Posts made in August, 2016

Brooke Johnson guest post: “Why I Love the Heroines of Victorian Steampunk”

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 in Blog, guest | Comments Off on Brooke Johnson guest post: “Why I Love the Heroines of Victorian Steampunk”

I’m happy to welcome fellow Harper Voyager steampunk author Brooke Johnson today! Her newest novel, The Guild Conspiracy, came out this past Tuesday, and continues her Chroniker City series.

Guild Conspiracy

“Why I Love the Heroines of Victorian Steampunk”  

When people think of steampunk, they usually think of the Victorian Era—bustles, corsets, rose-tinted glasses, gas lamps, parasols, and da Vinci-esque contraptions made of clockwork and steam—and for good reason. The romantic flair of nineteenth century Victorian Britain is the steampunk genre’s bread and butter. 

Most modern steampunk is set in the prim and proper sociopolitical atmosphere of the Victorian British Empire, with daring heroines who face all manner of dark creatures and machines within the pages of their respective books. There’s a certain romantic quality to a strong-minded woman trying to make her way in man’s world, with sensibilities more fitting for the modern world than the straight-laced rigors of nineteenth century society—and yet, still relevant in the oppressive patriarchal society of today.

Here are women far braver and cleverer than those of us reading their stories. They inspire us to do better, to be better, because for all our troubles as women in the world today, the heroines of Victorian fiction have much greater obstacles to face—and that’s not counting the vampires, werewolves, governments, and conspiracies they take down along the way. Their problems are the same as ours: the trivialization of all things feminine, the disregard for women’s rights, the inequality between genders, the expectations of beauty, and the apparent necessity to appeal to the male gaze. For all our “social progress” since the 1800s, these same problems are relevant today, and seeing these steampunk heroines act against the injustices of their time, however small their actions may seem, or how insignificant their accomplishments are in the grand scheme of things, they refuse to sit by and let things continue as they are. They seek to change the world, to carve a place for themselves in a world where they are looked upon as the inferior sex.

It’s inspiring to read about their journeys, to see a part of ourselves in those characters and connect with them through their trials. Through them, we can dare to dream, dare to hope, dare to aspire to greater things.

That was my goal when I wrote The Brass Giant, the first book in the Chroniker City series. The main character of The Brass Giant and The Guild Conspiracy is a young female engineer who is forbidden to join the Guild—an exclusive brotherhood of engineering elite—for the sole reason that she is a girl. Despite that, she tries anyway, going so far as to risk treason to get one step closer to seeing her dreams realized. In a world where all the odds are stacked against her, she doesn’t give up, even when she fails, and to me, that’s admirable—even if it does get her into loads of trouble.

So, why do I love the heroines of Victorian steampunk? Because they are stronger, braver, and cleverer than me. They inspire me to be a better person, to stand up to the injustices of the world and make this world, this time-period, a better place for the generations to come—even if all I ever do is put pen to paper. I can only hope that my words inspire a young girl to dare to follow her dreams, to be unafraid of what the world may throw at her, and to show her that she deserves a place in the world just as much as any man. 

Where to buy The Guild Conspiracy:


Barnes & Noble



Google Play








Brooke Johnson photo


Brooke Johnson is a stay-at-home mom and tea-loving author. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she journeys through life with her husband, daughter, and dog. She currently resides in Northwest Arkansas but hopes one day to live somewhere a bit more mountainous.



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Sunday Quote prepares for Kansas City and Worldcon

Posted by on Aug 14, 2016 in Blog, Quote | Comments Off on Sunday Quote prepares for Kansas City and Worldcon

“This must be a good book. It simply must. I haven’t any choice. It must be far and away the best thing I have ever attempted — slow but sure, piling detail on detail until a picture and an experience emerge. Until the whole throbbing thing emerges. And I can do it. I feel very strong to do it.”
~John Steinbeck

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Interview with Nancy K. Wallace, author of GRIM TIDINGS

Posted by on Aug 12, 2016 in Blog, others books | Comments Off on Interview with Nancy K. Wallace, author of GRIM TIDINGS

I’m happy to welcome my Harper Voyager sibling Nancy K. Wallace to my site today. The second book in her Wolves of Llisé series came out last week, and she’s here to talk about the myth behind her novels–and as a librarian, recommend some of her favorite reads!


