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Corrina Lawson: Writer, Mom, Geek & Superhero » About the Writer

About the Writer


August is the annual Read-A-Romance Month and all through next month, Celebrate Romance will have essays by some of the greats of romance talking about how they got started and why they love the genre.

How did I get started? It took a village.  As part of this celebration, I wanted to honor those who helped me on my journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve met all but one of these woman  and all of them before I read any of their books. All were inspirations and all of them offered help and advice. I’m forever grateful.

And then I picked up their stories, terrified that I wouldn’t enjoy them. No worries. I’ve become a lifelong fan of these writers not only as people but as storytellers.

1. Dallas Schulze.

Dallas was the first romance novelist I interacted with online. We ‘met’ on the old Laurel K. Hamilton yahoo loop, an active and lively place in the early 2000s that also included a brand new novelist influenced by LKH: one Jim Butcher of Harry Dresden fame. (Yes, it was an awesome loop.)

Jim and Dallas often had good-natured debates about writing and about the merits of the various characters in LKH’s Anita Blake series. Those discussions were so much fun to read that, for the first time since reading Victoria Holt as a teenager, I was inspired to read a romance.

Dallas’ books hooked me. Her characters were so real, the stories so believable, and the emotions….Tumblr would now call them “the feels.” My favorite was Donovan’s Promise, the story of a married couple who had separated and were seemingly headed for divorce. It was told with a mix of flashbacks from the past and their interactions in the presence, and it stuck in my memory so much that when it came to write my own reunion romance, (the upcoming Phoenix Inheritance), I stole, er, borrowed her story structure.

2. Maureen O. Betita

One word: Pirates!

I call Maureen the pirate lady. Her stories have hunky pirates, heroines who are allowed to be over 30 and high seas adventures. All things fun. I met Maureen at a Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention one year and loved talking with her so much, and her take on romance so much, that I read her stories.  You should too. She’s recently hit the bestseller list with her self-published books and her audience is growing.

3. Karen Harbaugh

Karen is known as Yoda among my internet circle of friends. I had a long talk with her at the Romance Writers of America convention in 2004, where she was up for a Rita and I was up for a Golden Heart. She wanted to know why there weren’t more Asian-Americans in romance novels, a subject near and dear to her heart as she’s Japanese-American. I didn’t have a good answer, so when I wrote my first superhero romance, Phoenix Rising, I remembered the conversation, and that’s how my heroine became Japanese-American.

Why should you read Karen’s books? Because they’re richly layered, descriptive, full of intrigue and mystery, and set in one of my favorite periods, the Regency era. Dark Enchantment, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, was my first Harbaugh, full of swordfights and court politics and it remains my favorite.

4. Jayne Ann Krentz.

I think they sprinkle JAK’s books with crack because I cannot put them down, whether she writes as Krentz, Amanda Quick or Jayne Castle. If pressed, I will admit to preferring her historicals, as I love the dark and dangerous streets of London and her independent heroines.

Ms. Krentz is the one writer I haven’t spoken to via the ‘net or in-person. I have, however, attended her Q&A sessions with Susan Elizabeth Phillips at ever RWA National conference I’ve attended. Not only because they were an entertaining act but because Ms. Krentz answered one of the questions with one of the best pieces of advice about writing I’d ever heard:

Know your core story.

She said if you know the core story you’re trying to tell, then you know what’s flexible and subject to change and what’s not. She started writing futuristics and couldn’t sell them but realized that they could be modified to historicals and still maintain their core story. As a writer who loves to jump genres, this was an invaluable way to look at my work.

5. Jennifer Crusie

When I think of smart, funny romance, I think of Jennifer Crusie. Tell Me Lies and Bet Me are my favorites but I recommend all her books because they’re always so sharply written and yet always have such a sentimental heart.

I know Jenny and I owe her a great deal for her mentorship and support . She was the first professional writer who ever critiqued a scene for me. It went as well as can be expected when your scene has characters but no plot and no conflict. Jenny was afraid I’d be horrified. Instead, I thought “whoa, wait, this is what’s wrong! But, wait, I can learn to fix it. There is someone who can teach me that stuff.”

And she did.

I can only hope to pay it forward and help someone in the same way she’s helped me.

And my recommendation has nothing to do with that Krispy Kreme donut sex scene in Bet Me. No, nothing at all. :)

As for those cherries on the cover? They’re partially in honor of the most wonderful group of women, the Cherries, who formed on Jenny’s yahoo loop all those years ago. Many of us have gone onto be published writers, and I’m proud to call some of them my close friends, like Christine Merrill, Katy Cooper, and Robin LaFevers.

