Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
Friday, February 5th, 2016
A couch!!!

Actually two couches, but we have them! After a month without, we have them. And the dogs are so happy. Kids are too. And me too. It’s so very nice to actually have them instead of sitting in camp chairs. It’s like a little miracle!!!

Yeah, I know, lots of exclamation points, but I’m that happy. I can’t even tell you how happy the dogs are. They have us sitting farther back from the TV, which is kind of weird, but there’s a lot more open room on the floor for the dogs to wrestle around.

Couches look like leather, but are made from microfiber that apparently will clean up with soap and water. I’m hoping it holds up to kids and dogs. Also, boy of size has grown again. He’s almost 6’3″ I have no idea how that happened. And he’s still going up.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
Writing in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world

This is oh so cool and now I can make the announcement:

 

Have you read Faith Hunter‘s Rogue Mage series? If not, you should. It is an amazing trilogy. Except . . . There’s news. The trilogy is getting some extras and I get to be part of it!!!

Anthology Set in the World of Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage Series
Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 1, 2016

Bella Rosa Books is pleased to announce two e-book anthologies and a trade paperback omnibus set in the world of Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage series. Editor is Spike Y Jones. Writers contracted to write short stories for the anthologies are: Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lucienne Diver, Tamsin L. Silver, Ken Schrader, Lou J Berger, Christina Stiles, Spike Y Jones, Melissa McArthur, Jean Rabe, Misty Massey, and Faith Hunter.

The two ebooks are titled Trials and Tribulations, and the trade paperback omnibus is titled Triumphant. They will be published by a new line of original and reprinted spec fiction and fantasy, through Bella Rosa Books, called Lore Seekers Press.

bloodring

Monday, February 1st, 2016
Couchless life

We’ve been without a couch for over 3 weeks now. That means sitting in camp chairs until the one we ordered arrives. The new one will be extra durable to deal with my extra-destructive family. It should come in a week or so. I’m hoping this week, but chances are I won’t get so lucky. Lacking a couch is deeply upsetting for the dogs. They cannot follow their usual routine and they cannot lay on me and they aren’t afraid of telling me about their sadness. With lots of big-eyed stares and whimpers and moans. As a compromise, when the rest of the fam is playing video games, I retreat to the bedroom and let them join me on the bed. This helps them. Especially since they can look out the windows from the bed and that is happy-making for them.

As I mentioned, my first self-pubbed book, The Incubus Job, will be releasing March 1. I’ll be talking about it for the next month (every other Thursday) on Magical Words. I began last week with this post. If you have questions or comments, say so here or there.

I have to say that I am so tired of the presidential race. Then some newsperson said that today we’re at the starting line. I had to wonder where they hell they’ve been because while this is the start of the primary season, this ‘race’ has been going on FOREVER and I want it to stop. I would so have a different opinion if Jon Stewart was still on The Daily Show and I could at least get entertainment from it. Trevor Noah is okay, but he doesn’t dig as hard into the hypocrisy and crazy on both sides. He’s more there for the sort of easy laugh. Stephen Colbert has been doing a pretty good job at puncturing the stupidity, but I miss Jon Stewart. I wish I had HBO for John Oliver.

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
What I wonder

I was wondering today if, in Stairway to Heaven, when Robert Plant sings “There’s a feeling I get, when I look to the west, and my spirit is crying for leaving,” whether that is perchance a reference to the Grey Havens. It wouldn’t be the first time that Zeppelin referenced Tolkien. Take for instance, Ramble On. “T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her.” I mean, the stairway to heaven leads upward, so looking to the west and crying for leaving, really suggest something more like Grey Havens. I like to think so anyhow.

I was reading through a couple chapters of Whisper of Shadows (book 3 in Diamond City Magic) and I was really pleased. I’ve been worrying (see my last post on Imposter Syndrome) and I’m at least willing to entertain the idea that this book might be good. Not entirely convinced, but yeah. Trying to get there.

So a small snippet for you (it will release on April 15th!!!)

I had to get out of here. I lay face down with my head twisted to the right, my hands curved up toward my face. I pushed up with all my might. Nothing. Why I thought I’d be able to get out now better than before, I had no idea. Logic wasn’t actually something I was using at the moment. I pressed my head into the cold cement floor and closed my eyes. As fear rose up over me again, I forced myself to count breaths inside and then out, and I didn’t let myself think of anything else. Slowly I found myself relaxing. If you could call ratcheting down from overload to just completely terrified. I kept breathing. It’s not like I was going anywhere.

