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Friday, April 17th, 2015
a snippet from Diamond City Magic book #3

I am so eager to hear how people are responding to Edge of Dreams. I want to talk about it, but I’m afraid of spoilers. I’ve chewed my nails to the quick and Costco is having a sale on double caramel Magnum bars, which has only partially settled me down. I’ve only (or already!) got 4 reviews on Amazon and this makes me nervous that everybody is either thinking, meh, don’t feel like reading that any time soon, or everybody hates it and doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. Obviously the world is terribly concerned about my feelings. Give me another Magnum Bar.

So in honor of my total anxiety, what snippet from the yet nameless book three, written today. Bear with the roughness and the mispellings and poor grammar and all that.

“Looks like Savannah Morrell knows him better than you do,” I taunted, though there wasn’t much to feel triumphant about. After all, Touray had been captured by his Tyet enemy, and Morrell wasn’t exactly known to be Glinda, the good witch. She was more the psychotic witch from the land of We Are So Fucked. The only thing that was going to keep Touray alive was the fact that he had some of the Kensington artifacts, and she wanted them.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
Happy Book Birthday to me!

Edge of Dreams has officially been born. I’m totally excited and yet absolutely panicked that nobody will like it. So pretty much, all is normal.

I have been thinking about what I should talk about on the day of book birth. You know, in childbirth, people just coo over the baby and don’t expect much from the mom. I can’t really set out party favors and streamers and serve cake. That’s seems sort of rude when nobody is nearby to attend. That leaves me to just babble on in interesting and hopefully entertaining ways to possibly whet your appetite.

I’m thinking I want to talk to you about Diamond City and what makes it special. First of all, it’s built on a prehistoric volcanic caldera. It’s such an old and deep volcano, that there are diamonds inside it. I love that setting. Just the idea of an enormous treasure place. Maybe it’s the fact that I love rocks and I want to learn to rockhound my own. I go scouring estate sales and riverbeds and the coast looking for treasures. So Diamond City is dear to my heart. I wish I had a place like that that was full of such treasure to dig in.

Under the caldera are ley lines of great power. I love the way magic becomes organic to the place. Some are given magic talents and some aren’t. What’s fun is how silly some of the talents are. I haven’t thought of all of them yet, but some are very limited. I should have you give me some ideas on useless magical talents. Anybody? Like maybe speeding up broccoli cooking on the stove? Or the ability to summon slugs.

We learn some cool stuff in this book about the area, that would be terrifically spoilerific, so I’ll not talk about those. I like the way there’s a diamond dole. That everybody makes a base amount from the diamond mines–sort of like the way people get money from oil in Alaska. It helps people in Diamond City afford to live there, for one. And also keeps people happier living there.

I’ve figured out some new stuff for the third book, or maybe the fourth, that I can’t mention here, but are really cool things about the Tyet factions and how that works. I’ll be looking at the larger world beyond Diamond City, and maybe even traveling to some other places.

There’s a lot of wealth in Diamond City–from diamonds, from illegal activities, and from legal activities. I love the idea of digging into a society that has a lot of money, some have magic, some don’t, and yet people aren’t necessarily happy. There’s so much fear and corruption in the culture that it’s impossible to ever feel truly safe. That’s a truth of many people all over the world historically and in the present, and I wanted to explore that.

I wanted mystery and that noir feel of the world. I may not be a hugely noirish storyteller, but the world has some of that shape and color. It’s got that kind of dirt and edginess.

I like romance. On top of that, I think people are driven by those sorts of feelings to do many things. Jealousy, lust, love, pride–all those sorts of things. So there’s romance. It’s not easy, and there will probably be more (I’m not sure between which characters yet and I’m not sure when, but again, romance/sex is a part of life).

I’m also digging into Riley’s past and you’re going to get to meet some more of her family. I’m not going to say anymore than that yet.

Diamond City has great beauty and great ugliness and a lot of secrets. These are things I plan to keep exploring.

 

Monday, April 13th, 2015
Counting down

Tick tick tick . . . It’s almost April 15th . . . taxes are due and Edge of Dreams arrives!!!!  You can now preorder the print book, and you can read the first chapter here on my website. Just click through the Diamond City Magic tab and scroll down to read an excerpt. Or . . . I could save you all that trouble and just give you the link. LINK.

