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M. Darusha Wehm
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll find something you like here.

If you want to read something short, check out the free stories available here or the links under “Publications” on the right go to other places my stories have been published. Some of those are free to read online.

If you prefer longer works, I have free samples of all my novels available on the site. Beautiful Red was my first book, and is a standalone cyberpunk story. Self Made, Act of Will and The Beauty of Our Weapons are a series (in that order) about future detective Andersson DexterChildren of Arkadia is a standalone political space station epic.

My newest series, Devi Jones’ Locker, is mainstream fiction — a light beach read that brings the beach to you. The first book in this series is Packet Trade.

The Clockwork Crown and Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread

The Clockwork Crown and Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread

Today we have a guest: Beth Cato of baking and steampunk fame. Learn about her new book, The Clockwork Crown, and a mouthwatering cookie recipe. Yum!

I’m the author of The Clockwork Dagger and the forthcoming The Clockwork Crown, due out on June 9th from Harper Voyager. The books are steampunk fantasy, set on an alternate world based on post-World War I Europe with some magical and technological twists.

Part of the fun of making my own world from scratch is that I get to create my own food culture. I do my own food blog every Wednesday, Bready or Not, so this is totally my element. I based the geography of my world on western Washington state where I used to live. Therefore, it was only right that my setting’s northern neighbor has a reputation for maple-baked goodies. I LOVE maple, which makes it all the more fun to write about in my books.

In keeping with steampunk sensibilities, I’m sharing a recipe for Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread. This is the perfect cookie for breakfast, snack, or a proper British-style tea time, and like most shortbread, it keeps for over a week and ships very well in all temperatures. Perfect for those long airship journeys!

To find out more about The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, please visit BethCato.com! You can read the first chapter of Dagger, follow links to order the books, AND get more recipes for delicious cookies.

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Beth Cato is the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER steampunk fantasy series 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.

Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy’s Picante Beans

Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy’s Picante Beans

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

I don’t know how the chili wars will play out in the future, so let’s not even go there. This dish definitely owes its heritage to the American Southwest, and happens to go very well with Camilo’s Corn Bread.

Recipes of Arkadia: Chen’s Herb Bread

Recipes of Arkadia: Chen’s Herb Bread

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

Isabel Hernández isn’t like the other residents of Arkadia. Chen helps her figure out how some parts of this society works and keeps her coming back to his market stall with both his knowledge and the savoury smell of this bread.

Interview with Josh Vogt, author of Enter the Janitor

Interview with Josh Vogt, author of Enter the Janitor

Josh is back, this time to talk about Enter the Janitor, the first book in his urban fantasy series.

A janitor working for a supernatural sanitation company must track down a fledgling demigod before it’s corrupted or destroyed, all while training a rebellious new employee whose fluctuating power could trash an entire city.

Me: Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?

Josh: In most of my writing, no matter what genre it is or length it reaches, I tend to focus on dialogue, with a particular love for banter between characters. In Enter the Janitor, I aimed to emphasize the humor side of the story more than I had in previous stories—and found I really enjoyed working to bring the comedic elements to the surface as much as possible.

Me: Would you want to live in the world of your book? Why or why not?

Josh: The world of The Cleaners wouldn’t look to different from our own, especially since the supernatural sanitation company the plot revolves around works to hide today’s magic and monsters from public view as much as possible. It’d be fun to work for the company, wielding mops like staves and toilet plungers like wands. While you might get overlooked by most people for doing menial labor, it’d be satisfying to know you were actually playing a vital role in keeping the world safe (and clean).

Me: Why did you write this story? What is compelling about it for you?

Josh: The idea grabbed me and just wouldn’t let go. I greatly enjoy urban fantasy stories, but many protagonists in them take on similar roles: cops, detectives, investigators, military, government agents, etc. I wanted to play with fantasy heroes who took on a far different mantle in order to go where they were needed and get the job done. Janitors and other sanitation workers are around us all the time, often doing their work without any sort of recognition. But what if they were fighting for our survival all along?

Me: What surprised you while writing it?

Josh: It surprised me how well the concept of magical janitors, plumbers, maids, and other sanitation workers actually fits with both ancient mythology as well as modern society! I mean, look at witches and their stereotypical image of flying around on brooms. Or the idea of reincarnation and our current focus on recycling. Or how the rise of sanitation and hygiene efforts has been a cornerstone of civilization itself. It makes an odd sort of sense.

Me: How will reading it make people feel?

