Most of the time, I’m flailing about, trying to do multiple projects at once, juggling my kids, things that need doing around the house, and finding a small sliver of time to relax.

Making resolutions exhaust me because they tend to loom as yet more things that Must.Be.Done.

Instead, today, I’m going to take a look back and remind myself that I actually accomplished stuff in 2012 and that if I just keep my head down and cheerfully slog my way to greatness, this list next year will also remind me that, hey, I did stuff!

1. Cross that off the bucket list.

I wrote and had a comic story published, “The Promise,”a dream I’ve had since the first time I picked up a comic. This one was a long time coming, about four days, but so worth it that when I received the pages from my artist, the awesomely talented Cassandra James, I cried.

Page Two of "Promise"

2. GeekMom the blog and book.

A labor of love!

I never expected to be the author of a non-fiction book. I knew I loved blogging, so I was thrilled to be added in as a contributor to the GeekDad blog on Wired.Com. And spinning off GeekMom with my three co-editors, Kathy Ceceri, Natania Barron and Jenny Williams was a labor of love to give a voice to those who I felt strongly needed one.

So, yeah, this year, GeekMom accepted a contract to provide content to Wired.com, joining the GeekDad site!

And a book that we put together at crunch time, Geek Mom: Projects, Tips & Adventures for Moms and Their 21st Century Families, was published in October by Potter Craft of Random House Publishing.  (more…)

superhero novels, superhero romance, Phoenix Rising,

Coming Tuesday!

Phoenix Legacy, the third story in the Phoenix Institute series and the direct sequel to Phoenix Rising, releases Tuesday, November 13. So, with PR, Luminous, and Legacy, I guess I’m officially a series writer. :)

You can see the official blurb in an earlier post but I thought a short except might showcase the book somewhat better. This is because I’m the type of reader who ignores those blurbs when in the bookstore and flips right to the book to check it out.

Philip Drake pulled into the entrance of the bland suburban New Jersey condominium development just as many of his neighbors were leaving on their morning commute.

Feeling perverse, he gunned the ’67 Charger, making more noise than necessary. He might live here but he’d never be one of them.He smiled as the Charger took the corner on a dime. Old, but not feeble. Like him.

Though the car looked its age, standing out, not in style anymore. Unlike him.

He had wanted to experiment with the limits of his newfound conscious healing ability. Instead, he’d de-aged his body to at least a decade younger. Days of trying to reverse the process had convinced him he was cursed to look like this for a long time. Maybe until he died, whenever that was.

He was too damn old and cynical to look under thirty.He’d never get his gray hair back. He would never grow old, either, at least not naturally. Still, given what he was, it was always possible someone might kill him in the meantime. That was a comforting thought.

The book will be available at my publisher, Samhain. Just follow the links on the title or the cover. It’s also available at Amazon for Kindle and B&N for the Nook too. I’ll be posting a few more excepts over the next few days leading up to Tuesday!

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.

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.

 

Updated because the good reviews keep rolling in for Phoenix Rising!

1. The Library Journal!!!

“A touch of the X-Men with a smattering of coming-of-age legend, Phoenix Rising certainly keeps the reader’s attention. Lawson effortlessly switches points-of-view, from Alec to Beth and back again…..”The edge-of-your-seat plot keeps the story rolling along

2. A Top Pick! at Night Owl Reviews. :)

“Put Phoenix Rising on your keeper shelf, it’s an amazing read. I absolutely loved it, especially the characters.”

3. A nice review over at Whipped Cream Reviews too, though not quite as glowing.

I’m so thrilled the book is being read and enjoyed.

 

The publicity handbook says I should be doing all this *before* the book goes on sale but the weather and the power company that kept me in the dark for ten days had apparently never read the handbook.

So I thought I’d run a snippet for a few days this week, culminating in a contest/giveaway on Monday.

First up…Alec and Beth and their first kiss:

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

“I’m trying to get you to reconsider what you’ve been forced into doing for your entire life. There’s a whole world out there you haven’t seen.”

She walked over to the coffee table, reached down and brushed her fingertips over the gun. Her hand trembled. The gun lookedlike the same kind that her kidnappers had used, years ago. If he stayed with the Resource, Alec might become like those men, using any ends to justify the means.

“Hey! What’s with the nerves? Where’s my competent, no-nonsense counselor?”

The gun rose from the coffee table, floating in air. She turned and followed its flight. He snatched the gun out of midair with a smile and holstered it.

“See?” he said. “I control the guns, not the other way around.”

“And who controls you?”

His chest, Kevlar vest and all, rose and fell in a deep sigh. “I know someone in this room who’s trying to control me. What’s wrong, Beth?” He walked to her and lifted her chin with two fingers, his dark eyes crinkling around the edges.

“This is not a life you chose, this is a life that’s been imposed on you, from birth.”

“And?” His fingertips moved along her jaw, in a soft caress. I should move away. It feels too good. But he’ s listening.

“I’m scared. About this mission, about you being locked up inside the Resource forever.” Deathly afraid, so afraid her stomach felt like a heavy lump of coal. “There’s so much you don’t know about the Resource and about Lansing, so much you don’t understand. And you need to know it before it kills you.”

