Excerpt of Beth Cato’s Latest Book

Beth Cato is a brilliant author also published through Harper Voyager. Her Clockwork Dagger series is a really great read. It’s a steampunk fantasy with a healer for the main character. Let’s hear the love for the clerics in the D&D party! Not only is she a great storyteller, she’s also a fiendishly good baker and regularly shares the recipe for her delights with the public; no doubt as part of her plan for world domination. This is probably how she attained the role of High Priestess of Churromancy over at the Holy Taco Church. Today, however, Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella is out today and the ebook is only ninety-nine cents! Have you bought it yet? Why not? Need convincing? Okay, fine, here’s an excerpt.


 

Wings of Sorrow and Bone

Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella

A few months after the events of The Clockwork Crown

After being rescued by Octavia Leander from the slums of Caskentia, Rivka Stout is adjusting to her new life in Tamarania. But it’s hard for a blossoming machinist like herself to fit in with proper society, and she’d much rather be tinkering with her tools than at a hoity-toity party any day.

When Rivka stumbles into a laboratory run by the powerful Balthazar Cody, she also discovers a sinister plot involving chimera gremlins and the violent Arena game Warriors. The innocent creatures will end up hurt, or worse, if Rivka doesn’t find a way to stop Mr. Cody. And to do that means she will have to rely on some unexpected new friends.

In this excerpt from Chapter 2, Rivka and Tatiana have just met and escaped from Balthazar Cody’s party. Their nosiness has guided them to a basement laboratory full of peculiar creatures…

“Yes. Gremlins. My God, they are ugly,” said Tatiana, shuddering. She had to speak loudly to be heard.

The creatures mewed, cackled, and banged on the copper and wood bars of their enclosures. Nothing was made of silver. Rivka stepped closer.

The bright electric lighting showed the green gremlins well. Some had tint variations, like patches in a quilt. Their sizes ranged from pigeon to husky tomcat. Long, bat-like wings folded along their sides. Hideous hybrid faces featured round, black eyes, some of their noses compressed and others more elongated. Their arms tended toward long and skinny, hind legs stubby.

Gremlins had split lips, just like her.

Rivka traced her upper lip with her tongue. Doctors in Tamarania could fill the gap that partially exposed her front teeth. She was slowly saving up money for that very surgery.

“Hi there.” Rivka reached out. A gremlin’s three small fingers clutched her fingertips. There were no claws, nor did it try to lurch her off balance. The little gremlin pressed its face to the bars. Long, whiskered ears trembled. Rivka felt a vibration against her hand, and with a start realized that the creature was purring.

“A lot of them—no, all of them—are injured.” Tatiana pointed.

She was right. The gremlin whose hand Rivka held had bandages girthing most of its torso. The one to the left had no ear, just a rounded stub. The one below had no wings, and therefore, no arms. A cage over, the gremlin actually had separate arms, but its wings were gone as well.

“Is this like a medical ward for maimed gremlins?” Rivka frowned and looked around as she wiggled her hand free. It certainly seemed like a sterile surgical space. She pulled out her trusty little screwdriver again.

“What are you doing?”

“Being nosy. There has to be a ledger or something around here that chronicles their injuries.”

The cages were numbered and denoted with colorful flags; not all were occupied. Most of the cabinets and drawers held tools and blades with purposes she didn’t wish to contemplate. No paperwork had been left out. She pulled a cart from beneath a steel table. Lifting the hinged lid, she found a snarled pile of dead gremlins. She gasped.

“What?” called Tatiana from across the room.

“Bodies.” Rivka shoved the cart away. She’d seen all kinds of dead things before, people included, but there was something especially disturbing about a haphazard knot of that nature.

Like that sample? Read the whole novella for just 99-cents

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iTunes

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Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and THE CLOCKWORK CROWN from Harper Voyager.

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Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Just do it.

It’s a common thing you hear from writers at all levels: if you liked a book, leave a review. In fact, this picture by a fellow Harper Voyager author has gotten around quite a bit on Twitter and Facebook.
Leave a Review
But what if you didn’t love the book? Or, even worse, what if you didn’t like it at all, or hated it? Well, I’m not going to tell you how to write a review or what you should put in it. That’s something for you to decide. Personally, I tend to keep my negative reviews (and I’ve done a few) straightforward. I just say what I didn’t like: I couldn’t connect with the characters, the story line didn’t hook me, I had trouble following the plot, etc. But even if you didn’t like the book, you should still leave a review.

