Let books take you around the world this holiday season to experience many ways of celebrating.

The National Geographic series, Holidays Around the World, does just that. Out this September is a new edition of Celebrate Kwanzaa by Carolyn B. Otto. This African-American holiday takes place over seven days. Candles, music, dance and feasts bring families and communities together. The books are aimed at six- to nine-year-olds.

Other books in the series include Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Thanksgiving.

Birthdays Around the World by Margriet Ruurs and Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press, September) describes different birthday customs, such as purple pudding in Peru and chair-lifting in Latvia. The book is suggested for four- to eight-year-olds.

A World of Cookies for Santa (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October) by M.E. Furman gets your sweet tooth craving cornstarch cookies from the Philippines, honey spice cookies from Russia, and even sweet potato cookies from Malawi. Recipes for some cookies are included. The book is geared toward four- to seven-year-olds, but can be enjoyed by cookie lovers anywhere.


Beth Cato, who grew up in Hanford and was a Nebula finalist last year, has a new collection published last month by Fairwood Press, a small company specializing in speculative fiction. Red Dust and Dancing Horses and Other Stories includes poetry as well as stories about steampunk horses, colonies on Mars, and toilet gnomes.

Also out this year, from Harper Voyager, is Cato’s latest novel, Call of Fire, a sequel to Breath of Earth. Ingrid is a geomancer who flees the 1906 San Francisco earthquake which was caused by her father. She and her friends are sought for their powers and may become the cause of an eruption of Mt. Rainier. In Breath of Earth, Ingrid is attempting to prevent the earthquake that will release energy to evil masterminds.

Cato’s first novel, The Clockwork Dagger, published in 2014, was followed quickly by more stories of the healer Octavia and her friends: The Deepest Poison (a prequel), The Clockwork Crown, Wings of Sorrow and Bone, and Final Flight.

Cato is also the author or contributing author of Deep Roots, A is for Apocalypse, and Clockwork Phoenix 5.

All these books were published between September 2014 and November 2017, but that is not all. In a definite departure from steampunk, sci fi and fantasy, in October, Cato published Bready or Not: Sweet Maple Cookbook.


To self-publish or not to self-publish, that is the question faced by many (if not most) authors who get fed up with rejections or no responses at all from the publishing industry.

Google “Xlibris reviews” and look for “Mrs. D’s Blog – What I learned about self-publishing with Xlibris” to read an excellent description of one woman’s experiences in the land of the vanity press, along with similar experiences from many of her commenters.

While the vanity press has always had a bad reputation (even television’s fictional 1930s-era John-Boy Walton learned that the hard way), newer print-on-demand (POD) services such as Amazon’s CreateSpace require diligent effort on the part of the do-it-yourself author-publisher to produce a quality product. Most authors need a crew of talented friends or hired help to root out errors and aid in editing and design. Even artistic authors such as Sylvia Ross (East of the Great Valley) and Adrienne Peterson (The Willow Basket) seek advice from others.

Do-it-yourself authors enjoy creative control over their books and reduce costs. While vanity publishers often charge an up-front cost of thousands of dollars, and throw in unexpected additional charges, authors who do it all themselves can get their book in print for almost nothing (if you don’t count blood, sweat and tears). POD also offers the advantage that books can be changed. Both Adrienne and Sylvia discovered, after the first printings of their books, there were parts they wished to revise.

Check out “What Does Self-Publishing Cost: DIY” at www.thebookdesigner.com for an example of what costs might be involved.


“It’s like your children talking about holidays, you find they have a quite different memory of it from you. Perhaps everything is not how it is, but how it’s remembered.” – Denis Norden (1922 – )