Dinah of Seneca

Captain America tea-1

Hail and farewell to this Brave New World of 2017.

This is my current tea of choice, a gift from my wonderful eldest daughter for Christmas. As you can see, it comes from Adagio teas online. I’ve previously written about their awesome custom fandom blends. (See link.)

Captain America tea-2

What does it contain? I decided to try and sort that by taste. Black tea, of course, and there is definitely a licorice flavor and, I suspect, a dash of vanilla and other elements I cannot discern as yet. But it’s smooth and rich and perfect for a lazy morning or a late night cuppa. Feel free to add your guesses!

On appearances…

If you’re looking for me this year, I’m already scheduled to be on panels at two conferences. The first is a parenting panel on Friday of PAX EAST in Boston this March, the second is the New England Romance Writers of America conference in April outside Boston where I will have a panel called “Blogging Isn’t Dead” with co-presenters Anna Bowling and Rhonda Lane.

After that, plans remain fluid. I may attend the RWA National conference in Orlando if a workshop proposal is accepted. I’m leaving fall options open and I’m pondering taking a day to go to the Book Expo America conference this spring in New York City.

On writing….

I’ve been missing Carrie Fisher and Leia more than ever this year. I wrote a piece on why she’s important for the Barnes & Noble blog. 

I’ve been delving into the past as well. In 2010, I published my first full-length novel, Dinah of Seneca, about a young former slave/assassin hoping to start a life in the New World. The book was set in an alternate history where Romans and Vikings had both colonized North America, around 900 A.D.

Yeah, not the usual setting for a romance.

I had a tough time selling it because of that but eventually, found a small publisher who gave me a start. That was awesome but the book never sold that well, nor its sequel, Eagle of Seneca, which brought the Native American tribes around Manhattan into the story. I suspect part of the problem with sales is that they were priced much too high ($7.99) for a debut novelist.

But I loved the storyworld. Last years, I asked for and received the rights back to both books. Since then, they’ve been sitting as I organize what to do with them.

I wanted to re-read and edit them again before republishing because I wanted them to be the best they could be and I suspected I’d learned a little about writing in the past eight years. I’m about 25,000 words into the book and….


I have learned a lot. I believe the emotions of the main characters come through nicely in the current version but, yeah, there are issues.

What I notice most is that I was struggling at the time with blocking–basically where people stood in relation to others and the fluidity of movement. I have a ton of unnecessary words to that effect that slows down the pacing, which I’m slowly fixing.

I credit this better knowledge of blocking to my practice writing comic book scripts which has allowed me to better picture visuals.

There is also a chapter-to-chapter pacing issue. The story moves slower than my Phoenix Institute books. I solved that problem by, well, getting rid of the parts that people skip. 🙂 Scene and sequel is all well and good but there was a problem with people sitting around waiting to act until I thought it was time for them, instead of acting as real people might have in the same situation.

I hope to finish the revisions this month and start on Eagle of Seneca next. That will set me up to self-publish the new version in the spring, once I decide whether these stories are science fiction or romance or both. At the moment, I’m leaning to science fiction/alternate history, though it is also a marriage of convenience story at heart. Sorta. We’ll see.

And if they sell well? Perhaps I’ll finally write that Roman Pirate story that’s rolling around in my head.

In the meantime, the agent has a new Phoenix Institute tale, tentatively titled Phoenix Inferno, which is an erotic romance starring Philip Drake and Delilah Sefton from Phoenix Legacy. It is a menage story and I’d rather not give more away but, to me, it’s about how people create the families that allow them to cherish each other.

I realize for my core readers, it’s been a while since I had something new out. My publisher’s wishy-washiness about closing/notclosing made me reluctant to send anything to them which means I’ve been regrouping. But I have been writing a ton so when the damn breaks, you’ll likely get a whole bunch at once.

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

I’ve been intently watching Vikings on the History Channel this year. They’ve upped the storytelling a great deal, though it remains a very dense show. You have to pay close, intense attention unless you miss something. It’s not a “heroes and villains” kind of show. Instead, it’s more complex than that, though Ragnor, Bjorn and especially Lagertha are favorites of mine.

I love their unique storyworld, not the least because I immersed in Viking culture to write Dinah of Seneca. One of the key scenes in my book features an alliance wedding with an exchange of swords, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see something similar on television last night.

