Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for January, 2014

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Friday, January 31st, 2014
Stuffed silly

Why did I eat so much at dinner? why why why?

Boy has only vomited twice so far  today. We took a walk in the park in the sunshine. It was great. I love not living in the freezing cold where there’s still green grass and green leaves here. Love love love. Hopefully he stays off the barf train tonight. I hope to get out more tomorrow. Maybe this time we’ll take the doggies.

Still working on the revisions on The Cipher. Still making changes that I didn’t expect. I wonder if I’m making it a stronger book. I hope so. It will be hard to put it back if not.

I’ve also got another thing in the works that I can’t say anything about. I’ll let you know when it’s actual news. I think you’ll like it.

 

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
the news that is

I know, I’m not really posting much this week. The boy continues to be sick. I have been working on The Cipher for reissue. The weather has been very nice, and generally things have continued to plod along. We got some new furniture today, so now I need to get people over. The house is almost put together now. We still have some projects outside and some unboxing and putting away to do inside, but most of it is put away. What I can’t find is one of my sword display plaques for the long sword. Not sure where it’s gone to. I believe I’ve seen it since we’ve been here, but I have no idea where it is.

Tomorrow you should go over to Magical Words. I’ve been doing first page critiques there and two more will be posted. It makes for a good discussion to see other people’s comments. The first one was about a week ago. There will be links on the posting to it.

I also got a job offer to teach in a low residency MFA program. The contract isn’t signed yet, (it’s coming in the mail soon) and it’s a year to year contract, but I’m really excited and I’m really looking forward to it. I spend a couple of weeks on campus in the summer, and then work with students online during the year. I get to focus on genre fiction. I’ll give more details once I get the contract signed and returned. The regular paycheck won’t hurt my feelings either, specially as the bills roll in on the boy.

Thanks for the suggestions on the baby blanket and website! I’m checking out the one pattern to see if I like it. Not sure I want to do one with a lot of lacy holes, or go for a more solid one. But then again, I also found a cute little hat and now I’m pondering a hat, except I know babies’ heads are much smaller than I remember. I wonder if a grapefruit would make a good guide?

 

Monday, January 27th, 2014
at the end of the weekend

Technically today is the end of the weekend, because there was no school today for the kids. Well, the boy hasn’t been having any school anyhow. We are working on getting him qualified for a special medical accommodations program, and that’s in the works. Anyhow, we did some errands to get the boy outside and to get some things done. I’m getting some pictures framed, including the crap fairy by Jessica Douglas. This is the fairy who sits there and tells you your work is crap  and you should stop and find a new line of work. I totally wish I could own the original, but I did get a little print of it and so she will be framed. I also framed this really old print by a guy whose name is escaping me, but I will tell you when I get it back. I think it’s a print. Heck, it could be original for all I know. I just like it. I also got a print of Wicked Girls (the song) by Seanan McGuire.  I totally love the print, and it’s going to be lovely framed.

Then we got home and boy was somewhat okay but had some bouts of throwing up. I think he threw up about 3 or 4 times today. We’re trying out another medicine, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll be doing some more tests.

I totally forgot what happened to Giselle’s parents and I need help remembering. Anybody? Help?

We sold our futon, for which I’m very happy. They will pick it up tomorrow. We will then clean the carpet and we’ll be getting a couple of new couches in on Thursday. We also got some used chairs this weekend, which pretty much rounds out our furniture needs. Now to do a little painting and finish hanging up pictures, and the place is starting to feel more like we live here. Amazing what getting pictures up will do.

I need to get on the elliptical tomorrow. I need to get it all cleaned up. I’ve been out walking and not using it, but now the rain is setting in and I want to get more aerobic exercise (lately I’ve been walking slow on account of kids and dogs). So hopefully I’ll get more going there. Also hopefully, I’ll get a bunch of writing related stuff done tomorrow.

I need to find a baby blanket crochet pattern to make. I want to find one I like. I tend to want to make one solid color in a cool pattern, but not sure what I want that pattern to be. I’m so so at reading patterns. Anybody have ideas?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Potential progress made. Maybe.

