Posts made in August, 2019

CoKoCon 2019 Schedule

Posted by on Aug 23, 2019 in Blog, public speaking | 0 comments

CoKoCon takes place over Labor Day weekend at the Doubletree at MetroCenter in north Phoenix. I’ll be there Friday until Monday morning, with a packed schedule of panels. This is a fantastic small con. If you’re in the area, grab a membership and come by.

I have one scheduled booksigning time on Sunday but really, so long as I don’t need to rush to a panel or to eat, I’m happy to stop, talk, and sign stuff. There’s an awesome local bookseller on-site named Duncan who will have lots of my books for sale, too.

Yes, I will have cookies BUT note that if it’s like last year, I cannot feed people in common areas or the con could get in trouble with the venue. I can only share cookies in the con suite or in party rooms.

A mobile device-friendly version of my schedule can also be found here and includes full descriptions. Changes to my schedule will be posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, August 30

Selling Yourself: Author Branding for Fun and (Hopefully) Profit
Canyon 3, 5pm – 6pm

Twisted Tropes: Writing Stale Tropes Like Unicorns and Vampires in Fresh New Ways
Canyon 3, 8pm – 9pm

Saturday, August 31

Book Discussion: All Systems Red
Lobby Pit, 10am – 11am

A Courtesy of Compliments
Terrace, 11:30am – 12:30pm

Steampunk Round Table
Terrace, 1pm – 2pm

Writing and Gaming: How RPGs and Video Games Influence Your Writing
Canyon 3, 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Sunday, September 1

Author Self-Care: Spoon Management
Canyon 3, 11:30am – 12:30pm

Signing: Beth Cato and Judith Starkston
Dealers’ Room, 1pm – 2pm

How to Critique
Canyon 3, 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Surviving Historical Fiction Research
Canyon 3, 6pm – 7pm


Read More

Bready or Not Original: Iron-Skillet Apple Pie with Ginger Liqueur

Posted by on Aug 21, 2019 in alcohol, apples, Blog, boozy, Bready or Not, pie | 0 comments

A trusty cast iron skillet bakes up a beautiful apple pie in this delicious recipe.

Bready or Not Original: Iron-Skillet Apple Pie with Ginger Liqueur

This pie is also special because it includes a drizzle of ginger liqueur. I posted a recipe a few weeks ago on how to make a cheap, sublime version at home in under a week.

Bready or Not Original: Iron-Skillet Apple Pie with Ginger Liqueur

The ginger liqueur does add some lovely nuance to this pie, too–the complexity and freshness come across in a different way than, say, using some lemon juice on the sliced apples as I sometimes do to prevent them from browning.

Bready or Not Original: Iron-Skillet Apple Pie with Ginger Liqueur

The whole process of this recipe is pretty neat, too. The biggest dose of sweetness is actually at the bottom of the pie, as butter and brown sugar are baked into the bottom crust!

Bready or Not Original: Iron-Skillet Apple Pie with Ginger Liqueur

I had to make this recipe three times to finally figure out the right balance of ingredients and how best to bake it. The second try was the most disastrous, as I ended up with the dreaded soggy bottom.

soggy bottom

Do be sure to follow the advice to use a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven. It’ll catch the overflow from the skillet and save you from suffering a soggy bottom.

Bready or Not Original: Iron-Skillet Apple Pie with Ginger Liqueur


Click here for my Homemade Ginger Liqueur Recipe


Bready or Not Original: Iron-Skillet Apple Pie with Ginger Liqueur

Use a large iron skillet to bake up a delicious apple pie! Ginger liqueur adds complex flavor and elevates this beyond the average pie.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: alcohol, apple, pie
Author: Beth Cato


Skillet base:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter half cube
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed


  • 2 prepared rounds of piecrust dough bought or made
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 5 Granny Smith and/or Honeycrisp apples peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup ginger liqueur

For top:

  • 1 egg slightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash


  • Preheat oven at 350-degrees with a large rimmed cookie sheet in the oven. [THIS IS IMPORTANT. The skillet will likely overflow as it bakes and the hot cookie sheet will also reduce the likelihood of a soggy pie bottom.] Add butter to skillet and place in oven until butter is melted. Remove skillet; stir in brown sugar, then return to oven until sugar starts bubbling, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
  • In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the white sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Set aside.
  • Roll out one of the pie crusts, if not already done. Carefully lay crust inside hot skillet so that bottom and sides are covered. Pour apple slices inside. Drizzle liqueur over the apples, followed by the dry ingredients.
  • Roll out second pie crust. Lay atop the mounded pie. Wary of the hot pan, tuck the crusts together as much as possible. Cut several slits in the top of the pie.
  • Brush egg wash over the top crust. Set pie on top of hot cookie sheet in oven.
  • Bake until pie is golden brown and apples are tender when jabbed with a fork, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Let cool at least 30 minutes before cutting. Store covered with foil, at room temperature or in fridge.
Read More

Book Blog: Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made by Josh Frank, et al

Posted by on Aug 16, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made
by Josh Frank, Tim Heidecker, & Manuela Pertega

out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon



I don’t usually go for weird fiction or art, but I adore the Marx Brothers, and the almost preposterous nature of this graphic novel piqued my curiosity. I tried to win a galley from the publisher, and didn’t luck out. Then I was on a dream-come-true trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, of all places, and in the Transreal Bookstore. Lo and behold, there was the book. I had to buy it as a special souvenir.

