Lock Up Your Batmans: Interview with Beth Cato

Hey all! Tina here. Tomorrow I’m headed out to Kansas City, MO for WorldCon. BUT before I go I wanted to share a little something. Recently, I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Beth Cato who will have a book release on August 23rd, Breath of Earth. WHICH YOU SHOULD ALL TOTALLY BUY.

I first learned about what an awesome storyteller Beth is after I read her book Clockwork Dagger. It’s a fabulous Steampunk that also echoes a lot of second world fantasy–the world building is that rich. It also has some really fun characters that will have you reaching for the second book (Clockwork Crown) as soon as you finish the first. And as of today, August 15th, 2016–It looks like there is some kind of special on the books, so they’re at a really low price!

After releasing her first series, Beth grabbed the attention of a lot of readers and also was recognized for a Locus Award and Nebula nomination. I would love to be her when I grow up! Also, I see her as a big sister of sorts as we share the same agent. So, we’re ‘agent siblings.’

Anyway, I’m such a huge fan of Beth and so I emailed her to ask if she would answer a few questions and she said YES!!

*throws confetti*

WARNING this is not your mother’s interview questions. We had a lot of fun with it.

Interview with the Fabulous and Hip Beth Cato

1. I’m sure you’ve played this game before. You must choose to link each of these choices to each of the following (Ex. Who on the list would you kiss, who on the list would you marry, who on the list would you kill/vaporize with a laser beam, or send to another dimension):

Kiss, Marry, Kill

Adult Harry Potter, Mr. Darcy, Batman

Kiss: Batman
Marry: Adult Harry Potter
Kill/Zap to Alternate Dimension: Mr. Darcy (but I might steal his period clothes first)

2. Tell me about a book you wish could be never ending.

Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway. It’s a novella that came out earlier this year about a boarding school for kids who dropped through portals into other worlds and then returned to Earth. Some of these worlds were in Narnia-like kingdoms while others were darker or more scifi, and some of these kids lived out whole adult lifetimes on the other side. The psychological repercussions of that are deep. The whole concept of the book is brilliant, but the execution of it is profound, and for me, personally relevant. I waited years for my own portal to open.

3. Tell me about your Zombie Apocalypse weapon of choice.

Long bow. Distance is a good thing when it comes to zombies with brain cravings.

4. Another game. This one is called “I would never.” Your job is to come with with five items/events/things you would *never* do, but one of them has to be true (as in you actually did it).

I would never:
– jaywalk and be hit by a car as a teenager
– dance in public, ever
– talk to a major rock band on the phone
– bake cookies for my congressman
– sing in front of a thousand people

5. Poof! One of the characters you’ve created in your fiction has just come to life and like Pygmalion is a *real* live human/creature. Who is it and why.

Leaf the gremlin from my Clockwork Dagger books. He’s like a naked green cat with bat wings, adorably hideous. I’d love to give him a big hug! Gremlins are incredibly intelligent but are abused and maligned in my books. They deserve lots more cuddles.

 

Check out Breath of Earth on Sale August 23rd

 

Book description and details:

Breath of Earth
After the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in this fresh fantasy standalone from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

BreathofEarth_500x332

The Outlier Prophecies Frequently Asked Questions

Hey all!

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. *takes it out, dusts it off* Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to.

First of all, I’ve been working on The Outlier Prophecies series. Kate and Becker keep me pretty busy. And if I’m not writing about Kate and Becker, I’m answering questions about them. So, I thought I’d put some of those frequently asked questions below for pure entertainment and so readers who might not wish to contact me can have a place to obsess over these fabulous characters and get the inside scoop.

So here are some frequently asked questions in no particular order:

Q: When does book four come out?

As I type this I got an email asking this exact question…then a Facebook message. Yes, this is my most popular question. It comes out early August. I turned it over to my copy editor and it should be back later this month. I then format it and hopefully if Amazon cooperates it will be available sometime in the first two weeks of August. I’m so excited to get it out and see what readers think. I know I left people hanging on the last one. I figured I get these books out quick enough that it wouldn’t be too bad, right?

Q: Speaking of, you write pretty fast. How many books are in the series?

I’m writing these books fast. I think I’m writing them fast because they are so incredibly fun. And readers love them and that’s highly motivating. I’ve planned six books in the main storyline. There is also a few novellas in the works as add ons. After I finish this story arc, I’ll assess if I want to do another set (which basically correlates to how interested readers seem to be and if the books become more popular), but from beginning to end of the current storyline, I’m planning on six.

