full-frontal-nerdity_large

I’ve missed a couple of weeks. We’ve had a family emergency, with my younger daughter in the hospital for treatment of a chronic condition. That ground everything to a halt and, when she finally came home, it meant a huge backlog of writing. The good news is that the daughter is getting better every day.

The time spent with her in the hospital also provided a writing epiphany, especially related to my favorite children’s author, Walter Farley. More on that below.

Walter Farley

My copy of The Black Stallion & the Girl, cover copyright Random House

To cope with all this, I resorted to tea. Strong tea. Wake you up, tea. I drank a special morning blend of black orange pekoe tea. Basic black teas can be the hardest tea to get right. Too strong and they’re harsh and nasty (hello, Lipton), too weak and it’s like drinking hot water with a hint of flavor. This blend is perfect for me, provided I use one of my extra large mugs, two teaspoons of the loose tea, and steep for four minutes. Perfect.

Onto Walter Farley and one of my favorite books as a child: The Black Stallion and the Girl.

When we fall in love with books as children, we fall hard, and those stories and the people who wrote them become beloved in a way that’s everlasting.

Sometimes when revisiting our favorite stories as adults, we can be disappointed. I still see what I loved in my favorites but, as an adult, Tarzan‘s pulp adventures contain racist implications are undeniable. Robert Heinlein’s fast-paced galactic adventures reveal skewed views on women and sex.

But sometimes authors and books exceed our childhood memories and that’s the case with Farley and The Black Stallion and the Girl. Even more, sometimes behind a beloved story is another story, a true story that’s tragic and beautiful.

When my daughter was in the hospital, she wanted to read and disappear in her books. I’d brought her my favorite Black Stallion books, including this one, so I picked it off the pile while she read something else. The words quickly merged with my memories of childhood, and I was eight years old again, thrilled that a girl could do everything that the hero of the story, Alec Ramsey, could do. Pam, the girl of the title, did what she loved to do, despite everyone telling her that she couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. She knew differently and her quiet confidence and her kindness won them over.

There are debates in the book over what women should and could do and here Walter Farley is on the right side of history, allowing Alec to be on Pam’s side and allowing that women could be whatever they wanted and that Pam had just as much a right to love horses and work with them as anyone else.

This book was written in 1971, even before Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs. Farley was ahead of his time and his story back then was an inspiration to me.

However, I also remembered a later book, The Black Stallion Legend, written in 1983, where Pam dies off-screen in a car crash in Europe and that sent Alec into a dream-like tailspin. It was an odd book, full of raw grief. I wasn’t ready for it, and I put the entire series aside for other books.

What I didn’t know then was that Pam was based on Walter Farley’s own daughter, Pam, who died at the age of 20 in 1968 in a car crash in Europe.

The Black Stallion and the Girl is a love letter from Farley to his daughter.

Pam in the book is kind and warm and smart and funny and determined. She’s human, of course, and not perfect, though Walter Farley can be forgiven if perhaps she’s a bit idealized. (Alec, too, is idealized, as is the case with many lead characters in children’s books.) At the end of the story, Pam leaves to pursue her dreams, promising to stay in touch with Alec.

The book ends with this tribute:

A soft breeze swept his face, and his eyes turned to the star-lit heavens. Whenever he wasn’t with her, her fingers would be the wind and the wind her fingers, and all space would be the smile of her.

I can’t imagine what it took for Farley to write those words, only three years after his daughter’s untimely death. I’m in awe of the gift that allowed him to share his daughter with the world and reach out to me, someone he would never know, and inspire me in turn.

Stories matter. And storytellers matter. I’m glad that Pam is still out there, immortal, and that her father left the world such a gift.

I don't have tea cups. I have mugs. This is one of my all-time favorites, one of a matched set.

I don’t have tea cups. I have mugs. This is one of my all-time favorites, one of a matched set.