Let me repeat that. Yes, you should leave a review, even if it’s going to be a bad one.
Now obviously there are people who have no problem doing that. Yes, some reviews can get ugly, and that’s just part of the business. I wrote about that here when an author on Goodreads replied to a review. No, this blog post isn’t for those people. They’re leaving reviews and for that, I sincerely thank them. Yes, I just thanked people for leaving ugly reviews.

Here’s why. All reviews help sell books. Yes, you read that right. Studies show that books with only positive reviews don’t always sell as well as books with mixed reviews (though usually with a positive average). Negative reviews show potential readers that real people (not bots, or just the author’s friends and family) have read the book. No one, not even us starry-eyed authors, expects everyone to like our stories. Of course we’d love it if they did, but we know that isn’t going to happen. So if you’re worried about hurting our feelings, thanks, but don’t be. I promise we’ll be okay. We have other writers, friends, family, beer, and chocolate to give us solace. If you’re worried about hurting sales, again, don’t be. As I said, you’ll actually help. Not to mention that most authors I know try to approach negative reviews as a chance to learn. Obviously we’d go insane (or more insane) if we tried to adjust our writing for every bad review, but if there’s a criticism that readers keep bringing up, it helps to shine a light on something specific we can reflect on and possibly use to help us grow as artists. I say this speaking from personal experience. Like I said in my last post, here, it wasn’t until my first book came out that I saw the tropes and stereotypes I was using. You can’t improve without seeing both what you’re doing well and not so well, and I know I always want to be improving my craft.

Here’s something else you might not know. Amazon.com, and probably Barnes and Noble as well, use an algorithm to look at how many reviews a book has. When it reaches a certain number (there is considerable debate over what that number is, and Amazon isn’t sharing) it starts showing up on the recommended books section of users’ screens. This is a HUGE benefit to authors and can mean the difference between drowning in a veritable sea of books or standing out enough that someone sees it and buys it.

Yes, I realize all this could come back to haunt me. It’s entirely possible that people who were holding off on bad reviews will suddenly come out of the woodwork and my book ratings will plummet. That’s okay, I’ll deal with it. Like wise, it’s entirely possible there is now a Kickstarter campaign with the sole purpose of hiring someone to kill me. Please don’t contribute to it. But, please, review the books you read. You don’t need to leave long reviews, and they don’t have to be glowing. In fact, the only thing a review should be is honest. You owe that to yourself, to other readers, and even to the author. Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, wherever, just please, pretty please (with sugar on top) leave a review.

Pwease

News, Events, and a Treat

One of the (many) things beyond your control when you get published is often when the information on your books gets released. When your publisher registers an ISBN number, it usually gets flagged on Amazon and GoodReads. If you’ve ever seen “UNTL” or something like it (I honestly can’t remember exactly, it means the book doesn’t have a title but it’s ISBN is registered. I recently saw Harper registered the ISBN for book four in the AFT series (third full novel). I had grand plans to announce the title, to great fanfare because I know you’re all waiting with bated breath. The time, it seems, is now. Book four in the American Faerie Tale series will be….

The Returned

*release confetti and balloons*

So, there you have it. You’ll just have to wait to hear what it’s about. However, I’ll say that like the previous books, this one takes place in a new city. This time, it’s New Orleans. Let your imaginations run wild!


This is also a good time to say my events/appearances page has been updated. I’m delighted to say I’ll be at Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) in Seattle WA. This is exciting since The Forgotten was set there. I might even stop by and say hi to Freemont while I’m there (read the book).

I’m also excited to have been invited to attend RavenCon in Williamsburg VA along with my friend and fellow Harper author, Harry Heckel (one half of the notorious Jack Heckel).

I don’t know yet what I’ll be attending at either con yet, they are a ways off still, but when I do I’ll update the page accordingly. So, if you’re in or around Seattle or Williamsburg, stop by and say hi. I promise I’ll be entertaining.


 

Lastly, in honor of Halloween, I’ve decided to share a treat with my readers. When I was at CondorCon, there was an author/artist working a booth near the bookseller I had camped at with. I ended up commissioning her, Cindy Diamond, to do character portraits for the main cast of The Stolen. I think she did a great job. For me, it’s how the characters would look in an animated movie of the book, along the lines of: The Secret of Nimh, Watership Down, etc.

