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May. 25th, 2016

me

On the road again

I’m off to Miscon! It’s my favorite con. It’s in Missoula, MT, and it’s going to be lovely fun. I’ve decided. Plus they make my favorite beer around there–Coldsmoke Scotch Ale. I’m going to have swag, if anybody reading is going to be there. Find me and I shall give something to you.

My schedule is as follows, in case you want to know where to find me:

  • panel Fri 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Book Signing: General Session, Pavilion (2)
    Moderator: Justin Barba; Panelists: Carol Berg, Jim Butcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Robin Hobb, Todd Lockwood
    This signing is moderated, and we will maintain a STRICT 3 item maximum per person–zero exceptions. In order to keep the lines moving, Robin and Jim can only personalize one item per person per trip through the line.
  • Break Fri 2:50 – Fri 5:00
  • moderator Fri 5:00 – 5:50 PM, Beyond The Fangs, Ballroom B
    Moderator: Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di); Panelists: Jim Butcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Julie Frost, Rhiannon Held, Randy Henderson
    Urban Fantasy encompasses more than just vampires and werewolves, yet it seems that the fanged creatures of the night have captured the limelight. What other creatures, dangerous and ghastly, lurk around dark city corners?
  • Break Fri 5:50 – Sat 10:00
  • moderator Sat 10:00 – 10:50 AM, Desire in Fiction, Ballroom B
    Moderator: Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di); Panelists: Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Laurey Patten, Brian Rathbone, Joyce Reynolds-Ward
    Noir is, in part, about what people want, how badly they want it, and how far they’ll go to get it. In this panel we’ll talk about all your characters’ desires, their darkest needs, and how to translate that to the page, regardless of genre.
  • Break Sat 10:50 – Sat Noon
  • panel Sat Noon – 12:50 PM, Meet & Greet/Signing: DianaP Francis/Steve Diamond, Hotel Lobby of Doom
    Panelists: Steve Diamond, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di)
    Meet a few of our authors, get signatures, and see what they’re up to these days.
  • Break Sat 12:50 – Sat 4:00
  • panel Sat 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Crafting Unique Titles, Gallatin
    Moderator: Rhiannon Held; Panelists: Brenda Carre, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Rhiannon Held, Laurey Patten
    How much work do I put into a title for my book or short story? How do I chose one? What titles worked for you? Are the titles themselves becoming tropes?
  • panel Sat 5:00 – 5:50 PM, Keeping the Momentum, Glacier
    Moderator: Randy Henderson; Panelists: Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Julie Frost, Ann Gimpel, Randy Henderson
    Maybe you�re receiving some really great rejections, or perhaps you�ve got a couple short stories published–now what? How do you maintain that momentum? What�s the next step? This is for those writers who are on the cusp of professionalism and those who want to learn what it�s like.
  • Break Sat 5:50 – Sun 1:00
  • panel Sun 1:00 – 1:50 PM, The Grand Scheme, Ballroom B
    Panelists: Carol Berg, Jim Butcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Peter Orullian (Rock Lord), Brooke Stanley
    Every great villain needs a masterpiece scheme in order to realize their ambitions and force the hero to their knees, as well as to set themselves apart from every other nefarious criminal. Learn what elements make every grand scheme extraordinary and how to construct the plan that will give your mastermind their edge.
  • panel Sun 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Fiction Slam Readings, Tent By the Trees (1)
    Moderator: Brenda Carre; Panelists: Matt Buscemi, Brenda Carre, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di)
    Come hear your favorite pro read a selection of their work.
    1400: Diana Pharaoh Francis
    1420: Matt Buscemi
    1440: Brenda Carre
  • Break Sun 2:50 – Sun 4:00
  • panel Sun 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Horror Vs Urban Fantasy, Madison
    Moderator: Peter Orullian (Rock Lord); Panelists: Steve Diamond, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Peter Orullian (Rock Lord), J.A. Pitts
    There’s a lot of shared blood between the two genres, especially as urban fantasy grows darker and darker. What are the major differences? Similarities? How do you know which you’re writing? What are some of the points you must hit to designate one versus the other?
  • Break Sun 4:50 – Mon 11:00
  • panel Mon 11:00 – 11:50 AM, Write a Story on the Fly, Pavilion (2)
    Moderator: Krista Wallace; Panelists: Carol Berg, S. A. Bolich, Diana Pharaoh Francis (Di), Krista Wallace
    In this panel, the panelists will improv a story on the fly, one sentence at a time. It will be written down as they go, and will be read aloud at the end. Promises to be a rolickin’ good time!

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

May. 17th, 2016

me

Two Book reviews

Books courtesy of NetGalley.

The first book I’m talking about is Mad About Max by Holly Jacobs. The basic story is that Grace is a romantic fantasy writer whocover88517-medium writes fairy tale sorts of books involving three slightly inept fair godmothers. She’s driving home from New York, where she’s just signed a new three book deal, and suddenly the fairy godmothers start talking to her. Apparently they’ve become real. She thinks she’s going insane and decides to contact a psychiatrist. The two fall in love, of course, and face some challenges before a happy ever after.

I wasn’t really a fan of this book. I wanted to be. It was light and breezy, which is what I wanted. The problem was that it was too pat. Everything was pretty predictable and the relationship just wasn’t believable to me. Neither was the big conflict (no spoilers), and the finale just didn’t satisfy. I guess this was a whole lot like cotton candy–a little too sweet and totally unfilling.

cover89164-mediumThe next book is Murder Has Nine Lives by Laura Levine. In this book, Jaine Austen is a jingle writer and ad writer who meets an animal talent agent in her veterinarian’s office. The agent is wowed by Prozac, Jaine’s cat, and wants her to audition for a diet cat food commercial. Jaine takes prozac there, and one of the developers of the cat food is murdered. Later Jaine finds she is a suspect, and decides she must solve the murder so that she can leave town (cops said don’t) on her planned/booked vacation to Hawaii.

I wasn’t a fan of this one. It’s light, breezy and makes no real effort to develop any characters. Now this may be just what you’re looking for. The writing is really good and there’s a lot of humor and the mystery is pretty good. It’s just a little too shallow for me. I love light and breezy, but I want a little more meat to the characters.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

May. 10th, 2016

me

Time she flies

I’ve been not writing lately. Or rather, I’ve been unwriting and replotting. I’m working on the fourth Diamond City Magic book and it’s got a LOT of stuff going on. We meet Tyrell. And we meet some other bad guys. And we see an explosion of events that the first three books have been building up to. Don’t be thinking that things are resolved, though. This is a longer story than that. I am excited about the way the plot is redeveloping. I had planned things that no longer are viable, or no longer are as interesting or worthy of the story.

I just wish I could make the process go faster. That part is driving me nucking futs.

In other news, strawberries are getting ripe, I’ve got the tomatoes and all the peppers in, the peas and broccoli and cabbage *might* produce before the heat ends it (we’ve been having little tiny heat waves). I also need to plant cucumbers. I’m waiting on the melons til I can turn over the pea/broccoli bed. The thornless logan berry is going nuts and so are the blueberries. Hopefully we get more than the birds do.

Finished our first round of rock polishing (took about 8 weeks). Pretty happy with the results. I’ll have to take some pictures. Heading off to read and work. Oh, and my father-in-law is coming for a longer than expected visit (about 10 days).

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

May. 6th, 2016

me

Winners!

Congratulations to Rachelle and Margo Nirel for winning The Incubus Job. I’ve sent emails to both of you and await your response.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Apr. 20th, 2016

me

Surprise giveaway!

