Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
Home About DianaBlogFree StoriesArticles & EssaysAppearancesFAQContact
Horngate WitchesCrosspointe Chronicles
Path BooksDiamond City Magic
Monday, January 26th, 2015
Thinky thoughts: religion

First caveat: This was in part inspired by an event that I am still not over a few years ago, where someone who talked a good Christian game, did something really awful involving my husband and myself, and did it unapologetically and without any sense of the irony that comes with doing something totally against what he claims to be.

Second caveat: I in no way assume Christians are generally or mostly not living their religion.

So those two things said, I got to thinking about the first event yesterday and then moved on to wondering how hard it is to live your religion. I see a lot of Christians who don’t act very Christian, as I understand the Bible (admittedly I’m not super well-versed as many). I see a lot of people who break the commandments and who also don’t follow the general habits of living taught by Christ. I wondered if that’s because those things are inconvenient, or if it’s so tough to actually do the things the Bible tells them, or if it’s that they don’t believe everything in the Bible, and if they are selective. Or if, perhaps, they follow different interpretations of the Bible, or different versions (obviously the Catholic Bible is different from the Protestant Bible, for instance.) I suppose there are other options as well, that I’m not thinking of.

So that let me to wonder then, how difficult is it for other people to live their religions? I’m far more familiar with Christianity than any other religion, so I have no clue on other people. And then, within every religion, there seems to be variations of orthodoxy and so on.

But that doesn’t answer the question–how hard is it to live their religion? There are food requirements of course, but also behavioral, clothing, and so on. What if you don’t want to do things? Do you do it anyway? Do you do as told or select the bits that make best sense to you (and if I were religious, I know I’d fall in this last camp).

My point it, I suppose, is that I’m wondering how fundamental religion is in any given person’s life, and how many find it difficult to follow their religion, and what happens in a person’s mind when they break their religion’s tenets (to bring this back to the first caveat–did he even CARE?) This both me being a human and wondering, and me being a writer and wondering.

Then I wonder, for instance right now, how hard it is to live your religion if you’re Muslim. Because you will very likely get crap from somebody for just appearing to be Muslim. So do you you change? Do you avoid places or people? Do you alter your appearance? Do you let certain religious obligations slide? And of course, the same questions could be asked of Jews in history and now, depending on location, and so on.

Please be aware in this post that I’m not at all meaning to be controversial or be judgey. I’m seriously wondering. I am not a religious person. I can’t answer these questions. I can’t really posit a legitimate answer. I’m wondering if anyone out there has thoughts, based on personal or observational experience.

Sunday, January 18th, 2015
multiple things make a post. One hopes.

I do my twittering through Hootsuite. Hootsuite remembers my password. I, however, do not. So I was trying to go on to Twitter for some reason I no longer remember–it’s been hours, already–anyhow, Hootsuite may remember my password, but I don’t. I had to decide if I should reset the password, which would mean resetting Hootsuite, or just say forget it and worry about it another time. I went the lazy route.

I really sympathize with Charlie Hebdo and I really believe in Freedom of Speech. I even understand the “nuanced” argument of the editor that they go after religions which make political statements. Wouldn’t matter if I didn’t, though, because I do believe in freedom of speech, no matter how ugly. But at the same time, I really don’t like the way US culture and clearly other cultures all over the world, are willing to be deliberately hateful and offensive to other groups. The way we tend to go after each other as if we have a right to tell anyone else what to do. And yet . . . shouldn’t some things be stopped? Like genocide? Like child abuse? Like human rights abuses? Even if those things are legal and morally acceptable in other parts of the world?

Obviously I have no answers. I’m terribly torn. I hate knowing that if you’re black or Muslim and you’re walking down the street, everybody is a potential threat these days. I hate the way you can’t send kids out to play without worrying they’ll be accosted by a pedophile, a rapist, a killer, a gangmember, an idiot texting, a bully . . . I hate the rape culture. I wonder with all our progress in this world, how have we become so dangerous to each other? Yet I support the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution. I support freedom of religion and of speech and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also believe in the social contract, that supporting our neighbors supports ourselves and leads to a healthy nation.

