Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012

Please welcome Diana Pharaoh Francis to The Qwillery. Diana is the author of the Horngate Witches series, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and the Path series.  Diana's most recent novel is Blood Winter, the 4th book in the Horngate Witches series. Blood Winter will be published om December 26, 2012 by Pocket Books. The Horngate Witches is a fabulous UF series!

Becoming a Hero

Hello Everyone! Thank you for having me today.

I’ve been struggling with what to talk about, especially in light of recent events in our world. It feels wrong to ignore the violence, and yet, the rest of our lives must go on, including me visiting here and talking about my new book in my Horngate series, Blood Winter. Having thought about it, I finally decided to write about heroism.

One of the things that I have always explored in my characters is the question: who runs into fires for strangers? For those are true heroes. People who suffer and die for the sake of others. These are the traditional heroes—firefighters, soldiers, policeman, search and rescue . . . . But then you have those who fly under the radar. Who aren’t regularly called on to make those kinds of choices, and yet when the occasion rises, they do.

When I first started writing about Max, I wanted her to be one of those who ran into fires, even knowing she was going to hurt a lot, even die. Not that she was suicidal, but that she cared that much about the lives of others. Even strangers. She has a sharp edge and its hard to get close to, but that’s mostly because she’s been betrayed and hurt. But no matter what, she never loses her need to help people, to protect innocents, and to make the world a better, safer place.

Because of who she is, because of that fact that she’s willing to sacrifice herself, she earns the trust and faith of her fellow Shadowblades, and the rest of her covenstead. Even though she doesn’t want any of it. She doesn’t want to care so much for anyone, or have them care for her. But they won’t let her get away with isolating herself. They make her accept their friendship and devotion. They are like a swarm of obnoxious brothers and sisters, always prodding at her to be herself, never letting her wander off to lick her wounds alone, never letting her sink down too much in her bitterness.

So Max is a product of who she is, but also of the constellation of people around her who keep her grounded and give her reasons to love life and to want to come home.

Max has supernatural powers, and she has supernatural foes. But in the end, she’s a lot like every other everyday mortal who is a hero, who risks him or herself for others. She does it out of instinct and even when she thinks about it, she doesn’t stop. She needs to shield people from harm. She’s a hero and thank goodness that heroes like her don’t only exist on the pages of books, because certainly the monsters walk our world also.

About the Horngate Witches

Blood Winter
Horngate Witches 4
Pocket Books, December 26, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages


Max always does her job, no matter how brutal and bloody. That’s how it’s been ever since she was enslaved by a witch, turned into a supernatural warrior, and assigned to protect the coven of Horngate. But her job just got harder. . . .

Waves of wild magic have returned much of the world to a time when fairy tales were real and danger now lurks behind every tree and bush. As winter descends and food, heat, and water are harder to come by, many have turned to Benjamin Sterling for protection. Leader of the Earth’s Last Stand cult, Sterling claims to be the Hand of God, but his power and charisma secretly come from a dark and terrible source. With devout followers eager to do his sadistic bidding, he has his eyes on Horngate and its magical inhabitants. To save those she loves, Max will knowingly walk into a trap. But when the cult strips Max’s soul bare for all to see, will even Alexander—her lover and her strength—remain? And if she were to lose him, what does it matter if she gains the whole world. . . .

Shadow City
Horngate Witches 3
Pocket Books, December 27, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had—even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. When the creature breaks free of the fragile bonds that enclose her, her rage will scour the covenstead from the earth.

Max finds herself in the Shadow City, a place of mysteries and magic, where she must battle for her freedom or become a slave to creatures of dreadful greed and power. Back in Horngate, Alexander must swallow his anger and pride if he hopes to defeat the Fury, a creature that no one has ever successfully fought before.

In the end, it will be courage, friendship, faith and loyalty that win the day. Or else so one will live to see tomorrow.

