Release week. It is always crazy, but this week has been especially so with WorldCon, travel woes getting home, a migraine, and family visit. I’ve been preparing for this for months (thank goodness!) and now that work is suddenly visible in the form of guest blogs and interviews all over the place.
– A bit of banter between Ingrid and Cy is featured at USA Today’s Happily Ever After.
Reviews that made me squeal:
– NPR.org reviewed Breath of Earth, saying: “Cato’s exhaustive research of the time and place gives the book texture and grit, and she hasn’t whitewashed what was a very problematic chapter of America’s history… It may take place in an alternate universe over a hundred years ago, but it deals with the issues of xenophobia, racism, sexism and anti-immigrant hatred set against a backdrop of perpetual war, a situation that feels familiar today. Rather than taking a soapbox stand, Breath of Earth makes its points as a witty, charming adventure yarn — one that’s only as escapist as you want to be.”
– The B&N Scifi & Fantasy Blog: “While the set-pieces are often spectacular and fantastic, the world- building is the real show-stopping effort. This is not just a dirigible ride for the fun of it (though it is fun), but a journey with meaning and purpose.”
– Included in The Verge’s list of best science fiction and fantasy books coming out in August.
– Highlighted by among B&N Bookseller’s Picks: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of August 2016.
– Included on Goodread’s 7 Great Books Hitting Shelves Today.
– Beth Cato faced her fears to level up with third novel, ‘Breath of Earth’ in the Arizona Republic; interview with Michael Senft
– Lock Up Your Batmans: Interview with Beth Cato at Smashed Picket Fences
– MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape interview on Breath of Earth
– Tuesdays with Lexie: Beth Cato
– A Breath of Earth by Beth Cato: interview with Ingrid Carmichael
– Beth Cato talks changing history and more in ‘Breath of Earth’ with Hypable
– Breath of Earth author Beth Cato talks historic San Fran earthquakes and … foxes? with Sara Dobie Bauer
– John Scalzi’s Big Idea: Breath of Earth
– My Favorite Bit: Breath of Earth, with Mary Robinette Kowal
– Kitsune and the Game of Kitsune-Ken for T. Frohock’s Folklore Thursday
– 5 Things Beth Cato Learned By Her Third Book at Dan Koboldt’s site
– Unlikely Influences: What Beth Cato Learned About Magic by Living Through Earthquakes
– Rewriting the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake at Alternate History Weekly Update
– Geomancy in Breath of Earth at Mighty Thor JRS’s SFF Blog
– Researching the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
– Book Bites with Fran Wilde – Shokupan (Milk Loaf Bread) from Beth Cato
– Katherine Harbour’s The Awesomeness of… series with: The Awesomeness of Home
– Cookies and a Book: Earl Grey Shortbread and Breath of Earth with Beth Cato
CAKE + PIE MONTH continues with another dose of maple–this time in the glaze atop this tender cinnamon-filled bundt cake!
If you don’t have maple flavor around, worry not. This cake will be just fine if you use vanilla extract instead. You could always add more cinnamon into the glaze, too, just for a spicy boost.
I love using sour cream in cake batter like this. It creates such a tender, moist texture. You can always substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream, too.
I spied the original version of this recipe in the Arizona Republic one morning. I knew I had to make it… but I also knew it needed some modifications. How could it be called a cinnamon coffee cake if it only had one teaspoon of cinnamon? Nope, nope. And of course, I had to give it a maple glaze.
If you’re getting burned out on maple (*cough*blasphemy*cough*), worry not. Next week, I finish off Cake + Pie Month with Cardamom Coffee Pound Cake! Unlike this week’s recipe, the pound cake actually includes coffee in the batter and in the glaze.
But, you know, I think this week’s recipe has a mighty fine glaze as it is.
Modified from Sour Cream Cinnamon Coffee Cake in the Arizona Republic, March 16, 2016.
Today is the day! Breath of Earth is officially out in the world. YAAAAAY!
Alt history. Steampunk. Magical creatures. Cataclysmic earthquakes. This book has it ALL. (FYI: If you want to join the Fenris Fan Club, contact Lexie Dunne. She’s president.)
You can buy the book anywhere. If you request it from your local bookstore, that’s awesome because they might get extra copies. All the usual places around the internet are stocking it, too! Trade paperback and ebook, whatever suits your fancy.
Thank you for your support. Really and truly. I hope you enjoy the book!
Breath of Earth is officially out tomorrow, but if you’re in Scottsdale tonight at Poisoned Pen Book Store, you can get your copy a day early and get it signed, too! They’ll have my Clockwork Dagger books as well–or you can bring copies you already own. I’ll be happy to sign them.
Rumor has it there might be cookies available.
This post is part of a series on the research and worldbuilding for my new book Breath of Earth. The first part, on actual film footage of San Francisco before and after the quake, can be viewed here.
Countdown to Breath of Earth‘s release: FIVE DAYS.
When modifying a map, it’s sure nice to have a template as a base. Many historical maps are available online, but it can be quite a challenge to find ones that are high res. I was lucky when it came to my research on the city of San Francisco. It was such a large, famous city–and there is so much interest around it before and after the earthquake–that I was able to find a fantastic high res map at a genealogy website.
Breath of Earth is alt history, but I still want it as accurate as possible. That meant I also wanted cable car lines to drive down the correct streets. I found maps to depict that as well.
I took my base map and printed it across six sheets of paper. I mounted those together on a poster board and had it laminated at Fed Ex Kinkos. The lamination gave me a surface on which I could use dry erase markers.