The other half of that answer is that I’m planning on writing/publishing them all in a year. I have four done. Book five is being written. I have until March 2017 to reach that goal. So two more books in nine months. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…

Q: What do Kate Hale and Ian Becker look like  (And while you’re at it, Lipski and Ali too)?

I have a pinterest board on that. And the second most asked question is if the model on the cover is a fair representation of Kate–that answer would be not really. Kate (as described in the books) is Filipino, Native American, and Scottish/Irish/Welsh. I see her looking more like Liza Soberano (as you can see on my Pinterest board). My cover designer who is from the Philippines couldn’t find any stock photo models that fit the description and were wearing business attire. Or he found photos of models who were wearing business attire but with a huge smile on their face, like they were selling us something–it didn’t fit the mood for the series or was the wrong pose for what he needed for the cover. It also had to be selling for a reasonable price and available for my cover artist to buy. Stock photos of Native Americans were usually in head dresses or leather jackets. Filipino’s were in traditional garb as well. My hope is that someday we can redo the cover to represent Kate better. Someone who has both her Asian and Native American roots with professional attire.

Q: I love your covers! Who does them?

That would be the talented Christian Bentulan from Covers by Christian.

Q: Who does your editing?

That would be the fabulous award-winning and bestselling writer/editor Alicia Street. And yes, I love her, she is a genius.

Q: The supernatural people in your books are fantastic. Where did you come up with the ideas?

I can’t take credit for any of them. They’re all researched supernatural creatures from cultures around the world. I wanted the supernatural cultures in OUTLIER to mirror our contemporary diversity. I embellish the creatures and details, or take liberties to have them be more human. After all, it’s been years of supernatural interbreeding with each other and humans. So, it does dilute their original form.

Q: There are gay people in your books

Also asked as: There is a typo in your book where character G who is a female has a wife. Or character B has dads and not just one dad, if his mother and father divorced you should explain that.

Er, uh, yes? I guess I missed something here (and those are not typos). There are gay people in my life, so I figured to make the book more realistic there would be gay people. Look, it’s an advanced pagan society and in Kate’s world it’s not as big of a deal there. Sure, there is prejudice (some pagans believe power can only be passed between man to woman, woman to man or whatever), I couldn’t find a way around that for some things.

Q: Do negative reviews bother you?

No. Everyone has a right to state their true opinion. And we all don’t have the same likes/dislikes. I know there are people who like my writing and I focus on them, that’s who I’m writing for. Sometimes the constructive feedback of reviews is helpful. If a lot of people complain about a certain thing (like, say I don’t ground the reader in a scene) I know I need to work on that in that case. So that’s helpful.

Q: What else are you working on?

The Outlier Prophecies book five, of course!

I have an Outlier Prophecy novella from Becker’s POV (takes place between book one and two) that is done and I’m editing it right now.

I’m also working on a diesel punk novel (Diesel Punk: A SF or Fantasy that takes place between WWI and 1950–the time when diesel became a popular fuel). It’s a science fiction that takes place during the Great Depression in a shantytown. The Outlier Prophecies is something I consider a comedy, this book isn’t a comedy.

I’ve also got a few short stories outlined. I also have a contemporary romance novel (definitely a comedy. If you like your romance funny, this will be the book for you) that I will be publishing soonish.

Q: Will Ali get her own book?

Yes! But let me get through the current plans I have now, then I can focus on the mess Ali’s been brewing behind Kate’s back.

Q. Which character are you? Do you base characters on real people?

Short answer is that I don’t base any characters on real live people that I know. I make these characters up! It’s the fun of writing :) None of them are like me, but since I wrote them all I guess they are me in some twisted little way.

You can ask any questions you’d like to know below.

Hakuna Matata

mufasaI love cartoons. I can be just as engaged with a cartoon as I can a real television show or movie. One of my favorites is the Lion King, and over the last month a quote from the movie has been resonating with me.

For those of you who have not seen the movie in a while or (gasp!) have never seen it at all here are some highlights (spoilers to follow). Believing he was the cause of his father’s death, young lion cub prince Simba runs away from home looking for a refuge. He runs across some new friends who introduce him to a hakuna matata way of life(it means no worries). All his basic needs are fulfilled, companionship, relative safety, food, but still something isn’t right. His best friend from childhood discovers his hiding place and tells him his homeland is in dire straits. She begs him to return and fight his uncle for the crown. He refuses, not ready to give up his cushy life, even though he is not completely satisfied.

