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July 2015




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Jul. 3rd, 2015

Celestial Goldfish

A.F.E. Smith’s DARKHAVEN Blog Tour: Excerpt plus Giveaway!

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


I’m happy to welcome fellow Harper Voyager author A.F.E. Smith to my blog today! Her fantasy novel Darkhaven came out yesterday in ebook and will be in paperback on January 14th 2016. Isn’t her cover awesome? Here’s a lot more info about the book… as well as a Rafflecopter giveaway and scavenger hunt clue!

Cover_image_DARKHAVEN_AFE_SmithAyla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

Amazon (global link)
Barnes & Noble
Google Play

Ayla descended a short flight of steps cut into a sheer rock face, and found herself on a ledge overlooking the lower rings of the city. Tiered roofs stretched down and out, red tiles and golden wood and grey-blue slate. She identified the dark smoke rising from the factories, as well as several lighter puffs of steam – travelling fast – which must be the trams that partly circled the lower rings. Even from here, with four rings behind her and only two ahead, the city merged into the horizon. She couldn’t make out where Arkannen ended and the rest of Mirrorvale began.
Of course, she had seen the city many times from the air, at night, but the sheer scale of it had never impressed itself upon her as it did now. From above, Arkannen was orderly and structured, seven neat rings descending in sequence. She hadn’t realised how much bigger and more complicated it would appear when she was actually in it. It was daunting, but it was also encouraging. As long as she was careful and didn’t draw attention to herself, she didn’t see how anyone would ever find her.

Dragging herself away from the view, she plunged into the darkness of the narrow passage that cut into the rock behind her. She emerged into a spacious, paved square with various streets and staircases joining it on three sides. On the fourth side stood a high-arched gateway, the sole route into the second ring: the Gate of Wind. Although each of the gates Ayla had passed through so far had been impressive, she thought this one might be the most spectacular of all. The arch was carved from pale, translucent marble, a series of abstract curved shapes swirling around each other like the patterns of the breeze; in every gap hung delicate crystals that tinkled with the slightest movement of the air, so that the gate was never silent. In the centre of the square, a three-bladed sail on a long pole turned with the currents, marking wind speed and direction for the captains of the airships.

None of the other gates had posed a problem, but even so, Ayla pulled her hood forward to hide her face before she joined the workers who were converging on the gate from all directions. It was even busier down here than it had been in the higher rings. An elbow caught her in the ribs; she stumbled, and someone trod on her foot. Then, as she passed under the archway itself in a squeeze of tight-knit crowd, she overheard a snippet of conversation.

‘Murdered in his bed … the old Changer …’

In an instant, the press of people around her – their heat and smell – became unbearable. She tried to keep up with the two men who were talking, but they were borne away from her like twigs in the relentless current. The many voices of the crowd became a tumult, a hundred different words competing for attention. Ayla snatched at one sentence, then another, letting each one slip away as she became aware of the next. But she heard nothing more about her father. Perhaps her overwhelmed brain had conjured up a phantom.


Author_photo_DARKHAVEN_AFE_SmithMore about A.F.E.:

A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.

What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.

DARKHAVEN on Goodreads


Blog Tour homepage

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Scavenger hunt clue:

Jul. 2nd, 2015

Celestial Goldfish

San Diego Bound

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

One week from today, I will be doing something gloriously geeky: attending San Diego Comic Con! Not just attending, though. I have two signings and a panel! I’m Someone with a badge!

I have never been to San Diego Comic Con before. Actually, I’m a native Californian who has never been to San Diego at all! This is a really fast trip, too, but I hope to have a couple of hours in there to wander the infamous Comic Con floor where I will hopefully not be stampeded by fangirls/boys in pursuit of a celebrity.

Here’s where you can find me!

Thursday, July 9th
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM

IN BOOTH HarperCollins Publishers #1029: Beth Cato Free Signing + Clockwork Crown promo giveaway
That’s right. I’ll sign stuff AND you might just get a free book. Which I can then sign.

Friday July 10, 2015
10:00am – 11:00am

Romantic Adventure
SFF fans are always down for an adventure, from a daring airship expedition to space-age exploration, but what’s the fun in an adventure if there’s no one to share it with? Some of the most compelling stories in genre fiction spring out of the relationships between two equally awesome characters when they’re thrown together in an out-of-this-world situation. Come discuss the lure of romantic adventure with Chloe Neil (The Devil’s Isle series), Sam Sykes (The City Stained Red), Beth Cato (The Clockwork Crown), Suzanne Young (The Remedy), Gena Showalter (Alice in Zombieland), and Mary E. Pearson (The Heart of Betrayal). Moderated by S. J. Harper (Reckoning).
Room 32AB
Link to the Comic Con scheduler

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Panel Signing: Romantic Adventure
Room AA09

I’ll sign stuff! Books! Anthologies! Napkins! Scones!

