First Book Friday: Diana Pharaoh Francis

Welcome to First Book Friday!

Today we have Diana Pharaoh Francis (difrancis on LJ), author of several different fantasy series.  Her book  Crimson Wind [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] comes out later this month, and–

Wait, what???  She does what in that book?  I’m sorry, just give me a minute.  I’ll be all right.  I just … I never thought … How could she?

I think I need a hug.

Just read her story.  Or go read my review of her book The Cipher from a few years back.


Hello there everyone!!! I’m delighted to be here and want to thank Jim for having me.

My first book was Path of Fate [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon], the first in a traditional fantasy trilogy. It began as a Book In a Week. That’s a sort of a precursor to Nanowrimo, in which you take a week and try to do nothing else but work on a book in the hopes of really jump starting it. By the end of the week, you have either created a real foundation, or you’ve found out that the book isn’t something you want to spend time with. Luckily, I did want to spend time with it and so I was off and running.

I wrote the rest of it over the next 7 months, at which time I wanted to immediately send it out. Luckily, I wrestled myself down and instead sent it out to some beta readers who gave me fabulous feedback. I revised and then put together a query letter and synopsis (which took a couple of months all by themselves. But I wanted to get this right.)

In the meantime, I had started making a list of agents and editors I wanted to submit to. On the top of the list was Roc Books. They were publishing a lot of the novels that I was reading at that point and I thought I would be a great fit in their house. Coincidentally, they had recently published a short story of mine in a collection for the Best of Dreams of Decadence. I thought that would give me a great connection and a reason to be elevated above the slush pile. (That story is called “All Things Being Not Quite Equal” and you can read it on my website.)

When I thought I was ready, I sent query packages out to my top four agents. I sent a quick query to Laura Anne Gilman, at that time senior editor at Roc, asking about the submission procedure as Roc’s guidelines had been changing and I wanted to be sure of them. I included most of my query letter so that I could show that I knew what I was doing. She quickly got back with me and said she’d forwarded my query to her fellow editor, Jennifer Heddle, and I would hear from her soon.

Jen soon requested the entire manuscript, which I sent off immediately, and that meant I couldn’t send it anywhere else until I had a reply. So I promptly sat by the phone like a sixteen year old waiting for someone to call and ask me to the prom. That got old fast. And then the agent rejections started rolling in. That got old too. Imagine that.

Skip forward a couple of months. I had made plans to go to World Fantasy Con. I daringly (for me anyhow) decided to contact Jen and ask if she’d have time to meet for a few minutes. I told her I totally understood that she probably hadn’t read Path of Fate yet, but that I would love a chance to just talk to her. Shockers! She agreed. So we met and I had a chance to pitch the novel along with the rest of the trilogy. Two weeks later, she bought all three.

And that, kind gentlefolk, is the story of my first book, and thank goodness, because how else would you be able to read about the murder of Jim Hines in my forthcoming book, Crimson Wind?