Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for October, 2013

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Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
plonking along

My parents have come to visit for about a week and a half (well they’ve been here a few of days already) so I’ve been off having a good time with them. Also my SIL was in town for work for a couple days and we had a good time with her.

Tonight we did some pumpkin carving (started), but the faces will get carved tomorrow. And trick or treating. I’ve also put some more stuff away. My living room is almost functional. I may need some furniture But I don’t know what I want.2013-10-30 12.57.23

I’m getting some sense of what’s missing from my developing ending. I think I’ve found a spark. But won’t be able to get to it right away. Planning to be busy the next few days. Might get a little time in on it next week. Maybe not until the folks leave. I might need a little more percolating. But at least the percolating is working.

Did I mention it snowed in MT and tomorrow it will be down around 20 overnight there, and I won’t be there! Bwhahahahaha!

In other news, we have extra corgis staying with us while the folks are visiting. A corgi horde.

ooops. I just broke into the Halloween candy. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t eat that much.

Oh, how cool is this? Was in Radio Shack today and they have Big Bang Theory flash drives of Howard, Sheldon, and Leonard. I took a picture. I had to. Which would you pick?

 

Saturday, October 26th, 2013
All Gone

Over the past few days I’ve sorted through all my books. I’ve shelved a bunch and I’ve boxed a bunch to get rid of. I haven’t dug through my research books as I haven’t got those shelves set up, but I’m fairly confident I’m keeping all of those. Then we took the books to Powell’s. Over 40 paper boxes full. They didn’t buy as much as I hoped, but they did buy some, so we got rid of about 10 gone. Then we took the rest to a local used book store, and got rid of more than 75% of the rest, and then we took the final books to The Friends of the Salem Library. I had to do it fast or I’d decide to keep them. The problem was that I really needed to cut ties with that old life. Plus I needed to get all those boxes out of the house. We still aren’t really moved in. More like camping in a lot of places as we get things done. The worst part is figuring out where to put things and where to hang pictures. Plus the man is working a ton of overtime and so it’s a lot slower to make things happen.

For whatever reason, that reminds me that I want to make some cinnamon rolls. I think I’ll have to do that later today or tomorrow morning.

My parents are coming to visit on Monday. Really looking forward to it.

I think I have begun to come to an ending on Tracer. Still not quite all together, but getting there.

My dog is snuggled up to me so tight I think he is afraid I’ll leave again. I was gone too long in the past couple of days. Poor thing. I’m about to leave again. The other dog is curled up in a ball on the couch a few feet away. He’s sulking I think.

I will start painting my office this next week, having delayed that by a) doing some writing this week, and b) working on books. I am going to rope my mom into helping me. Little does she know . . .  Bhwahahahahaha!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
books and more books

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I am not going to be doing any more academic research or teaching in my area of specialty. That doesn’t mean I won’t be reading and enjoying what I love, but I won’t be delving into the theory and writing articles. This means that I have to get rid of a lot of books. I just decided to do it. Rip off the bandage quick. So I’ve sorted through about half of the boxes and prepped them for going away. Over the next few days I’ll do more so that I can get these boxes out of sight and out of mind. I’m keeping anything that might be useful for writing and any beloved books.

I’ve been feeling like I’ve been camping in the house. We finally got the shelves in so I can put the books away (read unpack the books), and get rid of the great barrier box reef. That will mean getting the table in place and putting the chairs away so we can thereby get other things put away. It’s like we’re going to actually live here!

Of course that meant not getting very much writing done today. The bare minimum. I still think I can finish by next week. I think an ending is coming together. Maybe. slowly. In the meantime trying to enjoy the sunshine and get some walking in.

Sunday, October 20th, 2013
shelf happiness and a dilemma

Today we slept uber late and then I went to Costco where I spent a lot of time. Go figure. I saw someone come out with a bag of dog food. Just a bag of dog food. I think they did Costco wrong. Got home and we started working on screwing the shelves in. After that, I started unpacking books. Yes, I’ve rediscovered a bunch of books. I still have many boxes to open. But I’ve run into a problem, and that is all the books from my past life of research and academia. I have some amazing books from my research days, but I’m not likely to ever use them again. I don’t know that I would read them again, either. I don’t know what I want to do with them. Many of them I wrote in. They are probably only useful to grad students in literature or women’s studies.