Took boy into see his doc today (regular, not GI). I wanted to get his ears checked, just in case, and talk about counseling and anxiety. He talked to Q for awhile and gave him suggestions, gave me suggestions for what I could do for him on the anxiety front, and then gave a counselor recommendation. I got boy started working on a latch hook rug kit and he’s loving it. What’s good is that he’s making something and he’s really enjoying it and being happy. I think it lessened his nausea today. Then we did some homework. We both read articles and then discussed them for his social studies class. Tomorrow we’ll do the same. He’s having a hard time focusing, which is unusual, but he’s on some serious medication, so that’s probably a lot of it. Plus the meds make him tired. Anyhow, I’m going to keep pushing to keep him distracted with activities and make him get out of the house every day. Don’t even care why.

Right now I’m being stared at by an unhappy dog. oops, no, he’s elected to jump on my lap.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
What you can tell me

As you know, Belle Bridge books is reissuing the Crosspointe Chronicles. I’m in the process of going over The Cipher (I always liked this book–all the books, really) but I’m finding that I’m making some significant changes in some scenes so far. They don’t change the plot or the storyline, but they do unpack the characters some more. I think I’m making the book better. It’s rare to get a chance to do something like this on an already published book. At least for me. It’s possible I’ll add a scene somewhere for all I know. If it makes the book better, I don’t want to take it off the table.

But doing this comes with concerns for me. I don’t want to force my fans to go out and buy a new copy of the book. That’s not at all why I’m doing this and I’m a little worried I could anger some readers. I feel like there ought to be a warning on the book, but of course that won’t happen. I don’t want to ruin a good relationship with a publisher, either. I very much like the changes so far. I think Lucy and Marten are becoming more engaging characters.  I liked them both before, but I’ve learned so much since I wrote this book that I’m finding a lot of places to push and expand.

In the end, as a writer, I have to make the changes that improve the story and hope my readers don’t feel pressured to buy a new volume. There’s always the library, right?

Sunday, January 19th, 2014
Of dreams too strange to be nightmares

I had a weird dream last night. It seemed to tie together teaching, the cattle ranch where I grew up, and attending a con. I don’t exactly understand (or don’t begin to understand) what exactly the story was in the dream. I know I was supposed to be grading some sort of final project while registering for a con and having people into the ranch. The why/how/wtf?/ of it all eludes me. The whole thing made me anxious, though. What’s that about?

Watching Denver beat the Patriots (so far). I’m okay with a Broncos win. But I really want the Niners to beat the Seahawks. We’ll see how that goes.

Boy improved over the last couple of days and today seems worse. He’s got anxiety over the ultrasound on Tuesday. I’m not sure why. He’s seen me have one. He knows it’s not invasive, but he just doesn’t want them messing with his stomach. The anxiety is making for problems. I’m taking him in this week to talk to the doc about it. He’s also really dizzy today.

I need to clip dog toenails. It’s quite a production. I follow it up with brushing, so I redeem myself, but I’m still get reproachful looks.

I’m poking at a story I started a bit ago. Finally realized I didn’t know something quite key to moving forward, so I’ve begun working on that. Once I know that, a lot more should become clear. But short stories tend to turn into novellas, then novels. I’m hoping to keep this one under control.

Friday, January 17th, 2014
cryptic

I was invited to apply to do something very cool, so I did, and now I’m waiting for the higherups in the process to give me a green or red light. Keep your fingers crossed. Not writing related.

I had long delayed reviewing the manuscript for a young woman I agreed to do that for and I finished that today and sent it back. Done and done. I hope it’s useful.

Visited with the boy’s principal and we are beginning the process to make better arrangements for schooling while he’s out sick.

Boy has only thrown up twice today so far. I hope it’s not an anomaly, but a trend toward getting well.

I have been working on tightening up The Cipher for reissue. I don’t know if I’m going to add any scenes or take any out. I can if I choose, so I’m giving it some thought. Not because I want to change it, but if time has taught me how to make it a better story, I will. I will hopefully get more work done on that this weekend.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
checking in on life

I don’t have a lot of updates on the boy. Still barfing, though he is sleeping better.

