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

Monday, October 17th, 2016
Brat, Beer, and Cheese soup

I mentioned I made this soup and folks have asked for the recipe, so here it is:

(This makes a lot of soup. It does freeze pretty well).

Brat, Beer and Cheese Soup

I’ll give the original recipe followed by my modifications. This originally came out of Penzey’s catalog I think.

3 bratwurst sausages, cooked and sliced
3 TB olive oil
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup celery, minced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1/4 flour
1 lb potatoes peeled and diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 12 oz can of beer
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese


I like hickory smoked kielbasa and other meats, so put in whatever you like. I like them diced up smaller than slices so you get some meat and other things on your spoon at the same time. Also, the family likes more meat than less, so I double or more the meat.

I use Avocado oil because you can heat it higher without burning

All the measurements for the vegetables and the potatoes are off. At least if you want a thick soup, which I do. I used a big onion, usually 10-12 stalks of celery, 10-15 carrots, depending on size, and usually 10-15 or so large russet potatoes.

I don’t mince. I chop the celery and onion, but I don’t mince.

The recipe calls for garlic granules. I use fresh cloves. Usually two or three minced.

I use a bottle of beer which is sometimes more than 12 oz but I don’t care. I’m already adding tons more to the soup so it’s okay.

I use 1/2 and 1/2 and I use a full little carton–2 cups I think.

The sharper the cheese the better, but I’ve sometimes added parmesan cheese also, and it gives a lovely flavor


Cooking it:

Keep in mind that the meat is added LAST. This is important.

Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat (use a big pot. Really. Big).

Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring every so often to keep from sticking

Stir in flour. Cook about a minute

Add potatoes, stock and beer. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Add spices (I don’t wait until things are tender as the recipe says. I add them as soon as I add the potatoes, stock and beer and just stir them in).

Remove from heat.

Combine 1/2 and 1/2 in a bowl with Worcestershire sauce. Pour slowly into the soup while stirring.

Add the cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted and smooth.

Remove 2 cups of vegetables and some liquid and put it in a blender or a food processor, or do like me and use a submersion blender. (I remove more like five cups or more, but I like the creaminess along with the chunkiness of this soup). If you add meat before this step, you puree the meat, and you don’t really want to, though I’ve been known to add the meat early on accident and the soup is perfectly yummy.

Stir the puree back into the soup.

Return to low heat and add the meat. Cook until the meat is warm, around 5 minutes.

Sunday, October 16th, 2016
Soup and caffeine

I made it through today without caffeine. Well, I had a chai, but I mean the diet soda caffeine. I wasn’t groggy today, so that was both surprising and really nice. Not that I got a ton of things accomplished, mind you, but I was awake for my laziness.

We made soup tonight. It’s got potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, beer, cheddar cheese, half and half, sour cream, chicken broth, hickory smoked sausage, with some spices. Some of it gets blended up to make it creamy. It’s the family’s favorite soup. I’ve been meaning to make it awhile, and finally did. Perfect for cold rainy days. Even though it really isn’t that cold.

The dogs were entirely beggy for the entire process, for which they were richly rewarded with some dropped carrots, I think. Which they liked. Because they are corgis and corgis like to eat.

I’m craving pancakes and sausage and bacon and eggs. I’m going to have to make some this week.


Friday, October 14th, 2016
The update of the week

It’s raining. Pouring and windy. We’re already almost three inches above normal for the season and the season started October 1. The river looks swollen and it’s beautiful. Muscular and lovely. I did get the last of the peppers out of the garden. Plus I also got the potatoes out. Making a vat of potato beer soup tomorrow. It’s a family favorite and the fam has been bugging me to make it. Given that it’s sort of a family project to make it, so we’ll have a good time and it will be delicious and it will be perfect for the weather. Today was oddly sunny giving the big storms that are moving through the state.

We also bought a car. It’s a used Prius and it’s got higher mileage than it should for its year, but we got a pretty good deal for it and it runs well. We will hopefully save a lot of money in gas. Plus it means we have a second reliable car, which we needed. Getting used to driving a hybrid will be a little bit entertaining. Plus figuring out some of the tech, and it’s not all that high tech, but higher than we’re used to. It’s a pretty blue, too, and since beggars can’t be choosers, I figured we’d take what we could get.