I’ve been trying to figure out things to blog about. My editor wants me to encourage reviews, particularly on Amazon. There’s a method to that madness, because the more I get, the more likely they can talk Amazon into doing a specific promotion. So I would love for you to review and spread the word and go forth and help me conquer. It doesn’t help that I haven’t really prepared anything for promotion. The stuff with my son has monopolized me, and the work on book three, which is coming along well and I’m enjoying a lot. Between that stuff, mom stuff, and generally keeping my head afloat, I confess I’m a little bit panicked about the launch of this book. I so want people to read it and enjoy it. I know it sounds crazy, but one thing I want is for it to get more reviews on Amazon than Trace of Magic. Like that’s actually any measure of anything. But I’ve never had a second book do better than a first and I don’t even know if it’s possible.

It’s writer neurosis. It’s like a bubbling hot acid mix of 16 year old hormones, PMS, that terror you get when your plane is crashing, and the feeling of riding a roller coaster, all rolled into one and magnified by about 30. That. Right there. Get me some chocolate, chai, and alchohol STAT!!!

I cleaned my kitchen in an effort to make myself feel better. It did not work. My stomach is literally in knots. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced this on a launch before.

Okay, I’m going to shut up now and read something. Or snuggle a dog, because . . . fuzz therapy, as my son calls it.

Friday, April 10th, 2015
Finishing books

I have always finished books that I’ve started. It’s an innate sense of obligation that I have to. I have no idea what engendered that need in me, but I wonder if as I’ve become a writer, it’s partly the mentality that I would hate people not to finish my books. Yet I’ve started several books this year that I haven’t finished. The worst part is I actually liked two of them A LOT. The others kind of petered out and bored me. I don’t understand why I haven’t gone back to finish the ones that I like, and I’ve felt only slightly guilty in not picking up the ones I felt meh about. I’m reaching the point where there are too many books and too little time.

The funny thing is that the books aren’t necessarily bad. I have no violent urge to put them through the garbage disposal. Mostly they just don’t have anything going that makes me want to keep reading. This is not necessarily the fault of the book. I’ve become a little bit distractable. Here! Shiny! and off I go. I’d like to change that. I’d like to read more in general. I have tons of books on the TBR mountain, and so I have plenty to choose from.

How about you? Do you ever not finish books? Why? or

Thursday, April 9th, 2015
working and thinking and doing

The story on the boy is that he likely has functional abdominal pain syndrome, and functional vomiting, which means there’s no real physical cause like a tumor or cancer or a disease. Instead, his nerves are responding incorrectly to stimuli. It could be that he’s too full, or gas, bloating, anything like that. Even hunger. His nerves are not processing things right and so he’s in pain and sick. There’s no silver bullet treatment, or a drug. There are a couple drugs we can try, and there’s the pain clinic. That’s the thing that’s most likely to help him.

I am exhausted. Or sick. I haven’t decided. Whatever it is, I can’t seem to want to wake up. I’m a little bit congested, so wondering if I have a cold of some sort. Or maybe it’s the stressload.

I’m making good progress on book three of Diamond City Magic. And the new book comes out in a week and I’ve done nothing for promotion. So spread the word if you like. Please? It’s a really good book. Promise.

There’s a lot going on with the kerfuffle over the Hugos. Right now, I can’t bring myself to care about them. At all. Maybe because I will likely never be a contender and so they’ve never really been front and center in my world. This year it has more to do with the fact that it takes a lot of energy to care about all the nonsense, and because I don’t have the spoons for them. I do feel sorry for those who were nominated and are caught up in this. Many are talented, deserving of winning awards, and yet they are getting maligned and celebrated and hardly know where to turn.

 

Sunday, April 5th, 2015
home again and tired

Had a fabulous weekend of few responsibilities, lots of laughter, and general fun. I saw tons of people, met new ones, and f-bombed my way through the weekend. It was that sort of a weekend. I spent most of my time in the bar. I slept precious little, however, thanks to fun and talking and a less than comfortable bed. Came home and napped and am about to climb into bed again. I had meant to get some work done this weekend, but didn’t do any. Tomorrow I take the boy up to Seattle for a consultation and maybe tests. I have no idea. no idea how long we’ll be there or what. It’s play it by ear.

Dogs missed me. Have been clingy since I’ve been home. Feel bad I’m abandoning them tomorrow again.

I’d like to say more interesting things at this point, but really, my brain is total mush. So I’m going to bed. I will check in as I can.

