Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for November, 2015

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

There are lots of opinions on illegal immigrants and so on, but I read this article in the paper today about the problem of so many children of illegals being American citizens for being born here, and that if the parents are deported, they either have to take the children or leave them, but can’t stay with them. It’s actually probably more complicated than that and the article was about lawsuits and the supreme court and all that, but here’s my confusion. You know as an illegal person in the US, that your child will be born a citizen and that you may get deported.

So why do it? Okay, I know why. To give your kid a hope of a better life and the benefits of being a US citizen. However, you know you’re taking a big risk. That you could be deported. That this question will come up sooner or later. So in this article there was a lot of gnashing of teeth and lamenting and so on, which I get, because these people are used to living here, mostly have been good citizens and hard working, and often fill out our labor force in important ways. They may have been here for decades and there’s nothing in Mexico or wherever they are from to go back to.

At the same time, this is the law and it hasn’t changed for a really long time. Surely they knew it could happen. Surely they had a plan of action? Or did they just hope for the best? That the laws would change? That’s what confuses me. What do they do to prepare for the eventuality that they’ll be caught and deported? It’s the parent in me wondering here. Also because I’m updating my will and we were talking about godparents, since there have been changes since the last time we put that in (divorces and remarriages and family fights and so on). This brings up the concern of how would our kids be cared for if we were no longer around.

Anyhow, that’s what’s been running through my mind today.

Saturday, November 28th, 2015
Back again from the great beyond

Okay, was in California for the last week. Not so great beyond. We went to visit family and friends and had a lot of fun. A lot. And ate a ton plus did a lot of cooking. Long drive both ways, but we are home again and so happy to be so. The dogs especially. They are now collapsed on the couch acting like they’ve been run ragged. Yeah. Not so much. We came home with a bunch of mandarin oranges fresh out of the orchard. So yum.

I had a thought though. When I was researching a sociopath character for Blood Winter, I read that 1 in 25 people are sociopaths and fewer are psychopaths. A lot of researchers say they are the same, and others argue there are differences). I’m in the differences camp. That doesn’t mean they have to be serial killers or criminals. Just people who lack conscience, empathy, or remorse, to put it in shorthand. Apparently, a lot more people are psychopaths or sociopaths than we think. The question is, which ones? The thing about these people is that they are very good at disguising themselves and mimicking real life, particularly psychopaths. I think I know one. Rather, I think I’ve identified one in my life. I didn’t realize it until this week. Lack of empathy, lack of remorse, manipulative, charismatic, and totally self-centered. They often lie, have superficial charm, and tend toward impulsiveness. This person fits the bill. I just never realized the lies before, or the manipulation. S/he also mimics real emotion well. If this is true, it means that I have to reevaluate how I deal with this person.

It’s fascinating on one level and really disturbing on another. Read this:

Imagine – if you can – not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.

And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.

Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.

You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.

You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences will most likely remain undiscovered. From The Psychopath, the Mask of Sanity.

Do you know anyone like this? And are you sure? Because remember, they conceal and mimic. I’ll have to go back to my research and investigate how to interact with a psychopath. See what happens.

Did you have a fabulous Thanksgiving? I hope so.

Monday, November 16th, 2015
As the Writing Turns

Does your life ever feel like a soap opera? Mine, too. But not so much this last week. More like a bad comedy. I write in my office downstairs in my house. Last week, in the morning (of course) the smoke detector on the ceiling outside my office began to chirp ever 30 seconds or so. Loudly. Closing my office doors did nothing to help. The unfortunate thing is that the ceilings are really high in the house and I needed a ladder to change the battery. Unfortunately, neither of the two ladders we have were accessible to me without doing damage to myself. Since I figured a trip to the hospital would be far more aggravating than the the chirping, I tried to put music on to cover it (fail!) and kept going. Later I decided that maybe the hospital trip would have been worth it.

So the very next day (no, the cat didn’t come back) I’m in my office working, with my daughter home sick, and I hear, you guessed it, another chirp! This time is was the smoke alarm in my bedroom, which is upstairs and around a corner. It echoed. Same problem as before, so I thought, shut the upstairs door. That should take care of it. Sadly, those things are much louder than probably the alarm itself. I couldn’t get away with closing my office doors because my daughter wanted to be able to shout for me if necessary, so again music, but not so loud I couldn’t hear the girlie, which meant I could hear the chirping loud and clear, All. Day. Long.

