geeky teas

4 oz of TARDIS11 tea by Tea & Absinthe

Each year, the booth for Tea & Absinthe at Connecticon in Hartford, Connecticut grows larger. It’s easy to see why: they not only have a huge selection of tasty loose teas but also a terrific selection of tea-related items, such as mugs, infusers, and teapot, many of them geeky as well.

This year, I went with English caramel, Irish Whiskey, and Starry Night loose teas. The Starry Night is a favorite from last year. The other two were new choices. But, I admit, my son might have chosen my overall favorite: Tardis 11 Tea-Geronimo!

The description:

A delicious black tea with vanilla cream custard flavor. Fish fingers not included. Goes well with TARDIS Self-Destruct Buttons (aka Jammie Dodgers)

Ingredients: black tea -Assam, -China, flavor, vanilla bits.

If you missed their booth, go to their website and order some, post-haste.

Meantime, at ConnectiCon, my youngest daughter was thrilled how her Sword Art Online cosplay came out. She was Kirito GGO from season 2:

Sword Art Online, Kirito cosplay

Sword Art Online photoshoot from ConnectiCon. My daughter is on the far left. photo by Corrina Lawson

ConnectiCon was busy for us. Not only did I have my daughter’s cosplay to arrange but I was on two panels: Nasty Women and The Hero’s Journey. The former was an examination of how women are portrayed in geeky pop culture and whether it’s getting better or not, the latter a writing panel about the transformation genre characters often take from ordinary person to hero.

An audience member in the Hero’s Journey panel sketched myself and fellow presented Casey Wyatt and had us sign the sketches and that was incredibly cool.

ConnectiCon Heros Journey panel

Yes, that’s me with the glasses.

Looking for my recent non-fiction articles? Check out the Barnes & Noble Science Fiction/Fantasy blog, the DC Comics reviews at GeekDad, my mystery reviews at CriminalElement, and, of course, my posts at GeekMom. (I’m particularly proud of a guest-post by my daughter on How Buffy Failed Us.)

Fiction right now is harder to find, save for the occasional used copy of my books at Amazon and on eBay. I’ve been writing something new and revising my previous print books in preparation for self-publishing them but my son’s illness this winter put me behind on that.

But, hopefully, by September, that will all change.

There’s also a secret project that’s unlike anything I’ve done before that I’ve spent hours on. It’s not set yet, so I don’t want to jinx it by mentioning it.

 

 

 

 

Wonder Woman Spin Mug

Yep, it’s time to take on the world!

What would Wonder Woman tea be like?

It must have bite but it also has to have a sweet, compassionate undertone.

The new Lightly Sweet Chai Latte by Starbucks is perfect for Wonder Woman tea.

It’s the kind of tea that makes you stand up and pay attention, the kind of tea that makes you believe you have a perfect right to walk into that males-only room and not feel the least bit embarrassed, the kind of tea that wakes you up to see the world and see the injustice, and the kind that gives you enough caffeine to fight that battle, in whatever way you can.

But this latte also has that sweet undertone, the kind that signals that, hey, ice cream is wonderful and babies are awesome, and Charlie singing is grand, and that sometimes there are some pretty damn nice people in the world.

Another option: of course (OF COURSE), Adagio Teas has a special Wonder Woman blend.

It’s created by a user called Clover and contains Irish breakfast, vanilla, blueberry, and cinnamon, plus a high level of caffeine. That’s perfect too because it speaks of mysticism and sweetness, and compassion and provides the energy to fight the world’s injustices, even if you have to cross No Man’s Land. (And I could have a whole essay of what an obvious and yet absolutely fantastic metaphor that is.)

Naturally, you drink WW tea in a WW mug. Yes, I have several. Of course I do.

Fortified by tea this week, if not the WW blend that I must order, post-haste, I have been busy. There is this Wonder Woman movie essay at the B&N Science Fiction/Fantasy blog, two book reviews at CriminalElement.com, and assorted musings over at GeekMom.com, including a cynical essay wondering if Wonder Woman will finally be the successful movie that changes Hollywood, a ride on the Six Flags New England Joker Coaster, and a review of the Wonder Woman animated film.

Also, I’m working on a sorta secret project that I won’t talk about publicly for fear I might jinx it.

