Not-So-Imaginary Friends

Not-So-Imaginary Friends: A D is for Dinosaur Guest Blog

by Beth Cato

Confession: I am 37 years old, and I still want to believe in magic. I want there to be glorious beings and places that we can’t quite see, and that all of us potentially hold power that is manipulated by the mind, not muscles.

Along those lines, I love the idea of imaginary friends that aren’t imaginary. I want children to see–really see–what is around them. Magical beings. Aliens. Portals to other realms. It’s the stuff of my own childhood wish fulfillment, no doubt, and my writing career gives me the chance to make it all real. In a way.

My D is for Dinosaur story delves into the dark side of not-so-imaginary friends from more of a science fiction angle: the relationship between a brilliant young girl and her mentor, who is invisible to everyone else, but in her eyes is a rainbow-toned velociraptor. The girl knows her dinosaur friend is real. She also knows that, because of her own brain maturation, she will no longer be able to see or hear him soon. And she’s tragically aware that because of that, she’ll begin to doubt that he ever existed at all.

It goes to the very concept of faith. What is “real?” What is imaginary? Can we trust our own memories?

For me, this is a very personal dilemma.

Being a weird, precocious child, I was aware by about age nine that there was a point where other kids stopped playing with toys or looking for fairies hidden among the hedges. To me, it seemed like an ultimate betrayal of self, like these children forgot who they really were. That their imaginations were tossed in shoeboxes along with battered childhood toys, destined for a thrift store shelf at some much-later date.

I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t toss aside my imagination. I’d stay true to myself.

Reality is cruel. We’re told to “grow up.” Stop playing around. That imaginary friends don’t exist, that they never existed. That we need real jobs. That if we make art, it’s not worth anything.

I lost my way for a number of years, caving to pressure that reading and writing fantasy wasn’t “real” writing. But I came back to it because I realized I was incomplete. I still wanted to see hidden magic in the world, and I needed to write it in existence.

My story heroine contends with all of these emotions, too. She’s a kid who has always had an invisible-to-everyone else velociraptor as her dearest friend. She’s going to lose him. She’s going to grow up.

It’s my hope, though, that she grows up in some ways but not others.


Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE. Her newest novel is BREATH OF EARTH. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.


Pre-order your copy of D IS FOR DINOSAUR now and get it for only $0.99!


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E is for Evil

I’m excited to announce the theme for the next volume in my Alphabet Anthologies series will be:

E is for Evil

Oh man, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. The contributors to this anthology series never cease to amaze me with their clever and diverse interpretations of a theme and this one… well, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a doozie!

Speaking of those contributors. For this volume the contributing authors, in random order, are Michael Fosburg, Lynn Hardaker, KV Taylor, Andrew Bourelle, Suzanne J. Willis, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, Hal J. Friesen, C.S. MacCath, Michael B. Tager, Jonathan C. Parrish, Amanda C. Davis, Lilah Wild, Sara Cleto, Alexandra Seidel, Mary Alexandra Agner, Cory Cone, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Beth Cato, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Gary B. Phillips, Brittany Warman, BD Wilson, L.S. Johnson, Pete Aldin and Michael M. Jones.

E is for Evil will be hitting shelves spring of next year, so we’ll all need to be patient while we wait for it, but people had been asking what the next letter was going to be and I was getting tired of saying it was a secret 🙂

Previous volumes in this series include A is for Apocalypse, B is for Broken, C is for Chimera and — coming out in less than three weeks! — D is for DInosaur.

D is for Dinosaur cover reveal


For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.

Within these pages stories set in alternate histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner, dinosaurs whimper and waste away, or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.

Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!

Features stories by Alexandra Seidel, Pete Aldin, Beth Cato, Michael Kellar, Cory Cone, Simon Kewin, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, C.S. MacCath, KV Taylor, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Michael B. Tager, Gary B. Phillips, Michael M. Jones, L.S. Johnson, Brittany Warman, Hal J. Friesen, Megan Engelhardt, BD Wilson, Michael Fosburg, Jonathan C. Parrish, Suzanne J. Willis, Lynn Hardaker, Amanda C. Davis, Andrew Bourelle, Sara Cleto and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth.

This cover was designed by Jonathan C. Parrish using original artwork by Janice Blaine.

D is for Dinosaur will be available in February 2017. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your ‘Want to read’ shelf on Goodreads and LibraryThing!


