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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! 🙂

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!

My daughter gave me this  extra-large mug.

My daughter’s gift. :)

A deep sigh here: my local tea shop is closing.

In response to that news, I’ve been laying in a large supply of loose tea, everything from licorice to German gingerbread to hot cinnamon spice (my current favorite) to chai to Earl Grey Creme to Toated Almond and, finally, Supreme Breakfast tea.

It’s back to mail order after all that is gone. The tea shop owner seems happy about the closing. She’s worked for over a decade to keep the shop afloat but now she wants a new adventure and she’s getting out before she goes under water. I can’t blame her for that.

On writing, I’ve taken a red pen to the plot of The Hidden Mage of Lotus Hall, as I had to reorder things to make sure I had that Moment of Impossible Choice at the climax. I’ve started back at the beginning and I wrote a new first chapter. Nothing new for me, as my original draft first chapters usually end up being chapter three. (In one memorable case, it ended up on page 100. That’s called starting the story in the middle. 🙂

To prove that writing isn’t always a solitary experience, I attended the Connecticut Romance Writers of America Spring Fling Reader’s Luncheon on Saturday as a sponsoring author. What a lovely, lovely time. Major props to the organizers and, oh, my, such fun to talk to librarians and book bloggers! I even spoke to my boss at the Heroes and Heartbreakers blog!

I'm the short one. :)

I’m the short one. :)

For blogging, I had a chance to experience part of Six Flags’ new generation of roller coasters plus virtual reality at a Six Flags New England Press Day. Let me tell you, this is COOL. I’m less enthused about this Fireball ride at Six Flags New England not because it doesn’t look fantastic but because I’m just not big at hanging upside down. 🙂 Spin me, twirl me, toss me around and about, even upside down, but don’t stop me upside down.

Six Flags Fireball

And, of course, my usual articles about DC comics, as Secret Six and Midnighter remain awesome.

Sandra Boynton mug

One of my oldest mugs, a gift. photo by Corrina Lawson

I believe this was one of the first presents my husband bought me. Yes, I’ve kept him. But this morning required a much larger dose of hot cinnamon tea to wake me up.

Why? Because on the agenda is taking the youngest minion (16) to the foot doctor for the fracture of a bone in her left foot. I thought it wasn’t too serious but took her to the doctor for X-rays, etc, doing the mom due-diligence. Unhappily, she did this on a Friday, so we just got the X-ray results on Monday and couldn’t get an appointment with a foot specialist until today.

This has put a serious crimp in my writing, though, yes, I’m slogging along still with The Dark Mage of Lotus Hall. I’ve stopping counting words and, instead, I’m counting what’s missing. The climax is almost set up, I need a new chapter at the beginning to set up the character arc best, and I need to make sure I nail the black moment. I like what I heard at my local RWA meeting two weeks ago about the dark moment from bestselling author Dee Davis:

“It’s the moment of impossible choice.”

A tall order. Let’s see if I can pull it off.

I’ve also been writing and blogging. Please check out the new joint GeekDad and GeekMom website at www.geekdad.com. All-new graphics! Readers must be pleased as the pageviews have been excellent.

Meanwhile, lots of articles this week:

The Epic Trolls of Gail Simone at B&N’s SF/F Blog.

We’re On The Record With These Journalists in Romance and The Flash’s Iris West Deserves Her Happily Ever After at Heroes and Heartbreakers. I’m a comic geek but even I was surprised at just how convoluted Iris’ history has been. The woman has more lives than a cat or Marvel’s Phoenix.

Back at my home base, GeekMom/GeekDad:

The New 52 Superman and Green Arrow: Missed Opportunities. Poor Clark and Ollie. The last few years of DC Comics haven’t been kind to them.

Romance is Worldbuilding, Even in Science Fiction, a great guest post by Elizabeth Bonesteel, the author of The Cold Between.

DC This Week: Legend of Wonder Woman Soars: This is the Wonder Woman book you need to be reading, everyone.

 

 

mugs

My mom gave me this one. 🙂 photo by Corrina Lawson.

