Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for 'Writing'



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).

Friday, April 1st, 2016
About future Horngate books

A couple of years ago, I contracted with Samhain to publish two more Horngate Witches books. Then my son got sick and I had to put many things aside in order to take care of him. Those books were two of the things I had to set aside. Just recently, as I was figuring out my schedule for this next year, I learned that Samhain is closing its doors. They have reverted the rights on those unwritten books, so I am free to do what I want with them.

What that means is that I may do some shorter novels or novellas in order to get them out to you in between my contracts book. I’m working on leveling up on my writing so that I can write better and faster. I’m trying some new techniques, which so far are working.

I can’t say with any level of certainty when I’ll get something Horngate out, but I am determined to do so, and will be working on it.

I’m curious though. What would you like me to explore in future Horngate books?

Friday, March 25th, 2016
Rocks and dogs

We went rockhounding yesterday. Got up at 5:30 and got on the road. Went to look for moss agate, but there was a gate up, so went to search for limb cast instead. I had a rotten day and found very little, but the Boy of Size and my husband found lots of good stuff. We were going to stay the night and do more looking for thundereggs, but the boy started feeling sick with my death cold and we decided it was better to come home so he could rest and not be sick for school on Monday. Today I’m so tired. The drive home was rough. There was a lot of snow, and though the road was mostly just wet and the truck is a 4×4, it was still about 11 ish before we got home last night (got up at 5:30).

Today I’m sore. I climbed hills and dug. And my chest and throat hurts from panting. With the cold and the sudden elevation, plus exercise, I had a tough time. So I went slow and rested frequently. It was a lovely day. A bit windy and some chill, but bright and beautiful. Also, and here’s a TMI, my butt bones hurt from sitting on rocks where I had to go to the bathroom. One of the dogs stayed near the truck the whole time, the other one followed me everywhere and laid down between my feet every time I

I’m trying to work on finishing a story for an anthology that I owe. I had a plan for the end, but now I’m thinking maybe I want to find something twistier. So I think that’s what I’m going to do. At least try. See what I can figure out.

 

 

Thursday, February 25th, 2016
Today ran by fast

I spent the morning doing a lot of outlining work for a short story I’m working on. It’s set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world (awesome books, btw, if you’ve not read them), and so this requires me to do a lot of research in the world and making sure that I can write the story I want and that I stay within the already designed confines of the world. I figured out a lot of great stuff today and I have a strong idea of most of the story. I hope to write many words tomorrow.

Have you ever gone shopping and bought clothing that you had to take back because it smelled? I bought these jeans that I really liked. But they had a chemical smell to them. I washed them twice, and the smell didn’t even abate a little. That meant I had to take them back today. I suppose it’s good shorts weather is almost here.

Tomorrow I also plan to start some seeds. I haven’t prepared the garden yet, so I’ll get the seeds started now and plant in the ground in a couple weeks.

I’ve been doing a series of posts on Magical Words about self-publishing. Today I talked about choosing covers.