If you’re at Comic Con, please drop by to say hi!

Jul. 1st, 2015

Duck Hunt

Bready or Not: Custard/Pudding Powder Chocolate Chip Cookies

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Happy Canada Day! Celebrate with some luscious chocolate chip cookies that have custard powder or pudding powder right in the dough.

Custard Choc Chip Cookies

See, I have a container of Bird’s Custard Powder sitting in my pantry that I want to use up. This stuff is great for Nanaimo Bars (a very appropriate recipe for Canada Day) but I wanted to use it for something less labor intensive.

Custard Choc Chip Cookies

Custard powder isn’t common in the States. It’s very much a Canadian/British thing. When I read up on Nanaimo Bar recipes ages ago, a lot of them said that regular Jell-O pudding powder could be used as a substitution for the custard layer. I got to thinking… I have made a number of cookie recipes that use pudding mix powder. Why not try it with custard powder instead?

Custard Choc Chip Cookies

I did. They turned out AMAZING. These pictures you see here were done without chilling the dough, which is what I usually do to create thicker cookies. It’s not necessary here, though the dough can still be chilled or frozen for later, if needed.

Custard Choc Chip Cookies

So, what does custard powder or pudding powder do?
– embodies cookies with a richer vanilla flavor
– makes thicker, more cakey result (like corn starch in the dough, but with the flavor oomph)
– seems to keep them fresh longer, too

Whatever your nationality, whatever your powder of choice, give these a try. Live deliciously.

Bready or Not: Custard/Pudding Powder Chocolate Chip Cookies

Custard Choc Chip Cookies

Custard powder or pudding powder in the dough creates a vanilla-rich cookie that will make your taste buds sing. A Bready or Not Original.

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons custard powder or instant vanilla pudding powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 11 ounces (1 bag's worth) chocolate chips/peanut butter chips etc

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, custard powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly blend the dry ingredients with the butter mix. Add the chocolate chips.

Use a tablespoon scoop to place dough onto a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on sheet for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.


  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour +

Custard Choc Chip Cookies

Jun. 28th, 2015

Celestial Goldfish

Sunday Quote loves air conditioning

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

~Stephen King

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Jun. 26th, 2015

Celestial Goldfish

Author Rebecca Roland: The Majesty of Dragons

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Fractured Days

Today I welcome author Rebecca Roland, author of the just-released Fractured Days, the second book in her Shards of History series from World Weaver Press. She’s here today to talk about her love of dragons.

I am one of those fantasy readers who loves dragons. I love Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, I love Temeraire in Naomi Novik’s alternate history series of the same name, and you’d better believe I seriously considered dressing as Daenerys Targaryen for Halloween last year. Dragons are truly awesome. They’re huge, they’re powerful; they breathe fire for crying out loud!

My first encounter with a dragon as a kid was Puff the Magic Dragon. I watched the cartoon endlessly. I knew all the lyrics to the song at one point (I tried singing it right now and after a couple of lines started humming). Puff is one of those stories about growing up and losing the magic of childhood. As a kid, those types of stories always made me sad (and they still do). It’s like losing the part of yourself that thinks of all the possibilities. Part of me saw Puff as a warning against growing up too much, if that makes any sense. I definitely believe in keeping in touch with one’s inner child. Otherwise (and pardon me for sounding a little new agey), you might lose touch of where to find the deepest joy within yourself.

But I think I really fell in love with dragons when I watched The Neverending Story. Falcor was a gentle dragon, and he was furry and cuddly and enjoyed scratches behind his ears like a great big sweet dog. And when Bastian or Atreyu rode on Falcor, I felt like I was flying along with them. That has got to be one of the best advantages of having a large dragon. If you can’t smite your enemies from the air, you can fly away from them quickly.

Since I love dragons so much, I had to include them in my Shards of History series. I didn’t want them to overpower the plot too much, though. As cool as dragons are, I didn’t mean for them to be the focus of the series. They are more like horses in the books. They’re mounts for the Maddion, who use the fire-breathing dragons to their full advantage, striking quickly from the air and inspiring terror in whoever they attack. The dragons can’t communicate like Temeraire, nor are they intelligent like him. If they were, the Maddions’ power would far outweigh that of my antagonists.

