Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
Bad bad things

I’ve got sidetracked onto working on something I shouldn’t be because of *fun*.  Don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but if you want a taste . . . here you are! Oh, but first, A HOLIDAY SPECIAL!!! If you’ve not read The Incubus Job, you can get it for just $2.99 at BVC in your preferred e-format. Check it out.

“Tell me about your mother.”

“She’s dead.”

The detective gave me a studiously bland look. “I’m aware. Do you think this is funny?”

I pretended to consider. “Funny–no. Ironic? yes.”

“Do you care to explain yourself?”

“Because I get to plan her funeral.” I already was. It would have to be the tackiest, white trashiest, low-rent trailer park sort of affair for kicking off the dearly departed. I’d definitely serve beer. Oh, and champagne. With Funions and pork rinds and pigs in blankets and deep-fried twinkies. And confetti. Maybe fireworks. Oh! Should I go with a viewing? Dress her in a K-Mart special with blue eye shadow and crimson lipstick? Regret slid through me. No. She’d need to be cremated. I needed her cremated, just to be sure she couldn’t come back as a zombie or vampire. Maybe I’d be allowed to light the match on the fire.

“Miss Wyatt?” The detective said, tapping my knee and interrupting my happy daydream.

I focused on her. She could have used some under-eye concealer. Maybe a little lipstick. And some rouge. The woman looked like death. “What?”

“I asked how you would categorize your relationship with your mother?”

“She pretty much hated everything about me and I tried my damnedest to earn her malice.”

Her brows rose at my candor. “So you didn’t get along with her?”

Was she deaf? Or just stupid. “Didn’t I just say that?”

“Did you?”

The detective needed her ass kicked. “Yes.”

“ . . . relationship contentious . . .” she muttered as she wrote in her notebook.

Such a mild word. Like my mother hadn’t been the wicked witch of the west. Like she hadn’t spent every minute of every day criticizing and castigating and moaning over my flaws and failures, which is all I was to her. I don’t even know why she’d had me. Or kept me.

“Did she have any other family? Do you have siblings?”

“Don’t know and no.” Because if there was one thing that was true about my mother is that she kept her life a secret from me.
“What about friends? Or enemies? Anyone you can think of who might want to hurt her?”

“Grab a phonebook and start with the A’s,” I suggested.

Saturday, November 26th, 2016
Talking about the Rogue Mage world

So as you might have heard (because I’ve been shouting about it), I have a short story, Ashes and Dust, in the soon-to-be-released Trials: A Rogue Mage anthology. Faith Hunter wrote three novels about Thorn St. Croix. She’s a neomage in a post-apocalyptic earth where seraphs have killed most of the earth’s population. There are those who believe the seraphs are messengers of God, sent to punish people for sins. Others believe they are aliens  (though those people hide because just saying so is sinful). There are a variety of magics and evil in the shape of the Dark–demons and fallen seraphs. Humans and the human world are the battle ground between the Light and the Dark.

Thorn is a neomage–which means she is forbidden to exist, except in what amounts to internment camps for neomages. She lives under the radar as a jeweler, but all too soon, bad things start to happen and she has to take serious risks.

I love this world. It’s so rich and strange and amazing. So I was excited to get a change to play in the world. I was also a little bit panicked. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never even considered anything like fanfiction–playing in someone else’s world means knowing everything about it, and writing in such a way that you’re faithful and don’t break it. I really loved the books, though, and I absolutely wanted to try. It helped that there’s an RPG game based on the world, and I could use the books for that as a reference. And of course, Faith herself.

The conditions of the story were that it could be set in any time pre, during, or post-Rogue Mage stories. I set mine slightly later, and across the country on the west coast. I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted to do, and thought that it would be easier (and less likely to break the world), if I created my own place in the west where I didn’t have to worry all that much about previously described areas or people.

