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!

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 GeekMom.com, (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:

Finished:
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.

I realize this is late in the day for the East Coast but, hey, I’m on West Coast time now! 🙂

Yes, among other things, there is great loose tea to be had in San Diego.

The cute young barista made me a proper iced tea chai latte at Skybound Coffee.

Menu from Skybound Coffee, photo by Corrina Lawson

Menu from Skybound Coffee, photo by Corrina Lawson

And, of course, you can order a chai latte at the Cat Cafe in San Diego, along with cat cuddles and the occasional indifferent sleeping cat.

San Diego would not have been complete with my friends, especially roomies Katy Cooper and Chris Merrill, my lovely and wise friend Robin LaFevers, and Maria and Chandra and Tara and Kathy Fawcett and, well, just everyone. I love the Romance Writers Conference. It’s the only one I know where hugging breaks out spontaneously.

Christine Merrill, Katy Cooper & Robin LaFevers. :)

Christine Merrill, Katy Cooper & Robin LaFevers. :)

To top it off, Kay Moore showed up on Sunday to play tour guide for us and took us to the Hotel Del Coranado for lunch. Spectacular views. Kay also play taxi for Chris and myself as we moved into the AirBnb on Sunday night from the RWA hotel.

Me at Hotel Del Coronado, where many famous Hollywood movies were filmed.

Me with my Jackie Oh! shades at Hotel Del Coronado, where many famous Hollywood movies were filmed.

Beachfront view of the Hotel Del Coronado's beach, from our brunch. :)

Beachfront view of the Hotel Del Coronado’s beach, from our brunch. :)

Chris has promptly dubbed the 1-bedroom (king-size bed), with living room and kitchen AirBnB as “the Dexter apartment” because it has bland white walls, and ceramic/concrete flooring that could be easily cleaned in case of spills, messes and, oh, murder. (Only writers would think of the latter, I suspect.)

Tomorrow, my Comic Con press events start with a twirl, as I will be one of the first to view the Wonder Woman movie props and costumes! 🙂

This bucket list trip is going well. Hope I didn’t just jinx it! 🙂

Team Machine t-shirt

Team Machine t-shirt via RedBubble

I will begin with the tea portion of our day. It says much about my love of tea that the booth I’m most looking forward to patronizing at the Connecticon Convention in July is tea booth so I can buy 8 oz. of their Vincent Van Gogh blend. It might be called Starry Night. I’ve wanted to order it for ages but lost the name of the company. ARGH. Hence, my anticipation.

I’ve also been researching tea for my trip to San Diego later in July. Thanks to the lovely PR person at the San Diego Board of Tourism, I’ve discovered that the San Diego Comic Art Gallery and Point Loma Tea shop are located just around the corner from each other. Thank you, universe.

In addition to Point Loma Tea, I’m told there is also Shakespeare’s Corner and the San Diego House in Old Town San Diego. Hmm…I may not need to bring as much loose tea as I thought.

Shakespeare's Tea Room in San Diego. Who wants to come for afternoon tea with me?

Shakespeare’s Corner tea in San Diego. Who wants to come for afternoon tea with me?

Meantime, as the t-shirt above can attest, I’ve gotten more obsessed with Person of Interest, even thought it’s been over a week now since the finale. I have rarely encountered a show that’s such a perfect blend of characters I adore and a concept that blows me away. Team Machine’s final confrontation with Team Samaritan had me at the edge of my seat and I’m not ashamed to say I cried it spots–both out of sorrow and joy. I’ve even conned my oldest son (20) into watching it. Fusco is his favorite. Of course he is!

Me, I’m a Shaw girl. And I didn’t even like her when she first showed up. Now she’s my favorite. Except for the Machine. I adore the bodiless sentient AI, who may be the most human of Team Machine. But, mostly, I loved them all.

I salute you, writers, actors, and those behind the scenes doing stuff like writing all those screen captions for the Machine and Samaritan. A job well done. But I want more. (Aside: Shoot–Root/Shaw– may be the best shipping name ever. )

As for my own writing, you can find what I’ve been blogging about here, under my personal tag Cory (my nickname), and the joint DC Reviews under Ray Goldfield’s name. My favorite? The interview with the author of geeky erotica. Geek girl gamers, unite!

Oh, did I mention I wrote over 10,000 words in a short erotic novella last week? The leads are Philip Drake and Del Sefton from Phoenix Legacy and it’s a m/m/f menage. (Obviously, there’s another lead but to tell you who it is would be spoilery.) Because I wasn’t quite done with Philip Drake nor was he quite done with me.

Talk about burying the lead: I finished the draft of what has become The Hidden Mage of Lotus Hall, book 2 in the steampunk detectives series starring Gregor Sherringford and Joan Krieger. It is the sequel to The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, which went all the way to #11 on Amazon’s steampunk bestseller list.

When will it be out? Well, that’s a tale in itself. Likely not before the fall but I’m working on a way for people to read it for free. We’ll see.

 

 

boston-attractions-tea-roomA public service announcement first:

Given the massacre in Orlando and the upcoming election with two polar opposite personalities, it’s a tense time in America. I will get political here on in this sense:

Vote.

I mean “vote” more for than the President. Look up your local elected officials, look who’s running in the elections in the state house, in the governor’s office, for Congress (House and Senate), and, heck, even check into municipal board elections and school board elections.

To paraphrase West Wing: History is made by those who show up.

One of the most effective tools of the current Republican Congress members is that they’ve been able to get people supporting them to come out and vote. I applaud them for that. I feel our democracy works best when more people exercise their right to vote. Your single vote may not matter in the Presidential election but it will matter in the local races for State House and State Senate. My current State Representative won by five votes in the last election.

Your vote matters.

If you supported Bernie and are disenchanted with the system, find a local candidate to work for, one that can affect local change. If you supported a Republican other than Trump, do the same. If you support one of the two big candidates for President, still find local elected officials. Learn about them. Cast an educated vote.

History is made by those who show up.

/end democracy soapbox rant.

So, back to Revolutionary Tea. Did you know there’s a Boston Tea Party Museum in South Boston, within easy walking distance of South Station?

You can pay to take the tour that includes a demonstration of the Boston Tea Party or you can do what I did and go out on the deck above the ships, pay less than $5 to drink an endless cup of fresh brewed tea (several flavors available) and sit out on the deck, listen to the presentation and look over Boston Harbor.

The Boston Tea Party Museum. You can see the deck above the ships in this photo.

The Boston Tea Party Museum. You can see the deck above the ships in this photo.

It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in the summer.

In other news, yes, I know it’s been a month since I posted. A busy month, complete with the end of school, several press trips to Six Flags to ride some of the new roller coasters, my weekly reviews of DC Comic’s complete lineup with Ray Goldfield, an interview with the creator of Legend of Wonder Woman, and my Same Geek Channel television awards. (Person of Interest won. I’m obsessed with that show right now.)

All my posts for GeekDad/GeekMom can always be found at my web page there. If you want to keep up with all the posts in the future, you could bookmark that page. I usually post a few times a week. One exception: the DC Reviews are under Ray Goldfield’s name.

Oh, and the twins turned seventeen last week. WHAT?? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

photo by Corrina Lawson

photo by Corrina Lawson

 

 

All four of the minions in one place. A rare event!

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