Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
Wednesday, June 13th, 2018
What Diana Doesn’t Understand

Viggo studiously not paying any attention to the tugging of the war.

I’ve recently discovered that I don’t understand the rules of tug-o-war with the dog. I’m not the only one. Viggo doesn’t understand the rules either. Or maybe he doesn’t understand the point of the game. Either way, when Voodoo decides he’s up for a game, Viggo just sort of stares with a kind of vacant look of confusion and then puts his head down and goes back to sleep.

Voodoo grabs his squeaky toy (I’ve learned the game is only fun if the toy squeaks–who knew?) and then invites me (orders/invites–it’s a fine line) to yank on it while he holds on to the other side. I shake it back and forth and pull, and he just sort of hangs on and leans back. He’ll keep it up forever. What I don’t get is why we are doing it. Why is it fun?

Voodoo wondering why I would write about him and wondering when I’ll be free for another game.

Is there a winner? If so, how do we know? On occasion, he’ll let go so I can throw it and he can chase down the hall after it and bring it back, and then we begin the tugging process again. Mind you, he doesn’t play fetch outside, nor does he fetch anything but his squeaky tug-o-war toy.

I have to admit that I don’t last long in the game. Maybe that’s how you win. You just have to not get bored and keep holding on. Voodoo is a master of the game. He can hold on forever and he never gets bored.

I have noticed that I am the opponent of choice. He won’t play with the kids much at all, though he will play with my husband on occasion. But if he does play with my husband, I have to be in the room and I have to be watching. Otherwise he’s over it.

 

 

Thursday, May 17th, 2018
Definition of winning

Though he found the perfect spot, it would be the last time Sal the fish played hide-and-seek.

I’ve been sitting here this morning watching a Dr. Phil. An old one, a rerun from 2014. I don’t usually watch this show or other talk shows because generally they bore me or there’s too much drama. (A reason I don’t tend to watch reality shows, too). So the basic premise of the show is that a wife is sure her husband is cheating and he’s swearing he’s not and they fight about it a lot. She goes to great lengths to discover proof and get him to admit it, and there is a lot of fighting, including physical fighting. And there are kids in the house.

Okay, so that’s the background. My response to all this is–why the hell are you still together? Why not just walk away?

That got me to thinking about winning. I get the impression that this is all about winning. And as usual, the definition of winning is questionable. For me, winning would be no longer living a horrid life and getting my children into a safe, happy home. But for them, winning seems to be about getting the other to admit their ‘crimes.’ But then I wonder, what if they do get admission? What then? I don’t get the impression that would be enough to end it. Is it making the other person ‘pay’ for what they’ve done? Grovel? What would winning *really* look like?

I was thinking, if they did walk away, then would they think that the other one got off too easily? That both would win because they are both happier and better off? And so they’d rather suffer than let the other person get to be happy?

The reason I’m still watching the show after 45 minutes and listening to these super obnoxious people, is because they aren’t extraordinary people. They could be anybody on my block. And that makes me think about them as characters. I’m a writer; this is what I do. I have a hard time wrapping my head around people that would behave this way, so it’s interesting to watch them and try to figure out how to write them believably, and why I would include people like them in a novel.

I was also thinking how this would apply in political situations (from job politics to actual politics), to friendships, and so on. That element  that you’d rather suffer horribly than let the other person off the hook/win. I also read this morning a quote by Haruki Murakami and it’s tremendously appropriate: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” In the case of not letting the other person win at the price of your own happiness, I think that’s choosing suffering, even if you have some element of triumph.

I think also that people dig in because they’ve already suffered so much, it’s too much to take to know that they could have walked away at any point and not suffered. On top of that, they have to make it worthwhile. They have to see something come out of the situation, some win, even if it’s a Pyrrhic victory.

As a writer, the hardest part of writing characters like this is making it believable. Truth is really no excuse for fiction. Truth can be bizarre and make little sense, but fiction has to make sense and be believable. I have to dig into figuring out the mindset and making it real for myself.

