Freya's Gift

Adagio tea fandom blend

Beer Butter loose tea from Adagio

It was during a private conversation on Slack about how much to spend on a tea infuser that it occurred to me what I believe is simple about brewing tea is not obvious to beginners.

So what do you need to brew tea?

First, loose tea. Yes, you can choose it by smell or flavor.

Second, a tea infuser.

Third, a teaspoon. Yep, a measured teaspoon.

Fourth, hot but not boiling, water.

I’ve written extensively about different kinds of teas but this article might be a good place to start.

For tea infusers? Nothing fancy is needed! Amazon could deliver this one (which comes with a matching teaspoon) to your doorstep or Adagio Tea has this one. Plastic or metal works fine. The only factor to consider is the width of your mug. I have a wide-mouthed infuser for my extra-big mugs. If you like traditional teacups or regular size mugs, a smaller one is fine. Also, I have a thing against infuser balls because you have to open them up, put the tea in, and close them and sometimes they won’t close correctly and the loose tea escapes. Instead, I like the ones that sit at the top of the mug that you can power water through othem.

tea infuser from Adagio Teas

Image via Adagio tea

The teaspoon is to add the right amount of tea to the infuser. Smaller mugs use one teaspoon. Larger ones can use up to two teaspoons, depending on how concentrated you like your tea. There might be some trial and error there. (I add two teaspoons to my double-size mugs.)

Do not pour boiling water over the loose tea. It’ll burn the leaves and reduce the flavor. Instead, I catch the tea kettle just before boiling. Yes, you could microwave the water until it’s your desired temperature, then pour it over the leaves. But do not microwave water with tea leaves in the microwave. You’ll kill the flavor.

Let the tea steep from 3-5 minutes. Again, it depends on taste. Longer makes stronger tea.

I make tea every morning, so it’s routine and simple to me. I find the hardest thing is remembering how long I’ve steeped the tea. I use the stove timer to remind me, especially in the morning, when the kids can distract me.

If you use regular tea bags, skip all the steps except the not-boiling water part.

Then consume entire mug, get the caffeine jolt, and get to work.

In other news,

I went to a Nintendo press event last week and had my first glimpse of Carnegie Hall, which was right across the street.

Carnegie Hall from the Park Hyatt

Carnegie Hall–view across the street from the Park Hyatt Hotel. The Russian Tea Room is right next to it (though not in the photo). –photo by Corrina Lawson

For those still needing Mother’s Day gifts, check out my Wonder Woman gift guide. Want to see all my GeekMom and GeekDad posts? Check out the full page, which includes my thoughts on Nazi Captain America.

I also reviewed Tremontaine, set in Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint world. It is like a Regency Romance but 100 percent gayer and with more chocolate. 🙂

Up this week for me? Copy editing my first published story, an erotic fertility ritual involving Vikings. It’s currently called Freya’s Gift but I’m searching around for a new title. Sexytimes With Vikings doesn’t quite cover it.

I’ll also be writing a new project, the Princess in the Tower, a modern fantasy romance, longhand. Because if it’s one thing I geek out about more than tea, it’s journals.


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.



It was my turn to blog over at my publisher’s site, so I decided to riff off the comments I got on the Kindle giveaway over on GeekMom.

Yes, I used geeky examples. Of course I did.

And for fun….a tragic ending that wasn’t an ending…

It’s a fairly long interview but I start with talking about my geeky self. And why my getting angry led to writing and then selling Dinah of Seneca.

She asks good questions. 🙂 Also, there’s even a photo of me. That I kinda like.

Make with the clicky!


Hey all,

It’s been a while since I’ve updated. I’ve mostly been slammed by doing a lot of GeekMom work, editing and writing.

The eldest has been in the middle of doing all sorts of college application stuff. I think we’ve all got it in and she really worked hard on her essays.

And I started working on several writing projects.
The first is a ghost story/urban fantasy/romance that I started a few years back, finished, revised, and then put aside because I didn’t feel good about the story. But it kept haunting me (pun intended <g>) so I went back to it. I’d originally written the beginning in first person, didn’t like it, flipped it to third person, and it worked better but not hugely better.

When I went back, I flipped it to first person again and *finally* found the character’s voice. I’m pleased! 🙂

The other is a new short story that my editor over at The Wild Rose Press asked me to write.

