Giftmas 2017 – What I Celebrate

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

There are as many different ways to celebrate winter holidays as there are families and today I wanted to find out about what some of the blog contributors celebrate. You can join in the conversation by commenting here or using the #Giftmas2017 hashtag on social media — what do you celebrate? How do you celebrate it?

Our family celebrates a secular version of Christmas that I like to call Giftmas, hence the name of this blog tour. One of my favourite family traditions is advent. On December 1st we clear all the clutter off our fireplace mantle and replace it with a new kind of clutter — candle clutter! We put twenty-five candles out. Each night in December we light the number of candles that match the date, hang out together and enjoy a chocolate and some holiday music. Some years we’ve read books aloud, but mostly we just sit in the varying degrees of darkness and talk. It’s a lovely, restful way to count down the days toward Christmas. And not just because there’s chocolate, but also because there’s chocolate 🙂

What do the other participants celebrate? Let’s ask them!

“We don’t really celebrate anything anymore, but when I was a kid, we had a the worst fake tree ever made. We used to strategically place the tinsel to cover the gaps between limbs.”

Jennifer Lee Rossman

“We celebrate Christmas, though in a more secular way. (I grew up in the Church of Christ, and was taught that Christ’s birth was something to be acknowledged all year long.) For me, Christmas is about joy and good food and family and Santa Claus. This is what I’ve tried to impart on my son, too. He’s autistic, and we adapted our traditions for his sensory needs. He has always loved numbers and math, so from an early age, I started getting him advent calendars so he could count down the days to Christmas with chocolate. When I hit post-Christmas sales, I try to find one or two more advent calendars too so we can then do “January and February advent” for his numerical joy. We did a third extra advent one year, but since we live in Arizona, I found that the chocolates became too soft by March and we couldn’t get them out of the plastic!”

Beth Cato

“I celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ. Not that he was born on December 25, of course; the Roman calendar at that time was a hot mess (leap months, seriously?), even if anyone had bothered to record the date at the time. But December 25 is as good a date as any other to acknowledge and honor the day. We exchange gifts because gifts are a nominal cultural remembrance of the gifts of the Magi to the newborn Jesus or a Christian rebranding of Saturnalia gifts—but mostly because it’s fun.”

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

“We have a very traditional Advent and then a long 12-day Christmas season until Epiphany. So we start from the 2nd of December lighting a candle on the wreath, we start creating the crib sowing the grass and hay, we soak our fruits in rum for Christmas cake and then start making sweets for the office. The kids all start doing the one-kind-deed-a-day decoration chains and we pull out the decorations. In addition to that, we start caroling at various places, work on the Church star and crib with the community, organize gift bags for the poor, make a retreat and confession. Finally, by Christmas week, the cake is baked, the decorations and lights go on and the merrymaking starts on Christmas day after midnight mass right till Epiphany.”

Pamela Q. Fernandez

“As an atheist, I celebrate my cultural roots: I celebrate that there is glühwein (mulled wine) again and that it’s the time of the year to make feuerzangenbowle (a very German thing), which contains wine, rum, and fire as the main ingredients. Since it is the end of the year and the very tipping point of the dark season, I do have the sense of a coming together with those you hold dear (because drinking glühwein alone is just sad), of reflecting on the past year and setting out to tackle the new one, of a sense of quiet.”

Alexandra Seidel

“I’m not really in the Christmas spirit right now—I’m in the Advent spirit. Advent is a Christian season of hopeful anticipation, of waiting, of expectation. It’s a time to reflect on the darkness in the world and to look forward to the coming of a savior, a messiah who will show us the right way to live and lift us out of the darkness. I think in that way, it has a lot in common with the Winter Solstice—and maybe that’s part of why the early Christian church decided to place Christmas so near to the solstice. Over the past several years, I’ve made an effort to place emphasis on Advent until Christmas Eve—the day my parents and I have always held our own private celebration of Christmas.”

Stephanie A. Cain

“My family has always celebrated Christmas. At least we call it that, but it is really a secular celebration, rather than a religious festival. At times, I have somewhat flippantly been known to draw on the mid-winter and Roman heritage of my home country (I’m British) and offer felicitations for the festival day of the risen god, Sol Invictus.”