Vexed. Vexing. Both. A word not used enough but really, so perfect.

Now I’m in blissful quiet. Maybe I’ll actually make serious progress today.

In other news of the slightly odd, I discovered that Fred Meyers, a local grocery/everything-else-on-the-planet store has a tradition black Friday sale on socks. And I can’t be there. Now this probably wouldn’t excite other people, but the Boy of Size, who is only 15 years old, wears size 13 shoes. Did I mention he has yet to have a growth spurt? Anyhow, finding socks for him isn’t easy. Especially quality socks that don’t fall apart in two washings. So this week I meet a friend in the FM Starbucks to talk knitting and writing, and after decided to glance around the sock aisle. And found socks for him. Which cost $15 for three pairs. Ouch. This makes the Black Friday sale look beguiling, since it’s a 50% off all socks sale. Only I can’t go this year, because of Thanksgiving plans. Damn! I could have stocked up for the entire big-footed family that we are.

I also combed out the dogs this weekend and trimmed doggy toenails. Viggo lost an entire dog’s worth of hair. WTF? It’s November. Why is he shedding? I’m still getting hair tumbleweeds around my kitchen from him. Voodoo, on the other hand, was in it just for the tummy combing. He would only lay on his back with his legs splayed out in sexy play-dog fashion, and rolling him over was next to impossible.

I finished a book that I’m trying to decide if I really liked or not. You know how it is when the book is a page turner because you want to know what happened, but not necessarily because the writing’s good or the characters are engaging? This one had some serious ups and downs, but the mystery was good and decently complex. I’ll probably review it here soon. Along with a bunch of others I’m behind on.

And now, my friends, must go scribble some more. I hope you are all happy, healthy, and safe.

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
The Ghost Job

I’ve just sent my newsletter out with the first chapter of The Ghost Job. This post is for anyone who might like to visit and comment. I hope you enjoyed!

Saturday, November 7th, 2015
What a week it’s been

The sick continues. Last night was . . . hell. Girlie woke me up at 11:43 having explosively vomited. She’s got quite the messy room and didn’t make it out of bed, so yeah. First it was clean up in order to clean up. Since I don’t get sick around other people’s vomit (as do the man and the boy who tried to help), I did most of it. So there you go. The glory of momhood. Ah well. The girlie is feeling crappy still, but she hasn’t been sick again. She hasn’t developed diarrhea yet, which hopefully means this is something besides food poisoning.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are improving, but definitely aren’t at 100%. But moving the right direction, I hope.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on some writing. Attempting nano words, but it’s slower than I like. On the other hand, I’ve been making excellent progress with the revision of Whisper of Shadows (DCM book #3). Are you eager for that one? I hope? I can tell you it’s exciting. I can tell you Riley’s dad is front and center. Dalton is back. So is the lovely Agent Sandra Arnow. Remember her? You get to meet more of Riley’s family, and also some really cool stuff happens. Well, cool bad stuff. Really bad.

The Ghost Job is getting closer to publication. I’ve named the series Mission: Magic. I can’t wait for you to read some of it. In fact I plan to send a chunk out in the newsletter very soon, so if you’re not signed up, you should so that you can see it first! I’ll probably send out this week.

I’ve been doing reading without reviewing. Some of it is just meh. But I have read something awfully fun, so I’ll report on that soon. In the meantime, I suppose I should put words on my own book, yes? Oh, and also figure out a replacements for MS word, because apparently the one I use (2008 version for the Mac) doesn’t play well with the latest operating systems of the Mac and I’m having significant issues. I kind of am interested in the word 2016, but 1, I’m not a fan of the yearly rental, and 2, it’s expensive, and 3, I hate the ribbon. HATE it. That’s why I’ve been so glad to cling to the 2008 version. It doesn’t have it.

I’m hoping to get into the holiday mood soon. Going to see the family at Thanksgiving, and hopefully friends too. I just haven’t been in the baking/party mood. I have to find that. Maybe food poisoning is the reason. Hmmm. Possible.



Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
When the flu is not the flu

I reported the other day that the man had come down with the flu. The boy and I came down with symptoms and all of us continue to be plagued by them. I called to let the boy’s school know he wouldn’t be there, and the secretary said, “you didn’t eat at Chipotle, did you?”

