Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for 'Writing'



Tuesday, December 12th, 2017
Post Surgery report–end of week 2

I feel pretty good right now, except for being itchy. I’ve had some sort of allergic reaction and have hives on my stomach and sides and they itch like crazy. I also had a weird possible allergic, possible infection around all of my incisions. My doc put me on antibiotics, which has helped, or else the allergy is receding. Hard to say. I’ve also had a little bit of a skin yeast infection that doesn’t want to go away. I’m not sure why it’s happening, but it doesn’t want to leave, despite medication and various topical applications.

I’ve lost about 13 pounds in the last two weeks. It’s very strange. I eat about 500 calories a day, give or take. I’m usually not hungry. Tomorrow I’m hoping to get off the thick liquid diet and onto soft foods. I expect that’s what I’ll be doing. I’ve also been trying to get my exercise. Unfortunately, my knitting has given me ‘knitter’s elbow’ which is the same as tennis and golf elbows. I’m supposed to not knit and not use the elbow for awhile and ice. I still need to finish a few projects, but hopefully they’ll be quick to finish and then I’ll be able to rest it.

Overall feeling pretty good. Getting in all my protein and fluids, as I’m supposed to be at this stage. As my stomach heals inside, I’ll be able to eat a bigger variety and get back to salads, which I miss.

Finally getting around to watching Star Wars: Rogue One. Not far into it yet, but so far liking it. Next I have to watch the prequel to The Last Jedi, which is the Force Awakens. Yeah, I know. I’m way behind. Haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy 2, either.

I haven’t been as tired as I expected and as predicted post-surgery, but I haven’t been terribly focused either. Working on that. I managed to get some work done yesterday, though. That was good.

Tomorrow it’s off to the doctors for my second week checkup. Then hopefully get some final Xmas shopping done. My family still doesn’t want me driving. Hopefully I’m cleared for that tomorrow. My son has been chauffeuring me. He’s very sweet and doesn’t complain about it at all.

I read a really good book by Alysa Day that I need to review for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017
Day 6 post surgery

I ITCH!!! And I cannot scratch. Misery, thy name is itchiness. But it is a sign of healing.

I’ve been out walking today and I feel pretty good but for the itching.

Other than that, not a lot new to report. I have made some more progress on the new Horngate book. I’m enjoying it. I’ll give you a snippet soon.

I’m also hugely angry about the tax bill and about the GOP support of Roy Moore. I am so angry I don’t have any polite words right now to say anything about it. But on my FB page, I have been posting more stuff.

The family and I get to go see an pre-screening this Friday of Jumanji. I’m really excited. I love the actors and can’t wait to see them. I haven’t been into a movie theater in ages, so this will be fun as well. And this theater is one of those that serves food and such, so while I probably won’t be eating anything, the fam will be able to.

We’re also at the beginning of an extended sunny spell for the area. I’m excited because I’ll be able to get out and walk outside without rain. In my particular situation right now, that’s amazingly nice.

Now . . . back to work. And not to itch. No. No. No.

Sunday, June 11th, 2017
Stepping Out

I’ve been actively attempting to be, oh, active. I’m starting smaller with just making sure I get so many steps each day with no breaks. I set the count a little low (5K) to make sure I can hit it fairly easily. Working a sedentary job means that I often forget to get up and move. My main goal is to do this every day with no breaking the chain. I’m up to 18 days. My feet and calves and shins are a little bit sore. I need to work on stretching. I keep not doing that. But I’ve been feeling fairly energetic. Pretty pleased with that.  I’ve had a few days where I’ve pushed the workout a little bit more, but the main importance is to a) get in the minimum and b) every day. Once I’m not hurting so much and feeling pretty good about it, I’ll push the minimum up.

I got to meet a Swedish Vallhund puppy today. So cute. It’s pretty much a wolf-colored corgi. And so sweet. He was four months old. I didn’t have my boys with me. Wish I had. I took pictures, but they didn’t turn out so well, but here’s a quick picture. I’ve heard of them before but never seen one in the fur, so to speak. He was adorable and so very sweet.