 

Whisper of ShadowsTheIncubousJob-FJM_ARE_200x300In honor of the release of Whisper of Shadows in two days (April 22), I want to give away 4 e-copies of The Incubus Job. All you’ve got to do is leave a comment in this post. And a way for me to contact you later. Or make sure you check back. You’ve got until Monday, April 25, noon, Pacific Standard Time.

If you feel like it, tell me something about yourself in your comment. I’d love to know you better. Good luck!

 

 

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Apr. 18th, 2016

me

Book review: Black Irish by Stephan Talty

Black Irish by Stephan Talty. I saw this book on some website or other and it looked good, so I bought it. It’s a really excellent thriller.black irish The basic premise is that Abbie Kearney, a police detective in Buffalo, NY, is looking for a serial killer. A nasty one (I love disturbed killers in books). The only trouble is, nobody in town wants to talk to her. The close-mouthed Irish community called the County doesn’t trust her, even though her father is a famous local Irish cop. As the number of killings ratchet up, she gets uncovers old secrets that more than one person thinks worth killing for.

First I want to talk about the mystery and portrayal of Abbie. Both are done really well. I love the twistiness at the end. There were several twists and all of them had well-laid foundation but were still surprises for the most part. The portrayal of characters was realistic and compelling. And there’s a lot of tension, a lot of history underneath everything that drives the various characters. Everybody has been hardened by economic collapse, by loss, by crushed hopes, by feeling of being trapped.

Buffalo has been decimated economically be the desertion of the big steel companies as well as general economic bust. There are few jobs and people are scraping by. Talty pains a poetic and compelling picture of this world, of its people, and of the atmosphere. There’s a richness to the prose, even as there’s a spareness to the writing.

I really enjoyed this book. The mystery was tangled and the world and development is dense and complex. It’s a terrific read.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Apr. 10th, 2016

me

Possibly on the TMI side

I’m sick. But I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s a virus or bacteria type thing, or hormonal, or just me being a freak. Mostly I’ve been feeling terrible, with a stupidly low temperature (under normal) in the a.m. and a fever over 100 in the evenings. And an awful pain in my knee/thigh. Plus dizziness, foggy brain, and some nausea. Oh, and chills.

I guess it’s time for me to call my doctor. Gah. I don’t wanna. *cue stomping feet and tantruming*.

However, despite feeling like crap, we (and that mostly is the rest of my family with me being in the support role) mowed lawns, rototilled garden beds with compost and such, planted some of the beds, sprayed some weeds, planted a couple of other plants, went to the Saturday market, went to an estate sale, took boy driving, fertilized the strawberries with worm castings, installed an electrical outlet on the patio, and some other stuff.

I also managed to update my website. Yay for me. I also have been working on getting the dogs not to bark so much. Not sure that’s working at all.

I apparently burned my tongue. I don’t remember when. Or how. But it hurts and I’m whining.

 

 

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Apr. 7th, 2016

me

What needs to get done

You’ll notice that the title is in passive voice so no one actually is implicated in the doing.

  1. I have to write a bio for my husband for a con. He’s going to be on a panel about being married to writers. I plan to lie. Totally and completely.
  2. I need to go through and delete buy links for some of the books and put in some explanations about when and how things will be available. For instance, The path books are currently unavailable new or in ebook. However, the ebooks will be coming back soon with new covers (from Open Road Media). After that, I will hopefully put together the print versions and have them available.
  3. I have to fully learn InDesign for laying out print books. I’m making progress
  4. I can’t begin to tell you what I need to do in my yard and around my house. I keep plugging away.
  5. I need to finish reading this book that I have and want to read.
  6. I need to brush the dogs and trim nails.
  7. I need to show you the new cover for Whisper of Shadows! It’s so pretty. It is up for preorder for ebook form now. The print book will be available soon, I think on the release day, April 22nd.

Whisper of Shadows

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Apr. 1st, 2016

me

About future Horngate books

A couple of years ago, I contracted with Samhain to publish two more Horngate Witches books. Then my son got sick and I had to put many things aside in order to take care of him. Those books were two of the things I had to set aside. Just recently, as I was figuring out my schedule for this next year, I learned that Samhain is closing its doors. They have reverted the rights on those unwritten books, so I am free to do what I want with them.

What that means is that I may do some shorter novels or novellas in order to get them out to you in between my contracts book. I’m working on leveling up on my writing so that I can write better and faster. I’m trying some new techniques, which so far are working.

I can’t say with any level of certainty when I’ll get something Horngate out, but I am determined to do so, and will be working on it.

I’m curious though. What would you like me to explore in future Horngate books?

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 31st, 2016

me

Things have been happening

First, Trace of Magic is on sale for one more day. Only $1.99 for the ebook. If you haven’t read it, now’s your chance to get in cheap.

Second, Whisper of Shadows, the third in the Diamond City Magic series, is available for preorder. There will be a print version, but I don’t think that preorder is available. Below is the back of the book blurb:

War is coming . . .

When the FBI uses an anti-magic law to arrest and torture Riley’s boyfriend, they have no idea what hell they are about to unleash. If Riley can’t rescue Clay before he breaks, the result will be a disaster of epic proportions.

With time running out, Riley and her family must rely on two people more likely to stab them in the back than actually help. And, even if Riley manages the rescue, she’s still got to deal with two kidnappings and the return of her dad from the dead–the same dad who’d been willing to see her dead to protect his secrets.

What’s a girl to do? Kick ass, take names, and protect those she cares about at all costs.

I finished a short story today for an anthology set in Faith Hunters Rogue World. If you haven’t read those books, they are wonderful. You should.

I manage to nearly break myself today, but only came away bruise and battered. Who knew gardening was a contact sport?

I was part of an SF Signal Mind Meld where a bunch of authors were asked about good, recent “popcorn” books or TV. Here are the answers. Just in case your TBR pile/mountain was too small.

I put a bunch of colors in my hair and still have one more to go. Pictures later. But I’ve got blue, orchid, and pink in, and violet to follow.

In other news, the corgi boys are still spoiled rotten.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 25th, 2016

me

Rocks and dogs

We went rockhounding yesterday. Got up at 5:30 and got on the road. Went to look for moss agate, but there was a gate up, so went to search for limb cast instead. I had a rotten day and found very little, but the Boy of Size and my husband found lots of good stuff. We were going to stay the night and do more looking for thundereggs, but the boy started feeling sick with my death cold and we decided it was better to come home so he could rest and not be sick for school on Monday. Today I’m so tired. The drive home was rough. There was a lot of snow, and though the road was mostly just wet and the truck is a 4×4, it was still about 11 ish before we got home last night (got up at 5:30).

Today I’m sore. I climbed hills and dug. And my chest and throat hurts from panting. With the cold and the sudden elevation, plus exercise, I had a tough time. So I went slow and rested frequently. It was a lovely day. A bit windy and some chill, but bright and beautiful. Also, and here’s a TMI, my butt bones hurt from sitting on rocks where I had to go to the bathroom. One of the dogs stayed near the truck the whole time, the other one followed me everywhere and laid down between my feet every time I

I’m trying to work on finishing a story for an anthology that I owe. I had a plan for the end, but now I’m thinking maybe I want to find something twistier. So I think that’s what I’m going to do. At least try. See what I can figure out.

 

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 22nd, 2016

me

Upright and breathing

I’m better. Insomuch as I am upright and breathing, although mostly without the use of my nose. I wish my model of body had come with a removable head that I could take off, scrub out, and put back on. That would make things much easier for me.

I finished proofing Whisper of Shadows, which means, if you don’t know, that I went through and looked hard for mistakes and found some, though certainly I missed some and now I can worry about that in the middle of the night when I can’t breathe because my nose is not working properly. Although it’s still there, and I know this because I have to blow it all the time and it’s chapped.

