Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for the 'everything else' Category

Monday, February 11th, 2013
and another thing

I forgot to mention that I won a book on GoodReads Giveaways! It’s the new, not quite out yet Seanan McGuire novel Midnight Blue Special. It’s an Incryptid novel
and I really like the first one, so I’m excited to read the second. And I won something! I never win things.

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
forums

Hi people. I need some website help. I’m looking to install a forum. I need it to be fairly easy. I’ve looked at a couple, but I wondered if there is

anyone out there who might know something about forums and have a recommendation, and two, if there’s anyone who would be able to help me take a stab at this.

 

Also, for Saturday’s discussion, we’re going to have some issues. I can’t allow any more than ten deep on the comments–WP won’t let me. So we’re going to have to

deal with a bit of a jumbled mess. Be warned.

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
Book Violence

I’ve been thinking about violence in my books. I got to thinking about it because I’m one of the people that think that violence in video games, TV, movies, and other entertainment have desensitized children and adults and hugely contributed not to just recent gun violence events, but other violent actions in our culture. I firmly believe that. Grand Theft Auto is a game that horrifies me, but then when you look at ‘ordinary’ violence in children’s games and films, it has increased considerably from when I was a child. This post is not about that, or about gun laws, though those things have prompted this issue to rise to the surface. What this post is about is how much am I as a writer culpable in creating the ambience that desensitizes people. Surely if I believe that violence does desensitize, and if I believe that that is not a good thing, which I do, I must consider my part in this as a provider/creator of entertainment.

This is a very complicated subject and not one I can really do justice to. I’m not a psychologist, I don’t have the research or experience to really know the science of violence. I do know that there are no simple explanations. I do know that violence for some is simply raising a voice and using a harsh tone, while for others it’s not violent until bones are broken.

I’m not sure what I think. Part of me says that much of what is depicted in the world of entertainment is quite real and only reflects reality. I’m thinking of Criminal Minds or The Burning Bed, for instance. Is it wrong to depict what is? Does it give people ideas? But so what if it does? People can choose. They are not biologically destined to commit violence. And I believe in freedom of speech and the importance of uncensored art. On the other hand, children are susceptible to many things and should they be exposed to horror films or violent games? If their values come to them through entertainment, does that mean they are incapable of choice because they don’t know better?

The question of values is another issue. I know what I teach my kids, but many kids are taught a much more violent way of life, often coming from abusive situations. They may or may not have active parents or be in situations where those values are tainted or corrupted. So violent entertainment might reflect their world rather than not. Which means, it doesn’t desensitize so much as confirm what they already know.

Then you have questions of mental illness. Mental illness does not automatically mean, or even likely mean, that a person so inflicted will commit violence. Any more than not having mental illness means you won’t commit violence. I am not at all qualified to talk about mental illness, so I’ll just say this. For those with such an affliction, how they perceive the world and other people and the rules of life and living may be quite different from what other people perceive. How they perceive violence is not something I personally can predict and therefore, I don’t know the influence of entertainment on them. I do think mental illness must dealt with more in our culture, and not with some sort of database, but with actual treatment. But of course, not every mentally ill person will partake of treatment and they have a right to refuse. I only mention them because I can’t help but think that people who blow up buildings or walk into schools and theaters to kill people are mentally ill. Maybe I just want them to be, because it’s easier than thinking someone rationale and stable would do that. Which means that this is a piece of the big puzzle that must be dealt with. However, it has little to do with book violence. So back to that.

I know I write violent scenes. Bloody, painful, torturous scenes. I think of them as necessary to the story, because for supernatural situations/characters, it seems that ordinary pain and violence isn’t as meaningful to those characters and the plot. For the Shadowblades and Sunspears in particular, their entire lives revolve around brutality, pain, damage, and death. To give them scrapes or mere broken bones doesn’t seem to do the situation justice. But then again, I created the situation and the characters. Do I have to make them so impervious that so much violence is necessary? My Crosspointe books aren’t my only violent books. There are significant moments of it in all my books. Again, because it seemed necessary to each story. But was it?

I don’t know. The violence I write never feels gratuitous. It feels necessary to the story, and I need to be faithful to the story. But doesn’t that mean the same for the Grand Theft Auto developers? There are lines I simply won’t cross, but there are a lot of lines I do. Should I be censoring myself? Editing myself? Should I be more careful about whether I’m contributing to the desensitization? Should game developers? Movie makers? Does a rating system make sense? Does it even matter?