Writing-wise, I’ve been making good progress on Diamond City Magic #4. It’s definitely going to be longer than the other books. The difficulty is that it’s complicated and weaving it all together is taking me some time. But if it comes together the way I’m hoping, then it may be the best one so far. One day I’ll have to give it a title. Hmmm.

I just have to mention that I watched this mystery movie on the Hallmark Channel that I taped a week ago and they are showing tons of Christmas commercials. This is unsettling at best. Plus it makes me panic because I’m already late on everything for Christmas. Don’t ask. It’s a mental thing.

I gave up diet soda a long time ago and then a few months ago went back to drinking it. As of today, I stopped again. I don’t have a good caffeine substitute. I drink tea, so hopefully that will do, but I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be feeling sort of hungover for a few days. Or a week.

I’ve also screwed up my knitting and I have to figure out how to fix it. Gah.

I kind of want to drive over to the coast and see the storm, but I also want to stay wrapped up here with a book. Anybody got big plans for the weekend? Oh, forgot to mention that last weekend we went out to the river and found a bunch of rocks. Mostly red, green, and yellow jasper, some petrified wood, and a couple pieces of carnelian. Looking forward to seeing them polished up.


Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Sirens Anthology Release Day

This is a really cool anthology that I wanted to share with you. I asked Cynthia, one of the contributors and one of the people who came up with the idea of the anthology, to come and talk to you about Sirens, her story, and the anthology in general. So without further ado, please welcome Cynthia:

My name is Cynthia Porter.  I’m here today to tell you that writing a blog post about Queens & Courtesans: A Sirens Benefit Anthology, is only slightly easier than writing my short story, Affairs of State, that is included in its pages.

Sirens is a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature.  The conference describes itselfqueens as “part scholarly conference, part enthusiastic convention, part networking weekend, and part personal retreat.”  Attendees include readers, authors, librarians, booksellers, educators, scholars, and publishing professionals.  Queens & Courtesans is a labor of love created to benefit the conference where we all met.

This is the first time I have ever written a story to a writing prompt.  When we created the idea of the anthology, the request was for stories with a Queen and a Courtesan.  None of my current projects had characters like these.  I had to almost start from scratch.  The almost part was because the world I chose to set the story in was one I’d created years ago.  I shifted south of where my other stories have taken place and found myself in a royal court.

I knew I wanted my queen to be a mature woman, not a teen/young woman who has no idea of the trials ahead of her.  I wanted my characters to know who they were, to be confident in their abilities and their lives.

I think I wrote three drafts before my queen character finally got her name.  This is very unusual for me.  My stories are character driven.  Typically I know nothing about a story until I have a name.  That name brings the character’s personality, their back story, their hopes and dreams, and the plot!  With a normal story I’m stuck without a name.  Except for this queen.  She was more than happy to share her story, she just didn’t see the need to share her name with me.  It drove me crazy.  I would talk to her while staring at the story on my computer screen.  “Name, name, name– you need a name!”  She’s one of the rare ones who knew who she was without a name.  I had to work to find a name that fit her temperament.  Not my most difficult character ever, but absolutely one of the most quietly stubborn.  She was the Queen.  What more did anyone need to know?  Her name, as it turns out, is Arcalys.  True to form, it took about four drafts of this post to realize she’d done it to me again!

Lenzienne, or Lenzi, my courtesan, knew exactly what her name was from the very beginning.  She walked into a room, completely furious, and snarled her opening lines.  Her name flowed onto the page and the story followed.

The really difficult characters in Affairs of State were the secondary characters.  Three of them hung on to significant roles in the story.  A couple more exist as, well, names and nothing more.  The others all got cut from various drafts of the story.  Why?  Because they thought they were populating a novel.  I prefer the longer forms of storytelling because invariable my characters bring big ideas, themes, plots trailing behind them—none of which fit into a short story.  Borders, Barriers, Refugees, Magic, all this exploded into larger and larger arcs.  I shoved most of them aside, telling them “later”.  My editor, Jessica, jumped on several more.  She helped me focus what was more of a prologue for a novel down into a short story.