I’m now reading the Incryptid novels by Seanan Mcguire. I had some on my shelves, but couldn’t find them, so in my cold-induced stupidity, I bought more copies. Then promptly found the old copies. But the fifth one just came out, so I only have one of those. I do love these books with great big love.

Heard from a good friend at my old job and the powers at be there continue to be shitty employers, and my old department continues to be sub-par humans. Why can’t people treat others professionally and kindly? I’m just saying. Sigh. Wish I could help her.

I have avoided watching the news today and have only heard a tiny bit about the bombings. I’m trying not to hear more at the moment. It’s just too much right now. My heart weeps for us.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 19th, 2016

me

Sicko snippet

Ever been so sick that you can’t remember what happened five minutes before? Like emailing something important to someone? Or not. Right now, I’m there. Also the dogs thing that since I’m sitting here in 3/4 of a coma, that I should be petting them. Nonstop. If I do stop, I get poked with a cold, wet nose. And they throw hair onto my keyboard.

Sigh.

Just a reminder. The Incubus Job is available! And Whisper of Shadows will be out in under a month! (that’s the third in the Diamond City Magic series). And this is me also reminding you to put up reviews. That would be awesome.

And a teensy tiny snippet from Whisper:

When had my life turned into a soap opera? Pretty soon I’d find out
that an international billionaire-spy-sheikh uncle I never knew about had
fathered Price and that Taylor was pregnant with Touray’s illegitimate
baby, and Dalton was the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 15th, 2016

me

Reading

I started out the year reading a whole bunch and then this month I’ve not been reading that much. In fact, only one book in the last couple of weeks. Finished it today. I didn’t really like it–it wasn’t particularly well-written and there was a lot of info-dumping, the villains were cardboard and rather silly, and the romance was, for lack of a better word, stupid. And by that, I mean that there’s an epidemic that’s killing millions of people, and the doctors from the CDC who are desperately trying to figure out what’s going on, two of the them are making happy cheerful flirties and then perky sex while being hunted down and you can see why this is stupid. I mean, people can fall in love in desperate situations and they do–I mean, they might die–but they aren’t going to be all happy and flirty and smiley and winky. Oh, and one of the doctors kept making muffins and cookies at the drop of a hat. In the jungle. With MILLIONS of people dying.

You might wonder why I kept reading. Basically I wanted to see how the story finally pulled together or if it fell flat. Some of the elements were done decently well. Others . . . yeah, no. But here’s the thing I discovered–even though I could have just not finished it, I felt compelled to. And yet I didn’t want to read it, so I didn’t read at all. Then I decided I should try something else, so I’m reading Stealing the Elf King’s Roses, which is fun, but I misplaced the book and sigh.

And now I’m having constant acid reflux. Which is not typical for me. I do not know if this if because I’m sick (and I have had some symptoms in that direction), or if I’ve suddenly developed it. As it is, Tums isn’t doing the trick so I need to pick up something else. I cannot stand this feeling of having something stuck in my throat. Blech.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 13th, 2016

me

Bread baking

I did some bread baking this weekend. Made a beer batter bread. Quick bread. It turned out pretty well. Made it whole wheat with Black Butte Porter. I then made a whole wheat bread dough. I grind the flour myself. I made it really liquidy to let the wheat absorb really well and stuck it in the fridge overnight. I baked it tonight and it seemed to come out well, but I’ve still got to cut into it. I also made cinnamon rolls and they finally turned out right. Which is to say, they cooked through. I baked them much longer than it called for. I also made a very sticky dough. It was hard to roll them up, but that’s okay.

Otherwise it was very wet and blowy this weekend. I did get some housework done, much as I tried not to.

I also spent an inordinate amount of time scratching dogs. They’ve both decided that only I can pet them properly and therefore they will smother me and force me to use my hands for good. And good for them is feeding them or petting them. They are gluttons. And to force me to cooperate, one of them will lick me and the other will rub his cold, wet, slimy nose all over whatever exposed skin he can find. Blech. And no amount of me telling him not to will prevent it. They both just give me the big eyes. I’m such a sucker.

 

 

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Mar. 9th, 2016

me

Win The Incubus Job

Click this link to my Amazon giveaway and you could win a copy of The Incubus Job.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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me

It isn’t avoidance if it’s important to do

Who am I kidding? Of course it is. But anyhow, I was supposed to be working on a story today, which I did a little, but I needed to put together an image to advertise The Incubus Job. It needed to be of a certain proportion and I wanted something to catch attention, as it will be in amongst many others.

I haven’t used Photoshop in forever, and when I did use it, I wasn’t particularly good at it (as in, almost lacking all skills). It is not an intuitive sort of program, either. It does, however, let me play at being an artist and also lets me manipulate images and text, so I decided to dig in. Here’s the image I ended up with:

giveaway ad

The first thing I did was create the background. I did that using an interesting brush that kind of randomly splotted, and then used a bunch of colors. Specifically, I used purple, red, yellow, and pink. You’ll notice that none of those colors appear in the background. I’ll explain. After dabbing all the colors in, though not entirely covering the background, I took the smudge tool and started smudging. I tried to go at a diagonal, from bottom left to upper right on a slant. I moved the colors both down and up so that the pattern distributed in a way that I liked. Once I was done, I moved on (it still wasn’t blue yet).

I then put in a layer with the cover and managed to figure out how to tilt it, and then I figured out how to make a bevel on it and a glow around it. I arranged those in a way that I liked (lots of options for doing both), and then moved on to the text. I tried out a bunch of fonts and didn’t like most of them. I finally opted for this one, which is a little like the cover font. I managed to make it have a gradient from white to yellow, but I really don’t know how. I was trying to do some different things. I also had to figure out the text, which I finally came up with, though now I wish there were fewer ‘expecteds’ in there.

I figured I was pretty happy, but then managed to look at another one that was much better. More polished looking. I decided that I would at least try to put a lighter color box around the text. It’s at this point that I clicked a button and turned the background blue. I don’t know what I did exactly. But I liked the blue, so I kept it. I managed to insert a layer with the box underneath the text. I colored the box a light blue, and overlayed on the background, it looks like the above.

I then saved and closed out and in doing so, managed to flatten the images instead of keeping a .png which would still have the layers. So I can’t modify this. I’d have to recreate it. What I wish I could do is go back in and make a border around the text box, I’d also like to round the edges of the whole thing.

I think I need to play more with photoshop in general, but also to try to create some advertising materials. Maybe even play a little with some digital art. That could be fun.

I use an older version of photoshop, and can’t afford to upgrade to the monthly fee. I hope I can figure this one out in more depth.

 

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Mar. 1st, 2016

me

It’s a book birthday!

The Incubus Job is now available for download! I didn’t know I’d be this nervous. I’m literally in knots. I kind of feel the need to throw up. I don’t remember the last time I felt this nervous about a book release. I don’t even know quite why. Except this book means a lot to me and it’s my first indie publication. I swear, though, my head is going to pop off soon. *breathe, Di, breathe*

A lot of people ask how they can help an author, so I’m posting the following, which I stole from Seanan McGuire, who also has a book birthday today. It’s one of her Incryptid books, which are amazeballs good and if you haven’t read them, go do it. If only for the mice. So here’s the how to help an author recommendations:

DO buy the book as soon as you can. Sales during the first week are very important—think of it as “opening weekend” for a movie—but they’re not the end-all be-all. If you can get the book in the next few days, get the book. Remember, books make great gifts!

