Hot Cinnamon Spice

Hot Cinnamon Spice

This is a much delayed post.

As those of you who have been following me on Facebook know, my youngest son (17) has been seriously ill with a superbug GI infection that sent him into ICU for eight days and hospitalized him for over a month. He’s home now and all signs point to a full recovery.

But during that time, I feel behind on many things: writing, blogging, and reworking my website. And, of course, tea.

2017-01-30 07.08.05I drank a lot of Barney & Son’s Hot Cinnamon Spice tea while my son was in the hospital, as it was available at the hospital’s Au Bon Pan. I loved it. Between that and several tins of Barney & Son’s holiday tea that I bought on clearance at B&N, I just might have to allow it’s as good as any loose tea. (And quite a deal: $2 per tin of thirty bags each. We New Englanders love a bargain.)

I did manage to run away to Boston for a day to the PAX East gaming convention with the oldest son. As you can see, we weren’t alone:

The exhibition floor at PAX East. photo by Corrina Lawson

The exhibition floor at PAX East. photo by Corrina Lawson

I also reviewed several books, all of which I enjoyed, for B&N’s SF/F blog in February. I knew they must be good if they held my attention in the hospital. And I wrote about PAX East, mostly about laptops, and did my weekly comics reviews at GeekDad.com with Ray Goldfield.

What I didn’t do is figure out my publishing plan. My publishing, Samhain, has shut down, which means you can no longer buy my books. That will change in the coming months as I shift to self-publishing but that plan was naturally on hold while my son was so ill. See longer note on my books’ page.

But…forward now! Nothing but good times ahead.

 

 

 

Team Machine t-shirt

Team Machine t-shirt via RedBubble

I will begin with the tea portion of our day. It says much about my love of tea that the booth I’m most looking forward to patronizing at the Connecticon Convention in July is tea booth so I can buy 8 oz. of their Vincent Van Gogh blend. It might be called Starry Night. I’ve wanted to order it for ages but lost the name of the company. ARGH. Hence, my anticipation.

I’ve also been researching tea for my trip to San Diego later in July. Thanks to the lovely PR person at the San Diego Board of Tourism, I’ve discovered that the San Diego Comic Art Gallery and Point Loma Tea shop are located just around the corner from each other. Thank you, universe.

In addition to Point Loma Tea, I’m told there is also Shakespeare’s Corner and the San Diego House in Old Town San Diego. Hmm…I may not need to bring as much loose tea as I thought.

Shakespeare's Tea Room in San Diego. Who wants to come for afternoon tea with me?

Shakespeare’s Corner tea in San Diego. Who wants to come for afternoon tea with me?

Meantime, as the t-shirt above can attest, I’ve gotten more obsessed with Person of Interest, even thought it’s been over a week now since the finale. I have rarely encountered a show that’s such a perfect blend of characters I adore and a concept that blows me away. Team Machine’s final confrontation with Team Samaritan had me at the edge of my seat and I’m not ashamed to say I cried it spots–both out of sorrow and joy. I’ve even conned my oldest son (20) into watching it. Fusco is his favorite. Of course he is!

Me, I’m a Shaw girl. And I didn’t even like her when she first showed up. Now she’s my favorite. Except for the Machine. I adore the bodiless sentient AI, who may be the most human of Team Machine. But, mostly, I loved them all.

I salute you, writers, actors, and those behind the scenes doing stuff like writing all those screen captions for the Machine and Samaritan. A job well done. But I want more. (Aside: Shoot–Root/Shaw– may be the best shipping name ever. )

As for my own writing, you can find what I’ve been blogging about here, under my personal tag Cory (my nickname), and the joint DC Reviews under Ray Goldfield’s name. My favorite? The interview with the author of geeky erotica. Geek girl gamers, unite!

Oh, did I mention I wrote over 10,000 words in a short erotic novella last week? The leads are Philip Drake and Del Sefton from Phoenix Legacy and it’s a m/m/f menage. (Obviously, there’s another lead but to tell you who it is would be spoilery.) Because I wasn’t quite done with Philip Drake nor was he quite done with me.

Talk about burying the lead: I finished the draft of what has become The Hidden Mage of Lotus Hall, book 2 in the steampunk detectives series starring Gregor Sherringford and Joan Krieger. It is the sequel to The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, which went all the way to #11 on Amazon’s steampunk bestseller list.

When will it be out? Well, that’s a tale in itself. Likely not before the fall but I’m working on a way for people to read it for free. We’ll see.

 

 

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.

 

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. 🙂