Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis
Thursday, April 2nd, 2020
Ack!

How are all of you holding up with the coronavirus? Got fun stuff going on at all? Want to kill family members?

I get out every day to walk the dogs, though a lot of the time I just want to hide under the covers. I have zero writing discipline. Both kids are home and the girlie really doesn’t like me homeschooling her. Sigh. I’ve accomplished things like grading for my class, writing a letter of recommendation, cooking food, and not really doing well at writing. Trying to give myself a break because all of this coronavirus thing is getting to me. I need to avoid the news and especially news from the Whitehouse, but I can’t seem to do that very well. At least in Oregon, the social distancing is helping. Right now we should have enough ventilators for w

hen the peak gets here. This makes me happy because my husband has asthma. I’ve been making my family wear cloth masks out in public, especially at the grocery stores. It may not help us not get the disease, but it will help us not spread it, especially cashiers.

I kind of want to go for a drive up into the mountains or out to the coast, but I know there aren’t any bathrooms open, so . . . Staying home like we’re supposed to.

I have been trying my hand at amigarumi. My first project has its problems, but it looks reasonably like what it’s supposed to. It’s crochet, so that’s a little easier on my weird shoulder/elbow tendonitis thing. That’s my little dude, there. He’s a flat mouse, because it’s supposed to be a bookmark. I need to iron it a little, I think. But at least it’s looking kinda like what it’s supposed to. I’m going to make a cat next, though I have to wait for yarn to get here, unless I can find some smaller cotton yarn in my stash.

My writing is almost nonexistent this week. I’ve got to find a way to get back on task. I’d like to get outside and do some gardening, but we’ve had rain. So I’ll have to wait. I need to call an order in to the garden store so I can go pick up some things like sawdust for my blueberries, and a trough and various other things to be a planter for my cool weather veggies. It’s tough because I’m trying to work out a schedule that will work for my kids and me. You know, the me who doesn’t want to do anything right now.

I have been doing some reading. I have been reading some romantic suspense, and have a billion other books to read, so I’m going to have plenty to choose from. I just finished a book by Laura Griffin, one of my favorite writers. This one was a stand alone, except there were cameo moments from her Wolfe Security and Tracers books, which I appreciated. None of her books have to be read in order, so I’m going to dip into the series again here and there. I’m reading some Netgalley books, so I may be bringing you a review or several. I don’t review what I don’t like. I don’t want to tear authors down.

So what have you all been up to to pass the time? Been able to find all the things you need? Flour? Yeast? Toilet Paper? Cleaners? Dish Soap? (that one floors me that it’s been running out).

Stay safe!

Friday, March 20th, 2020
checking in

I haven’t posted in a long while and I don’t know why. It’s crazy. Updates seem silly given the coronavirus, but yanno, life has to go on to.

But let me ask you how you’re doing? I’m in Oregon and right now we are okay in the house. Moved my college-going son home because all his classes are going online and it’s safer to have him home not going to the dining centers on campus for his meals. My high-school-aged daughter is out until April 28th, but I think it will be the rest of the school year so I’m trying to come up with some homeschool plans. My husband has asthma, so I’m deeply concerned about him, but at least he works in a machine shop and so social distancing isn’t a thing there because everybody’s distanced by their machines, so they are all very far apart. All the same, I wish I had some masks for when I go shopping so that I don’t bring it home.

In the meantime, we’ve had a seriously sick little corgi, but he’s a lot better now. Last week we were in the vet several times and I was really worried. We’re getting out to walk the dogs and I plan to get out gardening, but otherwise staying away from people.

I’m working on DCM 5 and it’s Loooooong already and getting longer. I’d hoped to be all done well before now, but I’m not, so I’m plugging away.

I’m trying to find some TV shows I want to watch, but can’t find anything I like right now. I like romantic suspense, but more in books. I like funny and light, but I’ve seen a lot of those, and some that a lot of people like, I don’t. Documentaries are my next go-to. Actually I’ve been watching some YouTube stuff where experts talk about how things are portrayed in movies and TV shows. Like a spy disguise specialist talking about spy disguises, or a jewel thief talking about stealing, and so on. I’m hoping to write some romantic suspense, so watching these are useful and also really fascinating.

I think I want to watch some how-to stuff and get some knitting projects finished. I keep stopping halfway. Cuz I’m a dork. Yes, I am.

Merlin, the bitey puppy, is a lot better and hasn’t bitten us in a really long time. He’s still working out some issues with the older dog, but he’s learned he really loves attention and doesn’t like hurting us. It’s funny because when he makes his groaning noise that could mean he’s happy or that he wants us to stop, we all do a hands up sort of thing to show him we’re stopping and we’re backing off and giving him his space. He’s finding that he doesn’t like us stopping. We don’t want to tell him not to growl because we need the warning, but we also don’t want to get bitten. But he’s figuring out that he’s in control and doesn’t have to be afraid, since a lot of his aggression was fear-based.

