Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for October, 2016



Friday, October 28th, 2016
I just . . . can’t, plus cool stuff

I’ve run across things that are just no. No no no. And yet funny. And just interesting.

So first, VI Poo. The catchphrase is: “Even VIPs need to poo.” And also, “it traps the evil smell of your devil’s donuts.” I watched a commercial. And then rewound because–how could I not? And now I’m sharing with you because I’m evil like that.

Then I keep getting spam emails for “Derwin.” It makes me feel like Darren Stephens on Betwitched whenever Pandora botches his name.

Our first tank of gas in our new-t0-us Prius got us 430 miles on just 10 gallons of gas. I’m just besmoggled by that.

And I should tell you that there’s a neat giveaway happening! You can win over 50 paranormal romance novels, including The Incubus Job, and a Kindle Fire to read them on. Just go here or click the graphic below. You only have a little over three days to enter, so what are you waiting for?

paranormalromance-francis-oct2016

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Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
Cool stuff

Here Be Dragons talks about lesser known authors who she loves. I’m one! And I have to say I agree on the other authors. Check it out.

Monday, October 17th, 2016
Brat, Beer, and Cheese soup

I mentioned I made this soup and folks have asked for the recipe, so here it is:

(This makes a lot of soup. It does freeze pretty well).

Brat, Beer and Cheese Soup

I’ll give the original recipe followed by my modifications. This originally came out of Penzey’s catalog I think.

3 bratwurst sausages, cooked and sliced
3 TB olive oil
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup celery, minced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1/4 flour
1 lb potatoes peeled and diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 12 oz can of beer
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Modifications:

I like hickory smoked kielbasa and other meats, so put in whatever you like. I like them diced up smaller than slices so you get some meat and other things on your spoon at the same time. Also, the family likes more meat than less, so I double or more the meat.

I use Avocado oil because you can heat it higher without burning

All the measurements for the vegetables and the potatoes are off. At least if you want a thick soup, which I do. I used a big onion, usually 10-12 stalks of celery, 10-15 carrots, depending on size, and usually 10-15 or so large russet potatoes.

I don’t mince. I chop the celery and onion, but I don’t mince.

The recipe calls for garlic granules. I use fresh cloves. Usually two or three minced.

I use a bottle of beer which is sometimes more than 12 oz but I don’t care. I’m already adding tons more to the soup so it’s okay.

I use 1/2 and 1/2 and I use a full little carton–2 cups I think.

The sharper the cheese the better, but I’ve sometimes added parmesan cheese also, and it gives a lovely flavor

 

Cooking it:

Keep in mind that the meat is added LAST. This is important.

Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat (use a big pot. Really. Big).

Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring every so often to keep from sticking

Stir in flour. Cook about a minute

Add potatoes, stock and beer. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Add spices (I don’t wait until things are tender as the recipe says. I add them as soon as I add the potatoes, stock and beer and just stir them in).

Remove from heat.

Combine 1/2 and 1/2 in a bowl with Worcestershire sauce. Pour slowly into the soup while stirring.

Add the cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted and smooth.

Remove 2 cups of vegetables and some liquid and put it in a blender or a food processor, or do like me and use a submersion blender. (I remove more like five cups or more, but I like the creaminess along with the chunkiness of this soup). If you add meat before this step, you puree the meat, and you don’t really want to, though I’ve been known to add the meat early on accident and the soup is perfectly yummy.

Stir the puree back into the soup.

Return to low heat and add the meat. Cook until the meat is warm, around 5 minutes.

Sunday, October 16th, 2016
Soup and caffeine

I made it through today without caffeine. Well, I had a chai, but I mean the diet soda caffeine. I wasn’t groggy today, so that was both surprising and really nice. Not that I got a ton of things accomplished, mind you, but I was awake for my laziness.

We made soup tonight. It’s got potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, beer, cheddar cheese, half and half, sour cream, chicken broth, hickory smoked sausage, with some spices. Some of it gets blended up to make it creamy. It’s the family’s favorite soup. I’ve been meaning to make it awhile, and finally did. Perfect for cold rainy days. Even though it really isn’t that cold.

The dogs were entirely beggy for the entire process, for which they were richly rewarded with some dropped carrots, I think. Which they liked. Because they are corgis and corgis like to eat.

