Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for 'Blood Winter'

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
news and news

I had some really great news this week.  I’ve been nominated for an RT Reviewers Choice award for Best Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding for Blood Winter. There a lot of other fabulous nominees on the list. Check it out.

I was also invited to write a story for an urban fantasy/crime anthology, and I’m thinking of possibly doing a Tutresiel story. Excited about it.

And in other, less happy news, I’ll be heading out tomorrow for my MIL’s funeral. Not sure when I’ll be checking in.


Monday, April 8th, 2013
Horngate question

So my friends, if you were going to read a Horngate story, what would you want it to be about? I want to write one, but I can’t seem to settle on one choice. It’s like a box full of shinies and I keep thinking this one, but wait! What about–? And Oh, Oh! What about–? In response to such, I come to you to ask. Who would you like me to write about? Here are some I’ve thought of:

  • An early Xaphan Story
  • An early Tutresiel story
  • An early Niko, Tyler, Oz, Max, Alexander . . . story
  • A Giselle story
  • What happens after Blood Winter.
  • Something with Scooter or Ilanion.

See what I mean? And you probably have others. Maybe you have something really specific. Ready? Go!

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012
A cutting from Blood Winter

This is is the epilogue that got cut from Blood Winter. I don’t believe there are any spoilers, since this never happened. But I’d love for it to happen down the road.

She woke hungry. She sat up. She was on top of a stone table. The room around her was round. Around her were shapes on the floor. She was at the center of a triangle within a triangle within a circle. The points of the interior held fat black candles and the circle outside was lined with red ones. Her brows drew together. She knew what that was. Why couldn’t she remember?

She wrinkled her nose. So many smells. They crowded in her, overwhelming her senses. Her head throbbed. She rubbed a hand over her leg and then looked down at herself in surprise. She was naked. For a fleeting moment she felt the urge to cover herself. Then she tossed her hair back and squared her shoulders. She had no reason to be embarrassed. She was hot and she knew it.

Not that anybody was watching. The room was empty but for her. She hopped down off the stone slab and started across the room. At the edge of the triangle she ran into an invisible wall and staggered back.

“What the fuck?” she said and her voice seemed loud in the chamber.

She knotted her hand into a fist and bounced it off the air before it. She was imprisoned. She walked around the triangle, trailing her fingers along the invisible wall. There was no door, no window.

“Hey! Let me out of here!”

No on answered.

Fury burst into flames inside her. She kicked at the wall. She felt her leg break. She hopped away with a screech of pain. Then wonder grew as the pain vanished and she healed. She walked back and forth, testing her leg.

“Holy shit. Holy fucking shit,” she murmured.

She sat back down on the table, thinking. Memory stirred and came flooding back. She remembered who she was. She remembered Sterling and the angel. They had done things to her . . .

Tory looked around at the chamber. Where were they? She glanced down again at the floor. She was back at Horngate; she was sure of it. Why did they have her locked up?

Her anger rose again, made worse by the hunger chewing on her backbone. She leaped down, striding at the invisible wall.
“Let me out! I’m hungry! I’m not a fucking prisoner!”

She pounded against the wall.

Heat ignited along her hand. Pain ate down into the bones of her hand and she screamed. Anger roared into rage.
She was not going to let some stupid bitch of a witch keep her locked up. She hit harder, no longer caring about or feeling the pain.

The wall exploded.

The concussion flung Tory backward across the table. Agony unwound through her back. She couldn’t breath. Tears cascaded down her cheeks as she fought for breath. Then she lifted her hand. It was wreathed in red smoke. It coiled around her fingers. She sat up slowly and set her hand on the table.

Nothing happened.

She frowned. Then she had another idea. “Burn,” she told it softly.

The red smoke outlined her hand and sank down into the table. Instantly her palm heated and flamed flickered upward. It didn’t hurt.
Tory pulled her hand away and watched the flames flicker and then die, leaving behind a blackened handprint pushed half and inch into the rock. She touched her finger to the ash residue inside. It crumbled away.

She smiled slowly.

No one would ever push her around again.

Thursday, July 19th, 2012
In the name of updatery

Did you know that if you don’t write a blog post, nothing happens? I mean, no words magically appear? It’s exactly like book writing. If you don’t write the words, they don’t just show up on the screen. Darnit.

I’ve been scrambling recently. I’m working on the copy edits for Blood Winter. This is the stage where the manuscript comes back to me after having been checked over by a copy editor who looks for grammar, consistency, and a few other things. I have to check and make sure any changes that were made are good. Now one of the things that happens is the like/as if change. Basically a lot of people don’t use as if in appropriate places. They say like. So even though a lot of those likes have been changed to as ifs in the manuscript and I have to change some of them back. Why? For voice.

Included in the Copy edits are some notes from my editor for cleaning up some stuff, so I’ve got to do that at the same time. I’m hoping that in making those revisions I’m not introducing a lot of errors.