In the meantime, I’m revising books. I’m hoping to have announcements soon. Oh! but I do have one. I’ve a Horngate short story coming out in August in an anthology. It’s got stories by Seanan Mcguire, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Faith Hunter, and lots more.  The anthology is called Urban Enemies, and I’m going to have a copy to give away soon (of an ARC). Keep an eye on this blog and my newsletter for details. If you want to preorder, click here or on the cover:

We’ve also been out digging for petrified wood and finding some really great pieces. Going to be going out and doing more of it soon. The last time we went, a guy found a piece of carnelian limb cast. It was amazingly clear carnelian and it was shaped like a slice of wood. I can’t wait to go back and see what we can find. My husband found this one cool piece that was a little round piece of a limb. It had rotted in little columns through the wood and then those holes filled with agate. The outside is petrified wood. I’m really excited about seeing it polished. That’s something we hope to learn to do this summer. There’s a local rock and gem club we’ve been meaning to join and they offer access to equipment at a low price.

I also want to go hiking around Silver Falls State Park, and to the Tamolitch blue pool on the Mackenzie river. It’s beautiful.

Basically I want to get outside and get moving more. I like to, but I can’t seem to get over entropy sometimes. Which is completely annoying about me. Sigh.

 

Sunday, April 9th, 2017
Things are a-happening

Maybe not important things, but things nonetheless. I’ve done some seed sprouting and now need to do some transplanting. I’ve also been doing some digging in the dirt, though there’s been a lot of rain. I’ve also been petting dogs and scratching tummies and cleaning up dog pee because all of a sudden, one of them has decided to pee on the rug. I have no idea why. It’s frustrating. The rug is a small area rug and I’m wanting to clean the whole thing and not sure how. I think I’m going to need to wait til the weather warms and I can do it outside with a hose.

I’ve been in an ice cream sort of mood these days. Not sure why. And steak. I have not had any steak, but I’ve been craving it. Weird. My folks come tomorrow. They stay up near us for about five or six months of the year. I’m excited. Hopefully their trip is smooth.

I am planning on cleaning the kitchen and downstairs tomorrow. Things I’ve been avoiding. I’m at least going to do some of it. Been also wanting to get out and start dealing with weeds. They’ve been having a whole lot of fun growing like, well, you know. I’m planning on spraying a whole lot of vinegar, attack with a hoe, and then get some preemergent herbicide down to see if I can get it somewhat under control. And I’ve got to get out and put the hazelnut hulls down in my strawberries and get some fertilizer down, too.

My red dragon contorted hazelnut is leafing out. I’m really pleased about that because it didn’t seem all that happy in the fall. My monkey puzzle tree is doing quite well also. I’ve got a lot of perennials putting on a show also. I’m really pleased about that. My goal has been to pretty much cover all my flower beds in foliage of some kind. I’m still nowhere close, but I’m making the effort.

Writing is going pretty well, though I’m having trouble with getting my days scheduled. Eventually I will . . . just in time for summer vacation. Same ole same ole. Found out that had I stuck it out to see the new administration in my old job, I would not have seen an improvement. Morale is lower than ever, and the leadership, I’m told, is actually worse than previously. I do find myself missing teaching, though. I’d really like to do more of that. I just have to figure out how. I know one thing: Once the boy has his license, the structure of my days will change for the better. Though I’ll have to make sure that I get out and interact with people or I’ll become a crazy hermit. Not a good thing.

Puppy dogs scared us. They had some sort of fungal infection that required shots and three weeks of antibiotic/antifungal pills. They’re still taking those. But they are no longer throwing up or having diarrhea, which is a huge win. They did enjoy the week of rice and chicken they got to eat for their meals. They thought that was a fine menu plan and we should stick with it forever.

A big wind storm came through and took down a lot of trees around. We lost some smaller limbs, but nothing serious. Hate to see trees go down, especially the old ones. Sucks.

 

 

 

Monday, February 13th, 2017
Writers Club: Plotting

Plot is necessary for novels. This seems like a no-brainer. It’s the causal sequence of events in a book: This happened because this happened because this happened and so on. Events happen, problems, conflicts, and everything escalates until there’s a final conflict and resolution. Usually there is at least one secondary plotline, and often more. After all, most people have more than one thing going on in their lives.

Here’s the trouble, at least for me: I often have trouble developing the plot in advance. More often, my brain wants to see what happens as I go along. In some respects, I think this is because I’m out to entertain myself with my stories. I don’t want to know what happens in advance any more than my readers do. I want to discover as I go. I’ve a friend who calls the first draft the “discovery draft.”