“Hey, I know Lansing can be a bastard. And that he’s overprotective and controlling. I’m working on it. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is my job.” Alec leaned closer to her face. “We can talk about that another time.”

“Do you really think there’s going to be another time?” Her voice rose, almost panicked now. She wasn’t getting through. “What if you get hurt tonight?”

“Look, this cell might have a dirty bomb. They need to be stopped, and I’m the one who can do it. I have to do this, right now.”

“Just that simple?”

“Yep. I walk away, people get hurt. I do my job, people are saved. That’s the deal, that’s my life. You analyze things too much.” He cupped her face in his hand. “But if it took this mission to find out you care, then good.”

She shuddered. Wrong, wrong, she shouldn’t let him touch her like this. Yet it felt like he touched her somewhere far deeper than her skin. A shiver, like the one from their first meeting, traveled from her neck to her toes, setting her nerves jangling. “This is wrong.”

“The mission isn’t wrong,” he said, misunderstanding her. “Relax.” His face was less than an inch from her lips and his breath fell on her cheek. Her skin felt inflamed, sensitive to the slightest movement of his hands.He kissed her.

His lips were softer than she had expected, tender, not at all like his casual, even macho, confidence. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling those strong muscles and pulling him against her, intensifying their contact, even as her mind screamed in protest. This is not what I came for!

Her body became enveloped in that strange energy, alive as never before. It was like the kiss had a second level, one which she responded to instinctively, creating a living connection between them. He drew her lips apart with his tongue, still tender, still allowing her the chance to back away. But she opened her mouth to him instead, her whole self consumed with wanting to touch him, her face flushed with desire. She grabbed the buckles of his body armor for balance, her equilibrium lost along with her reason.He crushed her against him, no longer tender, a bruising kiss demanding conquest. She allowed him full control, despite the buckles digging into her shoulder. He lifted her completely off her feet and brought her up to his eye level.

“Beth,” he breathed, brushing his lips against her neck before moving back to her mouth.

Her mind whirled, too lost to remember that she should stop him. She wanted him too much. The air heated up, warming them.

The papers on the coffee table began to smoke.

 

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

Phoenix Rising at Samhain.
Phoenix Rising at the Kindle Store.

I’m pleased and psyched to announce the sales of my novella, Luminous, to Samhain Publishing!

I wrote this novella originally intending to submit it to the Samhain superhero romance anthology. The call for submissions gave me permission to play with any type of superhero story, so I went the urban crimefighter route.

I figured, it’s not like DC was going to give me Batman to write soon, so I might as well try my own version of Gotham City.

The hero is a police lieutenant, Aloysius James, who (I admit) was inspired by James Gordon of Batman: Year One. 

The heroine is Noir, a woman who was turned completely invisible by a mad scientist trying to develop a cure for her monstrous brother. She’s dressed all in black. For comic fans, think of a female version of Cloak from Cloak and Dagger or DC’s The Shade.

Noir turns to Al for help in finding the scientist and the monster.  Al agrees because he needs to rescue a young man taken from a brutal crime scene by the monster. Then they run around the city having adventures, being shot at, and bonding.

I’ll tell you, writing a sex scene where one character is invisible was a challenge but also a lot of fun.

The reason I didn’t submit this to the superhero anthology is that I realized at the end that I could tie it into the world of Phoenix Rising and the only Phoenix Institute books that I have planned. So I sent it instead to my editor at Samhain, the lovely and talented Jennifer Miller, and she offered a contract. It’ll be out in May of next year.

It seems I’m now officially a series writer. YAY!

In other news, I was checking on whether Phoenix Rising was up yet on the Samhain website. I thought it might be too early to be up as a “Coming Soon” because it’s not due until November 8th but there it is!  It’s also up on Amazon, under the Kindle section.

And now I really have to finish the next book in the series. It’s coming along. :)

I LOVE this cover. So excited for this book. And doing all the edits really helped as I work on the sequel.

What I love about it:

1. The subtle flash of power

2. That it says “urban fantasy” without screaming it.

3. That it says “The Phoenix Institute Series” just like I imagined a few years ago when I was trying to name it, not knowing if it would ever sell.

The blurb elves at Samhain Publishing outdid themselves with this one. I cannot wait to get the cover. :)

Tagline:

He was born to be a weapon. For her, he must learn to be a hero.

Blurb:

Since birth, Alec Farley has been trained to be a living weapon. His firestarter and telekinetic abilities have been honed to deadly perfection by the Resource, a shadowy anti-terrorist organization—the only family he has ever known. What the Resource didn’t teach him, though, is how to play well with others.

When psychologist Beth Nakamora meets Alec to help him work on his people skills, she’s hit with a double-barreled first impression. He’s hot in more ways than one. And her first instinct is to rescue him from his insular existence.

