The #1 Question All Writers Should Ask

Excellent point here!

Hopes and Dreams: My Writing and My Sons

by Lillian Csernica on August 11, 2017


Stories grow out of two questions: What if? and What next?

If you’re like me, your stories tend to start out as a sudden flash of action or dialogue. Maybe you think of a character first, and then the problem. Either way, once you’ve got your basic idea on paper and it’s time to think about story structure, there’s one essential question you must answer:

Why now?


In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge has to change his ways right now or he won’t live to see another Christmas.


In The Hunger Games, when Katniss’ little sister is chosen to represent their District, Katniss has to take action right now to save her sister’s life. The only acceptable way is to volunteer and take her place.


In Andy Weir’s novel The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney has to come up…

View original post 67 more words

What’s Happening in Charlottesville

I always say that I’m not going to be political on this blog.  For the most part, I think I’ve kept my promise.  However, when you get down to it, all art is political.  It’s about making a statement.  I spoke out in Bayou Fire about abolition and equality, just to name an example from my œuvre.

I usually post a sample from one of my books on Saturdays, but I just couldn’t find my way to do that today.

I’ve been following the events of Charlottesville, Virginia, very closely.  There are a couple of reasons for it, not the least of which is that I took an excellent historical fiction survey course from one of the professors at UVA.

Part of the reason I’m following it so closely is that I’m horrified by what is happening in our country.  It seems that, within six months, almost every bit of civil rights progress we’ve made in the past 100 years is being overturned.  White supremacists feel emboldened to express their hate and argue that it’s no different from LGBT Pride, or Black Lives Matter.

But here’s the truth:  it is very much different.  The invisible privilege knapsack favors white males in particular over any other subset of the population.   If you look at the images of protestors from last night in Charlottesville, you see a bunch of angry white men.  Period.  And what are they angry about?  Well, they think that life is like pie … and that someone else (a minority someone else) getting a little bit of equality means that they are taking it away from some white person.  Instead of recognizing that equality levels the playing field, they think it’s a zero-sum game.

Over on Twitter, Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son) said something very interesting, which reminded me of a line from a song in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  In that song, Gaston is firing up a mob to go kill the Beast, and they sing this line:  “We don’t like what we don’t understand; in fact it frightens us.”

That put this whole thing in perspective for me.  These are people who are afraid of losing their place at the top of the privilege ladder.  They see themselves as more deserving than anyone else, strictly by virtue of the color of their skin.  And they’re frightened that the color of their skin is no longer enough to make them “better” than the next person.

I strongly considered posting the Dead Kennedys’ Nazi Punks as a bonus track today (you can click the link if you want to hear it), because the song says a lot of things I would want to say to those people in person.  Instead, I have chosen to share a video with two of the most powerful protest songs I know, sung on one of the most important occasions in our country’s history: the 1963 March on Washington.  We must continue, as Mary Travers says in the commentary, to come together for positive social change.  The commentary here is lovely as well.



Weekend Reads: “Boston Metaphysical Society: Prelude”

Boston Metaphysical Society: PreludeBoston Metaphysical Society: Prelude by Madeleine Holly-Rosing

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This set of seven short stories and novellas will most assuredly whet your appetite for more tales in the Boston Metaphysical Society world. These prequels give us insight into the lives of several of Madeleine Holly-Rosing’s key characters.

My favorite story of the lot was “Steampunk Rat.” I’m an animal lover, and seeing the young scion of one of Boston’s Great Houses care so much about little Tinker was splendid. This story also made me cry, because I was very worried about the rat at one point. Well done indeed, there.

The common thread throughout is how the spirit world lives so close to the human world in Boston … and Medium Andrew O’Sullivan can even capture spirits on camera. Ex-Pinkerton Samuel Hunter (whom I can now only see as cover model Jason Baca, thanks to the book’s outstanding design) has an axe to grind of his own, and inventor Granville Woods is determined to use his inventing skills to make the world a safer place. This team of three discover that they are better together, which we see in the closing tale.

This book isn’t just for steampunk fans (although you’ll love it if you are); it’s for people who admire a tightly written adventure story peopled with believable characters facing unbelievable odds. Nicely done, and highly recommended.

View all my reviews

On Calling Ourselves Writers

Nice piece here. My two cents: if you write, you are a writer.

Go Dog Go Café


Davy D is off this week because of work and family commitments.  I look forward to his thoughtful weekly posts as they both stimulate my thinking as well as my creativity.  I know that many of you look forward to these posts as well and I thought I would try to fill Davy’s formidable shoes this week.

An important part of my journey over the last year has been the transformation in my own thinking about myself as a middle-aged woman who happens to write a little to thinking of myself as a writer and a poet.  We have talked a bit already here about whether we can claim the title “poet” or whether it is a title that needs to be bestowed.  I want to dig a little deeper this week into what it means to understand “writer” and/or “poet” to be part of our core identity.  A truth…

View original post 276 more words

Bonus Track: “William Tell Overture,” by Glen Campbell

I am sure that, by now, you know that Glen Campbell passed away yesterday after a lengthy and very public battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.  What you may not know is this:  besides being a popular country-western singer, he was a gifted guitarist.  He played sessions for many bands, including the Beach Boys (that riff at the beginning of “Fun, Fun, Fun” is all him).

Here is Campbell’s rendition of the “William Tell Overture,” played in honor of Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels … and shared by me in honor of Glen.