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

 

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
Link roundup

I am over the moon to say that Eloisa James likes my books! In an interview, she says so. I’m so very excited!!!!

In other news, Path of Fate is on sale this month on Amazon for $1.99. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time!

Theodora Goss has posted a lovely poem about being a witch. I adore it.

Ilona Andrews made a post about Russian history and dress with a link to some stunning pictures. Visit her post first because the explanation is really cool, then go look at the pics.

BookPushers posted a very nice review of The Incubus Job.

This has been my go-to fast chocolate cake recipe for birthday cakes. It’s incredibly chocolatey and moist and delicious and not a lot of work.

I’ve just read through all of Lexi George’s Demon Hunting in the Deep South series. It’s over-the-top romance in some ways, but doesn’t take itself all that seriously in that regard. Really funny stuff, though. And all the side characters are just too much fun. They are total candy/popcorn reads, and totally worth it.

 

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016
Other Interesting ‘Found’ Research

Today I found out that they use liquid nitrogen at my husband’s worksite. He’s a machinist and they use the liquid nitrogen to shrink the metal enough to slide it inside a hole and when it heats back up, it expands and is a press fit. I had no idea that it could be available at places like this. I don’t know what I might use that bit of information for in books, but I like it.

Friday, September 2nd, 2016
Poisons

For no particular reason, I started looking at poisons today. I figure it’s something I’ll stash in the back of my head for future writing use.

The one I discovered today is Thallium Nitrate, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It’s a heavy metal. It cause hair to fall out, vomiting, organ failure, and general system failure, plus causes a burning/prickling sensation in the limbs. It will kill you in a high dose, but in low doses, it’s a slow road to death. There’s no antidote for it, and if caught soon enough, you can survive. It can be found by blood, urine, and hair. It leaves the blood pretty quickly, though, so if the blood test is all there is, then it might not get discovered.

I thought it could be a pretty good poison for a poisoner. Especially if it can be put into food. Be good for someone who wanted to cause a slow, diminishing death.

The stuff was used in the 50s in rat poison.

I’ll probably talk about more poisons in general. I find them interesting. I’m working on some murder/suspense stuff that could benefit from this sort of info.

In the meantime, I’ve a bunch of roses to plant and the weather is fine and the puppy boys are happy. Been reading Lexi George’s Demon Hunters books and they are frequently very fun. Just like candy, and funny urban fantasy romance.

Friday, August 26th, 2016
Where does the time go?

How cliche is that question? It’s summertime and therefore the kids are home, the folks are up here (they are snowbirds), friends have visited, events have needed attending, and then all the kid fun stuff that has to be done, along with errands and appointments and it’s been a whirlwind it seems. I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of August.

I’ve been trying to get in some reading this summer, with some success. Just been reading Lexi George’s Demon Hunting in the South series and it’s quite fun. Enjoying them. In other news, my left wrist has not healed up particularly well from my fall. Am wearing a brace on it 24/7, but it still will pop painfully even so. I fear that I will need to get further doc evaluation and possibly treatment. Makes typing a little bit of an adventure.

I’ve been playing Pokemon Go. It’s horribly addictive and I started it to help make the kids want to walk with me and then I got hooked. I’m now just 30K xp away from level 25. In other news, the dogs caught kennel cough somehow and so I couldn’t take them out walking for about 2 or 3 weeks. Basically, I didn’t want to risk spreading it to other dogs and it can remain contagious for awhile after symptoms disappear. I figured I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Also been doing estate planning. Not planning on dropping off the planet anytime soon, but we’ve been neglectful about having any sort of will that takes care of the kids. So that’s the impetus on getting this done. It’s way overdue.

We went to an iris festival earlier this summer and ordered some gorgeous irises. Received them a couple weeks ago and got them planted. Hopefully not too deep, and hopefully they bloom next year. I don’t even remember all the colors but at least one was a velvety purple/black.