 

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018
Work In Progress Snippet

No context, but this amused me, so I’m sharing:

She closed her inner eyes and just let herself feel. For a moment it was too much. All the information coming in from every single connection that tied her to the land and people of Portland. She let that all go fuzzy, like ignoring an itch. Instead she concentrated on the sword. It throbbed and hungered. It wanted to dominate, to control, to take.

It was like one of those terrible nighttime cravings for barbecue or ice cream, one that required you to get out of bed and go get what you hungered for as fast as possible.

Kayla had no intention of giving into this craving. Barbecue, sure, but god-chow? No thanks.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018
Crazy

That is, I’m feeling crazy. I’ve had so much going on. My husband has been looking for a job and having a bunch of interviews. We’re getting work done at the house again. I’m close to deadline and behind. I’ve been teaching. And mothering. And running errands and trying to figure out why my ocular migraines are getting worse. I wish I knew someone who had them too so I could talk about it.

I’m still losing weight. I don’t remember the last time I was at this weight. It’s been super hot (for the time of year–up in the 80s) and I’m soooooo glad I’ve bought shorts. I’ll be heading off to RT (Romantic Times Booklovers Convention) in May, and from there I’m heading up to Miscon, and then home. I’m not sure where all my time is disappearing to, but I’m working hard to stay on track. Anyhow, what’s crazy is how much my fingers are shrinking. I didn’t really expect them to shrink so much.

I’ve got a huge pile of clothes that don’t fit anymore, and I”m not sure what to do with them. I could donate them, but I’m trying to figure out how to give them to someone who might actually need them. Not sure what the best venue for that is.I’m also trying to figure out what clothes that are still in my closet that are too big, but I’m not sure I should get rid of. I don’t wear a lot of fancier stuff any more. Mostly I”m super casual. Some of the shirts that I’m trying to figure out are the kind I can wear over other things–like jackets, but shirts. They still look good, but I’m trying really hard not to hang onto the stuff I don’t need, or that I won’t wear much.

I also am woefully behind on getting my newsletter out and doing some updates to the website. I’ve got to get on both of those.

I have been doing some sketching. I used to draw a lot when I was younger, and then I kind of stopped. I’m doing animals, and working off pictures from online. I’m working toward being able to do a corgi, and I’d like to do some mythological creatures.

My tennis elbow is better. Not knitting yet, but I’m getting closer. I think.

I’ve got a bunch of tomatoes and peppers started in my kitchen. I’ve got some grow lights and a heating mat and things are progressing nicely. Now I just have to get out into the garden. And I have to spray my roses with Neem oil to stop the black spot. I’m hoping it will work. My plants have a fair big infestation.

When we moved here, I managed to mostly get over my whole: keep everything that’s still good because it’s too good to get rid of attitude. Then we moved and now I”m back to keeping more stuff than I should. So I’m trying to get rid of things. I’m hoping to do a garage sale. I hate doing them, but it would make it easier to get rid of stuff. And maybe get some money back. But mostly get rid of stuff.

Now I have a corgi pointedly rolling on his back and waving his paws in the air. It’s bedtime and he wants to go.

 

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018
A Snippet From the Work In Progress

No context, but it’s still fun–if a whole lot rough:

Ray boiled as he strode behind Kayla. He wanted to shake answers out of her. His hands clenched and unclenched and magic sluiced through him in a hot torrent. It built inside him like steam in a kettle. He couldn’t let it blow. Normally when this happened, he found a way to discharge a bolt of the energy–into the ground or the river or an asphalt parking lot.

But here? In his current mood? He’d be almost guaranteed to kill trees, and the dryads would most definitely take offense at that. The myths that said they were gentle beings lied. The best you’d get was live and let live. Fuck with them, and they’d come after you with a vengeance. He’d heard stories of them reaching out through uninhabited trees and plants and dragging people under the dirt and burying them alive. The rest of the time they fought dirty.

He dragged in a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to make himself relax. An almost impossible task with Kayla in front of him. Half of him wanted to shove her up against a tree and kiss the living shit out of her, and the other half wanted to throttle her until she finally gave up the truth. The fucking dryads knew more about her than he did.