Josh: Aside from getting in good chuckles and laughs, I want people to feel like they’re getting a chance to peek behind the curtain, seeing another side of reality. The next time they bump into a janitor in their office building, see one mopping up spills in a grocery store, or spot a cleaning van on the highway, maybe some part of their mind will wonder, “What if…?”

Me: Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)? Why?

Josh: Initially, the story wasn’t as humorously bent as it is now. It was more a straight urban fantasy with the occasionally absurd situation or banter. However, I realized the funny side needed to take more prominence, and so went back in and did my best to shift scenes and characters to reflect the humorous tone more—and I feel that definitely helped strengthen the story plus set it apart as a more unique approach to the genre.

 

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Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

Recipes of Arkadia: Slava’s Moroccan Chick Pea Soup

Recipes of Arkadia: Slava’s Moroccan Chick Pea Soup

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

This soup is Siobhan Patel’s favourite, so Vyacheslav Haeroa makes it as often as he can in his soup café. Whatever it takes to get her to see him.

Interview with Josh Vogt, author of Forge of Ashes

Interview with Josh Vogt, author of Forge of Ashes

I had a chat with Josh Vogt, author of the fantasy Pathfinder tie-in Forge of Ashes. This is the first of two releases (stay tuned for the second next week!)

A decade ago, the dwarf warrior Akina left her home in the Five Kings Mountains to fight in the Goblinblood Wars. Now, at long last, she’s returning home, accompanied by Ondorum, a silent companion of living stone. But once you’ve traveled the world, can pastoral pastimes and small-town suitors ever be truly satisfying? Adding to Akina’s growing discomfort is the fact that her mother has disappeared into the endless caverns beneath the city. In an effort to save her, Akina and Ondorum must venture below the surface themselves—and into a danger greater than they could ever have imagined.

Me: Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?

Josh: Well, it’s actually pretty varied. I write across multiple genres (and subgenres), including fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and mixes of all those and more. I’ve got two novels debuting this year, I’ve published a couple dozen short stories and flash fiction pieces, and I also freelance for a number of RPG developers and publishers. So I like to write across as many formats and styles as possible.

Me: Would you want to live in the world of your book? Why or why not?

Josh: Forge of Ashes is set in the roleplaying world of Golarion, from Paizo’s Pathfinder world. I’m a bit torn by this question because, while Golarion is an incredibly dangerous reality, it’s also exceptionally fascinating and colorful. I think I’d like to visit there, to at least get a chance to live in a world of unending magic and adventure—all the while knowing I might get eaten by a troll if I let my guard down.

Me: Why did you write this story? What is compelling about it for you?

Josh: I wrote Forge of Ashes for several reasons. First, I wanted to break into writing for RPGs, and jumped at the chance to pitch a novel for Paizo when they offered the opportunity. Second, I love writing solid adventure tales, which is much of what Pathfinder is about. I love stories that are a mix of fun and thrilling and have a fair share of action in them, so that’s what I set out to write here.

Me: What surprised you while writing it?

Josh: The main character, Akina, is a dwarven barbarian with a bit of a temper. Yet as I wrote more of her journeys, it surprised and delighted me to discover more of the depth she held as a person. She may not  have a softer side, in the traditional sense, but she cares greatly for certain people in her life and will fight for them to the very end. She struggles to retain a sense of self and purpose in a world given over to violence and endless struggle for survival. These realizations helped bring her much more to life in my mind.

Me: How will reading it make people feel?

That they’re on a dangerous adventure full of monsters, magic, and mayhem. That there’s always something around the corner, likely waiting to eat them. I hope it can leave some people a little breathless, like in the aftermath of a battle.

Me: Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)? Why?

Josh: One of the issues in the story is Akina confronting her brother’s wayward lifestyle, often getting drunk and generally making a mess of himself. Yet at the same time, she tends to lose herself in a battle fury, getting intoxicated with violence and bloodshed. I tried to parallel these two dynamics, showing how each of them is, in a way, addicted to unhealthy coping mechanisms while ignoring the underlying issues that drive their negative behavior. It was an experiment to show how different people can struggle with similar problems in both internal and external ways.

Josh-8194-2 - smallest

Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

Recipes of Arkadia: Camilo Molina’s Nutty Oat Bars

Recipes of Arkadia: Camilo Molina’s Nutty Oat Bars

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

Camilo Molina is someone who wants to make sure no one goes hungry. A homebody and, with his husband Cliff, adoptive parent to a house full of kids, Camilo is one of those people who is always in the kitchen. For him, food is love, snacks are comfort and baking is stress relief. So, when one of his kids goes missing, Camilo’s kitchen starts to look like a commercial bakery.

Here’s one of his favourites.

Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy Rhys-Jones’s Spicy Vegetable Stew

Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy Rhys-Jones’s Spicy Vegetable Stew

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

Betsy isn’t one to build a community hall or tend to crops, but she isn’t content to just sit by the riverside. She loves to cook, but cooking for one is a pain. So why not share with everyone?

3-2-1 Book Launch!

3-2-1 Book Launch!

At the New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention on Easter weekend, I was lucky to be able to pre-launch Children of Arkadia along with several other awesome local authors.

Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger

We were welcomed by local Rotorua bookshop Atlantis Books, and after a great Q and A with the con’s Guests of Honour Gail Carriger, Phillippa Ballantine and Tee Morris, we read a little from our books for the generous crowd.

First up was Debbie Cowens, with her Sherlock Holmes/Jane Austen mashup, Murder & Matchmaking.

Then Darian Smith read from his debut novel, Currents of Change.

Up next, I read the first chapter of Children of Arkadia, then the Australian FFANZ delegate to the convention, David McDonald read from his story “Her Face Like Lightning” from the anthology Insert Title Here.

Last but not least, CY Smith read from her new collection, The Chasm.

It was a great evening and I’m especially grateful to the folks at Atlantis Books for being so welcoming and genuinely excited about all our books. They were awesome! If you’re ever in Rotorua, go check them out. It’s a beautiful shop!

 

All photos by Matt Cowens

Thoughts on Awards

Thoughts on Awards

This post is about the Hugo fracas, but it’s also about awards in general.

If you don’t know about the current brouhaha regarding this year’s Hugo Award nominees, I’d recommend that for your own sanity you don’t read the rest of this post and go do something more fun. Like read a book, for example.

If you still want to know what’s what, you could do worse than read George R.R. Martin’s well-reasoned explanation and opinion. Of course, it’s long, written in many parts and not finished yet. But still —go do that. I’ll wait. The first part is here and it continues with subsequent posts.

So. Awards. I strongly dislike popular vote awards. They inherently reward campaigning, slates and bloc voting. And, not to put too fine a point on it, popular works already enjoy the natural rewards of popularity: eyeballs, pageviews, buzz and sales. I frankly don’t get the point of having an award for popularity. It’s double-dipping, But, they exist and like everything else in the universe that isn’t my personal ideal, my options are to participate and try to change things for the better if possible, or just opt out.

The Hugos are part of my community, part of my business. I might not like the way they are structured, but they are what they are. If I participated in the past (which I have done) I can’t opt out now just because some if their inherent flaws have been made obvious.

However, some people have argued that even participating in this year’s Hugos validates the use of slates and breaks the Hugos.

Bullshit.

Any system that requires adherence to unwritten rules in order to function properly is broken from inception. All straight popular vote awards open themselves to slates and bloc voting, it’s just a matter of people deciding they want to make it happen.

I’ll be giving everything in the Hugo packet a shot, even if that means I stop reading immediately after I see the author or publisher’s name. I’ll vote for what I think is award worthy and vote No Award before anything that isn’t, just like every year.

I personally hope that this debacle forces a rewrite of the actual Hugo rules to reflect the way voting is intended to occur. Regardless of the intentions of the slate-makers (and I personally deplore everything about “Rabid Puppies”) I just can’t sympathize too strongly with an organization losing its shit over people following their rules.

The nominees, on the other hand, have all my sympathy, congratulations and good wishes.

Recipes of Arkadia: Chen Wu’s Seed Loaf

Recipes of Arkadia: Chen Wu’s Seed Loaf

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

Chen Wu, one of Arkadia’s volunteer bakers, doesn’t think of himself as lazy — he’s efficient. He makes a lot of bread, so he does it the easy way: by letting time do the work. 

Happy (sneaky) Book Day!

tl;dr You can get the ebook of Children of Arkadia NOW

I knew I was having a sneaky digital launch of Children of Arkadia at the New Zealand National SFF Convention Reconnaissance this weekend (come say hi if you’re there!), but my publisher Bundoran Press has given the okay for everyone to be a Kiwi for a day (or four).

So the DRM-free ebooks are available now to buy from the publisher’s website as a zipped epub/mobi combo. Good for all ereaders!

Yay! Happy ebook Day!

 

Recipes of Arkadia: Vyacheslav Haereoa’s Easy Creamy Veggie Soup

Recipes of Arkadia: Vyacheslav Haereoa’s Easy Creamy Veggie Soup

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

Arkadia isn’t large enough to be able to sustain all crops year round, so its chefs need to be able to improvise based on what is available. This basic soup recipe can be modified nearly endlessly to use different ingredients and create highly varied options.

