It's been one year since my family and I moved to Oregon.
It's been a year of ups and downs, and a lot has changed, including me. I moved here initially with the child and the cat, and we were joined by my husband and the dog in November. Crossing the country from New Mexico to Oregon with a young child and a grumpy cat was simultaneously fun, exciting, and terrifying. When we arrived, Portland was in the midst of a two day heat wave.
I was recently talking to someone about something I noticed. When we first moved here and I went out for a run, nobody waved or said, "Good morning," which usually happened when I was out for a run in Albuquerque. Maybe people aren't as nice here as I expected, I thought. It was disappointing. But at some point while out for runs, people started saying hello or giving me the runner's wave . In fact, recently a woman gave me a wave from across the street. So did everybody suddenly get nice? No. It was me. When we moved here, I was on edge. I was the only adult in the household, getting a child ready for a new school and looking for a job for myself. I was going through a major life change and trying to hold it all together. I usually look mad even though I'm usually perfectly content, but I must have looked downright ferocious those first few weeks. No wonder nobody wanted to make eye contact with me, much less wave. They were probably afraid I'd bite their fingers off.
Since then I've settled into my new home, my new neighborhood, my new life. I'm better prepared for the next winter I go through here, and I'll be better prepared for the next summer I go through here. I've explored parts of the Columbia River Gorge and parts of the Oregon Coast. I've seen lots of weird people, and being a weird person myself, I feel like I've found my tribe. The people at my local coffee shop know my name. When I went in this morning, an employee greeted me warmly by name and said, "I haven't seen you in a long time!" I hadn't had a chance to go in to write because the kid was always with me on my days off. This place is home.
Today I'd like to welcome Beth Cato, author of the Blood of Earth trilogy, to my blog. She's going to talk a little more about her recent release and provide a recipe for mocha shortbread. I've had that mocha shortbread, and it's absolutely delicious. Whip up a batch, make some coffee or tea, and sit down with her latest book. I guarantee it'll make your day.
I'm Beth Cato, the author of two steampunk fantasy series with Harper Voyager. The second book in my Blood of Earth Trilogy is Call of Fire, and it's out on August 15th. These books feature a 1906 America that is allied with Japan as a world power, and in the process of dominating mainland Asia.
My heroine, Ingrid Carmichael, has spent much of her young life working as a secretary, housekeeper, and cook, all while hiding her powerful earth magic. I do a fair share of cooking myself--I run a food blog called Bready or Not. Every Wednesday at BethCato.com, I post a new recipe. I'm most famous/infamous for my cookies, which I'm known for bringing to conventions and signing events.
This recipe for Mocha Shortbread creates tender yet firm bars that combine all the best of buttery shortbread, mocha, and espresso. You can either keep the chocolate in chip form or melt it into the dough--either way is delicious!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (either kept whole, or melt in microwave to blend into dough; the latter ships well, even in summer heat)
Prepare a 9x13 baking pan with foil or parchment, and apply nonstick spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat softened butter with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is very light, about 2 minutes, then stir in the vanilla extract and espresso powder. Mix about one more minute until it's smooth.
Slowly pour in the flour mixture and mix until it just comes together. Add in the chocolate (either in chips or melted). Press dough evenly into the prepared pan. Press plastic wrap over the top and use that to smooth the dough with your hands or a spatula. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, at least an hour and up to a day.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Leaving the dough in the pan, use a knife to slash the dough into small rectangles and then use a fork or chopstick to poke holes in top of each bar.
Bake until set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then re-cut bars. Let it cool completely then use the foil or parchment to lift out the shortbread and separate bars. Store covered for as long as two weeks.
Original post can be found at:
More about Call of Fire:
At the end of Breath of Earth, Ingrid Carmichael had barely survived the earthquake that devastated San Francisco and almost crippled her with an influx of geomantic energy. With her friends Cy, Lee, and Fenris, she flees north, keenly aware that they are being pursued by Ambassador Blum, a cunning and dangerous woman who wants to use Ingrid's abilities as the magical means to a devastating end.
Ingrid's goals are simple: avoid capture that would cause her to be used as a weapon by the combined forces of the United States and Japan in their war against China, and find out more about the god-like powers she inherited from her estranged father. Most of all, she must avoid seismically active places. She doesn't know what an intake of power will do to her body--or what damage she may unwillingly create.