Grim TidingsBook two in the sumptuous Wolves of Llisé trilogy: As the son of Llisé’s ruler, Devin Roché knows its laws only too well. It’s a land where keeping historical records is forbidden. To do so would mean imprisonment – or death.

Only bards may share the histories of their provinces, but Devin’s quest to learn from them ended in tragedy. His best friend Gaspard has been kidnapped, Master Bards are being murdered and whole communities are disappearing. Clearly someone doesn’t want Devin to know the true history of Llisé.

With his guard Marcus and a wolf pack for protection, Devin sets out to discover the truth. But as terrible secrets come to light, Devin realizes that some knowledge can be deadly.


– Grim Tidings is the second book in your Wolves of Llisé series. What is the French legend that inspired you, and how does this work into your books?
The legend is the story of the Beast of Gévaudan, and I’ll add a little background to it. Apparently toward the end of the 18th century, France had a terrible problem with wolves in its rural provinces. The Beast of Gévaudan was an unusually large wolf that terrorized the countryside near the Margeride Mountains. It was shot and killed by Jean Chastel, who becomes a nobleman in my book. As far as the legend goes, there were rumors that Chastel actually trained wolves to obey him. This bit of information sent me off on a tangent and Among Wolves was born.

– Have you traveled to France–and if not, how have you done so vicariously?

I have not traveled to France although I would love to someday. I have a lot of books on France and a Pinterest collection labeled Llisé that gives me ideas for the villages and countryside. Thankfully, these books are fantasies not travel books and I do have some leeway.

– I would love to know more about the important role that bards play in your series.

I was first fascinated by bards after reading Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster Trilogy. I love the idea that stories are something you can conveniently carry with you. You don’t need props or scripts, they are just there in your mind. I’ve often thought that if some cataclysmic event occurred on earth, that I would be able to reinvent the phone or electricity but I could tell stories.

In my trilogy, literacy is not only discouraged but punished. Storytelling provides a way of recording the important events in the lives of the provincial people. The meticulous way that the bards retell the tales ensures that accuracy is preserved. It is when Devin discovers that the official government archives disagree with the provincial chronicles, that trouble begins.

– You’re a librarian. What are some of your favorite books to recommend to children or adults?
Oh dear, you shouldn’t have asked! I have to admit that I adore picture books! One of my favorites is: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont. I sing it at story time and use a huge paint brush to demonstrate. Another great one is Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead. Bear is so excited to pass his story on to his friends but they constantly interrupt him with requests for help to get ready for winter. Bear finally falls asleep, his tale untold, and wakens to discover he has forgotten it! I just bought a wonderful book for the library called Choose Your Days by Paula Wallace. It’s this sweet story about life and its brevity proving that picture books are not just for kids! I look for gentle books for children. Their lives are so frantic and I think they need warm, comforting books that they can disappear into.

I rarely read adult books but two I love are A Brief History of Montmoray by Michelle Cooper and The House at Tyenford by Natasha Solomons. Both stay with you long after the book is closed. I tend to cherish books that touch me emotionally and both of these did.

– What are you working on next?

I have a YA novel that is finished and an adult novel that is almost done. The adult one takes place in Renaissance, Italy. I also have two great ideas for middle grade novels but I have to finish my third book in the Wolves of Llisé series first. I will admit some reluctance to having it be finished! After having lived with these characters for a few years, I don’t want to say goodbye!


Order Among Wolves (book 1) and Grim Tidings (book 2).


