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July 2016

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Jul. 24th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Sunday Quote lives in hell (aka summertime in Arizona)

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

“A good editor tries to figure out what the writer was trying to do, and helps him or her do it better, rather than trying to change the book into something else entirely. A good editor doesn’t insist, or make changes without permission. Ultimately a writer lives or dies by his words, and he must always have the last word if his work is to retain its integrity.”
~ George R.R. Martin

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Jul. 23rd, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Breath of Earth: Real San Francisco Film Footage, Before and After 1906 Quake

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

This post kicks off a series on the research and worldbuilding for my new book Breath of Earth. There is no avoiding the fact that a major earthquake happens in the book, but the cause is quite different. That said, I still intensively researched the actual earthquake. These are some of the interesting historical tidbits I discovered along the way.

Countdown to Breath of Earth‘s release: ONE MONTH FROM TODAY.

As a native Californian, I grew up with earthquakes. I have seen major devastation firsthand. That’s why I have been drawn to reading about the 1906 quake since I was a kid. I felt the 1989 Bay Area earthquake from some 200 miles away. It made the news footage of that distant destruction all the more eerie and personal.

That, however, was on a small scale compared to what happened in 1906. Below are two films in stark contrast. One is a somewhat posed scene following a mile of Market Street in 1905. The other is footage right after the earthquake in April 1906. These are images I kept in mind as I tried to recapture the horror of what happened 110 years ago.

 

 

 

 

Breath of Earth

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Jul. 22nd, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Bonus Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars. I have my new favorite quick-fix breakfast, and I created the whole thing because of some lovely inspiration from Nuts.com.

They are holding a food blog contest that challenged me to use several of the ingredients they sell through their site. I combined almond flour and macadamia nuts… and also used other items like medjool dates, shredded coconut, and cashews.

Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

When I think of summer snacks, I think 1) no oven on to heat up my house, 2) quick to make amid writing deadlines and my son’s therapies, and 3) DELICIOUS. To me, maple is delicious, and that kind of awesomeness should not be confined to a single season.

Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

These bars blend up in a few minutes in a food processor or high-powered blender. Mash them in a lined loaf pan, let them chill, slice, eat. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. After all, these are packed with vitamins and healthy stuff–and no gluten!

Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

The primary flavors are maple and macadamia infused with white chocolate, with the coconut mild in the background. These are dense in texture. I have made many variations of energy bars/truffles using dates like this, but I have never added almond flour before. Wow. It doesn’t add a strong almond flavor, but it does fill in those nooks and crannies. Everything melds together.

Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

I don’t understand why more people aren’t creating recipes with maple, macadamia nuts, and white chocolate. If someone needs to start the trend, well, I volunteer as tribute.

Thanks again to Nuts.com for asking me to participate in this contest! Recipe prompts, like story prompts, provide a fantastic creative nudge.

Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

Some other energy bars/truffles featured on Bready or Not:
Blueberry Muffin Breakfast Truffles
Chocolate-Coffee Truffles
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Breakfast Bites
Maple Energy Bars/Bites

Bonus Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

A Bready or Not Original! These gluten-free no-bake energy bars mix up in minutes in a food processor or high-powered blender! Maple, macadamia, and white chocolate meld in a glorious way for the perfect breakfast or midday pick-me-up snack. Double the recipe for thicker, heartier bars. Thanks to Nuts.com for inspiring this recipe!

  • 1/3 cup almond flour (or meal)
  • 6 medjool dates, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon maple flavor
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla or white chocolate chips

Prepare a loaf pan by lining the long sides with either waxed paper or parchment paper, with the paper sticking up on either side like a sling.

In a food processor, add the almond flour, chopped dates, coconut, maple syrup, cashews, and most of the macadamia nuts. Set aside the reserved macadamias and white chocolate.

Run the food processor until everything inside is ground down. The mix should stick together if you pinch it between your fingers; if it's not cohesive, drizzle in a tiny amount of water and pulse again.

Add the remaining macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips. Pulse a few times to chop them up a little and distribute them.

Pour into the loaf pan. Use a spatula to compress everything. Chill in fridge for at least an hour.

Use the sling to lift up the macadamia mix. Slice into bars. Store in a sealed container in fridge.

OM NOM NOM!

 

Bready or Not: No-Bake Maple Macadamia Nut Energy Bars (Gluten Free)

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Jul. 20th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Bready or Not: Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

It’s been like a month since I posted a hardcore chocolate recipe on here. Chocoholics have NEEDS. Therefore, here are Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies.

Bready or Not: Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Choice adjectives: Dense. Chocolaty. Rich. Luscious. Pillowy.

Bready or Not: Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Seriously, these are thick in the best kind of way. Pair these cookies with a tall glass of milk or some hot coffee.