So I thought I’d share my own scene. Note: this is alternate history, where the Vikings and the Romans both ended up in North America.


“Do we need a priest?” she said, licking her lips.What, she wondered, would it be like to bed this man? Not easy or tender. Intense. Passionate.

Gerhard shook his head. “A marriage among my people consists of vows before at least three witnesses. We have more than enough witnesses.”

She nodded and tried to stare anywhere but at his face. She settled for staring at the laces of his wool tunic. A cruel joke of the gods to give her exactly what she’d prayed for, a husband, in exactly a manner she would fear the most. Gerhard took her hand, his sword calluses rubbing against her raw skin.

She raised her head and made contact with his blue eyes again. Caught.

“Repeat after me.”

She did her best to mimic his words. Their language was rough and sounded angry to her ears, rather than smooth and careful like Latin. In the silence, their voices echoed around the cavern. Gerhard said the oaths first in his language, insisted she do the same, then explained them for her in Latin, so she understood the promises. She agreed to care for him, despite good or bad circumstances, and he agreed to care for any children of her body. That was worded oddly and her tongue stumbled over the  phrase.

Her skin grew warmer, her voice clearer as the ceremony went on. She had never considered what her wedding could be like. She’d pictured her marriage beginning as her new husband and she moved into the same home, an arrangement that would be legally recognized, ceremony or not.

This was more.

It seemed another presence entered the cavern, Freya or one of the other Norse gods that Gerhard had called on to bless their union or perhaps one of he New World spirits who still lived close to this cave. Their presence made the ceremony a sacred  oath-bond, a bond that tightened around her chest, threatening to choke off breath.

Yet if she was bound, would not Gerhard be as well? Mykle said something from his place, a few paces behind Gerhard. Gerhard snapped his head to look at Mykle. They scowled at each other. Mykle said something, his voice lower but more sneering.  Gerhard raised his voice and chopped his hand in front of him. Even she understood the “cease and desist” in that gesture. Mykle shook his head but didn’t talk again. The other warriors lowered their heads or looked away from Mykle.

So, some among Gerhard’s tribe opposed this marriage. They were probably as displeased about Gerhard marrying a Roman as she was about marrying a barbarian. Again, why had Gerhard done this? He could have just agreed to the alliance or even slaughtered her and the rest of the Romans. Or slaughtered the rest and taken her.Sacred oath-bound or deception? She did not know which was worse.

An odd silence fell as Gerhard turned back to her, his expression now blank. There was so much about this that she didn’t understand. “Dinah.” Gerhard cleared his throat. “Listen.” She blinked her eyes and nodded. Gerhard said a word that sounded like “mother,” which rooted her firmly back in reality. He bowed to her, took out his sword and offered it to her, hilt first.

“It is custom among our people that the wife receive the husband’s sword, to hold in keeping for their eldest son.”

His face filled with a sudden hope, which died so soon Dinah wondered if she’d imagined it. Her hand shook as she closed it over the jeweled hilt. Good workmanship, there, she thought. Someone had set the gems in far enough that they wouldn’t interfere with wielding the sword. And the blade was steel. Gerhard’s people had been wealthy once, to trade with Romans for steel.

After a moment, Gerhard took his hand off the sword, raising his eyebrow to her. She could end this right now if she wanted, she knew enough about handling swords to run him through.But this sword was for a son. A family.

Your sons will be kings.Flee or stand? The choice was now.

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!

Romans, Vikings, alternate history, ancient North American, Native Americans


This is the book that began with the idea of Romans and  Vikings in North America, a pagan fertility ritual, and a heroine named after Black Canary. 🙂

It starts 9:45 a.m. EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.



I hope if I say that five times fast, it doesn’t automatically disappear. 🙂

It will be the second All-Women’s issue of The Gathering Anthology from Greyhaven comics. And, no, not co-writing or anything with Gail, just taking pages in the same book.

My story is yet another short tale from my alternate history Seneca series. It has its origins in a short tale I wrote as part of an exercise years ago on the just cherry writers yahoo loop. Essentially, it’s a character study of Tabor, the Roman commander of Seneca.

The art is by the lovely Romina Santana. I especially love the borders. It’s a four-page story in total.

