I’ve not got much news, I’m afraid. School ended, and nothing so far has come from the showing this week. My folks arrived early, so that’s been wonderful. Weather is good. Thought we might get a thunderstorm today, but it didn’t happen. Did take a long walk with the dogs yesterday and today.
I was also mugged by an idea the other day. I thought it would be a short story, and maybe it will be. But then again, maybe it won’t be. It’s very difficult to say at this stage. It’s a story of the dead, but not zombies, not vampire, not ghosts. Yeah, a different kind of dead.
I’m feeling pretty worn out and flat. End of semester/school year blues? Or maybe just the post-showing-hope letdown. Feeling really tired.
I’m getting itchy to go digging crystals at Crystal Park. It’s full of quartz crystals and it’s a kind of treasure hunt. But the road is still snowed in, I think. So maybe in a couple weeks.
It is, in fact, dog shedding time for one of the dogs. The other is waiting to shed until his brother finishes so that they can extend the shedding season. How considerate. I’m seeing some lilac buds on some plants and a lot of leaves on others. Maybe spring is really here.
Roasted a chicken the other night. Turned out really well. Used fresh lemon, rosemary, salt, pepper, and roasted it 300 for an hour and a half, then turned it up to 350. Was juice and tasty and the skin was really crispy.
Want to get some flowers to plant in the yard. Girlie wants to do that, too.
One day down, two days left of this semester. Did my last faculty senate meeting today. That’s six years out of seven that I’ve served. I’m ready for a break. Kind of interested in a different committee though. Might talk to someone about it.
People looked at the house today but have decided to go with acreage I guess. Depressing. But at least the house is clean.
I wrote a page today on the WIP and don’t like it at all. I think it’s going too slow and that my main character isn’t quite right. She’s a bit cardboardy. At least on the page, though not in my head.
I want to go dig crystals, but I don’t know if Crystal Park is open yet. My feeling is that it should be and the roads should be open. We haven’t had that much snow.
I haven’t planned a book club book for May. I wasn’t sure anyone was up for it. Maybe start again in the fall? What do you think? I’m reading Thieftaker right now. Or rather, I started it, but then got caught up in other stuff and now I have to go back to it.
I keep wondering how my house shows in comparison with other houses. I know it’s old–1917. But it’s in really good shape with a lot of the original woodwork and fixtures. Sure, some of my room paints are on the bold side, but the kitchen is only 4 years old. I know we only have 1.5 baths, but I feel like there ought to be more interest. I just wish I could figure out what the deal is. We supposedly aren’t overpriced, but yet we aren’t getting much looks. And we’ve lowered the price.
Emptied off a bunch of my DVR recordings. Decided I was never going to watch this season of Person of Interest. I also deleted my Havens. I like the show but– well, I want to read more and write more.
My folks are going to be visiting for a few days. I’m looking forward to that. At least the house will be clean for them.
AddrienneM wins the giveaway! Send me an email. dpf AT dianapfrancis DOT com
Boy has made it back to school for one whole day. Yay. Girlie’s birthday is tomorrow. I baked treats today for her class and tomorrow I will bake a cake and also wrap presents and get ready for friends to spend the night. It should be fun. If I can stay awake. (All this after I get done teaching). I think the treats turned out well. I hope the kidlets in her class enjoy them. Girlie sure enjoyed making them with me.
I reached an epiphany on the WIP. I have had a difficult time starting on the chapter. I kept figuring out more details, but something eluded me, something key, that I needed before my head would get committed to writing. Turns out the piece that was missing was place. I had a place, but I didn’t have the terrain, the layout of houses, the specific where’s of roads and etc. I have that now and suddenly my brain said–okay, let’s go then. This is what I’ve been waiting for. Sigh. Why can’t the writer brain tell me things like this in a more obvious way so I know where to focus my energies? Gah!
Anyhow, so a breakthrough has been made and I am inching forward, feeling my way in the gloom. Finally.