Writing the story was terrific fun. It flowed out of me fast and was too long. I did my best to cut a lot, but it still ended up on the longish side. Luckily there was room. I think the coolest part of the Rogue Mage world is figuring out how to fit in the world and still bring your own creative ideas to the table. You have to color within certain lines, but there’s still a lot of room for crazy colors and textures and shapes.

Mistral is my main character and what I like about him is that he doesn’t fit well anywhere. I’ve felt like that a lot in my life, and then I found my tribe. He’s looking for that, too, only he doesn’t quite know it. He wants to define himself and choose his own path. The thing is, others don’t exactly want to let him. His story is about standing up for himself and choosing the kind of person he wants to be.

Mistral is an unusual being, which accounts for why if anybody discovered what he is, he’d be dead meat. He’s born of a Dark rma1_trials-ebook-cover-correctedMage mother and a captured seraph father. He’s kylen, with unique neomage powers. There’s no other like him in the world and that’s a tough thing. He knows he’d be hated by everyone if they knew, and so he has to hide. But others also want to use him as a tool for their ambitions. He despises both the Light and the Dark. For much of the year, he travels as a ti

nker and trader. For the rest of the year, he suffers at the hands of an evil master.

When I got to the end of the story, I loved it for approximately 5 seconds. Then I was sure it was a big pile of stinky poop. I was sure it moved slowly, that it wasn’t any good, that it was a dumb plot, and that the whole thing needed to be scrapped. (All of which is pretty typical of finishing things for me). Faith, though, seemed to think it was pretty good. I had some kinks to work out where I’d crossed lines I couldn’t cross–world facts, for instance–and I had to revise my prose, but mostly the story in the anthology is as it was when I finished.

I was also really happy with the ending. A lot of the time writers tell stories by feel. What I mean by that is we are searching for that ending that clicks and says more than just the simple plot. That it delves into character and makes the story robust and interesting in ways that weren’t clear until the end. It’s like going through maze and looking back to see that

all those little twists and turns were really a glorious pattern.

Now I need to go back to work on finishing my fourth Diamond City Magic book, which remains untitled. It’s so close to done, but I’m looking for that ending that clicks, and I have a feeling that a little farther away than I hope it is. I feel the story coming together toward that finish, though, and I’m super pleased about it.

I also am working on the second Mission: Magic book, and I just turned in a Horngate Witches story for an upcoming anthology. It jumps about four years after the end of the last book. And then I got blindsided by a dream last night that is parlaying itself into a book idea that I think is pretty awesome, but needs to be fleshed out a whole lot more.

Here’s a little snippet from the story:

    They’d not gone much farther up the rutted road — perhaps a mile — when Ebet emerged from the shadow of a tree. He moved into the center of the road to face Mistral, his movements flickering fast. The daywalker was inhumanly beautiful, with black hair that hung to his waist and a lithe, muscular body. They were all of a kind — black hair, slender, piercing eyes, and Michelangelo faces. And evil.
    “You are late for your lessoning,” Ebet said, his voice sweet as a clarinet. “The master grows anxious.”
    “The roads washed out south of the delta. I was trapped on the wrong side.” The floods and delay were not news. Nor did they make the delay forgivable.
    Ebet dipped his chin, a slow, vicious smile curving his mouth. “I am to remind you to hurry.” He lifted his hand and held it out. Dangling from his fingers was a collar.
    Mistral blanched despite himself.

If you’d like to order Trials, here’s a quick link to Amazon. You can preorder now, and it releases on November 28. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

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Friday, November 25th, 2016
Book Review: The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal

I like Christmas romance, and especially this year, it seems like a good inoculation against the unhappiness in the world and the stress of life and the holidays. I picked up Eve Gaddy’s The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal off NetGalley. I really like Eve’s writing and expected to really like this book. And a lot of it I did. But one unfortunately central element kept bothering me and while it was addressed somewhat at the end, not enough for me.