I hope to be reporting in here a little more often. I hope you are all doing very well and your are staying healthy. Please do that.

Thursday, December 12th, 2019
Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy

First, so you know, I got Dead in Dublin from Netgalley. Also, Catie’s a friend and I love her books in general, and pounced on this one super fast because it sounded so good and did I say I love her books? She’s an amazing writer.

Now, onto the book. Here’s the backcover copy:

In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, murder occurs at the feet of sweet Molly Malone . . .

Ferrying tourists around Dublin for the Leprechaun Limo Service makes quite a change after years in the military. Still, Megan Malone is enjoying her life in Ireland. She likes the scenery, the easy pace, the quirky, quick-witted locals. Everything—except having one of her clients drop dead at the statue of fabled fishmonger, Molly Malone.

Most restaurant critics notch up their share of enemies. Elizabeth Darr, however, was a well-loved international star. She and her husband, Simon, had just had dinner when Elizabeth collapsed, and spoiled seafood is the first suspect. The restaurant’s owner, worried her business is doomed, begs Megan to look into it. Between her irate boss and a handsome Garda who’s both amused and annoyed by her persistence, Megan has her hands full even before she’s cajoled into taking care of two adorable Jack Russell puppies (which she is almost definitely not keeping). But if cockles and mussels aren’t to blame, can Megan find the real culprit . . .before another fishy death occurs?

I’m going to start with why I wanted to read this book. Catie lives in Dublin. Having her character be an American living in Ireland really grabbed me, because I felt like it would give me a really good sense of the place from an American perspective, but without any obnoxious judginess. Megan appreciates Dublin and the Irish people and culture. Her point of view makes it so an American reader can easily understand the differences and sometimes quirkiness of Ireland, but without it being condescending and obnoxious.  I felt like I was in Dublin and I could almost hear people speaking.

This is a cozy mystery, so it moves at a slower pace than other mysteries, and yet this one felt like it moved at a quick clip. I was hooked by the mystery and hated having to set the book down to do anything else. I appreciated that Megan’s involvement in the mystery happened so organically, and that she wasn’t looking to horn in at all. She was a fresh take on the amateur sleuth. But then between her boss and the grieving relatives, she feels compelled to help solve Elizabeth’s murder. The little bits of information she tracks down for them pull her deeper and deeper into the mystery.

I really liked her developing friendship with Detective Bourke. He’s very real and takes the information she gives him without a lot of bitching about how she shouldn’t be involved. He points out she shouldn’t be, but he’s the type of detective who wants to solve a case and so the clues she finds are useful. Also, she doesn’t get in the way or ‘t withhold information from him, or treat the Gardai like an enemy.

Megan is a really likeable character. She’s good at her job, reasonable, thoughtful, generous, and a good friend. She cares about people, even strangers, and she’s smart. I really loved this book and I strongly recommend it. It’s perfect for a rainy day by the fire. By way of teasing me, the first chapter of the next book was included, and I was very very very disappointed that I couldn’t get it right now.  Sigh.

Thursday, December 5th, 2019
Brain Fatigue

I was talking with a friend today about the concept of brain fatigue. This is when your brain slows down, becomes uncreative, thinking is labor intensive and so very difficult, and you’re walking around in a fog and you’re forgetful. What causes it? Too many demands. Too many people you’re emotionally or physically supporting. Too many worries about paying bills, about children or parents or pets or the broken-down car, too many fears, too many jobs to do, too much to think about, too many balls in the air. Just too damned much.

It’s like the well is getting sucked dry and you’ve got nothing left, but the pump is still pumping, taking every last bit of you and leaving a wreck behind.

It’s kind of like depression, except for the fact that you feel relatively functional, even though you know you have so. much. to. do. and it’s never going to get done. Even though you’re running like hell and getting nowhere. But you’re not thinking about suicide, and you’re only wishing you were in bed with the covers over your head. So you’re not that bad.

You just aren’t good.

It’s a sucky way to live.

We didn’t come up with any good way to combat it. Except maybe getting together with friends, trying to find laughter, and plowing through like you’re fine, as you always do. Not happy, but still upright and breathing.

I’ve had brain fatigue for years now. How about you?

Friday, November 8th, 2019
Dalton

Here’s the thing about Dalton: he’s the tall, dark, and handsome type who rarely talks. Think Clint Eastwood in all the Spaghetti Westerns. Or even John Wick. But this book he’s got to be more talkative. Because it’s important. So I know his backstory and how Vernon came to help him and therefore why Dalton feels he owes him, but all of a sudden I want to hear your ideas about all that.