 

Sunday, March 29th, 2015
of news and news

So first, this. You can win a copy of Edge of Dreams from Goodreads! Enter now.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Edge of Dreams by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Edge of Dreams

by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Giveaway ends April 13, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


In other news, I sort of fell off my bike and hurt my wrist on Friday. It’s feeling better, but it was stupid. I’m working on building up stamina to do hills on my bike, since I live on hills and that’s the only way to functionally ride my bike is if I can manage to pedal up inclines. I did the sort of fall off upon arriving back in my own driveway, because I’m an idiot.

I will be at Norwescon. Did I mention that? No panels. Just hanging out, so let me know if you want to get together.

I will be taking my son to Seattle to the children’s hospital the week after in the hopes they will be able to actually treat him. We consult first, and then hopefully they can do other things within a day or so.

In the meantime, I’m writing, trying to squeeze reading in, trying to clean the house and organize and etc.

 

 

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
Not dead yet

There are bad things going on in this country. I hate that people are passing laws to permit discrimination. It’s so very wrong. Why do people have to be such fucking assholes?

The boy has up days now and down days and I’m battling with the doctor for a referral. Or not so much battling, as getting ignored and pissed off. But I’m going another route, so hoping to have progress tomorrow.

Great progress on the next Diamond City Magic book. Which is to say, I’ve been writing it and it’s coming along well as far as I can tell. I’m at least entertained at this point, which counts. For me anyhow. Remember, Edge of Dreams comes out in less than a month!!!! I’m so excited. I can’t wait to hear what you all think. So long as you think good things. I can really wait on the other.

And since I forgot to post this, The cover!!!  (sorry, I don’t have an actual image of my own yet, so the link). I love it. What do you think?  Actually, that wasn’t the cover, was it. It’s Do you want to hide a body, which I find terribly amusing, so I’m leaving it.

And the actual cover . . . .

Also, the proofer for the manuscript sent my editor some really cool comments on the book.  How cool is that? I’ve never had that happen before.

And The Black Ship got a great review!

I’m going to be at Norwescon. I’m going to be incognito–no panels. Just being social. So if anyone is going to be there, let me know. I’ll be up for hanging out.

Also, I did not commit child murder today. This was a good. Teenagers are hard. Sick teenagers are harder. But I was able to channel my irritation into the scene in my book. No death, but a good argument.

 

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
David Coe’s Spell Blind

As I mentioned last week or so, I read David Coe’s Spell Blind. I really enjoyed it. It’s a murder mystery/police procedural/noir/fantasy novel with great characters and well-developed relationships. I can’t wait to see how they play out. There’s Justis’ old partner, his dad, his enemy from the police force, his informants, and many others. So much richness and a cool magic system. I want to blather on more, but I don’t want to offer spoilers. Suffice it to say, this is a really great book, and one that you should read. sbBuy it now.

I asked David if he would come by and answer a few questions for me, so without further ado, here’s David:

1.  Why don’t you start by telling us a little about SPELL BLIND and the Case Files of Justis Fearsson?

Sure. This is a contemporary urban fantasy set in modern day Phoenix, Arizona. My lead character, Justis “Jay” Fearsson, is a weremyste, which means that he is a conjurer, a wizard, a mage — whatever you want to want to call him. But every month, on the night of the full moon, and the nights immediately before and after, he loses control of his mind and his magic. His hold on reality weakens, but his power strengthens. And over the long run, these phasings, as they’re called, are going to drive him permanently insane, just like they did his father, who is also a weremyste.

Jay used to be a cop, but the phasings cost him his job and so now he’s a private detective. And as the book begins, he is drawn back into the investigation of a serial murder that haunted him during his time on the force.

2.     This book is quite different in some ways than previous books you’ve written (though clearly you’ve done mystery with your fabulous Thieftaker books). Talk about how and why you came to write this book.

I first started working on the Justis Fearsson series nearly a decade ago, after finishing the last book in Winds of the Forelands, a five book epic fantasy series that had consumed me for years. (Before that I write the LonTobyn trilogy — also epic fantasy.) As I began the Fearsson book (in a form that bears little resemblance to the finished product) I also started writing Blood of the Southlands, an epic fantasy trilogy. And so I was looking to do just what you say: I wanted to write something that was as different from my older work as it could be.

I wanted to write mystery, I wanted to have modern characters who could speak and act and curse like people do in our modern world. I wanted them to drive cars, because I was sick to death of writing about horses. I wanted them to go to malls and movies and night clubs, because I’d had enough of castles. And, most important, I had an idea for a character whose access to magic was slowly driving him insane, which is the central premise of this new series. Setting it in our world seemed like the natural thing to do, not only because it would be something new to write after all those epic fantasies, but because the power of his descents into madness would be amplified by having him deal with the mundane things that we take for granted in our everyday lives.

