Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “Romance

Halfway To Someday Blog Tour: Guest Post By Layla Dorine


Greeting’s, and thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m Layla Dorine, a midwestern author originally from the East Coast. I love traveling and am officially down to one state remaining that I haven’t seen yet, Alaska, after the road trip to GRL this past October. In fact, traveling has been an amazing way to generate ideas, meet new people and just get inspired through new experiences, exploration and simply having fun and relaxing. There are still days when I wake up and look around my office and think to myself, hell yeah, because the only thing I ever wanted to do in life was become a writer.
I’m 43, and my mother still has some of the poetry that I wrote when I was nine, ten, eleven years old. Words were fun, words, not spelling, I never could spell well, thank you dyslexia, but I love to read and I love the way words come together and over the years I have penned everything from song lyrics to one act plays.
My favorite part of the process, though, is the moments of inspiration and pulling the scenes together that will eventually formulate the storyline. Over the years, it’s led me to dirt bike trails, long horseback rides, and romps through the woods that run from sunup to sundown. Of course, being that this is Iowa, we have at least four months out of the year that none of those things are possible, but that just means I retreat to bookstores, coffee shops, libraries and museums, to people watch and think.
Halfway to Someday is my 14th full length novel, and one of the angstiest of them all, which is saying something, considering the tearjerkers Guitars and Cages and Gypsy’s Rogue turned out to be. I hope readers will agree. It was a joy and a pleasure to tell Jesse and Ryker’s story.

Halfway to Someday Author Interview #2
What was your favorite childhood book?
Oh man, just one? I can’t even. I’ve got so many from when I was a little kid that I have hung onto and still have in my library to this day. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is timeless in my opinion. It never gets old and I reread it a few times during the holiday season. Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree, which turned out to be my youngest son’s favorite too. I love the disgruntled look on the tree at the end, when it’s branches have been stripped bare and a bloated cookie monster lay sunning himself beneath it. I still love all of the Winnie the Pooh stories too, and read, re-read, and read until it fell apart S.E. Hinton’s the outsides. Those four books sum up the things I loved in my childhood, and I am glad I got to share them with my children when they were little.
Explain the title of your book.
Well, the original title was going to be Rockin’ Ryker’s World, but as Jesse revealed himself to be anything but a fun, flirty, party going rock star, I came to realize that the title simply wouldn’t fit. Still, I had no clue what would, until a conversation between two characters ended with the line: I’m Halfway to Someday. It struck me in that moment that it was the perfect title for the book, and I couldn’t help but play with it a few more times over the course of the story too. I like the rhythm and flow of it when it’s spoken and could just imagine it as a rock ballad. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll pen the lyrics for it.
What was your hardest scene to write? Oh man, ever? Or in this book? If you mean the hardest scene to write over the course of all fourteen books and numerous short stories, then it has to be the moment when Alexia in Guitars and Cages, is banging on her brother’s apartment door after he’d slammed it in her face. I cried right along with Alexia as I was writing it and I still cry whenever I read it. If you mean in Halfway to Someday, well, let’s just say that there is a moment when Jesse is in his truck, reflecting on the past, that was particularly difficult.
Which character was your favorite to write? As much as I hate picking favorites and in no way want to upset Ryker, considering I have plans to have them pop up here and there in other stories, I have to say that Jesse was my favorite character in Halfway to Someday. I think that was because he reminded me of an old friend and the songs we’d write and play together. I could picture several moments in the cabin clearly and vividly, and in my mind’s eye, the visual equivalent of Jesse is my old friend, Tommy.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Aside from the fact that I still hand write my rough drafts, I prefer to write from places that aren’t my home. The desk is great for typing and editing and working out plans for projects, but for actually writing, I prefer to be in public places, even if it’s just a sidewalk bench that happened to be close by when inspiration hit. I love heading out to the woods to work on a story too. Listening to nature and the bubbling of a creek helps me put aside things that might be stressing me out in order to zone in on my characters and tap into the story they want me to tell.
Which of your books was the most enjoyable to write? So hard to choose just one. Each had some amazing components and experiences associated with them. Working on Burning Luck and Midnight Musicals inspired me to make several trips out to Seattle, some on a bus, others on a plane, which offered plenty of opportunity to observe people and create some interesting characters along the way. I loved writing Tripping Over the Edge of Night. It was how I spent the very frozen winter here in Iowa last year. Simply getting to remain in my easy chair wrapped in blankets was awesome, especially when there were copious amounts of Buttershots and Hot Cocoa involved.

