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Corrina Lawson: Writer, Mom, Geek & Superhero » Writing

Writing


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.

 

 

Jim Gordon by Ming Doyle. She went above and beyond with this commission!

The prize is a $20 Amazon gift card. :)  Go read. I discuss things like why my Mom is my hero and why no one should use my writing method as that way lies madness…

So I did this awesome podcast with Kate Kotler, the Comix Chix! It’s up on GeekNation and I talk about the GeekMom book and other stuff.

Check it out! :)

Today is the day! Phoenix Rising is out in paperback!

I received my author copies a few weeks ago and took time to sit down and fondle them a bit. New book smell! Nothing else like it!

So, contest!!

Comment below about what you’re currently reading! That way we can talk about books and recommend them to each other too.

THREE PRIZES, THREE WINNERS, chosen by random number from the comments.

1. A print copy of Phoenix Rising.

2. Ecopies of Phoenix Legacy, the sequel coming on Nov. 11th. , Phoenix Rising,  and Luminous, the short story set in the same univers.

superhero novels, superhero romance, Phoenix Rising,

3. A $10 Amazon certificate.

I will close entries in one week, at midnight on October 9th. Make sure that there is a way I can reach you if you want a prize, preferably via email. I’ve found Facebook messages tend to get lost.

As I held my book in my hands, I started to think of all the different influences on the series, especially the first book. The first, obvious, one is my love of Marvel’s X-Men, as the heroes in my books are born with their powers, as are the mutant X-Men, and the eventual goal of those running the Phoenix Institute is to provide a safe haven for mutants and teach them how to use their abilities safely.

But that was the general concept. As it took shape, it became more my own idea. For one, I restricted all the abilities to ones that could be explained by psychic powers. That means telekinesis and telepathy.

Alec Farley, the hero of Phoenix Rising, is a telekinetic but also a firestarter, as starting fires is just another level of moving things around with the brain, albeit at a molecular level. There are many variations I can use. The hero of the upcoming Phoenix Legacy has TK but it’s limited to the ability to heal himself. He can literally order his body to repair damage I’m currently working on the third full book in the series and the heroine can walk through walls, which is due to her psychic ability to control the molecules of her body.

Telepathy, on the other hand, could also take many forms. There are: simple communication/ the ability to mentally order people around; to cast illusions by making someone see what isn’t real; and to make what is real invisible. (See Luminous.)

It would be boring to write such powerful people without giving them weaknesses, so each strength has an appropriate drawback. Alec’s fire can escape his control. My self-healer can’t solve blood loss. My telepath can only control so many people for a short period of time. My ghost walker can only carry something with if it’s smaller than her own body weight.

Something else I borrowed was part of the setting. I feel in love with one of Nora Roberts’ Harlequin stories involving one of her big families. I loved the story about a young artist who lived in a lighthouse in Maine, especially the setting. I had just visited Maine and it resonated. So I took that idea, “borrowed” a real house set up on a hill over looking the harbor in Maine, and put that in the book.

And Beth…the first stirrings of the character that became Beth, the heroine of Phoenix Rising, took place back in 2004 when I was talking to Karen Harbaugh at RWA National in Dallas. She talked about how few leads of Asian descent there were in romance stories. I said maybe people write what they know. And she said that was no excuse. If people could research Regencies and historicals, they could research a character’s background too.

I sat down to write Phoenix Rising and Beth took shape as a Japanese-American. It’s not that I said “I’ll write a minority lead,” it was more “I’m writing a very unique character and this background adds to it.” I saw her as just Beth, whose background I had to get right as I had to get Alec’s background just right. But I received a few comments about people happy to see a non-white lead in a book, so that was nice.

And, last but not least, I owe a debt to the great writers of books I devoured in my childhood. Alec Farley is my own tribute to the wonderful Walter Farley, who wrote the Black Stallion series. I keep and treasure those books to this day. Alec Ramsey is the hero of the series, so I just swapped his last name for the author’s last name.

I only hope, in some small way, that I can touch reachers a tenth as well as Walter Farley’s stories touched me.

 

Never underestimate the power of a determined friend, in this case, one Jill Purinton.

Not to mention the power of a geeky encounter.

