Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for the 'WIP' Category

Monday, March 24th, 2014
A snippet for you

The boy barfed up a ridiculously expensive pill tonight. Nuff said on that.

And now for a snippet. This is from my nameless novella, and I have not written any words on it for awhile. Same as my other work. But I hope you enjoy. It’s rough. Be patient.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Whoever killed the incubus was targeting him. Finding him, luring him down here—it was well-planned.”

I nodded, my brow furrowing. This was reasonably obvious. “Yeah?”

Law grimaced. “If he is after the stolen box, you’ll be going after him.”

“That’s the job,” I said.

“This thing is dangerous,” he said.

I was beginning to see where this was going and anger rolled through me. “It is.” I offered nothing more. I was going to see if he was really going to jump off this bridge.

He was.

“What if you can’t handle it?” he asked bluntly.

It was a fair question, and if it had been anyone else but him asking, I’d probably have taken it better. As it was, all I knew was that he was doubting me, questioning my ability. Maybe because of the lich incident, or maybe because I’d failed to grab the box already. Maybe the ghosts made him think I was weak.

“I guess if I can’t handle it, I’ll end up painting the walls like the incubus,” I said. “Let’s hope I’m better than that.”

Law dragged his fingers through his hair. “Damn it, Mal! This is serious.”

“I’m well aware of that, Law,” I snapped. “I just didn’t realize that you had such low opinion of my skills.”

He gripped my shoulders, jerking me against him. “This has nothing to do with your skills, and you know it,” he seethed between gritted teeth. “We don’t know what this thing is, but we know it’s smart and it’s dangerous. What makes you think you can handle it by yourself?”

I shoved myself back. He extended his arms, but didn’t let go. “What makes you think I can’t?” I demanded.

“I don’t think so, but I also don’t know that you can. For one, you’ve decided you’re anti-killing. All well and good, but that handicaps you whether you like it or not. For two—” He broke off.

I waited, chin jutting stubbornly. He didn’t continue.

“That’s it? I don’t kill so I’m doomed to fail? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” This time I succeeded in pushing out of his grasp.  “Good thing I broke our partnership up when I did. I knew you wouldn’t trust me to guard your back any more.”

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

I made it to the retreat and got settled in. Met some fun people and a couple hours ago, i buckled down to work. I wrote the beginning of something. I’d like your opinion on it. Would you want to read more? I ask because it’s a little bit different from what I’ve written before and I’m feeling my way. It’s super rough, but thumbs up or down?


I got the fish-eye stare from the concierge when I walked past him into the lobby. I passed through the security net, feeling it ripple across my skin like seeking fingers. My lips tightened smugly. I could go out and come back again and totally change my aural signature. It might remember this version of me forever—and it probably would—but it wouldn’t do it a damned bit of good.

Effrayant was a mashup of the Bellagio and the Bates Motel, with a little dash of old school English castle for flair. The outside was brick and tile with a few thousand windows and a mansard roof that went up six or eight stories on top. The rooms up there were probably long-term residences. The central tower was a good forty stories high, with the four wings sprouting like spokes from its shoulders. The tops of the wings boasted pools, clubs, restaurants, and helipads.

I wasn’t there for the entertainment; I was on a job.

Inside was dark wood, modern furniture, soft lights, and museum quality art. Muted opera music wandered through the cavernous lobby.  The staff all wore Italian wool uniforms in gray, burgundy, and navy, while customers dressed in designer glitz and blue-collar chic.

I couldn’t blame the bellman for looking at me sideways. Wearing Levi’s, a longsleeved cotton shirt from the Goodwill, and a pair of knee-high leather boots that had seen better days, I definitely didn’t look glitzy or chic.

Add in the fact that my luggage was nothing more than a ratty backpack, I was a little surprised that the security guards inside didn’t stop me.  With force. Given how obscenely expensive it was to stay at the exclusive and highly discriminating Effrayant, I figured these guys should have been all over me. Sure, the ghosts make people want to turn and head the other way and let me be someone else’s problem. Security guards ought to be better trained. They shouldn’t let the heebie-jeebies get the better of them. I get that it’s not every day that you get the ghost push-off from someone made of flesh and blood, but Effrayant like to brag their security was the best of the best.