The kids start back to school in a couple of weeks. As much as I’ll miss them, I’m looking forward to getting more things done. We didn’t get much rock hunting done this summer since I fell and hurt the wrists, and then the boy had a minor toe surgery that made him really gimpy. Shoes were uncomfortable for him on the one foot. He was wearing one regular shoe and one birkenstock (don’t ask).

The summer here has mostly been lovely and cool. Only a few days in the 100s and 90s. Been getting out with the man and doing some walking in the park along the river. Just beautiful.

I’ve made some wonderful blackberry pies of late. Yum. A friend brought us these amazing plums. They are red and the insides are so dark red it’s almost black. And delicious. Wow. And the peaches! I’m summer fruit heaven.

I’m sure there’s more updatery to do, but probably next time.

Saturday, August 6th, 2016
Book Review: Follow Me by Tiffany Snow

Received from Netgalley.

I enjoyed Follow Me by Tiffany Snow. It’s romantic suspense with a fair bit of geekery, which made me happy. Here’s the back of the book description.

China Mack is a fabulous character. Snow made her feel not only real and interesting, but made her believable as a genius. I also liked and disliked Jackson and Clark and thought the ending was about perfect. The plot of the suspense made sense and didn’t have big holes in the logic. The only major issue that I have, and it’s my own issue, is I’m not a fan of love triangles and I have no doubt like it’s coming. Snow has planned at least one sequel with these characters and there’s no doubt that she’s set up the triangle.

As an additional note, I’m really glad that Clark wasn’t a dick (as he said). Or at least so much of one that he went through with what he was up to. That would have squicked me beyond redemption.

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Friday, August 5th, 2016
Book Review: Sins That Haunt, Lucy Farago

Received from NetGalley.

Sins That Haunt by Lucy Farago is a romantic suspense novel. Here’s the back of the book blurb:

Civil attorney Shannon Joyce walks the line of law and order, but she learned from day one how to put up a good front—faragothanks to her con man father. Thirteen years ago, she left the east coast and her life of crime behind. Her high school sweetheart, Noah, was collateral damage, but some things can’t be helped. But now there’s no escape when her past comes roaring down the Strip—in the oh-so-tempting form of the man she left behind…

Special Agent Noah Monroe has Shannon exactly where he wants her—in the back of his car in handcuffs. Her grifter father has been murdered, and the FBI needs Shannon to keep one of his scams in play to bag the big bad guy who was financing him. Once again a pawn in someone’s else game, Shannon will have to trust her instincts to survive both the peril threatening her—and the passion Noah reignites…

I liked this book with some minor qualms. There’s a history between the characters and the initial meet made me wary. It seemed a little bit contrived. But then things quickly moved ahead and I was immersed. I thought the overall suspense arc was quite good and their history and backstory made a lot of sense and powerfully impacted the here and now. I do wish that Shannon, who is very smart, would move forward a little quicker in terms of Noah. The things that hold them apart otherwise are important and work well. I liked the twist at the ending–really, both twists. I did doubt her mother could drive the backhoe, but maybe that’s because I’m a ranch kid and driving a tractor isn’t that easy. Or didn’t used to be. Maybe it’s all very automated and simple now.

The way the end built up with multiple climaxes to various arcs was powerful and compelling.

Monday, August 1st, 2016
Diamond City Magic #4 Snippet

Here’s a snippet from Diamond City Magic #4:

Questions bubbled in his mind. Pointless and useless. He had no idea who’d taken him, how, or why, or where they were taking him. Had they harmed Christina? By God, but the question irritated him. He shouldn’t even care. The girl had been nothing but trouble. First, dragging Clay, him, and Riley into the middle of a turf war, and now this. He should have dumped her at the hospital or fire station. Why the hell hadn’t he? Riley. She’d want to know the girl was on her way home. When had he gone so soft that he cared what his brother’s girlfriend thought of him?

There was no good answer to that.