#IndieThursday: The Duke and the Dandy Highwayman


This #IndieThursday I’m sharing my love of…




The Most High, Noble and Potent Prince, His Grace Padraic, Duke of Waterford.’ After enduring the Ducal Grand Entrance, one might be forgiven for thinking that an evening could only improve. One would be wrong. Padraic was then duty bound to find an amiable miss to romance and dance attendance upon. In truth, the Duke was rather more partial to establishments that promised charms he would ne’er find in the arms of a Lady. Such dalliances did add a dash of decadence to his life of ducal drudgery, but time was tick-tocking, and a blue-stocking bride must be wooed and wed…

Raff of the Rookeries. The most afeared rake-hell to have haunted the highways since Darkin denied them the pleasure at the gallows by stepping off the ladder before they could whip it from beneath his feet. Raff had fought his way up to rule the roost with instincts as razor-sharp as his dirk. His sword skills, fists, and wily wits had stood him in good stead, but none had proved as invaluable as the weapon he’d ne’er had need to tend. His fury. A rage every bit as lethal as arsenic—deadlier than brawn, brains, or bravado—Raphael had carried it like a toxic plague. Until, he became Raff of the Rookeries. Unleashed upon the underworld, it was the most formidable foe in London.

Two men from two different worlds…a mere few miles apart. That is, until the fateful night when The Duke was stopped in his tracks by a very Dandy Highwayman…


To compensate for my lack of time to do long reviews just now, I’m using the #indiethursday hashtag to share the indie love and point at some fabulous indie / small press books I’ve enjoyed reading 😀

So, what fab indie fiction are you reading / writing this month? Blessings on your brew and best of luck with all your indie endeavours, lets keep flying the flag for indie writing!

February Review: Of Rats And Cats

Greetings! Well our Lancastrian Frost Fair has come to an end, I really hope you enjoyed meeting all our lovely authors and discovered some fantastic new things to read 🙂

Here in Lancaster now the snow has melted, the sun is blazing, spring is in the air and so here is my February book review…



I met Addison Albright through the #RainbowSnippets facebook group and quickly fell in love with her Vampire series  which I’m reading at the moment and will be reviewing in a few months time. Extracts from Of Rats And Cats were posted as snippets on her website and I found them heart warming and hilarious so when she asked if anyone would like a PDF in exchange for an honest review I immediately volunteered 🙂

Raymond just wants to enjoy his healthy breakfast, green tea and morning paper but his morning calm is shattered when a ‘rat’ dashes into his apartment and, with Pandemonium the cat in hot pursuit,  takes refuge in his closet, amongst his lacy underwear!
Kevin is all set – his hearty breakfast casserole is in the oven, he’s just finished setting up the mouse-condominium in his new apartment and is ready to think about coffee and unpacking the rest of his things. But his mouse, Corky, has other plans and, when she decides to make a dash into his neighbor’s apartment, a hilarious and heart-warming cat and mouse game ensues!
This is a super-adorable quick-read e-book ; I was through it under and hour and I was smiling and chuckling all the way through. The characters (both human and non-human) are sweet, quirky and engaging and there was enough ‘meat’ in the background to make me wish I had longer to get to know them all.
If you’re a fan of sweet, MM romance and are looking for a quick read that’s tons of fun I think you’ll love this.
If you want to read more of Addison’s brilliant work you can find her here:
If you want to by Of Rats And Cats on amazon you can do so here:
If you’d like to explore more rainbow snippets of fabulous LGBTQIA+ fiction or join in the fun posting snippets yourself, you can do so here:
Through March I’ll be planning our new Aether Eggs feature for April, posting my March Review and working on my WIP Jack and Marjory which you can read snippets of every Saturday. If I can get other things done and posted I will but between house renovating and home schooling things are a little crazy this end!
Best wishes to you all for the madness that is March – blessings on your brew!

Morning Cuppa: Army Of Brass

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back to Max and Collin’s brazenly brassy and aggressively amorous parlour located somewhere beneath the bustling city of steampunk’d Lancaster.

Our tentacles are trembling with excitement to be back in the parlour, after so many calamitous adventures, and also to be part of  the Army f Brass blog tour this week so without further ado let us hand you cup of tea, kick our tentacles up on the table and take a look at this marvellous book.

army of brass


Army Of Brass was written by the Collaborative Writing Challenge with a different author writing each chapter. This gives the text quite a unique feel. On the one hand there is an inescapable sense of each chapter being its own ‘unit’ or ‘micro-story’ and on the other the neat plot development and consistency that speaks of the tight orchestration that must have taken place behind the scenes in order to bring a novel like this together, couple this with a cast of fully developed and likeable characters and you get an exciting, fast flowing steampunk adventure with just the right amount of romance, technology and political intrigue. It’s an amazing accomplishment and we’re all-over impressed by it.