Cream cheese is magical when it’s mixed into cake batter or cookie dough. Some past examples include Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound cake and Philly Snickerdoodles.

Bready or Not: Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Modified from How Sweet Eats.

Bready or Not: Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Bready or Not: Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

These cookies are a must for hardcore chocoholics! Cream cheese makes the dough rich and dense. Plan ahead to make these, as they need to chill for a few hours or several days. Using a tablespoon scoop, this makes about 35 cookies.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 cube) butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk and/or semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the cream cheese until combined; it's okay if there are still small clumps. Follow with egg and vanilla extract.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. As soon as everything is incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for a few hours or several days.

Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Using a tablespoon scoop, dole dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit on sheet a few minutes to set before transitioning to a rack to completely cool.

OM NOM NOM!

 

Bready or Not: Double Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

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Jul. 17th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Sunday Quote almost has a kid in 6th grade

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”
~Joss Whedon

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Jul. 15th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Dear Match Game 2016: You [Blanked] Up

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

Dear Match Game 2016,

You’re missing the point.

You’re supposed to be funny, see? Make people laugh? The old 1970s Match Game excelled at that. It oozed with sexual innuendo and double entendre. INNUENDO. That’s key here. They couldn’t directly talk about body parts. They couldn’t draw such things on their cards. No, they had to use their wits. The joy of the show was in the cleverness of it all–puns, Freudian slips, that kind of thing. Wink-wink nudge-nudge say no more, say no more.

breadstick_smYou’re trying to do the same, but you’re preening in your late prime time slot. You want to use that for all it’s worth–after all, other network dramas at that time revel in profanity and nudity these days. So sure, you want to bring out the sexual content, but you lost the thesaurus. The wit has atrophied, revealing a show that is often blatantly crude and obscene.

I’m not laughing. I’m cringing.

The old Match Game pushed the boundaries of obscenity, too. Here’s an amusing thing, though: often it’s even funnier when the content is blurred or bleeped out. We can fill in those blanks and make it into a Mad Lib with custom-tailored waggery. Your new incarnation of Match Game isn’t leaving much room for the imagination.

See, I’m not a prude when it comes to humor. I have many friends who can vouch for my public actions with a flaccid faux breadstick. But see, that breadstick is innuendo. The naughtiness is in the imagination of everyone who passes by. The breadstick itself is quite innocent.

Match Game, you’re not innocent anymore. I think you’re proud of that, too. It’s 2016, right? Damn the censors! We can say what we want! Okay. That’s fine.

I just wish what you were saying was funny.

~Beth Cato

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Jul. 14th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Interview with Bishop O’Connell, author of THE RETURNED

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

I’m happy to welcome fellow Harper Voyager Impulse author Bishop O’Connell! He has a brand new book out in his American Faerie Tale series. You’ll want to start with The Stolen, then The Forgotten, Three Promises, and The Returned. If you love faerie stories (note the spelling), give his books a try!


 

The Returned- You’re well into your series now. Are the books getting harder or easier to write?

That’s a great question. One would assume, myself included, that as you get further into the series it would get easier to write, but that isn’t the case. It isn’t the stories that are hard though. I’ve got plans for several more books. The hard part is the foundation of the stories. Each is part of an overall series, and they do tell a larger tale, but I purposely set out to write each book so they could stand alone as well. I want readers to be able to pick up the series with any book and not be lost. This means that each book needs to summarize the events in the previous books, at least those relevant to the current story or character’s state of mind, without being a full on info dump. This is what is getting hard. I’m currently working on book four in the series, I count Three Promises as book 2.5, which means I have three novels, and at least a short story or two of events I need to include. True, I only need to include what the reader needs to know, but that gets increasingly more difficult as the series goes on. Much of who the characters are at this point is directly driven by events in previous books. It’s a fine line between exposition and info dump. I’m also learning that even if I did intend the series to be read in order, which does allow deeper understanding but isn’t required, that readers probably need to be reminded of events in books they might’ve read two years ago. The story ideas are getting easier though, and I’m really enjoying seeing the characters continue to grow and develop. Unfortunately, as I said, that’s part of why the background stuff is getting so hard to include in a succinct way. Thankfully I work with some really skilled editors who can help with this, and have done a great job. The Returned really is a tight, well-crafted story. In my eminently humble opinion.

- Which character of yours is your absolute favorite?