DO post reviews on your blog or on Amazon.com or Goodreads. Reviews are fantastic! Reviews make everything better! Please, write and post a review, even if it’s just “I liked it.” Honestly, even if it’s just “this wasn’t really my thing.” As long as you’re being fair and reasoned in your commentary, anything you say is perfect. (I like to believe you won’t all race right out to post one-star reviews, but if that’s what you really think, I promise that I won’t be mad.) Reviews help authors get better standing and advertising at the online stores and hopefully helps generate sales.

DO tell your friends if you happen to like the book. Word of mouth is so helpful. I mean, how many times have you picked up a book because a friend told you it was good?

That’s about all I have. I will now go back to pacing and chewing my nails.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 26th, 2016

me

Book Review Roundup

I’m way behind on my Netgalley reviewing. So I’m going to jump in with some long and some shorts. All these books came off Netgalley.

I’ll start with the book I finished most recently, called A Jury of One by Charlie Cochrane.  This is a British police procedural combined with romantic elements as it follows the developing relationship between the detective, Robin and his lover, Adam. They met in the previous book in this series and at this point, they are newly living together.

I really enjoyed this book. It feels very realistic and the mystery and love story elements were both well written. The mystery wasn’t easy to see through, which I like, and there were a lot of possible ways for the investigations to go. There are several crimes that overlap and end up weaving together nicely. The romance between the two men suffers from the problems of new relationships, the uncertainties of each man, a certain amount of jealousy. I thought it was well done.

The only drawback for me, and it wasn’t entirely a drawback, was the extensive use of British slang. Police are known as rozzers, bad guys are scrotes, voicemail is answerphone. A lot of these were easy to figure out in context. Where I stumbled was when I couldn’t sort out the meaning. I thought these words gave a lot of reality  to the world, I just wish there weren’t quite so many. Or a glossary. I like a good glossary. So I’d recommend this one. It comes out March 21st.

 

Another book I finished recently was a romance called Catching Summer by L.P. Dover. It’s contemporary about a woman, Summer, who two years ago witnessed her husband’s murder. She’s now come out of her grief with the help of counseling. A former nurse, she helps run a restaurant with her sister and former brother-in-law. A lot of football players from the local NFL team frequent the restaurant and one, Evan Townsend, has fallen for Summer. He’s not made any moves on her because of her past trauma. So that’s the set up. love the witch

I didn’t find this book that successful. I liked Evan and Summer and most of the time I liked their interactions, particularly because they didn’t get stupid for ridiculous reasons. That was a huge plus. What did bother me was the constant use of ‘fuck’ to describe their sexual activities. Not romantic, at least to me. Then there was the schtick where Summer goes back for ‘certification’ to keep her nursing license. She works two weeks with the team doing medical things including relearning CPR and it just seemed completely ridiculous that this would keep her nursing license current. Another thing that bothered me was the beginning which started 2 years previously and then leaped forward. I didn’t find it all that useful and it was really more a distraction.

In the end, while I did want to finish, I kept getting put off and out of the story and it didn’t work as well as I hoped it would for me.

The next book is Love the Witch, Hate the Craft by Nora Lee. This is the first of a series. It’s got a little bit of the feel of a cozy mystery, with magic. The heart of the story is really about a Rowan who’s come home to her town that she swore never to return to, in order to help save the Elder Tree, which is dying. Should it die, so will the town. Stir in the fact that she’s just broken up with her boyfriend and a local warlock has decided he wants to marry her in order to become the head of the coven, and also the fact that her friend’s kid has uncontrollable magic. Rowan is going to be busy.

In general, I liked the story. Rowan is supposed to be taking over the coven at some point because of her family, and she has to want to come back. She gets to see the town and her friends and family with new eyes and of course, everything turns out all right. This is a fairly fluffy book, as you can tell from the cover. It’s a quick read and pretty fun.

 

fairytaleThis next one is Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey. This one was fluffy like the last book, and also a romance. Not a great deal of depth, though I enjoyed the interactions between Izzy and Rob. She was jilted by his best friend, and Rob’s been in love with her for long before that. They were friends also, but she’s been unwilling to see him since the wedding, since he got to deliver the bad news and she punched him. She’s embarrassed.

The story begins with a snowstorm that keeps her from getting home to her shady sort of flat where a guy lives who is portrayed as a potential rapist, and at one point he does grab her. She runs into Rob and he takes her home where she stays through the storm and they connect.

Things roll forward and they figure out they’re in love. This is a Christmas story, so the holidays are the backdrop, and the other cast of characters are delightful. Izzy is a wedding dress designer and ends up helping Rob’s sister with her dress last minute.

This book is light reading and fun and a good Christmas story.

 

 

I have more to review, so there will be another roundup soon.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Feb. 25th, 2016

me

Today ran by fast

I spent the morning doing a lot of outlining work for a short story I’m working on. It’s set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world (awesome books, btw, if you’ve not read them), and so this requires me to do a lot of research in the world and making sure that I can write the story I want and that I stay within the already designed confines of the world. I figured out a lot of great stuff today and I have a strong idea of most of the story. I hope to write many words tomorrow.

Have you ever gone shopping and bought clothing that you had to take back because it smelled? I bought these jeans that I really liked. But they had a chemical smell to them. I washed them twice, and the smell didn’t even abate a little. That meant I had to take them back today. I suppose it’s good shorts weather is almost here.

Tomorrow I also plan to start some seeds. I haven’t prepared the garden yet, so I’ll get the seeds started now and plant in the ground in a couple weeks.

I’ve been doing a series of posts on Magical Words about self-publishing. Today I talked about choosing covers.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 24th, 2016

me

Back in the saddle again

I came back from the writing retreat having written 32, 281 words in basically 3.5 days. I am completely stunned. I have never written that much in that little time, ever. I worked on the sequel to The Incubus Job (comes out in just six days!!). It’s what you might call a zero draft. That means that I tried to just write story and not worry about the research elements, or making up names for particular people or things, and so on. I just put and asterisk and described what should go there. I’ll be able to search asterisks and fix those, though I’ll probably just end up combing through the whole thing when it’s done and revise and catch them that way.

I never write like that. Devon Monk encouraged me to try and it was kind of freeing. I’m going to use that technique in the next couple days to write an anthology story I have due soon. I doubt I can do 10,000 words a day since I’ve got obligations here that I didn’t have in the rainforest, but I think I could get at least 4 or 5K. If I don’t get bogged down in doing stuff on the net. I’m thinking of getting the Antisocial app, but I’m wondering if there’s a free sort of thing out there that works the same way.

The writers retreat is at The Rainforest Resort Village which sounds a lot less rustic than it actually is. We got to stay in a cabin with a back sliding glass window and deck overlooking a very babbley creek and beyond that, the lake. Geese flew in and out and it was absolutely lovely, even raining most of the time. We had a fire going in the cabin and a little kitchenette, and we hunkered down and wrote like fiends. It was fabulous. I love doing this retreat and plan to go next year, crossing my fingers I register before they sell out.

Once I got back, I had to finish the copy edits on Whisper of Shadows, the next Diamond City Magic book, which will be out April 15. Got that done, then worked on the tax receipts. I always have the best intentions of inputting those receipts into my spreadsheet throughout the year, and I always have to do it right at the end. They were all in one place. I keep a file bin hanging on my wall in my office to stuff them into.

I also went out and bought some manure and worm castings for the garden, along with three plants for the rock garden we hope to put in shortly (we need to create better drainage in that location before we can.)  My peonies are all in bloom and so are some other flowers. Plus the crocuses are up and so many. The former owners had planted them and this year some came up where they hadn’t before. I guess the wet this year really helped them.

