Sunday Quote gears up for Phoenix Comicon next weekend

Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Blog, Quote | 0 comments

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”
~Joss Whedon

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End of May News

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Blog, clockwork crown, clockwork dagger, clockwork dagger shorts, public speaking, publication process | 0 comments

First of all… look! A giveaway! It runs through Friday.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

The Clockwork Dagger

by Beth Cato

Giveaway ends May 22, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

My publisher did a really nice post congratulating me on my Locus nomination. Awww.

Remember the #TwitterFiction I did last Wednesday? You can now read the whole event in a convenient Storify format!

SheKnows.com included The Clockwork Crown on their list of 15 most anticipated spring and summer books! Huzzah!

I’m at Kate Heartfield’s site to talk about Unlikely Influences: What Beth Cato Learned About Writing by Baking Cookies. I know. Feign surprise at the subject matter.

Do you want to know more about research books I used for The Clockwork Dagger series? Find out in Magic and World War I Medicine at Teresa Frohock’s Blog.

For a general overview on medicians, read Medicians in The Clockwork Dagger at David Walton’s blog.

I also had a post at SF Signal with Developing Miss Percival as a Sympathetic Villain.

I was interviewed by the East Valley Tribune about my books and Phoenix Comicon.

Whew. I think that’s it. Things are crazy here right now. My son finishes up his 4th grade year today. Tomorrow is my 15th anniversary. I’m trying to edit a few stories and work on promotional stuff for Crown‘s release. I only have a few days left to prepare for Phoenix Comicon.

YES. I CAN DO THIS. …Right?

gooooooaaaal

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Story Behind the Story: “Roots, Shallow and Deep” and the Mussel Slough Tragedy

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in anthology:story, Blog, nostalgia, online publication | 0 comments

My newest story is a special one for me: a magical twist on a real historical event that took place near my hometown. It’s called “Roots, Shallow and Deep” and it can be read at Urban Fantasy Magazine.

I was in 3rd grade when another 3rd grade class visited to perform their own dramatization of the Mussel Slough Tragedy. It was described as a local incident straight out of the Old West: settlers facing off against the greedy railroad. The kids pretended to shoot each other and writhed in death throes on the portable’s carpet.

I rushed home that day, indignant.

“MOM. HOW COME YOU DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT THE MUSSEL SLOUGH TRAGEDY?” I was seven or eight then, already keenly interested in history, and I felt like she had withheld some grand treasure from me.

Mom stammered out an explanation, and the end result was a detour that next Sunday to visit the site of the tragedy on our way to church. It made me even more livid when I discovered it was literally a few miles north of the house were I grew up, a straight shot on 14th Avenue.

Mussel Slough Marker near Grangeville, California

Mussel Slough Marker near Grangeville, California

I never forgot about the tragic shoot-out that took place almost exactly a hundred years before I was born. In recent years, I’ve collected numerous books on San Joaquin Valley history through that era, some specifically about the Mussel Slough Tragedy. It remains a contentious event with lots of he-said, she-said debate. Settlers claimed that the Southern Pacific was stealing their land from beneath them; the railroad claimed the settlers were squatters. The settlers who survived the incident were later hailed as heroes by the press, like valiant knights against “the octopus” of the mighty railroad conglomerate. I figure the truth is somewhere in the middle.

I made a quick visit home last weekend. Some things don’t change; on our way to church, I begged my mom to make a detour out to the Mussel Slough site so I could take pictures for my blog. The ancient house behind the marker was in the process of being torn down. Almond trees stood in sentinel rows behind the hard-to-read state historical marker. So much of the original fight versus the railroad was because of the settlers’ efforts to irrigate the land, and to be compensated for their efforts. Now, with the drought, there was no water flowing through those ditches.

Home still looks beautiful and green to me, in contrast to Arizona, but it grieves me to see how the land and the people suffer. I look at my story and how people fought to bring water to the valley, and I shake my head. Things never really change.

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Bready or Not: Mocha Shortbread

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, brownies, chocolate, cookies | 0 comments

Combine the awesomeness of shortbread and chocolate in a single pan!

Mocha Shortbread

I loved shortbread from the time I was a kid and we’d buy those precious boxes of Walker’s Shortbread at the Fresno Highland Games. Now you can buy Walker’s everywhere, but in the late ’80s and 1990s? It was a real treat.

Mocha Shortbread

This chocolate shortbread is a real treat, too. It creates tender yet firm bars that combine all the best of buttery shortbread, mocha, and espresso.

Mocha Shortbread

I first made this by mixing in mini chocolate chips (replacing the cocoa nibs in the original recipe). When I wanted a good cookie recipe to mail during an Arizona summer, I thought of shortbread because it ships and keeps so well, but chocolate chips would melt. Therefore, I made the recipe again with melted chocolate in the dough. The versions tasted the same and the new version shipped cross-country without any issues.

Mocha Shortbread

I think the biggest issue here is that it tastes so good–especially with coffee or tea–that there’s a tendency to gobble down shortbread bars as if they are potato chips.

Bet you can’t eat just one!

Mocha Shortbread

Modified from Mocha Shortbread as printed in Martha Stewart Living.

Bready or Not: Mocha Shortbread

Mocha Shortbread

Chocolate, espresso, and butter are blended into perfect rectangles of joy in this mocha shortbread recipe.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (either kept whole, or melted in microwave to blend into dough; the latter ships well, even in summer heat)

Prepare a 9x13 baking pan with foil or parchment, and apply nonstick spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat softened butter with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is very light, about 2 minutes, then stir in the vanilla extract and espresso powder. Mix about one more minute until it's smooth.

Slowly pour in the flour mixture and mix until it just comes together. Add in the chocolate (either in chips or melted). Press dough evenly into the prepared pan. Press plastic wrap over the top and use that to smooth the dough with your hands or a spatula. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, at least an hour and up to a day.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Leaving the dough in the pan, use a knife to slash the dough into small rectangles and then use a fork or chopstick to poke holes in top of each bar.

Bake until set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then re-cut bars. Let it cool completely then use the foil or parchment to lift out the shortbread and separate bars. Store covered up to one week.

OM NOM NOM!

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