Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wings of Sorrow and Bone by Beth Cato

Welcome, Beth Cato ( ), author of The Clockwork Dagger, The Clockwork Crown, & the new novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone (Harper Voyager) to It's All About Story.

1) Describe Wings of Sorrow and Bone in one paragraph.

Two very different teen girls form an unlikely alliance when they stumble upon a politically powerful scientist's laboratory of gremlins. The gremlins are being subjected to cruel experimentation, and Rivka and Tatiana set out to save them. Somehow. However, they have no magic, no clout, and this scientist is one of the wealthiest people in the city-states.

2) What inspired Wings of Sorrow and Bone?

It ties up a major plot thread left dangling in my second book, The Clockwork Crown. This scientist, Balthazar Cody, lost his major experiment in that book, but he remained in power and only continued his cruel efforts. These two other characters, Rivka and Tatiana, didn't know each other in that novel, but I knew events would later place them in the same city. It was a matter of bringing all the pieces together to make this novella.

3) Was the Clockwork series your first work of fiction?

Oh no. I have a whole pile of trunked novels, and quite a few short story and poetry publications as well. I'm always working on something!

4) What song or music piece would you put on a soundtrack for Wings of Sorrow and Bone? The Clockwork duology?

"Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. It feels like a girl power anthem to stick with it by grit and determination. For the full duology, I'd say "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters. I listened to that song on replay as I wrote The Clockwork Crown.

5) Which character in the Clockwork series was easy to write? Which was the most difficult?

I love Octavia in my main books. She's a healer who will do anything she can to save people...but her goodness also makes her vulnerable. One of my most difficult characters features prominently in Wings of Sorrow and Bone; Tatiana is only ten-eleven in the series, but she's brilliant, spoiled, and uses people with the skill of a career politician. She's somewhat of a villain in Clockwork Crown, and the novella gave me the chance to delve into why she is the way she is and make her more nuanced.

6) What is your writing space like? Or can you write anywhere?

I'm in an office full of clutter and junk with a full wall of bookcases behind me. I am not one of those people who can work anywhere. I need space of my own, quiet, with no one hovering around me. I can work on a plane but only if I have family sitting around me as a buffer.

7) Any odd writing habits?

Unlike a lot of writers, I don't drink coffee (though I will bake with it). I get my caffeine through Crystal Light with Caffeine, flavored as grape or strawberry.

8) Do you outline?

I'm a hardcore outliner. I will even outline flash fiction--stories of a thousand words. For my novels, I go all-out with my outlines and color-code the subplots and everything.

9) What are some of your favorite fantasy books? Why?

I can talk about a few of my favorite recent fantasy reads. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho reminds me of my own books--and I've been seriously flattered to see others make that comparison, too. It's set in regency England with two lead characters of color, and magic, and loads of intrigue. It felt light and fun. In contrast, The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson is wickedly smart and very dark. The end left me emotionally gutted. Different books for very different moods, but I'm betting both will feature on the awards short lists in 2016.

10) What is your favorite fictional world, one you'd want to visit?

Can I selfishly say Caskentia from my own books? I've lived there in my head for years now. It's a kingdom that has suffered greatly, but there is still a great deal of beauty to be found there.

11) What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

That the submission-rejection process is all about maintaining momentum. Even rejections are momentum. The story or poem was bouncing around out there, and the trick is to keep that energy going and send it out again as soon as possible.

12) In Wings of Sorrow and Bone or the Clockwork duology, are there any hidden acknowledgements to friends, places you've lived, favorite writers etc;

I have lots of Easter eggs hidden in there. One of the major ones is that the kingdom of Caskentia is based on the geography of Washington state, as if the capital of Mercia is Seattle. Where Octavia is from is the equivalent of the Skagit Valley, complete with tulips. I also include a lot of little tributes to the video games that inspired me as I grew up, like the Final Fantasy series and Secret of Mana.

13) Can you tell us what we have to look forward to after Wings of Sorrow and Bone?