Honestly, I don’t know. This is a bit of a muddle, but I would love to have a discussion here about writing and violence. We *are* part of the entertainment industry. What could we or should we be doing? I ask because frankly, I don’t think taking guns is going to solve the problem. It might help, but the problem is too big and complicated for one thing to fix it. I say that because of bombings and other killings that happen. Guns are an issue, but I still think that they are more a symptom than a cause. I think that hearts and minds are an enormous factor and I think this is worth discussing.

I put it to you. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
best of lists and authors

I just ran across the B&N Year’s Best Fantasy List. There are two women writers on it. Now, I really don’t get this. Why are there only two? I understand that the other writers on the list were quite good, but at the same time, it seems strange to me that so many writers are women, and so many write the things that I love, and at the same time, only two made the list. Why is that?

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Thursday, December 6th, 2012
It’s just the sort of day for this

That is all.

Sunday, November 25th, 2012
eye roll so hard they may get lost in my brain

There’s this new article up on Fox News, called The War On Men. It’s written by Suzanne Venker. I want to read it as satire, but there’s absolutely no sign that it is anything but a serious discussion of what’s wrong with women that make men not want to marry. One of the specific points is that “women aren’t women anymore.” This after interviewing hundreds, if not thousands (author’s words), of men and women. In doing so, she’s found a subculture of men who don’t want to get married because of women not being women. (One wonders how large this subculture is, out of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of people she interviewed that included men and women, but she doesn’t discuss what anybody but this ‘subculture’ of men say).

According to Venker, one of the issues is that more women than men are getting college degrees and making money, which has changed the relationship between men and women. Apparently in a bad way. Also, women are angry and defensive and think of men as enemies. No, I’m not making this up. This has caused women to shove men off their pedestals (I wasn’t aware they had any) after feminists (Oh those evil equal rights for women rabble rousers!) convinced them to climb down off their pedestals. Which should apparently have been cozy enough and happy enough places to be for any real woman (as opposed to the new ‘woman’ who isn’t really a woman anymore, according to this subculture of men that Venker is quoting). Now, poor poor men, have nowhere to go. What do they do without their pedestals?

Venker says:

Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.

So okay, because women are working and going to school, and unwilling to put up with traditional ‘values’ that rob them of equal rights, they are pissing men off (well no duh–any guy who wants to control and contain women for his own use and pleasure would get pissed if he couldn’t have his lordly way). Poor men can’t love women who might actually compete with them. Though what the hell that means, I don’t know. I mean, compete? Run a race? If two people work and have money and live a life of equality, how exactly is that competition? I’m confused.

Apparently, women won’t let men do what their DNA tells them to do. That includes raping women, by the way, which I’ve read articles saying that it’s in men’s DNA and they can’t really control the need. Yeah. Biology is destiny. Right. Bullshit.

Venker’s answer to this horrible problem:

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

Really? Okay, so there’s so much wrong with this article I can’t hardly begin to say it. The fact is, no man I know would be willing to be classified as on her side. It postulates men as weak and completely dominated by some essential nature that can’t compete with their brains, ambition, emotions, and so on. Basically men in this scene are children who can’t achieve what they want because of a bunch of evil educated working women. Underneath all this is a implied belief in the good old days when men where men and women were safely perched on pedestals where they could be screwed and have babies and their mouths duct taped as needed. They didn’t move, didn’t impinge on a man’s life except as required by her nature (babies and sex, and the labor of keeping house and feeding the man and stroking his ego). Newsflash: those good old days never existed. Women weren’t happy in that scenario. They were frequently, dare I say it, pissed? Like supposedly men are now? But it’s better that they be pissed and this subculture of men be appeased? Stupid.

In the end, treating other people with generosity, tolerance, friendship, kindness, and equality, is the key to good relationships between anyone. This article seems to suggest that someone must be subjugated in order for someone else to be happy. It’s flat out wrong.

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
A little bit of politics

I read this tonight on a Huffington Post article about Michele Bachmann. Note that it comes at the end and has nothing to do with the article about her, but refers to a video clip. Here’s the quote:

Eric Fehrnstrom, senior campaign adviser for Mitt Romney, said on Sunday that issues pertaining to women’s reproductive rights, such as abortion and birth control, were “shiny objects” meant to distract voters from the real issues. “Mitt Romney is pro-life,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.”