I has a post up on SF Signal this week on Monarchies in secondary fantasy and why they are so common. I’m part of a group of writers talking about it and it’s really fascinating. If you haven’t read it, go, because it really makes you think.

I’ve also been trying to get read to go on a trip to Oregon. Basically, if you don’t know, my husband got laid off here and his asshole boss told unemployment that he quit voluntarily (despite witnesses that said otherwise.) There’s absolutely no work around here, so he applied in Oregon, and got 4 interviews and 3 offers. One of which he took. That was almost 3 months ago. So we’ve been living apart and it’s fucking hard. I don’t like it at all. This is all until the house sells. So send good house selling vibes.

Anyhow, we’ll be going to visit him for a month. Can’t wait. But that means doing some preparation here. So I’ve been doing that.

Then I’ve been having a weird problem with one of the dogs. He’s really attached to me. In the past week he’s been acting really funny in a way he hasn’t before. For instance: I went to put them out the other day and he didn’t want to go at all, even though I knew he had to pee. He’d been in the house awhile. I went outside with them, and he stayed on the top of the back steps like he was terrified. Then I tried to coax him down and he peed down the steps. Finally he came about a foot onto the lawn and peed and then wanted immediately back in. he’s only done that once, but it was very strange. Like he was afraid to come outside.

Then at night, the boys usually sleep in crates. Always have. They usually like their beds. Except lately both have been reluctant to go on and Voodoo (peedog from above) has been going to my side of the bed and cringing down to the floor when I come to ask him if he wants to go to bed. So last night I let him sleep with me. I couldn’t bring myself to force him into his house. I don’t know if all this change is because my husband isn’t here and they are starting to feel that, or if it’s something else. Don’t suppose any of you have ideas?

Right now, btw, he’s sprawled out on the arm of the couch as I type this because he’s feeling needy. And he’s part cat. It makes it very difficult to type. You might think that if I moved my laptop he would take my lap, but no, he likes the arm. The other dog, however, would come running and jump up.

Did I mention to you the limb that fell down during a storm last week? It fell nearly on a friend and on the fence. The damage to the fence wasn’t horrible, but it did need repair. Last night the fence guy came and I swear you can’t tell that anything happened to the fence. It’s amazing.

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
The cutting room floor

I finished the revisions of Blood Winter. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, I cut a whole lot and added a whole lot. At least half of the book is new. There’s a whole other blog post to be written about that. For now, I wanted to post a scene that I loved and could not save. It just didn’t fit, along with many others. I hope you enjoy:

Alexander’s teeth clamped on the spoon and he felt the metal bend and perforate. Slowly he pulled it out of his mouth. “Yes,” he said. What did Oz know? What had she told him? Giselle did not actually like Alexander much either. She was willing to use him, mostly because she had no choice, but because she had won him from another witch, and because she could not control him the way she could Oz, she did not trust him.

“Get out of the way, you mountain of testosterone,” came Lise’s voice from behind Oz.

Alexander grinned as Oz staggered forward and then whipped around. Lise stood behind him, unfazed by the violence rippling through his body. She stood five foot nine with a delicate face and a slender body. Her burnished walnut hair fell about her shoulders in rich waves.

Not long ago, she had been turned into something resembling hamburger by a rising Fury. Alexander could not look at her now without the memory of her mangled form filling his mind. It put him more on edge. He should have protected her, not that he could have.

Logic did not matter. He should have done better.

She glared at the three men, her eyes brilliant blue. “Holy shit, how can you three breathe with all that male hormones flying around in here?” She waved a hand in front of her face to disperse invisible fumes.

Thor chuckled. “Don’t look at me. I don’t have a rooster in this fight.”

“Cock,” she corrected. “And I’ve not yet met a man who doesn’t have his in every fight,” she said. “Don’t feel bad that yours is just smaller than the other cocks on the playground,” she said with syrupy sweetness, patting his shoulder in mock sympathy.

Thor snorted and choked on his peanut butter.

Alexander grinned despite himself and Oz chuckled as Thor bent double, great coughs bellowing his ribs.

“Someday that mouth of yours is going to get you in real trouble,” Oz said to Lise, reaching out to take a power bar from the cupboard.

“What else is new?” she said. “Is someone going to give him mouth to mouth or something? Before he dies?”

“Not me,” Oz said, biting into the bar. “I’m not kissing him.”

“Nor I,” Alexander said, licking peanut butter off the spoon, forcing his tense muscles relax.

“Well don’t look at me,” she said, brushing imaginary lint off the front of her shirt. “I don’t kiss men. Women taste better, smell better, and they are soft in all the right places.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Oz said with a wolfish grin.

“Nor can I,” Alexander said, humor rising up through the shroud of worry that encased him.

Thor at last straightened, his voice raspy. “I wouldn’t want any of you kissing me anyhow. Specially Lise. She’d probably bite off my tongue.”

She patted his butt. “No probablies about it, Tex. Now, aren’t you two supposed to be getting into bed? Dawn is just about to break. If you fry inside the RV, we’ll never get it clean.”