It took a village to get me started and it still takes a village to keep me going.

Thank you, ladies.

Here’s the full episode of the NickMom show, Take Me To Your Mother, in which comedian Andrea Rosen talks to other moms about how to geek out.

You’ll see me, in full geek mode as Lois Lane, about halfway through but the whole episode is a lot of fun, with Andrea taking her son to a museum, meeting us comic geeks, and LARPing!

Take Me To Your Mother

Yes, I’ve been absent. My youngest son has had a recurrence of a serious chronic illness and we’ve been dealing with multiple doctors and hospitals for the last two months. He’s stable now and hopefully will remain so.

Which brings me to my first item.

That same son has a four-page story in this anti-bullying comic: You Are Not Alone.

This can be purchased at Grayhaven’s website and I believe if you’re a school or non-profit, Grayhaven will be able to supply some free copies. So proud of this kid! :) :)

And, well, if you’re at the Grayhaven site, you might also want to look at this Steampunk comic.

There’s a story in there featuring the hero of the upcoming The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, plus 38 more pages of great steampunk stories.

Be back tomorrow with more news of upcoming books! :)

I first realized that some writers, by only using a few words here and there, can create scenes that basically exist just in the reader’s imagination.

So I’m musing on exactly how to do that over at the Savvy Author’s Blog today!

I’ve returned refreshed, revitalized and freakin’ inspired by the energy at Geek Girl Con in Seattle last weekend.

To all of you who attended my “Romance is a Feminist Genre” panel on Sunday morning that also featured Barb Ferrer, Karen Harbaugh, Kat, fandom representative extraordinaire, and moderator Suzete Chan, thank you so very much.

I had no idea we’d have such a receptive audience.

And to the person who asked about LGBT romance, thank you! We don’t have as much of it as we should, and there has been some pushback in the romance writing community about it from some quarters but thankfully, we also have people like Heidi Cullinan, who founded Rainbow Romance Writers.

After the panel, a number of people asked about where they might start in romance. I talked about a few at the panel but it seemed a good idea to have these down for posterity.

First, of course, I’d recommend Karen and Barb’s books, which are awesome, and Kat’s fan fiction is certainly a fun read. And you could amble over to my books page here and check out what I have and see if that interests you…

And then it depends on genre.

Science Fiction/Fantasy.
Linnea Sinclair. As far as I’m concerned, she’s the place to start for most geek girls who want to crossover as she’d working in the familiar galactic-style world, she writes fast-paced, layered, fascinating books with awesome characters from the leads to the supporting characters.

My favorite is Hope’s Folly. But Gabriel’s Ghost in the first book in her Dock Five series. She also has a number of unconnected stories. My favorite is Finder’s Keepers but, hey, the Kel-Patan fandom love in many quarters compels me to point out Games of Command.

Lois McMaster Bujold.
There are some writers whose books just fill your soul. Bujold’s books are like that for me. Ignore the dumb cover and the supposed similarity to David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. You want Cordelia’s Honor.

This is shelved in SF, not romance, and there’s so much going on around our leads, including galactic and civil war but it’s all the lovely characters that keep me coming back, from Cordelia to Aral to Bothari and later Miles and Mark, and Count Pierre, and Illyan and….I love these people.

Go. Read.

Contemporary: Jennifer Crusie.

Crusie was my gateway drug into romance. Hey, I like stuff blowing up and fights and murder, right, I don’t want a contemporary book but okay I’ll take a look and…what? This is FUNNY. This is interesting. I love these characters. I love their flaws, I love the way they interact, I love their ideas about how some men are muffins and some are donuts, I love the Krispy Kreme sex, and I love the Wonder Woman underoos.

Where to start? Bet Me is always a good place, and Welcome To Temptation starts with two sisters coming to their hometown to film a soft-porn movie (they’re directors, not the actors), and Don’t Look Down, written with Bob Mayer, is fast-paced action and a Wonder Woman theme.

Historicals:  Amanda Quick

Amanda Quick is the historical alter ego of contemporary writer Jayne Ann Krentz. Both her selves write books that are like crack, meaning once you start, you can’t put them down. I love the way her historicals layer in the setting, with heroines who are botanists and photographers, and fortune tellers and not just your average lord or lady. The heroes, too, aren’t necessarily heirs to great fortune, though some are, but they’re smart, resourceful and dangerous to their enemies.

These aren’t comedies of manners, like Austen or Heyer, but that’s okay because instead they’re thrill rides with mad scientist villains and obsessed magicians.