Crimson Wind
Horngate Witches 2
Pocket Books, December 28, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages


Max knows what trusting the wrong person can cost you. Her former friend Giselle, a powerful witch, enslaved Max years ago, turning her into a Shadowblade—a deadly warrior compelled to fight for Giselle. But there's more at stake now than Max's thirst for revenge. The Guardians, overseers of the magical world, have declared war on humanity and on any witches not standing with them. Max and Giselle have come to an uneasy truce in order to protect what's left of Horngate, their coven's home. Max would do anything for Horngate—even give herself over to a mysterious otherworldly creature in the nearby mountains in exchange for his help. But first, she intends to save the mortal family she left behind. And Alexander, the Shadowblade warrior who could be her closest ally or her deadliest enemy, is going with her.

On a road trip into the unknown, Max and Alexander face wild magic, desperate enemies, and battles that bruise both body and soul. But the greatest challenge will come from unexpected revelations that test everything Max believes about who she is—and where her loyalties lie. . . .

Bitter Night
Horngate Witches 1
Pocket Books, October 27, 2009
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages


Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom...and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle's personal magic weapon -- a Shadowblade -- and she's lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before....

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances -- including one with a rival witch's Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him -- and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right -- if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is....

About Diana

Diana Pharaoh Francis was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern California. She spent much of her early life on horseback, or so far buried into a book that the rest of the world ceased to exist (much to the annoyance of her family). After much hijinks, adventures and near-death experiences, Francis began teaching English at the University of Montana-Western and started publishing books. She has written the Path trilogy, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and the Horngate Witches series.

She has a fascination for the Victorians, weather, geology, horses, plants and mythology, crocheting and random facts. She likes spicy food, chocolate and cheesecake, and she has an odd sense of humor. She has a husband, two children, and two very spoiled corgis. Incidentally, the Pharaoh is in fact her real name, and oddly enough, is of British origin.

Diana's Links:


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Blood Winter (Horngate Witches 4) from The Qwillery.

How:   Answer The Qwillery's Question:  

Who (or what) is one of your favorite heroes from novels, comics or movies?

Please remember - if you don't answer the questions your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. I have just finished re-watching the Avengers and I have to say I love Tony Stark as a hero! He can be selfish, insufferable but he has charm and always does the right thing in the end! From books I love those that continue to put themselves at risk even if they don't have too - so it's Harry Dresden again who is my hero! :-)

    GFC Follower: Mel S

  2. In books my favorite heroes are Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson. In movies I've always been a fan of Indiana Jones, lol.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  3. Gosh. Lots to choose from. I like ALL heroes as long as they are true heroes. Some of my top of the list ones would be Jamie Frasier from Outlander and Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files and I chose them because both of them do what they do mostly to protect and care for those they love. They go out of their way to make life better and safer and happier for those they love and those that come under their care who may not even be related...and so on.
    GFC follower: April V.
    april dot vrugtman at gmail dot com

    I need to get caught up on this series, I've only read the first two so far.

  4. I like Harry Potter as a hero.

    I follow the blog.


  5. Harry Dresden From The Dresden Files and Roarke from the In Death series.

    gfc follower


  6. Faythe from Rachel Vincent's SHIFTER series because she's "real." Thank you!

    GFC Victoria Sloboda
    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/Jovial_1/status/281156114102509570

  7. I love strong females in my books. My hero has to be James Bond.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  8. Max! Seriously, I love this series!
    gfc follower


  9. Kate Daniels from the series by Ilona Andrews.

    GFC Anne38

  10. Does it have to be a hero, how about a heroine? My favorite heroine is Jennifer Estep's Gin Blanco. If I have to choose a favorite hero, I'd say Mal Reynolds from Firefly and Serenity.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC: Barbara E.

  11. My favorite hero from book was Roarke from In Death Series by JD Robb!!
    Thanks for chance to win :)

    GFC as Filia Oktarina
    Tweet : https://twitter.com/FiliaTsuki/status/281447385316618240
    Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/filia.oktarina/posts/214059155396915

    filiafantasy at gmail dot com

  12. I've always been a huge Batman fan from the comic books I read as a child.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  13. I love Mercy Thompson because she's never the strongest person in the room, but she never gives up and she never abandons the people she cares about.

    +1 comment
    +1 Follower


  14. Roarke and Bones are two of my favorites.

    -tweet https://twitter.com/DonnaS1/status/284549719114522624

    bacchus76 at myself dot com