When Slava Haereoa decided to open a soup cafe, this was the first thing he made. It’s really easy to make, but don’t tell his regular patrons!

Interview with J.S. Bangs, author of Storm Bride

Interview with J.S. Bangs, author of Storm Bride

I chatted recently with J.S. Bangs, author of the fantasy novel Storm Bride.

When Saotse rode across the treacherous ocean on an orca at the bidding of Oarsa, Power of the Sea, the blind maiden believed she had been chosen for a great destiny. But she hasn’t heard Oarsa’s voice in decades. Aged now, she has found her place among a peaceful, long-lived people, though her adoptive sister, Uya, still blossoms with youth. Then, pregnant Uya is kidnapped, and the rest of her family is slaughtered when an army of mounted warriors strikes the defenseless capital, leaving Saotse grief stricken and alone.

After Saotse finds refuge with strangers in a distant village, a new Power makes contact. Saotse embraces the opportunity to bury her bloodthirsty enemies in vengeance, but wielding the Power’s bitter magic could cost her everything she is.

As war escalates and allies flock to her side, Saotse believes she finally understands Oarsa’s purpose for her. But the Powers may have set events in motion that even they cannot control, and the fates of gods and men alike hang in the balance.

J.S. writes short fiction as well, and is particularly interested in linguistics and languages, of both the human and computer varieties.

Me: Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?

J.S.: I like to write epic fantasy in unusual settings. “Unusual” means that I eschew the traditional fake!Europe settings, elves-and-dwarves, as well as the most straightforward quest plotlines. When I do draw inspiration from real-world cultures, I tend to use non-European cultures, or else I’ll just make something up entire. That said, I still love epic fantasy, so you’ll find plenty of gods, kings, magic, and heroes. Among contemporary authors, I would compare my style to N.K. Jemison or C.J. Cherryh.

Me: Would you want to live in the world of your book? Why or why not?

J.S.: I’d love to live there…. but not during the events of the story. The main setting for this book is the city of Prasa, which seems like a really pleasant place to live when it’s not being plundered by barbarians. They have beautiful pebble beaches, a mild climate, and excellent views over the bay and the mountains.

Me: Why did you write this story? What is compelling about it for you?

J.S.: My story ideas always involve the random collision between multiple ideas in my head. On a personal level, this book was written in the period around when my second child was born, and I was very caught up in the process of becoming a parent again. That came through pretty strongly in the character themes of the novel. I had also recently read a wave of Warrior Princess stories, and I was getting a little annoyed with the notion that a “strong female character” meant a girl picking up a sword and killing people. I wanted to write some strong female characters who were resolutely feminine, and who could impact the world without ever holding a weapon.

At the level of plot and setting, I was intrigued by a recurring cycle in the history of Europe and Asia where the “civilized” people living at the edges of the Eurasian continent get overrun by barbarian nomads from the inland steppes, and then the barbarians settle down and become civilized, and then the whole cycle repeats again a few hundred years later. I was also struck by something I learned about the Plains Indians, which is that some of the most iconic “plains” tribes, such as the Dakota, were actually descended from groups who originally lived much further east. But the arrival of European settlers on the Eastern seaboard created a ripple effect of westward movement.  Both of these motifs are present in the history and backstory of the setting.

Me: What surprised you while writing it?

J.S.: How gratifying it was. This was my second attempt at writing this story, after my first one ran aground and died on the rocks at 40,000 words. I was nervous about attempting this one again, but I was tremendously relieved to find out that the plot problems which had wrecked the first attempt were fixable, and I fixed them. (They key turned out to be eliminating a major character. Lesson: Don’t be afraid to eliminate whole characters and plot arcs if you need to.)

Me: How will reading it make people feel?

J.S.: By turns intrigued, horrified, anxious, relieved, disappointed, revolted, panicked, and vindicated.

Me: Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)? Why?

J.S.: I usually create a language for my books, and this book was no exception. For the less linguistically inclined, on this book I especially challenged myself to expand my use of imagery and descriptive language, and it was mostly a success. However, my line editor was a huge help in this regard, because there were a lot of places where she said, “Yes, that’s a very creative metaphor, but it makes no sense.” Good on her :).

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JS Bangs - Headshot

J.S. Bangs lives in the American Midwest with his family of four. When not writing, he works as a computer programmer, and he can occasionally be found gardening, biking, making cheese, or playing Magic: the Gathering.
His short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and other venues. You can read his blog at http://jsbangs.com, or follow him on Twitter as @jsbpax.