“You’re concern for us is overwhelming,” Thor said, grabbing a jug of lemonade and sweeping up the rest of his food hoard into his arms.

“Somebody has to care,” Lise said with a pirate smile. “Where are we?”

Alexander explained. “Do try to hurry,” he added. Then as an afterthought, “but do not drive us into trouble.”

“Can’t have it both ways,” she said airily as she pulled a hunk of cheese out of the small refrigerator. She whipped out one of her knives and sliced off a piece, as she headed to the driver’s seat. “Either you want to go fast or you want to go safe. Which will it be?”

Friday, June 8th, 2012
one for the OMG file

I was Googling the Demon Lovers: Succubi antho, just to see if anyone had talked about it, and instead came across this, titled, Incubi and Succubi: Sexual Relations. It is, in a word, a primer on how to have sex with demons on an astral plane. This, it says, is particularly a good route for “those who are in prison or incarcerated in any way.” Well, that’s a no duh. Seriously. But anyhow, it goes on to explain how you go about having sex with a demon, from attracting and selecting one, to masturbating to help the process along. I’m not making this up.

Anyhow, as much as I laughed at this, it did spark an idea for a story. At least a the initial seeds of one. Just goes to show you can find stories anywhere.

On another note, I’ve been gutting Blood Winter and writing gobs more. It really isn’t the same book as before. It’s better, but I’m sad about losing some things.

Wanted pancakes today. Tried to find the local IHop but couldn’t. Didn’t want Denny’s. Guess I’ll have to get some stuff for making them.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Oh Hell Yeah

The Blood Winter Cover:

Have you preordered yet? how can you not?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Blood Winter snippet

“Just because you’re winning don’t mean you’re the lucky one.” Guns N Roses

Now the snippet:

“Let’s get these bodies in the ground. Simon, go bring back the backhoe.”

As the others obeyed, she and Alexander wandered around, accompanied by Beyul and Spike. They came to the spot where the red-haired preacher had suddenly appeared. Max stared at the broad circle of red dust on the dirt road, then squatted and touched it, rubbing it between her fingers. Where it touched, it didn’t come off.

Beyul sniffed it and padded through it. None of it clung to him. Spike sneezed and edged carefully around the circle.
Slowly Max stood and looked up at Alexander. Her expression was troubled. “This stuff is all over Horngate. It’s all over us. Somehow he got inside the mountain. Before the wards broke. He got in without tripping any alarms.”

“How is that possible?” Alexander asked, unease prickling along his neck.

Max shook her head. “That’s just it, Slick. It isn’t.” She looked back down at her fingers. “What the fuck are we dealing with?”

Monday, May 21st, 2012
Of chickens and revision

Today I got a call from a friend who’d been attacked by a wooden chicken while cleaning and ended up with two broken bones, a chipped bone, and some ligament issues in one of her hands. This same friend is going to have significant surgery on Thursday. She tells me that it’s my fault. That my clod genes are catching, sort of like the flu. I’d like to tell her she’s totally wrong. Sadly, she might be right. Did I pass my clod cooties to her? Or was it a sign from above (it fell from above)? Or, did she make the singular and unholy mistake of cleaning? Was that the issue? I think maybe so. Anyhow, went to see her after the hospital visit, I gave her a bag of ice, wished her happy birthday, and laughed uproariously at her. I’m that way.

In the meantime, I’ve been revising. This is what it’s like. I am doing things to the front of the book, which, like cracks in a windshield, spread out through the book. Then I make more corrections, attempt to fix more cracks, and more cracks happen, digging further into the book. Rinse and repeat. (Am I madly mixing the metaphors or what?)

Anyhow, the process is a bit terrifying, since I’m not entirely certain that I’ll catch all the inconsistencies and cracks, or that the fixes I’m making are causing irreparable faults later in the manuscript. So what now crops up is a clash between getting the revisions done and terror of doing them wrong. I’m trying not to freeze solid.

In the meantime, hopefully I won’t be attacked by any wooden chickens.

Saturday, May 5th, 2012
Ready, set, action!

I’m working on the new first chapter for Blood Winter. One of the issues is how fast to get into the action. It used to be that you could get into action after a few pages or even a chapter. With urban fantasy, things sped up and it started to be something you wanted to see on the first page. Now I’ve begun to seriously think about where the action should begin. It has to mix in with a number of things: establishing characters, setting, situation, action . . . Plus getting the reader’s attention/sympathy/interest. That’s a lot to get done on the first page.

I’m starting at a different point in the revisions of Blood Winter in order to develop some more of the story and to add a few action scenes to set up character. The thing is, the action stuff might not happen on the very first page. It might take me more than that to get things going. The question is this: is the stuff I think is important enough to delay the action really as important as all that? I might end up having to cut it out. At this point, I’m back to the drafting element of things where it’s more important to get the words down than to edit. I’ll see what it looks like when I get it done.

But what do you think? How patient are you in getting to the action? What books are your favorite for starting well?