Category Archives: Books

Ministry Protocol Cover Is Revealed Plus Giveaway!


The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels are a multi-award winning steampunk series, which tells the story of the government agency committed to keeping citizens safe from the strange, the unusual, and the bizarre.

In a very successful Kickstarter in July, the Ministry Initiative was funded, allowing the creation of both a roleplaying game and a brand new anthology.

Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is a collection of short stories that will take readers across the Empire and all over the world, revealing new facets of familiar characters and introducing new agents, allies, and enemies from the Ministry’s colourful history.

The authors of this globe-spanning anthology include Delilah S. Dawson, Leanna Renee Hieber, Alex White, Jared Axelrod, Tiffany Trent, Peter Woodworth, Jack Mangan, JR Blackwell, Dan Rabarts, Lauren Harris, Karina Cooper, and Glenn Freund from The League of S.T.E.A.M.

And one of the Ministry’s creators, Tee Morris, presents the origin story of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences itself.

Look for the ebook coming in August, with signed print editions to follow.

Feast your eyes on the cover art from the Ministry renaissance man, Alex White, and spread the word about the anthology by entering the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Book Review: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood



Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood is the one of the most satisfying sequels I’ve read lately.  Before I tell you why I think so, we’ll take a moment to recap and acquaint ourselves with the basic plot.  Oh yeah, and if you haven’t read the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, Born Wicked, I suggest not reading any further until you do!

In the opening pages, we discover little time has passed since Cate Cahill sacrificed her own dreams to protect her sisters, Maura and Tess, by joining the Sisterhood.  Cate isn’t sure she is the foretold witch the Sisterhood believes her to be but she makes an effort to embrace her new life anyway.  Meanwhile, terrified of the prophecy, the Brotherhood enacts new laws denying women the right to read, to attend school, or to work outside the home.  The changes wrought by these laws and the arrest of a friend and fellow witch prompt Cate to realize that her sisters are safer within the Sisterhood than outside of it.  She requests they join her but the sisters’ happy reunion is short-lived  when it becomes evident that Maura yearns to be the prophesied one and lead the Sisterhood to victory, regardless of the cost. With the Brotherhood’s quest to find the prophesied witch intensifying and the Sisterhood splintering over how best to react, Cate will have to rise up as a leader and decide who is worth trusting as the future begins to unfold and more of the prophecy is revealed.

Born Wicked introduced this amazing alternate world, but Star Cursed is where Spotswood’s world-building really comes alive, adding to the mystery surrounding the Sisterhood as well as revealing tantalizing new details about the prophecy.   These new elements build texture to the overall mythology and story arc.  Character development is also paramount as we learn more about Maura and Tess.  Their characters grow.  Tess matures.   Maura, well Maura, doesn’t really mature so much as develops in a new direction.  But through it all, we gain insights into their personalities and dreams.  The author makes it easy to identify with the characters and understand why their relationships are transforming in certain directions.  Their dynamic as sisters  is the cornerstone of this installment, driving pivotal moments both for individual characters and the larger community.  Old resentments and secrets continue to divide the sisters despite the prophecy’s dark prediction that one sister will murder another before the turn of the century. It is as though they cannot stop themselves from racing toward their respective destinies regardless of what it means for themselves or each other.

As in first book, Star Cursed has a healthy does of romance and Finn, the boy Cate was forced to set aside when she joined the Sisterhood, reappears but I’ll let you readers discover how their relationship evolves.  All I will say is Spotswood does an amazing job of weaving romance into the fold without sacrificing any essentials.

Deep breath.

I need a minute to rant about the Brotherhood.

After spending the entire novel angry at this fictional organization, I want to freely admit that I abhor them.  Irrational I know, but isn’t it a great feat when an author can provoke a visceral response from the reader?  I, for one, was deeply affected.  Part of why it is so easy to despise these men centers not on their fictional beliefs/actions or the historical link to the notorious witch trials or past women’s rights battles.  Simply, I was disturbed because making the leap to similar transgressions in the modern era isn’t difficult. At all. Today, there are still countries where women are denied these basic freedoms.   Even here in the US, women have access to an education, the ability to work and support themselves but continue to fight for others. The consistent and continued fight to be able to make decisions for our own bodies is just one but there are many more.  The politics in this book will keep you thinking long after you’ve read the last page.

Darker and more foreboding than its predecessor, Star Cursed is well-developed and fast-paced.  It is an amazing second novel with enough unexpected twists and turns to delight any reader.  I can’t wait to see how it all ends!

Go out and buy it from your local brick and mortar or hop over to an online retailer today!

Online retailers:


Barnes & Noble


Writing Update Plus Insignia



This is it! The basic Insignia for Cardinal Airships!

***Cardinal Airships is the commercial dirigible company that The Fly Tower‘s heroine, Captain Bettyna Marin, owns and operates.

The designer (also my boyfriend) finished the insignia concept last week.  Now he just has to add the treatments.  Eventually, there will be three versions:  weathered, metallic, and 3D/raised texture.  Can’t wait to see the finished products! 🙂

As for the novel itself, I have been making some real progress.  I’m almost done with the second round of complete edits.  I also have a couple of minor POV chapters finished.  Very on track for my end of June deadline though I’ll probably need the month of July for some additional cleanup before I start sending query letters to potential agents.

Also, I sent off the first five pages to a freelance editor for a sample hard edit (content plus copy-edit).  My plan/hope is to have the first few chapters hard edited since most agents/publishers tend to buy off the first 3-5 chapters.  (Or at least they used to.)