So . . .

In the comments, tell me what you think Dalton’s backstory might be and/or how Vernon might have helped him. Answer as many times as you want. Your idea may end up in Diamond City 5! With your name in the acknowledgements.

I’ll just share my inspiration picture for Dalton to help you with your thinking.

Entries close on November 13th, so hurry!

If you’re reading this on a mirror site, come to my blog: https://www.dianapfrancis.com/2019/11/08/dalton/

Thursday, November 7th, 2019
DCM 5

It appears Josh (Taylor’s ex-fiance and kidnap victim from Book 1) has returned. His first meeting with Taylor (and Dalton) doesn’t go so well. There appears to be some friction. Wonder why that is. Hmmm. *grin*

This scene is a lot of fun. A lot of fury and angst and a lot of character building.

This book isn’t going quite as I expected. Not sure whether it’s going to come together the way that I want. This is a complicated book with a lot of threads, and I haven’t even gotten to some of the really big characters yet. I don’t want to skimp on any of the stories/plot lines, so this will either be a very long book, or two books. Gack.

In the meantime, I’m finding myself having a tough time structuring my day so that I get everything done. I don’t know how people do this and I have friends who are so freaking organized and on top of things that it’s almost miraculous. I have no idea how they do it.

So I’ve started watching the Amazon Jack Ryan series and I think one of the most wrenching scenes is watching a man pray with his kid, visit with the grandfather and do really ordinary family things, then sling on his Automatic rifle on his shoulder, hug his kid goodbye, get on his scooter and ride off. It’s that slinging on the weapon that really kicks you in the stomach. So normal in such an awful way. And then he passes burned out bombed places. Just wrenching and this is how so many people live. Not just in what we think of as war zones, but also places where drug cartels are everywhere.

As a writer, these are the sorts of scenes that we value as we write. The ones that juxtapose two powerful images and then make them part of the deeper narrative.

These are the things that I strive for

Now I’m thinking of a character who gets neck deep in some dangerous life and then just decides to stop. But will that life let him stop. Will his own feelings and loyalties let him stop?What will happen? Will he go back? Get dragged back? Or find himself falling into a place he never wanted to be.

Another character who is fascinating is the one who kills from a distance, using a drone. He clearly struggles with his job and what that turns him into.

 

 

 

Monday, October 7th, 2019
Book Review: Jo-Ann Carson’s The Perfect Brew

I’ve been doing a bit of reading on and off as I can squeeze it in around the rest of life–when I was younger, I seemed to have a hell of a lot more time in a day. What happened to it all? Anyhow, I finished The Perfect Brew today, and I want to share.

First, the back cover copy:

When a witch inherits trouble …

An unexpected inheritance turns Cassie Black’s world upside-down, and she finds herself the owner of a sentient coffee-house that comes with an inter-dimensional portal and a side of ancient curse. When Cassie is summoned to attend the funeral of her great-aunt Ophelia, she finds the picturesque village on the edge of the ocean is not at all what it seems. Her benefactor’s death is suspicious, and to make matters worse, after Ophelia’s lawyer explains her will to Cassie, he drops dead in a plate of cookie crumbs. That makes two unexplained deaths, which is two too many for a good witch to swallow.

Up to her neck in mysteries, and weighed down with a curse, Cassie canvases the town to find the murderer. Of course, there are many unusual suspects, a tall, dark and annoying human detective keeps getting in her way, and a seductive warlock offers his assistance.

Will Cassie catch the villain before he kills again? Will she be able to free herself from the curse? Will Sid, her beloved cat familiar with a naughty mind, convince her to play dirty with the boys?

My review:

This is the first in a cozy mystery series–I’m not sure how long the series is intended to be. It does read somewhat as a standalone, but it leaves a lot of major questions hanging, which is frustrating. I liked the story, I liked the characters a lot, and I liked the writing. Cassie is a great character. Everybody expects her to be goody-goody, but she’s got a lot more going on and is refreshingly snarky for a girl who appears to be the proverbial girl next door. The love interest characters are definitely interesting, particularly Sanjay, and I really liked Cassie’s familiar, Sid (short for Obsidian).

A murder happens shortly after Cassie arrives in town, and she decides to track down the killer, but though that was the storyline that wrapped up in this book, it felt like it was just a subplot. The real plot was Cassie discovering her aunt’s history, that she was murdered, more about magic, and the Perfect Brew–a sentient coffee shop, which, by the way, is a very cool place. I love it.