I walked in and all six of thick-necked best of the best got busy picking lint off their coats, making me the check-in clerk’s problem.

Poor thing. I could tell she wanted to be anywhere else. That’s Tabitha’s fault. She can put the fear of Jesus into just about anyone without hardly trying.

Tonight she was trying.

She didn’t want to come into Effrayant. She thought it was too dangerous. She was right, but that didn’t change the job.  I wanted to tell her to suck it up and settle down, but she was only a thirteen year old girl and dead or not, her hormones were raging. She wasn’t going to listen to me, of all people. Plus she still had a lot of PTSD issues from how she got killed. Or so I assumed. I had no idea how it had actually gone down. I only knew she was pissed as hell and she had nightmares that occasionally leaked into my dreams. If any of what happened in those nightmares had actually happened to her, she had a right to her attitude.  Hell, she had a right to have gone right over the edge into insanity-land. I didn’t think she had, but it’s not like she talked to me. Another issue she had going on was that she didn’t trust anybody and when she got scared, she killed first and asked questions later.

Tabitha’s a poltergeist—she’s a pretty effective killer when she wants to be—which is why I was glad the security guards hadn’t bothered me. I might not have been able to hold her back without force, and I didn’t like doing that. It reminded her and all the others that I could snuff them out without much effort.

That’s me—Mallory Jade, former Exterminator. In the bad old days, if you wanted something or someone killed, for a fee, I’d kill it—from ghost to banshee to terrorist to disgruntled employees. I don’t even know how many final deaths I’m responsible for; I don’t want to know. I quit that life; left it behind like dust in the rearview. I don’t kill anymore. I’m a fixer now. If you’ve got a problem, I’ll help you fix it, so long as I don’t take anybody’s life or half-life or dead-life. The money’s better and I get to sleep at night.

Unfortunately, these days I sleep with ghosts. They like to attach to magicians, but that’s usually guaranteed suicide. Most of us with enough power to attract ghosts also have enough power to send them off to the final death.  It’s a moths to the bug zapper situation. I’m the rare exception, since I’ve sworn off killing. I don’t even like binding them off so they can’t come near me. It’s not like they take up space or weigh anything, and they do have their uses.

Like helping me to fake my aural signature and making unfriendly types look the other way. Unfortunately, it looked like they were going to make the check-in clerk pee her pants.  I sighed and pushed down on Tabitha slightly. The girl-ghost recoiled and struck back at me. I held her tight against me. I didn’t need her flinging furniture and blowing up computers. It wasn’t any more painful than a bear hug, but I could tell she her fury was shifting to panic, and that would not end well.





Monday, February 10th, 2014
The day that got lost

This morning I started out a little late as school was canceled again (but not tomorrow!) and did some laundry, fed the children, and then got a call from the GI doc for the boy. They could see him today (after cancellation Thursday for weather) so we dropped everything and headed there. After lunch, we met with the doc to recap all that’s been done and talk about what to do next. He stopped one medication, then gave another. The boy will try it out for the few days and it will either work or not and be obvious if it does or not. He will also have an MRI and a test for giardia. Depending on results, we may be looking at an upper GI scan. So we wait to see.

I’ve been thinking about a story all night. I’m not sure what it’s doing or how I’m going to plot it out. I’m not sure what it wants to be. It’s something I’ll have to work on in my ‘off’ time, which is to say, when I’m not working on contracted things. Or taxes. I’m working on taxes this week and my two presentations. I am not sure what is going on with the story. It feels like it’s evolving, though slowly. What’s funny is that as each little appendage or bit of the story develops, I don’t know if it will work or not, or be useable or not. It might just rot off and become nothing. It might grow into something beautiful. I’m not sure if it wants to be a story or a novel. We’ll see what becomes of it.

The main character is named Esha. She’s female. The name refers to the infinitesimal moment between twilight and night, when color fades to black and gray.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
checking in on life

I don’t have a lot of updates on the boy. Still barfing, though he is sleeping better.

I have several things to get done over the next six weeks. 1) make any updates/changes to The Cipher for reissue, 2) revise Trace of Magic, 3) plot out new Crosspointe book, 4) work on the historical YA. In six weeks, I’ll be going to the Rainforest Writers Retreat (I can’t wait!) and I’ll be hoping to get a serious amount of writing done during that retreat. I’ve decided my son will be well by then. I hope to hell he is. I’ll be a mess if he isn’t.

