I have a book out today, Ghosts of Christmas Past.

I’m proud of it, I love the characters of Al and Noir, I love that it’s a Christmas story, and I love that I was able to integrate A Christmas Carol into the plot.

But a part of me feels like it’s a little gauche to celebrate my personal victory today with the tragedy of what’s happening in Ferguson and the continued tragedy of deadly race relations in America.

My story features a cop as the hero, an African-American detective who’s one of the few honest men in his city, like Jim Gordon on the Gotham television show.  Why is he African-American? Why wouldn’t he be in an urban city like my Charlton City aka the Double C? And there seemed something off to me about a white cop trying to impose order on a racially mixed city, even a fictional one.

When I was writing this story, I tried hard to make the setting realistic, to make certain anything that happened could potentially happen in our world. In one sequence, Al stops the corrupt SWAT team from tossing flash-bang grenades into a restaurant full of civilians.

I thought this might be pushing the boundaries of what could happen in an American city.

Then Ferguson happened.

And suddenly, my corrupt SWAT team paled in comparison to the sight of police officers, 99 percent white, in full riot gear imposing order on the mostly African-American citizens of a city.

I don’t want reality to be worse than a horrible situation I create for fiction.

But this is another reason that Aloysius James is who he is. Because as long as we (society) view the world as black and white, as long as some people are seen as the other, then we’re going to continue to have these problems. We need change.

I’m not patting myself on the back. I think adding in diverse characters to my stories, like Al, or the Japanese-American heroine in Phoenix Rising or the Native American heroine in Eagle of Seneca, or a mixed race hero in the upcoming Phoenix Inheritance, is the absolute MINIMUM any writer can do.

Because, at this point, using only straight white characters in stories is ignoring reality. A writer has to deliberately eliminate part of the reality outside our windows, on the internet and on our televisions screens, in order to create an all-white world.

Acknowledging reality’s truth is the least I can do.

 

 

Out tomorrow!

Also available for Nook and at Samhain Publishing.

Here’s Lucy/Noir’s first point of view chapter, chapter two in the book.

*******************
Lucy wasn’t sure which was worse—that she couldn’t get Al to admit exactly how much of a dumbass he was being or that she was terrified of him being right.

At this point, she was shocked he’d ever unbent enough to have sex with her in the first place, with his talk of giving her space. He thought she’d change her mind about him. Now that this was real, a normal relationship, he was having trouble because he didn’t trust what she felt.

They were together because they had a connection, not because of any weird mess in her head. You’d think he’d know that.

At least, they had a connection when he was around. Okay, so maybe they had two issues. And he was using the second to cover up the real problem, which was he was terrified to truly commit. He made room for her in his place but not in his life, certainly not the way he lived it. He thought she’d walk so he kept her at arm’s length except in bed.

Space? Hah!

She drew in a deep breath, the cold air freezing her teeth. She wasn’t just hanging around the Double C for Al, as her parents seemed to think she was. She’d built something here, even if she couldn’t quite figure out how to square it with her old life. This was important.

Hanging around in that transient-artist place. Damn Al for saying that.

As she walked the final block, she pulled her fedora lower to stop the snow from dripping onto her face. She’d grown to like hats from her time in costume as Noir. She wore Noir’s black leather duster and boots too. Noir was a part of her. She had her name and most of her memories back but she didn’t completely feel like Lucy yet.

Were Lucy and Noir the same person?

The blast of air that heated her face the instant she walked inside the colony was a welcome break from that thought.

And then she laughed at the clashing holiday displays that had sprung up overnight in their little art collective. To one side sat a metal tree made of old car parts, strung with blue lights that reflected the chrome and steel, and topped with a Smurf. That had to be Cassandra’s doing. To the other side, there was a tree made totally of newspaper clippings. She stepped closer and realized all the clippings talked about atheism and the evils of religion and how even Christmas trees were pagan.

But in the middle? A traditional tree topped by a star, full of handmade paper ornaments. Was it revealing her normal suburban upbringing that she liked that one best? This was the first year she’d celebrated Christmas in a long time. Hell, it was the first Christmas she would even remember since she was seventeen.

Five days until release day for Ghosts of Christmas Past! A little taste of the first chapter.
*****************

“Dinner smells good,” she said. “That’s the only good thing about it.” “It’s nice of you to cook.” “This is my uncle’s chili recipe. He makes it for the guys in the firehouse. Maybe you can tell me what’s missing.”