Master Tinkerer Elaina Gable has settled into her new life after escaping her home country which was attacked by the blood thirsty conqueror The Hunter Baron. When the Baron’s warmongering  threatens to destroy her new life as well, Elaina is certain she knows a way to stop him; by reviving the ancient automaton army, the Tinkerers and the Smiths believe they can defeat the Baron, but the automatons harbour a deadly secret linked to the toxic valley in which they now sit rusting away. Only the mysterious silver skinned woman seems to hold the key, but will she decided to help or hinder Elaina and her friends as the Baron’s army draws nearer…

This is a nice, straightforward, old fashioned steampunk adventure full of automatons and airships and some really likeable characters (It was really lovely to see an older, mature heroine for once!) Excellent plot with a few carefully crafted twists and turns and overall a nice smooth read for existing steampunk fans or a perfect entry-point for newcomers to the genre.


Tomorrow we continue the Army of Brass blog tour and have the very great pleasure of entertaining Captain Jack Davenport of the Capital Cartographer’s Society for elevenses and so we must now ask you to excuse us while we race about trying on ludicrous amounts of bombazine and lace…. unless that is you’d like to stay and help a poor floundering octopus  with his corset?


Well, until next time then, please remain always,

Utterly Yourself



Morning Cuppa: Dead Magic #steampunkfiction

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back to Max and Collin’s drop dead delectable parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True some have called it a ghastly garret haunted by fiendish ghouls and black hearted demons, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning, quaking to the core because we are certain we heard the mounful cry of the first flesh eating Liver Birds rising from their long summer sleep and we are now trying to pluck up the courage to ask our landlord if he might not possibly, very sweetly, consider replacing our sack cloth roof for something more substantial…

But before we do anything so foolhardy, let us contemplate the matter over a nice cup of tea and a good book…

dead magic


Kara Jorgensen’s Ingenious Mechanical Devices series has been our chief excuse for not lifting a tentacle from the chaise longue for hours on end over this past year; these books just cannot be put down and when the final page is read, the sense of loss as we close the cover on some of our favourite fictional characters ever, is so great that we just have to read the thing all over again.

Dead Magic is no exception. If you are new to the series you will want to start here. But if, like us, you have followed Immanuel and Emmeline to hell and back, defeated demons and even death by their side and are wondering if, at last, Immanuel and Adam will get their ‘happily ever after’ in London then take a deep breath and step into the jaws of Dead Magic…

Immanuel has now moved to London with his lover, Adam, and begins his new dream job at the museum. Meanwhile Emmeline (as adorable as ever) is ‘suffering’ under the watchful eye of her aunt and continuing her work at the Spiritualist Society. But soon Emmeline finds her lust for success, both in magic and marriage, drawing her down a much darker spiritual path, a secret path which both terrifies and enchants her; will Immanuel be able to bring her back this time? Or does Emmeline require a new saviour, one whose soul isn’t quite so pure…

This book left us breathless, in tears, in love, in anguish and practically clawing at the aether to get to the next book, Selkie Cove, which thankfully is now available to purchase here.

And is that the kettle singing? Perhaps you will join us in something appropriately dark and delicious? Like this dark Side chocolate and cherry tea from fandom teas…

dark side tea

We wish you a divinely dark and marvellously magical afternoon and invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow so, until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself

Morning Cuppa: Secrets

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s superiorly sub-aquatic parlour located within the desperately deluged city of Lancaster! True some have called it a wet weekend with only drips for company but we consider that such people are from less than hardy stock. And dashed rude to boot.

You find us this morning bailing out after three months worth of rain has fallen in the space of a single evening. Sack cloth roofing is not built to stand such an onslaught and so we have spent a desperate night, myself using a tea cup in each of my eight tentacles to catch the heavens as they fell and Max fending of the Liver Birds with his aether-colliding energy ray pistol.

We are both exhausted, the tea has gone for a Burton and we are in desperate need of some reviving  literature. Fortunately we have managed to salvage some from the flood…



This is the first book in the Steamship Chronicles but we highly recommend reading the prequel Safe Haven first so that you come to this having already fallen in love with the main characters (and we promise you will fall in love!)

In a world where’naturals’ (those who are able to hear the dreams of machines and use aether to make those dreams real) are feared, despised and locked away in asylums, Lily and her husband Henry think they have found the perfect safe haven for Lily’s ‘natural’ sister, Sam. But it soon becomes aparent that even Henry’s country estate is not going to provide Sam with the chance to truly live a life of freedom and safety. With Lily’s health in rapid decline, Sam bravely sets off for the continent where Henry has found a colony of ‘naturals’ living in peace and safety. But Sam soon discovers that her ‘gift’ can be a dangerous thing which she struggles to control away from Lily’s calming influence…

Nathaniel Bowden wants desperately too leave his upper class heritage behind and work his way up to become a Steamship Captain. Hardworking, capable and honourable almost to the point of self destruction, Nat has won the respect of the captain and crew but the gruff engineer remains prejudiced against him and when mysterious things begin to happen in the engine room he is quick to insist that Nat must be to blame. Desperate to defend both his honour and his life, Nat sets out to capture the real culprit…

This story had us in tears from the first page. A tense steampunk adventure full of high adrenaline moments with a warm heart running through it thanks to the truly lovable cast of characters. The story has a real ‘coming of age’ flavour to it as both Nat and Sam are forced slowly to control their impetuous natures as they realise the effect their actions have on those around them and they both move from egocentric naivete to the self sacrifice that is the bedrock of true friendship.