So the next seven weeks are pretty well planned, if I can get down to business. That’s a bit tougher. I’m distracted and having a hard time maintaining focus. Plus I seem to have errands dropping on me every five minutes.

Weirdly, our phones will randomly stop working during the day. I’m not sure why. I think it’s not the phones themselves, but our carrier. I’m going to have to check into it. But of course I’m going to end up with the issue of, if I can call in, then there’s no problem. If I can’t, I can’t call them. Gah.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
plonking along

My parents have come to visit for about a week and a half (well they’ve been here a few of days already) so I’ve been off having a good time with them. Also my SIL was in town for work for a couple days and we had a good time with her.

Tonight we did some pumpkin carving (started), but the faces will get carved tomorrow. And trick or treating. I’ve also put some more stuff away. My living room is almost functional. I may need some furniture But I don’t know what I want.2013-10-30 12.57.23

I’m getting some sense of what’s missing from my developing ending. I think I’ve found a spark. But won’t be able to get to it right away. Planning to be busy the next few days. Might get a little time in on it next week. Maybe not until the folks leave. I might need a little more percolating. But at least the percolating is working.

Did I mention it snowed in MT and tomorrow it will be down around 20 overnight there, and I won’t be there! Bwhahahahaha!

In other news, we have extra corgis staying with us while the folks are visiting. A corgi horde.

ooops. I just broke into the Halloween candy. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t eat that much.

Oh, how cool is this? Was in Radio Shack today and they have Big Bang Theory flash drives of Howard, Sheldon, and Leonard. I took a picture. I had to. Which would you pick?


Friday, October 4th, 2013
dribbling by the day

Here’s where I’m at for Trace of Magic. If all goes well, I’ll be done in 3-4 weeks. So far I’m pretty happy with it. I haven’t read it as a whole yet, so that could change. It’s also got romance in it. Today I wrote the “big confession moment” where the two admit their feelings to each other, right before they are about to go on a dangerous mission that will lead to Revelations and Big Danger. It was difficult to write. Part of my issue is that I have trouble with making it feel realistic when people fall fast and hard for each other. Yes, I did it with my husband, but now that I’m old and grizzled, I have a harder time with it. Yet romance writers make it feel really real. I hope I did. But I had to do it in a way that was more broken than just full on confession. Also, during the entire thing, one of them has someone  in her head making MST2K commentary. That amuses me to no end. It’s good to be amused by your own work.

Here is my lovelorn woman:

I don’t have a lot of practice baring my soul or giving romantic declarations of attachment. Love. Whatever I’ve been infected with.

54229 / 90000 words. 60% done!

I continued to be really annoyed by politicians. Go figure. I’m very worried about when we hit the debt ceiling.

In other news, I watched my daughter’s jogathon today (a school fundraiser). She was fabulous. I am so proud of her and so happy that I could just go without having to make sure my classes were covered or worry about getting grading done on time. I wrote above my quota for the week, so I didn’t have to write today at all if I didn’t want to.

I also went to Costco. I spent more time there than I wanted to–on account of helping a gentleman who had some physical issues, and then trying to talk to the shed guy for the second time (he deliberately ignored me), and on account of the crowd. Got out, got to the car and realized I had to exchange the windshield wiper blades I had forgotten to take in with me. So went back in, stood in line, made the return, went to get the blades (they’d been moved), then back to the checkout line . . . . Basically I took a heck of a lot longer than planned.

When I went in, it was foggy. The marine layer was hanging low. When I came out, brilliant sunshine and a crisp day. I rolled the windows down all the way home.

Friday, September 27th, 2013

I’m working on something that’s period young adult. To be specific, it’s set in 1788 England. If I were going to do it right, I’d have a lot of language that isn’t understandable to a modern YA audience. It would probably also sound much older. Putting my scholar hat on for a moment, I can tell you that at that time, there wasn’t really a concept of children as children–going through developmental stages. They were perceived as small adults and should, therefore, behave as such. So to us, they would speak in a very adult way.

I’m trying to balance capturing the world and having the YA voice that’s accessible to a contemporary reader. It means deliberately sacrificing historical accuracy. It’s an odd sort of thing to be writing because I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. It’s all by touch and feel and hoping it’s successful.