He offered her a taste on the edge of the wooden spoon. She tentatively flicked out her tongue over it and that gave him images not related to food at all. She wrinkled her nose. Yep, it was definitely awful.

“Needs more tomato,” she offered.

Unable to resist, he bent his neck and kissed her. All resistance melted as he pulled her close, the soft, honey scent of her filling his soul.

She drew back and put her head on his shoulder. “Right, I should close the curtains,” he said.

She laughed, a sound of joy so pure it made his heart ache. “I could care less about who sees us.” He brushed her hair back and kissed where her shoulder met her neck, caressing it with his tongue. She pulled away from him again. He got the right message this time.

“Still stuck on the phone call?” Family. Always a mood killer. But working through this was part of her recovery. Listen and support. He knew that part of the psych drill too.

“I don’t seem to know what to do with them lately, even though I’ve visited at least twice a month since…”

He stroked her back. She never liked finishing that sentence. “Since you regained most of your memories of being Lucy, you mean.”

She entwined their hands. Restoring all those lost memories had required the help of a trained telepath. They were damn lucky to have found one in Beth Nakamora. The bonus to remembering everything, including all those horrible things in her captivity, had been learning how to switch her invisibility on and off. Noir claimed dealing
with that pain all over again had been worth learning the control. He wondered. But he didn’t push. Listen and support. That had been the mantra Beth gave to him as Noir’s boyfriend.

“What do you want?”

“We’re throwing a huge holiday party at the artists’ collective. I want to be there. And I want to stay here in the Double C and spend Christmas with you.”

For that statement alone, he’d give her the world. Yet what if his world was too small for her? All he had was this small apartment and a job that never gave him much time for a private life. She had the talent to go places, and she had so much time to make up.

He caressed her neck with his thumb. “I love you.” God, I love you, Noir. But Lucy might well decide that while he was part of her present, he wasn’t her future. He had to face the possibility that their relationship was simply a step in Lucy’s recovery.

“Yes, we’ll get a tree, but whether it’s your parents’ house or the artists’ party, I can’t go with you. I’ll be on duty.”

She pushed his hand away. “You could take time off if you wanted. I’m not sure you do.”

“What? That’s crazy.”

“Is it? I mean, you want the sex—I want the sex—but you don’t seem to want much else out of this. Okay, sometimes you want help with a case.”

Crap, this was going to be a mess now, wasn’t it?

This week was one of those weeks where I thought I didn’t accomplish anything and then I looked back at the week and realize that, yes, I kinda did.

First, not my post, but a wonderful review of Luminous over at It’s About the Book.

Luminous, superhero romance, Jim GordonFrom the review:

Oh man oh man oh man. What a delightful surprise! The author sent this to me so that I could review the following book about Noir and Al that’s due out on November 25th, Ghosts of Christmas Past (The Phoenix Institute Series). So I settled in last night, knowing that since it was a novella it wouldn’t take me too long. ~STOP~ One hour later I’m floored! It is absolute genius! I fell in love with it from the first page and it never faltered, not even once. It was… simply… luminous.

This warmed my heart because it always warms a writer’s heart when someone absolutely gets your story and loves your characters as much as you do.

And also because the same character, Captain Aloysius James of the Charlton City Police Department and Noir, invisible superhero, are also featured in the soon-to-be released Ghosts of Christmas Past.

I love the hell out of these two and the world they live in, which is my loving homage to Gotham City in the Batman universe. I love them so much that I’m currently writing a very short story for an upcoming holiday book event in which Al goes shopping for Noir’s Christmas present.

It turns out to be a lot more complicated than just a simple trip to the mall. :)

Next, there was my post on Beyond the Veil about how inserting a real event into a work of fiction doesn’t necessarily make it believable.

From the post:

One of the final copy edit notes I received back this month for the upcoming Phoenix Inheritance was that the near-deadly snowstorm that opens the book is wrong.

The copy editor, bless her, thought more snow should be present, especially in the aftermath.

Here’s the photo of the real storm. You can read my conclusion at the post.

Our swingset after the October 2011 snowstorm.

I continued my recaps of Gotham, the television show that has such quick cuts that it can make the viewer dizzy. Is Barbara the dumbest woman in a current superhero show? Discuss, as she has competition from Laurel on Arrow and Iris on The Flash.

And over on GeekMom:

1. I reviewed a bunch of new comics, including the Teen Titans Earth 1 graphic novel, Batgirl #36, the second with a new creative team and some innovative artwork, and the new crime novel, The Kitchen, about a group of women who take over their husband’s mob organization. (All pretty good.)