 

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
Depression and Writing and Imposter Syndrome

I’ve been thinking about writing this for awhile, but haven’t been ready. I’ve decided to take the plunge.

Apparently I have depression. (I’m going to come back to the ‘apparently’ in that phrase). I used to work in a toxic work environment where I was constantly gaslighted by colleagues and the administration. I was an easy target, because I didn’t have a huge ego and I tended to be more apologetic. Also, for seven years, I was working toward tenure and I watched two colleagues in my department get shafted for going against the grain, and one time when I wasn’t invited to the department meeting in which one colleague was discussed, I was told “we didn’t invite you because we knew you’d support him and didn’t want you to risk you tenure.” Yes, overt threat. Another time I was told if my evaluations didn’t come up, I’d have to be let go. This after I’d been out for pregnancy leave and one of my colleagues, angry at the fact that I had the gall to leave detailed daily course activities and assignments (I thought this was helpful), told my students that my syllabus and approach was crap. The result of that was that all the students showed up in my office telling me my class was garbage, I was doing it wrong, demanding too much, and I had no choice to change it or face (illegal) sanctions from my department.

It didn’t help that I suffered from Imposter Syndrome. “First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.”

My first instinct is to point out that I’m not a high achiever. But if I were to look at someone else, I’d say with the same qualifications, somebody else would have been a very high achiever. I’ve BA, MA, and a PhD. I’ve written and published in my academic field and I’ve been a successful professor. I achieved full professor rank in approximately seven years. I had a sabbatical in my 14 years at UMW. I have published 13 novels, with two more coming in the next three months. I have two children and a solid marriage (married 25 years). I am a pretty good cook, I’m a good friend, a good writer, and a good person.

I say that, but squirm in doing so and I would readily argue or not say those things under just about any circumstances. It wouldn’t be the bragging factor. It would be the Imposter Syndrome. Even with depression, I can’t claim to fully have it. That’s the ‘apparently’ from the first sentence. I even have Imposter Syndrome when it comes to illness. I’m not really that bad, that sick, and, and depression only exacerbates IS because at its core, depression makes you feel like a failure.

But let’s go back to my history. Toxic work environment that got progressively worse. The depression started setting in during the last few years at UMW. I started becoming short tempered with my family, I wanted to isolate, I slept a lot–when I wasn’t having insomnia. I cried and my stomach was constantly in knots. There was more. My doc put me on citalopram, which helped with the anxiety elements. But while it took the edge of, it didn’t really tackle the depression issue. I’ve always been a pretty happy-go-lucky person. I didn’t sweat the small stuff. Only as time went on, I started sweating everything.

Finally we moved and I left that job. Immediately I felt better. Part of it was living out of constant winter. Part of it was just not facing that toxicity. Then my son got ill. For a year and a half, he went through innumerable tests. He suffered horrendous bouts of vomiting and incredible pain. He started having psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. He was given a ton of medications that did no good. We saw so many doctors. Finally we got a diagnosis and a program of treatment. It worked. It wasn’t instant. By the time his two-year sick anniversary rolled around, he was doing really well.

I was not. With the relief of seeing him improve, I started sinking down. I still don’t want to call it depression. It didn’t feel as hopeless and dark as I’ve heard ‘true’ sufferers endure. But there’s a spectrum and it was very difficult for me and it is depression. I just don’t like suggesting that I was anywhere near as someone who really suffers. Back to Imposter Syndrome.

Writing is a profession particularly susceptible to IS. Writers see bad reviews and internalize them. Good reviews don’t make near the impact they should. We doubt ourselves constantly. We constantly think what we write is crap. We always worry. Add into that the fact that many of us don’t make a living wage, then money stress starts to grind at us. It’s easy to constantly doubt your abilities, even after you have published a lot of books.

Depression rides IS like a racehorse. You tell yourself to suck it up and deal with it. Stop whining. Stop crying. Just do it, for goodness sake. It’s not life and death. Why can’t you just pull your shit together? Then you feel the need to hide how your feeling. And that need only contributes to your internal understanding that this is shameful and should be hidden. If anyone found out, they’d know you were a worthless piece of trash.

