Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie R. Sorensen

Today I’m hosting Stephanie R. Sorensen and her historical steampunk, Toru: Wayfarer Returns. Stephanie is giving away a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Stephanie is also here today to give us an interview!

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Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?

As a writer, I spend a great deal of time imagining myself as someone else. Many someone elses! I enjoy getting inside the heads of my characters and imagining their interactions and feelings. One of the main delights in both writing and reading for me is being someone else for a while. For example, I’ve always wanted to go into space, but I’m exceedingly nearsighted and not the most athletic pencil in the box, so that dream goes into the “Highly Unlikely” category. Flying all the way to Mars in such a realistic way was marvelous, thanks to author Andrew Weir through his protagonist in “The Martian,” all without actual risk of death.

However, I’ve never wanted to be someone else permanently. In fact, my very first essay, written in first grade as a sentence completion exercise, consisted of the following: “When I grow up, I want to be me.” I can still remember gravely pondering other options, along with various career paths and identities, and rejecting them all in favor of essential me-ness. I did want to be an elf, but my elders explained that was not an option.

What did you do on your last birthday?

My husband and I drove 500 miles each way to pick up a puppy. She was my birthday present. A little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a ruby and white Blenheim. She is outgoing and energetic and loves demanding attention during writing sessions. She also enjoys hunting butterflies.

What part of the writing process do you dread?

That point about two thirds of the way through the first draft. You are out in the middle of the rushing river of writing with the rope of the core story line held between your teeth, swimming like crazy to reach the opposite shore and the dry land of a first draft. But you are weary, and the finish line is still far away, and the idea that seemed so great when you started is now the stupidest idea a human brain ever invented. All comfort (“You can fix it on the re-write!”) seems hollow and empty and you are possessed by overwhelming urges to caulk the cracks on your unreachable second story window frames or take up the study of Tibetan. It is misery.

My husband is a recording engineer, and he finds that same moment with his rock bands when they come up to track their albums. They lay down rough cuts of each song, which is fun and lively, but then they have to go in and repeat recordings until they have a really strong performance of each song so they can move on to the mix stage. (“Editing” for music.) At some point, they are sick of all their songs, hate their album and just want to be done, but they are not done. He tells them, “You wanted to swim the English Channel, and you trained and prepared and now you are in the water, two thirds of the way across. You cannot give up now. Keep going. France is out there. Now play it again.”

So I guess it is a universal point in the creative process. I just mutter to myself, “France is out there. Keep writing.” I get a lot of laundry and dusting done until I can summon the courage to start up again.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t suffer from writer’s block exactly, but I do suffer from a busy life and lots of people who want me to do things with them and for them. I like them, and theoretically want to be a good person who helps others, but I get filled with purple rage when I’ve planned a writing day and something comes up. I’m getting better at defending my time, but I can lose whole days because someone interrupted me or wanted a meeting in the middle of a planned writing session. It’s not really writer’s block, for if I know I have an uninterrupted patch of time ahead of me, the writing usually flows pretty well, but if I know I will be disturbed, I cannot get down to work. I need to solve this so I can use smaller chunks of time to write, but for the moment it’s a real problem for me.

Tell us about your latest release.

“Tōru: Wayfarer Returns” is a story about a young man in 1850s Japan who wants to save his country from encroaching Western powers. It’s got a lot of real Japanese history and culture and figures in it, but it’s an alternate history flavored with hints of steampunk and a sweet romance. Basically revolutionary samurai with dirigibles take on foreign invaders. I love Japan and lived there for several years, so the story is a way of sharing that experience with others, wrapped up in an adventure story. It’s more New Adult or Adult than teen YA. The story and characters are pretty upbeat and earnest, so not a good fit for fans of dark dystopias, horror, erotica or violent action-adventure. Historical fiction and historical fantasy fans interested in Japan enjoy it quite a bit.

Thanks for the interview, Stephanie!

A nation encircled by enemies

A noblewoman with everything to lose

A fisherman with everything to prove and a nation to save.

In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures.

Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.

Recognition for “Toru: Wayfarer Returns”
— Finalist, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
— Bronze Medal Award, Multicultural Fiction category, 2016 eLit Book Awards

Kirkus review:
Historical Novel Society review:


“Rather than argue with them, you should invite them to make the first flight with you,” said Takamori. “At first they will agree, since it is their place as the leaders. Everyone is very excited about the dirigibles. Set the time and place for the first flight. Jiro should explain that is not a good time because of the wind or something technical that needs testing first. You argue with Jiro and perhaps even scold him for impertinence in front of the daimyōs.”