A scene close to the end is what has been pestering me. Right after he refuses to return, Simba meets up with a spiritual representation of his dad, Mufasa.

Mufasa has to step in to remind Simba of what was really important. He will never be truly happy without being true to himself. He is a prince and has a duty to be king and protect his people.

“Remember who you are.”

The line keeps chasing around in my head.

Of late, I got a new job. It’s a pretty good job, a lot of responsibility, a decent amount of money, but it takes up (forgive the pun) a lion’s share of my waking hours.

The nice part of the deal: I don’t have to worry about having a roof over my head or transportation or food. I’ll be able to help my kids if they need me. But with all the potential vacations, home refinances, and coffee drinks that I didn’t make myself, I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, a port in the storm of life.

Because, this isn’t who I am.

I need to remember who I am down deep in my bones, and when my finances are organized again, when my books start selling to a profit, then I need the courage to return to my own Prideland of being a full-time writer.

I need to be like Simba. He gave up his little paradise to fight for his pride and to become who and what he was born to be. It was not easy, but he did it. I can’t be seduced by all the excuses, of being too tired to write, too weary to query, too exhausted to take a class. I have to stay on the path and fight the fight against my own personal Scar. And not get too addicted to the comfort of having money.

And, I will do it when the time is right.

But until I leave this little port I am going to enjoy the ride… hakuna matata.

Have you ever had to remember who you are? Kick yourself for forgetting what was most important? Please leave a comment. Or just stop in to say ‘hi’.

The Work

I’m tired of writing about motivation and maps and goals. Now, I’m going to write about the work. The daily grind, the nose to the grindstone, feels like torture to get started: WORK.

 

It is hard sitting at a kitchen table with your neck aching and your hands cramping trying to tell a story that is as likely to be adored as it is to be ‘just not the right fit’ for us. It is hard to figure out editing and cover art and self-promotion. It is hard to find an avenue to share your work with the world.

I had decided to go indie until I got a request from an agent who may or may not do one of three things: tell me she isn’t interested, ask to represent me, or not respond at all.

It’s like shooting your infant into outer space. My work is like baby Superman, I guess, and I hope it finds a kindly Jonathan and Martha to take care of it once it reaches its destination.  (sorry my nerd is showing.)

But here I am. Working hard. Waiting. Putting the words on paper. Taking a new job to survive and waiting. Ever waiting. But you know what? That’s ok. Because, I like the writing.

Some acknowledgement would be wonderful.

Some money would be fantastic and freeing.

But I don’t need that to keep writing. The writing itself is the reward. Telling stories that at least my friends will read and that express my creativity, is highly satisfying. Like running. It is a great rush to finish a race and even better to win, but that’s not the point. Running for me is about the process. Like writing, the practice is good for my brain, spirit, and soul.

I’m still planning and hoping to get my words to a wider audience. Heck, self-pubbing in May or June is just as good as February or March, so the end game is still in play. But until then you will find me in the coffee shop. Or at the kitchen table. Or in my car with a notepad. Writing.

Romancing the Null — Sneak Peek

Tina here. Last night I finished formatting and converting Romancing the Null into all the platforms. I’m really close to having it go live and to celebrate I’m going to post the first five pages (which also happens to be the first chapter. HA!! I’m so smart–it’s like I did that on purpose). 

I’m so excited for this book and I really think people are going to love it as much as I do and the people who’ve beta read for me also assure me it’s fantastic. All these things make me really nervous, but a good nervous, not the creepy-guy-in-bar-trying-to-buy-you-a-drink-and-you’re-only-there-to-pick-up-a-drunk-friend kind of nervous. 

 

Enjoy! 

~Tina

Chapter One

The oracle walks into my office ten minutes before I’m set to go home and I know by the not-so-casual glance at the name on my door that he isn’t here for me. He couldn’t be. It’s not my name on my office door.