2. I interviewed the new writer of the Wonder Woman comic, Meredith Finch, who received the job amid controversy.

3. And I wrote my regular Cliffs of Insanity column, featuring the European Space Agency landing a spaceship on a comic and the world’s ugliest work shirt, my thoughts on the possible director for the Wonder Woman movie, and my take on Big Hero 6, a movie I adored so much, I wanted to hug it.

Oh, and I wrote 3,000 words on the work in progress and had a great brainstorm about the Big Bad. It’s perfect. I can’t wait to write the rest of the scenes.

Now…the weekend! In which I attempt to clean off the dining room table so we can actually, you know, eat at it, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Wonder Woman shoes, journeys

I want these!!
But I already have these:

journeys, Wonder Woman hi-tops

image via Journeys

And these:

journeys, DC comics shoes

image via journeys.com

So…overkill?

Nah! :)

On the holidays, I have an upcoming release!

Already up on Amazon for pre-order. It’s my vision of Christmas in a Gotham-like city. So there’s a bit of murder but also more than a bit of sex.

Unfortunately, there’s precious little sex in the television show Gotham so far. Instead, the show earns its mature style with over-the-top deaths, like being floated into the sky via balloon or crushed by ATM or death via insane ritual.

Also about sex, from a more serious standpoint, is my recap of the Sex Scenes From the Female Gaze panel at GeekGirlCon last month.

A sample:

When I put together this panel for GeekGirlCon 2014, I had two goals. One was to have a good time. The other was to shine a light on how our society tends to view sex and sexuality from only one perspective.

To those who attended the panel, I hope you had fun. It was awesome to see a packed house. I’d no idea we’d draw that many people to our panel. I laughed when reading the “Pool Boy” letter in preparation for the panel and I thought it illustrated our point well: this is how the stereotypical male gaze views women. (God forbid one should be over 40 and not have a bikini wax.)

But the second goal was more serious. I need to thank the questioner who asked why call it “sex scenes from the female gaze?” because that brings in all sorts of gender assumptions that may or may not be true.

I could lie and say I thought “The Smut Panel” wouldn’t be accepted by the GeekGirlcon organizers but the truth is that when I named the panel, I thought less of how individual men and women view sex and more about how our pop culture, which is predominantly male-dominated, views sex, especially sex for women. Whatever gender we happen to be, we get a steady diet of what female and non-straight-white male sex looks like through the straight white male gaze.

The rest at the link!

And speaking of the real Gotham, I’ve been recapping every episode over at CriminalElement.com

Here are some highlights. Click on the links for the full recaps.

Premier: Episode 1:

The first episode of the series nails Jim Gordon’s essential morality. There’s a line he won’t cross and shortcuts he won’t take. At least so far, because the first hour of Gotham promises some serious challenges to his worldview. It also provides Gordon an excellent counterpoint in cynical, slovenly and yet smart Detective Harvey Bullock. If Ben McKenzie doesn’t watch out, Donal Logue’s Bullock is going to steal the show from his Gordon. Watching the two of them this season together promises to be a lot of fun, especially if they can continue to exchange the wryly funny looks like the ones they gave each other while upside down on meathooks.

So what did we learn about the future of this show in the pilot?

“Selina Kyle,” Episode 2

Instead, from Falcone’s public beating of Fish’s lover, to the too on-the-nose dialogue about being “with the program” from Capt. Essen, and Bullock’s repeated badgerings of Jim Gordon to stop acting all high and mighty, Episode 2, “Selina Kyle” became, at times, almost as silly as its Monday night companion, Sleepy Hollow but not nearly as fun as Sleepy Hollow, which embraces its ridiculousness. (Look, everyone, studly naked torso!)

“The Balloonman,” Episode 3:

The show’s writers know that handcuffing corrupt officials to weather balloons and sending them up in the sky is a comic book murder concept. They use that ridiculousness to their advantage, even having one of the dead bodies fall back to earth, squishing an old lady in a scene that reminded me of the old woman with the dogs in A Fish Called Wanda.

“Arkham,” Episode 4:

Gotham should be subtitled “Rise of the Penguin,” as it’s clear by this fourth episode that this season is all about Oswald Cobblepot’s bid for power.

Focusing on the villain is a tradition in Batman screen adaptations, all the way back to Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. And Oswald is perfectly cast to fill this need. Robin Lord Taylor has on-screen charisma to burn, enough so that while he’s a cheerfully unrepentant murderer, I find myself rooting for him. Oswald took a big step forward with this week’s orchestration of a robbery and then dispatching his hired help via poisoned cannoli. (He takes the gun, the cannoli, and the money.)