For me, though I enjoyed the book, I feel like it wasn’t robust enough. That it really needs to be read with the other books in the series to get a better sense of the meatier part of the story, which I really want to know more about. I do plan to get the other books, because I really do like the book. It wasn’t a cliff-hanger ending, by any means, but it just felt like the end of the opening scene of a play, and that there’s a lot left unanswered and undeveloped.

Thursday, September 12th, 2019
Book Review: Kennedy Kerr’s A SPELL OF MURDER

Hello Everyone! I’ve been doing a bit of reading here and there and this one I’ve just finished. A SPELL OF MURDER is a supernatural sort of cozy with witches. Before I get into my thoughts, here is the back cover copy:

In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…

Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.

When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.

If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?

 

My thoughts:

There’s something I really like about small town mysteries with busybodies, smart country cops, and quirky denizens. This book falls into that category. Temerity is an engaging characters and I like that she has friendships throughout the community and that she’s known for being a psychic antiques expert. Specifically, she’s known for tracking the provenance of antiques that nobody has any idea about. She’s world-renowned, actually. However, despite being so famous, she rarely leaves the village, even to be the keynote speaker at a major upcoming conference.

A murder happens soon within the story–a local school teacher–and Temerity gets involved with the local police chief asks for her help, as she’s helped before with missing persons and so on. She ends up working with a new deputy who she finds offputting and a bit rude, although very handsome. There’s  a bit of romance in this book between them, but not much.

One of the things I like about this book is that everybody’s smart and nobody’s bumbling. I wasn’t as much a fan of the overall mystery as I could have been because for the murderer, there’s not really any clues. The background of the story and the reasons for the murder aren’t terribly simple or obvious, which I appreciated. I just wanted a few more clues sprinkled in.

Overall, though, it’s a fun read. The characters are engaging and the magic and locale are unique and interesting. I loved the animals, particularly the cats and the parrot. I loved that Angus wasn’t at all stereotypical as the handsome potential love interest. He was smart and interesting and didn’t ever get weirdly high and mighty or put Temerity down. She was confident and strong, and yet vulnerable in a couple of ways, but not in a way that irritated me.

I’ll definitely look for the next book in the series.

Saturday, August 31st, 2019
Diamond City Magic 5

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been off the radar. I’ve been getting my son ready for college, running around with my daughter for band, dealing with a very sick dog, going to the emergency room with my son who dislocated his knee, minor car accidents, and various other things. So I’ve done a piss poor job of visiting here. I’m going to try to be much better.

I’ve become a fan of Midsomer Murders. I enjoy the mysteries quite a bit and the characters. I also want to go bike riding in some English villages. Though I suspect there will be many places where I’d bap my head on the doorways and other low ceiling type of areas.

But I’m posting because I’ve had a number of questions about DCM5. Yes there is a fifth book! And I’m writing it now. It’s come along a little bit slowly because while I know what needs to happen, I’ve had trouble braiding the strands together. It’s become complicated and I’m working on sorting out the best way to tell the story. That means a few false starts and a number of backtrackings to throw out a bunch of stuff and rewrite. Plus the plans I had all along for one plot thread have become a problem for the turns I’ve taken and so now I have to come up with a better explanation for that.

But it’s definitely in process and I hope to start sharing some snippets very soon.

Di

Monday, July 8th, 2019
Are you Near Seattle? A Very Cool Event is Happening This Weekend!

Hi Everybody!

This Saturday, July 13, is Readers and Writers Seattle, 2019. I will be there along with many other writers, selling books and giving away swag, and chatting and hanging out.

If you can make it, do! I’d love to see you. Here’s a link to the Facebook Page.

In other news, I’m still alive. I know, I’ve been really quiet here lately. Life has been overtaking me. But we have my son registered for college in the fall, we’ve been working with Merlin to get him past biting, though the fireworks really upset him and he bites when he’s scared. And vomits. A lot. Ten times on the third. On the fourth we tried to drug him up with an anti-anxiety medication. It took the edge off for him, but wasn’t super great. The next day we got a sedative from the vet, but it was like Merlin ate Crack. The dog was lively. Sigh.

I was almost done with The Elf Job when I realized it had jumped the shark and I have to scrap and rewrite the last third or so. I hate it when that happens, but at least I discovered it before I published it. I just have to keep reminding myself that that’s a good thing.

I’m also working Diamond City 5. Plan to turn that in to my editor in September. I just have to get on top of the writing. Seems like every time I turn around I’ve got life stuff to deal with . I kind of want to go be a hermit for a month or so and get some work done.

I hope all is well with you. I’ll report in again soon.

This is a picture of some roses from my yard. I have a lot of rose bushes and this year I’m finally getting enough that I can have fresh roses in the house at all times. I’m delighted with this. Aren’t they pretty? And they smell diving.