I’m just about on schedule with my reading for this year. Trying to read at least six books a month, not including my own. Need to finish the one I’m reading–a British police procedural–to get my 12 for the year. I tend to let reading slip when I’m tired or really busy and just veg in front of the TV. I’m trying hard to avoid that and read, which most of the time I enjoy a lot more. A lot of them I get from Netgalley, which lets me discover a wider range of authors than I might ordinarily encounter, and a wider range of topics. So that’s been very nice.

And now, to go do some of that reading . . .

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 16th, 2016

me

Writing Retreat

Tomorrow I will head off to the Rainforest Writers Village in the Olympic Rainforest. I’ve done some really good words done the last couple of years there. I’m hoping this one goes even better. My back has been giving me serious pain the last couple of weeks, so I hope it does okay. I see the chiro before I leave tomorrow. Let’s hope that does me really well. I plan to take an ice pack just in case. And ibuprofen.

In the meantime, I’ll remind you to read some good books and eat some good chocolate. Or cake. Or both. And pie. Cherry pie with ice cream.

The connectivity at the retreat is exceedingly bad, so I probably won’t post until I get back. Oh, and I finish the copy edits for Whisper of Shadows. So look for me next week.

Also, I sent a newsletter out last night. If you didn’t get yours, let me know. And check your spam filter.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 12th, 2016

me

A Path series announcement

I’m pleased to announce that Open Road is going to re-release my Path books as ebooks. I don’t know the timetable as of yet, but I will let you know as soon as I do. I will hopefully be able to also put together a print version for those who might want one.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 10th, 2016

me

The Incubus Job release is only a couple weeks away

I’m getting nervous, but the good news is that as of today, preorder links are up at Smashwords and Kobo. I’m hoping to have Nook and iBooks up within a few days. Go to the Incubus page for direct links.

I had a good writing day. My back and neck and head are finally starting to improve, thanks to the chiropractor. Though she’s having a hard time with my back because it’s so tight. Tomorrow I will have a massage in order to loosen it enough to adjust. Or so’s my hope.

Anyhow, the good writing day. It was fun. I like it when writing is fun. I was working on the fourth Diamond City Magic book (the third–Whisper of Shadows–will be out in April).

And here’s a little snippet for you from The Incubus Job to whet your appetite:

“Did you know something like that could fit inside such a little skin?” I asked Law, backing up some more. I shoved more energy into my shields and reached down to fiddle with the chain on the nearest goat. I was hoping that once freed, they’d be able to escape.

In the meantime, Hana—or So’la because, let’s face it, Hana was now just a skin suit on the carpet—swelled like one of those sponges that are the size of a postage stamp until you get them wet and they turn into a small car. Its skin was gun-barrel blue, and it appeared to be sheathed inside a thick layer of Vaseline. I was willing to bet that the goo would eat a person’s skin.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 7th, 2016

me

Sunday with nachos

And football. The game has been less than interesting. The commercials not particularly funny or entertaining. The halftime show–the Boy of Size and I decided that the boys group was wearing clothes made of shiny plastic bags, and the girls group was wearing purses. I’m not sure which won the dance-off. Lady Gaga rocked the hell out of the national anthem. The nacho cheese dip we made was good, so that’s something. So instead I read. Well, while sort of watching. And now the cheese dip keeps repeating on me, and that is unpleasant. I want fruit salad. With blackberries and blueberries and raspberries. Oh, and fresh peaches. Can I have that please?

I did manage to take a walk in the sunshine today. We’re going to have a few days of it and I’m hoping to get outside and poke around in the garden beds. I’ve got some things blooming already outside–primroses and this other white flower. I love the Daphne bushes. The scent is so lovely.

My head continues to hurt. And weirdly a wrist. No idea what I did there. My head has been hurting for more than a week now. I went to the chiro, but I have to go back because I was too tight to fully adjust. I’m sore from that. I am uncertain if I it’s really the back, if I may be sick, or if my hormones or something are out of wack. I have a doctor’s appointment for next Friday, so if the chiro doesn’t help before, I should find out. I can tolerate a lot of pain. In fact my first back doc, upon seeing the MRI, wondered how come I was still walking around. Even childbirth wasn’t so bad. Though my second back explosion was pure hell. But when it comes to headaches, I’m a total wimp. WIMP. And no painkillers seem to have much impact. Well, it might help more if I actually took them more than once a day, but I don’t want to mask symptoms. If that makes sense. Probably not.

Wonder if Peyton Manning is going to retire.

Oh look, the game is almost over. and the end is foregone now.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Feb. 6th, 2016

me

Not entirely a book review, but it is

I just finished the third book in Lisa Shearin’s SPI files. They are so fun. I read the first one, The Grendel Affair, when it first came out. I bought the second, The Dragon Conspiracy, and then somehow forgot about it. Then The Brimstone Deception came out last month and I realized I had some rbrimstone-deception_finaleading to do. The happy thing is that I had two to read back-to-back and that was so fabulous. The unhappy thing is that I don’t have another to chew through. Damn.

Anyhow, the SPI books take place in New York City and revolve around a supernatural non-official police force. There’s a lot of police procedure, adventure, snark, and a hint of romance. The character interactions are just so much fun. Smart and funny and serious and in the latest book, you get to meet the great great great . . . grandaughter of the witch who built Hansel’s and Gretel’s gingerbread house. Only Kitty’s not a child-eater. You’ve got a wide cast of characters, and a variety of cool stuff going on. I really recommend you just go get all three, stock up on some munchies and your drink of choice, and hunker down for a good long, lovely read. Really.

And then, because she’s just so much fun, watch Jeanne Robertson. A very fun, very clean comedian. You’ll laugh.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 5th, 2016

me

A couch!!!

Actually two couches, but we have them! After a month without, we have them. And the dogs are so happy. Kids are too. And me too. It’s so very nice to actually have them instead of sitting in camp chairs. It’s like a little miracle!!!

Yeah, I know, lots of exclamation points, but I’m that happy. I can’t even tell you how happy the dogs are. They have us sitting farther back from the TV, which is kind of weird, but there’s a lot more open room on the floor for the dogs to wrestle around.

Couches look like leather, but are made from microfiber that apparently will clean up with soap and water. I’m hoping it holds up to kids and dogs. Also, boy of size has grown again. He’s almost 6’3″ I have no idea how that happened. And he’s still going up.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Feb. 2nd, 2016

me

Writing in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world

This is oh so cool and now I can make the announcement:

 

Have you read Faith Hunter‘s Rogue Mage series? If not, you should. It is an amazing trilogy. Except . . . There’s news. The trilogy is getting some extras and I get to be part of it!!!

Anthology Set in the World of Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage Series
Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 1, 2016

Bella Rosa Books is pleased to announce two e-book anthologies and a trade paperback omnibus set in the world of Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage series. Editor is Spike Y Jones. Writers contracted to write short stories for the anthologies are: Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lucienne Diver, Tamsin L. Silver, Ken Schrader, Lou J Berger, Christina Stiles, Spike Y Jones, Melissa McArthur, Jean Rabe, Misty Massey, and Faith Hunter.

The two ebooks are titled Trials and Tribulations, and the trade paperback omnibus is titled Triumphant. They will be published by a new line of original and reprinted spec fiction and fantasy, through Bella Rosa Books, called Lore Seekers Press.

bloodring

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 1st, 2016

me

Couchless life

We’ve been without a couch for over 3 weeks now. That means sitting in camp chairs until the one we ordered arrives. The new one will be extra durable to deal with my extra-destructive family. It should come in a week or so. I’m hoping this week, but chances are I won’t get so lucky. Lacking a couch is deeply upsetting for the dogs. They cannot follow their usual routine and they cannot lay on me and they aren’t afraid of telling me about their sadness. With lots of big-eyed stares and whimpers and moans. As a compromise, when the rest of the fam is playing video games, I retreat to the bedroom and let them join me on the bed. This helps them. Especially since they can look out the windows from the bed and that is happy-making for them.