And this happened. My twins turned 18. WHAT??? Yes, they did.

May they have all the strength of Diana of Themyscira, as they go out as adults into the world.

Adagio tea fandom blend

Beer Butter loose tea from Adagio

It was during a private conversation on Slack about how much to spend on a tea infuser that it occurred to me what I believe is simple about brewing tea is not obvious to beginners.

So what do you need to brew tea?

First, loose tea. Yes, you can choose it by smell or flavor.

Second, a tea infuser.

Third, a teaspoon. Yep, a measured teaspoon.

Fourth, hot but not boiling, water.

I’ve written extensively about different kinds of teas but this article might be a good place to start.

For tea infusers? Nothing fancy is needed! Amazon could deliver this one (which comes with a matching teaspoon) to your doorstep or Adagio Tea has this one. Plastic or metal works fine. The only factor to consider is the width of your mug. I have a wide-mouthed infuser for my extra-big mugs. If you like traditional teacups or regular size mugs, a smaller one is fine. Also, I have a thing against infuser balls because you have to open them up, put the tea in, and close them and sometimes they won’t close correctly and the loose tea escapes. Instead, I like the ones that sit at the top of the mug that you can power water through othem.

tea infuser from Adagio Teas

Image via Adagio tea

The teaspoon is to add the right amount of tea to the infuser. Smaller mugs use one teaspoon. Larger ones can use up to two teaspoons, depending on how concentrated you like your tea. There might be some trial and error there. (I add two teaspoons to my double-size mugs.)

Do not pour boiling water over the loose tea. It’ll burn the leaves and reduce the flavor. Instead, I catch the tea kettle just before boiling. Yes, you could microwave the water until it’s your desired temperature, then pour it over the leaves. But do not microwave water with tea leaves in the microwave. You’ll kill the flavor.

Let the tea steep from 3-5 minutes. Again, it depends on taste. Longer makes stronger tea.

I make tea every morning, so it’s routine and simple to me. I find the hardest thing is remembering how long I’ve steeped the tea. I use the stove timer to remind me, especially in the morning, when the kids can distract me.

If you use regular tea bags, skip all the steps except the not-boiling water part.

Then consume entire mug, get the caffeine jolt, and get to work.

In other news,

I went to a Nintendo press event last week and had my first glimpse of Carnegie Hall, which was right across the street.

Carnegie Hall from the Park Hyatt

Carnegie Hall–view across the street from the Park Hyatt Hotel. The Russian Tea Room is right next to it (though not in the photo). –photo by Corrina Lawson

For those still needing Mother’s Day gifts, check out my Wonder Woman gift guide. Want to see all my GeekMom and GeekDad posts? Check out the full page, which includes my thoughts on Nazi Captain America.

I also reviewed Tremontaine, set in Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint world. It is like a Regency Romance but 100 percent gayer and with more chocolate. 🙂

Up this week for me? Copy editing my first published story, an erotic fertility ritual involving Vikings. It’s currently called Freya’s Gift but I’m searching around for a new title. Sexytimes With Vikings doesn’t quite cover it.

I’ll also be writing a new project, the Princess in the Tower, a modern fantasy romance, longhand. Because if it’s one thing I geek out about more than tea, it’s journals.

Smokey says hello. photo by Corrina Lawson

Smokey says hello. photo by Corrina Lawson

Good morning!

A special Saturday edition of my updates, geared to the New England Romance Writers of America conference that I’m attending.

First, a link to the Blogging Isn’t Dead workshop presentation myself, Rhonda Lane, and Anna Bowling gave this morning at the conference. If you’re checking in after the workshop, thank you so much for coming!

Second, if you are checking in after the workshop, you might note that my personal blogging is rather sparse. That’s because most of my posts are up at GeekMom.Com and B&N SF/F.

And my personal note. We’ve added to our cat family. This little feral kitten is named Callie. She was only 2.8 pounds when we were able to capture her and she’s added considerable weight. She loves the food and warmth. She’s less wild about the dog and people petting her. Because she was a feral, the cuddling will take time. She’s camera shy but adorable.

photo by Corrina Lawson

photo by Corrina Lawson

 

 

Hot Cinnamon Spice

Hot Cinnamon Spice

This is a much delayed post.