A brief stopover in Portland turns disastrous when Lee and Fenris are kidnapped. To find and save her friends, Ingrid must ally with one of the most powerful and mysterious figures in the world: Ambassador Theodore Roosevelt.
Their journey together takes them north to Seattle, where Mount Rainier looms over the city. And Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to alight both the long-dormant volcano...and a war that will sweep the world.
Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is CALL OF FIRE. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.
It's been a while since I posted. A bit more on that in another post, but for now I wanted to share one of the best experiences I've ever had.
I have a Cardigan Welsh Corgi named Frankie. I used to have a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Ruby, but my dear girl grew old and passed away a few years ago. I've seen pictures and video of previous corgi beach days at Cannon Beach, OR and Huntington Beach, CA and have been seriously jealous of the people who get to go. Those beach days looked so fun! It looked like a little piece of heaven on earth with all of those corgis frolicking on the beach. But I never thought I'd be able to go. After all, I lived in Albuquerque, and the beach was a long ways away.
Then we moved to Portland a year ago. And suddenly, corgi beach day was easily within my reach.
I signed us up to go months ago. I booked a hotel room months ago. I planned when to leave and what to bring months ago. Then the day came last week.
I took Frankie and my seven year-old son to the coast Friday afternoon. We stayed in Seaside, OR, which is about a fifteen minute drive north of Cannon Beach, at a place called The Lanai at the Cove, where they offer several pet-friendly rooms. Our room had a view of the ocean and opened right onto the beach. The beach is rocky there, but a quick quarter mile hike brought us to sandier shores. When we arrived, I left the sliding glass door opened, allowing the sound and smell of the ocean into our room.
The next morning we hit the road an hour before the event started. We easily found parking near the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce where a short walk gave us access to the beach. We found a playground, and my son burned off some energy. There were already plenty of corgis and their owners around. Some decided to hit the beach early while others popped into restaurants for a bite to eat. We made our way to the beach at 10:00, signed in, and then found a spot to put our blanket and things. It was cloudy until we settled in, and then the clouds broke and the sun came out, as if mother nature approved of so many corgis in one spot.
A couple of drones flew overhead and took pictures and video. A corgi ran around wearing a GoPro. Another corgi in a wheelchair toodled around the sand. More corgis and people arrived until there were hundreds of dogs. I let Frankie off leash and he chased other dogs and was chased, and he ran up to people and sniffed them. A lot of people stopped by to say hello to him because they were fascinated by his tail. Frankie is a fluffy corgi, but we've been shaving him for the past few years, leaving his tail at full fluff. There were a lot of people there without a dog who simply wanted to bask in all the corginess. Everybody was friendly. Everybody was smiling, humans and dogs alike.
We watched the costume contest (OMG, dogs in costume!) and took part in the group photo. We waded through shallow water rushing down the beach to the ocean. We waded in the ocean as it washed up on shore so that Frankie could properly dip his paws in the Pacific. We relaxed and ate and watched people and dogs. We spent a good three hours out there before I hit my introvert wall and Frankie hit his own wall. We packed up our things, said good-bye, and got in the car.
To make the most of the day, we drove up to Astoria and to the wreck of the Peter Iredale, a sailing vessel that ran ashore in 1906. The ship's bones remain on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park. I wanted more time to explore the wreck, but we had to get going soon after we arrived. I've never been near a shipwreck before, and I couldn't help but imagine myself as a pirate, or as an explorer looking for treasure from a pirate ship. The wreck is located on a gorgeous beach with fine sand and large, vegetation-covered dunes.
It was, simply put, one of the best days I've ever had. Corgis are magical little dogs. They're supposed to be fairy steeds. Can you imagine an army of fierce corgis led into battle by fairies? They would nip at the heels of their enemies.
I can't wait until next year when the corgis gather again. As for Frankie, he slept most of that day and the next, and the way his paws twitched as he slept, I'm sure he dreamed he was on the beach, running with the other corgis.
There are plenty of ways to get to know a new neighborhood or a new town. I enjoy running through it.
Running is a steady and (for me) slow pace that allows me to take in the scenery. The pavement under my feet is either smooth or gravelly. I sometimes have to dodge potholes, and other times find an alternate way through because there's no sidewalk. Sometimes there's broken glass, and sometimes weeds. Dodging these items (or not having to dodge anything at all on a nice, smooth sidewalk) tells a lot about a block, a neighborhood, a town.