Good evening! Today’s tea is Assam Loose Leaf because I needed serious caffeine.I’m off Thursday-Monday to Daytona Beach for a press junket to tour the new Daytona Speedway facility and witness the Daytona 500 for the first time, so there was much preparation to accomplish.

Still, there was time for fun. The youngest boy and I headed to the local mall for his last day of a short winter school break and we feasted on Wetzel’s pretzel bites. (We have tried other brands and Wetzels are the best.)

We picked up a bargain book at Barnes & Noble for $9.98 about the worst decision in history. Hah! Perhaps it will be a positive influence on the boy? I also picked a few items up from Sears’ Land’s End clearance sale because their clothes are comfy and last a long time.

Of course, still writing. Passed 42,000 words on The Dark Mage of Lotus Hall. I lost a few words  as I revised from my original intent. I also had to ponder the wisdom of having too much happen at once and decided to spread it out just a bit. (Should I crash that flying car? Would that be too mean?) Anyway, that much murder and mayhem in the space of six hours was overboard, even for me. I must find some space for sexytimes!

Also, I seemed to have renamed the young daughter of the Duke from Beatrix/Trixie to Anne. Hmm….

In the meantime, enjoy the reviews of last week’s DC Comics, in which I gush about The Legend of Wonder Woman series and lament the return of the ultra-grim unhappy Batman, and my Agent Carter recap from last week.

Next week, I promise many photos of my trip to Daytona Beach and my view of the Daytona 500 race!

“Chrome-wheel fuel injected and steppin’ out over the line….”

Welcome to the release day Five Past Midnight, a special boxed set from Samhain Publishing! I’m so proud to be a part of this with my fellow supernatural thriller authors. Each of our stories is unique, but I think you’ll find some elements in common: sexy and smart heroes, independent heroines, and action galore!

Below you’ll find excerpts from all the books but, first, the giveaway! This will run for a week and enter to win the entire digital set.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now the sneak peaks! As you can read, I’m in excellent company.One of the fringe benefits of being in this box set is that I found four new authors to read. 🙂

From Veiled Target by Robin Bielman:
Tess Damon had no intention of telling the man holding the gun to her head what she was capable of. If he believed he had the upper hand, maybe she’d get out of this alive.

She silently fought the knots in her stomach and gripped the leather safety straps hanging in the open lift gate of the small, private business jet. As she struggled to keep her footing against the howling gale-force wind, shivers raced up and down her body. The frigid temperature stole precious air from her lungs. Her eyes watered and her ears ached. Pressure from the gun barrel hurt right in that tension headache spot above her eye.

Her first time flying in an aircraft that combined the comfort of a Cessna with the functionality of a sky-diving plane wasn’t exactly working in her favor.

“When we started this date, I’d no idea of your true intentions,” shouted the sharp- toothed businessman over the painful air currents. “You were wrong to think I’d be easy to get rid of.”

Tess let a practiced smile slip over her lips. She might be wrong about a lot of things, but eliminating the vampire who’d killed dozens of innocent people using weapons—with delay and torment—because he hated to get his fangs or hands dirty, wasn’t one of them.

From Blood, Smoke & Mirrors by Robyn Bachar:

I hate after-midnight meetings. Anyone who wants to talk to a witch after the witching hour doesn’t want to chat about the weather, and my boss wouldn’t call this late unless something was wrong. Bad news should be heard after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee, not after I’ve worked a ten-hour shift that featured lousy tips and three of the loudest screaming babies I’d ever encountered during my restaurant career. Already I wished I’d done the smart thing and hung up, turned off my cell phone, crawled into bed and hidden under the safety of the covers.

The anxious feeling in my gut made me indulge in my first cigarette in over a month as I left my apartment building. I’d dug the half-empty pack out of the bottom of a purse I hadn’t used since winter, and the cigarette tasted stale and bitter. This was my tenth failed attempt to quit—I’d have to remember to cuss Mac out for it first thing at this meeting of his, because it was clearly all his fault. Maxwell “Mac” MacInnes is my boss, the owner and manager of the Three Willows Café. He’s also my friend, and has been for several years now—one of the few I have left.