As I mentioned, my first self-pubbed book, The Incubus Job, will be releasing March 1. I’ll be talking about it for the next month (every other Thursday) on Magical Words. I began last week with this post. If you have questions or comments, say so here or there.

I have to say that I am so tired of the presidential race. Then some newsperson said that today we’re at the starting line. I had to wonder where they hell they’ve been because while this is the start of the primary season, this ‘race’ has been going on FOREVER and I want it to stop. I would so have a different opinion if Jon Stewart was still on The Daily Show and I could at least get entertainment from it. Trevor Noah is okay, but he doesn’t dig as hard into the hypocrisy and crazy on both sides. He’s more there for the sort of easy laugh. Stephen Colbert has been doing a pretty good job at puncturing the stupidity, but I miss Jon Stewart. I wish I had HBO for John Oliver.

 

 

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Jan. 27th, 2016

me

What I wonder

I was wondering today if, in Stairway to Heaven, when Robert Plant sings “There’s a feeling I get, when I look to the west, and my spirit is crying for leaving,” whether that is perchance a reference to the Grey Havens. It wouldn’t be the first time that Zeppelin referenced Tolkien. Take for instance, Ramble On. “T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her.” I mean, the stairway to heaven leads upward, so looking to the west and crying for leaving, really suggest something more like Grey Havens. I like to think so anyhow.

I was reading through a couple chapters of Whisper of Shadows (book 3 in Diamond City Magic) and I was really pleased. I’ve been worrying (see my last post on Imposter Syndrome) and I’m at least willing to entertain the idea that this book might be good. Not entirely convinced, but yeah. Trying to get there.

So a small snippet for you (it will release on April 15th!!!)

I had to get out of here. I lay face down with my head twisted to the right, my hands curved up toward my face. I pushed up with all my might. Nothing. Why I thought I’d be able to get out now better than before, I had no idea. Logic wasn’t actually something I was using at the moment. I pressed my head into the cold cement floor and closed my eyes. As fear rose up over me again, I forced myself to count breaths inside and then out, and I didn’t let myself think of anything else. Slowly I found myself relaxing. If you could call ratcheting down from overload to just completely terrified. I kept breathing. It’s not like I was going anywhere.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Jan. 20th, 2016

me

Depression and Writing and Imposter Syndrome

I’ve been thinking about writing this for awhile, but haven’t been ready. I’ve decided to take the plunge.

Apparently I have depression. (I’m going to come back to the ‘apparently’ in that phrase). I used to work in a toxic work environment where I was constantly gaslighted by colleagues and the administration. I was an easy target, because I didn’t have a huge ego and I tended to be more apologetic. Also, for seven years, I was working toward tenure and I watched two colleagues in my department get shafted for going against the grain, and one time when I wasn’t invited to the department meeting in which one colleague was discussed, I was told “we didn’t invite you because we knew you’d support him and didn’t want you to risk you tenure.” Yes, overt threat. Another time I was told if my evaluations didn’t come up, I’d have to be let go. This after I’d been out for pregnancy leave and one of my colleagues, angry at the fact that I had the gall to leave detailed daily course activities and assignments (I thought this was helpful), told my students that my syllabus and approach was crap. The result of that was that all the students showed up in my office telling me my class was garbage, I was doing it wrong, demanding too much, and I had no choice to change it or face (illegal) sanctions from my department.

It didn’t help that I suffered from Imposter Syndrome. “First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.”

My first instinct is to point out that I’m not a high achiever. But if I were to look at someone else, I’d say with the same qualifications, somebody else would have been a very high achiever. I’ve BA, MA, and a PhD. I’ve written and published in my academic field and I’ve been a successful professor. I achieved full professor rank in approximately seven years. I had a sabbatical in my 14 years at UMW. I have published 13 novels, with two more coming in the next three months. I have two children and a solid marriage (married 25 years). I am a pretty good cook, I’m a good friend, a good writer, and a good person.

I say that, but squirm in doing so and I would readily argue or not say those things under just about any circumstances. It wouldn’t be the bragging factor. It would be the Imposter Syndrome. Even with depression, I can’t claim to fully have it. That’s the ‘apparently’ from the first sentence. I even have Imposter Syndrome when it comes to illness. I’m not really that bad, that sick, and, and depression only exacerbates IS because at its core, depression makes you feel like a failure.

But let’s go back to my history. Toxic work environment that got progressively worse. The depression started setting in during the last few years at UMW. I started becoming short tempered with my family, I wanted to isolate, I slept a lot–when I wasn’t having insomnia. I cried and my stomach was constantly in knots. There was more. My doc put me on citalopram, which helped with the anxiety elements. But while it took the edge of, it didn’t really tackle the depression issue. I’ve always been a pretty happy-go-lucky person. I didn’t sweat the small stuff. Only as time went on, I started sweating everything.

Finally we moved and I left that job. Immediately I felt better. Part of it was living out of constant winter. Part of it was just not facing that toxicity. Then my son got ill. For a year and a half, he went through innumerable tests. He suffered horrendous bouts of vomiting and incredible pain. He started having psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. He was given a ton of medications that did no good. We saw so many doctors. Finally we got a diagnosis and a program of treatment. It worked. It wasn’t instant. By the time his two-year sick anniversary rolled around, he was doing really well.

I was not. With the relief of seeing him improve, I started sinking down. I still don’t want to call it depression. It didn’t feel as hopeless and dark as I’ve heard ‘true’ sufferers endure. But there’s a spectrum and it was very difficult for me and it is depression. I just don’t like suggesting that I was anywhere near as someone who really suffers. Back to Imposter Syndrome.

Writing is a profession particularly susceptible to IS. Writers see bad reviews and internalize them. Good reviews don’t make near the impact they should. We doubt ourselves constantly. We constantly think what we write is crap. We always worry. Add into that the fact that many of us don’t make a living wage, then money stress starts to grind at us. It’s easy to constantly doubt your abilities, even after you have published a lot of books.

Depression rides IS like a racehorse. You tell yourself to suck it up and deal with it. Stop whining. Stop crying. Just do it, for goodness sake. It’s not life and death. Why can’t you just pull your shit together? Then you feel the need to hide how your feeling. And that need only contributes to your internal understanding that this is shameful and should be hidden. If anyone found out, they’d know you were a worthless piece of trash.

Oh, and did I mention that changing hormones can mess with all of that?

So there I was, totally submerged in IS and depression, and unable to see it. I knew that this wasn’t me. I went in for my yearly physical and I guess I must have mentioned something. The doc suggested Wellbutrin. I balked. She called in the prescription and said try it and see if it made a difference. It was a beginning dose.

It actually did make me feel better. There’s an initial euphoria where you just feel energetic and happy. This felt wonderful. But then I started feeling more anxious, more doubting, more short tempered, and generally returning to the depression. I saw the doc and she said I should try the next level dose. I refused. Said I’d like to see how this played out for awhile longer. It was that suck it up, stop whining, pull on some big girl panties mind set. It didn’t help. It only made things worse, because when your brain chemistry is fucked up, you can’t just tough your way out of it. A week later I called and said, let’s do it. For any of my friends, I would have urged them to treat themselves. I have an illness. It has to be treated for my own sanity and health.