First, I have to announce, I have a new agent, Eric Ruben. I wasn’t looking for new representation but through a chain of events one after the other, which included a geeky conversation, I have one. I’m very pleased, especially as we’ve already bonded over our love of New York Comic Con.

And to make this more fun, this happened during the annual meeting of Romance Writers of America in Anaheim last month. Which meant I got to celebrate with my fabulous roommates and talented writers: Christine Merrill, and Katy Cooper, and the aforementioned determined friend, Jill, pictured above.

Another friend, the lovely Kim Ivora, took us on outings to Anaheim, especially to this great place that served breakfast and gelato! What could be better? And my friend Chandra Years played  walking talking Disney app for me and Chris at DisneyLand.

Back to Jill’s being the most determined friend ever…

(more…)

I’ve been playing this game based on the Apprentice television show over at the Brian M. Bendis forum on Jinxworld. (For non-comic readers, Bendis is likely Marvel’s more prolific writer. Avengers and all that.)

I’ve never watched the show but the game I’m playing basically consists of writing prompts. Coming up with story arcs, coming up with alternate takes on heroes, plotting out an entire Marvel line reboot and even plotting an entire year of an animated series.

It’s been great for generating ideas and characters, especially with all the plot bunnies. But it also is giving me a taste of what it would be like to write these characters, which is absolutely a blast.

Our last big assignment as a team was to come up with a #1,000 anniversary issue. Either Spider-Man or Action Comics (Superman) or Detective Comics (Batman.)

Naturally, I insisted on Batman. And then I got stuck for what I thought might be a big game changer. After all, sidekicks have all been killed before, Batman’s been defeated before, he’s even been considered dead fairly recently. Can’t really marry him off, he’s Batman and it wouldn’t stick. So then I looked at the villains and thought, well, the #1,000 issue demands the most iconic Bat villain.

The Joker.

So here’s our take on Detective #1,000, which might occur ten years down the line, if DC goes back to the regular number system. (They swapped all numbers back to #1 with the reboot.) This is not solely my own creation, I had the help of Kedd & Gary Sloan from the Bendis board. :)

I’ll give you a hint. Something very bad happens to the Joker. Second hint: Batman doesn’t do it to him.

Third hint? Look to the image.

Also, a certain redhead who’s been missing from the Gothamverse for a while makes a re-appearance.

Detective #1,000

Batman started fighting crime in a corrupt system back during the Great Depression, a problem that remains today in places like Detroit, New Orleans, and Camden, New Jersey. Batman still stands for the common person who gets back up off the ground and not only survives but vows to make certain that others never again suffer the same kind of pain. He is the guardian of the night whose quest is endless as no one person can eliminate the horrors of life.

Still, Batman will always try.

Over the years, Batman has trained a number of exceptional young men who have suffered similar losses, gained an ally in a thief whose life taught her that the ‘law’ is often a tool for the unjust, and made perhaps his truest friend in a man who, many times, provides his strongest link to the law.

As Batman: Year One was the parallel story of two men searching to serve justice, one outside the law, one inside the law, Detective #1,000 is meant to be a bookend to Year One, the story of the parallel tracks the actions of Batman and JIm Gordon and where those tracks have taken them.

This issue contains the story that allows the Batman mythos to move into the future with a somewhat altered status quo both for the Batman characters and for the city at large. Along with that, the back-up stories will showcase the best of the characters in Gotham and the work of the creators who’ve had such an impact on them.

Gotham’s Last Laugh

The story opens as Commissioner Jim Gordon and Batman meet on the rooftops of the GCPC in the darkness, as the Bat signal is off. Gordon passes on the information that a number of teenage boys are missing from the foster care system. He knows that Batman and his allies are the only ones who can cut through the bureaucratic system fast enough to prevent another disappearance.
Batman contacts his allies. (more…)

Luminous, superhero romance, Jim Gordon

And with the release of the novella, Luminous, I’m now officially a superhero series writer. :)

So far, that makes three books in the Seneca series and two in the Phoenix Institute series. Phoenix is catching up, as I have a third book coming in November.

But today is all about Luminous.

Self-promotion instincts force me to point out that the novella is only $2.49 at Samhain Publishing and $3.01 on Amazon for the Kindle. Go, look, buy. :)

Okay, BSP over.