As to how, I wrote the book, that’s a more convoluted story. This book has been through so many rewrites it’s not even funny. I have changed the main plot, the magic system, the pacing — everything. Or rather, everything except the characters, who I love. It was my love of them and their interactions that kept me working on this manuscript long after any sane writer would have given up. But I finally got it right, and I really love the finished product.

3.     One of the toughest things I find about writing a mystery is keeping the book moving while still maintaining the suspense. You did a really great job of capturing the procedural, developing characters, and pacing the mystery. What sort of difficulties did you run into writing the mystery and how did you solve them?

Well, as I say, I went through many, many rewrites on this book. So I certainly didn’t get it right at first. Thanks, though, for the kind words. I think the toughest thing for me was pacing the action. Early incarnations of the novel really dragged in the first quarter. I wanted to build the action gradually, to ratchet up the tension. I realized though, with the help of beta readers, that I was holding back too much in those early pages. In the end, I found that the best way to overcome the slowness of those early pages, while also not giving away too much too soon, was to introduce my magic system in the opening chapters. And when I say introduce the magic, I don’t mean explain it. Rather, I wanted to show my reader the magic through early conflicts and action scenes, and through my protagonist’s interactions with his magical mentor, who is a really cool character.

Magic lies at the heart not only of the plot, but also of the mystery and the motivations of the big bad. And so using the magic in this way was not at all a distraction. Quite the opposite; it set up the later revelations that are so central to the novel’s ending. And, as I say, I took care of those early pacing issues.

4.     You mention in the acknowledgements that you consulted with members of the police and ME departments in Phoenix to get the details right. What did you learn that surprised you?

I’m not sure that I was surprised by anything in particular. Being surprised implies that I had pre-conceived notions of what I would learn, and I was so totally ignorant about police and medical examiner departments that I didn’t have any notion of what to expect. But what I got from those conversations and email exchanges were the tiny details that make the procedural aspects of the novel come to life. Things like:

— Police headquarters in Phoenix is called “620” because it sits at 620 West Washington Street in downtown Phoenix.

— Detectives used to have their own offices, but cutbacks at the department forced them into cubicles. And since their work spaces were no longer secure, many of them had to go out and buy those fireproof safes that they sell at Target so that they would have a place to store sensitive documents.

— And so many other little tidbits about sign-in procedures at the ME’s office and the appearance of the various body storage facilities.

I could have faked this stuff, or not included those details, and most people wouldn’t have noticed. But small details like that are the bread and butter of a writer. They lend a sense of realism, of verisimilitude to what we do. Without them, our books are more bland, and less convincing. With them, our stories come to life. That’s what I got from those conversations with the generous professionals at the Phoenix police and ME departments.

5.     Where is the next book going, if you can do that without spoilers. I have to admit, I want to see Justis work with his dad. When will we be able to find it on the shelves?

The second book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson is called HIS FATHER’S EYES, so you’re going to get your wish. Justis’s father, who, as I said before, is also a weremyste, and who has largely lost his mind at this point, is being tormented by dark sorcerers for reasons Jay can’t figure out. And so Jay has to help him, and eventually work with him, in order to solve the mystery. This next volume also features a billionaire financier with ties to dark magic, a ruthless drug kingpin, were-creatures, a terrorist attack, and the murder of a powerful runemyste.
I really love this book and am pleased to say that it will be out on August 4.

 

Di again: As I said, I loved this book, and I can’t wait for the next. I really wanted more on Justis’ dad, so I’m over the moon.

This is a link to David’s website, and has a link to a sample chapter from the book.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
Home again

The writing retreat was wonderful. I wrote about 18,000 words in four days. Actually, most of that was in three days, with about 1500 on the last day before we left. I had a great time. I got to meet new people whom I thoroughly enjoined, and I got to see friends from last year. I really want to go back next year and every year. The weather was incredible. No rain, which is not what one expects from the Rainforest. I wanted to get out and walk some of the trails, but I kept writing. It felt imperative. I finished a draft of my Weird Wild West story, and nearly finished this novella I’ve been working on.

It was good to get away from home responsibilities. Though apparently the doggies missed me terribly, especially Voodoo. Everybody was still alive when I returned, so that’s a positive.

Yesterday I did a whole lot of work, and precious little of it was business. But I got through all my list, including getting the boy started on enrollment into an online school. All is in the school’s hands now, so I have to wait for them to process stuff.

I wrote a bunch more here, but the blog demons ate it. So . . .