Even having read the book, I can’t help but shake my head in awe of the incredible story behind its making: Salvador Dali struck up a friendship with Harpo Marx and decided to write a Marx Brothers screenplay. He wrote up a film treatment, and with Harpo, he pitched it to Louis B. Mayer in Hollywood. The idea was shot down. It was the kind of thing that earned mention in Dali and Marx interviews over later decades, but no one living person seemed to know much about the project.

Author Josh Frank set out to change that, doing some heavy-duty research–hiring a translator, meeting Harpo’s son Bill Marx–and pieced together bits and pieces of Dali’s surreal movie concept. He made it into a graphic novel, lavishly illustrated by Manuel Pertega.

Again, I don’t typically go for surreal stuff, but this book is incredible. I found it even more so when I reached the end to find pictures of Dali’s original treatment. Pertega did an admirable job of translating Dali’s vision–dripping roast chickens strapped to musicians’ heads and all. To my utter delight, they really researched their Marx Brothers, too. The banter between Groucho and Chico feels genuine and is laugh-out-loud funny, though a bit anachronistic at times. The story follows a wealthy, ambitious young man, Jimmy, who scorns his controlling fiance as he falls in love with Surrealist Woman–a woman whose fantastical imaginings become real. In true 1930s style, there are even songs written into the book!

The book is totally bonkers, but that’s totally true to concept. I found it to be a joy to read, and I’m so grateful that the author and team took a weird historical footnote and gave it life at long last.

Read More

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

Posted by on Aug 14, 2019 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, cookies | 0 comments

These Coconut Bars are easy to make and absolutely delicious!

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

I say that, and I don’t typically like coconut. As a kid, I hated all candy bars with coconut. To me, the texture was the problem. It was chewy and dry in a horrible way.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

In contrast, these bars are chewy in a fantastic way. The shortbread base pairs well with the coconut top.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

They even look pretty, don’t they? That’s because the recipe holds back a quarter of the coconut to go on top. That way it ends up crisping up in a lovely way.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

I modified this recipe from Taste of Home Magazine, December 2015, where the original notes describe it as an American take on the Filipino coconut cake called bibingka. I don’t think I’ve ever tried that–if I have, it was like 20 years ago–so I can’t vouch as to how close it is.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

But what I can say is that this is a fantastic recipe by its own merits. This is the kind of recipe that would be bright and pleasant at the holidays, and also perfect for a summer cook-out.


Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

This easy recipe results in deliciously chewy Coconut Bars, perfect to indulge in year-round.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword: bars
Author: Beth Cato



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted


  • 3 large eggs
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk can
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flaked coconut divided


  • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 13x9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray.
  • In a big bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, and salt, followed by the melted butter. Sprinkle into the prepared pan and compress it to form an uneven layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until light brown. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325-degrees.
  • In a big bowl, whisk together the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, flour, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir in 3 cups of coconut. Pour atop the crust. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup coconut over the top.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the coconut is turning golden brown.
  • Cool completely at room temperature. Lift onto cutting board using foil; slice contents into bars.
Read More

Book Blog: Cry Pilot by Joel Dane

Posted by on Aug 9, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Cry Pilot by Joel Dane
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

By the description, I expected far-future sci-fi. Cry Pilot is that, and a whole lot more–like a cyberpunk and military scifi combination, all in an original take on post-climate-change apocalypse Earth.

Kaytu is a complicated young man trying to do right. He’s a gutter rat, a former refugee, and he has set his eye on military service with one of the major corporations that holds dominion over Earth. With his background–which only emerges in perfectly-paced detail across the book–he’s forced to take a more criminal route, which gets him assigned to be a cry pilot–essentially, a piece of meat dropped into an AI-driven mecha that does battle with other bio-machines that threaten to undo the resettlement and terraforming of the planet. Most cry pilots die. He does not–nor does the flighty drug addict with him. Together, they soon find themselves placed in different roles as they train to face a horrific threat unlike ever seen before.

With some scifi books with a far-future setting, it feels like the emphasis is on the world and tech and the characters are outright tropes. Not so here. Everyone feels vivid and alive. Kaytu’s peers are an eclectic bunch, and as he became attached to them, so did I (a dangerous thing when they are facing some pretty nasty threats). The world is incredibly immersive and detailed, and it builds in just the right way; I never felt overwhelmed. Not only is the tech advanced, but social constructs are radically different, too, but this is handled in a casual, natural way. Poly relationships are common (and make perfect sense, given the need for humanity to repopulate) and sexual preference is fluid.

I found the book to be absolutely enthralling. Not only is the story fantastic, but as a writer, I can only admire the elegant pacing of the world’s construction. This is a book to point to as an example of how to do scifi right.

Read More