That dose seems to have done the trick. I find myself having moments of short temper and out-of-proportion anger, but it dissolves in minutes. I let it go. I am not nearly as impatient. I’m far more sympathetic. I am more myself. I like being myself. That last one is weird. I didn’t realize that I didn’t like being with myself very much. I didn’t enjoy myself. Now I do. I also don’t beat myself up for all the things I used to. I don’t attack myself.

The reason I decided to talk about this is because of the shame factor, and that urge to hide. To fake it. To wear a mask and pretend that you’re normal, because somewhere you feel that there is something terribly wrong with you. And not wrong as in illness, but fundamentally wrong/broken/failed.  Not quite human. So I’m defying that. I’m saying I have depression and I’m saying that is really what it is. I’m still working on the IS. No medication is going to cure that. But the other . . . I’m more and more myself every day.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Jan. 16th, 2016

me

An Announcement–Incubus Job

I let everybody know in my newsletter this week, and it’s time to spread the word. My book, The Incubus Job, is going to release on March 1. It’s going to be available in ebook only for awhile. It will also be available on all platforms. But for now, it’s only up for preorder on Amazon. I’ll announce here and in my newsletter, when it goes wider.

And now, I want to unveil the cover, which I love:

TheIncubousJob-FJM_ARE_200x300It’s tough to have a conscience when you kill for a living.

So six years ago, Mallory Jade gave up killing. Now she’s a fixer. Got a problem with a demon? She can help. Infestation of pixies? She’s got you covered. Kidnapped by an undead lich? She’s on her way. Anything you need, so long as she doesn’t have to kill. It’s her one unbreakable rule.

Aside from a few near-death experiences, her new life is good, until her job dumps her in the lap of the man she walked out on six years before. Law Stanger, her former partner and lover, wants her back in his life. He’s not above playing dirty. But Mallory knows it can never work. She has secrets Law can never understand or forgive.

All Mallory wants now is to finish her job–track down an incubus and the precious box he stole–and get the hell out of town before Law shatters her heart again. But it wasn’t fate that drew her and Law together after all these years, it was cunning calculation. Now they must face an enemy more powerful than they can imagine, one that has no intention of leaving anybody alive.

What do you think? Does it look good to you? Feel free to spread the word for me. More to come as I have information.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Jan. 14th, 2016

me

scrape, mold, pile, click . . .

I have rebuilt/rewritten the 2K words that I lost. Accidentally killed. Whatever. So now I’m back up to speed and hopefully I can run with it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I posted a blog on Magical Words today about starting a novel.

It’s been a very hard week of loss. David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Their deaths have struck me hard. I think because they have been part of my life for so long, part of the building blocks of me and somehow I feel like I’ve lost an important part of my life. A piece of my foundation crumbling. The first time that really struck me was when Heath Ledger died. And Robin Williams.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Jan. 13th, 2016

me

The stupid hurts

In this case, I committed a stupidity I haven’t done in years. What did I do? Well yesterday I had a fantabulous day of writing. I wrote the first long scene of Diamond City 4. I was so happy with it, I was buzzing like a hummingbird. I was so looking forward to getting started today.

And then . . .

I couldn’t find the doc. Or rather, I found it, but it was an older version. EVERYTHING I’d written yesterday was gone. Even on the backups. I did all sorts of things for the next two hours, including running recovery programs, but I’d successfully managed to make it disappear. I think I overwrote the newer one with an older one somehow. I don’t know how.

So I tried to rewrite it today. It didn’t come together very well. It felt clunky and info-dumpy and unexciting. So now, at the end of the day, I feel squashed flat instead of rejuvenated like yesterday. My stomach is a ball of aching knots and my head is throbbing. I hope tomorrow I can come at it again and find traction.

 

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Jan. 9th, 2016

me

Furniture debacle

Or at least that’s what the dogs call it. Maybe furniture armageddon. Because for them, it is the end of all things good.

What happened is that we had a big sectional with recliners in each end seat. We’d had it for almost exactly 3 years. It had been having problems for awhile–breaking down and the reclining mechanisms bending and stopping working. So we had a situation where the footstools would neither go down or go up all the way. They were bent and saggy and the backs were the same. Sitting in them wasn’t entirely uncomfortable, but not particularly comfortable either. However. The dogs could lie on our laps and beside us and generally could be thoroughly spoiled.

We’d reached the point where I could not continue to use the couch safely. And by that, I mean that I was starting to feel it in my back. Having had three back surgeries, I decided that was not wise. I called a furniture guy about repair. As I talked to him, I mentioned I’d contacted the manufacturer, but they didn’t want anything to do with me. No help at all. I said we’d bought the couch from Costco, and he suggested I contact them for information about what to do. So I did. I emailed the corporate customer service edress on their site. Their reply? We’ve got a generous return policy. Contact your store.

Hmm. I thought, wow. What a copout. Who’s going to take back a  3 year old couch? But I said what the hell and called the store. They said they couldn’t do anything without seeing the couch, which I’d wanted to avoid because it’s upstairs and that meant taking it downstairs, loading it in the truck, and taking it across town. In two trips. So we loaded the worst of the problems and took it to Costco. We stood in line and when we got to the front, they looked for our receipt. That took awhile because we’d had a change of cards and so eventually they found the receipt. Then they said, bring back the rest of the couch and you can have a full refund. I boggled. Then we fetched the rest and got our refund. I was shocked. SHOCKED. I’ve been impressed by Costco before, but my level of admiration has increased hugely.

And that’s the story of how we ended up without a couch with rather accusing dogs staring woefully at us. The very next day, of course, I snitched out to a local furniture store. This time I decided no recliners. I need the furniture to last. We’ve had three different couch/recliner setups over the last 15 years. Every one ended up going the same route. And the Lazboy couches we had with the great warranty? They wouldn’t fix them. Totally blew us off. I decided that we’d been buying cheap stuff to save money and it was turning out to be a fuck-ton more expensive.

The store I went into locally owned and not a chain. They carry higher end (read better made) furniture. I looked around and finally arrived at a couch that I thought would work. I did mention my rather outsized family and the fact that my children tend to fall on furniture rather than sit, and he said they could put in more springs and beef up the cushions so that the couch will last 15-20 years minimum. So later that night, I returned with the man, and we looked at all the different things, and decided on that particular couch. Or rather, two of them because we need the seating room. They were on sale (yay!). But we had to order them and they’d get made and shipped. They don’t arrive for 30 days.

In the meantime, we are sitting in camp chairs and the dogs are unhappy. No couch space for them. No joy. I feel like I should have an advent calendar for the couch so the dogs can see the days counting down until it arrives. And even better, they will deliver upstairs.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Jan. 8th, 2016

me

It’s Coming

March 1st. More info when I’ve got it.

The Incubus Job

It’s tough to have a conscience when you kill for a living.

So six years ago, Mallory Jade gave up killing. Now she’s a fixer. Got a problem with a demon? She can help. Infestation of pixies? She’s got you covered. Kidnapped by an undead lich? She’s on her way. Anything you need, so long as she doesn’t have to kill. It’s her one unbreakable rule.

Aside from a few near-death experiences, her new life is good, until her job dumps her in the lap of the man she walked out on six years before. Law Stanger, her former partner and lover, wants her back in his life. He’s not above playing dirty. But Mallory knows it can never work. She has secrets Law can never understand or forgive.