This is when my brain almost broke.
See, my base map is at a very weird angle. It actually views San Francisco from the southeast–and the streets aren’t at the correct angles, either. ARGH. I had to try to combine these two maps while not giving myself a migraine. I also referenced Google Maps quite often to help me orient myself.
Once that was done, I had to figure out where to place other landmarks in the book like the Cordilleran Auxiliary, Cy and Fenris’s workshop, and the houses of important characters like Ingrid and Mr. Sakaguchi, Warden Calhoun, and Warden Thornton. Again, Google Maps–especially Street View–were essential here, and as I edited as well. If Ingrid was described as walking uphill, I wanted to make sure she was actually walking uphill! I also added an important element of my book world: airship mooring masts. I blocked off important neighborhoods like Chinatown, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, and the Barbary Coast.
This map has adorned my office for over three years now.
This pie is my own original creation. I hacked together three existing recipes and amped up the maple to make something totally new. When I told my husband about how I melded everything, he said, “Oh, so it’s a Voltron pie.” That’s now our nickname for this Maple Apple Pie.
Maple sugar is the key ingredient in every step, but it’s just enough to embody the flavor without it going overkill. I highly recommend buying a big ol’ container of maple sugar–trust me, if you want to follow along with my recipes, you’ll go through it eventually. This is the brand I use:
The most amazing thing about this? The filling sauce. I borrowed and modified it from a pear galette recipe (which I’ll feature this fall) from the cookbook Maple. It’s really more like a paste in texture, grainy and strong with a lovely combo of maple and lemon. You’ll want to lick the bowl.
This pie smells glorious. It’s like autumn, Thanksgiving, Christmas. And the taste… well. My husband adores my Caramel Apple Pie and considers it his all-time favorite.
Or it was, until he had Voltron Pie.
That’s right. This maple-filled pie is the new champion in the Cato household.
I’ll be at WorldCon in Kansas City, Missouri from August 17th to 21st. I have a whole bunch of panels lined up, so if you are there, come find me! As long as I’m not in a crazy rush or in the bathroom, I’m okay with pausing to sign books most anytime, too.
Also, big news: I’m doing a release event for Breath of Earth on Saturday the 20th and my publisher is hosting a free continental breakfast! It’ll be at 10:30 AM at the Central Library, just a few blocks north of the convention center and hotels. I’ll talk books with Becky Chambers, author of the wonderfully cozy The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (seriously, this is one of my favorite scifi reads in recent years). This will be the first time that Breath of Earth will be up for sale!
Thursday Aug 18, 2016
Friday Aug 19, 2016
Saturday Aug 20, 2016
I’m happy to welcome fellow Harper Voyager steampunk author Brooke Johnson today! Her newest novel, The Guild Conspiracy, came out this past Tuesday, and continues her Chroniker City series.
When people think of steampunk, they usually think of the Victorian Era—bustles, corsets, rose-tinted glasses, gas lamps, parasols, and da Vinci-esque contraptions made of clockwork and steam—and for good reason. The romantic flair of nineteenth century Victorian Britain is the steampunk genre’s bread and butter.
Most modern steampunk is set in the prim and proper sociopolitical atmosphere of the Victorian British Empire, with daring heroines who face all manner of dark creatures and machines within the pages of their respective books. There’s a certain romantic quality to a strong-minded woman trying to make her way in man’s world, with sensibilities more fitting for the modern world than the straight-laced rigors of nineteenth century society—and yet, still relevant in the oppressive patriarchal society of today.
Here are women far braver and cleverer than those of us reading their stories. They inspire us to do better, to be better, because for all our troubles as women in the world today, the heroines of Victorian fiction have much greater obstacles to face—and that’s not counting the vampires, werewolves, governments, and conspiracies they take down along the way. Their problems are the same as ours: the trivialization of all things feminine, the disregard for women’s rights, the inequality between genders, the expectations of beauty, and the apparent necessity to appeal to the male gaze. For all our “social progress” since the 1800s, these same problems are relevant today, and seeing these steampunk heroines act against the injustices of their time, however small their actions may seem, or how insignificant their accomplishments are in the grand scheme of things, they refuse to sit by and let things continue as they are. They seek to change the world, to carve a place for themselves in a world where they are looked upon as the inferior sex.
It’s inspiring to read about their journeys, to see a part of ourselves in those characters and connect with them through their trials. Through them, we can dare to dream, dare to hope, dare to aspire to greater things.
That was my goal when I wrote The Brass Giant, the first book in the Chroniker City series. The main character of The Brass Giant and The Guild Conspiracy is a young female engineer who is forbidden to join the Guild—an exclusive brotherhood of engineering elite—for the sole reason that she is a girl. Despite that, she tries anyway, going so far as to risk treason to get one step closer to seeing her dreams realized. In a world where all the odds are stacked against her, she doesn’t give up, even when she fails, and to me, that’s admirable—even if it does get her into loads of trouble.
So, why do I love the heroines of Victorian steampunk? Because they are stronger, braver, and cleverer than me. They inspire me to be a better person, to stand up to the injustices of the world and make this world, this time-period, a better place for the generations to come—even if all I ever do is put pen to paper. I can only hope that my words inspire a young girl to dare to follow her dreams, to be unafraid of what the world may throw at her, and to show her that she deserves a place in the world just as much as any man.
Where to buy The Guild Conspiracy:
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Brooke Johnson is a stay-at-home mom and tea-loving author. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she journeys through life with her husband, daughter, and dog. She currently resides in Northwest Arkansas but hopes one day to live somewhere a bit more mountainous.