J.S. Watts

“My holiday traditions are a muddle! We go Yule singing door-to-door in the days leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we sing carols and go to church. We open gifts on Christmas morning, and eat a supper that includes a cake shaped like a Yule log. Next, we celebrate the changing face of Janus on December 31st by ushering out the old year and welcoming the new. Lastly, I celebrate Imbolc on February 1st, lighting candles and lanterns to welcome the coming of spring. ”

Barbara Tomporowski

“Not a holiday sort of dude. I like the excuse to give presents or hang out with people, but there’s no one holiday that I adhere to. Again, the cynic in me grumbles, but stays quiet for the most part during the month of December. I like the cold, the lights, and the mountain of baked goods that accompany this time of the year. It’s the only chance to watch my favorite version of “Christmas Carol” with Alastair Sims.”

Doug Blakeslee

We celebrate a secular version of Christmas. I was raised on a farm, and that definitely coloured how I celebrate the season. We baked multitudes of fantastic cakes and cookies. We went to the back forty and cut down our own Christmas tree. Then we decorated it and the rest of the house. It was wonderful. But one of the big events that signalled (to me at least) that Christmas had really truly arrived was watching Alastair Sim’s version of “A Christmas Carol” on CBC on Christmas Eve. Now, in my own house, we decorate a tree (sadly, we have moved to artificial, but digging it out of its box and putting it together is just as good as slogging through the snow to cut down a real one. Right?), and bake a bunch of different cookies for the season, but I have developed a variation of “the movie before Christmas.” Now, we watch the “25 movies of Christmas.” We start with “Die Hard” on December 1st, and watch (at least) one movie with some sort of a Christmas theme an evening until Christmas Eve. That’s reserved for… (if you guessed Alastair Sim’s “A Christmas Carol,” you’d be wrong!) “Love Actually.” Because my husband gets to pick movies too, and this is one of his favourites.”

E.C. Bell

Another Giftmas tradition I enjoy is exchanging gifts and it really is true what they say about giving being better than receiving — I love a good gift, don’t get me wrong, but I really love the feeling that comes with finding and giving someone else that perfect something.

Which is an elegant little segue to the fact that if you love books or art I might have the perfect gift for you. Two people will win awesome prizes from this Rafflecopter right here. There are honestly too many prizes for me to list them all here, but you can check out the list by clicking here.

Everyone gets one free entry each day and you can earn more by helping us signal boost this tour and fundraiser, or by donating.

Thank you, and good luck!

Giftmas 2017 – Why I Give

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

For today’s post I asked the contributors to talk about why they give, and I intentionally left the question of what they give completely open because I wanted to see how each individual would interpret the question. Because we all give in some form or another — we give money, or time, objects or of ourselves. What motivates that giving?

Personally, I want to talk specifically about why I give to the Food Bank — why that is the cause I choose to support with this blog tour. The answer is very simple, really. I give to the Food Bank because the Food Banks have given to me. I live a privileged life these days and we never struggle to put food on the table but that wasn’t always the case. When I was younger and my mom was a struggling single mother of three we didn’t go hungry but the local Food Bank’s Christmas hampers were a huge factor in our Christmas celebrations. Without them our season would have been far less bright. And when Dani was a toddler and I was the single mom a Christmas hamper meant I didn’t have to pick between having a holiday feast or putting a great present under the tree for her. Supporting the food bank now that I am financially able makes sense to me and it feels good too.

As for why some of the other contributors give? Let’s ask them:

“Last year was the first time I took part in the Giftmas tour hosted by Rhonda. And I honestly didn’t think much of it until we met and surpassed the 500$ mark and I was amazed at the generosity of fans. We’ve been blessed abundantly in a way that we can write, share stories and become a part of people’s thoughts long after they’ve finished a book. It feels wonderful to be able to share with others who’re finding the going tough. If there is something that we can do to help others have a better Christmas it would be awesome. ”

Pamela Q. Fernandez

“I support the Giftmas Blog Tour because our friends, families, and community members should not go hungry in this great country.”

Barbara Tomporowski

“I give because I can, and because I hope that it will give the gift of happiness, no matter how brief, to someone else who needs it. I also think that if we all acted kinder and more giving toward one another and the other beings sharing this planet with us, we would find more happiness ourselves.”

Alexandra Seidel

“I give my time and energy because I don’t feel like I’ve done enough to “earn” the good things in my life.”