The question now is, what do I do with them? Part of me wants to keep them, but realistically I won’t have room. But I’m back to what to do with them.

What the hardest thing to figure out is how many of the Victorian novels I want to keep. There’s always the library after all. Right now I’m putting aside all the books I don’t want to shelve. And I’m also making a box of books to get rid of. Make that two–so far.

And I still have no ending for my book. This is beginning to be troubling. I’ve never run into this problem before. If this keeps up, I’ll be painting my office this week instead. Which would be good, insomuch as I could then install the shelves in that room too, and put away more books!

In a fit of unhappiness over my inability to think of an ending,I crocheted my first hat last night. Took me a couple of hours and came out pretty well. It’s purple, and a slouch hat. I’d like to make a flower to go on it. It feels loose, so I don’t know how well I’ll be able to wear it. Daughter has put an order in for one of her own.

I’m already trying to figure out where I can put more shelves. I have not told my husband this. I don’t think he wants to know.

The weather has been absolutely lovely. The trees in our yard are lovely colors of red, orange, and yellow. One tree is absolutely maroon.

On a less happy note, my mother-in-law went into intensive care a few days ago. Tomorrow she’ll be moved to hospice care. I don’t know how much longer she has. It’s kind of a blessing, because she can’t remember her children or her husband and she feels lost and afraid. At the same time, my husband feels like he’s losing her for the second time and it’s really hard.

 

Friday, October 18th, 2013
The end is missing

I did a ton of work on Tracer this week. I am less than 15K from the end. But I have no idea where it’s going. I wonder if my lizard brain will reveal something soon. I hope so. I want to finish this draft next week.

Tomorrow I get my shelves!!!! Finally! We go get them in Portland and bring them home and hopefully install at least one bank of them on Sunday and then I can start *gasp* unpacking my books!!!

I bought some cocoanut oil to use on my furniture. I have some that needs some serious refreshing. I tried it out today and wow. That stuff works. I rubbed it on kind of like a paste and then after awhile, I rubbed it off, then took a cloth and did a polish. It really did a heck of a job. Apparently you can eat the stuff too. I hate cocoanut. I wonder if I’ll actually be willing to try it.

okay, off to ponder the ending . . .

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Trace of Magic snippet

I don’t have much to share today, except that my shelves are finally in and we’ll get them this weekend, and hopefully install them too! (there’s more work to them than just setting them in the house and loading them up, sadly)

So in celebration of shelves, a snippet for you:

 

“I’ll take care of her,” Touray said after a slight hesitation. “I promise.”

My heart stopped beating as Price considered. Then he nodded. He grabbed his jacket off the table, glass sprinkling to the floor, then jogged down to the white doors and left. He never once looked at me.

Touray faced me. He scanned me up and down like I was defective. I wanted to squirm, but the bottom of the cage was too full of glass. I’d already cut my feet. I didn’t dare make them worse, not that I was going to need them. I doubted I’d get a chance to go anywhere before I died. He had told Price he would take care of me, but I’d watched enough movies to know that probably meant he was going to kill me.

I heard pops! and canisters thudded down through the empty windows. I was blinded by strobe flashes. An acrid smell washed through the space. Almost instantly my nose began to itch and my eyes began to water.