Oh, and did I mention that changing hormones can mess with all of that?

So there I was, totally submerged in IS and depression, and unable to see it. I knew that this wasn’t me. I went in for my yearly physical and I guess I must have mentioned something. The doc suggested Wellbutrin. I balked. She called in the prescription and said try it and see if it made a difference. It was a beginning dose.

It actually did make me feel better. There’s an initial euphoria where you just feel energetic and happy. This felt wonderful. But then I started feeling more anxious, more doubting, more short tempered, and generally returning to the depression. I saw the doc and she said I should try the next level dose. I refused. Said I’d like to see how this played out for awhile longer. It was that suck it up, stop whining, pull on some big girl panties mind set. It didn’t help. It only made things worse, because when your brain chemistry is fucked up, you can’t just tough your way out of it. A week later I called and said, let’s do it. For any of my friends, I would have urged them to treat themselves. I have an illness. It has to be treated for my own sanity and health.

That dose seems to have done the trick. I find myself having moments of short temper and out-of-proportion anger, but it dissolves in minutes. I let it go. I am not nearly as impatient. I’m far more sympathetic. I am more myself. I like being myself. That last one is weird. I didn’t realize that I didn’t like being with myself very much. I didn’t enjoy myself. Now I do. I also don’t beat myself up for all the things I used to. I don’t attack myself.

The reason I decided to talk about this is because of the shame factor, and that urge to hide. To fake it. To wear a mask and pretend that you’re normal, because somewhere you feel that there is something terribly wrong with you. And not wrong as in illness, but fundamentally wrong/broken/failed.  Not quite human. So I’m defying that. I’m saying I have depression and I’m saying that is really what it is. I’m still working on the IS. No medication is going to cure that. But the other . . . I’m more and more myself every day.

Saturday, January 16th, 2016
An Announcement–Incubus Job

I let everybody know in my newsletter this week, and it’s time to spread the word. My book, The Incubus Job, is going to release on March 1. It’s going to be available in ebook only for awhile. It will also be available on all platforms. But for now, it’s only up for preorder on Amazon. I’ll announce here and in my newsletter, when it goes wider.

And now, I want to unveil the cover, which I love:

TheIncubousJob-FJM_ARE_200x300It’s tough to have a conscience when you kill for a living.

So six years ago, Mallory Jade gave up killing. Now she’s a fixer. Got a problem with a demon? She can help. Infestation of pixies? She’s got you covered. Kidnapped by an undead lich? She’s on her way. Anything you need, so long as she doesn’t have to kill. It’s her one unbreakable rule.

Aside from a few near-death experiences, her new life is good, until her job dumps her in the lap of the man she walked out on six years before. Law Stanger, her former partner and lover, wants her back in his life. He’s not above playing dirty. But Mallory knows it can never work. She has secrets Law can never understand or forgive.

All Mallory wants now is to finish her job–track down an incubus and the precious box he stole–and get the hell out of town before Law shatters her heart again. But it wasn’t fate that drew her and Law together after all these years, it was cunning calculation. Now they must face an enemy more powerful than they can imagine, one that has no intention of leaving anybody alive.

What do you think? Does it look good to you? Feel free to spread the word for me. More to come as I have information.

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
scrape, mold, pile, click . . .

I have rebuilt/rewritten the 2K words that I lost. Accidentally killed. Whatever. So now I’m back up to speed and hopefully I can run with it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I posted a blog on Magical Words today about starting a novel.

It’s been a very hard week of loss. David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Their deaths have struck me hard. I think because they have been part of my life for so long, part of the building blocks of me and somehow I feel like I’ve lost an important part of my life. A piece of my foundation crumbling. The first time that really struck me was when Heath Ledger died. And Robin Williams.

 

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
The stupid hurts

In this case, I committed a stupidity I haven’t done in years. What did I do? Well yesterday I had a fantabulous day of writing. I wrote the first long scene of Diamond City 4. I was so happy with it, I was buzzing like a hummingbird. I was so looking forward to getting started today.

And then . . .

I couldn’t find the doc. Or rather, I found it, but it was an older version. EVERYTHING I’d written yesterday was gone. Even on the backups. I did all sorts of things for the next two hours, including running recovery programs, but I’d successfully managed to make it disappear. I think I overwrote the newer one with an older one somehow. I don’t know how.

