Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

I am thrilled to host author Beth Cato again (see her original visit here). This time she is visiting because she is launching a new book on September 16.   She is an amazing cook as well as author, and is sharing a great bread recipe with us. Read below for the recipe and a peek at her new book, The Clockwork Dagger.

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Hi! I’m Beth Cato. I’m here to share some carbohydrate delight and to introduce you to my book.

My debut novel, THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, comes out September 16th from Harper Voyager. It’s a steampunk novel with airships, espionage, and a world tree that seriously plays favorites. Here’s the back cover summary:

 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.

 You can also read the full first chapter over at Tor.com

It can be found at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most any independent bookstore.

Now, on to the bread!

I’m an author, but I’m also somewhat infamous for my baking. Every Wednesday over at my site, I post a new recipe in my Bready or Not series.

Shokupan is known in Japan as a super-soft white bread. That’s exactly what this recipe makes. The bread may be soft, but it’s also strong, and holds up well to tough stuff like peanut butter. This is one of my favorite sandwich breads, and it’s a great way to use up milk.

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Milk Shokupan (Japanese-style white sandwich bread)

modified from La Fuji Mama

Ingredients:

3 1/3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup white sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups milk
Butter to brush on top, optional

1) Measure out the milk and warm it in the microwave until it’s about 90-100 degrees.

2) If you’re using a bread machine, add the ingredients in the recommended order and run on dough cycle or full bread mode. I prefer to do dough cycle and bake in the oven. If you’re using a stand mixer, blend milk and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine gluten, flour, salt, and yeast. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and knead with a dough hook.

Either method: Keep an eye on the texture. If it’s wet or too tacky, add more flour. If it’s too dry, splash in a tiny bit more milk as needed.

2) Let dough rise until it has doubled, 1-2 hours. Grease or non-stick spray a bread pan.

3) Lightly grease a surface and dump your dough onto it. With your greased hands, form the dough into a loaf shape by gently folding. Set in the pan–or glop it in, and smooth it out (that’s still a professional method, I think). Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or a shower cap.

4) Let dough rise in a warm spot until it’s crested to desired height, 30-60 minutes. Watch it. If the dough is heavier on milk, it will give it less structure as it rises, and it could overflow the pan.

5) Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

6) Bake bread for 20 minutes. Cover the top with foil to prevent heavy browning, then bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. When it’s done, it’ll sound hollow when tapped.

7) Remove bread from oven and hold it over a rack so it will gently drop out; use a spatula to carefully loosen it, if needed. If you want, you can brushed the top with some butter to soften the crust and give it a shine.

Let the bread cool at least 45 minutes before cutting. Also, you can let it cool completely and then wrap it several layers of plastic wrap before placing it in the freezer. Keeps well in freezer up to one month.

OM NOM NOM.

BethCato-steampunk-headshot100x150Beth Cato’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

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Submitomancy – Supporting Each Other


Please welcome Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, today’s Guest Blogger.  Sylvia is leading a project to create a submissions tracker and market research engine for writers called Submitomancy. The free level will allow all of us to track submissions and find markets in an easy, organized way.  I asked her to tell us about one of the many special aspects of the paid level.  The start-up is a crowd-funded effort – please join me in getting this project off the ground!

Supporting Each Other

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Writing can be lonely work. When I started thinking about creating a one-stop-shop for manuscript and submitting process, I wondered if it could be used for motivation too.

There are a lot of great resources for writers online and I really love the message boards and forums that I am a member of (too many). There are a many options for discussion and I don’t think that needs adding to.

But there’s a basic solidarity in numbers that can be comforting. I feel really motivated by seeing Lee’s updates, especially over the past year when she’s been writing a flash story every week. I’d love to see constant updates from Lee for my own  inspiration but I also know that keeping up a blog is hard work.

The problem is, even though I’m not in the top tier, I know that I write a lot, I submit a lot and I get rejected a lot. If I post all my submissions, I worry that it sounds like I’m bragging. If I post all my rejections, I feel like I’m whining. I hate worrying about whether I’m dominating a forum by posting too much. I don’t want people to feel like they have to respond. I don’t want to bore my non-writerly friends with the minutia of my writing life.

It seems likely that I’m not the only person that feels this way. And that’s what got me thinking.

When I do exercise, I post my work-out on a fitness website. My friends on the website see what I’ve done and leave one-click messages of encouragement, which helps, in a small way, to make me want to go out and do it again. Whether the system calls them likes, +1, props or woots, the idea is the same. Someone has seen my effort and acknowledged it and that makes me smile.

So how could that work from a writing point of view?

What I envisage is that paying members of the service receive a social plug in option. This allows for quick updates to be broadcast on demand. It’s a little bit complicated but here’s how I think it would work…

First of all, I have to be able to add other users as my friends, which creates a private group exclusive to me. When I enter a new piece, I’ll be prompted to post it as a status update, either publicly or privately to my group of friends. They can quickly congratulate me but it also gives someone like Lee a chance to contact me if she wants to recommend a market that she thinks would be a good match. A status update showing my latest submission can build solidarity. And although rejections are never fun, sharing them with a select group of friends can help to ease the sting.

The user tracking will also give you updates as you progress. So you might get a pop-up window when you reach ten pieces out for consideration or when you’ve reached your 100th submission. The details of these milestones will be discussed with the Early Access users but the point is to help you see your progress and to give you the opportunity to share it.

The important point here is that no update would ever happen automatically. My feeling is that no one wants to read an automated feed. So for every action you take that warrants an update, you’ll be asked if you would like to share it and whether you’d like that update to be private or public.

My goal is to make it quick and easy to share and respond to progress updates so that we are all just a little bit less alone. That might not seem an obvious feature for a submission tracker, but it is one that is important to me.

Right now, Submitomancy is just a dream. I’ve put together an Indiegogo campaign to work out whether there is enough interest in the writing community to move forward. If you think the world would be a better place if Submitomancy existed, then please support the Indiegogo campaign and tell your friends.

http://www.indiegogo.com/submitomancy/