I’m not sure where to put the J.D. Robb series, which stars a homicide detective in a futuristic New York City and has elements of the police procedural, a touch of Bladerunner-style world building, and a hot romance, but start with Naked in Death. To me, this series is all about Eve Dallas, the most compassionate, bitchiest, haunted, relentless and intelligent woman in romance. I could build shrines to Eve Dallas.

And for more? Check out the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Group on Goodreads run by Bonnie Burton and Felicia Day.

Because even if you don’t find titles, you’ll still be able to click and watch drunken Bonnie Burton and Felicia Day talk about romance books.

 

 

Early Friday morning, I’m headed out of Boston for a cross-country trip to Geek Girl Con in Seattle.

I’m part of three panels, Home Geek Home with an incredible lineup that includes Bonnie Burton and fellow Geekmoms Kelly Know and Jenn Fujikawa on Saturday;  Romance is a Feminist Genre, my own brainchild, which will talk about why the romance genre is so awesome and positive for women on Sunday at 10 a.m.; and Women in Comics: What’s Left To Do, a panel featuring members of the pioneering feminist webzine, Sequential Tart.

I’ll also be signing copies of GeekMom: Projects, Tips and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st Century Families at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

I’m so excited about Geek Girl Con, which is now in it’s third year. Check out this mission statement:

GeekGirlCon is dedicated to celebrating female involvement in all fields of math, the sciences, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, fiction, gaming, and more.

As Kelly Knox pointed out in her preview post on GeekMom for GGC, this is a con that has nearly *everything* geeky. I’m not going to find a DIY science zone for all ages at NYCC or in San Diego or at Boston Comic Con, which was very superhero focused.

GGC promises to be a shorter version of a Maker Faire combined with feminism combined with geeky pop culture.

And it’s in Seattle. Where I’ve never been before.

It’s sorta like someone reached into my brain and made a Con just for me. If you find me there (and I encourage you to go, the price is incredibly reasonable–$45 for two days–and there’s fun stuff for everyone), I just might have some ARCs of the print copy of Phoenix Legacy there.

Hit me up! :)

 

 

My favorite pin.

No, not pitching myself. I have my talented agent, Eric Ruben, and no new stories to work into a pitch. But the CT RWA chapter is holding a pitch fest as part of their monthly meeting and that kind of workshop always helps me focus my stories.

Plus, it’s a chance to wear my new t-shirt with the logo: “ACT III: They All Die.”

Which isn’t quite appropriate for a romance writer but definitely fits my mood everytime I hit Act II and get stuck. That’s when I remember my favorite pin and keep going.

Romance Writers of America® – New England Chapter Present!

2013 Annual Book Fair for Literacy – Open to the Public 3:30‐5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 2013 Burlington Marriott, Burlington, MA

I’ll be signing copies of Phoenix Rising and (possibly) GeekMom! Please come by and say “hi,” and no purchase required! Love to meet some of you.  The emblem below is not an official emblem of the book signing. I just thought it was appropriate. So maybe it’s my emblem for coming week. :)

This is a joint signing, with writers far more well-known than myself <g>, so come by and take a look!

The authors!

Julia Quinn, Zoe Archer, Caroline Linden, Marie Force

Donna Alward, Amy Atwell, Liberty Blake, Terri Brisbin, Megan Caldwell, Jamie Cat Callan, Lisa Carlisle, Ashlyn Chase, Loretta Chase, Nina Clark, Colleen Connally, Kady Cross, Kate Cross, Anna DeStefano, Marissa Doyle, Ella Drake, Cara Elliott, Megan Frampton, Rozsa Gaston, Lena Goldfinch, Pepper Goodrich, Sammie Grace, Lisa Verge Higgins, Hannah Howell, Christina James, Corrina Lawson, Kate Locke, Sarah MacLean, Meg Maguire, Wendy S. Marcus, Lesley Mathews, Cara McKenna, KJ Montgomery, Laura Moore, Victoria Morgan, Miranda Neville, Cathryn Parry ,Judy Phillips, Stephanie Queen, Tiffany Reisz, Teresa Noelle Roberts, Jordan K. Rose, Nico Rosso, Karen Stivali, Frances Stockton, Barbara Wallace, Penny Watson, Samantha Wayland

Sponsored by NEC RWA in partnership with The Book Oasis in Stoneham, MA. A portion of all proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Literacy Foundation. For more information, go to: http://www.necrwa.org/

All trademarks, registered trademarks and logos are the property of their respective owners.


 

My first experience with Superman! I can’t imagine where I ever got the idea being a reporter is cool…:)

Dinah of Seneca by Corrina Lawson, alternate history, Romans, Vikings

Dinah of Seneca is now available in ebook form at Amazon, B&N, and my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, for $2.99.