I will have one more Clockwork Dagger short story out in April, and then next summer my brand new steampunk series starts with Breath of Earth. It's alternate history set in 1906 San Francisco, with airships, geomancy, and fantastic creatures. There also just might be a big earthquake.

Thank you, Beth!

"Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella" by Beth Cato
Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella
A few months after the events of The Clockwork Crown...
After being rescued by Octavia Leander from the slums of Caskentia, Rivka Stout is adjusting to her new life in Tamarania. But it’s hard for a blossoming machinist like herself to fit in with proper society, and she’d much rather be tinkering with her tools than at a hoity-toity party any day.
When Rivka stumbles into a laboratory run by the powerful Balthazar Cody, she also discovers a sinister plot involving chimera gremlins and the violent Arena game Warriors. The innocent creatures will end up hurt, or worse, if Rivka doesn’t find a way to stop Mr. Cody. And to do that means she will have to rely on some unexpected new friends.
Available for just 99-cents

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ten Very Scary Foreign Films

It's that time of the year again and here is a list of 10 of my favorite foreign horror films, not in any particular order. Some are scary, some are sad, some are touched with fantasy.

1) THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (English) Werewolves! Based on Angela Carter's novel The Bloody Chamber

2) THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (Spanish) Ghosts and tragedy

3) SUSPIRIA and INFERNO (Italian) Creepy witches and lots of weirdness. Blood

4) THE HAUNTING (NO DO, THE BECKONING) (Spanish) Evil elementals and tragedy

5) THE BABADOOK (Australian) A scary thing from a book becomes real

6) THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (French) The Beast of Gevaudan before the French Revolution

7) VOICES (Japanese) Something insidious infects a schoolgirl's friends and family

8) A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (Korean) Again, ghosts and tragedy

9) OUTCAST (Irish) A gory and modern horror tale about the Tuatha de Danaan and the Fomori.

10) THE HAUNTING OF HELENA (Italian) A gory and modern ghost tale. The Tooth Fairy!

So, enjoy. Just keep the lights on!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Demon Lover

The worst sort of demon lover has been around since storytelling, threaded through myths and folklore, gaining notoriety with the rise of the ballad, where supernatural lovers were lethal: The Elf knight who killed the daughters of seven kings. The devil who disguises himself as a dead husband to drag the bride to hell. The murderous Long Lankin who seduces the family's nanny into helping him kill. And then there are the denizens of fairy tales: the wealthy and charismatic Bluebeard who murdered his wives; the cannibalistic Robber bridegroom who lures young women to a blood-soaked cottage. In Greek myth, Hades, god of the underworld, steals Persephone, the daughter of a nature goddess and convinces her to remain with him for half of every year.

There is the demon lover in disguise, best presented in the form of Eros, the god of love, a force feared by many. Psyche must never see the face of her lover, he warns her. And, when she does, this causes a separation and the need for a quest to, literally, find love. There is the masked Phantom of the Opera, an elegant and tragic figure who haunts Christine the opera singer. In the Scottish ballad 'Tam Lin,' the perilous and seductive faery knight of the title turns out to be mortal after all. Eros is the rich boy with an empty life. The Phantom of the Opera is a talented man who was horribly wronged. Tam Lin was snatched away into a cold spirit realm.

The dark lover who is a beast with a heart of gold is often male, with the exception of Melusine, the half serpent, half woman fairy of the French tale. These beasts also inhabit myths and fairy tales. Zeus takes on the guise of a swan, a bull, and an eagle to seduce his lovers. The white bear in 'East of the Sun and West of the Moon' charms the sisters Rose Red and Snow White. And, of course, there is Beauty's Beast, under an enchantment because he was, formerly, a selfish bastard who angered a faery. The beast isn't wicked, only misunderstood and a little savage. He needs to be tamed.

Gothic literature was where the demon lover really began to thrive. Wuthering Heights' brutal Heathcliff. Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester. Dracula. Keats's La Belle Dame Sans Merci , vampiric and alluring and based on the Greek Lamia. The dark lovers of these tales were forbidding and forbidden. Poets, the rock stars of that age, were in the same category.