As those of you who have been following me on Facebook know, my youngest son (17) has been seriously ill with a superbug GI infection that sent him into ICU for eight days and hospitalized him for over a month. He’s home now and all signs point to a full recovery.

But during that time, I feel behind on many things: writing, blogging, and reworking my website. And, of course, tea.

2017-01-30 07.08.05I drank a lot of Harney & Son’s Hot Cinnamon Spice tea while my son was in the hospital, as it was available at the hospital’s Au Bon Pan. I loved it. Between that and several tins of Harney & Son’s holiday tea that I bought on clearance at B&N, I just might have to allow it’s as good as any loose tea. (And quite a deal: $2 per tin of thirty bags each. We New Englanders love a bargain.)

I did manage to run away to Boston for a day to the PAX East gaming convention with the oldest son. As you can see, we weren’t alone:

The exhibition floor at PAX East. photo by Corrina Lawson

The exhibition floor at PAX East. photo by Corrina Lawson

I also reviewed several books, all of which I enjoyed, for B&N’s SF/F blog in February. I knew they must be good if they held my attention in the hospital. And I wrote about PAX East, mostly about laptops, and did my weekly comics reviews at GeekDad.com with Ray Goldfield.

What I didn’t do is figure out my publishing plan. My publishing, Samhain, has shut down, which means you can no longer buy my books. That will change in the coming months as I shift to self-publishing but that plan was naturally on hold while my son was so ill. See longer note on my books’ page.

But…forward now! Nothing but good times ahead.

 

 

 

Captain America tea-1

Hail and farewell to this Brave New World of 2017.

This is my current tea of choice, a gift from my wonderful eldest daughter for Christmas. As you can see, it comes from Adagio teas online. I’ve previously written about their awesome custom fandom blends. (See link.)

Captain America tea-2

What does it contain? I decided to try and sort that by taste. Black tea, of course, and there is definitely a licorice flavor and, I suspect, a dash of vanilla and other elements I cannot discern as yet. But it’s smooth and rich and perfect for a lazy morning or a late night cuppa. Feel free to add your guesses!

On appearances…

If you’re looking for me this year, I’m already scheduled to be on panels at two conferences. The first is a parenting panel on Friday of PAX EAST in Boston this March, the second is the New England Romance Writers of America conference in April outside Boston where I will have a panel called “Blogging Isn’t Dead” with co-presenters Anna Bowling and Rhonda Lane.

After that, plans remain fluid. I may attend the RWA National conference in Orlando if a workshop proposal is accepted. I’m leaving fall options open and I’m pondering taking a day to go to the Book Expo America conference this spring in New York City.

On writing….

I’ve been missing Carrie Fisher and Leia more than ever this year. I wrote a piece on why she’s important for the Barnes & Noble blog. 

I’ve been delving into the past as well. In 2010, I published my first full-length novel, Dinah of Seneca, about a young former slave/assassin hoping to start a life in the New World. The book was set in an alternate history where Romans and Vikings had both colonized North America, around 900 A.D.

Yeah, not the usual setting for a romance.

I had a tough time selling it because of that but eventually, found a small publisher who gave me a start. That was awesome but the book never sold that well, nor its sequel, Eagle of Seneca, which brought the Native American tribes around Manhattan into the story. I suspect part of the problem with sales is that they were priced much too high ($7.99) for a debut novelist.

But I loved the storyworld. Last years, I asked for and received the rights back to both books. Since then, they’ve been sitting as I organize what to do with them.

I wanted to re-read and edit them again before republishing because I wanted them to be the best they could be and I suspected I’d learned a little about writing in the past eight years. I’m about 25,000 words into the book and….

WHOA.

I have learned a lot. I believe the emotions of the main characters come through nicely in the current version but, yeah, there are issues.

What I notice most is that I was struggling at the time with blocking–basically where people stood in relation to others and the fluidity of movement. I have a ton of unnecessary words to that effect that slows down the pacing, which I’m slowly fixing.

I credit this better knowledge of blocking to my practice writing comic book scripts which has allowed me to better picture visuals.

There is also a chapter-to-chapter pacing issue. The story moves slower than my Phoenix Institute books. I solved that problem by, well, getting rid of the parts that people skip. 🙂 Scene and sequel is all well and good but there was a problem with people sitting around waiting to act until I thought it was time for them, instead of acting as real people might have in the same situation.