This book ended on such a cliff hanger that we had to plunge straight into the next one in the same sitting and will be reviewing it shortly!

Now then, as our cephalopterois is sulking under a tea cosy giving us a look which seems to say ‘I tried to warn you…’ there is nothing more to do but wish you all a very arid afternoon and invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow when we will hopefully be in a better position to receive visitors… and of course spin you the tale of our dreadful visitor last week… so, until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself

Morning Cuppa: An Oxford Holiday

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s formidably flamboyant and delinquently day-dreamy parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a barren affair; its charms a figment of fiendish imagination, but we consider that such people spend too much time indulging in unsavoury gossip.

You find us this morning reminiscing about the innocent delights of youth… at least I think that is what we are doing.. we are coming out of the end of an all night tiffin session with the lovely Miss Ottis, our local Milliner. I’m not sure Max has noticed that she gave her leave over an hour ago and he has just finished regaling her empty chair with a charming story about how the poet Christina Biscotti first introduced him to something called a sherbet rocket.

I confess I couldn’t follow most of it (sweet delights like that may be illegal in the land f Ire but below the sea they are simply unobtainable, as even the most intrepid cake smuggler does not think to put on a diving suit and peddle their wares along the sea bed.) but the whole thing seemed to take place on a punt in Oxford and ended in a near death collision with a steamer.

Anyway, Max has now moved on to rambling about Christina’s Mostly Awful Poetry and that can only end in tears so I think it is time we opened something splendid to read and put the kettle on  again for a nice grounding cup of Wildflower Serenity Tea from DaisyandMallow

An Oxford Holiday (An Ingenious Mechanical Devices Short Story Book 1) by [Jorgensen, Kara]

Our book this morning is An Oxford Holiday, another beautiful offering from the mistress of ingenious mechanical devices, Kara Jorgensen. An oxford holiday is a short companion story to the series and falls between books two and three.

Lovers Adam and Immanuel have been separated since their last adventure, Adam lives in London while Immanuel is finishing his studies in Oxford. Although the nightmare reality of Immanuel’s capture and torture by the gentleman devil is now over, the Oxford bully boys continue to make his life a misery and his experiences have left scars that are both physical and emotional. He is overjoyed at the prospect of Adam coming to stay for a weekend, even if they cant let their feelings show in public it will be good to have a friend as company, and then f course Adam will have his own hotel room… But things don’t go as planned as an emergency at the university means that Adam and Immanuel may not get the break they planned for after all.

If you haven’t already read the first two books it is possible to enjoy this as a sweet gay romance story on its own as Kara does a great job of filtering in the necessary facts without any annoying information dumping. What newcomers may not fully appreciate, and this is the reason devotees of the series will want to make sure they grab this little bonus book, is just how much Immanuel has suffered in the past, how much this precious time alone with Adam means to them both. Immanuel is an adorable character and we desperately want him to find happiness with Adam if their plans for the future work out, but the subtle threat to that at the very end of the book implies that even London may not be the sanctuary he is hoping for, we suspect that Immanuel and Adam have more trying times ahead and we can’t wait to read the next book

And now we must pop our oracular pet into its cup and see what its tentacles have plucked from the aether for us this morning…


That is truly ingenious! I wonder if he could make us one for the tea… we wish you all a very sweet and steamy afternoon, and hope you will join us for elevenses tomorrow so,until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself


Soup of The Day: With Margaret McGaffey Fisk


Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!


Helping me this morning is storyteller Margaret McGaffey Fisk, author of The Steamship Chronicles.


Good morning Margaret, thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Do let me take your coat my dear and…oh! What an adorable mechanical puppy you have with you!

Gear Dog Sitting promo.jpg

Hopefully he can scare off that dreadful clockwork cat that keeps sniffing about; it is a dreadful piece of gutter-wizardry! There, I have set him a little dish of oil on the rug. Now then, is that the lovely soup you have brought to share with us?

Yes! I was raised on a hearty pea soup myself. I think it would be wonderful to line urchin bellies especially if you have some butter crackers around that managed to avoid the recent soaking.

I certainly do, here we are…

I called on my mother for the exact recipe. I just hope I brought enough for everyone. Good thing dried peas can survive almost anything.

Christmas Eve Split Pea Soup


2 quarts boiling water

1 lb. split peas

1 medium carrot

1 stalk celery

1 white onion (optional)


Seasoning: 1 Bay leaf, 1/8 tsp Thyme, 1/8 tsp Savory, Salt & pepper.


Wash and quarter celery and carrot. Rinse split peas in cold water, drain and add with other veggies to boiling water. Season to taste. Boil moderately fast for 1-1/2 hours. More water may be added if necessary. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Take out bay leaf and blend until smooth.