The dark lover rules the universe of romance novels as the highlander in the kilt, the turn-of-the century rake, the noble savage, the guy in the band or the motorcycle gang. Like the beast, he always needs to be tamed. Without so much of an edge, he's the mainstay of YA novels. He or she is half human and half Other; vampire, angel, fairy, witch, ghost, alien. (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Cinder by Marissa Meyer.) The thrill of the relationship for the hero/heroine in the YA novel is finding an ally in an otherworldly force. It's empowerment.

In the silent film Phantom of the Opera, the phantom tells Christine, "So that which is good in me, aroused by your purity, may plead for your love." That's the basic tenant of the demon lover: evil attracted to innocence, darkness attracted to light. Apollo, chasing the nymph Daphne, is a devouring force of nature and would burn her to cinders. She knows this, and, to keep from losing herself, she becomes a tree, thus keeping her individuality, for the demon lover offers a loss of self, a return to the wild, an ecstasy of being more than human.

For a superior article on this subject, check out:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Terry Newman, author of Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf

Welcome, Terry Newman, author of Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf (Harper Voyager U.K. to It's All About Story.

Blog: Website:

1) Describe Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf in one paragraph.

Hardboiled detective, noirish, comedy, fantasy, (with steampunk overtones)--a subgenre I hope to make my own--ha! It features hat-wearing Nicely Strongoak, the coolest dwarf detective this side of New Iron Town, who has now taken up residence in The Citadel, a thriving inter-racial metropolis in Widergard where dwarfs, elves, men, wizards, goblins, and gnomes have to rub along as best they can in a modern era of shooters and steam wagons. This is Nicely's first published case and it takes him deep into a murky underworld of corrupt politicians, surfing elves, gangster goblins, and a dead elf nobody seems to want to claim. Crime never went away, you see, and down these mean, cobbled streets a Dwarf just has to walk tall.

2) What inspired Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf?

An 'elf' service petrol station, an extensive hat collection, a very bad electron microscopy conference in Hamburg, a childhood of SFF reading, but most of all a question. The question is this: What exactly did happen in those medieval fantasy worlds that we all love so much after the Big Bad Guy was defeated? Everybody still now has to get on after all and you can't commit genocide. So how would democracy go down there, and the industrial revolution, and as for race relations?! Give it a few thousand years and certain worlds could end up something like Widergard. With pixies of course, why did the pixies never get a mention before?

3) Is this your first work of fiction?

I am tempted to admit that my first work of fiction was when I said it was an alien spacecraft that broke the window of my parent's greenhouse and not my football, but that would be a lie too. As I have been a scriptwriter for a number of years, for stage, radio, TV, and film, prior to A DEAD ELF'S publication, you'd probably expect me to say, 'no, it's not my first work of fiction'. However, A DEAD ELF did really kick all my writing off many, many years ago. I just happened to try the story out for radio first, but the nice BBC producer suggested it would work better as a novel. Cue: Calendar Pages Being Ripped off--One hell of a lot of pages!

4) What song or music piece would you put on a soundtrack for Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf?

This one is easy, because Nicely actually has his own theme song! You can hear 'Nicely's theme' behind the book trailer here It may not be what you were expecting, but that's kind of 'Nicely' for you.

Please note--certain other dwarfs (e.g. Ginger Oliver Groundstroke) would like it to be known here that they have not time for anything without very loud drums and a lot of brass and large ladies singing in leatherwear. More contemporary than that? Try 'Attack Music' by These New Puritans or 'We Want War' by same

5) Which character was easy to write? Which was the most difficult?

I'm mostly taking dictation from Nicely, so that's all pretty easy. Some of his words are strange to me, especially the slang--but it becomes easy to keep up with after a while. Hopefully, there will be a glossary coming soon as well! Difficult? No, sorry--not an elf, wizard, goblin, or pixie was hard.

6) What is your writing space like? Or can you write anywhere?

