Category Archives: humor

New Book = BFF

There is something magical about holding an advance release galley of your book. IT IS YOURS. You created this during an extended gestation period of pain and woe and tears, and now it is SHINY (though it will be even shinier when the final version comes out).

This book becomes your new Best Friend Forever. You carry it with you. You frolic. You pet it. You take it on zany adventures.


My ARCs (advance release copies) of Breath of Earth arrived last week. We are bonding.


Porom the Cat was rather confused by her role in this bonding ritual. To translate her reaction: “Why is this thing on me? Why aren’t you petting me? I am purring! I am pianoing the couch! SET DOWN THAT PHONE AND PET MEEEEE.”


We left Porom to her sunbeams and went outside to take in more direct sunlight. The glories of an Arizona spring! My book enjoyed the warm rock and yellow lantanas.


From there, we played Hide-and-Go-Seek. Oh, silly book! You climbed a tree! Wait. You’re a book. HOW DID YOU DO THAT.


Since my book is clearly magical, I decided to appease it with an offering of the last slice of Voltron Pie. The book was most pleased. For now.


The day ended with Breath of Earth hanging out with like-minded buddies. I daresay, this is one of those pictures I could beam back to my past self and say, “See?! You did it!”

I’ll have to figure out how to make a time machine later, though. My book is muttering something about a new offering. I better take heed.

Beth 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 from Harper Voyager. Her new series starts with BREATH OF EARTH this August.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

7 Reasons why Readers Should Check Out Hamilton

Hello, internet! Last week I had the absurd luck and pleasure to win lottery tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway. I was already a big fan, and getting to be In The Room Where It Happens took my appreciation to  whole new level. I’ve already been spreading the love of Hamilton, so here are 7 reasons why Readers should check out Hamilton:


1. It’s all about passion

Wait for It - The One Thing I Life I Can Control

So many readers I know, myself included, respond to passionate leads, to characters who push the story forward. Hamilton is all about Alexander Hamilton’s ambition to raise above his station, to make a difference, to leave a Legacy. He makes enemies every step of the way, and the show highlights several crisis points for Hamilton, as well as the other leads (Aaron Burr, Eliza Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler), expressing their conflict through music.


2. Hamilton is a wordsmith of the first order

Hip-hop and especially rap, as musical genres, are all about the writing and the lyrics. Flow, imagery, rhyming. The rap and hip-hop of Hamilton is generally incredibly easy to follow, especially when you bring in the fantastic resource that is the Genius Annotations for the show. As the creator of the show Lin-Manuel Miranda says,

“It’s a story of someone who rises and falls on the strength of their facility with words,” says Miranda. “So to me, this was a hip-hop story.”


3. Repetition and Emphasis

My Shot

If you like reading for theme, if you get chills when someone says “Winter is coming” or “Orlando the Axe was following the fox,” or like how phrases come back several times in a book, taking on new meanings, then Hamilton is the show for you. Hamilton and the other leads have lines they come back to, lines they live by, lines they die by. Many of the songs reprise in full songs or as themes in later shows, and “Non-Stop,” the Act One finale, folds basically the entire first act back in, while hinting at the danger that is coming.


4. You Want character arc? We got character arcs.


Wait for It

Hamilton and Burr, the two male leads of the show, have truly impressive and complicated character arcs throughout the show, as they pursue their ambitions, as their friendly rivalry becomes enmity and more. It’s the story of Hamilton’s rise, his fall, and of his lasting legacy. Hamilton in his death scene is miles from the boy of 19 he is in the first number.


5. Hilarious comedy

Fully-amred battalion

Jonathan Groff (of GLEE fame) plays King George, who appears several times throughout the show, is utterly hilarious, even just on the soundtrack. It’s even better in person (Groff is a great physical comedian), but even in the soundtrack, you get the King’s warnings and exhortations to the colonies framed in terms of poppy breakup songs, and it is hilarious.

In addition, Daveed Diggs as Marquis du Lafayette and then Thomas Jefferson is a whirlwind of awesomeness. His reactions and fills enhance every scene he’s a part of.


6. It’s an AP History unit in 2 amazing hours

Hamilton was created in part to serve as as an education in the history of the revolution and the founding of our democracy, and it does a more than adequate job, especially for people whose history classes were boring, or even if they were just a number of years ago. Reading can be a great education, and this show is just as informative as any number of books. It’s inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton, so if you want to go directly to the source, you can immerse yourself in the 800+ page tome.


7. Share the squee

One of the best things about reading, for me, is getting to talk about the books I love with people. And it’s no different with Hamilton. Sharing in excitement about the show online has been one of the best things about getting in on the Hamilton phenomenon.



So if I’ve piqued your interest, there are few better places to start than this YouTube video of Lin-Manuel Miranda in 2009 performing an early version of the first number at a White House poetry event.




Michael R. Underwood is the author of eight books, including Geekomancy, Shield and Crocus, and Genrenauts. His latest work is The Absconded Ambassador: Genrenauts Episode 2.

Absconded Ambassador cover

Gifts for Writers, and for Those in Close Association with Writers

tiny-house-plansIt’s the holiday season and you need a special gift for that special writer – you know, the one who recently moved into your garden shed when your back was turned but insists on calling it a “tiny house” as if that will somehow magically make showers appear in it. But it’s quiet, they insist. And so cheap. And wouldn’t you mind storing the lawnmower somewhere else? It’s interfering with their carpal tunnel stretches.

For you, a short, curated list of hand-selected gifts:


gifts for writers

A day in a room all by themselves. Bonus points if the room is not inside their current living establishment. More bonus points if the room has no internet or windows or anything soft that could potentially be laid down upon.

gifts for partners of writers

Someone who can carry an actual conversation for a day, whose head isn’t filled with 15 ways that horses died before 1608, the price of throwing stars and whether someone could get them delivered via amazon prime, and a cataloged and itemized list of high school team colors, sorted by ROY G BIV.

gifts for children of writers

Something that’s not books, because writers only think that books are good presents – and, oh, who am I kidding. Books are the best present; get them books.

gifts for friends of writers

Conversation card-changers to move the topic away from A) submissions, B) writer’s block, C) the price of throwing stars or D) why that one author has more publications than you when you started at the same time and what does it all mean you should just quit now shouldn’t you SHOULDN’T YOU????

gifts for landlords of writers

The rent.