“Cover your nose and mouth,” Touray ordered, pulling off his shirt and tying it over the lower half of his face. I did the same, the turleneck fighting me all the way. I was now in a cage, shirtless and wearing only a bra, with blood trickling down my neck and back and smearing the floor under my feet.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Jamie Lee Moyer on Serial Killers

As I’ve mentioned before, Jamie Lee Moyer has written Delia’s Shadow, a fabulous historical fantasy set in post-earthquake San Francisco. It has amazing characters, a real tangible and textured sense of history and place, romance, crime, ghosts, and a serial killer. I love this book. You should read it and tell everyone you know to read it. I asked Jamie to come visit and talk about Serial Killers. You know I have a fascination for them anyhow, but it’s even more interesting to think about how a turn-of-the-century detective might have gone about solving that kind of case. There’s no DNA, no computers, no trace . . . no CSI in the way we know it. Yet you’ll be amazed at what you see in the book. So without further ado, here’s is Jamie Lee Moyer:

 

“Just an average guy”ds

 

When I first realized that a serial killer was part of the plot in my novel, Delia’s Shadow, I started down a path that involved some intensive—and not very pleasant—research.  I knew a bit about serial killers from abnormal psych classes in college, from non-fiction books I’d read over the years, and watching crime documentaries. That was a good start, but not near enough.

Law enforcement’s definition of a serial killer is someone who commits a series of murders over a significant period of time, months or years, with a “cooling off” period between each killing. That cooling off period could be weeks, months, or even years.

These killers tend to fall into three categories: Organized killers who plan their killings methodically and often abduct their victims, disorganized killers who act on impulse and use what ever weapon is at hand, and killers who show a mix of organized and disorganized behaviors.

I should probably confess here that I have a mild obsession with understanding what makes people do horrible things.  There were reasons I was a psychology major in college. The human mind, with all it’s twists and quirks, is utterly fascinating for me.

What transforms a seemingly normal child into a monster?  No one knows with absolute certainty what causes one little boy to disassociate to the point he thinks of other people as prey, while another child growing up in the same circumstances—doesn’t.  But researchers have come up with what appears to be a common trigger; childhood trauma.

This comes up again and again when reviewing the childhoods of serial killers. Many (most) were sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by family members. The loss of a parent or neglect is another common factor. Bullying and social isolation are other possible triggers.

One theory is that an abused child builds a fantasy world as a way of escaping the neglect or abuse he experiences.  He is in control and all powerful in his own world, and nothing can hurt him there. This fantasy world becomes the focus of his life, his everyday existence, and all development of a sense of right and wrong stops.

I said little boy for a reason. The vast majority of serial killers are male. Serial killers are rare to begin with, but only one in five or six of those are female. Why it falls out that way is another question without a firm answer.

The popular conception of a serial killer is of a lone, shadowy figure, with no social or personal ties to anyone. That isn’t always strictly true. Some are highly respected professionals, others were active in their church or community, holding good jobs and supporting families. How often friends, neighbors, and even family, expressed surprise, or described a newly discovered serial killer as “just an average guy” is really kind of scary.

I learned all about visionary, hedonistic, lust, control and so many other kinds of killers. The reasons these men kill are a whole other kind of scary.

My research took a turn then. I started looking at real life murders and profiles of the men behind them. The FBI files for a lot of high profile killers are available online via the Freedom of Information Act. Reading those files wasn’t fun, but if I was going to get “inside” the head of my character, I needed to learn as much as possible.

I’ve seen people speculate that the killer in Delia’s Shadow was based in part on Jack the Ripper. He wasn’t. There was a real life serial killer, The Zodiac, that terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area for years. He taunted the police and claimed many more victims than were ever found.

As suddenly as he started, The Zodiac stopped killing. He was never caught and never identified, although theories abound as to who he might have been. And I had to ask myself, what if he came back?

Then I had to ask, how would the police catch a killer before the age of computers, nationwide DNA and fingerprint databases, and modern forensics?

Especially if that killer was just an average guy.

Stories grow from bits and pieces, seeds of an idea and the shiny things writer’s collect. This mild obsession with human monsters, and innocence becoming evil, is just one of the seeds that grew into Delia’s Shadow.

 

Monday, October 14th, 2013
Weird days

I wrote nearly 4k words today. Keep in mind I’m almost at the end of the book and I still don’t quite know the ending. I do have some strong ideas, and that’s better than where I was the other day. Let’s hope I know more very soon. Very soon. I figure I have about 22K left to write. That’s not a lot of room to not know and I’ll be facing some serious revision if i can’t get it figured out.

