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 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….


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.


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.


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.




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:

.Good luck, and enjoy!

Tea Guys Pumpkin Caramel Tea, photo by Corrina Lawson

Tea Guys Pumpkin Caramel Tea, photo by Corrina Lawson

It is the time of year for pumpkin spice–which tastes mostly like nutmeg to me–but this is a local twist on that, a flavored caramel tea by a tea house about an hour from me. Happily, the local Big Y supermarket carries their teas. This, so far, is my favorite, probably because the other teas carried by Big Y tend to be the fruity teas and I’m not a big fruity tea person.

Gotta have my caffeinated black tea.

What does pumpkin caramel taste like? A little bit sweet, a little bit cinnamon, and pumpkin, all under a strong black tea flavor. Highly recommended. Now, if I could have only found a good Star Trek tea blend at the Star Trek Mission NY convention over Labor Day weekend, it would have been perfect. Alas, not even Earl Grey. The Trek convention was fun but the dealer room seriously lacked in swag.

In other news, I’ve been writing and revising, fiction and non-fiction. With the twins back to school on a mostly regular basis, it’s time to look back on what I’ve done and what I need to do.

In non-fiction, my work continues at, (Whoa, I didn’t realize I wrote so much last month.) Then there’s Heroes and Heartbreakers–a review of Margaret Coel’s Winter’s Child, and the Barnes & Noble SF/F blog, with a post about the Lost Stories of Star Trek, and a post at B&N Reads about romance authors with multiple identities and why they do that.

In fiction:

Hawk’s Family–a 20,000 word erotic m/m/f novella featuring characters from Phoenix Legacy. This story was happenstance, meaning it came to me mostly fully-formed and took only 3 weeks to draft. It’s been out to beta readers already and is in good shape.
Above the Fold–my romantic suspense.

In the final revision stages:
Death’s Door–a modern gothic romance with ghosts turning murderous.
The Crystal Tower–my ambitious urban fantasy
Have to revise those before we can send them out.

Drafted and Sitting While Thoughts Percolate:
The Hidden Mage of Lotus Hall–a sequel to The Curse of the Brimstone Contract. It’s a “truck draft,” meaning that if I get hit by a truck today, it’s publishable with editing. Normally, this would be my priority. I fully intended to turn it into my editor at Samhain Publishing earlier this year for publication in six months but then news broke of Samhain’s closing/notclosing weirdness. I want to self-publish it but I want to do it in the best way, so I’m waiting until I can do that.

In Research/Outline Drafting Phases:
A paranormal Victorian story set in my steampunk world, more in the vein of Amanda Quick’s Victorian paranormals than steampunk.
A new SF/F romance
An idea set in 1970s Hollywood on the set of a television detective show. This may just become my first screenplay.

There’s something else going on too but until that become real, I’d rather not talk openly about it.

Next up for me in events? A trip to New York Comic Con where I’m definitely going to use this backpack that the awesome pirate lady, Maureen O. Betita, made for me!

Wonder Woman backpack!

Wonder Woman backpack!

loose tea

Our choices from Mystic’s lovely tea shop. Photo by Corrina Lawson

I spent Monday at Mystic Aquarium with the twins (17), mostly watching the Beluga whales swim around and say “hello” to the visitors. Ever since I read Voices in the Ocean: A Journey Into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins by Susan Casey, which teaches exactly how intelligent dolphins and their relatives are and then proceeds to tells how humanity slaughters and mistreats them, I’ve ambivalent at my joy in seeing the Belugas.

But Mystic’s Belugas were brought in as needing rescue, and they have one large tank all to themselves, and they’re only taught behaviors so the aquarium staff can monitor their health. All that helps.

The Belugas definitely seem to notice people, as the male sometimes stops at the underwater viewing area and looks directly at his visitors, the watched becoming the watcher.  He also once tapped the glass where I’d set my hand. I moved the hand and he tapped it again. Numerous times, I’ve also heard him vocalize to the crowd. I wish I knew what he was saying.

We also had time to watch the penguins, see various types of fish, including the always interesting rays, and attend the sea lion show. The show has evolved over the years from sea lions doing tricks to an educational-format where the tricks are used to teach people about sea lions.

Then it was time for downtown Mystic, an early dinner at Mystic Pizza (of course!) and a stroll to the shops, which includes a fabulous independent bookstore, Bank Square Books. My daughter found five books in a series that she’s been wanting to own, so we bought all of them.

The biggest find was the Spice and Tea shop. The 1,000 kinds of salt? (It seemed like that many…) Not interested. The tea? YES. They do mail orders, check out the web addy right on their packages.