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New Author Adventure – A New Kind of Giveaway!

It’s always a struggle for new authors to find creative ways to market our books without inundating people on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/etc. with BUY MY BOOK!!!! PLEASE!!!! IT’S AWESOME!!!! I think I’ve done pretty well in avoiding that. One common marketing ploy you’ll see repeated is the giveaway. Giveaways are a timed honored tradition in the publishing world, and it might surprise to know how many copies of their books publishers give out every year. I don’t know (well, it could surprise you) I’m guessing it’s a lot. I know copies are regularly sent out for reviewing, blurb requests, and of course to generate interest in the book. Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? Well, I’ve done giveaways for both books, and I’m not opposed to doing more, but I thought this time I’d do something different. I wanted to give something away that not only might generate some buzz, but also thanked my readers for their support. What is it I’m giving away?

*drumroll*

I’ll name a character after you! Yes, that’s right, you could have a character named after you in the book I’m currently working on (Book 3 in the series, due out next year sometime). But wait, there’s more! I’ll also mention you in the acknowledgments of the book. Become the envy of everyone you know! While it’s true this isn’t a truly unheard of giveaway—Chuck Wendig offered to name a murder victim after someone—I think it’s pretty cool. But, like all good things, there is a catch. You do not get to pick the character. Rest assured that it won’t be the literary equivalent of a walk on. While it won’t be a major character, neither will it be someone seen once and never heard from again. There is even the possibility of the character returning in future books. No, you do not have to use your real name, you can give me a nickname if you prefer (nothing obscene, please).

So what do you have to do to win this prestigious honor? Well, since I said this is a thank you for my readers, you’ll have to have read one or both of the books currently out there (or be sufficiently good at bluffing to fool me). But entry is simple, just post a comment to this piece and tell me who your favorite character is—and briefly—why. That’s it. I’ll even allow you two entries if you want to pick one character from each book. Or if you really like just one character, you can enter with them twice, but give me a different reason (presumably one for each book) with each entry. Make no mistake, I’m not asking for an essay, though if you’re feeling prolific, go for it! A line or two should be enough, though if you give specifics (show you’ve read the book) you’ll get bonus point.

One month from the day this is posted, I’ll close the comments and shortly thereafter, post the winner.

That’s it. Easy, right? Get to it then. Immortality awaits!

New Author Adventures – Guilty Pleasures

Auston Habershaw, despite how his name sounds, is not Benedict Cumberbatch’s distant cousin. His bio says that on the day he was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. It should be noted I have been personally assured the aforementioned volcano laser is strictly for research purposes. He is also  a fellow Harper Voyager author and New Englander (Yankees suck). His first two books, The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood are both available, and as of yesterday are combined into a single volume called The Oldest Trick (various buy links below). Much like Tolkien, Auston had a single epic fantasy book that was so epic it had to be broken into pieces. Bonus points for doing a dualogy instead of the well trodden trilogy. But what do you expect from a winner of the Writers of the Future Award (Volume 31).

As part of his journey to get his book out to every single human being, and any literate animals who can pay, he’s stopped by to share with us his thoughts on guilty pleasures.


On Frivolity

By Auston Habershaw

It all starts in a tavern. All pointless stories start there, since that is the place we can easiest imagine meeting others and doing something interesting, despite the fact that meeting in taverns rarely leads to anything more interesting than intoxication. There’s an elf and a dwarf, and let’s say an orc. Or ork – whichever. Everybody’s drinking ale (which is more interesting than beer) and the barmaid has an irresponsibly plunging neckline. Let’s presume she works for tips.

This is the point in the story where somebody runs in from outside, breathless and bloody. Or where some loud-mouth starts spouting off about ‘the only good orc is a dead orc’ or whatever. Perhaps some lunk gets handsy with the barmaid. Maybe somebody mysterious posts a note on the bulletin board. It says the following:

DANGEROUS ADVENTURE!

Wanted: 1 Warrior, 1 Thief, 1 Wizard (Elves, Priests, and Dwarves optional)

REWARD!

Meet the Creepy Stranger in the Inexplicably Empty Back Room

Maybe all of these things happen. The point is this: what happens next is a bar fight.

