

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I’ve been doing a lot of research lately. The marketplace for writers is more competitive than ever. There are plenty of articles and blog posts and other advice venues full of tips on how to get where we want to go with our writing. It gets confusing, and not a little overwhelming.

As I’ve said in other posts, I’m not a fan of making New Year’s Resolutions. Too much pressure, especially at a time of year when we’re all recovery from the mad dash of the holidays. I do believe in setting goals and making plans. With that in mind, allow me to share with you my plan for 2017.

To be successful as a writer, I must make a daily effort in each of these three areas:

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WRITING

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EDITING

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I’ve been reading up on the work habits of some of my favorite Big Names, such as William Nolan, who says he writes for three hours a day. Some years ago when I had the pleasure of meeting Roger Zelazny, he told me he sat down at the keyboard four times a day and wrote at least three sentences each time. During at least one of those times his writing would take off and he’d get a satisfactory amount of work done for that day. Esther Friesner and Janet Evanovich have also provided some excellent guidance about figuring out one’s optimal work habits.

On January 9th, school is back in session here in our neck of the woods. On that day I will launch my new work schedule. My office hours will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., with the exception of days when I’ve scheduled appointments.

Now here’s the breakdown of my work time, a division of labor which I hope will lead to making progress on several fronts:

10 a.m. until noon — Writing fresh material.

Noon to 1 p.m. — Editing short fiction from what I call my Mending Pile. I may well write more on these projects as well.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Pursuing the noble art of Shameless Self-Promotion. Blogging. Tweeting. Researching markets. Trading reviews. I must promote my own work, but I also have a duty to do my share of promoting the anthologies that include my stories.

My boys come home from school around 2:30 p.m. I want to be available for help with their homework, listening to how their days have gone, and in general being a good Mom. It’s very easy for me to stay shut away in my Ivory Tower while I’m working. That’s not OK. I can do that later after the boys are asleep.

I also want to be sure I have time during daylight to get out for a walk. I need more exercise, more time in the sun, and more contact with my neighbors. I may be an extrovert by nature, but the writing life tends to encourage being a recluse if you have a passion for research or you get your hands on a good book and lose all track of time.

Wish me luck! I will keep you posted on how well my plan is working.

 

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Filed under editing, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, Lillian Csernica, mother, parenting, publication, research, special education, steampunk, Writing

NaNoWriMo Round 2


by Lillian Csernica on October 12, 2016

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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!

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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

99 Cents Sale!


Thinking Ink Press, the publisher of Thirty Days Later, Steaming Forward: 30 Adventures in Time” is putting the Kindle version of the anthology on sale for 99 cents! This is a limited time sale, just until September 7th. Get your Harry Turtledove fix for under a buck!

via Sale on Thirty Days Later — Welcome to the Treehouse!

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A Personal Glimpse Inside Autism and ADHD


This weekend Withteeth and I went to a writing conference. I haven’t talked about my writing in a while, but it is still something I’m pursuing. However, conferences are incredibly difficult for me. As such, I wanted to write a bit about the struggles with anxiety and how to deal with it both for people […]

via How to Deal With Anxiety — hessianwithteeth

I’d like to express my gratitude to hessianwithteeth for giving us all these insights into such complex and demanding experiences.

It’s so wonderful that people with visible disabilities are gaining recognition and inclusiveness. Life can be even more difficult for people with conditions that can’t be seen from the outside. My own Major Depressive Disorder has been gaining the upper hand these past two weeks, making this issue all the more immediate and important to me.

Remember. You are not alone!

Lillian

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My Stress Managment is Too Stressful


by Lillian Csernica on June 30, 2016

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How do I manage my stress?

  • At the end of the day, I watch TV
  • I go to the library and write in my journal or my work notebook.
  • I get out in the sun and enjoy Nature.
  • I play with my cats.
  • I see my physical and mental health care professionals.

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How do these activities increase my stress?

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  • Are you familiar with the term “binge watching”? There are a number of TV and cable shows available on Netflix, Hulu, et al. Some of my favorites include “Person of Interest,” “Once Upon A Time,” various Food network shows, and a few that try to document paranormal activity. One episode is just like one potato chip. One is never enough. Even though it’s summer, I still have to get up at 6:30 a.m. for Michael’s morning routine.  If I stay up too late watching TV (and I do), I don’t get enough sleep. Less sleep = more stress.

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  • Libraries are no longer the Sacred Sites of Silence. I often find a remote corner, depending on the time of day, but even so, noise travels. Shrieking toddlers, teenagers with no concept of muting their phones and themselves, and the endless clicking of everybody’s laptop keyboards. Makes me crazy. If it’s a bad time of day, I retreat to Denny’s. Yes, it’s noisy, but in Tourist Season, I’m OK with that.

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  • Santa Cruz County is full of beaches and national parks and redwoods. We’ve got artist colonies and museums and aquariums. And yes, this means we’ve also got Tourist Season. Generally speaking, I like tourists. I can take a stroll down the Boardwalk and hear three or four foreign languages being spoken. What stresses me out is the traffic. People who don’t know Hwy 17, Hwy 9, and the major artery streets can get confused, which means they slow down. Then there are the people who insist on going insanely fast no matter where they are.