Beth Cato -- photograph by Corey Ralston Photography

Chimeric Contributor: Beth Cato

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

We’re continuing the Chimeric contributor interviews with a familiar name on my blog–Beth Cato. Beth and I first met a long time ago on Livejournal, when Livejournal was still relevant, and even though we live a very long way from one another she’s one of my best friends. She’s also an incredibly talented writer who I would admire even if I didn’t like her on a personal level (which I do, obviously :-p) 🙂

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?


Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

A little bit, yes. When I think of chimeras, I think of the gremlins in my Clockwork Dagger series, and I really wanted a fresh take on the concept.

What kind of chimera is your story about?

A genetic modification of a little boy who assumes a “tiger” nature in his post-apocalyptic world.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

I write a lot of stories that take place after the collapse of civilization. As I tried to think of a good setting for an ‘S” story, I gravitated to my familiar, horrible places.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

More leonine, I think. I’m a cat person all the way.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

Gosh, probably cat, horse, and human. Which would surprise absolutely no one who knows me.

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

I don’t even know how to answer this one, though I am laughing at the thought of being rendered into some sort of multi-purpose Kitchen-Aid and oven chimera.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

Um, I had the goal of being a Nebula or Hugo nominee, and now I’m a Nebula finalist–for a novella about chimeras. It’d still be awfully nice to win one of the big awards.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

“Be careful out there, Tiger,” Doctor said, as she did every day when she let Tiger Boy out through the narrow basement window.

“Tiger Boy,” he corrected, as he did daily.

“Yes, Tiger Boy.” Her smile was more wobbly than usual.

He knew she didn’t like letting him out by his lonesome, but he couldn’t stay pent up for days and days on end. He started to get restless and toy around with things, and that was really, really bad in a laboratory. She used to joke that she wasn’t sure if his mischief came from his Tiger or Boy nature, but she hadn’t said that in a long time.

She didn’t say too much at all, these days.


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.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

Find C is for Chimera online:



Barnes & Noble



Barnes & Noble


Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

The Importance of Slides

C is for Chimera is coming out tomorrow and in honour of that I’d like to share this guest blog from contributor Beth Cato 🙂

The Importance of Slides by Beth Cato


The table of contents for C is for Chimera will do a great job of hiding the words attached to the letters that inspired our stories, and I’m going to give away my secret right now: S is for Slide.

My story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and follows the scamperings of Tiger Boy. He is a boy who is (don’t gasp too loudly in surprise) also part tiger. That chimera mix allowed him to survive when most of civilization did not. He’s not particularly damaged by the experience, though. Tiger Boy is the ultimate unreliable narrator: a child who sees the world through a particular, rather oblivious perspective.

To him, a playground slide means everything. It’s a relic of a past when he was pure Boy, when he had a mother, an apartment, and schooldays. He still plays on the slide, but not in the same way. The world changed. He changed.

When I became a parent, my own concept of slides changed, too. I was of pretty average physical ability as a kid. I took things like slides for granted. Climb up, climb down. Stand in line if there are other kids. Don’t push. Don’t be the jerk who tries to climb up the slide when other kids are there.

My son has autism. His gross motor skills made climbing slides a precarious act when he was young. I was the hovering mother, there to help him up or catch him if he slipped. The social dynamics, however, were the greatest obstacle. Much of that he had to learn at school. I couldn’t hover. All I could do was try to reinforce his awareness of other people–give others enough personal space, say please, say thank you, slide down and skedaddle out of the way.

I worked part of my son’s experience into my creation of Tiger Boy. When you have physical limitations, the very act of climbing a ladder has new meaning. It makes the view from the top all the sweeter–or the fall all the worse. And Tiger Boy doesn’t have anyone close by to catch him if he slips.


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.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.


Reserve your copy of C is for Chimera now and be among the first to read about Tiger Boy and all the other chimeras in this exciting collection 🙂

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish



Barnes & Noble

D is for [Drum Roll]

It’s time to announce the theme for the next Alphabet Anthology. I am really stoked about this one. Like, really, really stoked. I’ve been looking forward to the D anthology since I first decided to do this anthology series–in fact, more than once Jo has had to talk me out of releasing books out of alphabetical order because I was impatient to get to D.

So what is the theme?

Well, Demons seemed like a good fit–a collection of dark and diverse stories would be a lot of fun but not quite as fun as–

Dragons. Dragons seem the obvious choice, right? I mean, I love dragons. I used to collect them, I even have a dragon tattoo. And there’s no doubt that dragon stories could be diverse in theme, voice and tone… but dragons were actually kind of too obvious. Plus I have a vaguely dragony anthology in the works and I don’t want to duplicate efforts. Much. Still gargantuan reptilian creatures are pretty amazing and so I am excited to announce that–


D is for Dinosaur

–because c’mon! How cool is that?