Though it was a warm, muggy summer night, the air outside was much more comfortable than my stuffy apartment. I puffed away on my smoke as I headed down the sidewalk, and the streetlight closest to my building flickered as the bulb exploded with a loud, angry pop. Feeling guilty, I ignored it and picked up my pace.

Most of the windows were dark in the houses I passed, the occupants fast asleep at this hour as they rested up for another day of work. My neighborhood is a nice place in general, though I don’t recommend walking through it alone at night, particularly if you’re a woman. Of course I don’t follow my own advice, but my case is…unique. Sure, I look as threatening as a grade-school librarian. I’m on the overweight side, I wear glasses, and my mouse-brown hair is most often pulled back into a messy braid or ponytail. My wardrobe consists of T-shirts, blue jeans, and unintimidating white running shoes. I might as well have “Mug me” stamped in the middle of my forehead.

From Slayer’s Kiss by Cassi Carver:

“Just lie back and relax, asshole. I swear you won’t feel a thing.” Kara adjusted the bindings around the man’s wrists and plunged the syringe deep into his thigh. When the concoction started making its way through his veins, he bucked under Kara’s weight. She stood and put one boot heel against his throat to quiet him as the relaxant started taking effect. “How is she, Abbey?”

Abbey frowned and brushed her red hair out of her eyes. “She’s going to be all right, but I put a call in to 911. We need to hurry.”

Kara glanced at the man lying on the dirty pavement of the alley. His expensive slacks were around his ankles, and after all these years, it still struck Kara as odd that the assailants never fit a certain mold. She and Abbey had taken down everything from homeless men to men who drove hundred-thousand-dollar sports cars. Money didn’t matter, and it wasn’t for the sex.

These men wanted power over others. They got off on the degradation and the pain they inflicted.

“He’s ready for you. Let’s help this gentleman get in touch with his manners.”

Abbey tucked a coat around the unconscious victim, shielding her lower half from view of the police officers who would shortly be arriving on the scene. She rose to her feet and walked to Kara. “Don’t bruise his throat, Kare-bear. The knot you gave him with your elbow is bad enough. His temple looks like he got hit with a baseball bat, and we don’t want the police thinking he was the victim here.”

From Soul Bound by Anne Hope:

Jace had always suspected that someday someone would try to kill him. He just hadn’t expected it to be tonight. Especially not in some rundown bar that reeked of beer and unwashed flesh.

He should have, though. The place was ripe with negative energy, this evening more than usual. An undercurrent of violence permeated the air and resonated from the patrons. The tattooed lump of flesh who went by the name of Viper was no exception.

“Did you say something to me, bitch?” Viper shattered his beer bottle on the corner of the bar and approached him menacingly.

The biker didn’t resemble a snake. He was big and round and lumbered more than he slithered, but there was definitely something snakelike about him, a predatory gleam in his eyes that would warn any sane man to back off.

Sanity had never been one of Jace’s strong points. He had too much anger inside him, was sick and tired of seeing men like Viper terrorize everyone around them and get away with it. “I said, leave the guy alone,” he repeated, ignoring the broken bottle aimed at his throat.

Viper’s original target had been some lanky accountant-type, who’d walked into The Hangout—a renowned bikers’ bar—dressed in a goddamn suit. Then he’d added insult to injury by ordering a glass of Chardonnay. Smelling blood, Viper had come in for the kill, incessantly poking fun at the man and not allowing him to leave when the idiot realized the error of his ways.

FivePastMidnight-Box72lg

Note: Those dealing with the problem on a daily basis don’t need this post. I was debating about publishing this but my tweet on the subject is mentioned in Newsweek, so…here we go. 🙂

This year, one of the nominees in the inspirational category of the Romance Writers of America Rita Award for Excellence in romance fiction, For Such a Time, featured a romance between a Jewish concentration camp survivor and a German concentration camp *commander.*

In the end, both find God and convert to Christianity.

If you are appalled at that very concept, you’re not the only one.

Once the storyline of For Such a Time became widely known, there was an uproar that eventually caused the RWA to issue a statement about the inclusion of the book in the awards, which basically boiled down to “yes, we see the problem with this book but we can’t censor entries for content rather than quality, that’s up to the judges.”