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  • It’s summer. I have three cats who are all shedding. One is a black longhair who decided to hack up the mother of all hairballs on the stairway landing some time last night. The last thing I want to see first thing in the morning is some big furry disgusting mess on my stairs, especially when there’s a good chance it might be alive. I live in a somewhat more civilized area than I have in the past two towns where I’ve lived, but we still have all kinds of flora and fauna that can and do take me by surprise.

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  • Now we come to the big issue of the moment. I’m having trouble with my heart. Arrhythmia, which is no big deal. At least I hope not. I had an attack today that lasted long enough to make me consider going to Urgent Care. I made an appointment with my doctor. The thing is, my general practitioner is over the hill in San Jose. That means I’ll be driving Hwy 17 tomorrow. Tomorrow is the Friday of the 4th of July Weekend. That means on my way home I will be dealing with everybody on the face of this part of the planet who wants to spend the holiday weekend at the beach. On a slow day Hwy 17 is a nightmare. Just thinking about it stresses me out. I didn’t realize the logistics of the drive until after I’d made the appointment. Doesn’t matter. I have to see my doctor. This is one of those things that just can’t wait.

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In Need of Nurses


by Lillian Csernica on June 18, 2016

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I’ve been meaning to write more frequent blog posts.  Life has gotten in the way in the form of being seriously short staffed where Michael is concerned.  Right now I have two R.N.s and my sister, who does have experience with hospital and in-home care.  With Michael out of school, we’re running two eight hour shifts per day.  This means I have to pitch in as well.  I’ve had to take four of the eight hour shifts, three 6:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. and one 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Michael takes seven different medications.  He needs at least two breathing treatments per day which include nebulizer treatment followed by three timed sessions with a percussive therapy vest.  Diaper changes can be quite laborious depending on the nature and quantity of his output.  Michael is twenty years old, close to six feet tall, and weighs 145 lb.  He’s on the gangly side, so rolling him from one side to the other requires considerable effort.

In the morning I fully expect to need Naproxen, if not my carefully hoarded stash of Vicodin.  I’m hoping the Vicodin won’t be necessary because I have an hour’s drive ahead of me in order to attend a writer’s group meeting.

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Adding to my joy this week is a breakdown in communications with the supplier of my antidepressant medications.  I did get an interim prescription for one of them from my doctor, but there’s been more difficulties with the other prescription.  Tomorrow will be Day 3 without Pristiq.  I will either be what some people might consider manic, or I will have no patience with obstacles and no filters in place to moderate my reactions to such obstacles.

Not really the best frame of mind for giving critiques in a writer’s group setting.

On Sunday we interview yet another R.N.  I’m really hoping she turns out to be a keeper.  We’re stretched mighty thin.  Summer school starts next week, but we still need a third R.N. to take some of the load off of my sister.

All of this leads me to think about what we’ll be facing once Michael is no longer in school.  He has two years left in the County program.  Then we’ll have to find other ways to get him out of the house and keep him occupied so he doesn’t languish in bed for the majority of his day.  That’s not good for his mental or physical health.

Doesn’t do a whole lot for mine, either.

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Norwescon Day Two


Lillian Csernica on March 25, 2016

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Slept late.  What a luxury!  There was a time when I’d stay up far too late, either roaming the room parties or hanging out somewhere talking with a group of friends.  Now that I’m older and (somewhat) wiser, I know the value of a good night’s sleep.

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There’s a programming track for kids that includes arts & crafts.  I’d been hoping the Decorate-a-T shirt make-n-take would allow me to create a customized souvenir for Michael or John.  There were no shirts big enough for the boys, but that was OK.  I came up with an idea for a pillow.  A medium shirt with 3 sets of sparkly blue dolphins leaping out of the waves should turn into a fun reminder of this con.

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During the T shirt workshop I got to talking with three young ladies who enjoy horror.  I brought a copy of  Typhon with me.  When I showed it to them, one of the girls pounced on it with the kind of enthusiasm that brings serious joy to a writer’s heart.  They bought it, complete with autograph and gold foil Autographed Copy sticker.

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I’ve been drinking Coke today.  Shame on me, but I need the caffeine.

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Make a Superhero Mask!  Yes, I went and hung out with the kids again.  No, I do not have a photo of my mask to show you.  I left that particular USB cable at home with my Kindle.  I am now the Bride of Cthulu!  The mask base is white plastic with the usual elastic string around the back.  I took a piece of lace meant to jazz up a wedding gown and glued it to the temples and the bridge of the nose. That way the point of the triangle, so to speak, hung down over the mouth, dangling pearl teardrops like really classy tentacles.  More pearls and some golden sunburst sequins across the forehead added the right amount of sparkle.

What’s my superhero name?  What’s my superpower?  You tell me!  I’m looking for inspiration!