P.S. My mother often puts in a cup of red wine for cooking. Also, when serving, she sometimes adds milk (and I always do ;)). The ham-flavored recipe just adds a ham shank or ham bone (rinsed) and added first to the boiling water. Then continue as above.


Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you have a seat here by the fire. I hope your journey was a good one, although I imagine you are quite used to travelling by now, like me you seem to have done rather a lot of it!

I had quite an exciting journey on the way over here, but then I always have fun travelling whether it’s down familiar paths or somewhere brand new. It’s all in the perspective. You never know when you’ll see a wild animal, bird, or even just some unexpected structure to tickle your fancy.

That is so very true! You certainly seem to have lived in some very exciting places, has that influenced your writing do you think?

Not a bit 😉 unless you consider the frequent forays into desert and Middle Eastern imagery, the prevalence of social and cultural clashes, and philosophies uncommon to American traditions. In other words, quite a lot. On an amusing side note, the greatest culture clash I personally experienced was my return to the United States both because the diplomatic community has guides to your new cultures and because I was believed to be native when, beyond visits to family, I hadn’t lived stateside since I was three or four.

You’ve written plenty of historical fiction but what started your interest in steampunk?

Both my grandfathers were tinkerers (at least that’s how I remember them), and I spent many a visit with my mom’s father in his basement workshop. As a reader, I’ve always been drawn to the mad scientist type of story starting with Jules Verne and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Long before I’d heard the term, I loved steampunk, even playing with dismantled travel clocks myself.

However, I never thought to write in the genre until a very special young woman introduced herself and explained her story. My characters come to me rather than the other way round, so even had I thought to write steampunk, I would have floundered until Samantha showed up. How could I turn down a tale rife with social and economic change, and unjust laws to boot? This was the little sister in Safe Haven, by the way. I didn’t meet Lily until later.

Their world and personal circumstances offer the perfect conjunction of a grand adventure or two with questions to encourage thought about how we define people and treat difference. I don’t seek to make a statement with my writing, but I’m definitely drawn to stories that both entertain and have something interesting to say.

I have read the prequel book in the Steamship chronicles, Safe Haven, and very much enjoyed it. It is a gripping and highly original steampunk adventure that centres around the lives of Lily and Henry as they struggle against the prejudices which place Lily’s sister in danger. Would you like to tell us a little more about it?


Well, though Safe Haven is the prequel to The Steamship Chronicles and was written first, it came into being after Sam showed up demanding her story be told. I saw a call for short novellas that were steampunk romances and I thought I had nothing. After dismissing the idea, Sam pointed out she didn’t come from nowhere and would I like to meet her sister? That didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped because their story, when held to a tight word count, missed too much of the meat. A few years later, I went back and fleshed out the society until the novel, a mix of romance and adventure, was born.

I’ll admit to having a soft spot for Henry, a crusader born to what he thought to be the wrong age and the wrong social status. Little did he know he would stumble upon a duty every bit as important as his grandfather’s efforts to hide those suffering from religious persecution. I would never have thought the older sister and guardian of a Natural (a small group of talented people able to talk to and transform machines—for those new to The Steamship Chronicles) would be drawn to a police officer, and had Henry been a normal man, I doubt she would have been. He might not have any supernatural abilities, but he’s a very special person who believes everyone has the right to be happy, regardless of class or circumstance.

And do the other books in the series continue this storyline, or do we move on to new characters within the same world?

The answer to this is yes … to both. There is an eight-year gap between the prequel and the series, giving Sam time to grow from a precocious child to an equally intense young woman. As is true of any good romance, Lily and Henry end up together, sharing the welcome task of protecting Lily’s little sister. But when it’s no longer possible, they send Sam off to the safe haven Lily and Sam had been working toward in the prequel. The first three books in the series focus on Sam’s journey in search of a place where she can be accepted for who she is. This introduces a whole cast of new characters, including Nathaniel Bowden. He is a cabin boy determined to learn all he can about sailing and steamships so he can captain a ship of his own someday. I have always loved the sea, and Nat is the embodiment of that joy. Lily and Henry remain in England, while Sam sets off for unknown lands. They are present only in the beginning of Secrets, but the second volume of three books (only Life and Law has been released as of yet and I’m currently writing the third) follow Henry’s attempts to end the persecution of all Naturals in England now that he won’t risk Sam’s safety doing so. As you might guess, they discover more than just legal hurdles oppose them, making their path a full adventure in its own right, peopled by some familiar and some new faces. I’ll even note, while Henry’s policing days are far behind him, his former team has an important role to play in this second volume as well.

Is the series finished or will there be more?

The series will ultimately be composed of three volumes and somewhere between seven and nine books. Only the first volume is complete, and the second just begun, so the series is not over quite yet. I also have some other stories in mind that are set in the same world with some character crossover for when this one is finished. I’m having far too much fun to walk away, and I hope my readers feel the same.