On April 2nd, I ran my first 10K in Portland. I did a 5K Turkey Trot in Beaverton for Thanksgiving, which was fun, but it was through the same neighborhood I drive nearly every day. This 10K, however, took me to the convention center and The Moda Center where the Trailblazers play, and it also took me through the Pearl District. These are areas I've been to, but I haven't had the luxury of visiting them often, or with the time to note details.
Anyone who has spent some time here knows there is a large homeless population. You see their tents pitched along major roadways or in sections of town. Some were pitched in green spaces beside The Moda Center. Others were pitched under bridges we ran beneath. It's frustrating and disheartening to see so many people without a place to live. I don't know what to do other than donate money to organizations that help the homeless and hand out the occasional meal. It feels like a much bigger problem than can be solved with money or meals, but it's better to do something small than nothing at all.
We ran through an industrial area near the Willamette River. I recall one building covered with panels of different colored glass rather than walls. Inside there were more panels of glass, some clear, others opaque, and all in different colors and textures. It was a place that sold glass for making stained glass designs. I made stained glass pieces a long time ago. Most of them were Celtic patterns, but I also made a turtle as a gift. That design was completely original, and I worked on it with a friend. In fact, I worked on all of my pieces with a friend because she had all the tools. I just bought the glass, came over, and ate pie. She had a thing about finding the perfect pie crust, and it was my duty, as her friend, to help her figure that out. Anyhow, all of those memories came flooding back to me as I ran around that building, with all the glass winking in the morning sun, and it was fantastic. I could let my mind go and follow that thread to that memory. Also, Amanda, I'm still not sorry I ate that entire pie and didn't offer any to anybody else, and I would do it all over again.
We also ran across the Broadway Bridge. There are about a million bridges in Portland, so about the only way I'll ever get them all sorted in my head is to become intimately familiar with each one. When you trudge your way across a bridge twice, you remember it well.
All in all, it was a good race. The weather cooperated, the scenery was mostly lovely, and I ran a PR, which is always exciting. And, I got to know a little more about my new town.
I'd like to welcome a guest to the blog today. K. Bird Lincoln's latest book, Dream Eater, is out from World Weaver Press. Although she lives in Minnesota these days, she spent a good bit of time in Portland, OR, where I've been for less than a year. In a completely selfish move on my part, I asked her to rate her top local coffee shops. Read on to find out where you should visit (and where you'll find me in the coming weeks, testing out the coffee and food).
I am super-thrilled to have had World Weaver Press hook me up with fellow SFF/F author Rebecca Roland. I moved away from Portland 6 years ago but she’s there now, lucky duck. My April 2017 debut Urban Fantasy, Dream Eater, was written at coffee shops all over Portland, so I thought I’d share some of the best places.
I’ve been drinking frou-frou coffee and writing SFF/F stories since high school (oh Arabica Mochas, you are the gateway drug for expensive coffee). But for seven shining years I got to hang out in coffee shops and write in one of the richest, bitterest, most delicious, fruity places in North America: Portland, Oregon.
In, Dream Eater, the heroine, Koi Pierce, is coincidentally enough, a lover of coffee and chocolate. She actually has her second run-in with the hero at Stumptown Coffee. :) It’s possible my habit of hanging around coffee shops with Portland writers lead to that part of her character. Here are my top 5 coffee shops in Portland (and Beaverton because I actually lived there) to go write speculative fiction in if you love coffee, free Wi-Fi, and have a monstrous sweet tooth. And who knows, you might see some other writers with brushing away tart crumbs from their laptop keyboard and drinking lavender lattes. :)
#1. Ava’s Roasteria in Beaverton, Oregon. Okay, okay, so Portland is basically a bonanza of small batch roaster cafes with pierced and tattooed yoga teacher/baristas. I mean, Stumptown isn’t even on this list (despite being featured in Dream Eater.) Why go to Beaverton? I hung there because it used to be the only cool place in Beaverton. There’s something about the particular over-the-top gorgeousness of the giant slices of cake, the free Wi-Fi, the chattering of other languages as foreign students gather here for the 24 hour coffee, tea, and bagel sandwiches. There are comfy booths and tables inside. But the patio in summer is THE BOMB. Nowhere better for covert people watching to the flowing sound of water when you’ve just finished the love scene and now are blocked trying to get your heroine out the door to take care of the bad guy. Go to the original one on 4655 SW Hall Blvd.