These are the things I’ve been thinking about today.

I’ve been knitting and learning new things. Posted a new picture up on facebook. Unfortunately the picture is too big to post here until I shrink it. But I”m working on something new and will likely post it. It’s remarkable how well I’m doing (ie that I am satisfied with what I’ve made) in such a short time. I’ve only been knitting a month. Thanks to Devon Monk, I’ve recently learned to knit with double points in order to make mitts in the round, and I’ve managed to make a new pattern. I also read it and followed it accurately, even though it left out a key direction and I figured that out, too. I’m very proud of myself for that.

I’ve been revising Edge of Dreams. I’m planning to send it back to my editor a week from tomorrow (Jan 19th). I *think* I can get it done satisfactorily by then. Kids are out of school tomorrow, so I do have doubts about how much work I’ll manage to get done tomorrow. And then there’s the dentist appointment tomorrow for the girlie . . . .

I lulled myself into thinking that it’s almost time for spring here. It actually is, compared to the fact that Montana spring is about five months away. I expect to see the camelias starting to bloom within the next few weeks. My primroses are actually blooming. All the same, it’s not going to be spring for at least a couple of months. Of course it’s very green and warm here, so it’s not like it’s ever been the twiggy, sere wasteland of winter that happens in Montana. Which is lovely, but I prefer the green.

The boy went four days without getting sick, then he threw up for two, and today he’s not yet barfed. I’m trying to figure out what might have set him off. If anxiety somehow got to him (but on the weekend didn’t make a lot of sense), if he ate something different (didn’t figure out what), or if it could be just a normal part of healing from an ulcer (I can’t find a lot of that info on the net). Still haven’t figure it out.

Laura Anne Gilman blogged about bagels in Seattle the other day. The result was me craving bagels. I am no New Yorker, and I like fruit bagels with cream cheese. I do like a chewier bagel, but I got some at Costco and while they were not chewy really, they were tasty and hit the spot. Yum. I’ll be bageling my lunch this week, methinks. I can’t even remember the last time I ate one.

I keep thinking that I’m doing nothing very interesting, nor thinking anything very interesting, and so I’ve not been posting. I’ve got to work on that. Maybe just thinking more. Perhaps that would be a useful thing. Where on the web is the best source of world news? And US news? I tend to skip around and try to catch the evening news, but not find anything that I really like for a regular source of news. Suggestions?

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
Social butterfly. Or Pterodactyl. Uncertain.

I got to hang out with three different writers this week. Michaela Roessner was in town and I visited with her at her sister’s farm. I pet lots of puppies and horses, and took a walk around the land and it was so lovely. I just wish we’d had more time.

Then I visited with Devon Monk, who taught me some more knitting stuff, so I’m that much closer to learning how to make socks! It’s exciting. Really.

Today I met Barb and JC Hendee in person, and Barb and I went into downtown McMinnville and wandered about and we ended up in the yarn store and the quilt store (the quilt store had lovely quilts on display.) Gorgeous sunny day, today.

Now Joyce, when are we getting together????

Boy got through yesterday without vomiting. I so hope it’s a trend.

Tomorrow I take a knitting class and write write write.

My head went back to feeling sluggy and exhausted. Stupid cold. Here’s hoping it’s better tomorrow. Not enough caffeine.

 

Saturday, January 10th, 2015
the mucous recedes . . . ish

The cold is a lot better. I’m still coughing and my head is thick, but at least things are improving. I would like to be completely well, though. Just in case the cold germs want to just get the heck out of Dodge.

Boy of size got tons worse last night and today. Why? He snitched food he shouldn’t eat. He now regrets it. Hopefully the lesson is well learned.

I get to see several writer friends this week. Looking forward to that. I got the revision letter for Edge of Reason, yesterday. I’m looking forward to digging in. Hoping the revisions aren’t too horrible.

