My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Beth Cato to talk about how the power of wielding cookies like shurikens relates to The Clockwork Crown.
My superpower: I wield cookies like shurikens.
Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’m nowhere near as subtle as a ninja. The thing is, I love baking. I love to feed people the stuff I bake. The kitchen is my dojo. I do the full stay-at-home-mom-and-writer gig. I can only sit at the computer for so long. I need to stand up, move around, let my mind find free space to wander over plot problems.
The kitchen is my favored meditation zone for several reasons. Foremost, I like good food. By making it myself, I get that grand sense of achievement, and I save a lot of money by not buying stuff from a restaurant or bakery. I also enjoy the full creation process of making a recipe of my own. That may sound weird, but for me, the journey is indeed the most important part, especially when I’m working through one of those aforementioned plot problems.
A lot of crappy things can happen in one of my typical days: when my WordPress site keeps giving me 404 errors for no explicable reason; when I get five form rejections for poetry in one fell swoop; or when there’s a logical gap in a story that feels the size of the Grand Canyon. As tempting as it may be to ram my head into the keyboard, I instead go and knead some bread dough. I sear a roast to go in the crock pot. I make balls of cookie dough the size of my head, and I just might happen to eat some raw cookie dough while I’m at it. I live dangerously.
While I’m doing all that, I find my Zen. I’m away from the computer, my hands are busy, and I can plot my next course of action, whether that’s a literal story plot or the next markets to inflict my poems upon or how to frame my Google search terms to solve the WordPress dilemma.
I’ve become infamous for my baked goods, too. I have a weakness for cookies, blondies, and bready things. I used to make the stuff and eat a lot of it. I also used to be about a hundred pounds heavier (no exaggeration there). Therefore, I make these divine delights and distribute the calorie burden by sending it all with my husband to his work. It’s a little known fact (until now, perhaps) that I am really the source of nuclear power for the Phoenix metropolitan area. My sugary goodies fuel the people who keep those reactors going.
I’ve directly done my part for the Science Fiction/Fantasy community, too. I toted cookies to Worldcon in San Antonio and World Fantasy in Washington D.C. I also brought “communion wafer” churro bites for my peers in the Holy Taco Church who came to Phoenix Comicon.
I read a book on love languages years ago, and my love language is service for people. I figure a big part of that is wrapped up in this need to feed others.
So if I fling cookies your way at a convention, consider it a sign of respect. I’m saying, in my own introvert way, “We’re writers. We’re in this together. Let me take care of you in some small way.” Plus, I worked out some writing problems as I baked — and likely nibbled some of that cookie dough, too. A win for everyone!
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.
Beth’s short fiction can be found in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many other magazines. The Clockwork Dagger is her first novel. The sequel, The Clockwork Crown, will be released in June 2015.
You can find her online at BethCato.com and Twitter as @BethCato.