It’s steampunk.

Now, when she asked, I said “I don’t write steampunk.” Yes, I know, I have all sorts of cool gadgets in my Seneca storyverse. But that’s alternate history.

Steampunk is different.

Then I thought about it. Then I watched Sherlock on PBS. Then I saw a promo poster for the return of the CrossGen universe, featuring Simon Archard from RUSE.

And I thought…well, maybe I don’t write steampunk. But I’ve always wanted to write a Sherlock Holmes mystery. And he’s in Victorian times. And he was a chemist and tinkerer so….

Thus was born my story, tentatively titled “the Curse of the Brimstone Contract,” starring one Gregor Sherringford, my riff on Holmes.

Yes, it’ll be a romance but if I do this right, I can carry the romance over a number of short story mysteries, just like Doyle’s original tales. (The short mystery part, not the romance part.)

I’ve finally mapped out all the scenes I want. The plot came easy–it’s getting the steampunk gadgets right that I’m having trouble with so far. I know what part I want them to play in the story. But first, I have to figure out how to engineer them, if that makes sense.

So I’ve been writing in “uses gadget to test gloves for traces of chemical” in the manuscript.

Then I’ll have to go research to fill them in.

I have to say I’ve having a ball writing them, especially putting in easter eggs from Doyle. Like, say, my detective’s last name. 🙂

Note: cross-posted from my livejournal.

When you sign books at the annual Romance Writers of America Literacy Signing, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you won’t be the center of attention unless you’re a New York Times bestselling author.

It’s 500 authors or so in one huge convention room for two hours.

It’s loud and the lines to buy books are long and intense. So my goal for the night was to basically chat up the friends that came by to say “hi” and sell a book or two of Dinah of Seneca.

The night exceeded my expectations.


1. An incredibly nice woman named Gabriela who sought out *me* amongst the whole slew of author to say hello, get information on how to buy Freya’s Gift for her Kindle and buy Dinah of Seneca. Thanks, Gabriela, you are awesomesauce.

2. The best t-shirt of the night: “Lead me not into temptation…especially into bookstores.”

3. My friend Jill, who I want to be when I grew up, took a photo of me before the signing and it came out nice! A photo of me that I like. 🙂 Once she gets it uploaded, I’ll add it to this post. It’s got my official sign and everything. Heh.

4. I realized that sitting is a lot less stressful than walking around buying books. There’s no pressure. Plus, nice RWA volunteers bring you free water.

5. Writing personal notes when signing books is fun. Squee!

6. I was going to head down to the signing with a cleverly disguised rum & coke. My roommates talked me out of it, even though I pointed out it would take the edge off my nerves. 🙂

Then I got down to the signing and found bestselling author Eileen Dreyer sipping a glass of white wine. Clearly, I had the right instinct on this. 🙂

7. An entire family came to see the author sitting next to me. This reader had driven forty-five with her husband and two little kids to meet her favorite writer and get her books signed, which was just so cool. She had the cutest little boy who I provided with Hershey kisses when he seemed to get bored. He has such a polite “thank you.”

In short, I sold a few books, chatted with a lot of friends, met a bunch of very cool readers, and a good time was had by all.  And RWA raised over $62,000 for literacy charities.

This morning, I went to a breakfast sponsored by the publisher of Freya’s Gift, Samhain, and met a couple of SF romance/writers readers. I told one of Samhain’s representatives that they should do graphic novels. She said “Troublemaker!” (In a nice way.)

This afternoon is a keynote luncheon with speaker Nora Roberts, and then workshops, including one by Lee Child and Suze Brockmann, and then it’s a dinner with friends at the cool Italian place in the resort.

Friday, I have to pitch. Always fun. 🙂

Note: We’re in Orlando, on Disney property. I hit the Land of Mouse Tuesday, including the Tower of Terror, but I’ll probably write about that on my personal blog & for Geek Dad.

Just something very short. And it’s not even erotic. I know, bummer. 🙂


“The problem belongs with you, as chief’s wife. If you wish to lead us, then lead us.” Gerhard turned the full intensity of his gaze on her. “Find a way. Or else we will be planting bodies in the ground instead of seeds this spring.”


Men. Always expecting us to solve the big problems. 🙂

I was being obsessive earlier and double-checking all my hyperlinks and I discovered that the Freya’s Gift links under the “Books” tab wasn’t working any longer.