While my queen and my courtesan are happy with their “little” story, I’ve acknowledged that their novel needs exploration.  Once Queens & Courtesans is well and truly launched into the world, I’ll be letting all those characters, all that world-building, all those themes and plots to swirl out from the door where they’ve been lurking.

To get your copy of Queens and Courtesans in print or ebook, click here for Amazon, or  here for BN.





Monday, October 3rd, 2016
Throws Up Its Leaves

My Father In Law has been visiting, which makes getting work done a little bit tricky, but I’ve managed some. I’m hopefully all finished with a short story that I owed. I’ve made some progress on DCM4. It’s coming along.

I decided I want to make socks again. I need to work on learning some techniques. Youtube here I come. I just hope that my wrist cooperates.

I’m reading a good book by R.J. Blaine. It’s an ARC, so you can’t get it yet, but when Water Viper comes out, you’re going to want to read it if the first bit is anything to go by.

I’m being snuggled by corgis. This is good.

Watched the Saturday Night Live parody debate. It was so funny. Love it. Alec Baldwin did a fabulous Trump and Kate McKinnon killed me with her Hillary.




Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Wind blows, fire burns

Finished revisions on a short story set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world. I’m pretty happy with it. At least until I find out if Faith likes it. Been doing more writing on Diamond City Magic 4. You know, it really needs a title. I should think of one of those. It progresses, but it will be much much much longer than the previous books. I’m also working on plotting a Horngate story for an upcoming anthology. It will star Giselle and Shoftiel.

Here’s an anthology I wish I’d written story for. I couldn’t come up with a good idea to submit. I’d still like to write a story though. I really like the idea.

I’m trying to come up with a good knitting project. I think I want to do socks, though I’d like to do another shawl. I also want to get some purple into my hair. I got my Orycon schedule today. It looks fun. I’ll also be doing the big Powell’s author signing that weekend.

Bought my husband a Keurig coffee maker, but he wanted one that could be programmed to brew into his travel cup. We don’t think we can with this one. It also may not take fill-your-own pods, even though one came with it. We’re still trying to figure it out.





Saturday, September 24th, 2016
Doing Stuff

I like to go to estate sales. They sell all sorts of things that either I want and didn’t know it, wanted and didn’t want to pay full price, or stuff that’s interesting but I don’t want. My favorite thing is to find really old stuff that I have no idea what it’s used for. I usually take pictures and then go find out, or sometimes people at the sale know (usually customers). I’m just tickled when I find that stuff.

This weekend I ended up going to three different sales. Two were normal–fairly recent ranch houses with your usual kinds of stuff. I got cheap knitting books (six of them!), some cds, a really cool iron rose trellis (I’ve so wanted one of those but didn’t want to pay the retail price for them), and a kitchen spoon. I seem to melt those or toss those out with alarming frequency. Anyhow, they just disappear.

At another sale, I coveted a metal plant stand. It had six round pot holders and they all folded up under each other. You could position it in a circle or a line or a zig-zag. But it was more than I want to spend. But I did get a black marble rolling pin. I waffled on it, then decided it could work well for me. It’s freaking heavy. I got home, washed it, and then used it to roll out some bread dough before rolling it back up and putting it in the pans to rise (sourdough buttermilk bread!). It worked like a dream. So much easier for my daughter, too. She wanted to help. This will be really nice for making cutout cookies, too. And a couple weeks ago we got a gingerbread house form so it will probably help us make that.

The other sale was in a really old house. It was in not so great shape, but the woman who owned it had been a spinner and a sewer. There were at least 5 spinning wheels. So cool. And at least as many sewing machines, some antique. The owners hadn’t thrown anything away for a long time. I went because of rumors of a yarn stash, but it was mostly gone before I got there. But! I mentioned they had the wheels to a friend. She told me her sister wanted to try spinning. I took pictures of all the wheels and emailed them to her. Her sister ended up buying one.