Been reading Alex Gordon’s Gideon. This the pseudonym of SF writer Kris Smith. She is more than a little bit talented. Her SF is some of the best I’ve ever read and this book is just engrossing. It’s amazing. Trust me. Pick it up. You won’t be sorry. Then tell all your friends.

Watched The Rock today, uncut. I love that movie. I especially love the song that plays at the end when they go to the church.

Hopefully that shows up so you can hear it. Though there are spoilers if you’ve never seen it.

And here’s a snippet from what I’ve been tinkering with:

Blaze halted before the door at the end of the corridor. He hated this place with all his being and he hated dealing with the man on the opposite side of the door even more. His body clenched and he forced himself to relax, aware of the cameras watching him from a half-dozen angles. Hagen always made him feel like a twelve year old boy caught with his hand in his pants. You’d think a diamond-ranked mage would have bigger balls than this. He scowled, wishing for a whiskey. Better yet, he wished he was back in Damascus where at least the torture was honest, and enemies didn’t pretend to be anything else.

 

 

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Trace of Magic is on sale today

you can get Trace of Magic today on the Kindle Daily Deal! $1.99. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time. And spread the word! Let’s see if I can grab up some new readers!

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
Third day of the new year

Yep, made it three days in to the new year. Whoohoo!

Boy of size has been feeling mostly good, to the point of bounciness. It’s really nice to see him to happy. Course he just got up out of bed and I suspect vomiting. I suppose I’ll find out soon.

We did some cleaning and organizing today. Need to do so much more. But at least we did that much. And I made words. Here are some of them, good, bad, or indifferent (from Crossointe 5):

“You should stay here on the Root,” she announced. Her eyes had turned the color of wildfire, orange flames billowing hotly.

Shaye just smiled blandly. They’d had this conversation before, and no doubt they’d have it again. “No.”

“You can’t risk yourself. If you go back, Jutras majick will infect you—you’ll go insane or die.” Tears welled in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. The silver drops sizzled on the wood when they fell.

______

Yep, boy got sick. I thought maybe he’d get through today without, but at least it’s only once. I’m clinging to that.

Tomorrow we hope to move some plants around to prepare for some yard work in the back yard, and go to Costco. Unless it rains. In which case there won’t be plant moving. Plus I plan to write.

I’ve been toying with this idea that wants to be written. But I am needing to research some military jargon and hierarchies. I’m likely to need some help. I’m going to have to do some research, apparently. Some is language, some is interactions, some is how systems function. Not that I have time to write this. But it may not wait.

I have been knitting and learning more. I am enjoying that, but I’d like to expand my knowledge and do some more. Socks are my biggest goal right now. And then bigger things. And color. Though frankly I lose count quickly and I’m a real beginner and don’t know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. Like how to fix my work when I screw up. At least I can do some things and my stitches are even.

Thursday, January 1st, 2015
John Hartness is raising hell in the new year

Hi folks! Happy first day of 2015!!

I want to introduce you to someone. Everyone, this is John Hartness. John, this is everyone: JMT_4570

John is a writer. A good one. An entertaining one. I downloaded his recent The Black Knight Chronicles omnibus a couple weeks ago, and then he generously offered to let me read “Raising Hell,” his new novella. This is a story of Quincy Harker, who is a wizard, and who exorcises demons. His uncle is Dracula, and he’s got a guardian angel named Glory. He’s a smartass and while John points out the story isn’t funny, Quincy certainly has his funny moments. Morbid, but funny. So anyhow, if you can’t tell, I really liked this story. As in, read it fast and then started chomping at the bit for more. Which means I”ll be tackling that omnibus first thing this new year.

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about John, and to let him speak a little about “Raising Hell.”

Here he is, in his own words:

 

Going to the Dark Side (there aren’t really cookies)

So most people, if they know me at all, know me as the funny horror guy. Or just the funny monster story guy. And that’s fine with me. After twenty-plus stories in the Bubba the Monster Hunter universe, and five novels in The Black Knight Chronicles universe, I’m pretty comfortable being funny.

