Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
Sunday, March 19th, 2017
The weekend fun

Shades of Memory is done!  I sent it to my editor and now I await her wisdom. I’m proud of this book. It’s super twisty and cool and I’m so hopeful that I’m not being delusional and that it’s as good as I think.

This week I had visitors from Montana and Washington. It was lovely to visit with both and today, Megan and I went to the Grimm sale (last day) and mostly everything was gone, but we got a few things, though not sure anything was noticeable in the show. But it was cool, all the same. I should have gone up a lot sooner, but today at least everything was 75% off. So there’s that. Ended up with some apothecary jars, a cool metal drawer that was once used for type, it looks like. Don’t know if we’ll ever be able to see it in an episode. I also got this plaque for a doctor with an award for studying nocturnal exertions, which I thought was funny. Other than that, not much.

So it was a lovely weekend, and tomorrow I get back to work and that will be a good thing.

 

 

 

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
A snippet and an announcement

First this announcement. Path of Fate has been included in a Humble Bundle with some amazing company. Octavia Butler, Kate Eliot, Elizabeth Hand, Robin McKinley, among others. It’s an amazing bundle and you should definitely have a look.

 

 

Shades of Memory is the name of the fourth Diamond City Magic Book. Here’s a snippet in honor of the fact that the revision is nearly done:

 

“How do we do this?” Price asked, doubt threading his voice.

“A lot of talents work together to make a single spell,” I said again, trying to be reassuring.

“Don’t they usually practice together for years, too?”

“Sometimes.”

“You said you’ve done this before.”

“Sort of. I’ve done it where one of us laid down a spell and the other one laid another on top. If done right, it’s supposed to work.”

“Did you do it right?”

“The second time.”

“And the first?”

I made a face. “A sort of spectacular failure.”

“Define sort of spectacular.”

“Some pretty fireworks. A broken leg. Maybe a small concussion.”

Price sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “By fireworks, I trust you mean you lit half the city on fire. Dare I ask what you were trying to do?”

“So Robbie had this obnoxious girlfriend,” I began.

“Oh God. This cannot end well,” Price said.

“I already told you that.”

“But now I realize how much worse it’s going to be than I thought. Anything that beings with, So Robbie had this obnoxious girlfriend, must by definition
always end in the worst possible way.”

“I don’t know. Everybody survived.”

Price rubbed his eyes like they wanted to pop out.“Why don’t we move on to getting this blizzard started.”

“You asked.”

“I apologize. I shouldn’t have.”

I shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

“But let’s make this turn out better than it did with Robbie, shall we? You don’t really need another concussion.”

“What makes you think I was the one who ended up with a concussion?”

“Experience and your track record. Am I wrong? Don’t tell me you broke your leg and your head.”

“Why don’t we move on to getting this blizzard started?” I said.

“Good plan.”

“You go first,” I said. “I’ll jump on top.”

He slid a sideways glance at me. “Out here? In the cold? You could get some serious frostbite.”

I hit him on the shoulder. “Behave yourself.”

“You’re the one who wants to jump on top. Not that I’m complaining. I’m easy. I’d go for on top, behind, underneath–”

“Can you just get to work?” I asked, jabbing him with my elbow as inappropriate tingles started up in places they had no business being at the moment.

 

And that’s all for now, folks!

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Sunday, March 12th, 2017
In the middle of the revising

Here’s the news. The title for the fourth Diamond City Magic book is *drumroll* Shades of Memory. It’s really a perfect title and I’m so pleased to have actually worked out a title. It’s been hard to figure out.

In this book, Riley is back with her family–including her dad–Price and Touray and Arnow and a whole lot of trouble. A Tyet war explodes in Diamond City and there’s a lot of intrigue, double-crossing, and surprises. You’re going to love it. I’ll be posting snippets soon.

In the meantime, I’m in tax-hell. Plus it’s been warm enough to work in the yard, but still too soggy. So I can’t get anything done that I want to. Sigh. I did get some peas in a couple weeks ago and they are coming up. At least some of them are. So that’s a good thing. I started seeds in the house but need to get them transplanted into larger containers.

Been doing a little bit of reading, but having a hard time getting to the end of anything. Also doing some knitting. Trying to make the girlie a cool poncho and make some socks. Wanted to go to the Grimm warehouse sale (of all the props and stuff) but won’t make it til next weekend maybe. Did get out in the sunshine a little bit. More rain coming in the next oh, ten days at least. For all those ten days. It’s a super wet winter.