Um. Well, yes. Friday night. By Sunday we were all getting sick. But our Chipotle isn’t closed and supposedly wasn’t supposed to have been touched by the e-coli that closed stores in Portland and Washington. Since our symptoms fit an e-coli timeline and the list of possible symptoms (the man has ALL the possible symptoms), we decided to go to the doctor. Well, they went. I’ve been feeling better (but suddenly am not right at the moment) and so the upshot is it’s possible and they had stool samples. We will maybe know more on Friday, maybe not. Also, they didn’t properly do the sample (apparently they were supposed to take samples from three different stools, and they didn’t. Goes to show I should have been in there for the instructions). I hope it’s good enough.

Once I got home, I decided to call county health to let them know, and to notify Chipotle. Both responded quickly and hopefully if there’s a problem at this restaurant, it will get shut down and cleaned before others get sick. At this point, my husband who has not had a sick day in 3.5 years at this job, and probably another two or so years at least in the previous job, has now taken two days off and will likely take off tomorrow. He’s miserable. The boy is also miserable and I’m terrified it will trigger a flare-up of his other illness, which it very well could.

In the meantime, I started to feel better for a day, and now am feeling worse. Do. Not. Like.

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
Writing the sequel

One of the toughest thing to do when writing is to write a sequel to a first book, then a third, fourth or tenth. I know people who plan an entire series from the beginning–Devon Monk, for instance, planned all of her Allie Beckstrom novels before she began. Having that plan established means that a writer has a clear sense of what each book should contain before it begins and can jump into the drafting relatively smoothly. Now the problem is, just as with battle plans, plot plans don’t often stand up to actual engagement with the enemy. So to speak.

As a book develops and more creativity sparks, the next thing you know is that you’ve changed something significant and it dominoes into all the next books and you have to replot. And then you do it again. And again. It can be incredibly frustrating. Do you know what’s more frustrating? Not being able to plot at all. Plot failure. I have a very difficult time with plotting even a single book, much less a series. Especially a series that I don’t know how long will be. Diamond City Magic is one such series.

This means that I’m doing a lot of exploration. On the other hand, the deeper I get, the more complex it gets, and the more stuff I need to do, and that means that plotting on one level becomes easier, because certain bridges have to be crossed. I have a developed a nebulous idea of landmarks that need to be achieved. So if you imagine it like a journey, I know there’s a mountain there, a valley there, a river there, and so on, all of which need to be traversed and each comes with their own special troubles.

Right now, I haven’t completed the revisions for book 3 and I’m beginning book 4, which means I don’t entirely know how big all the changes I will have done by the end of the revision, and so I may be building this next book on air. All the same, I have to start. Of course, I might be tossing most of it all away in the end, but if I worried about that, I’d end up never writing. Plus the fact that I have trouble plotting means that in fact, I have to write to find out what’s going to happen–to fill in the details between getting to plot events. Since those are all actually character revelations, I have to build the characters and events to get there, and hope that I don’t rearrange the terrain entirely as I go. I swear, it’s like writing in a living Dali painting.

So now I’m writing what I think is going to happen in this next book. I’m not starting where I normally start, which is the beginning, since I’m not entirely sure where the beginning will be. I just know that these scenes need to be written. At least under the current plan, and I need to be writing, because of deadline.


Sunday, November 1st, 2015
The aftermath

A rain storm moved in just in time for trick or treating in our neighborhood and even though usually we get swarmed by kids getting driven into our neighborhood and so on (last year we ended up with 200), this year we ended up with only about 80. What that means is a lot more candy leftover than we planned on. Cause I didn’t plan on any. Yeah. Not good.

In the meantime, the man came down with the flu. The real flu, despite the fact that we got shots this last week. Too damned late, I guess. Here’s hoping the rest of us don’t end up with it. He’s in misery. High temp, intestinal distress, chills, nausea, all the rest. A friend just reminded me of tamiflu, so thinking we should look into it.

I started writing for nano today. Didn’t get far, but at least I started. I’m pleased about that.

Here’s a little piece of it.

He paced. He pounded the walls until his fists were bruised and bloody. He kicked the door until he broke bones in his feet. The room offered no weapons. The bed was bolted to the floor, as was the table and the lone chair. The toilet had no seat or lid, and the faucet was motion sensitive. Only his mattress, the toilet paper, and the white cup could be mobilized, and while he could make a knife of the latter, it would have done him little good. No one came.