#2. Baker and Spice in SW Portland. Confession. I had to ask local writer friend Tina Connolly to suggest her current favorite place to write because now I live on the windswept Minnesota Prairie and must make do with only one, local independent coffee shop in my area. Tina says the pastries are extremely good. And she should know, because not only does she write eccentric and compelling fantasy but she also is a mean baker. It has wooden chairs and table and a clean, sparse look. But OMG the chocolate croissant! I’m pretty sure just going there and drinking a latte with leaf-foam art on top and eating one of those chocolate croissant would help you push through any kind of writer’s block. 6330 SW Capitol Hwy.
#3 Pix Patisserie in East Portland. If the girls were at school, and I wasn’t working, and Tokyo boy hubby could be induced to make dinner that night, then I would be lucky enough to be able to attend a women’s speculative fiction writer gathering here. You can go there in the late afternoon, sip on lattes, and ogle the bakery case in between edits. And when you’re frustrated and chewing on your pencil because you’ve just come across the fiftieth time you have your hero look up at the heroine from underneath eyelashes with his dark gaze, you can go get one of their divine macaroons and chew on that instead. The coolest thing, though, is as you linger, and the twilight chills the air, you can stay at your table as Pix Patisserie becomes a tapas bar. The kind of tapas bar where they project black and white movies onto the walls and serve French champagne. Then you have to get dessert. The “Amelie,” winner of the Patis France Chocolate Competition! Yeah, get turnt on chocolate mousse with caramelized hazelnuts, praline crisp, and Cointreau génoise. Go now. 2225 E BURNSIDE ST.
#4. Laurelhurst Café in East Portland. My girls were both under the age of 6 when we lived in PDX. So a lot of my writing went down in cafes that had kid play areas. My favorite trick was to take the girls to OMSI, and then to a little coffee shop nearby (that seems to have disappeared) that had a play rug with toys and educational videos being played on a screen. That’s where I learned to write in 10 minute blocks. It’s amazing how much you can write under those circumstances. Of course, a good writer-mom coffee shop can’t just have a play area, it also has to have non-bank-breaking priced items kids will eat. Laurelhurst has a kid's play area, is dog friendly, and has parking, a pump and tools for your bike. Of course there's free Wi-Fi___33, and a warm, wind-protected patio. Check it out at 4611 E Burnside St.
#5. Last, but certainly not least, my greatest café love, home to a fine, important clay brick oven and purveyor of the best baguette this side of the Columbia River, St Honore Boulangerie in Northwest Portland. It’s always crowded, but I have always been able to squeeze myself into a table somewhere. It’s honestly like a slice of Europe in the Pacific Southwest, and their grilled Panini are to die for. The trail head for The Witches’ Castle is nearby. Hike through the green, be inspired by a ruined, mossy hut, and then head back down the mountain for an hour of writing in the summer sunshine at one of St Honore’s sidewalk tables. Really, what could be better? Dive into deliciousness at 2335 NW Thurman St.
Oh man, now I’m hungry. Rebecca, you’ll have to head over to St. Honore soon and have a Panini for me.
K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional/writer/mother/breast cancer survivor living on the windblown Minnesota Prairie with her family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee and chocolate. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she has spent more years now in Japan and on the West Coast than in the Midwest. She also writes tasty SF/F and YA fiction reviews under the name K. Bird Lincoln on Goodreads and Amazon.
Signing up for her newsletter The Mossy Glen will net you sporadic emails with access to free short stories and chocolate giveaways. There’s also a blog with cancer, Asian recipes, and chocolate related stuff as well as a website where you can hear her sing Japanese lullabies or check out her medieval Japanese Fantasy series.
Check out K. Bird’s April 2017 debut Urban Fantasy about a biracial girl in Portland, Oregon who discovers mysterious things about her Japanese father-- Dream Eater.
“Lincoln infuses Japanese folklore into the Pacific Northwest, creating a fascinating world where a young dream-eating heroine, Koi, must learn to use her frightening talents to save her family in a tale of ever-increasing peril. By the end you'll be anxious for the next book!"
-- J. Kathleen Cheney author of The Golden City and Dreaming Death
"The characters really drew me in--Koi and Ken are intriguing on their own, but even better together. Overall, the book is as quirky and edgy as Portland itself."
-- M. K. Hobson, author of The Native Star
I write fantasy, horror, and science fiction. I attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2007, and I belong to an online writing community called Codex. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm addicted to coffee and chocolate.