Most of the blowback, especially outside the romance community, has not only come back to the author and this book but on inspirational writers and their stories in general. That makes me wince because there are so many wonderful inspirational novels out there with love stories that work beautifully.

But controversy is part of a larger discussion that we, as romance writers and readers, need to have about diversity in our books.

As someone who wrote a Jewish heroine, I have first-hand knowledge that the inspirational community isn’t the only one with a problem with Jewish heroines.

These are the judging comments I received this year in a prominent published RWA contest for my steampunk, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract:

I would also advise the author to be cautious about bringing in religion into a novel if it is not necessary and is mixed with magic. Culture, including Indian, Jewish, or Christian, sure, but it can drive readers away if it is not essential to understanding the story. Although the author might believe some of those Jewish tenets are necessary to the plot like man being the head of the household in this historical context, those tenets are actually in other religions like Hindu and Christian at the same moment in time – which is why I’m suggesting to treat it more like a cultural/family history belief rather than a religious teaching within the context of any story. Quite frankly, who cared that August was Christian and wanting to marry our heroine? It didn’t really add anything nor add conflict. 

When I first began reading these comment, I thought they would concern the dangers of cultural appropriation (as I’m not Jewish myself) and a warning not to cross that line, which would have been absolutely appropriate.

But it quickly becomes clear that what I was being told is that there had to be “a reason” for the heroine to be non-white or non-Christian. In other words, the book would be better if my heroine were Christian and not Jewish. WTF?

This is faulty and dangerous reasoning.

As one of my fellow panelists at the Diversity in Romance: Why it Mattters panel at RWA National last month said, diversity isn’t important only in providing a wider range of stories for everyone–g: changing people’s minds and hearts about those they view as “different” is literally a matter of life and death to people who live with this prejudice everyday, people like Sandra Bland.

Being a straight white Christian is only *one* of numerous choices authors can make for characters.

There doesn’t have to be a “reason” to write non-white characters.

Your characters simply have to be characters you’d like to write about. Period.

This false, insidious reasoning is an attitude that filters down from publishing to writers and has a chilling effect, leading to comments like the ones I received.

The fascinating part of all this is that this is the first *negative* comments I’ve received on this story about the heroine being Jewish. I’m not even close to a bestselling author but this book is my bestselling book.

What that tells me is readers are already way ahead of the curve.

But the purpose of sharing these comments isn’t to slam the judge or the contest or RWA. It’s to illustrate a problem. (ETA: Yes, I emailed the contest coordinator with a polite note that basically said ‘this is so not right’ but they never emailed back to even acknowledge receipt of my email.)

And to suggest some solutions:

1. We have to acknowledge and get this stuff out in the open so it can be shot down as myth and we can, as writers and readers, move past it. Bury this whole “but they need a reason to be…X.”

2. Two, we need to let publishing know they’re wrong for believing readers won’t read books about non-white/LGBTQ or other marginalized groups.

A great start would be to tell Harlequin to stop segregating romances written by black authors featuring black protagonists in their separate line. As Farrah Rochon said at the Diversity panel I mentioned above, it’s segregating pure and simple. All of Harlequin’s other lines are segregated by genre: suspense, spicy, sweet, etc. Only the Kimani line is “black” and has all romance subgenres in it.

Send an email to Harlequin about this at CustomerService@Harlequin.com

Better yet, send a snail mail to either

United States:
Harlequin.com
P.O. Box 5190
Buffalo, NY 14240-5190

Canada:
Harlequin.com
P.O. Box 615
Fort Erie, ON L2A 5X3

Dear Harlequin, 

I’m a romance readers and I love romances of all kinds. Stop the segregation and place black books by black authors featuring black protagonists in their proper subgenres. 

Sincerely, 

You. 

It won’t solve every problem but it’s start.

3. We, as a romance community, need to have this discussion and, more, we need to listen to authors of colors, LGBTQ authors, and authors with disabilities about the change that needs to happen. Their voices must be heard. At the RWA Board meeting at National last month, the board established a diversity ad hoc committee. That’s also a start.

The very last thing that those of us who are straight, white authors should do?

Actively discourage diversity, as this judge did for this contest.