 

Saturday, February 25th, 2017
Running away from home

I did that. Ran away from home and to the Rainforest Writers Village where I got less work done than I wanted, but I did finish the fourth Diamond City Magic book (Yay!!!) and did some work on the second Mission Magic book. I also got to meet a lot of people I didn’t know, and spend time with others I do, and it was a good time. Patrick Swenson is so amazing for organizing and running this. He’s just fabulous.

I came back to aid the husband who had had his wisdom teeth out right before I left and developed dry sockets, which were very bad. Painful bad. He’s improved, but is still having some pain. In other news, the girlie is quickly becoming a teenager and I’m quickly losing my mind. My stress level is up and I’ve got a raging headache at this moment. I’ve got to seriously figure out some way to get through these next five years or so. Ten? Shit.

I need to learn to meditate. And maybe yoga. And exercise myself into the ground. This might get me through the hateful hormones.

Now I’m watching this very odd movie that is alternately bizarre and funny. I’m very amused. It’s called Mr. Right with Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. Tim Roth has always been a good actor, but in this, he’s awesome. He does southern accent like nobody’s business. Plus he’s a really a fabulous actor.

Today was lovely sunny. Tomorrow the rain returns. Damn. I was looking forward to another walk in the sun with the dogs tomorrow. Maybe it will be a rainy walk. Or I’ll do some reading. I’ve been managing to enjoy some lately. Hoping for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

Friday, February 10th, 2017
Book Review: Dark, Witch, and Creamy by H.Y. Hanna

Book provided by NetGalley

Dark, Witch, and Creamy is a fun little contemporary fantasy with the beginnings of romance in it. Here’s the back of the cover blurb:

A witch, a kitty and dark chocolate magic…
Caitlyn is used to being the ugly duckling in her glamorous showbiz family… until the day she learns that she was adopted as an abandoned baby. Now, her search for answers takes her to the tiny English village of Tillyhenge where a man has been murdered by witchcraft – and where a mysterious shop selling enchanted chocolates is home to the “local witch”…

Soon Caitlyn finds herself fending off a toothless old vampire, rescuing an adorable kitten and meeting handsome aristocrat Lord James Fitzroy… not to mention discovering that she herself might have magical blood in her veins!

When she’s dragged into the murder investigation and realises that dark magic is involved, Caitlyn is forced to choose. Can she embrace her witchy powers in time to solve the mystery and save those she loves?

I enjoyed this book. It’s sort of on the cozy side of the mystery continuum, with fun and colorful characters and of course, chocolate. Lots of chocolate. I enjoyed Caitlyn and Widow Mags quite a bit, though I wish a little more about Caitlyn’s background had come to light. I also had some questions about Viktor and I hope those get answered in the future. I thought the magic elements were charming. My major complaint about the book is that while the bad guy is identified, the story seems a little unfinished (trying not to spoil it here). There is another book in the series that I think I’ll probably pick up. All in all, the book is fun and worth reading.

4 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Book review: Combatting Fear by Sandy Vaile

I obtained this book through NetGalley.

I really wanted to like this Combatting Fear by Sandy Vaile. The description pulled me in and I thought it was going to be a fun romantic suspense. Plus it’s set in Australia, which was a big attraction to me (though there were no spiders in this book, which I found surprising. Or venomous snakes.)  Let’s start with the back cover copy:

How far would you go to save a child that wasn’t yours?

Mild-mannered kindergarten teacher Neve Botticelli leads a double life. Thanks to a childhood tragedy and her paranoid father, she’s a trained warrior with extreme survival skills who lives off the grid.

When self-made billionaire Micah Kincaid storms into town in search of his son, Rowan, he’s pushy, entitled, and stands for everything she despises. Micah can’t believe a kindergarten teacher is barring the way to him getting crucial information or even just a glimpse of the boy his cheating ex kidnapped. They share only one thing in common: either will do anything to protect the four-year-old, who they soon discover is being held for ransom by an outlaw motorcycle gang.

But as they work together to get Rowan back, they start to see beyond each other’s masks. Could falling in love be even more dangerous than hunting down deadly criminals?

The writing of the book is really good, and the end relationship stuff was well done. Plus there were a lot of elements in the book that worked well. The moments between Tony and Neve especially. The descriptions were evocative and made me feel like I was there. Where I ran into difficulties was with 1) the relationship development, and 2) uneven/contradictory character development.