And do you have any new projects, appearances or releases in the coming months?

I’m on the verge of releasing the third in my Seeds Among the Stars series. While far future science fiction rather than steampunk, some of the same themes make an appearance there, and it’s definitely an adventure though of a very different sort. The main character in the first book fights her way out of the lowest class on a low-tech colony, not always making the right decisions, but determined and with a good heart. She shares the leading role in the later books with Deluth, who is ship-bred and has little experience with colony life.

The fifth Steamship Chronicles should also be out later this year, continuing Lily and Henry’s story as they leave the English shores for the Continent in search of Sam, among other goals.

Finally, if you enjoyed the sweet romance in Safe Haven, the fourth in my Regency sweet romance series, Uncommon Lords and Ladies will be released this year as well.

For those in (or visiting) the San Francisco Bay Area, California, I will be a panelist at BayCon 2017 over Memorial Day weekend, a convention focused on all things science fiction and fantasy:

Oh splendid, that sounds like lots to look forward to! And where can we find your books for sale?

I go where the readers are so you can find my books at the main online stores: Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, etc. If you’re a paper aficionado, all book-length works are available in paper both online and by order in your favorite bookstores. You can find links to many options on my website, which lists the anthologies and short stories I have out as well:

For those intrigued about The Steamship Chronicles, you should know Secrets (the first in that series) is free in eBook at all the main online stores.

Splendid! And now the all important question, upon which the fate of the universe may hinge – the kettle is singing so, what is your favourite hot brew and how do you take it?

I have to name just one? If so, it must be a traditional Masala chai, spiced and steeped very dark with cream, just one more influence of my vagabond childhood. Sacrilege, I know, because properly done, it’s steeped all day in the spices and tea leaves. I can’t remember which of the first volume books, but one of them has a tiny joke about the differences between tea steeping across cultures.

Oh I completely agree with you about the Masala Chai my dear! Well thankyou so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Margaret, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?

Absolutely. Mustn’t keep hungry bellies empty. I do so hope you will answer the question of “please, [Miss], can I have some more?” with a full soup bowl and a smile.

But of course! Besides the seaweed they scavenge from the shoreline, this soup is the only sustenance the poor darlings have.

Thank you for having me. It’s been a delight, and always grand to enjoy a thick soup with eager company. If you’d like to explore any of my worlds a little more or just say “hi”, feel free to drop in at my website, . I’m always happy to see new faces.

Wonderful, well thankyou once again Margaret for helping me today, I hope you will all join me again next week when Mr Ichabod Temperance and Miss Persephone Plumtartt will be joining me to help dish up some tasty soup so, until then,

Blessings on your brew my dears!











Morning Cuppa: Safe Haven

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s awe-inspiringly amorous and remorselessly romantic parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a dark-hearted affair riddled with unrequited fancies but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning waltzing around the parlour, tripping over eachother’s tentacles and generally getting our heads in a giddy spin because this week, here in The Scattered Isles of Ire, we are celebrating the ‘ festival of (almost) unconditional love’ during which all citizens (well, all those who value their necks so that’s us obviously) make an ostentatious show of celebrating the love that Wiz has shown to us all by doing all he can to prevent us frenziedly nomming ourselves into early graves (ie, banning tea, cake and magic from being consumed by  the general populous) …a-hem.


And to kick off this week long love-fest we have this adorable Lovers’ Tea by Rooted Earth and to accompany it, this sweet steampunk romance…


Safe Haven is the prequel book in Margaret McGaffey Fisk’s Steamship Chronicles and if you are looking for a book that is heavy on the steampunk with an interesting love story intertwined with the plot (and without any unwarranted bodice ripping or token macho-chaps sticking their pistols where they aren’t wanted) then we think you will adore this book as much as we did.

When Lily’s father dies the responsibility of caring for her younger sister, Sam, falls to Lily. But Sam is a Natural – someone who understands the dreams of machines…and in order to keep society safe, the law decrees that all Naturals must be locked up.

Henry is desperate to carry on the high principles and altruistic achievements of his predecessors and although his job in the local police force doesn’t quite provide him with the opportunities he craves to do this, he is certainly doing his best to be a champion of the poor, combat these lunatic Naturals and keep innocent citizens safe from their monstrous creations.

Will Henry’s burning desire to ‘do the right thing’ and Lily’s commitment to protect her sister be the tools which drive them apart or bond them together?

We loved the steampunk world offered in this book and the originality and ‘freshness’ of the plot. The characters were adorable and we will definitely be reading the next book to see what happens to them all next.