Nancy K. Wallace

Nancy K. Wallace loves chocolate, Christmas, and puppets! She collects fairytales and folklore and houses them in dozens of bookcases (alphabetically according to country). Her pets include four lovely cats, and an Arab mare named Ariel. She lives with her husband in a 140 year old farmhouse named Chevonwyck. Fortunately, she has a family who is tolerant of her obsessions and excellent at proofreading! Nancy is the author of 19 children’s books plus The Wolves of Llisé series for new adults. She has reviewed YA literature for VOYA magazine for 20 years.

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Clockwork Dagger and Clockwork Crown Amazon Giveaway

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in Blog, clockwork crown, clockwork dagger | Comments Off on Clockwork Dagger and Clockwork Crown Amazon Giveaway



Psst. Remember that ebook sale I posted about a few days ago? Well, guess what–you can win outright win** the ebooks of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown!

It’s easy if you have an Amazon account and a Kindle or Kindle app. Click here to enter for a chance to win Dagger and here to enter for a chance to win Crown. All you have to do is follow me on Amazon, which means you’ll get notifications when I have a new book out. When you enter, you’ll be told right away if you’ve won. If you didn’t, well… did I mention the ebooks are on sale?

Clockwork Dagger $1.99: Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Kobo | iTunes

Clockwork Crown $2.99: Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Kobo | iTunes

**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends 8/15/15 11:59PM, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules.





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Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, bundt, cake | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake

For our second installment of CAKE/PIE MONTH, I present a tender, moist pound cake that’s embodied with a fresh lime flavor!

Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake

To glaze this cake, I tested out a technique I saw on the Great British Baking Show. It worked like a charm, and it’s something I’ll do with all of my poke cakes in a bundt pan from here onward.

If you haven’t seen the Great British Baking Show (known in the UK by its original moniker of Great British Bake Off), GO SEE IT. It’s on Netflix, YouTube, and the PBS website. This is the show that helped me to survive my edits for Breath of Earth and to write Call of Fire in one month. Not only is it about creating lovely baked goods, it’s about achieving technical, chemical perfection in a reality show environment that is completely positive. No back-stabbing, no contrived drama.

Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake

The bakers work under an extraordinary time crunch. In one episode, a baker needed to glaze a bundt cake very quickly. They poked the cake all over and put it back in the pan to pour the glaze. This way, most of the glaze went INSIDE the cake, as intended for a poke cake, and did not puddle the plate.

I watched. Mind. Blown.

Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake

The technique totally works. My bundt cake was perfectly moist all the way through because the glaze had a chance to soak in from all angles.

This bundt cake has such a lovely flavor to go along with the moist texture, too. This is the kind of cake that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert, and is great with fruit, ice cream, or a simple cup of coffee.

Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake

It would be great to eat while watching the Great British Baking Show.

Modified from Relish Magazine.

Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This lime-fresh cream cheese pound cake is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert! If you use a special technique learned from the Great British Baking Show, the glaze will penetrate the cake and make it especially tender all the way through. Modified from Relish Magazine.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword: bundt cake, cake, citrus, cream cheese
Author: Beth Cato



  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter 3 sticks, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese 1 box, room temperature
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 6 large eggs room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 limes zested and juiced


  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1/2 stick
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar optional for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 325F. Thoroughly grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs alternately with flour, mixing well after each addition. Add salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and the zest and juice of both limes. Mix until combined, taking care not to overbeat. That could dry out the cake.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes and then plop it onto a rack to cool some more. Don't wash the pan yet!
  • While the cake is still warm, use skewers or chopsticks to poke holes all over the top.
  • Mix the glaze ingredients (sugar, butter, lime juice) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil for about one minute, then remove from heat.
  • Set the cake back inside the pan; poke more holes in the base of the cake. Slowly pour or ladle glaze over the holes. Let that soak in. Use over half the glaze, then carefully tip the cake onto a cake plate. Slowly drizzle the rest of the glaze into the holes.
  • Let the cake cool completely. Add dusting of powdered sugar before serving


Bready or Not: Limed-Up Cream Cheese Pound Cake


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