I’m going to start with the second issue first. Both Neve and Micah were engaging and likeable. But they were also inconsistent and constantly waffled on issues for no good reason. There were no real triggers for much of their–but what if? thoughts. I got annoyed with both of them. Vaile justified their qualms and fears with a solid foundation. I got why Neve was suspicious of Micah and why he’d doubt her–at least at first. But then it kept feeling artificial as they got to know each other and still had the very same doubts without any real trigger for them.

Then Neve is billed as leading a double life. Not really. I was disappointed in that. And that she’s a trained warrior. It didn’t really come across. She’s weepy and nervous and generally sort of passive. And then she’ll have these sudden moments of warrior action and thinking, and then go back to the other. It’s aggravating. The warrior stuff comes out somewhat in the end, but still wasn’t all that warrior-like. I felt a little bit like there’d been a bait and switch.

The relationship development was also odd. Their attraction came at odd times and sort of out of the blue. The final development was really well done, but the development just didn’t feel organic or natural.

In the end, I felt the book was okay, but I didn’t come away feeling satisfied.

2 out of 5 stars.

 

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Sunday, February 5th, 2017
Food that was made

Tonight we made chow mein and fried rice. Didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, but was still really good. I figure I’ll change some things up next time. For one, I forgot to put oil in the water for the noodles so they stuck together before I could put them in the stirfry. The order on the fried rice was off so next time I”ll change that up. Plus I’ll try to cook the rice the day before instead of the day of to get it better dehydrated and really cold. The sauce I found was really good and I made a bunch extra and put it in the fridge for future use.

Tomorrow is leftovers. Yum.

 

 

Sunday, February 5th, 2017
Book Review: At Close Range, Laura Griffin

I really love the Laura Griffin books. They are romantic suspense and have great characters and engrossing plots, but hot and compelling romance. At Close Range is the latest in her Tracers Series, of which I’ve read most, if not all. I have to check. This one includes characters from previous books, though it can totally be read independently of any of the others.

The book revolves around a double murder that quickly grows into more murders and a twisted investigation. Dani, our main character, is the lead investigator on the case. This is her first time leading, and she’s very nervous, though also very competent. Scott Black is a ballistics expert and former Navy SEAL who works at a local lab that provides forensic services to law enforcement all over the country. Dani and Scott go back to their teenage years. He practically grew up in their house–her brother’s best friend. His career in the Navy ended with an injury, and now he’s become a primary expert in his field. The two of them have sparks, but he’s not ready to cross the brother-friendship line to mess with Dani, and she’s pretty sure he’ll break her heart.

He is one of the experts called in on the case, but soon is implicated as a suspect. That puts them on opposite sides, because even though Dani believes in him personally, a good detective works on facts and evidence. Secondary characters are introduced and play important roles in the story, all the way to the end.

I didn’t love this story as much as some of Griffin’s previous books, but I liked it quite well. I thought the relationship between all the characters–professional and personal–were deftly written, particularly Dani’s relationship with her fellow cops. Her relationship with Scott had some places that I winced at, but I think that was a personal thing, and overall I thought it developed organically and realistically and romantically. The sex scenes were both hot and emotional, which is an art to do. The only major problem I had with the book was that the ultimate bad guy seemed a little bit farfetched. The twisted plotline was wonderful and kept me guessing, but I wish the ultimate villain had been more on the page pulling strings.

I would rate this 4.5/5 stars and totally recommend it and all the others in the series. Good writing, good suspense and mystery, wonderful romance. I read it pretty much in one sitting as soon as it showed up on my Kindle.

 

Friday, February 3rd, 2017
A Friday Riley snippet

Because it’s Friday and because I can!

From book 4 of DCM (which is yet title-less)

I pulled back my wandering mind to focus on the task at hand. The difficulty in this situation was me. Null magic in particular. It didn’t want to weave together with other magics. It wanted to kill them dead. Suck all the juice out of them and leave them dried husks of nothingness. That wouldn’t be all that bad, except that the result was a little bit like setting off a nuclear bomb. I don’t know why. It’s like the magics went to war, though it would have made more sense if the null power just sucked up the other one.

That’s the reason why you didn’t get a lot of null magic crossovers. I probably should have mentioned that to Price, but what he didn’t know couldn’t stop me from trying. The good news was that if things went wrong, the backlash would come at me, not him.