Now then, time to pop our oracular pet into his cup and see if it has any ideas for celebrating the love of our kind and benevolent dictator…


Splendid! We wish you all a very splendid morning filled with amorous suitors and absinthe flavoured hearts and we invite you to join us tomorrow for elevenses so, until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself



Soup of the day: With Karen J Carlisle

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is steampunk and fantasy author, Karen J Carlisle, writer of ‘Doctor Jack’ which Max and Collin recommended to us all on Monday. Good morning Karen, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?

“Thank you, Mrs Baker. I’ve got our version of homemade leek and potato soup. I grew the leeks myself. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 leeks (pale section) – thinly sliced
  • 4 celery sticks – halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 4 zucchinis – quartered and thinly sliced
  • 700g potatoes – peeled and cut into 1.5cm squares
  • 1.5 L (6 cups) salt reduced chicken stock
  • Handful of spring onions – chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on low to medium heat. Add leek, celery and zucchini and cook until the vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes). Add potatoes and stock. Cover and heat on med to high heat, until boiling. Reduce to simmer and cook, partly covered, until the potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes).

You can feed a hungry horde of eight.”

Mmm, it smells delicious, and how wonderful that you grew the leeks yourself! Here in Lancaster, Lord Ashton is apparently building a sky-garden so that every resident can have their own vegetable plot so perhaps I will try my hand at leek growing too! Now then, while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us all a little more about the heroine of your book series, Viola Stewart?

“Viola is an intelligent woman living in a man’s world. She studied, in Edinburgh, to become a doctor but was refused registration because of her sex. After her husband died, she became an optician. She is also an inventor, amateur detective and avid reader.”

Doctor Jack is based on the well-known London mystery of Jack The Ripper, however you manage to take the reader on an exciting and unexpected journey as Viola investigates, what inspired you to put a new twist on this famous tale?

“I was watching a documentary on Jack the Ripper and wondered what would happen if my recurring villains, The Society (aka the Men in Grey), tried to use him in their plans – and what if he had plans of his own? Of course, even the villain has a past – old acquaintances and a family. Perhaps he and Viola had already met? During my research I discovered little tit bits suggesting various alternatives to the traditional narrative.
I love ‘what ifs’.”

Ah, the old ‘what-if-itis’ … I believe it is the curse of every true steampunk! Now,the cover art and presentation of your books is absolutely beautiful, do you design the covers yourself?

“Yes, I do. After high school, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a writer, a photographer/cinematographer, an artist/designer, an astronaut, or the Doctor’s next companion. I wanted to do it all. I chose the safe option and finished a Bachelor of Applied Science in optometry. I recently changed careers (long story) and now I get to do photography, design, make book trailers as well as write. Perhaps I am trying to make up for lost time?”

My goodness you certainly have a lot of strings to your bow! And do you have any more mysteries for Viola to solve in the near future?

“Oh, yes. I’ve just published a second journal of Viola’s adventures, Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales, with a second set of short stories and a new novella. There’s mummies and curses and madness. I’ve already started working on the third book in the series.”


As well as writing wonderful books you are also a talented artist have you brought any of your work to show us today?

“I’m participating in Inktober again this year. Inktober is a concept, created by Jake Parker: 31 days, 31 inks. The aim of the project is to practice and improve my ink work and drawing skills. I post to my Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook pages.

This year I started with some characters you may recognise:

Viola Stewart and dear Doctor Henry Collins and Doctor Jack…”




“I’ve just released the Doctor Jack design as a t-shirt on my Redbubble store.


Those really are amazing, Karen, and a t-shirt with Doctor Jack on the front sounds like a very splendid thing indeed, especially for Halloween! And do you have any new releases, workshops or events planned over the next few months?

“My short story, All that Glitters, is being published in an upcoming steampunk anthology, Den of Antiquity. It’s a story set in nineteenth century South Australia. I’m also attending a few local events: a local ‘mini comic con’ over the Halloween weekend – featuring local Adelaide writers, artists and comic book creators, and I have a table in the Artist Alley at Adelaide Supanova’s pop culture event, next month.”

Wonderful, so that is lots of places where fans can catch up with you! And now the all important question, I’ve heard that you are rather passionate about tea, but what is your favourite brew and how do you take it?

“Ah, tea! My favourite brew is Prince of Wales or T2’s Black Rose, depending on my mood. Black, no sugar, in my favourite fine china teacup, thank you.”

Max and Colin will be glad to hear you take your tea black! (or ‘neat’ as I think they term it.) you know, for an octopus, Collin has very strong opinions on adding milk to hot beverages.

Well now, here is your tea and thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Karen, it’s been wonderful to chat with you! Your home made soup smells delicious and I think it must be about ready so shall we start dishing it up?

“Definitely. And thanks for sharing your kitchen.”

A pleasure! Max and Collin will of course be ‘all punked up with no place to go’ tomorrow if you would care to join them in the parlour, and of course Peril will be sharing some fabulous fiction on Friday from his lovely library. I will be back next week with musician and youtuber Bellabeth giving me a hand to  dish up the soup.

Blessings on your brew my dears!