All Mallory wants now is to finish her job–track down an incubus and the precious box he stole–and get the hell out of town before Law shatters her heart again. But it wasn’t fate that drew her and Law together after all these years, it was cunning calculation. Now they must face an enemy more powerful than they can imagine, one that has no intention of leaving anybody alive.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Jan. 2nd, 2016

me

Helpful help requested

I’ve been working on a story for awhile now. Years actually, because of many things, it got tucked away in the to-be-done-later pile. Lately it’s been poking at me and I think I’m going to try working on it. When I was getting my PhD, I’d be working on my dissertation and hit a wall. I’d switch to a novel I was working on until that hit a wall. Then I’d switch back and suddenly I could work on the diss. Back and forth like that is how I got through with some scraps of sanity intact. I am thinking of trying the same thing with two novels. I don’t know if I can do that. But I think I’m going to try. In order to do that, I’m going to have to develop outlines for both. Even thin, bare bones sorts of outlines. But that isn’t where I need help.

This story is set in Tennessee. I’m looking for things I can read or stories you can tell about specific instances in the south, experiences you’ve had or heard of, newspapers, non-fiction, fiction–really anything. I want to get a sense of the cadence of the language. I had that pretty well nailed down previously, but I’ve lost it over the years and I want to find it again. So I ask you for all the help you can give me to a feel for the language and place and people. This will also give me some fodder. Foods, too! Anything you can think of.  I have even been known to watch the wedding dress in Atlanta TV show because of the southern speech patterns for some of them. I don’t want to do that. So I beg you . . . .help!

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Dec. 31st, 2015

me

Book Review: Thinning the Heard by Adrian Phoenix

Received from Netgalley

Thinning the Herd by Adrian Phoenix is a damned fun book. You’re going to want to read this one. Before I tell you why, let’s start with the back of the book description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Rush of Wings and The Maker’s Song series, a humorous, action-packed urban fantasy about a werewolf pack and an animal control officer in way over his head!thinning

Someone is picking off fortune tellers and hippies in Oregon, snatching them out of their Birkenstocks mid-stride. And when the legend himself, Hal Rupert, Animal Control Officer, gets a whiff of the mystery, he knows he’s the man to solve it. In between proudly wrangling out-of-control cats and dogs, he’s noticed a peculiar uptick in another sort of animal…werewolves.

Hal infiltrates the country fair to investigate the disappearance of the flower children. But his real priority is protecting the love of his life, Desdemona Cohen, whose long purple tresses and black-glossed lips captured his heart the moment he first saw her standing behind the register at Hot Topic. Desdemona may have nicknamed Hal “Creep,” but he’s determined to win her heart. And, you know, save everyone else, too.

So first of all, you can tell from the tone of the description, that this is a tongue-in-cheek sort of romp. It’s entertaining as hell with a lot of fun stuff going on. First of all, Hal is a dog-catcher and his weapon of choice is a catchpole. At first I thought, oh, dear, this could go horribly awry. I should have known better. It’s so fun. Hal is partially a Walter Mitty, slightly delusional and believing he’s a secret superhero, and he’s also a secret superhero saving the world from terrible evil. The mix of his own delusions overlaps with reality in a lovely way.  All the characters are well drawn and–I know I keep repeating this–they are so fun. There’s snark and wit and silly jokes and reversals and seriously, you’re going to want to read this one. It releases on January 4th, and right now the electronic version is only $1.99. I’m telling you, give it a grab. You won’t regret it.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

Dec. 29th, 2015

me

The old year

I’m noticing a trend across the net and elsewhere, that people are reflecting on the year that was lately. I don’t really feel like it. First, for me, the new year started on the winter solstice. It always does. I mean, that’s really the turning of the year if you think about it. That’s the longest night of the year, and the next day is the shortest day, and then the days get longer from there. So yeah, new year.

Anyhow, last year wasn’t such a grand one that I want to spend time looking back on it. It’s not that it was particularly bad. In fact we discovered my son’s treatment and he returned to school. That’s HUGE. I did some publishing and writing as is to be expected of a writer, and generally the year seemed to go by in a blur of mostly chores with some really great days and some really shitty days. I call that life.

I think part of it was that in the emotional aftermath of my son’s illness, I apparently got depressed. I am now on Wellbutrin. The doc is still figuring out the dose, but it does seem to bring me back more to myself. I do worry that I will lose my creativity, but hopefully not. Some writers who’ve taken it have gone off it for that reason. I suppose there are alternates if it fails. I’m hoping this means that my life will be less blurry and there will be more memories of the bright spots. And more energy.

I did read a lot more this last year than I did in previous years. I’m up now to 62 books and may finish another before January 1. Maybe 2, who knows? I still have a huge number in the to be read mountain so hopefully I will keep reading a lot. I enjoy it. Duh. That kinda goes without saying, doesn’t it? But sometimes I get in the habit of mindless TV. Probably the depression, I guess.

I have knitted a lot of things this year. I’m improving, which is good. I kinda keep making the same things over and over. I’ve got to branch out. But I’ve had requests, you see. And I’ve got to learn more sock heel methods.

I also started to lose the weight that I’d previously lost and then gained back with the Boy’s illness. Hopefully that keeps going. I’d like to be healthier and more fit.

I did complete my first self-published project. Several years in the works, I might add. Working in between other things. But I’m going through the process and plan to release in the beginning of March. I love this story and I hope you will, too.

Well, that’s about all the year worth talking about, I think. I did get out and do a little hiking this year, but would like to do more next. Oh, and we went rockhounding. That’s been huge fun. Definitely we’ll do more of that this  next year.

So I guess it’s a recap of sorts afterall. Now onward and upward. Once more into the breach! let’s have fun storming the castle!

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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Dec. 27th, 2015

me

Book review: Cold Girl by R. M. Greenaway

I received this book from Netgalley.

I just finished R.M. Greenaway’s Cold Girl. This is a mystery and a police procedural. It revolves around a disappearance–what happened to the pretty singer of a local up-and-coming Canadian band? The main characters are Constable Dion, who has survived a terrible car crash and a year later, is still not able to think the way he once did. Once a hot-shot detective, he’s now relegated to the backwaters of Canada doing scut work. The other main character is Leith, a detective who has been pursuing a particular serial killer and thinks that maybe this case is related.

What unfolds is a picture of a place–the cold remote back country of Canada where people eke out a living. It’s isolated and unrelenting and oh, so cold. In this tiny town, there are too many suspects. Pinning down motives and who did what and when is a difficult task. Worse, Dion has a terrible time articulating himself and he begins to perceive patterns and clues, but his memory and mind won’t work properly. He’s frustrated. Everybody is frustrated with him. He’s hidden his past, not wanting pity, so everyone sees him as inept at best, incompetent at worst. He quickly finds himself at odds with the other local law enforcement cold girlofficers and scrutinized by his higher-ups.

Leith is feeling burned out, angry, and left behind. Even when he solves one major mystery, he’s left with more piling up. He’s not sure he’s happy in his marriage or his job, and he’s not sure what he wants or where he wants to be. But soon, the missing girl becomes important to him and he finds it imperative that he solves the case.

At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book. Neither Dion nor Leith are particularly likable. But they are fascinating. And watching Dion both fall apart and pull himself together at the same time is agonizing and yet I kept hoping for him. The mystery was somewhat slow to unfold, but then, while this book is about the whodunnit, it’s more about the characters searching and the place and the local world.

The mysteries (they build as you go) are tied up and a satisfying way. Less so are the characters. The ending is slightly muddy for me and I wish it was a little clearer. Two small things are dropped in and I just don’t know quite what to make of them. Also, a lot is made of Dion looking native, and yet nothing comes of it. I kept waiting for it to matter.

I do think this is a really good book and I enjoyed it. It comes out in March, so look for it.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

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