Using a Baedeker

Reblogging for the people who saw me speak last weekend…

J. Kathleen Cheney

Book 3, The Shores of Spain, is the first in the series to show my characters traveling across Iberia. And to get the historical details of the travel as correct as I can, I’ve turned to the same book that an American making this trip would have used in 1903…Baedeker’s Handbook for Travelers.

If you’re not familiar with the name “Baedeker” then you probably haven’t read E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, where an entire chapter deals with the heroine’s bafflement after being separated from her Baedeker while in Italy.

Chapter II: In Santa Croce with No Baedeker

Tears of indignation came to Lucy’s eyes partly because Miss Lavish had jilted her, partly because she had taken her Baedeker. How could she find her way home? How could she find her way about in Santa Croce? Her first morning was ruined, and she might…

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Writers and their Beasts: Beth Cato


Today my guest is Beth Cato, Nebula Finalist and Author of the Clockwork Dagger series as well as a new series that debuts in August with Breath of Earth (which I’ve been fortunate enough to read already!)

And today she has a new novella out (which I’ve also read!), another from the Clockwork Dagger world: Final Flight: A Clockwork Dagger Story



Another breathtaking short story from the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, set in the same world…

Captain Hue hoped he was rid of his troubles once Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garrett disembarked from his airship Argus. But he was quickly proved wrong when his ship was commandeered by Caskentian soldiers. He is ordered on a covert and deadly mission by the smarmy Julius Corrado, an elite Clockwork Dagger.

Now Captain Hue must start a mutiny to regain control of his airship, which means putting his entire crew at risk—including his teenage son Sheridan. As the weather worsens and time runs out, it’ll take incredible bravery to bring the Argus down….perhaps for good.

Buy on  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

iconddNow…on to the Beasts!

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pet.

Porom is my cranky old lady cat. She turns sixteen in May; she was diagnosed with kidney and thyroid deficiencies last year, but the medication and low-protein diet have actually made her healthier now than she’s been in years.


We adopted Porom and her brother Palom in June 2000. I had been married all of a month to my Navy sailor husband, and had a hard transition to South Carolina. We were dirt poor–literally living on ramen and cake mix–but we had some spare money, so we adopted two kittens from the SPCA. We all moved to Washington state in 2003, where my two kitties kept me company during deployments and pregnancy, and then to Arizona when my husband became a civilian.

Palom was my buddy cat, the most extroverted, happy cat I have ever known. He developed cancer in 2012 and quickly succumbed. I still miss him every day, though Porom has actually thrived as a solo cat.


2) How does she help/hinder your writing?

Porom likes to hang out near me. Right now, for example, she’s snoring in an Amazon box a few feet from my computer. She’ll demand affection a few times a day, and she is ardent about getting her canned food and medication at exactly 6am and 6pm. Our big cuddle time is before I go to bed. If I’m not in my appropriate chair by 8:30pm, she will find me and scream at me. Once I’m in my chair, with tea and a book, I help her arthritic body make the jump so she can cuddle at my hip.

3) Do they appear in any of your works?

Palom was a major inspiration for the gremlins in my Clockwork Dagger series. Porom was a direct inspiration for a recent story published in Nature: “The Human is Late to Feed the Cat.”

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

Oh, it’s huge. My cats have taught me so much about compassion and love, and those are certainly themes in my writing. My Nebula-nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone is all about saving gremlins from foul experimentation, and that directly goes to my affection for cats and other animals. I will never be one of those people who goes bonkers over babies, but if you bring out kittens? Oh yeah. My book heroines are distinct people, but they do take after me with reactions like that, too.

BethCato-HCV-smBeth Cato 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 numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and THE CLOCKWORK CROWN (an RT Reviewers’ Choice Finalist) from Harper Voyager. Her novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE is a Nebula nominee. BREATH OF EARTH begins a new steampunk series set in an alternate history 1906 San Francisco.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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DFW Writers Conference Schedule

I have my final schedule for the DFWCon, a chance for budding writers to network and learn tools of the trade.  I’ve attached the sessions I’m doing below:



Saturday, 9:00-9:50. Class – Historical Research for Fiction Writers. Room 201C.

Researching for a historical piece? This session covers Historical Research for Fiction Writers: Where to Start, When to Stop, and What to Do When You Mess Up

 Saturday, 11:00-11:50. Panel – It’s Your Public, Deal With It. Room 202C.

The best ways to deal with fans, social media, book signings, blog tours, guest blogging, etc.