Usually, I don’t buy tea at Teavana. One, because it’s overpriced. Two, because the flavors are weak. I suspect there’s more in their tea for scent purposes than for flavor purposes. (Meaning that it smells great but produces weak tea.)

But I did buy 11 ounces of Oprah Chai last week, despite the fact it’s labeled “Oprah Chai Tea.” (That’s like calling it “tea tea.”) Why? Because it was on clearance. The total price paid for that was $21, which means it was less than $2 an ounce. With my local tea store closed, it seemed like the time to try this flavor.

Verdict: it’s decent chai with a bite to it. Nothing to write home about but I’d buy it again for that price. I certainly wouldn’t have paid the original price of $83 for the 11 ounces, however.

Aside from trying tea, we also took a trip to the Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut last week. It’s a small zoo outside of New Haven but has birds of prey, wolves, and several large cats. The teenage twins were fascinated by the wolves. I was impressed by the leopard and the tiger. Damn large paws on those kitty cats. The wolves shied away from the people. The cats seemed to be glaring at us.

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright. photo by Corrina Lawson

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright. photo by Corrina Lawson

I’ve come down with a cold given to me by the youngest daughter and that’s put a crimp in my writing. (“Mom, you shouldn’t have stolen one of my fries or dipped it in my ketchup because I double dip!”) I would say that it’s just a cold but it didn’t seem like “just” anything when I almost coughed up a lung this weekend.

But I managed to get a few pieces done:

9 Feminist Comics Everyone Should Read at the B&N SF/F blog.

Same Geek Channel Special: Death and the Genre Show, written in response to the sudden plethora of deaths of female (particularly women of color) and LGBT characters on SF/F shows. Had I written it this week, I’d have added in ABC deciding to dump Kate Beckett from Castle. One would think Hollywood has something against women. /sarcasm.

A review of the fascinating book, Investigating Lois Lane, a history of the character.

And, as always, the weekly recaps of DC Comics with Ray Goldfield. It was a good week for women, particularly Black Canary and Wonder Women.

 

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.

 

 

Logo copyright Linnea Sinclair, who started this Intergalactic Bar & Grille. I have a mug but it's bigger and more of a beer stein...

Logo copyright Linnea Sinclair, who started this Intergalactic Bar & Grille. I have a mug but it’s bigger and more of a beer stein…

Welcome to my weekly tea report. First, some, sad, sad news.

My local tea shop is closing. NOO!!! What have I done? I’ve stocked up with Chai and bought several other flavors and I’ll be heading back this weekend to make sure I lay in a supply that will last a year or so. So far, I have Earl Grey Creme, Toasted Almond, licorice, German chocolate, maple syrup tea, and an Engish breakfast. Obviously, I still need more.

I cannot have enough good loose tea.

Why? Because I absolutely cannot get through the day without a proper cup of tea. (Just like many people can’t get through the day without coffee.)

No trips to the beach this week and things are basically status quo with my publisher, Samhain Publishing, closing in a few months. Hopefully, news soon.

My sinus infection knocked me back for a loop last week and I stalled on my work in progress. Partially because I had to look over the character arcs, now that I have 52,000 words, and partially because my brain was horrible mush.

But I did some writing. He’s my ode to Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day at Heroes and Heartbreakers, my final word on this second season of Marvel’s Agent Carter (please be renewed, please, please), an interviews with the creator of Federal Marshall and Monster Hunter Wynonna Earp, who is coming to Syfy television this month, and, of course, my thoughts on last week’s issues of DC Comics. (I make fun of Hal Jordan again.)

Also, if the photo of the mug and hat above intrigues you, by all means, go to Linnea Sinclair’s website and check out her books. I love them.

And I couldn’t resist this sunrise. May all your days start this beautifully.

Daytona Speedway, Daytona Beach

Serenity Now. Sunrise over Daytona Beach. Photo by Corrina Lawson

My daughter gave me this  extra-large mug.