Dragons can be beastly, beautiful, enormous, or tiny enough to ride on one’s shoulder. They can be clever or not. Perhaps they breathe fire, or maybe they spit acid instead. They might allow you to ride on their backs, or they might turn you into barbeque and then pick their teeth with your femur. Dragons demand respect and wonder. I always dreamed of having a dragon on the cover of one of my books, and that dream has, at last, come true.

Rebecca is the author of the Shards of History series, The Necromancer’s Inheritance series, and The King of Ash and Bones, and Other Stories. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Nature, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Stupefying Stories, Plasma Frequency, and Every Day Fiction, and she is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. You can find out more about her and her work at or follow her on Twitter at @rebecca_roland.

Fractured Days at World Weaver Press



Rebecca’s Website

Rebecca’s Blog

Jun. 25th, 2015


Heading North by Northwest

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

I’m flying up to Seattle tomorrow to attend Locus Weekend. I AM SO EXCITED. I get to hang out with writer buddies for a few days! It will be torture to be in Seattle for such a brief time, though. I miss that area so much. The greenery. The trees. The seasons. Sigh.

I’ll have a guest post from author Rebecca Roland up tomorrow, too! She’s going to talk DRAGONS.

Here are my other links ‘n things from the week:

The Clockwork Dagger is put to the Page 69 Test to see how representative that page is of the whole book.

RT Book Reviews is excited about my new series Breath of Earth! It gets highlighted as a highly anticipated forthcoming release. Yay!

Jun. 24th, 2015

Celestial Goldfish

Bready or Not: Lemon Loaf Cake

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Let’s finish up CAKE MONTH with something that’s bright, fresh, and perfect for summer!

lemon loaf cake

I modified this King Arthur Flour lemon cake and made it in two gift-size pans, as one was indeed given as a gift to dear family friends who came for a visit. My husband pretty well inhaled the loaf that we kept.

lemon loaf cake

Like last week’s chocolate cream cheese cake, this is the kind of cake that isn’t heavy duty on sweet. It’s really perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Eat it by itself or pair a slice with fruit, ice cream, or whatever else sounds good.

lemon loaf cake

I made this using sour cream, though the original recipe suggested yogurt or buttermilk. I bet this would be amazing with lemon yogurt. MORE LEMONY GOODNESS!

lemon loaf cake

Modified from King Arthur Flour’s Lemon Bread.

Bready or Not: Lemon Loaf Cake

lemon loaf cake

This light and fresh lemon loaf cake is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dessert.

  • Cake
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons (optional, but recommended)
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) sour cream or yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or substitute more lemon juice)
  • 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Glaze
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) white sugar

For the cake: Preheat the oven at 350-degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar till thoroughly combined, followed by the eggs.

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk with the lemon juice, lemon extract, and zest, and set aside.

In a third bowl, prepare the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly add the second and third bowls into the butter mixture until everything is together.

Prepare your pan(s) by applying nonstick spray. Spoon the batter inside. If using a standard bread pan, bake for about 50 minutes; if using two 7x2 paper pans, bake for 30-35 minutes. If using in smaller bread pans, adjust time accordingly. Use the toothpick test to check for doneness.

Remove the cake from the oven, and deeply poke it all over with a chop stick or fork.

For the glaze: Right before the cake is done, whisk together the glaze ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved. While the cake is hot, slowly drizzle the glaze over it, stopping often to let it to soak in.

If you're using regular bread pan(s), let the cake cool in the pan another 15 minutes and then remove the loaf to let it cool completely.

Let cake cool completely before slicing. Wrap it with plastic wrap and store in the fridge or at room temperature. Will keep for at least 3 days.



lemon loaf cake

Jun. 22nd, 2015

Celestial Goldfish

Bready or Not Guest Post: T. Frohock with Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Frohock-IMSToday I welcome T. Frohock, a fellow Harper Voyager Impulse author and a generally awesome person. Her first novella in the Los Nefilim series is In Midnight’s Silence and it is fantastic–I happily blurbed it! Think pre-World War II Spain with angels, demons, and dark machinations. The novella is out tomorrow and it’s only 99-cents.

To get you ready for a good read, here is a healthy, genuine recipe that is something her characters might enjoy.