Samhain did something on their website and cyber-moved me. Heh. It’s corrected now but I wanted to apologize who anyone who clicked on the wrong link and got the Samhain site but also a ‘not found’ message.

I should be back tomorrow with another snippet from Dinah of Seneca. (And I have to pester The Wild Rose Press and make sure they have me up on their site now that my release date is less than sixty days away.)

At least, I hope to have a snippet.

The minions are quite restless today. I may have to bribe them into silence.

For those of you who have read Freya’s Gift and were intrigued enough to click over to my website, I thought I’d put up a short excerpt from Dinah of Seneca, which is a novel-length sequel set in the same universe.  This book is coming out at the end of May from The Wild Rose Press. (If you click on the tag to the right side, you’ll see the cover and the blurb.)

Gerhard from Freya’s Gift is the hero of the book but Sif also has a nice role in it, which includes one of my very favorite scenes but I can’t post that because it’s a huge spoiler.

Instead, I pulled out how Dinah meets Gerhard and how the cougars from the earlier story come into play.

To set this up, Dinah has been spying on the Viking camp for the Roman commander. (The Romans don’t show up in Freya’s Gift because they weren’t important and would have been distracting. 🙂


Gerhard released her hair and knelt down to her. His hand reached out to her. She flinched, expecting a blow. But instead, he grabbed the belt knife at her waist and snatched it out of its sheath with ease. She bit back an objection. She should not have taken her favorite knife on this insane mission.

He held the knife up to the firelight and studied it, tilting his head in curiosity. He said something in his language. She shook her head, let the shivers take her body and the tears flow down her cheeks. She shrank back from the spear. I am small and not dangerous and most definitely not a Roman spy.

“Why are you here?” Gerhard said, in Latin. Her eyes widened. A Viking, speaking Latin? “Why are you here?” Gerhard waved his hand  and the spear moved away from her throat. She swallowed and curled into herself. “I, I, I’m sorry, I was hungry and I spied your fires and I tried to find some food. My master does not feed me properly.” She licked her lips, willing herself into a state that matched her words. Panic was not hard,  she was halfway there already. “I’m sorry, I become  lost so I hid behind the shields. I never meant harm, never meant harm.” She raised her head, so Gerhard  got a full look at her tear-stained face in the torchlight.

Gerhard took a breath in and let it out. He smelled like pine needles. He pointed the knife at her. “This is not the knife of a slave. It is too well-balanced, and it is Roman steel.” He traced the ivory carving on the hilt. “And this is intricate work. It captures one of Freya’s cats well.”

Freya? Who are Freya and her cats? “I stole it 1t from my master before I left,” she said. Idiot. She  should have bought a non-descript weapon, a basic Legionary belt knife, not a long-ago gift for a job well done. Sentiment will get you killed. Another one of Gracchus’ sayings.

“So you are twice a thief?” Gerhard asked.

“I have stolen nothing from you.”

“Yet.” He tilted his head, almost smiling. “You are saying you reached the center of our camp by accident? Interesting, since I know you followed me.”

So Gerhard had been playing with her. Cruel Viking. And very smart. “I did, I thought with you being the leader, you might help. But I got scared and hid.”


25 days and counting!! Woot.

Available March 23 from Samhain Publishing.

Here’s the official blurb, complete with warning about the sex. 🙂

Because, while it is a story of love after loss, it’s also erotica.


Saving her people could mean losing her man.
In the months since an unexplained sickness wiped out most of their women, Sif and Ragnor have managed to hold their people together. Yet nothing can overcome the tribe’s overwhelming grief, and their future as leaders—and as a couple—is at a dangerous crossroads.

A series of sensual omens convinces Sif that a fertility ritual to honor the goddess, Freya, is the only path to healing, but it requires a sacrifice. One Sif is more than willing to make—but puts Ragnor’s heart in the middle of an emotional tug of war. He would give his life for his people, but share Sif’s body with his greatest rival? The goddess asks too much.

Refuse, and Ragnor will fail his duty and doom the tribe to violent destruction from within. Accept, and their trust could be rewarded with renewal for their people and themselves. Or shatter a love already stretched to the breaking point.

Warning: This title contains m/m/f sex, gay sex, anal sex, double penetration and good, clean fun with two hot Vikings and an ancient spring.

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