Her plan to kidnap and deprogram him goes awry when her latent telepathic ability flares, turning Alec’s powers off. Hoping close proximity will reignite his flame, she leads him by the hand through a world he’s never known. And something else flares: Alec’s anger over everything he’s been denied. Especially the passion that melds his mind and body with hers.

The Resource, however, isn’t going to let anything—or anyone—steal its prime investment. Alec needs to be reminded where his loyalties lie…starting with breaking his trust in the woman he’s come to love.

Warning: Contains telekinetic sex, nuclear explosion sex hot enough to melt steel, and various and sundry swear words.

Phoenix Rising will be released November 5. Yay!

P.S. I love writing the warnings for Samhain. So much fun.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share the first kiss scene that I like best in all my work. It’s from Phoenix Rising, which I just sold to Samhain Publishing and will be out October 11th. (see how I snuck that sale in there…)

Alec is a firestarter and telekinetic. Beth is not. But they still turn each other on. :)

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

He buckled on the body armor and walked over to her, so that they were only a few feet apart. He towered over her, even more than Lansing, but she didn’t feel the least afraid of him, not since their first meeting. He wouldn’t hurt her. Despite his work as a soldier, there was no meanness in him. She rubbed her arm, remembering Lansing’s anger. Alec wasn’t like him at all.

“I like doing this,” Alec said. “I make a difference. It’s what I’m trained for.”

“Yes, I know. But you never had a say in any of that training. You’ve told me that.”

“Fighting the bad guys is family tradition,” he said, straightening. “Lansing’s too old now, so it’s my turn. It happens all the time. Daz has the same deal, on both the American and the Filipino sides of his family.”

“Daz didn’t grow up isolated in this place.”

“Yeah, well, Daz didn’t have to worry about accidentally burning down the schoolyard as a kid. I did.” He shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you seriously trying to talk me out of going tonight? C’mon.”

“I’m trying to get you to reconsider what you’ve been forced into doing for your entire life. There’s a whole world out there you haven’t seen.”

She walked over to the coffee table, reached down, and brushed her fingertips over the gun. Her hand trembled. The gun looked like the same kind that her kidnappers had used, years ago. If he stayed with the Resource, Alec might become like those men, using any ends to justify the means.

“Hey! What’s with the nerves? Where’s my competent, no-nonsense counselor?”

The gun rose from the coffee table, floating in air. She turned and followed its flight. He snatched the gun out of midair with a smile and holstered it.

“See?” he said. “I control the guns, not the other way around.”

“And who controls you?”

“I know someone in this room who’s trying to control me. What’s wrong, Beth?” He walked to her and lifted her chin with two fingers, his dark eyes crinkling around the edges.

“This is not a life you chose, this is a life that’s been imposed on you, from birth.”

“And?” His fingertips moved along her jaw, in a soft caress. I should move away. It feels too good. But he’s listening.

“I’m scared. About this mission, about your being locked up inside the Resource forever.” Deathly afraid, so afraid her stomach felt like a heavy lump of coal. “There’s so much you don’t know about the Resource and about Lansing, so much you don’t understand. And you need to know it before it kills you.”

“Hey, I know that Lansing can be a bastard. And that he’s overprotective and controlling. I’m working on it. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is my job.” Alec leaned closer to her face. “We can talk about that another time.”

“Do you really think there’s going to be another time?” Her voice rose, almost panicked now. She wasn’t getting through. “What if you get hurt tonight?”

“Look, this cell might have a dirty bomb, they need to be stopped, and I’m the one who can do it. I have to do this, right now.”

“Just that simple?”

“Yep. I walk away, people get hurt. I do my job, people are saved. That’s the deal, that’s my life. You analyze things too much.” He cupped her face in her hand. “But if it took this mission to find out you care, then good.”

She shuddered. Wrong, wrong, she shouldn’t let him touch her like this. Yet it felt like he touched her somewhere far deeper than her skin. A shiver, like the one from their first meeting, traveled from her neck to her toes, setting her nerves jangling. “This is wrong.”

“The mission isn’t wrong,” he said, misunderstanding her. “Easy.” His face was less than an inch from her lips and his breath fell on her cheek. Her skin felt inflamed, sensitive to the slightest movement of his hands.

He kissed her.

His lips were softer than she had expected, tender, not at all like his casual, even macho, confidence. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him against her, intensifying it, even as her mind screamed in protest. This is not what I came for!

Her body became enveloped in that strange energy, alive as never before. It was like the kiss had a second level, one which her body responded to instinctively, creating a living connection between them. He drew her lips apart with his tongue, still tender, still allowing her the chance to back away. But she opened her mouth to him instead, her whole body consumed with wanting to touch him, her face flushed with desire. She grabbed the buckles of his body armor for balance, her equilibrium lost along with her reason.

He crushed her against him, no longer tender, a bruising kiss demanding conquest. She allowed him full control, despite the buckles digging into her shoulder. He lifted her completely off her feet and brought her up to his eye level.

“Beth,” he breathed, brushing his lips against her neck before moving back to her mouth.

Her mind whirled, too lost to remember that she should stop him. She wanted him too much. The air heated up, warming them. The papers on the coffee table began to smoke.