I made some brownies. I accidentally quadrupled the recipe. Don’t ask me how. I’ve got talents you don’t even know about. And yes, it was an accident. I didn’t actually want to cook that much. I don’t mind eating that much, but probably my body wouldn’t care for it.

I took the kids to get library cards today. Got me one too. I feel more official Oregonian now.

Tomorrow I have to go to Costco. And I don’t have children to tote the stuff. Sigh. I will endeavor to carry for myself.

I have now made reservations for Norwescon. So as of now, I will be at:

Orycon
Rainforest Writers Retreat
Norwescon
Miscon
Spocon

If anybody is going to be around, let me know! We’ll get together!

Sunday, October 13th, 2013
Corn Maze Day!

We had so much fun! It was overcast and hardly anybody was in the maze. Sadly some had blown down in a recent nasty wind storm, but mostly it was standing tall. It was based on Mirkwood and the spiders!!!! It had a dragon at the exit, too. There were scarecrows inside to find and when you did, you stamped your ticket and then you could enter it for an end of season drawing. I love it. After, we went to the pumpkin patch and bought dirt-cheap pumpkins. We ended up with a 43 lb orange one, about a 35 lb orange with green warts, a white 20 lb one, and a big Cinderella pumpkin for baking (it’s an heirloom variety and supposed to be great for cooking.) All that for 22 bucks. Then we bought some purple cauliflower and some broccoli.

I can’t wait to go to another!! And now for some pictures. Sorry if their huge, they came off my phone.

We're going in.

We’re going in.

Children of the Corn

Children of the Corn

cinderella pumpkin

cinderella pumpkin

Saturday, October 12th, 2013
ch ch ch changes

In the year that we lived apart (the man and the rest of us), my son developed Xbox skills that he didn’t have before and so now the man and boy are whomping on each other in hockey and the man has to work hard to win. They are bonding. And my son says things that are not so young anymore. More teenagerish. Maybe because he is one now. Sigh. They are so cute together though.

We managed to decorate some walls today and clean a bit in the garage. So positive changes there. I bought paint a week ago for my office and made no progress whatsoever in prepping it for painting. I’m going to be working on that. I envision a lot of taping in my near future. It will certainly make the painting less difficult as well as more likely to come out well. I have a LOT of trim in that room and the ceiling will remain white. I was going to go green, but decided I wasn’t daring enough so I’m going purple.

We got a pikachu costume for girlie today. Boy doesn’t want to dress up. Went to a Halloween store and wanted to look at the creepy decorations, but girlie was creeped out and wanted to Leave. That. Section. Now.

We also worked on our furnace. Specifically our filters. They are super crappy and they need a better framework to hold them in. So we’re thinking about best methods to construct said framework. We also need to call someone to service it before we want to run it.

The man did not work overtime today for the first time in weeks. So nice. Tomorrow we are going to a corn maze. Can’t wait. Never been. Have I mentioned this before? Am I completely annoying you all by telling you yet again how much I want to go to a corn maze?

Been reading a book that’s meh. It’s supposed to be good. It’s got all the right elements. Mystery, crime, ghosts, murder. But I’m not into the characters at all and so while I want to keep reading to see who the bad guy turns out to be, I kinda want to just skip to the end.

I’ve done some poking and prodding at Trace of Magic this weekend. Added some words and have been trying to sort out what happens next. Wish I knew. Hopefully it will come to me because the book is coming to its climax and I should know what that is. Funny thing is that I have the final scene in my head. It’s denoument, but predicated on a certain event happening. The question is, how does that event come about? There are still a whole lot of possibilities. There are also some threads that need to be dealt with. Like why were those guys really trying to kill the main characters earlier? and what are those things? and who kidnapped *character* and where is he and can they rescue him? And exactly what’s the real agenda of *other character*?

I should probably figure out those things like, oh, soonish, since I plan to be done with the book in two weeks. That will require writing the words down that end the book. Which will require knowing what happens. Or so I’m assuming. I could be wrong.



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