I hope to finish the revisions this month and start on Eagle of Seneca next. That will set me up to self-publish the new version in the spring, once I decide whether these stories are science fiction or romance or both. At the moment, I’m leaning to science fiction/alternate history, though it is also a marriage of convenience story at heart. Sorta. We’ll see.

And if they sell well? Perhaps I’ll finally write that Roman Pirate story that’s rolling around in my head.

In the meantime, the agent has a new Phoenix Institute tale, tentatively titled Phoenix Inferno, which is an erotic romance starring Philip Drake and Delilah Sefton from Phoenix Legacy. It is a menage story and I’d rather not give more away but, to me, it’s about how people create the families that allow them to cherish each other.

I realize for my core readers, it’s been a while since I had something new out. My publisher’s wishy-washiness about closing/notclosing made me reluctant to send anything to them which means I’ve been regrouping. But I have been writing a ton so when the damn breaks, you’ll likely get a whole bunch at once.

bourbon-sunday-blend

Hope you all had a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving!

First, some tea thoughts and good news on my health front. (I know, you didn’t know I was sick. Turns out I’m not. That’s the good news.)

TheTeaTable was one of my first mail order tea services. I haven’t ordered lately because I have supply of loose teas still (see: local tea shop closing leading to tea spending spree) but the Tea Table’s Bourbon Sunday Blend is my absolute favorite of their black teas.

Alas, despite its name, it contains no bourbon. (But it would mix well with bourbon.) From the website description: a black tea blend of tippy Assam teas combined with real Bourbon vanilla pieces, giving it a wonderfully sweet aroma. Enjoy with milk and sugar for a great dessert.

It’s best when enjoyed during the weekend when the taste can be savored but I’ve been known to indulge on weekdays as well, especially on holidays. Follow the link above to TheTeaTable and you’ll find a full selection of all manner of teas at reasonable prices. Plus, they’ll toss in free samples with your order.

Fantastic Beasts suitcase

What’s in the box? Fantastic Beasts suitcase, photo by Corrina Lawson, suit case from Warner Bros.

Only one piece of fiction writing news to report: my erotic romance novella topped out at 43,000 words and was sent off to my agent for review. It was Hawk’s Family but now it’s Phoenix Inferno. Not sure what the final name will be. It’s way out of my comfort zone so there are more than the usual nerves but I needed to write it. I’m still parsing why–we writers often get the desire to write something without knowing the reasons—but I know that it relaxed and occupied me these past few months.

I needed that because, since September, it’s been uncertain whether I had breast cancer or not.

Oh, sure, the doctors tell you not to worry and I’m excellent at compartmentalization but, OF COURSE I WAS WORRIED.

The saga started with a lump under my arm that turned out to be a skin issue but that led me to set up my yearly mammogram or, as I like to call it, the squishing of the boobs. That mammogram turned into an ultrasound where they found a “spot they couldn’t explain.” Fun.

That spot led me to a biopsy and awaiting the results with an attack of nerves. Naturally, it took longer than they said to get the results. The first call I got was an all-clear. Three days later, I received a call back that “hold on, wait!” They wanted to do a breast MRI because there’s still a spot they didn’t check.

That’s when worry set in.

And it turned into a saga. The insurance denied coverage of the MRI because my biopsy was clear. Fine, fine. Several rounds of doctor calls later, another month of waiting on insurance, and the MRI was approved, then another two weeks until the MRI. Remember, I started in September. The MRI was the Friday before Thanksgiving. Yeah.

I plunged myself into other concerns–kids, writing, etc.–and waited on the results. Finally got them the Wednesday of Thanksgiving. All clear. Nothing wrong but lumpy breasts.

WHEW.

But I did develop one habit during the three months of waiting that I’m going to keep.

Each time something came up for me to do, either a new story idea or a non-fiction writing assignment, I said to myself “If I have cancer, would I spend time on this?”

Turns out that question is terrific for setting priorities.

I promptly decided to stop doing reviews of tech like headphones or iPhone cases and to write about the things that mattered to me. Combine that with the election results and the uncertainty with our country right now, and I’m more convinced than ever to spend my time writing stories or articles that I need to write.