I have a summerhouse in the garden and it is lovely. You can see it amongst the tweets @adeadelf and on the FB Detective Strongoak page. I am surrounded by flowers there, and fairies play at night. Unfortunately, it is just a summerhouse, and not suitable for less clement weather. Luckily, I also have a study for writing in during the aforementioned less clement weather. My view is of a C14th monks' house with another lovely garden. They have to look at me staring out at them. Who has the best deal?

I can actually write anywhere. I bought a Toshiba Libretto the size of a large paperback years before Netbooks were invented. I wrote on the train, on the bus and while selling houses (don't ask). It ran a proper version of Word and I am forever indebted to it. I count my blessings; 645 if you're interested.

7) Any odd writing habits?

My handwriting is terrible. I say that this is because I am a doctor, but that is another lie (not the doctor bit--the excuse). My handwriting has always been terrible, as is my speling (ha!) and I never took to typewriters. I needed word processors so badly I could taste them (lime and mango). It finally meant I could get the words down at something like the rate they pop up in my head. For me then writing has become a process something like sculpture, the material goes down and then I chip away until I have the finished item. Is that odd?

8) Do you outline?

Argh! Tricky one that. As a scriptwriter one is obliged to work to a very structured step outline, basically because five hour long films get frowned upon, and also because the requirements of film are different. This is why books are adapted, not filmed 'straight off'. I therefore love the greater freedom that novel writing provides, the opportunity to go on a 'journey' with your characters, rather than having to decide what their journey will be beforehand. But having said that I probably outline novels more than I would like to admit, I just do it slightly differently.

9) What are some of your favorite fantasy books? Why?

Is there anything new to say about The Lord of the Rings? How it defined a new standard in world building? How it stimulated the imaginations of generations? Plus how many doors it opened for other writers? How it made it all real? It's the Daddy.

Currently I am enamoured of Harry Dresden. Thank you, Jim Butcher! When I first heard about a Wizard PI my heart sunk, but fortunately Harry lives in the real world, not Widergard. He does live in the real world doesn't he? That is what Chicago is actually like? Well, it is from now on, thank you.

And how much did my heart sink when I first read Terry Pratchett? Not as much as you might think, because Strata was the first of his books that I read and this is science fiction, very different from the sort of thing I had in mind at the time. Of course when the Discworld came along I loved it and, seeing how we had a lot of targets and humour in common, I put A DEAD ELF away in a cupboard (well, an Apple IIe sort of cupboard). However, Nicely kept on at me and when he materialised again there was less critiquing of the fantasy idiom itself and a lot more hard-boiled action fun. I think this helped make A DEAD ELF a better book in the end, so thanks for everything, Sir Terry!

10) What is your favorite fictional world, one you'd want to visit?

I don't know! Panic! I really don't know! The whole of everything ever written or filmed or broadcast? Blimey, I need a lie down! Right, I've collected myself and put thoughts of 'Barbarella' aside in favor of 'Pandora'. As long as I'm blue, 9 foot tall with a tail as well.

11) What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

A very senior, multi-award winning, comedy producer once told me to take my sketch away and to 'put some more melons in it'. That's advice I'll never forget, obviously.

12) In Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf are there any hidden acknowledgements to friends, places you've lived, favorite writers etc;

That is all there is: the whole thing; even the title has a secret meaning known to few. There are some jokes so 'in' even I don't get them because I'm not included in that crowd. It's also a love letter to JRR and Raymond Chandler too, yet you can read it and enjoy it completely without knowing any of these things! I'm thinking of offering a prize for the first fully annotated copy, but nobody would ever be that mad, surely?

13) Can you tell us what we have to look forward to after Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf?

Nicely Strongoak's next case is completed! Well, at least I know know who-done-it and boy was I surprised! I can't give any details away as yet, but do keep a look out for information on the website. I can say that it takes us even deeper into the world of Widergard and the society that has developed in the modern Citadel and there's more steam of all sorts!