I’m craving pancakes and sausage and bacon and eggs. I’m going to have to make some this week.

 

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.

 

Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Sirens Anthology Release Day

This is a really cool anthology that I wanted to share with you. I asked Cynthia, one of the contributors and one of the people who came up with the idea of the anthology, to come and talk to you about Sirens, her story, and the anthology in general. So without further ado, please welcome Cynthia:

My name is Cynthia Porter.  I’m here today to tell you that writing a blog post about Queens & Courtesans: A Sirens Benefit Anthology, is only slightly easier than writing my short story, Affairs of State, that is included in its pages.

Sirens is a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature.  The conference describes itselfqueens as “part scholarly conference, part enthusiastic convention, part networking weekend, and part personal retreat.”  Attendees include readers, authors, librarians, booksellers, educators, scholars, and publishing professionals.  Queens & Courtesans is a labor of love created to benefit the conference where we all met.

This is the first time I have ever written a story to a writing prompt.  When we created the idea of the anthology, the request was for stories with a Queen and a Courtesan.  None of my current projects had characters like these.  I had to almost start from scratch.  The almost part was because the world I chose to set the story in was one I’d created years ago.  I shifted south of where my other stories have taken place and found myself in a royal court.

I knew I wanted my queen to be a mature woman, not a teen/young woman who has no idea of the trials ahead of her.  I wanted my characters to know who they were, to be confident in their abilities and their lives.

I think I wrote three drafts before my queen character finally got her name.  This is very unusual for me.  My stories are character driven.  Typically I know nothing about a story until I have a name.  That name brings the character’s personality, their back story, their hopes and dreams, and the plot!  With a normal story I’m stuck without a name.  Except for this queen.  She was more than happy to share her story, she just didn’t see the need to share her name with me.  It drove me crazy.  I would talk to her while staring at the story on my computer screen.  “Name, name, name– you need a name!”  She’s one of the rare ones who knew who she was without a name.  I had to work to find a name that fit her temperament.  Not my most difficult character ever, but absolutely one of the most quietly stubborn.  She was the Queen.  What more did anyone need to know?  Her name, as it turns out, is Arcalys.  True to form, it took about four drafts of this post to realize she’d done it to me again!

Lenzienne, or Lenzi, my courtesan, knew exactly what her name was from the very beginning.  She walked into a room, completely furious, and snarled her opening lines.  Her name flowed onto the page and the story followed.

The really difficult characters in Affairs of State were the secondary characters.  Three of them hung on to significant roles in the story.  A couple more exist as, well, names and nothing more.  The others all got cut from various drafts of the story.  Why?  Because they thought they were populating a novel.  I prefer the longer forms of storytelling because invariable my characters bring big ideas, themes, plots trailing behind them—none of which fit into a short story.  Borders, Barriers, Refugees, Magic, all this exploded into larger and larger arcs.  I shoved most of them aside, telling them “later”.  My editor, Jessica, jumped on several more.  She helped me focus what was more of a prologue for a novel down into a short story.

While my queen and my courtesan are happy with their “little” story, I’ve acknowledged that their novel needs exploration.  Once Queens & Courtesans is well and truly launched into the world, I’ll be letting all those characters, all that world-building, all those themes and plots to swirl out from the door where they’ve been lurking.

To get your copy of Queens and Courtesans in print or ebook, click here for Amazon, or  here for BN.

 

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Monday, October 3rd, 2016
Throws Up Its Leaves

My Father In Law has been visiting, which makes getting work done a little bit tricky, but I’ve managed some. I’m hopefully all finished with a short story that I owed. I’ve made some progress on DCM4. It’s coming along.

I decided I want to make socks again. I need to work on learning some techniques. Youtube here I come. I just hope that my wrist cooperates.

I’m reading a good book by R.J. Blaine. It’s an ARC, so you can’t get it yet, but when Water Viper comes out, you’re going to want to read it if the first bit is anything to go by.

I’m being snuggled by corgis. This is good.

Watched the Saturday Night Live parody debate. It was so funny. Love it. Alec Baldwin did a fabulous Trump and Kate McKinnon killed me with her Hillary.