I still have a long journey ahead of me but I feel really good about the progress.

The Ministry Initiative Blog Hop and Giveaway


BlogHop02 copy

I’m very excited to be part of The Ministry Initiative Blog Hop!

A little over a year ago, I discovered The Janus Affair by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine and my journey into the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences (MOPO) world began. This first novel had me hooked and eager for more.  Yet it was their second novel, Phoenix Rising, that catapulted Agent Eliza Braun and Archivist Agent Wellington Books  into two of my favorite characters ever.  These books are amazingly fun and well-crafted steampunk adventures.  In addition to the novels, Morris and Ballantine have published an entire host of short stories to keep fans  patient while we wait for the third title in the series, Dawn’s Early Light, to be released in 2014.  If you aren’t already avid readers of Morris and Ballantine, check out The Janus Affair.  You won’t be disappointed.

But what is the Ministry Initiative, anyway?

Galileo Games and Imagine That! Studios have teamed up to bring you an ambitious steampunk project! The Ministry Initiative is a two-part creative endeavor that will not only premiere new fiction from the steampunk world of the Ministry but also present a brand new role playing game from the makers of Bulldogs! and the ENnie Award winning game Shelter in Place. Thrill to the tales in Ministry Protocol anthology, or join in as an Agent in The Ministry Initiative RPG.

Find out more about this endeavor and support the Kickstarter here:

In support for the Ministry Initiative Kickstarter project, I’m offering a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner.

To enter, simply submit a comment related to this post and you’ll be entered in a random drawing for the prize.  Only one entry per person will be counted.  All entries are due by midnight EST on May 29, 2013.  Winner will be notified by May 31, 2013.  Open to US/Canada Participants Only

To continue on the blog hop, visit these sites:

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences J.R. Blackwell Jared Axelrod
PJ Schnyder Leanna Renee Hieber Pete Woodworth
Tee Tate Karina Cooper The Galaxy Express
Tiffany Trent Alex White Delilah S. Dawson
Simply Ali Wicked Little Pixie Books Make Me Happy
MamaKitty Reviews Thats What Im Talking About Kathryn Camisa
Krista Cagg Seleste deLaney Pauline Creeden
The Pen Punks Melissa Pauline Baird Jones
Vivid Muse Robert C Roman Jack Mangan

The Best of All Possible Worlds Book Review


In a distant future, humans have spread across the universe. Somewhere along the way, several different human races emerged including the Sadiri. The Sadiri are a disciplined race with sophisticated emotional control and reliance on rational thought and behavior (think of the Vulcans from Star Trek). The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord opens when the planet Sadira is destroyed by an unprovoked genocidal attack.  The only Sadiri to survive are those individuals who were off-world at the time.  More women were living on their home world during the destruction, so there is significant gender disparity among the survivors. Of those remaining, some are working to create a new home world, New Sadira, while others find refuge on the plant Cygnus-Beta.  There, the Sadiri attempt to regroup after the massive loss.  These survivors are also hoping to secure appropriate mates from the taSadiri race living on Cygnus-Beta. The taSadiri happen to be the most genetically compatible to the Sadiri because they are actually Sadiri descendents making them the most ideal candidates.

The story is told almost exclusively through the first-person account of civil servant, Grace Delarua, who is tasked with helping one of the Sadiri leaders, Dllenahkh, transition to the Sadiris’ new home on her planet.   She eventually takes part in an assignment to help Dllenahkh and a few others (some officials from her world as well as Sadiri officials) seek possible genetic taSadiri matches. Yet, they are searching for more than just perfect genetic counterparts.  Their primary interest lies with taSadiri societies that have maintained some of the Sadiri belief systems, rituals, and histories so that the Sadiri way of life will not be lost as they repopulate their numbers.

While this novel is categorized as a science fiction, it is basically a romance story set in a futuristic world. Don’t get me wrong, it does have some sci-fi elements like time travel, telepathy, mindships, and alternate universes but except for telepathy, these concepts aren’t described in any great detail. Still, I enjoyed the slow blooming love affair between Dllenahkh and Delarua.  Their affection is clearly based on the mutual respect and caring that is fostered by the combined sharing of each other’s cultures.

Slow-moving at times, the novel does pick up once the love story takes shape. At the heart of this work is how two dissimilar groups establish relationships and gain understanding and acceptance as their races merge into one society. It is the familiar tale of how people come to realize that they have more in common with their neighbors than they originally believed.

However, this work has some issues. The entire planet of Sadira suffered this horrendous genocide and what’s left of its people are strewn across two worlds, New Sadira and Cygnus-Beta.  Obviously, the author’s intent wasn’t to showcase the dark aftermath of genocide but considering half the characters in the book lost their home world, family, and friends less than a year prior, it felt as though it should have been more significant.  At times, even Delarua almost forgets the pain the Sadiri must be suffering…but she is an outsider to this void and emptiness they must be feeling.  Dllenahkh is the obvious choice to address these ideas, however, while Dllenahkh has a minor POV throughout, it is not large enough to gain the deeper insight needed. The author does deviate from the romance angle at times to deal with political and ethical issues but the transitions into these scenes are usually less than smooth and don’t feel central to the story.  Still, I choose to concentrate on the story Lord was telling and reserve my judgment on that score.

The Best of All Possible Worlds is a solid read and enjoyable but it isn’t a novel I’d want read over and over again. Still I recommend it specifically to those individuals who enjoy their science fiction a tad more literary as in the style of Ursula K. Le Guin or those who enjoy romance set in fantastical worlds.

Available from a number of retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.