I have several things to get done over the next six weeks. 1) make any updates/changes to The Cipher for reissue, 2) revise Trace of Magic, 3) plot out new Crosspointe book, 4) work on the historical YA. In six weeks, I’ll be going to the Rainforest Writers Retreat (I can’t wait!) and I’ll be hoping to get a serious amount of writing done during that retreat. I’ve decided my son will be well by then. I hope to hell he is. I’ll be a mess if he isn’t.

So the next seven weeks are pretty well planned, if I can get down to business. That’s a bit tougher. I’m distracted and having a hard time maintaining focus. Plus I seem to have errands dropping on me every five minutes.

Weirdly, our phones will randomly stop working during the day. I’m not sure why. I think it’s not the phones themselves, but our carrier. I’m going to have to check into it. But of course I’m going to end up with the issue of, if I can call in, then there’s no problem. If I can’t, I can’t call them. Gah.

Sunday, January 12th, 2014
Boy update

All the endoscopy tests came back negative. No Celiac, no lactose intolerance, no bacteria issues, no allergies, and I forget what else was tested for. Also no parasites. The doc is trying him on a medicine that helps with pediatric stomach migraines. I didn’t know such things existed, but apparently they do. It will also help with cyclic vomiting syndrome, though the doc doesn’t think that’s what he has. He had to have an EKG today to make sure he can be on the medicine. He also has to have a stomach ultrasound next week. He’s still vomiting. Only about 4 times today.

Also, I got a new Macbook today. There’s a bad sensor inside. I took it back. Bah! So I wait again. It was lovely and thin and sleek.

The dog has a runny/gooey eye. Not sure what he did to himself. Trying to keep it clean with a damp cloth and hopefully that helps me.

Hoping to do some baking tomorrow. Maybe cinnamon rolls. Maybe bread.

Would also like to get some writing done. Definitely going to watch the niners play. Was hoping that the Colts would pull it out today, but they didn’t.

 

 

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
What a character fears most

I was looking at some stuff on plotting and thinking about what I know about characters. One of the things that you can do to sort out a character and story is to think about what that character fears the most and then make that happen. So for instance, personally my greatest fear is that something will happen to my kids or my husband. But I got to thinking about that fear. The truth is that while that is the biggest fear I know about, it probably isn’t my biggest fear. Or rather, it is, but fear is situational and relative.

So let’s take this away from me. Let’s create a character. She’s a woman with a child. No husband. She’s about thirty. The child is about six. Amy, our character, has a job at a local bakery. She’s a baker. She hasn’t got any other family. Her greatest fear is that something should happen to her child. A kidnapper, an accident, a pedophile . . . You can imagine the possibilities.  So she is watchful and careful. But she hasn’t imagined the other possibilities. Because her greatest fears are limited to her imagination, and while she surely can imagine a lot of bad things, she doesn’t imagine everything. So here are some more worst fears come to life.

She gets in an accident and her child is left alone and helpless with no one to take care of her. Amy is kidnapped and forced to carry a bomb into federal building or her daughter will be maimed. She’s never thought about murdering someone or causing hundreds of people to die. Is that worse than killing or maiming her own child? Well, it depends on her morals and values and how horrified by killing she’d be and maybe if she’s seen what happened on 9/11. Or what if she’s asked to kill her best friend. Or blow up a school of children. You see, the worst fear can be something unimagined by the character. And there are a lot of options for that. What if she’s tortured? And everybody tends to break under torture eventually, so what if that’s her worst fear? That she breaks and causes her daughter’s harm? Or something else?

When thinking about a character’s worst fear and making that happen,  think not just about what she thinks is her worst fear, but what might be one of the worst things that can happen. Or variety of things. And then chase them out, along with her reactions–emotional and physical–and her consequent actions to fix the situation or manage it, or what must happen. This not only generates character and conflict, but plot. Think about who is doing this to her and what she’s up against.

 



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