The trouble with not knowing the plot is that you make a lot of wrong turns and go off to random spots, find hidden trails, and sometimes–even often–find treasures you never knew you were looking for. That makes writing exciting. It also makes it stressful. You always wonder where you might end up. Will the book make sense? Will it become a well-woven whole or will it be a mess of spaghetti dripping over the edge of the plate?

I would like to work with a plot outline. I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I used to be able to establish the major plot points that I wanted to hit on and then I could navigate toward those points, weaving in the secondary plot lines as I went. But my brain refuses to do that much anymore. I’ve been working on tricking myself and forcing out a plot outline. And of course, it always changes and is never correct. In fact I don’t really expect it to be, which ought to sound bizarre–I mean why do it at all? But having a sense of the path does help.  It frees my mind to play a little bit. Knowing that, I don’t know why I can’t just write down a possible plot direction. I’m such a weird contradictory mess in that regard. A plot outline frees me, but writing it feels like I’m fixing it permanently in place and my brain rebels.

In order to make myself do it, I focus on projects that I’m not planning to write right away. That takes the pressure off getting it done to try to get it written. It lets me play with the story in my head for awhile, and lets me be goofy with the possibilities. That last often gets me to where I want to be–an original plot line. I get acquainted with my characters, developing who they are until they feel real to me and have a voice and I know what they would and wouldn’t do, which of course leads to more adventures.

I wish the process didn’t have to be so messy, but it is and I just have to suck it up. So this is me, sucking it up. *dives back into the mess*

(crossposted from the BVC blog)

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
The Ideas that Rise and a snippet

I had this image pop into my head: A glass army. I thought about the fact that though the blood would run off them, it would still cling and dry and then I wondered how impervious they would be, if at all. Seems to me they would have magical qualities.

I want to write another traditional fantasy and this may be the first seed. Hard to say. But then I had another image so I started a poem out of nowhere and here it is, even though it’s awful, it does get at one really cool image:

Glass army:
The sun shone bright over the glass army
shed rainbows in a halo
flickered and dulled under the clouds
drifted and bunched across
the sun smothering it into the darkness
couldn’t be seen through
the clear glass in their hearts
sparkled clean.

And then just a little bit of Price and Riley:

“How the hell am I going to help you if you won’t even stay in the same room with me?”
I was yelling. I don’t know if it was more from fear, frustration, or fury. With incredible restraint, I did not pick up the chunk of petrified wood sitting on the shelf beside me, and I did not sling the hunk of rock at Price’s head. Though I stayed in reach to keep it an option.

“If I stay in the same room with you, I’m going to kill you. Is that what you want? What will you do then? Haunt me?”

Price’s voice emerged through clenched teeth. He faced me from the doorway thirty feet away. Running away as soon as I came in the room. Every muscle in his body looked to be clenched tight.

“You can kill me from a football field away,” I pointed out. “Probably a lot farther. Your logic is completely stupid.”

“God dammit, Riley. This isn’t a fucking joke,” he said, plowing shaking fingers through his shaggy black hair.

Sunday, January 15th, 2017
Whirlwind already

The past couple weeks have proven to be a whirlwind. Already.  I’m almost done writing two different books. I plan to be done by the end of January. One is DCM 4, the other is this book that came out of nowhere and is huge fun. For me, anyhow. The writing has gone fast on the second book. Crazy fast. DCM 4 is complex and digs more into the the Tyet stuff and has some really cool twists. A couple are even shocking, I think. I can’t wait to see what my editor thinks.

Am in the mood to go digging rocks, which of course is not possible given that a) there’s snow everywhere, and b) the ground is frozen.

I have to confess I have yet to take down the Christmas tree. Part of that is sheer laziness. Part is the fact that we got it up late and I’m still enjoying it. But it has to come down, so I think since the kids have the day off tomorrow, I’ll make them help me do that.

We have a deep love of rocks, not that I know much about them. We sometimes go rockhounding to look for different things. We’re just getting started figuring out what we’re doing. We also go to estate sales and that sort of thing to look for rocks. This weekend, we went to an estate sale and had some great luck. Found a bunch of rocks and many were very cool. Some were already cut, some were rough. Hampton Butte petrified wood, tiger iron, lots of agate, lots of jasper, some other stuff I have no idea what it is. But very pretty.

Makes me want to go out and dig holes. We’re going to try to get to look for some limb cast as soon as the snows go. We figure the runoff this year will expose some good stuff. Or so we hope.