“Viper,” Episode 5:

Oswald doesn’t kill anyone this episode. That’s a first. Still, I need to give the writers full credit for finding another fun but gruseome way for Gotham denizens to die: crushed by ATM.

“Spirit of the Goat,” Episode 6:

What’s next?

Likely Barbara will stand by her now-proved innocent man. In any other show, I’d be worried that Barbara would be killed to add some more angst but, hopefully, Barbara’s future role as the mother of Batgirl prevents that.

Oswald will have fun manipulating everyone and trying to “help” his good, true friend Jim. It’s amusing that both Barbara and Oswald look to Jim as a paragon of virtue.

Bullock might keep on doing real work? I hope that means he’s redeemable.

And this show went a whole episode again without Oswald killing anyone. Pretty sure that’s not going to last.

“Penguin’s Umbrella,” Episode 7:

And, yet, it was also full of what’s becoming Gotham’s trademark humor: from Penguin being overly formal, apologetic and making honking noises, to villain Victor Zsasz’s Funkytown ringtone and to Harvey’s taste in bedroom companions. But the funniest sequence had to be Falcone’s idea of kidnapping nuns and chaining them together to block Maroni’s trucks from leaving the city.

What do I think of the show so far? Entertaining, a bit shallow but growing progressively better each episode.

This story releases on November 26th, at all media outlets. I’m posting the cover today because it was the day of the Connecticut Romance Writers of America meeting and it’s because of CTRWA member Jamie Schmidt that I wrote the story last summer, after she challenged us all to write a novella in 30 days. It helped that I knew the characters well.

It’s a stand alone story but the characters first appeared in the novella Luminous.

romance novella, police drama

The Phoenix Institute, Book 3.5

As Christmas approaches in crumbling Charlton City, Detective Aloysius James and his partner, Noir, are at a crossroads. Figuring out how to reconcile their careers with their relationship is harder than catching the bad guys.

Now that Noir has learned to control her invisibility and is making a name for herself among the city’s artist collective, Al senses there’s something she’s keeping from him. And he doesn’t know how long they can remain partners. Or even lovers.

Noir isn’t sure how Al would take it if he knew how deeply he has touched her artistic soul, or how he could react if he saw the secret drawings that have helped heal the wounds of her past.

When a murder lands them on opposite sides—Al ready to arrest a suspect Noir insists in innocent—they’re going to need to unwrap all the ghosts of their pasts to make this Christmas the first of many. Or it could be their last.

Warning: Contains explicit, desperate make-up sex. Also, pie.

Note: Yes, the hero is African-American, though the cover makes it look more like he has a tan. :)

 

Selfie! Myself at the top of the Seattle Space Needle

I have much to share about GeekGirlCon but first, I wanted to share a recap of our Smut Panel aka the Sex From the Female Gaze, which consisted of me and my roommates, romance writer Christine Merrill and Sequential Tart Sheena McNeil. Chris did a fun wrap-up on her blog already. My full report will come later, at the GeekGirlCon site.

But in short, we packed the room and had to turn away people. I predict we’ll be back next year with all new smut and more panelists! In the meantime, look below for my reaction when I realized how many people were at our panel. :) (Not really but close.)

At the EMP Museum near the Space Needle, there was a horror section with a scream booth. You scream as loud as you can, they take the photo. :)

First, quickie reminder:  it looks like Amazon and B&N haven’t changed the price yet on Phoenix Rising, the book that started all this. The sale could end any time now, so if you’re at all interested, now’s the time to grab it. Romantic Times magazine gave it four stars and Night Owl Reviews said: “Put Phoenix Rising on your keeper shelf, it’s an amazing read. I absolutely loved it…”

That out of the way, some fun stuff for Ghost Phoenix! :)

First, a few reviews.

 

Releases 10/7/2014

From the All ThingsUrban Fantasy site:

“The story is fast paced starting out as a simple madcapped heist to find the body of Rasputin, only to become a more complex race against time with massive deadly roadblocks in store for Richard and Marian. The conflict with Rasputin was very entertaining and suspenseful. The way in which they incorporated Marian’s ability into the quest to get Rasputin’s DNA was genius.  GHOST PHOENIX is a thrilling science fiction adventure story with a sweet romance that doesn’t overwhelm the exciting plot.”