I’m sure like parents, writers aren’t supposed to favor one character over another…but I do. I just adore Wraith. I have so much fun writing her. She really came to life in The Returned. To the point that she almost seemed to write herself. I love her wit, her snark, and he determination. She’s also a badass, which is fun to write. I really have to say though, it’s her genuine “goodness” I really like. With her, I managed to create a character who has gone through some truly horrific things, but they didn’t break her. In fact, she came out the other end determined to help others, to do good, and try and counter the darkness she sees in the world. It can be hard to write a character like that without them coming off as unrealistic; a Pollyanna or Boy Scout. But Wraith just seems to take to this naturally. She is a genuinely good person. She’s caring, compassionate, but she has a temper and doesn’t suffer injustice lightly.

- This might delve into dangerous territory, but how should people spell “fairy?” Are you currently frothing because I spelled it like that?

*eye twitch, teeth grind* I’m fine.

Seriously, it’s not that big a deal to me. I spell it faerie, from the Irish spelling. For me, it breaks down like this. Fairys are the modern creatures from children’s stories. Think Tinkerbelle. In fact, many people hear the word fairy and think of her specifically. Disney has really done a number of the traditional faerie tale, softening it and making it more kid friendly for modern audiences. Faeries are the creatures from old lore and legends: elves, gnomes, sprites, pixies, dryads, red caps, giants, trolls. I’d even argue that Baba Yaga, and the witches from the old stories are actually faeries. To summarize, if you use fairy with me, I’m going to assume you’re talking about Disney characters and the like. If you use faerie, I’m assuming you’re talking about the real deal. Also, I reserve the right to correct you at every turn. Harry Heckel and I have a lot of fun correcting each other. I humor him even though he is spelling it wrong.

- Let’s talk you. Let’s talk beer. What are some of your favorite brews?

Yes, let’s! I really love beer. I’m long past my days of drinking to excess though. Now I enjoy beer because of the beer itself. The flavor and complexity of brews is a wonderful thing. Personally, I’m like my beers more malt forward over hop forward. I do not like IPAs. To me, it’s like getting hit in the face with a bouquet of flowers when I take a drink. But this is a great time to be a beer fan. There are so many great craft brews out there.

Over all, I love Cumbrian Real Ales. I found these while working in England a few years back. They’re brewed more traditionally, aren’t pasteurized, and are incredibly smooth. The bubbles are so small it’s like drinking water, they are truly refreshing. Sometimes you can find their like here in the states as “cask conditioned” ales. Theakston is my personal favorite and I’ve recently learned Old Peculiar is available in bottles here. Not the same as draught, but pretty good.

I also love me some Guinness, but I’d have my Irish heritage repossessed if I didn’t. The nice thing about Guinness is that it’s not just good to drink, but great for cooking. In fact, I shared my Beef and Guinness Vegetable soup recipe with you. It also mixes nicely with other beers. Most people know black and tans, though don’t ever call them that in Ireland. That’s Harp and Guinness. I prefer a Blacksmith, with is half Guinness, half Smithick’s ale. It also goes nicely with cider. Magners (or Bulmer’s as it’s called in Ireland) makes for a nicely balanced and refreshing summer drink. If you want something fancier, a black velvet is half Guinness, half champagne. They go so nicely with each other, though be warned, they can go to your head very quickly. I know many people who can put several pints of the dark stuff away before they get buzzed who are walking funny after just two or three black velvets.

Ciders are nice as well, I’m partial to Magners, Angry Orchard, and most recently I’ve grown fond of Bold Rock, a local Virginia brewer. Beer wise I like Newcastle Brown, Smithick’s, Boddington’s, Old Speckled Hen, Boulevard wheat, Tennet’s, Sam Adams (especially like their seasonal beers), Shiner Bock, and Harp.

All that said, while working in Indiana I discovered a local brewer called Iron Wood. They’re in Valparaiso and they make some truly amazing beers. Barb, the owner and brewmaster is really gifted. They have an Irish red that is great, and their dopplebock is to die for. She also makes her own mead, and even orange soda with cane sugar. In fact, a shandy of her wheat beer and the orange soda is a nice little treat.

- What writing projects are keeping you busy right now?

I have a couple of irons in the fire as it were. As I said above, I’m working on the next book in the American Faerie Tale series. It’s probably the biggest novel I’ve written, in terms of scope. It’s going to bring together a lot of threads laid out in earlier books and shift the story line pretty substantially. Some big changes are in store for Edward, Caitlin, and Fiona, not all good, and Wraith will find herself in a role, and at level of importance, she never saw coming. My hopes are that it will be released sometime early next year, but don’t hold me to that.

Additionally, I’m rewriting the first novel I finished. It’s a blend of high fantasy and urban fantasy. Meaning it starts in the modern age and then goes back to the middle ages. It’s a tie in to the American Faerie Tale series, and revolves around a character mentioned briefly in The Forgotten. It’s the first book of a trilogy. At first I thought I could get away with doing some edits and tweaks to get it ready for publication, but I learned that I’ve apparently grown quite a bit as a writer since them. This was both a source of pride, and dismay. Knowing I sent that book out to agents in the shape it was in is a little disconcerting, but I’m reworking it and I think it will make a great story.