He had no idea what to make of her claim she could handle magic. She wasn’t suicidal, and yet she was acting like it, thinking she could go up against this killer alone. Not that he’d let her.

A voice in Ray’s head jeered at that. Like he could stop her. What was he going to do? Handcuff her when he wasn’t around? Maybe if he handcuffed himself to her she might not go off on her own, but he wouldn’t bet the farm. On the other hand, he’d have to sleep with her . . .

His entire body flushed hot as he imagined her curled up against him, his arms around her. How far gone was he that neither of them were naked in his little daydream? How far gone was he that just the idea of cuddling her made his dick hard?

God, but he was fucked up. The last thing he wanted to do was start something up with any woman, but with Kayla least of all–even if she’d cooperate, which was highly unlikely. Besides, if he did manage to get her in bed, it couldn’t end well, and he’d lose her all over again.

Talk about a dose of frigid reality. The possibility froze his body and cooled his magic. Fear stalked across his soul. He wouldn’t let it happen. Whatever had taken her away, he’d fix it, no matter how much anger and hurt he had to swallow. He didn’t need his pride; he needed her.

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
Writer Insanity

I is helping, Momma. Will you pet me now?

Why is it I keep coming up with new novel ideas–especially first in a series books, or stand alones? I have other things I need to be focusing on and yet . . . . My mind just keeps producing more and more new things and all I can do is take notes and get everything I can down on paper and try to make time later to write. I need to write faster, obviously.

A little WIP snippet from my Horngate world novel:

Even after the nightmare of the Witchwar, even though nobody trusted a witch, people still swarmed into the Night Market looking to buy spells. Some witches had gone so far as to open up shops in the city, despite the continuing hatred for their kind.

His aversion rooted deeper than that, though. He didn’t like that some invisible force could come out of nowhere and create havoc or save the world. He didn’t like that you couldn’t see it coming and had no idea when it might show up. It was like relying on God. Send up your prayers and maybe you’d get a miracle or maybe you’d be damned, or more likely the bastard would just ignore you. Only magic came around a lot more often than any god or devil, and it fucked things up. It fucked people up.

And yet–

Thursday, February 8th, 2018
Corgi Helps Me Write

See Voodoo. See Voodoo “help” me write. See Voodoo giving me irritated looks for daring to move the notepad and writing. See Voodoo demand pets. See author’s real job as she obeys the puppy dog.

Friday, January 26th, 2018
Things that are going on

A lot has been happening recently, some good, some bad. I want to thank those of you who’ve contacted me with such positive encouragement on my books. I love you so much.

I’m 8 weeks post op, and I feel pretty good. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight since last May (which is when the process began–presurgery stuff). I’m feeling pretty good when I go out and walk. More energetic. I want to get on my elliptical, but my tennis (knitters) elbow is giving me trouble and so I haven’t gotten on it recently. I’ve tried resting it, icing it, heating it, using different bands and elbow supports, but nothing is really working. Yet. I’m doing some muscle exercises and hoping they are helping.

I start teaching online in an MFA program for creative writing program at SNHU in a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been wanting to get back to teaching and I really like the SNHU program and their approach to online learning. I’m excited to be a part of the program.

It’s been raining something fierce here. For days. This is good, since we’ve not had the usual rain in November and December. Some of the storms have had pretty incredible winds and that makes me so happy that we cut down the tree we had out front next to the house. It was my favorite tree–big and leafy. But the big limbs coming out from the trunk had cracks in them and once we had it cut down, we discovered that two of them were rotted pretty well through, which means these storms we’ve just had would likely have brought them down on the house.

In the meantime, my son was invited to join the honors society at the college he’s attending as part of his Early College High School program (he’s a junior in HS but taking a full load of classes on the college campus). My daughter has been doing super well in her classes and making me really proud of all her progress. She’s always felt like she’s not as smart as her brother, not understanding that

he’s three plus years older than she is, and therefore of course he knows more things because he’s farther along in school. I think/hope she’s finally looking at herself and feeling strong in her abilities. She’s very smart, but now she’s hopefully starting to believe that herself.