In other news, I’m awake. Oh, and I finished that evil synopsis.

Also, did I mention I’m upright and breathing and awake?

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Am I all kinds of pathetic for being irritated that on Amazon, Shadow City has 29 reviews and it can’t get just one more to break even? And why am I even obsessing about this?

Lots of new great books out today. Laura Anne Gilman has Soul of Fire out, sequel to Heart of Briar. Anton Strout, Yasmine Galenorn, Martha Wells, and Elizabeth Bear have new books out, too. Go forth and read good stuff!

Remember that synopsis? It still won’t die. Or get done. But I keep writing on it. I think there’s progress, but I am still narrowing things down.

I want this.


Thursday, September 19th, 2013
merrily we write

I had some great news this week, and that is The Hollow Crown finally reverted back to me. I have another publisher who wishes to reissue and finish the series. We’re working out details now, but hopefully I’ll have an announcement before too long.

Because of that, I begged out of my teaching job. I asked them to find another person to cover if they could–but promised I would not leave them high and dry if they couldn’t. I explained why–more books to write. They were fabulous and found another person quickly. Thank you Jeremy! That’s a lot of stress of my back.

The writing has been rocking this week. I’m working on Trace of Magic, the first of two books set in an alternative Colorado. It’s sensational fun.

Here’s a snippet:

He surveyed the room. “The FBI would have seized everything. I’m a little surprised they haven’t cleaned him out already.”

“Maybe the company was looking for evidence or sensitive documents. They had to know he was being investigated. If he was embezzling, presumably it was through work. Where else could he?”

“The question is, did they find what they were looking for?”

“Actually, the question is, what are we looking for?” I asked.  “And don’t go all Velma on me and say clues. Cause duh. What constitutes a clue?”

“We’ll know it when we see it.”

“Gee, thanks, Velma,” I said. I sat down at the desk. I was looking for whatever hadn’t been found. Josh has always been a straight arrow and not particularly imaginative, but he apparently had another side, which mean I should be looking for good hiding places.

Saturday, September 14th, 2013
more on writing a synopsis

As you know if you’ve been watching this space, I’m working on a synopsis for the WIP. Like many writers, I hate it. I hate more than I used to because over the years I’ve become more of a pantser sort of writer than a plotter. But I still need a synopsis. With details. These details are the problem.

I figured out a good 3/4 of what should happen yesterday, got that written up, and then realized in the middle of the night (waking up just for this) that it simply won’t work as it stands. Not that I’d sorted out the key end 1/4, but that’s what made me realize it won’t work as stands. So I have to change something, probably a lot of somethings.

To give a little more detail, one of the problems is that there will be light romance in this story. The initial hero type is introduced, but seems interested in someone else. The initial bad boy/mean bully type, is introduced and is pretty awful. Later in the story, we are to learn that mean bully did what he did for her own good and then help her out and maybe there’s a romantic connection. So far I can’t figure out a motivation that will mollify anyone including me about why he’s so obnoxious to her and I can’t sell the idea to someone else if I can’t sell it to myself. I’ve been turning it over in my head and either I can make him less of an ass, or find a damned good reason why he behaves as he does.

So far I’ve figured out one vague possibility for why he behaves that way that *might* work. Might, but only if I can flesh it out more and really make people sympathetic when they learn it. So that he’s really a tortured soul. I like that idea, in so much I like a good tortured soul as part of a romance. On the other hand, maybe he’s not meant to be a good guy at all. Maybe he’s just destined to be an asshat and be a reluctant ‘hero’ without a lot of heroic qualities.

The other thing that makes this difficult is that the initial hero is put in a position to do the wrong thing because he pretty much has to, which will betray my main girl character. Unless they can find a way to solve the problem without betraying her and without harming all the other people who stand to be harmed.

It’s a bit of a convoluted story. I think I really *need* to map it out in order to write it properly since there’s a fair bit going on and I need to layer things in properly. Which means I’m going to have to map out a variety of possibilities and see where they go. On the other hand, I’ve come up with some main events that will work for either kind of story, but just the wherefore and howsabout changes.

It feels a lot like trying to play Battleship. Sigh.

So off to work on that.