Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
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.

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
The Ideas that Rise and a snippet

I had this image pop into my head: A glass army. I thought about the fact that though the blood would run off them, it would still cling and dry and then I wondered how impervious they would be, if at all. Seems to me they would have magical qualities.

I want to write another traditional fantasy and this may be the first seed. Hard to say. But then I had another image so I started a poem out of nowhere and here it is, even though it’s awful, it does get at one really cool image:

Glass army:
The sun shone bright over the glass army
shed rainbows in a halo
flickered and dulled under the clouds
drifted and bunched across
the sun smothering it into the darkness
couldn’t be seen through
the clear glass in their hearts
sparkled clean.

And then just a little bit of Price and Riley:

“How the hell am I going to help you if you won’t even stay in the same room with me?”
I was yelling. I don’t know if it was more from fear, frustration, or fury. With incredible restraint, I did not pick up the chunk of petrified wood sitting on the shelf beside me, and I did not sling the hunk of rock at Price’s head. Though I stayed in reach to keep it an option.

“If I stay in the same room with you, I’m going to kill you. Is that what you want? What will you do then? Haunt me?”

Price’s voice emerged through clenched teeth. He faced me from the doorway thirty feet away. Running away as soon as I came in the room. Every muscle in his body looked to be clenched tight.

“You can kill me from a football field away,” I pointed out. “Probably a lot farther. Your logic is completely stupid.”

“God dammit, Riley. This isn’t a fucking joke,” he said, plowing shaking fingers through his shaggy black hair.

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017
More Poetry

I heard the term “Alternative Facts” today. It reminds me of gaslighting. And this is what came to my heart:

 

alternative facts say he
loves you
love tap
love bites
stop crying or he’ll
love you so
hard
you break
your heart
bones
blood spills
stop screaming or he’ll
love you to
the hospital
to the moon Alice
to death
or worse
stop dreams
and joy
and life
and will or he’ll
love you loudly
with knuckles
with snarls
with bruises
and breaks
and then he’ll love
the kids as much
as he
loves
you.

Saturday, January 21st, 2017
Hate and the march

I’m so proud of all the marches across the country today. The turnout gives me great hope. I’m not a good poet, but this arose out of the last year, yesterday, and my fears going forward and this is the thing that the marches today defy:

 

the shape of hate is diffuse
smoke at night invisible
desperate
agent orange, thalidomide, love canal
health
prosperity
winning
termite gluttony gnawing chewing
needing
what they can’t find
and crave and demand
tasty hate
that stretches the stomach with
sawdust