Until I’m not. And sometimes I’m not funny. My short story “Fair Play,” which was included in The Big Bad anthology last year – not funny. Frankly, that story creeped me out a little, and I wondered about even publishing it. But then I decided that I liked the story a lot, and ran with it. So I’m not always funny.

Quincy Harker is not a funny man. His is not a funny series. It’s a dark world, more Batman than Elastic Man. Way more Tim Burton than Tim Conway (you young’uns go look that up). So this series isn’t funny. Sure, there are a few chuckles, a few one-liners. All my characters will have a certain level of snark to them, ‘cause how else could I write dialogue? But there’s a real level of danger with these stories. I don’t have much faith in the forces of good triumphing in these books, and bad things are going to happen to Harker and his cohorts, things that they might never recover from.

So why go there? If I’m happy being the funny dude, why go all grim on everybody? Well, for one thing – comedy doesn’t sell as well as the dark stuff. Funny stories are a weaker sell, and that’s the business part of writing a darker, grittier series. For another thing, I’ve never felt like I was only one kind of writer. I have a lot of ideas, and a lot of characters running around in my head, and some of them are pretty ugly. This series gives me a place to explore those darker nooks and crannies, and that’s part of the artistic side of writing a new series.

But the main reason I decided to write a darker series, featuring a part-vampire pseudo-immortal wizard is the same reason I write everything – the voices in my head wouldn’t shut up until I told their story. Quincy Harker needed to come out, to live on the page, and he wasn’t going to leave me alone until I wrote his story.

So I did. The first novella featuring Quincy Harker is called Raising Hell, and it releases on January 20. I hope you’ll click the cover below and pre-order, and I hope you enjoy it!

 

 

Monday, December 29th, 2014
The year that was but not really

It’s the time of year to reflect back on the last and make plans for the next. Reflection is difficult for me this year. So much went by in a blur.

My son was sick. And still is sick. That dominated much of our year. Things I had wanted to do with the family couldn’t be done. Adventures, mostly. I’m hoping for better next year.

Writing was good-ish. The Cipher and The Black Ship were re-released, and Trace of Magic came out. I wrote the sequel to Trace of Magic, but am waiting on edits, and I’ve reviewed and revised the reissue of The Turning Tide. Working on The Hollow Crown and struggling with writing the last book. I’ve been working on releasing Path of Honor as an ebook, and also on getting a new novella out there that is mostly done. Just not enough time.

Teaching: I got a chance to teach in the WSCU MFA program in genre writing. That’s been . . . an experience. Some really good, some not so good.

Spent my first entire year in the new house and in the new state. I have loved it. If only the boy of size were not sick, it would be perfect.

Money has been tight. I’m working on that.

Have been feeling quite melancholy and stressed the last few months. Am working on that, too.

Have learned to knit and am enjoying that. Have made new friends here and more online. It’s crazy how good people can become friends without ever having met in person.

I have gained back some of the weight I lost. I think this is a stress thing and I’m hoping to focus on de-stressing and being healthier this next year.

I haven’t blogged as much of late, which I miss. But see above with melancholy and stress. Have felt stupid and lacking. I did find my SAD light, which is helping, and I’m using a melatonin/GABA pill to help with sleep. Though of course, last night the boy was sick and the girlie had nightmares, so I was awakened a few times. I don’t really mind. I like that I can be there for the kids when they need. I like that I can make them feel good. Girlie isn’t prone to nightmares, so she was unnerved.

Since moving, and since they bought a house near us, I’ve spent more time with my folks, and I’m so grateful to have that time. My dad’s 85th birthday is on Monday. He’s been through a lot of medical crap over the years, and still hanging in there. The folks have been married 57 years as of yesterday. This year will be my 25th wedding anniversary. My husband and I met 28 years ago. Been together ever since.

I read 32 books this year. I wanted to read more. I need to read more.

The goal list I set myself last year I didn’t hit as well as I’d like. I will set another and try harder to make those goals. I’m hoping time permits and my son’s health cooperates.