Soup of the day: With Charity Tahmaseb

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins.

Helping me this morning is one of my favourite authors, Charity Tahmaseb, writer of ‘Coffee and Ghosts’ which Max and Collin recommended to us all on Monday. Good morning Charity, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?

“I do have some soup, although my husband is the soup expert in our house. That being said, my daughter’s favorite is the matzo ball soup I make (and to be honest, I use a kit–still, she loves it). “

Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your book series, Coffee and Ghosts?

“Coffee and Ghosts revolves around the adventures of Katy Lindstrom and her business partner Malcolm Armand in which they use coffee (and sometimes tea) to catch ghosts.

The first season begins with Katy and her grandmother using coffee to catch ghosts and storing them in Tupperware containers, an idea which I (and probably most of your readers) found instantly adorable, where did the inspiration for such a brilliant idea come from?

A long while back, I wrote a mystery from the point of view of a ghost. While the novel never went anywhere, during my research, I came across an anecdote about people catching ghosts in jars.

That idea percolated for years until I saw the call for submissions for Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic, and I used that to write a short story about catching ghosts with coffee. Glass jars seemed too dangerous for that task, so I substituted Tupperware containers.

That story, Ghost in the Coffee Machine, became the pilot episode for Coffee and Ghosts. Early this year, The Drabblecast produced the story in audio. It’s so much fun. It even has sounds effects! It’s not very long and you can listen to it here:”

And have you ever seen a ghost?

“I have not. Can you believe it? I even did a “haunted London” tour when I went to England several years back. No cold spots, no slamming doors. Nothing. I was so disappointed.”

Well, never mind my dear, you must be sure to pop along and visit our own resident ghost, Perilous Wight, in his Lovely Library some time! Now then, several readers have commented on the beautiful coffee pot illustrated on the front of your books, do you have a special coffee pot or other piece of chinaware that inspires your writing?

“The samovar that Malcolm uses is based on the one my in-laws have, as is the tea he brews. I love incorporating a little piece of their heritage into the story.”

Oh that is wonderful to know! I must say I did love the samovar description and the gorgeous smell of the tea he brews, how wonderful! Malcolm is a splendid character and Katy is a very lovable character who I think most readers can identify with but, if you had to chose, who is your personal favourite in the first series?

“Although he doesn’t get a lot of page time in season one, I do like Police Chief Ramsey. He changes a lot over the next two seasons, and has his reasons for being so grumpy. But there will always be a generation gap and some antagonism between him and Katy.”

Hm, reasons to read on then and discover more! Each series is made up of fairly self-contained ‘novelettes’ which makes them very convenient reading for a busy witch like me, rather like a biscuit tin which can be dipped into during sneaky tea (or indeed coffee) breaks! Did you set out to write like this or was it more of a ‘happy accident’?

“It’s a little bit of both. When I started, I thought I would write a handful of self-contained stories. But as I was writing, a larger story arc appeared, one that encompassed the entire season. Then, it evolved into a multi-season arc.

I make a point to wrap up each story (even if not all threads are resolved) and try to make each one a satisfying read. It’s a fun way to write. It’s more flexible than a standalone novel, and I can take time in various episodes to explore subplots and secondary characters.” 

And do you have any plans to write another season?

“Seasons one and two are already out, and I’m getting season three ready to go, with the first episode available on or about Halloween. I recently released both seasons on all vendors, so you can find the series on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.”

Coffee and Ghosts has totally captured my heart as a reader and I really hope you will continue to write about Katy’s adventures but what other projects are you working on right now? Do you have any new releases we can look forward to

“Certainly! Season three of Coffee and Ghosts is almost ready to go. This season wraps up all major story threads and was a blast to write.

For 2017, I’m hoping to launch two new series, a fairy tale one and another paranormal one.”

Wonderful news! Well I will be sure to keep an eye out for those next year and perhaps when they are out you’ll come back and tell us a little more about them. But now the all important question, on which the fate of the universe may very well hinge,…you are obviously passionate about hot beverages but which do you really prefer, coffee or tea?

“I must–must–have my coffee in the morning, and I take it with half and half, no sugar (in fact, I dislike sweet coffee so much, I don’t even like coffee ice cream).

In the afternoon? Well, that’s a different story. Then I’m all about tea. I love all sorts of teas, but generally drink green tea and the hot cinnamon spice tea from Caribou Coffee. (My go-to drink when I’m writing at the coffee shop.)”

Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Charity, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?

“Thank you for having me! I’ve enjoyed our chat. Let’s eat!”

I will be back in the kitchen next Wednesday with another helpful guest, Karen J Carlisle who will be telling us all about her steampunk series, The Adventures of Viola Stewart, but Max and Collin will be back in the parlour tomorrow with some tremendous Tea @ Three.

Blessings on your brew my dears and if you’d like to read Charity’s lovely series for yourselves you can find her books by following the links below…