This is great news for me for many reasons. And now I’m going to plead to you to give the book a chance at the lower price and why you should. :)

It’s my first very sale and thus, it holds an incredibly special place in my heart. It’s a book with a premise so unusual I had been told it would never sell at all. And it’s inspired by two disparate but favorite stories of mine, Birds of Prey from DC Comics (writers Chuck Dixon & Gail Simone) and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan SF series.

The unusual premise?

The Roman Empire of this tenth century stretches from Russia in the East to a new continent in the West. But a new continent brings new threats to their rule. The Roman garrison in Seneca, located in modern-day New York, lacks the supplies and men needed to defeat an alliance of native Mahicans and immigrant Vikings.
Dinah, a former slave trained in espionage, had hoped Seneca would be the start of a new life. Instead, she’d pulled back into war. If Seneca is to survive, Dinah must reconcile her allegiance to Rome with her chance to create her own destiny in the New World with Gerhard, the Viking Chief.

Yes, I put Romans in North America, after extending their Empire an additional 500 years. This idea has been rolling around in my head every since I was a teenager and read S.P. Somtow’s Aquila series, in which a Sioux chief continually outwitted a Roman governor. A new Aquila story was one of the joys of getting Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine in the mailbox when I was growing up.

And..Vikings? Well, they had been in the New World even in reality. I just moved them south a little bit.

Why? Because there are a fascinating contrast. Romans are a very patriarchal, rigid society, and Vikings were far more democratic and equal between the genders than is generally realized. Add to that the matriarchal society of the Native Americans, who had mixed with my wandering Viking raiders, and the cultural contrasts and conflicts offered a huge canvas for me as a writer.

And it’s a nice parallel to Britain around 500 A.D. as the leftover Romans, invading Saxons, and Celtic tribes vied for supremacy. Yes, it occurred to me I could riff on the Arthurian myth in some ways.

But that’s just the background. It’s the character of Dinah who I adore and who sometimes breaks my heart.

Dinah was named after Dinah Laurel Lance (Black Canary) of DC Comics, because I loved her mix of strength and connection to family. My Dinah begins the book lost and alone. She’s escaped slavery to create a new life for herself but she hasn’t truly escaped the past, as she pins her hopes on belonging to the man who helped her escape, Tabor, the local Roman commander. But Tabor is her patron, not her love, and Dinah soon finds out to truly belong somewhere, she had to reject the society she hoped to join.

Dinah is physically brave but emotionally terrified because she’s never had a true home and wants one so badly.

Then there’s Gerhard, the sometimes sullen Viking chief who decides Dinah was sent by his gods to be with him. He has good reasons for thinking the gods have done exactly this but he’s patient enough to let events play out and prove to Dinah that he’s right. Or maybe that’s just his excuse for falling in love with her after she spies on his camp.  Gerhard is somewhat of a mystery to me. He never gets a point of view and I’m sure he likes it that way.

That’s where Bujold’s stories come in because another idea behind this was “What if two Aral Vorkosigans existed in the same place but on opposite sides?” And that’s where the Roman Tabor and the Viking Gerhard come in. Enemies? Allies? Can they trust each other?

Dinah and Gerhard’s love story was a joy to write because neither of them rely on words. It’s all actions and when they commit, it’s solid and unyielding, even if it takes time and fightings through a literal army for each other to cement that commitment.

Also, I got to write a big old-fashioned medieval battle with Romans, Vikings and Native Americans involved, made some stuff blow up, delved a bit into ancient steampunk with the somewhat more advanced Roman technology, and there’s a moment near the end that surprised and delighted me, a calvary arriving just in time thing that I didn’t even know was coming and I love every time I re-read it. Oh, and there is a somewhat R/X rated fertility ritual scene that I should either warn or encourage you to read. :)

So, those are all the reasons why I love the story.

I cannot guarantee you’ll love reading it–I actually hate making a book sales pitch saying “it’s awesome, you’ll love it,” because reader taste is so very individual. But I hope you’ll give it a try, especially for $2.99. I feel such dedication to these characters and I would love to see them reach a wider audience because they deserve it.

Oh, and I have two upcoming comic stories set in the Seneca universe. One will be out in May,  features Tabor, and takes place after the events of the book.  You can see the first page below! So the Seneca-verse lives and will continue to live, either in novel or comic form. (The second book is Eagle of Seneca, details on my book page on this site.)

The second comic story is a prequel to the book and details how Dinah & Tabor ended up exiled from Europe and in the new world. No stuff blowing up there but I did manage a pitched battle and a little bit of nasty knife-work. :)  I can’t wait to see the pages on that.

 

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