He fiddles outside my door, waiting to catch my attention. I slouch lower into my chair, wishing I had something to hide behind, but my new office is still barren. Just me, my cheap ergonomic chair that is set to someone else’s height and weight, my laptop computer, and a desk. There’s a pile of broken office supplies, hinting that my office had been used as the junk room before I’d inherited it. I do have a dusty twig that may once have been alive, reaching like a skeleton hand from a chipped pot, but nothing that indicates a homey work space. No glass-blown paperweights, no books aside from the outdated actuary procedurals, not even a scatter of papers and files neatly grouped on my desk. I don’t have enough assigned cases for that yet. I type up the last of the reports from this afternoon, emailing the proper department copies. If I play dumb maybe the oracle will go away.

Week one of working in the Accidental Death Predictions Department was as uneventful as promised.

“It’s not even homicide,” my cousin-next-door, Ali, moaned when I had told her the news a few weeks ago. “So they transferred you from traffic predictions to accidental death?”

“As an actuary for predictions, the more experience I have in multiple departments, the better for my career.” I picked up her scarves and gloves she’d littered around my apartment living room and hung them on the rack. “This transfer is a step in the right direction.”

“It’s not in any direction. It’s a side step, it’s a getting-out-of-the-way step.”

I didn’t understand her lack of enthusiasm until now. Anything would be better than traffic. Considering my two-year stint in traffic was the result of a major mistake, one I’ll never repeat.

Now, at this moment while I’m bored as hell going over the latest oracle recordings and sending out the percentage forecasts that I think could save lives, I see what my cousin must have meant.

Nobody ever thanks their actuary. Everyone glorifies the oracle.

Excuse me, that’s wrong. Some people do love the actuary. Some actuaries. One actuary. Michelle Kitman—rose through the ranks of our profession and became a world-renowned celebrity. She went on several talk shows and spoke with the clients she saved by delivering accurate assessments and statistics of their death predictions. Colleges still use her techniques to teach young mathematicians, called the Kitman Method.

The oracle brushes his hand over her name above my door. Kitman retired a few years ago and her office sat empty. Nobody wanted to take her place or pretend to fill her shoes. I don’t. But due to a severe shortage of office space I was assigned to her old room. The chilly office atmosphere let me know that if I tacked up a “Kate Hale” sign and claimed this office as my own, it would not be a welcomed move.

I should have been honored, except it was a lot like knowing you were a number away from winning the lottery, being born a minute too shy of claiming the “New Year’s baby” title, coming in fourth place at the Olympics. Nobody notices the people who were almost amazing. My history of fuck-ups confirms this theory. And judging by the glares I’ve gotten from my colleagues, I’m not going to rise to Kitman levels of fame anytime soon.

I clear my throat.

The oracle’s hand flutters from the door to his comb-over. He smooths an errant grey hair among a few light browns into place. The hair springs out again as soon as his fingers leave his head. “I’ve never been to the actuary offices. Forgive me for my indulgence.”

I can’t help but smile. I sort of geeked out at her nameplate too the first time I opened that door.

“This isn’t where the magic happens.” I tip my head to the third-eye pin on his lapel designating him as an oracle. “You know that.”

He holds out his hand. “Jack Robert.”

I don’t take it. Don’t touch the oracles is hammered into us from the moment we sign up for a career in predictions. Experts claim it can interfere with their visions. “Can I help you?”

“I have a case, a unique death prediction that only someone of your caliber can decipher.”

Doubtful. I glance at Kitman’s name plaque. I would have removed it to keep these kinds of misunderstandings from happening, if it weren’t for the fact this office is treated like a national monument.

But an oracle, even as flighty and absentminded as they’re known to be, would remember Kitman’s huge retirement party. Maybe he was sent to me for another reason. Maybe this was one last practical joke from Traffic.

“Why me?” I lean back in my chair, analyzing him.

“Why you?” he asks, but in a way that tells me he’s stalling for an answer. Jack presses his hand over his comb-over again and then pulls on the lapels of his coat. He rocks on his feet. His gaze searches the Berber carpet for whatever lie he’s about to feed me. “Ah, you don’t know yet.”

“What don’t I know?”

His lips flutter into a hesitant but knowing grin. I hate it when people hold back information; I want to know everything they know. And so naturally I don’t like oracles.

He inches forward and cups the side of his mouth like it’s a secret just for me. “You’ll soon be the best investigative predictions actuary in Angel’s Peak.”

I cross my arms, trying my hardest not to sound combative. “Says who?”