Jennifer Lee Rossman

“I give for a lot of reasons—first and foremost because I’m a follower of the Jesus way, and one important tenet of that way is to give to others, to love other people as much as I love myself. I won’t get all preachy on you, but I’m a firm believer that every gift I give to another person is also a gift I offer to Jesus. For another reason, my forty-one years have been a roller coaster of both need and plenty. There have been times I’ve had a thousand dollars in my checking account and had plenty to give someone in need. There have also been times I’ve just bounced a check and needed someone’s help to buy groceries. I know what need feels like. I know how crippling and shameful it can be to have to ask someone for help in a culture that seems to idolize self-reliance. And I know just how big a tiny gift can feel.”

Stephanie A. Cain

“I’m cynical by nature. Slow to trust or warm up to people. It’s part of my past that I work to get past. One of the ways I do that is support things that I do believe in. As a kid I devoured science fiction of all types. Science was my passion and while I didn’t go that route, it’s something I believe in. It gives us hope that there’s something better or we can become something better. When I got the offer for the blog tour, I took up the cause, because it’s passing along a bit of hope. A recent sci-fi anthology just arrived and it’s full of stories that embody the hope that sci-fi brings to me. That’s why I’m offering it to the blog tour. Maybe it’ll kindle someone else’s hope.”

Doug Blakeslee

“To paraphrase 1 John, “We give because he first gave to us.” I participate in this blog-hopping fundraiser because it’s a fun way to simultaneously connect with colleagues and support a cause outside of my local sphere of influence. I support a number of local non-profits, but here are two charities which work around the world and which you can support from anywhere:

IJM (International Justice Mission) fights slavery—not “I’ve got student loans” but real, chattel slavery which still exists in much of the world and probably touching you. (It’s why I highlight fair-trade chocolate when I blog about chocolate.) Several of my writing projects feature slave characters, but I want to be sure I don’t romanticize this concept, and I’ve used books as fundraisers to support IJM and will again.

World Vision provides education, resources, supplies, and support in all kinds of conditions and needs. They have a great record of using donations directly to aid, rather than diluting in marketing, fundraising, salaries, slush. They also have a child sponsorship program, if you want to connect personally.”

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

“I give to this fundraiser and other causes because I know what it’s like to need. My family often struggled as I was growing up. There were a few months where we got by on a bare minimum of ramen noodles, cereal, and milk. We didn’t get assistance from a food bank, though our plight would have warranted it. And even though we didn’t have much, we always gave.  My mom encouraged me to donate to food or toy or pet-supply drives, emphasizing that there were always people who need help. Those lessons have stayed with me.”

Beth Cato

Short answer? Because I have been incredibly lucky most of my life, and this blog tour is one way I can give back. It’s not the only thing I do, but it is special to me, because it happens at Christmas time. I love the trappings, and the baking, and the lights, and the food, and the celebrations I can join around the city if I choose—and did I mention the food? That’s the biggest reason why this blog tour is close to my heart. Food is the lynch pin of all my celebrations around this season, and I can’t imagine not being able to afford it. (Actually, I can, because I wasn’t always lucky. And that’s another reason why I give.)”

E.C. Bell

“I fall into the category of cash-strapped writer. I don’t have the money to donate to heaps of good causes, as much as I might like to. I do, however, have my writing and performance skills. When a good cause comes along that enables me to volunteer my time and my skills, I jump at it. It’s my way of giving back.”

J.S. Watts

One of the themes I see running through those answers is ‘I give because I can’. Related to that is the Rafflecopter you see right here.

Though we really want to use this blog tour to raise money for the Food Bank we recognize that not everyone can contribute financially and that’s okay. You can still help by spreading the word, by boosting our signal. And if you can’t do that… well, everyone deserves a chance at some holiday goodies. So in addition to giving you extra entries for boosting our signal we’re also giving everyone one free entry each day.

You can check out the full prize list for the Rafflecopter by clicking here but suffice to say it includes books, original art, books, Tuckerizations (that’s when someone names a character after you!), books, critiques, and did I mention books? There are a lot of books!

Enter to win now, and good luck!

And don’t forget to support our fundraiser to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank if you can. It’ll give you some extra entries into the Rafflecopter, let you claim some awesome rewards and put a smile on your face. That’s pretty tough to beat!

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