Tabor is the one character in the Seneca series who never gets a point of view but he keeps haunting my thoughts. So, since I thought it would be fun, I present the short story that the comic is based on. (And Tabor haunts my thoughts so much that my next tale will feature him and Dinah, in the untold story of how they both ended up in Seneca.)


The Healing
Tabor rapped on the door, applying too much force for a polite knock. As he intended, the door swung open, and the ropes holding the door together creaked against the wood frame.

Gladys rushed the few feet from the cooking area to the door. Her hand went to her mouth in shock. “Lord Tabor, I didn’t expect you…”

He took advantage of her discomfiture to walk through the doorway, forcing her to step backward. Her face was a mixture of awe and apprehension and her hands rubbed her deerskin dress, flicking off dust that was not there.

Tabor let the door swing shut behind him and watched Gladys, to see how fast she would collect herself. The inside of the home was as modest as the outside, built along the lines of a long house favored by the People, a style adopted by many of the poorer Romans of Seneca.

So, Gladys was not doing this to enrich herself. A misguided compassion? A need to feel important? It would be important to determine which.

The woman straightened and pushed a stringy hair away from her face. “I’m honored, Lord. What may I do for you?”

Her gaze shifted from him to the shelves above her wooden dining table. “May I get you something? Something to warm you?”

Tabor brushed snow off the cloak that was flung over his shoulders. “A seat by the fire will do, thank you.”

Gladys pulled a stool from under her table, trying to shield the shelving with her body. The rumor was true, Tabor decided. He would have to be careful to not give away himself.

She took his cloak from him and hung it on a hook, all the while sucking on her lower lip, perhaps biting down words she wanted to say. Courtesy, of course, demanded that she wait for him. And he intended to make her wait.

He settled himself on the stool, legs out in front of him, crossed at the ankles. He let the heat from the fire chase away the chill before turning away from the flames to Gladys.

“What may I do for you, lord?” she said.

“You know why I am here.” Let her hang herself.

She rubbed her hands together. “I don’t understand what I do has to do with you?”

He snapped to attention, knocking over the stool as he did so. “I am the one responsible for the safety of Seneca. Safety which you endanger.” He advanced a step and she shrunk back, as if trying to blend in with the wall. He was terrifying her. Good, because what she was doing terrified him.

“What you are doing is unauthorized.”

She pushed herself away from the wall, causing small bits of soil to fall to the floorboards. “I am helping. And I cannot see how providing medicine to those who are ill is wrong.” She jerked her chin up, defiance warring with fear.

“You are a fool if you cannot see what is wrong.” He crossed his arms. “There is a reason I do not allow unauthorized trading with the People.”

“Because you wish to have all the wealth to yourself.” She pointed a long finger at him.

He smiled. This was better, far better. He much preferred her angry than afraid. “No. Because the balance between Seneca and the People is…” He walked over and put a hand on the edge of her shelf, where she presumably kept her ill-gotten medications, “…precarious. You may think your trading for medicine only helps those who are sick. But if the People do not trust us. That is why the trade is regulated.” He picked up a ceramic jar, curled his hands around the base. “If you cheat them, they will complain. It could tip us back into war.”

He tossed the jar up into the air. She gasped, would have run forward to catch it. But he put out one arm to prevent her, and caught it with his other. She whimpered and he placed the jar on the table.

“No more,” he said.

“I need to-”

“Stop this.” He gestured with his hand, taking in the whole of her small home. “I could have sent the garrison soldiers in here, ruined your home, confiscated your medicine, left you with nothing.”

She moved past him, snatched the jar and held it to her. “And what do you leave me with now?”

“Your health. And the promise of your trading being authorized, if you will let me take your supply to my physician, to verify that it does help and not hurt.” He took a deep breath and spread his hands in front of him. “You must give it all to me.”

Her fingers gripped the jar, almost to the point of breaking it. “That is your offer?”

“No, that is my order. And the next one will be to take what you have by force.”

“And what is this?” Her shoulders hunched forward, her arms went around the jar even more, as if trying to conceal or cover it completely.

“It is myself, as Lord of Seneca, asking for your trust, and for your word to follow my law. If you cannot do that, then your unauthorized trading could be a fatal offense.” He stepped forward, placing both hands on her shoulders, careful to offer comfort, not violence. “I have kept Seneca safe while its’ children
grow. Trust me that I have your best interests at heart.” Trust me, so I do not have to hurt you. And so I do not have to confess all to you.