Don’t be that judge. Don’t be that person.

 

Hey all!

Should you be infused with a burning desire to meet me, this summer is your chance.

First, this Wednesday, in New York City, I will be part of the massive Romance Writers of American Literacy Autographing at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.  That’s Wednesday, July 23rd. From RWA:

“At the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing, hundreds of romance authors meet with and sign books for fans in this two-hour event, with the proceeds from book sales going to literacy organizations. This year’s beneficiaries are ProLiteracy Worldwide, Literacy Partners, and Literacy Assistance Center.

In 2014, Romance Writers of America raised more than $53,000 to benefit literacy organizations. Since 1990, RWA has raised more than $878,000 to fight illiteracy.

RWA_FB_CorrinaLawson

Thank you to the Nora Roberts Foundation for underwriting the Literacy Autographing!  The 2015 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing will be on Wednesday, July 22, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the New York Marriott Marquis in the Westside Ballroom.

Note: While the event takes place in the Westside Ballroom, the queue will be in the Broadway Ballroom (6th floor).

Second, I’ll be in the Chicago area, mid-August! Come see me and other authors! Hope to see some of you there!

Schaumburg graphic.pages

Officially out in paperback June 9th.

Officially out in paperback June 9th! 

 

SFRGalaxyAwards_icon

Those of us who carry the banner for science fiction romance look forward to the annual SF Romance Galaxy Awards, organized by Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express.

This year, I’m thrilled to have the Phoenix Institute as one of the award winners. And I can’t resist quoting the award post in full.

ETA: And Ghost Phoenix is now out in paperback. Check it out at Amazon, B&N, and Samhain Publishing!

“This series is kind of an X-Men/Batman crossover, if everyone is not just gender-bent but also talent-switched. And even that Batman analogy requires that Batman’s gifts be more super and less obsessed-neurotic based. But still awesome.

The Phoenix Institute starts out as “The Resource” run by one of the very definitely bad guys. His mission is to find people born with super talents and train them to be super soldiers obedient to his every whim. His evil plan is foiled by supers that got away, aided and abetted by one of his own. If Professor Xavier was a firestarter married to a telepath, you get the Phoenix Institute. Pun is intended, the Phoenix Institute rises from the ashes of the Resource and reaches out to supers everywhere, while righting the very big wrongs perpetrated by its predecessor.

On the main series, we have a telepath who rescues the firestarter, and a self-healer who finds his way back to the woman he left behind, who just happens to be in a long line of charismatics. We end with an invisible woman who falls for her clean cop in a dirty city, and a teleporter thief who saves an immortal queen. The alternate history angle in Ghost Phoenix is surprisingly twisty and results in a happily ever after that may just really mean “ever after”. This is paranormal romance with a delightful superhero twist, made even better by continuing into 2015.”

–From Marlene Harris.

Add that to the Patriots victory last night and that I hit 50,000 words on the “cliff-jumping” work in progress and it was an excellent weekend.

That next work coming? Phoenix Inheritance, coming out March 3, already up for pre-order.

PhoenixInheritance72lg

Out March 3.

To save their son, they might have to sacrifice their love—and their lives.

Phoenix Institute, Book 4

Ex-Navy SEAL Daz Montoya and rescue dog handler Renee Black have made a career out of saving people. But when their whirlwind affair resulted in pregnancy, Daz’s verbal fumble tore their budding relationship apart.

It’s been a tough eight years for Renee, raising Charlie alone with his autism-fueled impulsiveness, but she’s managed—until now. When she has to chase him to the edge of a cliff in a snowstorm, seeing the face of their rescuer is just the rotten cherry on top of an already rough day.

In the close confines of a snowbound cabin, Renee and Daz rediscover the heat still simmering between them. But while Renee welcomes Daz’s renewed determination to help Charlie however he can, she’s reluctant to trust him with her heart.

With the Phoenix Institute’s help, Renee and Daz discover their son’s gift for animal telepathy is real. And that to save him from old enemies that would kill to control him, they must join forces—and risk losing everything they’ve ever loved.

Warning: This novel contains explicit reunion sex and characters used to mixing a little danger in with their romance.

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