My daughter gave me this extra-large mug. This week, I’ve put an extra shot of whiskey in it.

It’s been quite a couple of weeks. First, there was the awesome visit to the new motorsports stadium at Daytona International Speedway, which included a breakfast with the nieces and grand-nieces, then it was back to work writing all but the last 20,000 words of The Dark Mage of Lotus Hall.

Corrina Lawson, Daytona Speedway

Alas, this replica of a Sprint Cup car doesn’t have an engine. photo copyright Corrina Lawson

Then things kinda hit the fan.

My publisher, Samhain, announced that it would be closing.

The pertinent parts to readers: all my books are still up on all sites. SamhainPublishing.com itself, Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo. You can still buy them, though if you want a print copy, you may be out of luck there. They will be there for a little while longer, as Samhain doesn’t expect to close up shop for months yet.

What will happen next? The agent is handling getting my rights back and, damn, it feels good to have someone handling this for me. The head of Samhain Publishing sent out an email just yesterday, promising something hopeful coming and whether that means a cash infusion, takeover by a big publisher, or something more than that, I have no idea.

At this point, I want all my rights back, so I can choose the future of my stories but, who knows, by Friday, I might have changed my mind. In the meantime, those shots of whiskey in my tea at night have helped a great deal. 🙂 It helps that I have 3 unpublished manuscripts to sell.

Also changing is the status of my non-fiction career. GeekMom.com is merging with GeekDad.com to create the premiere Geek Parenting site on the web. We’ll be fully integrated into GeekDad’s post feed but for those wishing for a GeekMom only experience, there will be a way to get that.

Plus, spiffy new site design for EVERYONE. ::tosses confetti::

Oh, hey, did I mention I’m going to Comic Con International in San Diego this summer for the first time ever! My press application was approved. Bucket list item to be checked off.

In the meantime, enjoy the article I wrote about season 2 of Marvel’s Agent Carter and Wynonna Earp, the new television show coming from Syfy Channel that I’m stoked about.

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….”

Wonder Woman, geeky mug

You know people know you’re a geek when they start giving you mugs like this. 🙂
photo: Corrina Lawson

Happy Tuesday all! Today’s tea? Assam Loose Leaf because I seriously needed the caffeine boost to wake up.

The work on the steampunk, tentatively called The Dark Mage of Lotus Hall, continues at a good clip. Last night, I hit 35,000 words. I had to backtrack a bit, however, as I encountered what writers call “the saggy middle.”

In other words, things were going far too well for my intrepid heroine and it was time to pull the rug out under her feet by asking “what’s a horrible thing that can happen that will upend the entire cast?” and then doing that. I also wrote a scene between the antagonist and my heroine that it contained many-layered dialogue, my favorite thing ever. Hopefully, all those layers will be fully seen once the villain’s scheme is clear.

What those poor dears must endure for the sake of story. Mwwhahahahah! 🙂 (I’ve not put a foot in George R.R. Martin territory yet but I begin to see how his landscape develops.)

We’ve had several snow days here in New England, leading to a four-day weekend for the teens and less writing time for me. But, still, I managed to bang out a few fun articles.

Out my office window this week. photo by Corrina Lawson.

Out my office window this week. photo by Corrina Lawson.

My first post on Heroes & Heartbreakers which concerns, naturally, Wonder Woman, was published this week. Or, rather, it’s about her longtime love interest, Steve Trevor. Fate has not always been kind to Steve but now he’s Chris Pine, so it should work out all right in the end.

I’m still loving, loving Agent CarterThis week, it even did flashbacks well!

I enjoyed several of this week’s DC Comics, so check out the full reviews of DC’s entire slate and ended up riffing about my most hated trope: the all reaching conspiracy.

“Yeah, we’re supposed to believe Mother is this all-powerful person who can predict what children will be suitable and what won’t be suitable but, c’mon. I’d believe in superspeed more than seeing into the future to predict that this child will turn out to be exactly what someone wants. I’ll give Mother the ability to send women out as trophy wives for the rich. But to know which kid will be a superhero? Just no.”