So I tried to rewrite it today. It didn’t come together very well. It felt clunky and info-dumpy and unexciting. So now, at the end of the day, I feel squashed flat instead of rejuvenated like yesterday. My stomach is a ball of aching knots and my head is throbbing. I hope tomorrow I can come at it again and find traction.

 

Saturday, January 9th, 2016
Furniture debacle

Or at least that’s what the dogs call it. Maybe furniture armageddon. Because for them, it is the end of all things good.

What happened is that we had a big sectional with recliners in each end seat. We’d had it for almost exactly 3 years. It had been having problems for awhile–breaking down and the reclining mechanisms bending and stopping working. So we had a situation where the footstools would neither go down or go up all the way. They were bent and saggy and the backs were the same. Sitting in them wasn’t entirely uncomfortable, but not particularly comfortable either. However. The dogs could lie on our laps and beside us and generally could be thoroughly spoiled.

We’d reached the point where I could not continue to use the couch safely. And by that, I mean that I was starting to feel it in my back. Having had three back surgeries, I decided that was not wise. I called a furniture guy about repair. As I talked to him, I mentioned I’d contacted the manufacturer, but they didn’t want anything to do with me. No help at all. I said we’d bought the couch from Costco, and he suggested I contact them for information about what to do. So I did. I emailed the corporate customer service edress on their site. Their reply? We’ve got a generous return policy. Contact your store.

Hmm. I thought, wow. What a copout. Who’s going to take back a  3 year old couch? But I said what the hell and called the store. They said they couldn’t do anything without seeing the couch, which I’d wanted to avoid because it’s upstairs and that meant taking it downstairs, loading it in the truck, and taking it across town. In two trips. So we loaded the worst of the problems and took it to Costco. We stood in line and when we got to the front, they looked for our receipt. That took awhile because we’d had a change of cards and so eventually they found the receipt. Then they said, bring back the rest of the couch and you can have a full refund. I boggled. Then we fetched the rest and got our refund. I was shocked. SHOCKED. I’ve been impressed by Costco before, but my level of admiration has increased hugely.

And that’s the story of how we ended up without a couch with rather accusing dogs staring woefully at us. The very next day, of course, I snitched out to a local furniture store. This time I decided no recliners. I need the furniture to last. We’ve had three different couch/recliner setups over the last 15 years. Every one ended up going the same route. And the Lazboy couches we had with the great warranty? They wouldn’t fix them. Totally blew us off. I decided that we’d been buying cheap stuff to save money and it was turning out to be a fuck-ton more expensive.

The store I went into locally owned and not a chain. They carry higher end (read better made) furniture. I looked around and finally arrived at a couch that I thought would work. I did mention my rather outsized family and the fact that my children tend to fall on furniture rather than sit, and he said they could put in more springs and beef up the cushions so that the couch will last 15-20 years minimum. So later that night, I returned with the man, and we looked at all the different things, and decided on that particular couch. Or rather, two of them because we need the seating room. They were on sale (yay!). But we had to order them and they’d get made and shipped. They don’t arrive for 30 days.

In the meantime, we are sitting in camp chairs and the dogs are unhappy. No couch space for them. No joy. I feel like I should have an advent calendar for the couch so the dogs can see the days counting down until it arrives. And even better, they will deliver upstairs.

Friday, January 8th, 2016
It’s Coming

March 1st. More info when I’ve got it.

The Incubus Job

It’s tough to have a conscience when you kill for a living.

So six years ago, Mallory Jade gave up killing. Now she’s a fixer. Got a problem with a demon? She can help. Infestation of pixies? She’s got you covered. Kidnapped by an undead lich? She’s on her way. Anything you need, so long as she doesn’t have to kill. It’s her one unbreakable rule.

Aside from a few near-death experiences, her new life is good, until her job dumps her in the lap of the man she walked out on six years before. Law Stanger, her former partner and lover, wants her back in his life. He’s not above playing dirty. But Mallory knows it can never work. She has secrets Law can never understand or forgive.

All Mallory wants now is to finish her job–track down an incubus and the precious box he stole–and get the hell out of town before Law shatters her heart again. But it wasn’t fate that drew her and Law together after all these years, it was cunning calculation. Now they must face an enemy more powerful than they can imagine, one that has no intention of leaving anybody alive.