 

 

Friday, October 14th, 2016
The update of the week

It’s raining. Pouring and windy. We’re already almost three inches above normal for the season and the season started October 1. The river looks swollen and it’s beautiful. Muscular and lovely. I did get the last of the peppers out of the garden. Plus I also got the potatoes out. Making a vat of potato beer soup tomorrow. It’s a family favorite and the fam has been bugging me to make it. Given that it’s sort of a family project to make it, so we’ll have a good time and it will be delicious and it will be perfect for the weather. Today was oddly sunny giving the big storms that are moving through the state.

We also bought a car. It’s a used Prius and it’s got higher mileage than it should for its year, but we got a pretty good deal for it and it runs well. We will hopefully save a lot of money in gas. Plus it means we have a second reliable car, which we needed. Getting used to driving a hybrid will be a little bit entertaining. Plus figuring out some of the tech, and it’s not all that high tech, but higher than we’re used to. It’s a pretty blue, too, and since beggars can’t be choosers, I figured we’d take what we could get.

Writing-wise, I’ve been making good progress on Diamond City Magic #4. It’s definitely going to be longer than the other books. The difficulty is that it’s complicated and weaving it all together is taking me some time. But if it comes together the way I’m hoping, then it may be the best one so far. One day I’ll have to give it a title. Hmmm.

I just have to mention that I watched this mystery movie on the Hallmark Channel that I taped a week ago and they are showing tons of Christmas commercials. This is unsettling at best. Plus it makes me panic because I’m already late on everything for Christmas. Don’t ask. It’s a mental thing.

I gave up diet soda a long time ago and then a few months ago went back to drinking it. As of today, I stopped again. I don’t have a good caffeine substitute. I drink tea, so hopefully that will do, but I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be feeling sort of hungover for a few days. Or a week.

I’ve also screwed up my knitting and I have to figure out how to fix it. Gah.

I kind of want to drive over to the coast and see the storm, but I also want to stay wrapped up here with a book. Anybody got big plans for the weekend? Oh, forgot to mention that last weekend we went out to the river and found a bunch of rocks. Mostly red, green, and yellow jasper, some petrified wood, and a couple pieces of carnelian. Looking forward to seeing them polished up.

 

Friday, September 2nd, 2016
Poisons

For no particular reason, I started looking at poisons today. I figure it’s something I’ll stash in the back of my head for future writing use.

The one I discovered today is Thallium Nitrate, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It’s a heavy metal. It cause hair to fall out, vomiting, organ failure, and general system failure, plus causes a burning/prickling sensation in the limbs. It will kill you in a high dose, but in low doses, it’s a slow road to death. There’s no antidote for it, and if caught soon enough, you can survive. It can be found by blood, urine, and hair. It leaves the blood pretty quickly, though, so if the blood test is all there is, then it might not get discovered.

I thought it could be a pretty good poison for a poisoner. Especially if it can be put into food. Be good for someone who wanted to cause a slow, diminishing death.

The stuff was used in the 50s in rat poison.

I’ll probably talk about more poisons in general. I find them interesting. I’m working on some murder/suspense stuff that could benefit from this sort of info.

In the meantime, I’ve a bunch of roses to plant and the weather is fine and the puppy boys are happy. Been reading Lexi George’s Demon Hunters books and they are frequently very fun. Just like candy, and funny urban fantasy romance.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
Time she flies

I’ve been not writing lately. Or rather, I’ve been unwriting and replotting. I’m working on the fourth Diamond City Magic book and it’s got a LOT of stuff going on. We meet Tyrell. And we meet some other bad guys. And we see an explosion of events that the first three books have been building up to. Don’t be thinking that things are resolved, though. This is a longer story than that. I am excited about the way the plot is redeveloping. I had planned things that no longer are viable, or no longer are as interesting or worthy of the story.

I just wish I could make the process go faster. That part is driving me nucking futs.

In other news, strawberries are getting ripe, I’ve got the tomatoes and all the peppers in, the peas and broccoli and cabbage *might* produce before the heat ends it (we’ve been having little tiny heat waves). I also need to plant cucumbers. I’m waiting on the melons til I can turn over the pea/broccoli bed. The thornless logan berry is going nuts and so are the blueberries. Hopefully we get more than the birds do.

Finished our first round of rock polishing (took about 8 weeks). Pretty happy with the results. I’ll have to take some pictures. Heading off to read and work. Oh, and my father-in-law is coming for a longer than expected visit (about 10 days).