So here’s the story (blurb off Amazon):

Betrayed by his ex-fiancée, Dr. Wyatt Gallagher turns to the one woman he can always trust – his best friend, Mia Watson. 515tvf7nqlAfter moving away, Wyatt has realized he wants more than friendship with the beautiful artist. With that in mind, he convinces Mia to come to Marietta for the Christmas holidays. But wooing Mia is surprisingly difficult — especially given the passionate night they’ve already shared.

Though Mia Watson has loved Wyatt Gallagher for years, he’s always seen her as a friend, never a lover. Except for one unforgettable interlude when comfort turned to passion. Then Wyatt moved back to Montana, leaving Mia with an unexpected consequence of their night together–and soon, heartbreak to follow.

Faced with the fulfillment of her dreams, Mia knows she must reveal the consequences of their night together to Wyatt. But having withheld the truth for so long, will her confession destroy his trust in her, ending their friendship and any hope of a future together?

So obviously there’s some cool angsty stuff going on. Also, the setting is Montana, and having lived there for 15 years, I loved reading about it. From that third paragraph, you can guess that Mia got pregnant from Wyatt on their one night stand years before (which for her was not one, and for him–very confusing). More on that below.

The family and secondary characters were fun and interesting and warm. This isn’t a book of high drama, it’s quieter and more family focused. It’s a fairly gentle story in many ways. I liked Wyatt and Mia quite a bit and felt that their emotions and feelings for one another were real and strong.

Now this is going to be a spoiler, so if you don’t want to have that, don’t read more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, November 24th, 2016
Thanksgiving

It’s been a tough year all around. I’m deeply worried about the next four, and that’s a reason to look hard at what I have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my family. For laughter. For the dog-boys. For a house and a comfortable life. For good friends. Good books. The ability to do what I love to do. For joy. For the sunrises and sunsets, for growing things, for kindness. For fans who buy and read my books. For tasty food. For everyone who stands up to prejudice, bigotry, and racism. May we all reach out to each other in kindness, generosity, and hope.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
Dentistry–Its own ring of hell

Went in this morning to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning. I hadn’t been for a number of years, thanks to getting busy with, well, moving, writing books, my son’s illness, everything else that happens in life . . . you know the drill.

Anyhow, I have cavities, plus old fillings that need to be fixed and redone. It’s going to be expensive. Very. Expensive. Sigh. I don’t really care about the pain of it–After all my health issues (all of which involved significant pain), I can handle it. The first cavity I ever had was when I was around 38 years old. Yes. I didn’t go to a dentist for something like 25 years after seriously bad experiences with my dentist as a kid. Yet no cavities. I don’t know why I developed them suddenly. Possibilities include change in body chemistry, drug prescriptions, anemia, thyroid issues, lack of fluoride in the water, the significant mineralization of the water, not to mention gnomes, mouth rats, tooth termites, and toothquakes of the mouth. Really impossible to say.

Anyhow, my first cavity involved a root canal. Go me! Overachiever! Then I had several more, even though I brush my teeth and floss and got checked twice a year. So looks like I’ll be in to see the dentist a fair bit this next couple of months. So exciting. Not.

I have everything I need to fix Thanksgiving dinner, but now am contemplating making lasagne instead. It just sounds good. With pie. And rosemary rolls. I’ll probably just make regular Thanksgiving dinner.

I hope everybody out there has a lovely Thanksgiving day, without any strife, fear, difficulties, or sadness.

 

Saturday, November 19th, 2016
Cool Exciting News!

I want to announce my inclusion in a new anthology that will be out very very soon. bloodring

Faith Hunter writes some fabulous books. One trilogy is the Rogue Mage series–which are really really good and if you haven’t read them yet, you should (e-version of the first book is $2.99 right now). She asked me if I’d like to write a story set in that world for an anthology. I spent a little time squealing and dancing and then said yet. Cuz, duh!!!!

The title of my story is Ashes and Dust, and I’ll tell you more about it later, but for now, here’s more info and the cover:

rma1_trials-ebook-cover-correctedThe Rogue Mage world began long ago, when the epic battle between the High Host and the Darkness was won and lost. Now, nine writers—including Faith Hunter herself—take fans of Thorn St. Croix into the past, before the opening pages of BLOODRING. These stories, set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world, are adventures with new characters and old, facing dangers unimaginable. And they must save the world all over again.