The dinosaur theme will be interpreted in a wide variety of ways for this anthology but my authors assure me that there will, indeed, be at least a handful of prehistoric critters within its pages. I’m super stoked!

Speaking of those authors, contributors to this anthology include some veterans to the series and some new faces too. In no particular order, story contributors to D is for Dinosaur are:

~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Pete Aldin ~ Beth Cato ~ Michael Kellar ~ Cory Cone ~ Simon Kewin ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ C.S. MacCath ~ KV Taylor ~ Laura VanArendonk Baugh ~ Michael B. Tager ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Michael M. Jones ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Brittany Warman ~ Hal J. Friesen ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ BD Wilson ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Suzanne J. Willis ~ Lynn Hardaker ~ Amanda C. Davis ~ Andrew Bourell ~ Sara Cleto ~ Jeanne Kramer-Smyth ~

Janice Blaine will be contributing the artwork.

D is for Dinosaur will be coming out in 2017 but you can pre-order the third installment in the Alphabet Anthologies series, C is for Chimera right now.

Pushcart Prize Nominations

2016_Cover_BigEvery year I struggle to pick which six works to nominate for the Pushcart Prize. This year my job was made marginally easier after I spoke to Bill Henderson and learned I could nominate six works from both Niteblade and Poise and Pen. Yay! Still, it was a difficult decision-making process even so but I am excited to nominate the following works for the 2016 Pushcart Prize.

On behalf of Niteblade Magazine I nominated:

And from Poise and Pen’s anthology, B is for Broken, published in May 2015 I nominated:

  • C is for Change by C.S. MacCath
  • F is for Founder by Megan Arkenberg
  • G is for Glass by Gary B. Phillips
  • O is for Oneiroi by Michael M. Jones
  • S is for Soliloquy by Damien Angelica Walters
  • V is for Vendémiaire by L.S. Johnson

Congratulations to our (and all) nominees, and good luck!

Beth Cato -- photograph by Corey Ralston Photography

Fractured Friday: Beth Cato

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂

I feel like I’ve known Beth for forever, but it hasn’t been *quite* that long. We met way back when in a Livejournal (I told you it was a long time ago) group for NaNoWriMo participants. I didn’t get to sample her writing until she submitted to Niteblade though. Her post-apocalyptic flash, The Pacifier, is still one of my all-time favourite stories Niteblade published. You should go read it. No really. I’ll wait.


Awesome, right?

So you won’t be surprised to learn I invited her to contribute to A is for Apocalypse. Nor should there be any question about why she has a spot in B is for Broken as well (and wait until you read her C is for Chimera story!)



Interview With Beth Cato

What letter were you assigned? K

Please share a short excerpt from your story: 

The man on the rock looks up at us. His face so sad, emotion sharp, like a slap to the face. Tommy grunted like it hit him, too.

“Tommy Smith. George Blackworth.” He says my name and I feel it in my bones, like my mother, God rest her, yelling out the back door.

“Who’re you?” I ask.

“Who am I?” He stares at his hands. “A king without a queen, proof that the undying are not immortal.”

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? My cat Porom is the laziest cat ever. A few years ago, I was closing a door. Porom had flopped down in front of it and it was dark, so I couldn’t see her tail. The door actually amputated the tip of it. I was freaked out. We were able to get her to an emergency vet, where she had  a cleaner amputation made. She had a full recovery, or I don’t know if I could have forgiven myself.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I had a sculpture I made during my freshman year of high school. It was a mythological creature of my own making, a threem (which is actually included in my Clockwork Dagger books from Harper Voyager). A few years ago parents were encouraging me to get the last of my belongings out of their house. I didn’t want this sculpture. I always hated how it turned out, and it was made during a time of my life when I was severely depressed and suicidal.

Instead of toting the big clay figure back to Arizona, I wrapped it in several layers of plastic bags and then pulverized it with a piece of rebar. It was all rather therapeutic.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? I’ll twist this around. I wish I could turn in negligent speeders on the highway and see THEM punished. I drive like an old lady and go the speed limit.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? Yes. Treat others the way I would like to be treated. That means to be courteous, thoughtful, and not an inconvenience.

Never ever? I do my utmost!