On my to-do list, I also have a literary fiction piece I need to edit, and a fantasy-western short story I want to expand into a full novel, perhaps its own series. However I’m learning quickly that juggling multiple projects at ones isn’t easy, especially when you have a day job.


About The Returned:

Almost a year after their wedding, and two since their daughter Fiona was rescued from a kidnapping by dark faeries, life has finally settled down for Caitlin and Edward. They maintain a facade of normalcy, but a family being watched over by the fae’s Rogue Court is far from ordinary. Still, it seems the perfect time to go on their long-awaited honeymoon, so they head to New Orleans.

Little do they know, New Orleans is at the center of a territory their Rogue Court guardians hold no sway in, so the Court sends in Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, to watch over them. It’s not long before they discover an otherworldly force is overtaking the city, raising the dead, and they’re drawn into a web of dark magic. At the same time, a secret government agency tasked with protecting the mortal world against the supernatural begins their own investigation of the case. But the culprit may not be the villain everyone expects. Can Wraith, Caitlin, and Edward stop whoever is bringing the vengeful dead back to life before another massacre, and before an innocent is punished for crimes beyond her control?

Order ebook from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

(Paperback release to come!)


 

Bishop O"ConnellBishop O’Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and lover of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, California where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. After wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he settled Richmond VA, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed “visionary” of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint, where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.

 

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Jul. 13th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

Last week I shared Peanut Butter Ecstasy Bars. This week I switch out the peanut butter for a version that tastes even better.

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

The top and bottom layers use cookie butter (Biscoff, Speculoos, whichever!) while the middle layer uses just a touch of Nutella. That combination is luscious. Cookie dough and chocolate. Guh.

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

I mentioned before that the peanut butter version can be crumbly, especially the edge pieces. Well, this new variation is even messier. Karmic balance for the extra deliciousness, right? The middle pieces were a touch gooey, even as the edge pieces pretty much shattered as they were cut.

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

That’s not a bad thing here, though. These pieces are delicious. Lap them up. Save them to top ice cream or yogurt. Just please, don’t let them go to waste.

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

Mind you, they’ll also go to your waist, but that’s a totally separate dilemma.

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

This variation of my Peanut Butter Ecstasy Bars uses Biscoff or Speculoos for the crust and Nutella in the filling for a fantastic cookie dough-chocolate combination. They might be crumbly and messy (especially the edges), but you’ll want to gobble up every morsel.

  • Crust:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Biscoff or Speculoos Cookie Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Filling:
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons Nutella or similar chocolate spread
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix butter, cookie butter, and sugar. Add the vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour. Set aside about 1 cup of the dough, and firmly press the rest into the prepared pan.

Using the same bowl, make the filling. Beat together the eggs, Nutella, and two sugars. Spread this over the unbaked crust. Sprinkle the reserved dough over the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the dough it set and golden. Cool completely in pan. Slice into bars. The bars may be crumbly, especially the edge pieces, but every bit is delicious. Keeps for at least 3 days in a sealed container.

OM NOM NOM!

 

Bready or Not: Biscoff-Nutella Ecstasy Bars

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Jul. 12th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Sirens Anthology Out Today! I Blurbed It!

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

I had a story in FAE, the first book in the Magical Menageries series. The newest book in the sequence doesn’t include my work, but I did get an early copy of it, and I loved it, and I blurbed it!

Sirens_BethCatoBlurb_sm

Sirens are beautiful, dangerous, and musical, whether they come from the sea or the sky. Greek sirens were described as part-bird, part-woman, and Roman sirens more like mermaids, but both had a voice that could captivate and destroy the strongest man. The pages of this book contain the stories of the Sirens of old, but also allow for modern re-imaginings, plucking the sirens out of their natural elements and placing them at a high school football game, or in wartime London, or even into outer space.

Featuring stories by Kelly Sandoval, Amanda Kespohl, L.S. Johnson, Pat Flewwelling, Gabriel F. Cuellar, Randall G. Arnold, Michael Leonberger, V. F. LeSann, Tamsin Showbrook, Simon Kewin, Cat McDonald, Sandra Wickham, K.T. Ivanrest, Adam L. Bealby, Eliza Chan, and Tabitha Lord, these siren songs will both exemplify and defy your expectations.


Buy Sirens at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher, World Weaver Press.


 

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Jul. 10th, 2016

Celestial Goldfish

Sunday Quote requires cheese

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship,
stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
~Philip Pullman

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