  • Moderator: J. Kathleen Cheney
  • Panelists: Bonnie Stufflebeam, Harry Hunsicker, Jamie Harrington, Lindsay Cummings


Sunday, 4:00-4:50. Workshop – So Here’s My Problem. Room 202B.

You’ll be part of a group of instructors that will help writers with whatever writing challenge they bring to the table. Each of the FOUR writers will have 11 minutes to discuss their problem and receive feedback from the instructors.

  • Moderator: Harry Hall
  • Panelists: Kay Honeyman, J. Kathleen Cheney, Anna Davis, Eric Smith, Jenny Martin



If you’re going to be there, I hope I see you! Please stop by and say hi!




I will be presenting a session on Historical Research this weekend at the DFW Writer’s Conference (as well as participating on a couple of other panels.)

I have a Goodreads Giveaway ending tomorrow for 2 paperback copies of The Seer’s Choice, and I’ll have a giveaway starting tomorrow for 2 paperback copies of Iron Shoes.

And I also have a Giveaway running over on Amazon for Kindle copies of Iron Shoes. So if you’re a Kindle person, you can try there.


For Patreon supporters, I’m almost to the end of the rough draft of After the War, so you’ll probably see the penultimate chapter on the 1st, and then the final on 6/1.  (And my cover artist is working toward a cover on 6/15.)

Finally, I’m still working on The Horn in my spare time. I’ll post a little more from this weekend’s work in a while (I’ve got roofing issues that have kept me busy, so there’s not much.)

For anyone who’s following The Horn, it’s a novella series that I’m working on, set in the Dreaming Death world, but taking place in the months before the events of that story. It entails a mystery that’s unfolding in front of the Horn Family and the House of Horn–which aren’t actually separate–involving a stranger they find on their land who claims to be hunting for the abandoned Fortress (Salonen.)

If all goes as planned, I may end up with 2 or 3 novellas, tentatively titled The Horn: Oathbreaker; The Horn: Original, and The Horn: Something Else that Starts with O. 

If you’re reading The Horn as I add bits, then you’re actually seeing what I call a Zero Draft, because I usually show that draft to 0 people. This is truly an experiment for me.

I can already foresee problems, since I have a character named Nora and one named Nohr.  So there are likely to be name changes ahead.  And there definitely needs to be more description. And I need to get someone to check some technical aspects (I can research glaciers, but I’ve never been on one.)

So that’s what’s going on in my sphere….I hope you’re having fun visiting.








Kindle #Giveaway for Iron Shoes

I’m currently running my first Amazon GiveIronShoes_Draft2DigitalFinal (2)away contest for 3 kindle copies of the new Iron Shoes: Tales from Hawk’s Folly Farm.
To enter, click on the cover picture and it will take you to the page, You have to click through and click a follow (me) button, but then you’ll be entered.  The response will be immediate, so you’ll know if you won right away.

(Very interesting process.)

For those who don’t win, I’ll be running a Goodreads Giveaway for a paperback copy starting next week…so don’t despair!

And thanks for giving it a try!



Now in Paperback (almost), plus signing…

Aha! Now I have a page for the paperback!

One of the things I’ve been working on is getting my old ebooks reformatted and making them available in paperback. Below you can see the final cover for my redone book: Iron Shoes: Tales from Hawk’s Folly Farm.  

IronShoes_Draft2DigitalFinal (2)

This new book includes all three of the Hawk’s Folly Farm novellas in one book. That means my old ebook versions of Iron Shoes, Snow Comes to Hawk’s Folly, and Snowfall have all been taken down.

This book is also going to be available from Createspace, and I’ll put the link here as soon as it works its way through the Amazon system. The new book is also available via Smashwords and will eventually hit other ebook retailers like B&N and Apple. (This is always a tortured process.)

With three novellas, this book turns out to be 380 pages, and therefore, the price runs a bit higher. It will be 13.99 in paperback and  3.99 for the ebook. (I hope to figure out how to do coupons later, but right now I’ve got other fish to fry.)


In addition, The Seer’s Choice has made it through to a few more vendors including Barnes and Noble and Kobo. And Amazon has linked up the page from one to another, making it possible to see the reviews on the paperback’s page!

I will also be running a Goodreads Giveaway for TSC starting in about a week, so I’ll link that here.


Finally, a reminder for anyone in the Houston area that I will be at Murder by the Book this Saturday at 4:30 pm for a signing with the amazing Martha Wells!  So please come down and chat with me while Martha signs books!