Gladys shuddered, but uncoiled herself from the jar. Her fingers slid free as he took it.

She stood in silence as he put his cloak back on. He walked past her, took another jar from the shelf, the match to the one he already possessed.

He nodded to her. “I will send word if you may continue.” He turned to leave.

“My lord?”


“Your wife is very ill, is she not?”

Tabor shook his shoulders, so his cloak fell around him. “Yes. She is.”

Gladys clasped her hands together, fingernails digging into her skin. “Then why did you not simply ask?”

“Because what you are doing is very dangerous.” He turned again to leave, thought better of it, and turned back to face her. “And because to ask is not my way.”

If you’re interested in that sort of thing. 🙂

Zita Christian, the host, is a member of my local Romance Writer’s of America group and put me at ease right away.


Mira, Katrina Law, Spartacus: Vengeance, Starz

Is Mira in Spartacus like Dinah in Dinah of Seneca? Well, somewhat...

One of the reasons I love the Spartacus series on Starz is that it contains much of what I love in stories: strong characters, unexpected plot twists, great action scenes and a theme that resonates.

So it’s not surprising that my own book, Dinah of Seneca, has similarities. (My writing predates the show by several years, in case anyone was wondering.:)

1. They feature main characters trapped in situations not of their own making.

Spartacus is a slave who escaped. Dinah is a former slave who escaped her master by fleeing across the Atlantic Ocean.

2. The main characters get pulled reluctantly into a cause.

All Spartacus originally wants is to find his wife and escape with her. He has no cause but his own and is not shy about saying it. It’s not until late in the events of “Blood & Sand” that he burns for the cause of everyone.

Dinah is originally drawn into a war because it threatens her home. It’s not until she accepts her responsibility for her new people that she fights for a cause greater than her own.

3. Sex!

Okay, I can’t claim to have as much sex in my book as in Spartacus. Who could?

But there’s a fertility ritual at the heart of my story that has four participants. And if you want even more erotic content, Freya’s Gift, the prequel to Dinah, is all of that.

4. Action!

There’s a huge action sequence in the current “Vengeance” season set in Capua. My book has something similar, in that it ends with a big action sequence in which stuff is destroyed. (To say more would be providing spoilers.)

Spartacus has the gladiator fights and the Romans versus the escapes slaves. My book opens with one big battle, several smaller ones, and one desperate fight to escape when all seems lost.

5. The stories are LGBT friendly.

Spartacus features several gay couples and a lesbian relationship between Lucretia and her best friend in the “Gods of the Arena.”

My story features a Roman General Tabor, who is gay, along with several other gay supporting characters.

6. There are characters from many different cultures.

While the Roman society is at the forefront of Spartacus, the gladiators are from all over the Western World, from Syria to the African continent to Gaul and Celts from  Britain. It’s the mix of the cultures that causes tension and, ultimately, dedication to one cause in which they can all be free.

My story’s main character is from Roman society as well, albeit one from an alternate  world in which the Romans have colonized North America. Besides the Romans, there are Vikings, Native Americans, and a Roman Legion made up of people from all over the Empire. In the end, the Romans and Vikings must find common cause to survive.

7. The over-riding themes match up.

Spartacus is about people overcoming differences to fight a grave injustice and for freedom.

My book is all about Dinah fighting for freedom not only for herself but, ultimately, her people.

Of course, the big question is whether my book is as good as Spartacus.

I will completely duck that one as I’m a very biased source. I can only hope that people enjoy my story as much as I’m enjoying what the creators of Spartacus have done.




I’m  usually so slammed with writing posts for GeekMom and GeekDad that I don’t get a chance to do guest posts on a blog tour. But I managed to get this one and there’s a giveaway of Eagle of Seneca involved, so check out Where Do My Mixed Up Genre Ideas Come From?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eagle of Seneca by Corrina Lawson

Eagle of Seneca

by Corrina Lawson

Giveaway ends January 31, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I’ve also got a small giveaway going on at Gail Simone’s forums on Brian Bendis’ Jinxworld. You just have to pop into the thread to enter.

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