Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
Sunday, January 15th, 2017
Whirlwind already

The past couple weeks have proven to be a whirlwind. Already.  I’m almost done writing two different books. I plan to be done by the end of January. One is DCM 4, the other is this book that came out of nowhere and is huge fun. For me, anyhow. The writing has gone fast on the second book. Crazy fast. DCM 4 is complex and digs more into the the Tyet stuff and has some really cool twists. A couple are even shocking, I think. I can’t wait to see what my editor thinks.

Am in the mood to go digging rocks, which of course is not possible given that a) there’s snow everywhere, and b) the ground is frozen.

I have to confess I have yet to take down the Christmas tree. Part of that is sheer laziness. Part is the fact that we got it up late and I’m still enjoying it. But it has to come down, so I think since the kids have the day off tomorrow, I’ll make them help me do that.

We have a deep love of rocks, not that I know much about them. We sometimes go rockhounding to look for different things. We’re just getting started figuring out what we’re doing. We also go to estate sales and that sort of thing to look for rocks. This weekend, we went to an estate sale and had some great luck. Found a bunch of rocks and many were very cool. Some were already cut, some were rough. Hampton Butte petrified wood, tiger iron, lots of agate, lots of jasper, some other stuff I have no idea what it is. But very pretty.

Makes me want to go out and dig holes. We’re going to try to get to look for some limb cast as soon as the snows go. We figure the runoff this year will expose some good stuff. Or so we hope.

 

 

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
Writers Club

I’ve been doing a series of posts over at the Bookview Cafe Blog. I’m going to start mirroring them over here. They come under the heading of Writers Club. These are the Rules. Or Guidelines. Or something. Anyhow, here you go:

 

I’m not saying that self-editing is bad. It’s not. It’s just we often do it while writing and that’s when it’s evil. Sometimes we do it when we aren’t aware and that’s when it’s really awful.

When I first started out writing, I wrote for me and me alone. I was trying to entertain myself and so I didn’t worry about whether this would be offensive or that would be sappy or if readers would hate my characters. None of that entered my mind because it was all about the fun of telling myself the story and getting lost in it.

Then I published. This was a dream come true. But that’s when the evil self-editor started sneaking in to my creative zone. I’d write something and then delete it because it was too something: too off-color, too disgusting, too violent, and so on. That limited me in ways that I stopped noticing. I internalized those limits and made them an unacknowledged part of my writing process. It’s like a house. You don’t pay attention to where walls are or light switches because they just exist and are necessary and you’re glad they’re there doing their job.

Only really, the self-editor at this point in the process is really a saboteur. It’s a swarm of termites eating away your writing in secret and you have no idea it’s even happening.

Recently I accidentally started a . . . something. Since it’s well-over 45K by this writing, I guess it’s a novel. It started as just a fun thing I wanted to write down. My main character–Beck–is obnoxious and says things that are not polite and yet are very funny to me. I found myself writing on it constantly and racking up big word counts. I’d stay up late. I write through obligations. I’d forget time. At some point, however, I realized that I was losing her voice because I’d begun self-editing. I began to worry about what readers might think or how they might respond. So I slowed down. I started thinking more and being more careful about how I was telling the story, rather than focusing on actually telling the story and entertaining myself.

Not so coincidentally, I slowed down. I didn’t feel like writing on it as much. It took me a few days to figure out why and I wanted to smack myself for doing it. The thing is, the self-editor is important. Finding and questioning the issues of your story is very important, but not until you’ve written and know what it is and what it needs. I also don’t think your words and story should necessarily change because a reader my object or feel a little annoyed. You have to decide what’s good for the story. You don’t have to throw glitter on the ugly or soften all the rough edges. You have to tell a good story with powerful, compelling characters that engage your readers and carry them on a fun ride from beginning to end.

Writers Club rule: Revel in the creative, and chase the editor off with a pitchfork. Hunt it down, put it in a mayonnaise jar with holes in the lid until you’re ready to let it chew through your manuscript.

Saturday, December 31st, 2016
Over the shoulder and straight ahead

It’s that time when we all look at the last year and make goals for next year.

Looking back, last year was rough in a lot of ways. The world lost a lot of talented people, I lost friends, the family went through some tough times, and the world seemed to turn a lot darker. I also had a lot of joy in my life. I wrote things I am proud of. I made some new friends and I did some things that were on the bucket list. So it was a year with good and bad like most years. The difficult thing is I have real worries about what will happen next year and over the course of the next four. I worry for many things and all I can think of it we’d root ourselves deeply and hold on tight and try to look out for one another. Stepping into this next year feels like walking into a minefield. 

My goals for next year are a little unformed. One thing I want to do is get regular exercise, for my mental and physical health. I also want to go do some cool hikes to places I want to see. I didn’t do much of that last year and I wish I had. I want to get bills under control and some debt paid down. That means I need to get more writing out there.

For writing goals, here are things I want to accomplish.

  1. Finish DCM4 by end of January
  2. Finish Beck book by end of January
  3. Finish 2nd Job book by end of February.
  4. write the anthology story I owe
  5. write a Crosspointe book.
  6. Release the Job book

Those are the things I know I want and need to do. After that, I’d like to do a 3rd Job book and write the southern spider story. I really want to do that last one. I also want to do a better job keeping track of what I do in the writing and how I’m progressing. The first three items have about 70-100K left to be written. The Crosspointe book may turn out to be more than one and so I’m not sure. Minimally it will come in at 120K.

 

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016
In which I pass along words of–

I’ve been asked to put together a promotional blog post for my publisher. I can’t think of what to write because of brain fry. Husband and son decide that this is what I should write:

Don’t be a Twit, Read my shit.

I don’t think this is as helpful as they seem to think. What about you?

Saturday, December 24th, 2016
Merry Christmas!

For those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah for my Jewish friends and readers. For everybody else–actually, for all of us–I wish you a day of peace and joy with laughter and no room for anger and depression.

Today we went to see the  Cirque Dreams Holidaze show. It was stunning and so fun. It was so wonderful to be there with my family and just get to enjoy. It was so fun and the performers–so very very good.

Tomorrow we have an unconventional meal planned, with fun and laughter and hopefully a dog walk, because the boys would love it.

From my family to yours, have a lovely day!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016
Snippet

A taste of my sneak project: (no context for you!)

“Are you saying Damon doesn’t get you hot and bothered?”

I flushed. “Unfortunately, no. He does. And now that I have a little better idea what’s going on, I have even less reason to trust him.”

“How so?”

“Because for all I know, he’s thinking about how sexy my DNA is and how he’d like to contract the hell out of me.”

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Wednesday, December 14th, 2016
Ugly Christmas Ornaments

Actually, I prefer to call them hideous. I look for them. I buy one each year. This I only started a couple years ago. This one is this year’s choice. I found it at Michael’s in the bargain bin. Made me wonder how many they’d ordered and why? Are there other crazy people out there deliberately wanting ugly hideous ornaments? Okay, yes. I have a friend who would definitely pick this one out. Hmmm. Make that two. Megan and Christy, you know who you are. 

This is a horrible picture. The light’s bad. But it’s a flamingo in hot pink high heels with a gold sequin tube top with a pile of blond hair with pearls around her head. Isn’t it awesome?

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Tuesday, December 13th, 2016
My holiday newsletter is out

Here’s a link to my newsletter with a short story for you to read.

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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