From It’s About the Book:

“Corrina Lawson has built a very unique series with the Phoenix Institute novels–in fact, I would say it is unlike any other I’ve read. Each book is a unique story in and of itself; yet they build on each other like layers of a wedding cake. You can read one without reading the others and have a completely enjoyable read; however, to get the entire scrumptious mouthful, you’ll want to plunge into the whole set, making sure you get a taste of each. Honestly, even read out of order it works! Then you will get the total swirl of delicious textures, tastes and delights that this author has on offer with this truly one-of-a-kind series. Enjoy!”

I will always take it well when someone calls my writing genius or scrumptious. :)

And then I went podcasting with the geeks at Mass Collision, who hang out on the community blog of That Guy With the Glasses. What a fun bunch. From their description:

U.S.A’s Tyr hosts this episode’s runway disaster with Co-hosts Maluku from Germany, Darrius-Jonah from U.K, and Spookypony from Australia, also joining us, special guest writer and editor of Geekmom.com Corrina Lawson.  In this episode we talk about Corrina’s Phoenix Institute saga, Battle Royal is messed up, and you should totally read it, the plight of geeky mothers, Watchdogs DLC, and the Primetime fall lineup of shows, including Gotham, and Agents of Shield.

What’s next?

I’m leaving on a jet plane to Seattle tomorrow morning for GeekGirlCon. GeekMom will have a table, come visit! And don’t miss the presentation of “Sex From the Female Gaze” at 7 p.m. on Saturday. There will be smut, oh yes.

I’m presently wondering if they’ll let us bring a bottle of wine…

And the promised peek into Ghost Phoenix.

Richard Genet is part of a Court of Immortals. Why immortals? Because I decided early on that the first psychic ability discovered was a telekinetic ability to heal one’s own body. This ability is usually unconscious, meaning that only people with a strong will to live would live long enough to consciously realize what was happening.

I searched European history for these kinds of steely personalities and came out first with Eleanor of Aquitaine, ruling Duchess of Aquitaine, wife to two kings, mother to two kings, and whose descendants ruled Europe. And then there was William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, Regent of England, who at the advanced age of 77, saved England from a French Invasion.

Marshal was Eleanor’s favorite knight. One of the joys of writing this book was putting them in a scene together.

“I’ve every right. Now that my brother is dead, I am the Queen’s heir.” Richard tilted his head and glared at the doctor. “You forget your place.”

“And you finally remember yours, Richard,” the Queen whispered, her voice muffled by the curtains around her bed.
The Queen’s words were barely audible, yet still carried a rebuke. All was not lost yet, Richard thought, if she possessed the energy to chide him. He strode to the bed and pushed aside the opulent curtains to reveal the occupant.

Only years of practice in courtly manners kept his face from showing the shock of seeing her like this.

None of his Queen’s beauty remained. Her sallow cheeks, the sick yellow tint to her skin, and stringy muscles that covered bone made her look like a corpse. Her silk bedclothes seemed a grotesque joke, beauty covering death.
Their immortality relied on the desire to live. Thought became deed. No disease could destroy them, and very few injuries were immune to their psychic healing abilities. Doctors and their precautions be damned—the only way the Queen could die was if she wanted to die.

“How could you let yourself become this?”

“How could you stay away from me so long?” Her eyes gleamed, full of anger. She raised a skeletal finger to him and pointed. “And with these clothes and with your hair bleached? This isn’t you.”

Richard bit his tongue and waited a few seconds before replying, lest he let loose his horror at what remained of the most vital person he’d ever known. “Ah, I see you’re not too far gone yet if you criticize me. But you didn’t answer my question.”

“We are not required to answer your question,” said the Queen, using the royal “we”.

Another good sign, he hoped. She must live. What could be so wrong? He sat on the bed, next to her. With her so tiny, there was plenty of room. “You chide me for leaving. And yet you’d give up and leave them without a Queen.”

“You could lead our court. You’re my heir, as you just said.”

“I’d lead them into the waves, perhaps.” He smiled. “Is that why you insisted I return, then? To assure yourself the Court could continue without you?” He shook his head. “I’m no replacement for you. No one is. You’ll simply have to live.”

She blinked and looked past him. Richard glanced over his shoulder and saw Marshal standing directly behind him. The others had moved to the opposite side of the room, giving them relative privacy.

“His manners lack, as always, but his words speak the truth, Eleanor,” Marshal said.

“You wound us, William,” she said.

“Truth often wounds. And I fear you may be too far gone for any words to have effect,” Marshal answered.

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