Why? Evidently such things are fun. Heroic music plays, as is fitting for acts of criminal vandalism and assault. The fight rages on, and heroes emerge. Why are they heroes? Well, they’re winning the fight, of course. They find in each other a ready ally, a surprise to no one save themselves. Maybe, at the end of all this, they rescue a princess in disguise (she was slumming it, you know. Why drink in the palace when there’s a perfectly good dive down the road where you might get assaulted by a dwarf?). Whatever happens, the drunk under the table never notices; he rises, alone, and is delighted to find free beer.

I mean ale. Sorry.

So begins a tale of adventure. High drama. Endless banter. Derring do on every other page. Maybe, by the end, the elf and the dwarf and the orc become friends. A little tear forms in the corner of our eye, but we refuse to ever acknowledge its existence. The tear is undercover, you see. Top Secret. Hush-hush.

 

I bet you were rolling your eyes up there. Chuckling, perhaps? Sure, and why not – the cliché is so banal, it’s comedy. Then again, though, there’s something to be said for mindless fun. There is an article by Adam Sternbergh in the NYT magazine considering the worth of so-called ‘guilty pleasures’. I enjoyed it immensely and enjoin you to read it.

Done? Okay:

Why do we feel so bad about liking things considered low-brow? I mean, isn’t it okay to have fun – even dumb fun – on occasion? Must everything be so deep and serious all the time? I confess to feeling the pressure myself. As an academic (or pseudo-academic, given that my terminal degree is not a PhD but rather an MFA), there is a certain pressure to make what I write and what I enjoy somehow important. Not all of it is, though, no matter what I do to it. When I confess to liking Armageddon or Army of Darkness, there isn’t much that can be said to give such works merit. Likewise my hobbies: despite its sophistication, there is nothing truly artistically redeeming about Warhammer 40,000 unless you put far more effort into painting miniatures than I do. And even then it’s suspect.

So what, though? I think sometimes we spend too much time decrying the frivolous, forgetting just how important frivolity can be. As much as being serious adults is important, it isn’t the only game in town. We also need to have fun. We also need to do things that are easy. All work and no play makes Homer…something…something…

Right then – let’s go to the tavern. I’ll buy you an ale. Later, when we’re riding dragons to save the King of Thumbershire from the Daemon Princess of Xoon, you’ll thank me. Dwarf’s honor.


The Oldest Trick is just as much fun and worth picking up.

Tyvian Reldamar gets betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless wizard Banric Sahand. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he learns to work with—and rely on—his motley crew of accomplices, including an adolescent pickpocket, an obese secret-monger, and a fearsome gnoll.

THE OLDEST TRICK_

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You can find Auston on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, or writing to his cousin.

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Happy Birthday to The Stolen!

It was one year ago that my first book, The Stolen, was published. It was a momentous event for me, marking my entrance into the world of being a published author. At times it’s hard to believe it’s been a year already, and at others, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a year. It’s been a remarkable ride, with some remarkable moments. Winning the cover of the year on The Qwillery was exceedingly cool. Getting a slot on John Scalzi’s blog (Big Idea) is still very cool to think about. The Forgotten got a spot too, so I suppose I’m becoming an old hand at it, and I’m safe in saying Scalzi and I are total BFFs now (I’m kidding, John, don’t release the hounds!).

I’ve covered a lot of my journey in my “Adventures in Being a New Author” posts, so I won’t rehash that here. I’ll simply say this:
Thank you, fans and readers, for buying the book. Thank you for reading it, for reviewing it, and possibly even for telling others about it. I hope this is the first of many years as a writer, and I hope you enjoy the other books yet to come.
Now, have some cake (Scalzi, you can have pie, of course) and if you haven’t yet, buy a copy of The Stolen! In fact, celebrate and buy two or three copies! And if you’ve bought one already, buy another! You deserve it!

Big Announcement

Well, I think it’s a big announcement.
The American Faerie Tale series has been cleared for two more books!

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I’ll be sharing more information as time goes on, but here is something to hold you over. The next book will be called…

Three Promises: An American Faerie Tale Collection

Aside from a bonus story about a group introduced in The Forgotten, the unanswered question at the end of The Stolen will be answered! The current scheduled release date is December 2015. Stay tuned for more information, including cover reveals, perhaps some excerpts, and exclusive offers for pre-orders!