I’m sure there’s more I want to write. I can’t think of anything right now. Tell me, how was your year?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014
musings on the tasteless

We made cookie cutouts today. I didn’t use sugar cookie dough, but this sour cream cookie cutout recipe I got from a friend years ago. It’s not got a lot of flavor. I divided it in half and mixed cocoa powder into half. The bad part is that it didn’t really mix and came out more marbled. What I like about this cookie is that it’s soft. What I don’t like, is that it’s kind of tasteless. I should probably add some sort of flavoring–almond or orange or cinnamon or something. I did not do a good job making up some icing (I should have found a recipe). But the girlie had fun with the store-bought tubes. I have to get more. Anyhow, the point is that she had a blast and I’m not terrible tempted by the cookies.

Tomorrow I make pies and rolls. I did roast the pumpkin so that I can make pies. Next week girlie will require pumpkin cupcakes.

I started a crochet hat today. Hmm. Scratch that. I restarted it. I’d started it with too big a yarn and hook, because I was told I could, but the gauge was way off. So then I got a new yarn and worked with a smaller needle, but started it, only to find I’d created a mobius strip. Took that out and decided to shrink up the size  a little. Then I started again, but managed to screw up some row beginnings to make a mess. So now . . . I have finished six rows or so, and it’s very pretty, and going well. I’m really pleased with it so far.

I suck at reading patterns. I just am not in the habit. I also don’t do well with gauge. That’s because if I get the yarn and do the gauge and it doesn’t work, do I get new yarn? Go for bigger needles/hook? So I’m trying to practice a little.

I’m ready to do something a little more complicated with the knitting. I’m not sure what. I still have tons to learn. Things like adding and reducing and oh, if I drop a stitch I’m in a lot of trouble. I haven’t figured out how to pick them up even though my mom says blithely, it’s so easy! I’m probably going to join the knitting group at the shop in the new year, and take some mroe lessons. I really want to learn to make socks. Elizabeth moon makes socks. I have envy.

Boy of size has been slightly better. Not throwing up as much, but still regularly. I’ve been trying to keep him focused on other things, which always helps. He did help make the cookies this morning–the dough, anyhow. Then he was sick. He’s so frustrated with it and doesn’t want to be sick on Christmas, of course. I feel so rotten for him.

Then I got to feeling shitty. My temperature wouldn’t regulate today. I got so cold I was shivering something terrible, and then warmed up to sweating. The funny part is that I was slightly feverish when terribly cold, and way low when hot. Sigh. My son flips out if I am remotely not feeling well. He starts to cry. It’s totally his excitement and stress of the holidays, and I just let him go as he needs to. He needs the outlet. Poor guy.

Other than baking and cleaning, I’m fairly ready for Christmas day. Kids are about to bust. They are so disappointed that the man has to work tomorrow. He took Friday off, though. And he’ll be off for the boy’s test next week. I need to get some writing done. Maybe I’ll manage that.

 

Monday, December 22nd, 2014
T’was the day after solstice

I am slow to post these days. Struggling with some personal stuff. The boy of size has been sick a lot and that weighs. He’s got a text scheduled for next week and I’m hoping it actually shows us something. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of faith, given the way things have been happening with his testing thus far. There is some other stuff that isn’t resolving very well, and it’s very difficult for me to manage stress-wise. I’ve got a deadline looming and the words are coming slow.

Tomorrow, however, I’m going to make cookies with the kids. I couldn’t find my cookie cutters at all, so had to borrow some from a friend. I plan to add cocoa to half the batch to make some chocolate cookies. One of the cutters seems to be in the shape of a hatchet. I don’t understand that, but I’m sure it will be fun to figure out.

In other news, Edge of Dreams is available for preorder!

I’ve got an interview up about the Weird Wild West anthology and you will learn something new and odd about me you may not already know. Spread the word and encourage people to support the antho!

My dog is looking at me desperately, hoping for a rescue from the boy who is manhandling him.

Not much more to say. Anybody have big plans for Christmas? For New Years?