His mouth gapes open. “I’m an oracle.” It’s the indignation I’ve been waiting for. Jack has finally lined up with my expectations. Oracles are nothing if not self-important drama queens. They’re rarely questioned and so when they are they don’t know how to react.

“Is this an actual vision or a hunch?”

His eyes go wide. “Uh…”

“I’ll save you the trouble, Jack.” I keep my voice low, not wanting the whole office to know my private problems. “I’m a blank. An unpredictable. Fateless. You can’t know I’m any good at water polo let alone my own job. I’m that big blank spot in the oracles’ net and you don’t know I’m going to be anything in any future. I don’t have one that can be predicted.”

He backtracks, fumbling in his pocket. “I didn’t mean…I wasn’t predicting…are you sure?” He sits, a slow lowering into my extra office chair, waiting for my answer like an anxious pet after a toy slipped under the furniture.

“I’ve never once received a prediction. Once I tried to force it.” I clear my throat and look away. I don’t want to get too personal. My parents’ death, although an accident, wasn’t my fault. Not after all these years. When I didn’t get the death prediction like they did, we all assumed it would mean I wasn’t going to be in the car. They thought they were safe as long as I was with them. That turned out to be far from true. I shove the memory away. It has no place here. “Well, let’s just say they couldn’t get a reading on me.”

“A shame.” His worried expression turns to pity. “But it doesn’t mean you’re fateless. That’s rare, and pardon me for inserting, perhaps a bit unusual given your profession. I’m sure that you’d not want that information to get out into the wrong ears.”

My neck shifts three inches back into my collar. He’s right. I can’t afford for that rumor to go around, especially in the Death Department.

I shrug, pretending it doesn’t matter. “Who knows, then?”

He shakes his head in pity. “A terrible handicap.”

I never thought so, until I realized how much I’d felt left out, but I could never admit it out loud and definitely not to an oracle. There were too many hate groups and anti-prediction groups to share those thoughts in mixed company. I shouldn’t have even told him I was a blank. If the higher-ups got wind of it, accidental death would be the farthest up I could ever hope to climb. “It is what it is.”

Jack rolls his fingers on my desk in a staccato rhythm, crosses and uncrosses his legs. He makes a show of tapping his fingers against his pursed mouth. I lace my hands together and hook them over my knee, waiting.

“I’ll hire you anyway.”

“You do realize that the name on the door is not me.”

He waves his hand in front of his face, his eyes closed like he’s fighting off some invisible fly. I’m not exactly sure he’s listened to a word I’ve said. “That’s fine. I don’t care. I want you to work the case. You’re hired.”

“I work for the government and so do you. You can’t exactly hire me for work that is technically my job.”

His eyes dart to my boss’s door—still closed for her lunch. She’s in heated debate with her wife over holiday plans.

“This isn’t connected to the Oracle’s Department, is it?” I guess.

He shakes his head, confirming this case would require me to go off the books. Off radar. And far off from my goal of attempting to not fuck up my first week in a new department.

“This is something separate.”

He doesn’t nod this time, but his eyes don’t leave mine, confirming my assessment.

Jack pulls out a small square paper from his coat and carefully unfolds it. His hands tremble. “The death I asked you to investigate. It’s—” His voice breaks. He swallows. “It’s my own. Someone’s targeting oracles and I’m first on the list.”

~~~

Romancing the Null–Out February 2016

By Tina Gower

There are three kinds of lies. Lies the fates spin as half truths. Lies of destined love. And statistics.

As a fateless, Kate Hale is immune to the first two, but the third kind of lie is her profession. After spending years as an actuary for the Traffic Department, Kate is promoted to Accidental Death Predictions. It’s all she’s worked toward, and her career is finally on track. But when an oracle delivers an impossible death prediction and insists on her help to solve the case, she might lose any chance of impressing the brass.

Her only hope comes in the form of the police liaison assigned to her department, latent werewolf Ian Becker. Becker can grant her the clearance to find answers, but he’s a wild card with a shady past who doesn’t play well with others.

Every prediction has a loophole, but if Kate can’t solve the case before the crime is fated to occur she won’t just lose her job–she’ll have the blood of an oracle on her hands.

HOLY FREAKIN' -- I'M GOING TO PUBLISH THIS. LIKE FOR REALSIES!

HOLY FREAKIN’ — I’M GOING TO PUBLISH THIS. LIKE FOR REALSIES!