The corgi boys are doing well. They are spoiled (more spoiled?) and enjoying forcing me to do their bidding. I’m such a sucker. This is a little selfie of them and me. Voodoo (whiter face) is trying hard to keep Viggo off me (he doesn’t like to share), but Viggo has flung himself down on top of Voodoo and is inching up onto me. Voodoo is very jealous. I think of it as Viggo’s revenge for Voodoo not playing more games with him. Viggo loves to play run and chase and Voodoo always quits before Viggo’s ready.

In a few weeks I get to go to the Rainforest Writers Retreat, which is near Lake Quinault in Washington, and it’s a lovely chance to focus on writing, be in nature, and enjoy the company of other writers. It’s one of the prettiest places on earth. It’s in the middle of a rainforest and the cabin where I’ll be staying with my roomie has a fireplace and right outside is a babbling brook. I love to open the window and just listen to the sounds of the water.

 

Thursday, January 11th, 2018
The Winner of the Giveaway

 

Karla Weaver! You are the giveaway winner. I need you to tell me your email address. Post it here or send it to me through the contacts tab. Congratulations! And thanks everybody for the good wishes and for playing!

 

And a small snippet from a very very very drafty draft of my Horngate book. If you hate it, don’t tell me.

“You don’t think they deserve justice?”

“I think this is a magical crime and without a human involved, it falls out of my jurisdiction.”

“That’s bullshit.”

The accusation and condemnation in her voice put his hackles up. “We don’t have a choice. There are only so many of us to go around and we can’t spend time on cases that fall outside our mission.”

“Your mission?” Her brows rose.

“To protect and to serve. Humans.”

“But the city is far more than humans now. You don’t think they deserve to be protected? Or are they just disposable?”

“They have to take care of themselves, unless and until they harm a human. Then we step in.”

It was a cold, hard truth. It didn’t sit well with Ray, either, but he understood it. After the Magicfall, humans hated witchkin. For turning their lives upside down. For deforming the landscape and killing so many people all over the world. The resentment, suspicion, and hate ran deep. Even in Portland, the proud home of all things weird, people didn’t welcome any witches or witchkin.

Kayla shook her head and muttered something.

“What did you say?”

She leveled her gaze at him. “I said, good thing I got out when I did. How can you stomach that crap?”

Ray jerked like she’d struck him. Fury ignited. His voice turned sharp as an arctic wind. “Maybe if you hadn’t left, things might be different, so you can take your judgement and shove it up your ass.”

 

Saturday, January 6th, 2018
Five and a half weeks post surgery report

I eat too much. It’s really hard to connect the visual of how much I can eat with the actuality of what I can eat. So I end up feeling a little bit sick and too full and I’m working on that. Other than that, I’m down about 25 lbs since surgery, almost 50 since May. I feel good. Energy is up. I have recently had some intestinal issues which I am not sharing here, but I’m figuring those out and hopefully all will be good soon.

I’m looking forward to my next blood test results. I don’t know when that will be, but I really want to see how my A1C numbers are, as well as some of the others.

One of the keys of post surgery life it to make sure I get enough protein and water each day. So far I’m nailing those numbers, usually getting more water. So this makes me happy. And I’m getting my vitamins as required. So basically, the upshot at this point is so far so good. I just got cleared to lift more than 10lbs, which is really good. Though I still am working on curing the tennis elbow. It’s getting slowly better. I bought a nighttime elbow splint that I started wearing last night and that should help.

In the meantime, I’ve begun work on the next Horngate book. It’s a Horngate world story, so it’s set in the world, but at this point doesn’t include the characters from the first books. That also means that people coming in to the story with this book will hopefully feel situated. I do want to bring the characters over, or else write a further about those characters. I’m not really thrilled with the beginning, but that’s because I’m info-dumping and I’ll have to clean it up later. But right now I just need to get a skeleton down.

 

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