As to the rest of my month? I’ve been busy writing a zillion blog posts, for Heroes & Heartbreakers, B&N SF/F and, of course, GeekMom and GeekDad.

The list:

My B&N SF/F author page. If you want, you can bookmark that to see my latest posts as they go up This month, it’s an interview with the creative team behind Monstress, one of this year’s best comics, an interview with Christopher Priest of Black Panther who’s now writing DC’s Deathstroke, and books I’d like to see turned into comics.

GeekMom/GeekDad: Again, the link will take you to all my articles. This month: the San Diego Zoo, my interviews with the cast of Wynonna Earp, a quick look at my encounter with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and what I believe would make the dream comic convention. Hint: it would look a ton like RWA National.

And, finally, a review I wrote of Chuck Wendig’s Invasive at Heroes & Heartbreakers, a review Wendig called his “favorite so far.” 🙂

Also, that erotica novella I’ve been working on? It’s about 17,000 words and only 1,000 from completion. It’s a menage S&M story, as the hero is Philip Drake from Phoenix Legacy, who still has some issues that he must overcome. (The research on this one was a trip and a half.)  In the end, it’s all about finding your family, whatever form that takes.

His name is Boogey and i wanted to bring him home with me. (Photo by Corrina Lawson)

His name is Boogey and i wanted to bring him home with me. (Photo by Corrina Lawson)

Cat Cafe

This guy was sleepy. (Photo by Corrina Lawson)

Cate Cafe San Diego

The King of the Cat Tree. He did not wish to be bothered, like many lions. 🙂 (photo by Corrina Lawson)

I’m home!

But not without 12 days of wonderful memories, of learning, of spending time with old and new friends, of the fabulous food of San Diego, and all those free drinks. (Note: When the public relations people want to woo the press at Comic Con, free booze is heavily involved.)

This visit to the Cat Cafe in San Diego came in between, on the Sunday that the national conference of the Romance Writers of America ended but before we moved into the “Dexter” house which would be our headquarters for Comic Con.

That Sunday was my first visit to a Cat Cafe and it was lovely. The first thing that was perfect is that their chai latte was suburb and at $3, cheaper than any of the local coffee/tea places. The second was the music piped into the cafe was a soothing balm for both cats and humans and just what I needed.

The cats, which are all adoptable through the Cafe’s partners, never had it so good with a room decorated to suit their needs. There was also a cat door to a backroom so they could scoot away from that annoying human interaction if desired. Of course, being cats, the bulk of them staked out their territory in that common room and, because it was mid-day, went to sleep.

Boogey, who liked ear scritches,was among two or three exceptions. (Had I not been on the other side of the county, Boogey might have come home with me.) The king of the place was the orange cat who took over the top of the cat tree and gave the side-eye (and sometimes an extended claw) to anyone who dared disturb his rest.

From there, Sunday was a whirlwind visit to the Horton Grand Hotel for brunch on their indoor patio, which also included bottomless mimosas with my fellow adventurer, Chris Merrill.  A trip to the Hotel Del Coronado with Chris and Kay Moore, who used to be a fellow moderator with me on the old cherry writing list, made the day extra special. I bought my husband new cufflinks at the Hotel, which said “Brave” and “True.”

And then we went to the Dexter AirBnB.

Chris deserves credit for that nickname, as she took one look around the place and its ceramic/cement flooring, its sparse decorations, its black and white design scheme, and pronounced it was one of those places where you could kill someone and clean it up easily. (We are writers. This is what we do. I’m sure the Dexter house will show up in a book of mine down the line.)

One complaint: the mugs were far too small for my required tea consumption in the morning. I had to pull out the travel mug given out at the Day of YA at RWA. (Thank you, Young Adult chapter of the RWA!)

We spent a lovely couple of days in quiet before our other two roommates arrived on Wednesday. Two things became clear in this quiet. One, I was so used to trying to cram all my work into just a couple of hours that when I had five or six hours available without interruption, it felt like the ultimate of luxuries. Two, I multi-task unconsciously. While I was making French Toast on Wednesday morning, I also emptied the dishwasher. Why? Because I’ve learned never to do just one thing in the kitchen or else nothing gets done. (The French Toast turned out wonderfully, Chris said. I thought so too.)

A Diana Prince drink from the Searsucker restaurant. It features hot pepper tequila. One of the few drinks I paid for. (Photo by Corrina Lawson.)

A Diana Prince drink from the Searsucker restaurant. It features hot pepper tequila. One of the few drinks I paid for. (Photo by Corrina Lawson.)

On Wednesday afternoon, Comic Con began! More on that next week.

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