There is also a very different fantasy novel completed for a slightly younger audience, which has got some animation chums excited. And talking visual media, I have been working with a production company on a fantasy action TV series that just might now have received the green light! Plus, with another hat on, I've been involved with a documentary, for theatrical release, about one of the greatest sportsmen of all time! Exciting times, in Widergard and beyond.

Thank you, Terry!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Halloween Contest


Because there were so many fantastic entries, it was a difficult decision--there wasn't one bad paragraph in the bunch. Word count didn't matter. There were some entries that were only a few sentences long and they were beautiful and eerie. Because I was having such a hard time picking an entry, I eventually had to go with the one that scared me the most. It is the beginning of a Halloween story!

PS: If you've all gotten the writing bug, I apologize, but you're all fabulous at it anyway. Thank you so much for participating.

The paragraph I selected will be posted on Monday, in a separate blog post. And the author of the selected paragraph is...


It's almost Halloween, one of my favorite times of the year, and this contest is to prove that everyone has a storyteller of scary tales in them.
The last day to enter is Oct. 30 and I'll announce one winner on Halloween weekend.

Use the image below (a painting by the surrealist artist Leonor Fini) to create the first paragraph in a dark tale. You must use all 5 of these words in the paragraph: GLASS, MOCKERY, WINGS, BOOK, CAFE
The paragraph can be as many other words as you want it to be.

Email me your paragraph in the body of your email. NO ATTACHMENTS PLEASE. Email to

The winner may choose TWO of the books listed below. The other three will be for a giveaway in November: POISON PRINCESS by Kresley Cole, ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake, THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater, NAMELESS by Lili St. Crow, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor.

The winner also receives this Goodie bag including a troll doll, a mystery mini unicorn, a sun charm bracelet, pink cat pen, 3 Halloween erasers, a journal, a Maleficent key chain, and magnetic Cute Monster bookmarks.

The winning paragraph will be posted on my blog, ONLY IF YOU WANT IT TO BE.

Unfortunately, this contest is only open to residents of the United States and Canada!

Ladies and Gents, start writing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cover Reveal: Ripper by Ingrid Seymour

BOOK TITLE: Ripper (The Morphid Chronicles #2)
AUTHOR: Ingrid Seymour
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy


Against all odds, Greg and Samantha seemed to have cheated Fate when they escaped Regent Danata. Miraculously, the two Morphids remain bound together, attempting to lead a normal, "human" life, even as fear of the evil woman's revenge clouds their days.

As Sam and Greg struggle to grow their relationship, she is haunted by memories of Ashby, her Morphid soul mate, and burning questions of the identity of her real parents. As if that wasn't enough, her untried Morphid instincts fill her with doubt and indecision, taking her once simple life in directions she never could have imagined.

When Greg's Keeper sense foretells danger, however, they abandon all dreams of normalcy and find no other choice but to flee. Armed with nothing but their Morphid skills, Sam sets their course toward New York City, a place that calls to her deeper instincts. As her Keeper, Greg must follow but knows danger awaits.

Thus begins a quest that will test their bond and may spell the end of all they hold dear. It's only a matter of time before Regent Danata and chaos storm into their lives again.


Ingrid Seymour is the author of IGNITE THE SHADOWS (Harper Voyager, April 23rd, 2015). When she’s not writing books, she spends her time working as a software engineer, cooking exotic recipes, hanging out with her family and working out. She writes young adult and new adult fiction in a variety of genres, including Sci-Fi, urban fantasy, romance, paranormal and horror.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pinkie's Picks: Mike Little, A Boy and his Books

Today, Pinkie welcomes guest MIKE LITTLE, a bookseller in the children's department of the Sarasota Barnes and Noble. I've linked to his fantastic and entertaining post about a boy falling in love with such books as:

     Brighty of the Grand Canyon
     Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Then came the Scholastic Book Fair, where he discovered:
     My Side of the Mountain
     The Mouse and the Motorcycle

You'll have to read on to see what his ultra-fav children's book of all time is: