Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5 Surprises As a Debut Novelist (A Guest Post by Beth Cato)

This morning's post comes from the awesome Beth Cato, whose debut novel The Clockwork Dagger comes out on September 16th. Everyone go buy it!

Beth 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 number-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

Beth's short fiction can be found in Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many other magazines. The Clockwork Dagger is her first novel. The sequel, The Clockwork Crown, will be released in 2015.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato. Thanks for stopping by, Beth!

5 Surprises As a Debut Novelist

by Beth Cato

My lifelong dream is coming true. I'm going to be a published novelist. My steampunk fantasy novel The Clockwork Dagger is released by Harper Voyager on September 16th.

The road to publication has been a very educational experience. Here are five surprises, good and bad, that I've encountered over recent months.

5) People often ask about the movie.

"When does the movie come out?" is the first reaction of people about 1/3 of the time. Some folks are genuinely surprised that I have no control over this. But then, some folks wonder if I'm a millionaire now. Um, no. I'm pretty happy as a thousandaire, though.

4) Sometimes you do get a say in your cover.

I have read for years that most authors do not get to participate at all in the book cover creation process. I braced myself for this same fate. To my surprise and delight, Harper Voyager asked my feedback every step of the way. This is something that really depends on the editor and imprint, and I was blessed. Plus, my cover is gorgeous!

3) Nothing happens, then everything happens.

Writers know that the publishing industry is all about "hurry up and wait." Book publishers bring that to a whole new level. I will hear nothing about my book for months, and then, surprise! Here's a galley from UPS, and it's due back within two weeks! And answer all these questions for us ASAP! And do this! And that! *cue me panicking and doing all the things*

2) Agents are a godsend.

People focus on the necessity of having an agent to handle contract negotiations, but good agents are there every step of the way. If I have a concern, if I need a deadline tweaked, if my ego needs a salve, my agent is there.

1) Advanced Reader Copies are better than a pet rock.

A book with your name on the cover is very huggable. It likes to be carried around the house and to attend parties and to sit within arm's reach. Holding that book is the most amazing feeling in the world. Even knowing that this has been coming for months, I still get giggly sometimes and think, "This is really real!" It will be even more real soon when I have the real copies in hand. Wow.

The Clockwork Dagger comes out on September 16th. You can read the full first chapter at

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My London WorldCon (LonCon 3) Schedule

In a couple of weeks, I'll be attending LonCon 3, the 72nd annual WorldCon (and my first). Last week, they officially announced their programming schedule, and I'm pleased to say I'll be on a couple of panels. In addition to participating in the stuff below, I'll be bouncing around the con in a dizzy haze, pulling my hair out trying to decide which awesome thing to see at pretty much any given time.

Feel free to keep an eye out for me if you're going. My wife will be with me in London, but she's a muggle, so I'll be attending the con all by my lonesome. In other words, friendly company will be welcome. Not to mention this is my first time paneling, so I'd appreciate the moral support! Come say hi.

SFWA Reception

Friday 7:00pm

This doesn't appear to be an item on the official program (yet?), but SFWA is hosting a reception for members on Friday evening. I plan to attend.

From Indie to AAA

Saturday 4:30pm, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

Should Indie games aim for AAA status, or are they better off as a forum for arts and creative development? Can the two live together?

Sylvia Wrigley, Gemma Thomson, Colin Harvey, James Swallow, J.W. Alden

Lizard Wizards in Space! Bethesda vs Bioware

Sunday 11:00am, Capital Suite 1 (ExCeL)

Panel examining the impact of Bioware and Bethesda videogames on recent gaming experiences. Baldur's Gate, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Skyrim have all advanced player experiences in games, providing us with rich worlds, exciting possibilities and diverse characters to play. Both companies pride themselves on allowing the player to choose their own pathway through the game, and to experience each world on their own terms. This panel investigates the strengths and weakness of these games, and looks at the ways they are influencing play.

Jenni Hill, Sylvia Wrigley, L. M. Myles, Ashley M.L. Brown, J.W. Alden

As you can see, both of my panels are related to video games. You might think I'd prefer to be on panels related to SFF or writing/publishing, but this is actually kind of a relief. As I mentioned above, this will be my first time as a panelist, and I feel very much like I'm jumping into the deep end. But talking about video games will make it easier for me to just nerd out up there without much impostor syndrome kicking in. Plus it means my "panel research" has consisted of playing Mass Effect, Skyrim, and a bunch of awesome indie games. So there's that.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Read "The Unworthy" in Fantasy Scroll Magazine

The second issue of Fantasy Scroll Magazine hit the interweb today, featuring a flash piece of mine called "The Unworthy." Along with my story, you'll find great stuff by Mike Resnick, Brandon Barrows, and many other fine folks. They also pack each issue with author interviews, book and movie reviews, and more.

You can read the issue for free at the link above, but if you'd like to support the efforts of a brand new fantasy and science fiction magazine, you can purchase a copy for your mobile reader device of choice, or even set up a subscription.

"The Unworthy" is a fantasy story of mine told from the perspective of a divine creature taking measure of his creation. Fantasy Scroll Magazine interviewed me in March when they were running their Kickstarter campaign, and they asked me about the story. This is what I had to say back then:

When I was a kid, I saw an HBO movie called Cast a Deadly Spell. At the end of this movie (spoiler alert, circa 1991), the bad guy summons this giant, Lovecraftian monster. This was long before I'd read anything by Lovecraft, so the homage was lost on me back then. But for some reason, I felt strangely sympathetic toward this bestial horror, even when it started eating people. I couldn't help but wonder what was going through this powerful entity's mind. It had presumably been minding its own business, then suddenly found itself on Earth with these odd little beings staring up at it in terror and awe. This thought was the seed that eventually sprouted into The Unworthy, decades later.

If it sounds like it's up your alley, I hope you'll give it a read. If not, there's probably something else you'll enjoy in FSM.

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