I’ve been thinking about villainy. I keep thinking about Tolstoy’s first line from Anna Karenina:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
What does that have to do with villainy? you might ask. Well, I’ve been watching the coverage of the results of the interviews/interrogation of the Boston bomber, whose name I simply cannot remember. Everybody wants to know why–what drove him and his brother? Why would they do this? What changed them from seemingly nice, normal boys to terrorist murderers? The answer seems to be coming down to radical Islamist ideology. To me, this is no answer. It’s cliche. It goes back to that quote above, only in this case, Terrorists are all alike; every non-terrorist is individual in his or her own way. Doesn’t work, does it? It seems to me that villains should be at least as complicated as non-villains. And reducing this sort of attack down to radical Islamic ideology is, in a word, a copout. There has to be more, even if we never learn what that is.
This brings me to villainy in books. Villainy is as much about who this person is and what he’s willing to do, as it is about what brought him to this point. What was his journey of pain and disappointment, frustration, rage, torture, or what have you? What is individual and unique about this person? Because that’s the heart of the story. Bringing this individual person up against a very unique and individual protagonist. Bringing them into conflict. Especially since villains don’t necessarily or even often think that they are villains. They think they are doing the right thing (even if they are deluded), the necessary thing (even if it is painful and terrible), or they don’t see the terribleness of what they do (like exterminating and entire people to cleanse the world–after all, those people are just vermin and cleansing the world is a good thing, right?).
Then you add in that being Islamic is not by definition a bad thing, even there are those out there who would say it is. It is a form of religion no better or worse than others. So I can’t see how it’s a motivation or an excuse, unless it is twisted into something else. But even if it is so twisted, it has to tap into something in a person to drive them to being a terrorist. There has to be a need or a desire or a hole in a person that that fills. So I wonder, for these two bomber brothers, what was it? I somehow imagine that the older brought the younger in and I imagine that their bond of brotherhood is what mattered to the younger brother more than the religion. I’m absolutely making this up. But as a writer, I think that the two are not alike, they are not similarly motivated, and that something triggered them, and in different ways. I wonder what drove a college boy that everyone liked and admired to becoming a killer. Was he a sociopath? Possibly. But like radical Islamist ideology, that is too reductionist and easy an answer. The writer in me says there has to be more, more that comes from each person.
And to quote from Earnest Tubb: I know my baby loves me in her own peculiar way. Which is to say, everyone has their own peculiar way.
First an update on boy. Boy has nothing specific wrong with him that the doc can see without going into a lot of tests. We’re going to try an anti nausea and antacid first, in case whatever he has had irritated the lining of his stomach and overproduced acid and the fact that he hasn’t been able to eat that much have created a stew of bubbling horror in his stomach. He has not barfed since about 11 this morning. Here’s hoping there’s no more to come. I found a watermelon at the store when I went to get the prescriptions. Boy had some for dinner along with some yogurt and some sprite.
I have been poking at my other WIP project and had a fabulous idea for the opening last night. I went to sleep without writing it down. You can see where this is going, can’t you? I totally forgot it. Damn it!!! This is a real problem because I’ve been struggling with how to bring together the elements. I’ve also been doing some research about where exactly I plan to set it and I have worked that out, and now I have to make a sketch of my world. But I really needed that way in because I have all these various elements that need to come together. Anyhow, I know better and I could kick myself for not getting up and writing it down. Idjit.
In other news, I’m totally annoyed with someone in my life, enough to work them into a novel and kill them off, or torture them heavily. just saying.
I have a post up at Magical Words today talking about Heroes and Anti-Heroes. It’s a fascinating topic for me and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The end of the block was today and I gave my final. New block starts on Monday. I have some grading to do and I’ll be having lunch with the girls tomorrow. And of course, prepping next course. Kids start soccer this weekend and hopefully it will warm up enough to go out walking.
Made progress on the WIP while giving the final. Have a really cool idea of how the magic works. It’s pretty damned awesome. But my main character still isn’t enough. I need to tinker with her.
Thanks for the good wishes on my father. It’s a waiting until news game now. Except he’s said he isn’t interested in open heart surgery. We’ll see once we get solid data from inside his heart. That won’t be until probably June because they have some plans for before that and the doc things it’s okay. They put him on an anti-coagulant and since he’s gimpy, he doesn’t rev his heart up much.