Suspension of disbelief broken. 🙂

full-frontal-nerdity_largeGood morning. I raise my overfull mug of red velvet tea to you this morning. It’s time, I’ve decided to have a regular report on what I’ve been doing.

The first, and most important bit of work is writing the sequel to The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, tentatively titled The Dark Mage of Lotus Hall. I’m approximately 27,000 words into it but now the writing should come faster because I have a climatic scene that came to me, of course, in the shower. No spoiling but suffice to say it involves one of these:

ballroom-2

Yes, that’s an underwater ballroom. Intrigued? Sign up for my periodic newsletter. I’ll be sending out excerpts and other exclusive information once every couple of months or so.

As for the rest, well, looking at the list below makes me better because, at the end of each week, I always feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. These links tell me otherwise.

At the Barnes & Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy blog, reports on a new collection of Batman vs. Superman stories, along with a history of their relationship, which was more friendly than not, plus the problematic history of DC’s Green Lanterns.

Over at GeekMom.com, reviews of every single DC Comic published last week, including a killer Black Canary story and a review of the final season of Downton Abbey. (For all my GeekMom posts, check out the “Author Corrina” link.)

Over at GeekDad.com, commentary on the third episode of the marvelous Marvel’s Agent Carter and a review of a Vertigo anthology with some outstanding comic book short stories.

Finally, at CriminalElement.com, a review of the finale of the Heroes Reborn miniseries which, alas, did not match the fun of the original’s first season.

Happy week, everyone and remember, tea is the geekiest drink of all. 🙂

I have an excuse for neglecting my personal blog. No, not running marathons or fighting crime or any of that.

I’ve been writing.

I’ve been writing a lot. I revised/rewrote three manuscripts this year to the point where they were new works, and wrote another entirely new book. I also have been doing weekly reviews of DC Comics at GeekMom, plus myriad blogging here, there, and elsewhere. If I have any regrets, it’s that I should do my blogging in this space more often.

But, good news first.

Galaxy Express/SFRQ believes my Phoenix Institute series should be adapted for television!

romance novella, police drama

Christmas can be murder on a relationship that’s on the rocks.

“Corrina Lawson’s Phoenix Institute series could join the ranks of SUPERGIRL, DAREDEVIL, ARROW, and THE FLASH to draw both romance and superhero fans.” That’s the fun quote but you should go read the whole article because it recommends some awesome, awesome books. (Also, yes, Hollywood, Get On This! 🙂

Philippa Lodge, reader extraordinaire, put Luminous and Ghosts of Christmas Past as part of the “Best Books I read in 2015:”

Ghosts of Christmas Past” and “Luminous“, Lawson (super hero romance. I love her novel-length books, but these two novellas really hit me just right.)”

Best part? Her list also includes Kristan Higgins and Nalani Singh. That is fine company, indeed.

Last year at this time, I said I was jumping off a cliff and writing my first urban fantasy. It took me longer than I wanted, given the distractions offered by life and the other manuscripts, but I finished a polished draft of The Crystal Tower and sent it to my agent in early December.

It’s not a romance, though there is sex in it. The general high concept is that a descendant of King Arthur, Aurelia Artos, must confront her magical legacy that includes a curse that’s warping the present day. It’s set in the fictional American city of St. Isca, there are Native American legends as part of the magic, and, naturally, some modern versions of characters in the Arthurian myth. It’s also about situations like Ferguson and Baltimore. In fact, you could say Luminous and Ghosts of Christmas Past were dry runs at the concept since the setting is similar.

I know, I may have bitten off more than I can chew but, for this book, it was either go big or go home. Boom or bust. Hopefully, when I write this New Year post in 2017, it will be to list “sold The Crystal Tower” as one of the accomplishments.

WriteHardDieFree

 

 

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