I thought about that in regards to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this year’s family Thanksgiving movie. It has received so-so reviews but I found the world absolutely fascinating and it was full of crunchy story possibilities and characters. It’s more layered and nuanced to me than the Harry Potter movies (not the books), which are mostly adventures stories, though good ones. Fantastic Beasts was about people at the margins of society struggling to be heard.

It has its flaws–are there no non-white people in NYC in the 1920s??–but it also has something to say about the world today.

I hope that, eventually, my fiction does that too.

Tardis Tea from Adagio Teas online.

Tardis Tea from Adagio Teas online.

There is such a thing as TARDIS tea and it’s magnificent, a twist on the classic Earl Grey blend.  You can get it via web order at Adagio Teas, which has a fine and varied selection of teas.

I’ve been consuming a great deal of tea lately as this whole daylight savings time swap messes me up in a big way. (And, yes, I know that we just ditched daylight savings to go back to regular time. It’s the switch that messes me up.) My current favorite is my classic breakfast blend tea. It’s what people think of when they usually think of tea but it’s smoother, has more flavor, and is less harsh than your basic Salada or Lipton teas.

I’ve also been writing. What started off as a little fun side project for Philip Drake and Del Sefton, the leads of Phoenix Legacy, has turned into a 44,000 word novella/novel? that is an erotic romance with a m/m/f trio. Yes, it has an S&M flavor but that will be no surprise to anyone who’s read the original book, as Drake has a telekinetic power that heals any injury and this makes him crave pain and the high from his healing.

It’s about found families, and love, and Ohana, and, um, there may be fire play involved. It’s out of my comfort zone but it seems to be one of those books that I needed to write, for whatever reason. I feel as if the book is gooey and sentimental but it’s also a book with whips and knives. So…yeah? I’ve tentatively called it

I’ve tentatively called it Hawk’s Family, but I’m not certain that will be the final title. Maybe Phoenix Inferno would be a better one. 😉

I’ve been doing my regular DC comics reviews with Ray Goldfield over at GeekDad. Recommendations: Go find the new Wonder Woman series by Greg Rucka and read it. It’s awesome, both in writing and art.

I’ve done some blogging again for Heroes & Heartbreakers and the B&N SF/F blog. I’d like to recommend Remnants of Trust by Elizabeth Bonesteel for those who enjoy space opera, and I quite liked talking with author Lexie Dunne about her new take on the Lois Lane archetype.

The other thing that’s been feeding my brain lately?

Re-reading J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I hadn’t noted some of the depths consciously before, such as Eve Dallas being the kind of rape survivor that we all exclaimed was “amazing and new” when it came in the form of Jessica Jones on Netflix. Then there’s the worldbuilding, in which America is recovering from the Urban Wars, and there’s a right-wing reactionary party wanting to bring the country back to where it used to be, in so-called better times. Timely, for certain, because whatever your politics, one can’t deny that the President-Elect received votes from those who think America used to be great and isn’t any longer.

Good luck to those doing National Novel Writing Month. I plan to spend the next few days going over every verb choice the novella. Note to self: stop using “didn’t” so much.

 

photo-oct-04-9-32-10-amOne of these days, I must take a road trip to the Tea Guys headquarters over in Massachusetts. Until then, the Big Y supermarkets are carrying some of their best blends, including this new chai.

The ingredients list:

a blend of black teas, cinnamon, ginger, crystallized ginger, cardamom, cloves, flavors, peppercorn, star anise, and vanilla. 

What I can tell you is that it smells awesome (too bad we don’t have computer smell-o-vision) and tastes equally good.

In writing, the revisions on my various projects are going well, to the point where I may be able to start something brand new in November. Whether that will be work on putting together a self-publishing plan, writing a new novel, or maybe writing a screenplay or comics, I’m not certain as yet. We’ll see how the month shakes out.

As for this week, I’m off to New York Comic Con on Friday. Just for the day but it should be awesome, as I have a couple of DC Comics creator interviews set up and a list of people to stalk, er, find in Artist’s Alley.

 

 

sf-giveaway-lawson

Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. To celebrate the end of summer, I’ve teamed up with more than 35 fantastic science fiction authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to 1 lucky winner!You can win my novel, Curse of the Brimstone Contract, plus books from authors like Brenda Hiatt and Anna Hackett!

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/fall-sci-fi

.Good luck, and enjoy!

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