I need to figure out something cool to make for dinner tomorrow night. I should find a cool recipe for something. I’d also like to bake some bread this weekend.
You all have not made it at all easy to make a choice about what story to write. You know that don’t you? Is that on purpose? Are you trying to drive me crazy? That is, crazier? I think what I will do is make a plan to write several Horngate stories/novellas this year. Without knowing what will be happening in my life, it’s tough to plan, and not knowing what I will have to be working on as far as deadlines makes that worse. Plus I’m working on another novel proposal. All the same, I want to keep busy and do some more exploring of the Horngate world. What will I work on first? I don’t know.
On the life implosion front, my dad has an arrhythmia. According to the doc he has a valve issue. They are going to do an angiogram to see what’s causing it and to also look at the bypasses he had in 1995. It was a six way bypass. If there are no problems with those, then they will take measurements and later go back and install a new valve through the artery (an angio procedure). If the bypasses are problematic, they will do open heart surgery and fix things. Or so the plan is now without having an inside look. My dad is 83 with a pacemaker. So I’m just a little bit concerned. As in, freaking out and trying not to because really, none of this will happen until late in May or into June. Hard to sustain panic for that long, so I guess I’ll have to nurse it. Sigh.
Don’t forget we’re having our Turn of Light Discussion this Saturday. Have you been reading????
I have this idea for a book. Have had it. But now that I’m digging into how certain things are going to work, I can’t make sense of it. Then I had a shining brilliant idea. It could work. But now I have to think it through. Except . . . I feel like crap and thinking is not what I’m able to do right now. Specially with my head throbbing like this. But I have hopes that it will be the answer I want.
Has everybody been reading Turn of Light for the 13th? I hope so! I’d love to have a big discussion. Can’t wait to hear what you think.
It’s cold. As in a miserable wind chill. Of course, by the looks of the storms hitting east of here, from Minnesota to Main to Florida, I’ve nothing to complain about. So I will endeavor not to.
First day of block today. It’s advanced lit theory and we’re focusing on Postcolonial theory. Went well. Tiny class, which is fun. The only bad thing is that I can’t find this one Pears Soap ad (which were incredibly racist and devoted to the colonial project) and it’s killing me. Looked online, on my saved files (a bunch of which seem to be missing), and in my files. Can’t find it.
The final revisions on my WIP titled Soul Mage went off to my agent to be shopped around. Now I have to both wait and start on my other idea.
And in honor of that event, a snippet:
Seavik ran a finger over the odd black and red design ribboning along the edge. Something bit his finger. He jerked back sharply, making a startled sound. A bit of skin and several drops of blood dribbled onto the page. Then as he watched, the blood and skin absorbed into the pale sheet and vanished, leaving the page pristine except for the writing. He shoved himself back, his chair tumbling as he lunged to his feet.
Acting on instinct, he drew his dagger, skewered the invitation and flicked it into one of the braziers burning along the wall to light the room. Flames licked the page and the paper twisted as if resisting. A keening sound filled the room, making Seavik’s skin prickle. The paper knotted up and then melted flat. The design on the edges rose like blind, toothy worms, jaws snapping. The fire turned blue and green and the paper exploded in a puff of ash. The room quieted.
Seavik stared. What manner of magic was this?
Slowly he sheathed his knife and looked at his finger. An oval divot had been sliced out of it. He blotted his finger on a napkin as he considered. The ambassador could not have expected the attack to go unnoticed. Seavik would have to make a bloody reponse. Which begged the question, why do it?
He recalled the way his blood and skin had disappeared into the paper. His hand clenched around the cloth. What sort of magic did these visitors posses? What evil had they brought to Keatu-Safi?
He reached for the bell to summon— Who? He blinked. What was he doing? He turned, confused. His attention fell on the pile of papers on his desk. Something to do with—
Whatever it was slipped from his mind. He shrugged, rubbing his hand over the everpresent ache in his stomach, then reached for his cooling cherza. He glanced down at the napkin in his hand. There was blood on it and a small oval cut on his finger. His brow furrowed. How had that happened?