Fall First Page Critique Blog Hop

I learned about this from Miss Alexandrina’s blog, and thought it an interesting and useful idea.  We offer up a first page for critique and in exchange, critique the five works above and below ours on the list in return.

So here’s mine:  It’s the first 250 words or so from my present NaNoWriMo work-in-progress, which has a working title of “The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday”, a prequel to my recently published steampunk adventure novel.

It was unlike anything the boy had ever seen.

He had seen large buildings before, of course. Being from the City, he had grown up in the shadow of the great dome of St. Paul’s, and had even ventured inside once at the end of a morning service when the vergers would not notice a poorly dressed boy. The tall spaces of the great cathedral amazed him, but that building was made of stone, and sat squarely upon the ground. This building was made almost entirely of glass and seemed to soar.

“Come along, Nicodemus,” said Mr. Dalrymple, the boy’s master. “Let’s not dawdle. We have lots to see today.”

The boy, staring slack-jawed and wide-eyed at the wonders before him, could only manage, “Cor…”.


“Yes, sir,” said young Nicodemus, and followed along behind the man.

The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations was the wonder of London all through the summer of 1851. Since being officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in May, almost 5 million people had visited and been marveled by its exhibits. Housing the Exhibition was, of course, the Crystal Palace, a enormous building almost a third of a mile long and over 120 feet high.

Nicodemus and his master stopped under the great dome at the center of the building. The space stretched as far as Nicodemus could see in either direction. “What’ll we see first, Mr. Dalrymple? It’s so big!” exclaimed Nicodemus, still straining his neck to look around at everything at once.

London Bridge is falling down, and going back up, and falling down again, and being rebuilt, and burning down, and…

A link on the Two Nerdy History Girls blog led me to Hidden London, a website replete with interesting articles highlighting little-known sites and facts about London. On this website, I learned about an almost impossibly ancient organization that many Londoners unknowingly interact with every day.

There has been a bridge across the Thames at the present site of London Bridge since the time of the Roman occupation. The bridge was such a crucial transportation link between the Roman roads to the north with the routes heading southward that a small trading post that sprung up on the north side of the bridge grew to become the Roman city of Londinium—the beginnings of the City of London. (Yes, London Bridge is older than London!) Continue reading

To Rule the Skies — Now available in paperback

140814 COVERgradient2I am very happy to announce that my debut steampunk adventure novel To Rule the Skies is now available in paperback through Amazon.

If you prefer ebooks, To Rule the Skies is also available at Amazon for the Kindle,  iTunes for iBook, Barnes and Noble for the Nook, and Smashwords in many ebook formats.

Here’s the synopsis of the story:

Professor Nicodemus Boffin, late of the University of Edinburgh and protégé of the great Michael Faraday, is the Scientist General of The Endeavour, a British institute to further scientific knowledge and technological advancement for Queen, Country, and Empire. Boffin and his crew travel the world aboard their advanced airship Flamel on a voyage of discovery. In desperate times, however, Flamel is called upon to perform “extraordinary duties”. Boffin is tasked to search for the cause of the sinking of HMS Bellerophon, the Royal Navy’s flagship which was carrying a secret shipment from the Canadian Colonies to London. He must uncover who or what is behind the disaster before tensions between long-time transatlantic enemies, Britain and the United States, bring the two nations over the brink to all-out war.

The Spitalfields Nippers

A link to a Daily Mail Online article about a set of photographs that were taken in the decades surrounding 1900 showing the heartbreaking state of the children of the poor inhabitants of Spitalfields in East London. The photographer was Horace Warner, a Quaker working in the East End to fight poverty and hunger.  Some of his photographs were used to highlight the plight of the poor; most were stored away until now.

Adelaide Springett was so ashamed of her tattered boots, she took them off for this 1901 photograph. Source: Daily Mail website  (link above).

Adelaide Springett was so ashamed of her tattered boots, she took them off for this 1901 photograph. Source: Daily Mail website (link above).

Those of us enamored by the Victorian Period or its revival movement, Steampunk, often forget that it was not all tea parties and polished brass doorknobs.  Not everyone had a country manor or took the “Grand Tour” through Europe to finish one’s education. The orphanages and workhouses were full, and not with the happy, singing orphans of “Oliver!” either.

One UK Victorian reenacting group that I’ve learned off, “The Ragged Victorians” strive to recreate the squalid, the poor, “The great unwashed”, as their website describes it.  We should not forget this aspect of Victorian life as we celebrate the happier side.