Really? Isn’t there something which could make you break it? Okay, there was one time a survey guy called at 8:30pm and when I politely told him the late time was inappropriate, he argued with me. It actually developed into a yelling match. The company actually sent me a postcard asking me to give them another chance–which was a whole other level of freaky. When they had other people call, I flat out told them I would never, ever deal with them, and hung up.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I had another idea that I started on but it just didn’t come together.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? The original idea was “King’s Horses and Men,” and to do a fresh take on Humpty Dumpty. I know. A story about a sentient egg. Maybe someday?

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? It wasn’t a conscious influence as I wrote, but in hindsight I think the movie Bedknobs & Broomsticks played a part as well. I always adored that movie and the idea of magic being used for the war effort. This is just a different take.


Beth Cato -- photograph by Corey Ralston Photography

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 steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. The newest book is The Clockwork Crown.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

~ Twitter ~

B is for Broken is available now at:
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

The Clockwork Crown

My dear friend, Beth Cato, has a new novel out today! The Clockwork Crown is the sequel to The Clockwork Dagger. I had the honour and pleasure of reading the nearly-final version The Clockwork Crown and I can tell you, if you liked The Clockwork Dagger you will love its sequel. Guaranteed.


Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.

Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.

Available now!

Barnes and Noble

Niteblade #32 cover -- design by Jonathan C. Parrish, Art by Marge Simon

What Happened Among The Stars

Niteblade #32 cover -- design by Jonathan C. Parrish, Art by Marge SimonWe released latest issue of Niteblade, What Happened Among the Stars, today. This, our 32nd and penultimate issue, contains a farcical science fiction, magical horses, everyday immortals, creeping trees, fairies, close encounters with death and so much more.

Strange and unusual high-quality speculative fiction and poems that will make your heart skip a beat.

Table of Contents:
Small Necessary Things by Angela Enos
Shamaness by Wendy Howe
Jacks by Nicholas L. Sweeney
What Happened Among the Stars by Beth Cato
Monkeyshines by J.B. Rockwell
Carousel Ifrit by Sandi Leibowitz
The Third Sister by Gabriel F. Cuellar
coming home by Senia Hardwick
The Night Wind’s Ballad by Alexandra Erin
The Hanging Tree by Brian Ennis

Available now:

Direct from Niteblade

The issue will also be available online once we reach a combined total of $50 in sales and donations. Until that happens you can check out teasers of all the stories and poems.

Niteblade is open to submissions for our final issue (coming out in September) until the end of July. Protip: We’re not kidding when we say not to indent the paragraphs in your submission 😉

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

B is for Broken

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Broken people, broken promises, broken dreams and broken objects are just some of the ways these 26 fantastic stories interpret the theme of ‘Broken’. From science fiction to fantasy, horror to superheroes the stories within these pages cover a vast swath of the genres under the speculative fiction umbrella.

Featuring original fiction by:

~ Brittany Warman ~ Milo James Fowler ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Sara Cleto ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Simon Kewin ~ Beth Cato ~ Cory Cone ~ Cindy James ~ Alexis A. Hunter ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Steve Bornstein ~ BD Wilson ~ Michael Kellar ~ Damien Angelica Walters ~ Marge Simon ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Pete Aldin ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Lilah Wild ~ KV Taylor ~

Available now at:
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

After months of hard work I’m incredibly excited to announce that B is for Broken is live and available for purchase! This anthology is the second in the Alphabet Anthologies series and because the theme was broader than the first (A is for Apocalypse) the stories are even more diverse in regard to genre, style, voice and theme than before. We’ve got retold fairy tales, robots and spaceships, superheros, minotaurs, second world fantasy and so, so, SO much more. The story length ranges from flash fiction to an incredible fantasy novelette from C.S. MacCath (trust me, you don’t want to miss this one).

Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing contributor interviews, excerpts and even (once it’s complete) a ‘Broken Story‘ to try and tempt you into picking up a copy but if you enjoy speculative fiction I don’t think you can go wrong with this anthology. I’m biased but it really is packed full of awesome.

“This collection is a massive and magnificent assortment of truly enjoyable stories. There is simply no way to read this book  and not find a story you can connect with or love. This is the book to have in your travel bag. In it you are sure to find a tale to fit any mood. Each time you open it, a new adventure begins.”

Anita Allen, Assistant Publisher/Editor, Mythic Delirium Books

Also? We’re holding a Facebook party to celebrate the release and you’re invited 🙂