If you ever wondered what happened between seraphs, kylen, second-unforeseen, mages, seraph-touched, spawn, dragons and their creatures, and humans before the series, now is your chance to delve deeper and wider. The ebook TRIALS presents twenty-one vignettes and short stories. TRIALS will be followed soon by TRIBULATIONS, and then by the trade paperback omnibus TRIUMPHANT. Enjoy!

TRIALS Authors: Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, Lou J Berger, Ken Schrader, Spike Y Jones, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Christina Stiles, Tamsin Silver, Melissa McArthur.

TRIBULATIONS Authors are Lucienne Diver, Jean Rabe, Spike Y Jones, Christina Stiles, Faith Hunter.

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Thursday, November 17th, 2016
The Cutting Room Floor

I’m working on a Horngate story for an anthology. It is a Giselle/Shoftiel story–no Max. I cut this today and figured you might like to see it:

Salt Lake City still looked like itself, though now the sulfurous stench of the lake was replaced by fumes of tar. Shoftiel rolled down his window, sucking in deep breaths as his deprived senses rejoiced.

The closer they came to the city, the more he realized that in fact, it had changed. One of the biggest changes came in the shape of jewel-colored drakes circling above, some carrying riders. Vines climbed up every building and dripped in curtains. Other plants clung to whatever surface they could find. Trees grew sideways with leaves from every color of the rainbow.

Many of the building had turned into giant trees or tall pillars of salt. Others look like melted candles, some of which had molded together. While he watched, a squat brick lump of a building got up on seven thick yellow elephant-like legs and walked off toward the shimmering rainbow mountains, settling down on top of a broad, flat-topped place covered in brilliant scarlet fur. Or perhaps it was some kind of fairy grass.

On the right, the tar bog spread out like a great, black quagmire. Heat waves rose from it, distorting the air. Hummocks and islands scattered thickly over its gleaming surface and boats poled through the tarways between.
They continued south, passing the former airport. This was now a field of bushes. They were heavy with long, fuzzy pink fruits. Or vegetables.

“What are those?” he asked, no expecting an answer.

“They call ‘em pinktails. Pretty good. Tart. Green on the inside like kiwis but with big red seeds running down the middle. The fuzz is used to make cloth. It’s a lot like cotton.”

Giselle continued to play tour guide. Shoftiel’s curiosity was insatiable and he peppered her with questions.

Sunday, November 13th, 2016
So. Thinky Thoughts

I have been trying to gather my thoughts to express my feelings about this election and the next four years. I feel scared. Really scared. And vulnerable. That’s the word that sums it up best. I can’t imagine how other targeted groups feel, but as a woman, as a mother, as someone in the middle class, as someone who believes in equality for everyone–I’m really really scared. I’ve found myself crying these last days out of stress and those fears. I’ve been trying to pick myself up with some family things and also watching Christmas movies. But I still have lead in my stomach and I still want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers up over my head.

One of my friends said that she’s been in a low level panic. I’d say that I’ve been the same. My blood pressure is up, I’ve been in a constant state of nausea, and it’s been a real struggle to keep myself from sort of collapsing. This too shall pass, but I fear that these next four years will leave behind an aftermath like Hurricane Katrina. Only much much worse.

I have no idea how to feel better. I’m just trying to figure out how to deal with this new normal. Never in my life have I been so frightened by and for America’s future.

I’ve been trying to focus on writing and thinking maybe I need to write some lighter escapist sort of fiction. It’s not a lot to give to other people sharing my fears and panic and sense of danger, but it’s something. I have to focus on the the people around me and buoy them as much as I can. I need to be a port in a storm for whoever needs it. I need to raise my voice against hate. I need to speak out for those who are endangered and threatened. I need to be as much a light in the darkness as I can be.

 

 

 

 

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.