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While I was making my way back through the hallways to the main lobby area, I happened across a jeweler selling marvelous steampunk items at bargain basement prices.  Bought John a glow in the dark star necklace with the word ZAP! on it in a red explosion, just like one of the sound effects on the old “Batman” TV series from the 1960s.  Better still, it glows in the dark!

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The dinner menu in the Hospitality Suite included hot dogs, chili, and chips with guacamole.  Pat and I shared a table with T-Bone, the Saturday night DJ.  He told us a very weird story he called “A Tale of Bamboozlement.”  I told him one of my stranger Ren Faire adventures.  Pat told us a of peculiar incident that happened while she was working for the Stockton Police Department.  Now this is what I call live entertainment!

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Around 9 p.m. I went back up to our room to drop off my tote bags, shopping bags, and some art Pat bought from the Tarot of Brass & Steam booth.  In the hallway outside our hotel room were people with Magic: The Gathering decks.  There were also people wearing Viking-type clothing.  Two doors down a pumpkin beer party was underway, put on by a group of historical re-enactment folks who enjoy Viking lore.  Somebody lent me a helmet that looked like the upper half of a pumpkin with the mandatory two horns sticking out of it.  Now that I met the dress code, I hung out at the party for a good hour, sampling three or four remarkable brews from Seattle micro-breweries.  I do mean samples, given out in the little plastic cups often used by Mexican restaurants for servings of pico de gallo.  I rarely drink, but when I do, I do it for a good cause.  This was a good cause!

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Parties are raging here in Wing 5.  I can hear the multitudes out in the hallway whooping it up.  I should get on out there and see what other adventures await me!

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How To Break Through to the Real Story


by Lillian Csernica on February 16, 2016

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Never throw anything away.

That’s one of the most important Rules for Living my mother ever taught me.

The minute you throw it away, you’re going to need it again.  Sometimes it can be relatively minor, like a phone number.  Sometimes it’s pretty major, like giving away all the baby toys and layette stuff then BOING!  There’s a new baby on the way.

When it comes to writing, we never know when that idea or that turn of phrase or that scene might come in handy after all.  As I’ve been editing Garden of Lies, the second novel in my Flower Maiden Saga, I save the chunks I cut out and put them in a separate file.  They may turn into the seeds of new ideas for the third novel.

Right now I’m experiencing a rather drastic epiphany in my writing process.  I have a story that fits the theme of an anthology taking submissions right now.  The story meets the essential requirements of the theme.  Unfortunately, it’s a story I wrote quite a while ago.  As my beta reader put it, it’s “from an earlier stage in my evolution as a writer.”  That means I’m a better writer now than I was back then.

I thought the plotline was pretty good.  I thought the characters had good motivations.  I thought the magic and the monster and the twist all worked.

I was wrong.  And I couldn’t see that.

I don’t know if it was just laziness on my part or what.  The more questions my beta reader asked, the more I tried to slap little patches on some of the problems, the more the story began to fall apart.  I’m in a hurry, because the submission deadline is closing in fast.  Thank Heaven my beta reader is very patient with my foibles as a writer.  She kept challenging me to think about what the story could be, and not just make do with what I’d already slapped together.

It’s not easy to admit all this.  I pride myself on writing good, solid stories.  Granted, I pulled this one out of the mending pile.  I knew it needed work.  Not until the second round of comments from my beta reader did I finally realize what the problem really was.  Yes, the main conflict of the story was worth keeping.  The rest of it had to be torn down to the foundations and rebuilt from there.

Imagine the difference between a nursery rhyme puppet show and real actors in a live performance of Shakespeare.

I’m not comparing my work to Shakespeare.  I am saying I now see how shallow the original version of the story had turned out.  If I wanted this story to really shine, I had to commit to tearing everything apart, rethinking all of it, and rebuilding it from scratch.

Stronger plot.  Fully fleshed characters.  Magic that made sense in both the big and the little details.  Anger and jealousy and hatred.  Love and loyalty and sacrifice.

Good enough isn’t good enough.  Sometimes it’s hard to see what more we could do to a story to improve it.  That’s what beta readers are for.  That’s where writing groups can be helpful.  (Please see all my caveats about writing groups.)  Once we have some thoughts from other people on what’s missing, what’s too much, and how well what we’ve got is working, then we can push harder and deeper for the real story that’s waiting to be told.

Writing is hard work.  As Westley says to Buttercup in The Princess Bride, “Anybody who says differently is selling something.”

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A New Anthology Release!


by Lillian Csernica on February 4, 2016

I am delighted to announce that my story, “The Screaming Key,” is now available in Typhon: A Monster Anthology from Pantheon Magazine.

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This story came about as a result of me spending my teenage years staying up late on the weekends watching horror movies on Channel 13. (I lived in Southern California then.)  More influences include all of the 19th Century ghost stories I love to read, especially the works of M.R. James.  I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Neil Gaiman for creating the Sandman graphic novels. They set my imagination on fire and went a long way toward planting the seeds of inspiration for “The Screaming Key.”

 

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