I think spinning is so very cool. They even had this handcranked carder machine. I didn’t even know those existed.

We also took stuff over to donate. This is stuff that’s been in the garage waiting for us to want to use it. Since I didn’t anticipate it happening any time soon, I decided it would do better helping other people.

One house I went to this summer had really cool lights. They’d made them out of salvaged materials and were so cool. Wish I’d taken pictures. I sometimes find really cool rocks at sales. It’s one of the main reasons I go. I’ve found some really cool desert rose, giant pieces of obsidian, a lot of petrified wood, and

Now I’m doing some writing.

And for you–a snippet from the next Diamond City Magic novel! I hope you like.

     “These shoes are Louboutins,” she seethed, gracefully hopping over a slushy puddle.
“How does an FBI agent afford those?” Patti asked.
“I’m frugal.”
“You’re on the take,” I corrected.
She shrugged. “And I’m frugal.”
“I thought that word meant cutting coupons, eating peanut butter and ramen every night, buying generic, using one-ply toilet paper, and shopping at dollar stores,” Patti said. “I can’t picture you doing any of those.”
“Your lack of imagination doesn’t interest me,” Arnow said loftily. “How much longer must this idiotic adventure go on?” she asked me.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016
The North Carolina Shooting

I have a couple of comments/thoughts I want to write about. One is I have to mention how uncomfortable it makes me that the media has reduced Keith Scott to only a black man. Certainly he was and certainly that matters. But he was also a husband and a son. He had likes and dislikes and quirks and hopes and dreams. He was a man. A person. And it seems that he had a Traumatic Brain Injury, as well.

I don’t think he should have been shot. I wasn’t there, and so I could be wrong, but I think he was shot because there’s a problem in our police forces. There are a lot of good cops, who have empathy and generosity, bravery and honor. All things being equal, it’s possible that all cops would be that way. But danger, risks, dealing with the public, temptation of drugs/money/corruption, all make things not equal, and not easy. I don’t exactly know what I’m thinking, but this seems analogous to the Catholic priest pedophilia (I am not accusing cops of pedophilia). But the church created an atmosphere, deliberately or not, that protected and fostered those pedophiles.

It seems to me that the same thing is happening in the various police forces. The bad elements are being fostered. Shooting has become the primary solution. And I get that criminals are likely to shoot and waiting could be fatal. But apparently brown people are a lot more scary than white people and they are more likely to get shot. Is that because police care less about those lives? Is it because they believe brown people are more dangerous? Is it because their training skews them somehow to believe those things?

I don’t know what’s happening, but I do know it’s wrong. I do know that justice these days is not fair, not colorblind. I don’t know the solution.

When the IRA committed atrocities in the name of freedom, they were harshly condemned. But I’ve always wondered–when the only way you can be heard and potentially create change and gain freedom is violence, then why should anybody be surprised when rioting breaks out? How else will those in power look at themselves and the culture of law enforcement and try to make positive changes?

I admire cops. I admire soldiers and emergency responders of all kinds. They are some of the bravest people in existence and they put themselves in harm’s way to protect innocent people. Unfortunately, something’s gone wrong in the culture of law enforcement and it needs to be corrected.

Saturday, September 17th, 2016
I hate titles I never know what to write

Yep, that’s my title for today’s post. I’ve been doing lots of stuff and yet I can’t seem to recall much of it all. Writing–check. Cleaning–check. Gardening–yep. Baking bread–yum. Errands like shopping and such–done. Dog walking–check. Feeding the family–done. Playing Pokemon Go. Yes to that, too. There’s a slew of other stuff, too.

I’ve been getting some reading in. Started reading The Poisoner’s Handbook, which is about the genesis of toxicology in forensics. I haven’t got very far in, but am enjoying it quite a bit.

I need to do some planting. Oh, and I’m going to can some enchilada sauce and hopefully some roasted peppers. And jelly some fruit and peppers up. I also need to winterize the garden and dig potatoes.

Boy, I wanted to have something more useful or interesting to say, but I seem to be running out of words for now.

I just heard there was a bombing in New York. Pressure cooker bomb. God, why can’t this stop?