Diamonds, Magic, and Mystery

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

Whenever I get sick–like the flu or something like it–I watch TV. And not just any TV; when I’m sick, I watch fairly specific kinds of shows. I look for documentaries first. Even though I normally like regular hour-long dramas and comedies and movies and HGTV, I always head for documentaries. If I can’t find anything I like there, I will go to the shopping networks. I know. The two together don’t make any sense, and I don’t go to the shopping networks at any other time. Ever.

The last time I was sick enough to do that was several years ago. In that session, I learned a number of things that have found their way into my writing. (I believe I also bought some blankets and sheets and called my husband at work about a vacuum cleaner, which I did not buy). In particular, I watched a documentary […]

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This thing called a writing life

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

I’m actually not going to talk about the writing life. I’m going to talk about life instead. Writing is a job. Writing is a tremendously fun job, but a job nonetheless. Writers always write. We always observe, always collect bits of cool ideas, we always think about our characters, our plots, our plans for torture . . . .

This is not good. This, in fact, is bad.

Writers have to get away from the writing. We need vacations; we need time to relax, to not be working. But writing is so wonderful. so amazing, so awful, so terrifying, so stressful, and horrifying, that we can’t ever leave it. When we try, it follows us. It traps us in the shower and on the toilet. It hunts us in traffic and at the grocery store. Go get on a rollercoaster? Just try riding it without writing wrapped around your neck, […]

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On Outlining and Not

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

I can’t decide if I’m late or early on this post. The main problem is that I’m on the road with the family and time has become . . . fluid.

I want to talk to you about plotting. When I first started writing, I would create an outline. It wasn’t a really in-depth outline. It usually covered the beginning, the major plot points, and the ending. One thing to remember about plot is that it’s a causal sequence of events. Causal is important, because in my plotting, I’d know why a character did something and how that ended up creating the next plot point, and so on. So when plotting, I’d start with the characters and the world, and I’d stir up some trouble, and think how they dealt with that, and what that caused, and so on. I usually would have some sort of main event or problem […]

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Talking about character–Trace of Magic

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

Hello Everyone! I’m so glad to be back. I’ve missed you all. Okay, really I’ve been reading and lurking, so I’ve been here, but I did miss getting a chance to talk and visit with you.


I’ve been busy with a lot of projects, but the one I’m here to talk about today is titled Trace of Magic. I’ve been describing it as an alternate-history, urban-fantasy, noir, romance thing. You might ask what that means. It’s set in a never-existed Colorado. Diamond City sits on the ege of an ancient prehistoric volcano where the diamond mining outpaces that in South Africa. The town is largely run by competing magical mafias (called Tyets), who are in the middle of a major turf war. Riley Hollis is my main character.


obligatory and updated author photo

I love Riley. I had such fun writing her. In fact I’m still having […]

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Living the Dream

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

The truth is that living as a writer is a dream come true. This is the thing I would choose to do above all others. It has its challenges, however. I went full time about six months ago, though it looks like I’ll take on part-time teaching work in a dream teaching job next year (I’ll be teaching in an MFA program specializing in genre literature, but that’s another story). Before that, I was teaching full time at a undergraduate university and writing part time (as part time as you can be while producing two books a year). I had two young kids as well. I had to be incredibly organized and focused to be able to get things done. Often I was keeping ahold of sanity by just fingernails.

We moved to Oregon from Montana in July of last year and I started in September to write full time. […]

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First Page Critique the Sixth

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

Our final contestant in the first page critique games is Andrea with an excerpt from Twelveland. I’m assuming it’s YA or middle grade. Remember the publisher assumes the oldest reader of the book will be the same age as the protagonist. There are exceptions–Harry Potter anyone?–but this is the general rule of thumb. I don’t think anyone predicted how universal Harry Potter would turn out to be.

And now, on with the show:


Twelveland by Andrea de Regt



At the sound of the harsh voices, the boy cowered in his too small cage. The troll queen and her sister faced each other threateningly right before him: two huge heads with green-purplish, pocked skin and bristly short hair, their fangs and snout-like noses almost touching. Kieran was glad their anger was not aimed at him, but this could change faster than a dragon’s swoop.

There’s nothing particularly […]

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First page critique the fifth

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

I’m giving you all the last two first page critiques. I hope they’ve been useful. If so, I’ll see about doing again. Maybe I can get some more slots. What do you think?

The next volunteer-victim is Dave Carlile. He tells me this is the first page of a 5000 word story, the title of which is “The Song in her Soul.” Without further ado, let’s get to business.


I have wandered these woods for many generations of men, without purpose, numb against the misery of loneliness. The pieces of my mind that could give rise to despair lie disused and hidden away, buried beneath the scars that protect my sanity from the wounds of too long a life. Although I have lived long, my life did not begin until a spring day five years past.


I watched her from the shadows, hiding even […]

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