The creation of this story is unique because it was basically the result of a thread on Gail Simone’s forums at the Jinxworld website. I started, “Want to Write a Superhero Story?”, to encourage all the talented people on the forum to put their creative energy to work with the goal in mind to submit a story to Samhain Publishing’s call-out for superhero romance novellas.

I admit, when it came time to submit, I cheated.

I found a way to tie it into the Phoenix series and so I sent it to my regular Samhain editor instead of to the superhero romance anthology. Thankfully, Jennifer Miller liked it enough to buy it and, with the help of her editing, the story turned out great.

Yet the help of those on Gail’s forum was invaluable and I wanted to recognize them. So here’s the dedication:

Dedication

To the posters of the Want to Write a Superhero Story? thread on the Gail Simone forums at Jinxworld. Thanks for your support and help and for keeping me going. You were an inspiration.

What’s the story about?

Well, there’s an official blurb and excerpt on my books page here (along with links to buy) and more at Samhain but I can tell you the desire to write this mainly came from my desire  to write a Batman-type story. I’m pretty sure DC Comics is about to hand me a chance to do that.(If you’re read my criticism of how DC has handle outreach to the female audience, you probably know why. :)  And there’s the fact I still have a lot to learn about comic scripting.

But I can write.

And just as it felt great to start my steampunk story and do a riff on Sherlock Holmes, it felt awesome to be creating my own urban landscape peopled with my own heroes. Noir seemed a perfect name for my heroine, a mysterious figure who is literally invisible and so decided to make dramatic use of black in her wardrobe. I picture her very much in the mold of the Shadow.

Lieutenant Aloysius James was inspired, naturally, by Gotham’s truest cop, Jim Gordon.

You wouldn't want to mess with this guy, would you? Art from http://doubleleaf.deviantart.com/gallery/

Al isn’t the same guy, however, though they both share a need to do the right thing, no matter what. For one, Al’s a lot less eloquent and more alone in the world.

Until Noir shows up and he’s not sure whether she needs to be arrested, helped or protected. He also finds the way she fills out the black leather more than a bit distracting.

Luckily, Al isn’t easily phased by Noir’s invisibility because he’s generally unflappable. It makes their eventual lovemaking a bit challenging but as Al says “who says all men need a visual?”

So I hope you’ll give Luminous a try. I’m very tempted, when I finish the full-length novels in the Phoenix Institute series, to return to their home in Charlton City and set the pair after corrupt cops, mutant bad guys and the occasional ordinary villains who can make life so difficult.

I’m not sure what to call that series yet. Noir doesn’t seem quite right. Crime and Shadows, perhaps.

Note: for those looking for the cast of Phoenix Rising, they’re mentioned at the end of Luminous. And they’ll return in full force in Phoenix Legacy in November.

Luminous, superhero romance, Jim GordonHi!

Been crazy lately.

In the last month:

1. The GeekMom Book was submitted to our editor, hitting the February 1st deadline. Hopefully, publication this winter.

2. I sold Phoenix Legacy, the direct sequel to Phoenix Rising, to Samhain. That will be out in November.  It’s stars Philip, from PR as the hero who’s having a little trouble coping with immortality and a little more trouble coping with the people trying to kill him and someone from his mysterious past.

3. I got the finished pages of my first comic book script. More to come on that in another post but for those who read PR, it’s a four-page story of how Philip rescued Beth from the bad guys when she was a little girl. It has AWESOME art. I will post a page soon.  :)

4. I finished the final edits on Luminous (see above) an urban crimefighter superhero novella that will be out in May. It’s set tangentially in the Phoenix Institute universe but has all-original characters, including a hero inspired  by the Batman: Year One version of Jim Gordon, my favorite cop.

5. Got the final edits for the *print* version of Phoenix Rising, coming out in October.

That’s just my book publishing life. :)

And now that I’m back from dropping the minion off at school, here’s the first page to a four-page comic story called “Promise.” It will be in released in May as part of an all-women issue of The Gathering from Greyhaven Comics. The art is by Cassandra James of Australia, who is absolutely awesome.

Greyhaven comics

When I was writing Phoenix Rising, I often used some famous comic book splash pages for inspiration, especially as my Alec Ramsey’s firestarting abilities start to go completely out of control near the end.

It worked in prose but I couldn’t stop wishing for George Perez or Marshall Rogers to appear in my home and illustrate it. :)

Which brings me to the contest. Answer this question in the comments below: what scene from your favorite book would you love to see drawn or illustrated, either in a comic or a poster?