I was struck by this because for me, and I think for many others, while the economy is important, this is fundamentally a social issue election. I’m very concerned about women’s rights, gay marriage, and education, to name just three issues that have become a driving force in my the way I’m voting this year. I was actually surprised about this. A year ago I would have said the economy was number one all the way. This has a great do with a number of the laws and comments that have arisen in the past year about abortion, about equal pay for women, about contraceptive rights, about the nature of education and what it should entail, about the rights of people who love each other to marry (or lack thereof), and so forth. I already voted, and I have to say that I’m really insulted that anyone would suggest that the things I care most about are just “shiny objects” like I’m a child who is easily distracted from the “real” issues. Because frankly, for me, these are the real issues. Just as every voter in this country has a set of real issues that drive his/her vote, and those issues are important and worthy of concern, whether I think they are of primary importance or not. No one should be challenged on the validity of his or her concerns.

Now the caveat of that is frankly, I don’t think your concerns are all that valid if you’re a racist pig. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist church, I’m looking at you. Not that I challenge your right to express them or vote. I just don’t think I have to pay any attention to you, the way I should pay attention to reasonable passionate people who hold opposing opinions to me. I don’t think they’ll convince me of their positions, but I recognize that they do feel passionately and have powerful concerns about the future of this country and the world and are not to be lightly dismissed as being distracted by mere “shiny objects.”

Yes, this comment gripes me. The attitude is so condescending and dismissive of the real concerns of a lot of voters, that it makes me want to vomit. I don’t think it’s limited to the Republican party. I think it’s a habit of many politicians to infantilize the voters as if they know better what we need. Pisses me off.

Okay, /rantover

And one more political comment–I’m almost looking forward to all the Christmas/holiday buy buy buy commercials that will crop up starting Wednesday, because that will mean the election advertising is over. I cannot wait.

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Confessions about watching bad TV

Warning: what follows is rather disgusting, so you may want to skip this one.

*
*
*

I’m right now watching Hoarders. It is the worst and most frightening one I have ever seen before. We’re talking poop soup in jugs and piled in the house and dumped in the yard. And she doesn’t wash her hands. There’s a major biohazard cleanup and the woman doesn’t get that it’s dirty or that you can’t eat food in a house that has fecal matter all over it. The level of mental illness for this woman is stunning because she has no idea this is filthy. Apparently the cleaners have to open the bottles of poop and pee and empty them. They have at least a thousand gallons of it to empty.

Isn’t that just the thing you wanted to read about right now? I don’t now if I could write a character like this and make it believable. I don’t know if I would ever to think of writing a place this horrible. It would be a place of torture. I imagine that it could what the Superdome after Katrina was like. Except for the dead bodies. But this is awful.

I can’t turn it off. I can’t look away. And I feel the urge to clean and change my clothes. Actually, I knew a girl one time who turned out to be a hoarder. My husband and I were asked to come help her move by another friend and we said yes, expecting that when we arrived the boxes would be packed and we’d be loading the truck. Nothing was packed. We walked in to a wall of cat piss smell and a thick mess of hopping fleas. There was rotten food behind the furniture and cat pee all over all the furniture. We helped her pack and move into a lovely clean place and I felt sorry for the landlords. Then we went home and stripped naked on the porch and went in a showered, then decontaminated our clothes. I felt like my skin was crawling for days. *shudder* ew.

Now the woman will eat the nasty contaminated food as her last stand. She says, “I’ve been eating poop for twelve years, why does it matter if I have one more last meal” of shit food? OMG. I want to throw up.

Friday, July 13th, 2012
Friday Funnies

I ran across this one and thought it was pretty amusing.

ADULT:
A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.

BEAUTY PARLOUR:
A place where women curl up and dye.

CHICKENS:
The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.

COMMITTEE:
A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

DUST:
Mud with the juice squeezed out.

EGOTIST:
Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

HANDKERCHIEF:
Cold Storage.

INFLATION:
Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

MOSQUITO:
An insect that makes you like flies better.

RAISIN:
A grape with a sunburn.

SECRET:
Something you tell to one person at a time.

SKELETON:
A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.

TOOTHACHE:
The pain that drives you to extraction.

TOMORROW:
One of the greatest labour saving devices of today.

YAWN:
An honest opinion openly expressed.

WRINKLES:
Something other people have, similar to my character lines.