Okay, bready people, it’s time to shake off those carbs and go for the green!

I have a new series coming out called Los Nefilim, which is set in Spain in the early thirties. While doing research for the novellas, I had to schedule events around mealtimes, because in Spain, lunch (usually held between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.) is the biggest meal of the day. It is a lengthy affair with many courses whereas dinner is a lighter meal usually consisting of the kind of foods that Americans tend to associate with lunch.

When Beth offered her gracious invitation for a guest post, I contacted my friend in Barcelona. Josep suggested a couple of recipes for me: spinach with raisins and pine nuts, or panellets, I chose spinach, because I have a “vintage kitchen.” That means my oven is old. I’m also a lousy baker and sweet potatoes have never appealed to me in any form. However, since this is a bready blog, I’m including a link to panellets, which are cookies or cakes made with sweet potatoes, almonds, and pine nuts. You can find a recipe for them here.

The recipe I’m going to tell you about is spinach with raisins and pine nuts, mainly because we’ve got to balance out all this delicious sweet stuff with something that is good for us.

I searched around online and found this recipe on Leite’s Culinaria blog.

I had a great deal of success with it, so here goes:

1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 teaspoons for the nuts (optional)
1 small onion, chopped (optional), or 3 ounces serrano ham, minced (optional)
2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A short note here: 2 pounds of spinach looks like you’re walking out of the store with enough spinach to feed a small herd of goats. Not so. Like any other green, spinach cooks up small, so be sure you get the full 2 pounds.

Frohock-SpinachRecipe 003I measured everything out and covered the raisins in hot water in order to plump them. Give them about 30 minutes.

While the raisins are soaking, you want to remove the stems from the spinach. Removing the stems took me the longest, so if you’re planning on using this recipe on a weeknight, I’d recommend preparing the spinach over the weekend. Yes, you can probably use frozen, but fresh is the best.

Once the stems are removed, rinse the spinach.

Frohock-SpinachRecipe 0091. Roast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently. This isn’t the time to check your Twitter feed. It only takes about 3 to 5 minutes, and once they start to brown, you can go from brown to burnt in seconds. Pour them into a plate or small bowl to cool.

Frohock-SpinachRecipe 0102. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. If you are using either onion or ham, add them to the oil, stirring often. The onion should be soft and translucent, and the ham lightly colored. Probably 5 to 10 minutes.

Frohock-SpinachRecipe 0123. Add the spinach (with a little of the water still clinging to the leaves). Turn and stir constantly with tongs, until the spinach is wilted and shimmering with oil, about 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Drain the raisins and add to the pan along with the pine nuts. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm.

Frohock-SpinachRecipe 013The olive oil, raisins, and pine nuts take all the bitterness from the spinach and leave it with a rich flavor in addition to giving the dish a nice texture. It was positively delicious, and this from a person who hates eating vegetables. I served the spinach with raisins and pine nuts with roast pork and red potatoes, but the dish would really complement any meat.




T. Frohock
Web site

BIO: T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. Her other publications include everything from novelettes to short stories. She is also the author of the novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is coming from Harper Voyager Impulse and debuts in June 2015 with the novella, In Midnight’s Silence.

T. lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

In Midnight’s Silence (Los Nefilim: Part I): 99 cents everywhere


Barnes and Noble



More about In Midnight’s Silence

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind …

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s IN MIDNIGHT’S SILENCE shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.


Celestial Goldfish

Signing at Changing Hands

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT. At 7pm if I survive the drive into Phoenix, you will find me at the Changing Hands on Camelback Road. You can buy copies of my books, listen to me read a little bit from Crown, and indulge in delicious goodies.

So what is on the menu?

I’m so glad you telepathically asked that question! If all goes well in the kitchen, I plan to serve:
– gluten free caramel brownies
– churro Chex mix
– maple pecan tartlets

The Phoenix Changing Hands is also home to the First Draft Book Bar, so you can buy beer or wine, too!

If you’re in the area, I hope you’re able to come by. I’ll be happy to sign Kindle covers, lunar rocks, and books brought to or bought at Changing Hands.

Jun. 21st, 2015

Londo the editor

Sunday Quote sends out Happy Father’s Day wishes

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

“Sometimes, people who read my work tell me, ‘I like it, but it’s not really science fiction, is it?’ And I always feel like, no, actually, my work is exactly science fiction.”

~ Ted Chiang

This is from a fascinating interview with Mr. Chiang, which can be read here.

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