A winner will be announced Monday morning and will be chosen by random number generator.

To set up the sequence:

Alec and the military-style assault team assigned to assist and protect him are chasing terrorists on the Newark docks. Problems arise when the terrorists begin escaping via tugboat. Alec’s trying to stop it with his telekinesis and a wall of fire.

***************************************

The fire screamed at Alec, rolling into a ball of raging heat, wanting to consume what was in its path, more powerful than any fire he’d handled before. It wanted to incinerate the entire tug, including the bomb. But he had control. This is what he’d trained to do all his life.

He created a wall of fire on the far side of the tug, trying to make it retreat. More shouting. Again, Hans calmed the others down and the boat kept moving. Alec had to let some of the fire spin away, lest it hit the bomb. They’d called his bluff. Shit.

The tug chugged into the harbor, taking it farther from Alec’s range and closer to a big, shadowy shape out on the water. Another ship. No way he’d be able to stop the bigger ship if they loaded the bomb on it. Sweat poured down Alec’s neck and back. His breathing grew quicker, his eyesight blurrier from the smoke of the burning dock.

Hans was the calm one. Get him and the rest would panic. Alec broke off a small ball of fire from the flames above the tug and sent it crashing into Hans’ chest.Hans screamed, stumbled backwards and fell into the water. Steam hissed and was quickly snuffed by a wave.

The tug stopped moving, dead in the water. Yes!

A shadow fell over the tug. Their pickup. The transfer wasn’t at the docks like intelligence said, it would be on the water. Kowalski, who’d berated them for their mission questions, had been wrong. If Daz didn’t go after the CIA fuck, Alec would.Daz yelled out loud. Alec ignored it.

Daz’s voice buzzed in his ear from the radio. Alec tore off his helmet. Tears ran down his face from the smoke. His knees grew weak. The fire almost escaped from him, almost roared into the bomb. Dammit, I can control this. What was wrong with him? He knew better.

He dropped to his knees and pushed the fire back to the tug’s bridge. Another man was yelling now. Alec saw the face illuminated in the firelight and recognized Demeter, the fanatic. He should crisp him too, but if he let the fire go even a little, he’d lose it completely. Hell.

He raised a hand and created a roof of flame over the boat. There! Let them try to move the bomb with that there. He grinned, panic gone, and stood. He blinked and saw the flames around him had grown.They whispered to him, embraced him, until he was weightless, free, just like the fire. Nothing could hurt him, nothing could defeat him, especially not some second-rate terrorist cell.

“Firefly!”

I ’m busy, Daz.

Alec blinked and finally registered the twenty-foot wall of flames directly around him. The fire he’d created had joined with the flames from the sniper’s body and grown into an inferno. F-Team was trapped between the warehouse and a shipping container and the flames were closing in. They’d be incinerated.

In the distance, a horn sounded, close to the tug. Fuck! Daz yelled his name again, voice more desperate.

Okay, easy. Take control of both fires. He could finish the mission and save F-Team at the same time. Piece of cake.

He spun around and around in the flames encircling him, pushing them upward, away from F-Team, sending them into the sky, where they’d have no fuel and would sputter out on their own. The metal of the crane above twisted and buckled from the intense heat. His throat felt like dust. Heat enclosed him, baking his skin. He shouldn’t have made it so damn hot without realizing it. He knew better. What the hell was wrong with him?

He waved his hand. The flames around him started to sputter out. Good, F-Team was safe. The roof of flames above the tug disappeared.

No, shit, he didn’t mean those flames. He reached out with his TK toward the boat. He felt something fuzzy, like a figurative cotton ball in the air. He had no idea what the hell that was.

An explosion rocked the night air, splitting the tug in half. Alec fell face-forward to the dock. He spat out ashes, cursing. What had happened?The fire around him leapt high again, its flames a vivid blue color. He couldn’t have exploded the bomb on the tug—he’d been careful. So what the hell had done it?

He pushed himself up with his arms, bit his lip and the fire around him stole the air from his lungs and took control of him.He closed his eyes, joined the flames, felt them rise up around him, like he was flying high with it, flying to the water, flying to consume that big ship out there. Who needed control?

This was all he needed.

He could be fire.

 

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