“Yes, I am often scolded for impertinence,” said Jiro. “I have a talent for it, you know.”

“Indeed you do,” said Tōru. He saw where Takamori was going. “Then they notice the risks and uncertainties…and they ask me if it is safe. I tell them honestly that we have no idea if it is safe or if it will work, and that we might all crash to a fiery death and therefore perhaps I should test it first myself before we endanger them.”

“And I will be impertinent again and tell you in front of them that you don’t have a clue how to fly one of these dirijibi!” Jiro finished the plan for them. “Which is also true, by the way. I know how to fly one of these, and you don’t.”

“You’ve never flown one either,” protested Tōru.

“I have built one. Almost. Soon. How many have you built?” asked Jiro, with his broad grin.

Tōru opened his mouth and closed it again.

“See? Problem solved,” said Takamori, as he pounded Tōru on the back. “We have a fine dirijibi pilot, the finest dirijibi pilot in all of Japan, our good man Jiro here.”



Stephanie is a writer based in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where she lives at 10,251 feet with her husband, five chickens, two bantam English game hens and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. After a former life in big cities-New York City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Boston, Mexico City, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Santa Fe-she now enjoys the birdsong and quiet writing time she finds in Leadville. Her first novel draws on her experience living and working in Japan; her next historical novel is set in Mexico where she also lived for several years. As a Leadville local, she likes her Victorian attire spiced with a little neo-Victorian futurism and the biggest bustle possible.


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From Prussia With Love by Tina Christopher

Today I’m hosting Tina Christopher and her erotic Steampunk novel From Prussia With Love available from Loose Id. Tina is giving away an awesome prize package which includes a Steampunk jewelry set containing a necklace and a pair of earrings, as well as an 8 book collection of her works. So make sure to comment, follow the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Tina is also here today to talk about her love of Steampunk, a love I share as well. Take it away, Tina!

Why Does Steampunk Appeal To Me?

Hello there, how do you do? Thank you so much, Megan, for having me. Let me just pour us a nice cup of tea and we can start our chat.

I love writing steampunk stories because the possibilities are endless!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First I want to share how I define steampunk. If you have a look around the internet you end up with five sites and eight definitions and let’s not get started on the purists. My favourite definition comes from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences:

Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel—powered by steam and set in the 1800’s.

I write Victorian steampunk, the majority of my stories based in London, a city I’ve lived in for years and love dearly. It’s so much fun using locations I’ve been to in my books.

The other thing I love about Steampunk is the opportunity to twist history. I’ve always enjoyed reading about history, the big events, the small ones, and how one decision can affect whole countries. Clara, the heroine in From Prussia With Love lives in a world where Her Majesty Queen Victoria passed an Equal Rights Act shortly after taking the throne, giving women equal rights to men. But just because the Act has been passed five decades ago doesn’t mean people have accepted it. No matter the official stance Clara has to deal with men who still believe women are nowhere near as good as men (sound familiar?).

And then there is the awesome opportunity to develop steampunk technology. I love imagining how a scientist or inventor in the 1800s would have developed technology we take for granted. I also have a lot of fun making up things that are still beyond us. In From Prussia With Love I have Clara using a hoverton. She contacts the local pub to order dinner and they send their hoverton—basically a floating tray—with her order. The hoverton will remain in a corner of the room until Clara returns the dishes and then floats back to the pub. I so want restaurants to have hovertons. Can you imagine how much faster you would receive your order?

Steampunk allows me to combine my love of history with my love of sci-fi, to have fun with my worldbuilding and my characters, and to add swashbuckling adventure to my stories. What else could I ask for?

Thank you so much for joining me. I’d love to hear from you what you enjoy about steampunk.


Clara Redbeck has one goal: to prove to the sods at work—and to herself—that the best man for the job can be a woman. To do that, she must prevent a traitor from blowing London to bits. If only the dashing first mate of the dirigible she’d been tasked to plunder didn’t set her aflame.

Garrett Dewhurst has one goal: to execute the coup of a lifetime. His plans do not include a spanking dalliance with the most intriguing woman he has ever met.

With each encounter, the fire between them burns hotter and their need grows stronger. Finally, the cramped cabin aboard the Bismarck becomes their intimate playground, where Garrett introduces Clara to the pleasure of submission and they explore their passion in every way possible.

Clara and Garrett want a future together, but each holds a secret that if revealed could cost them everything. When danger closes in, they have to choose between protecting themselves or the whole of London.


She didn’t respond. Instead she studied him from the tips of his boots to the top of his head and every inch in between. Heat spread through his body, unexpected and not completely welcome.

Then she mirrored his stance right down to the raised eyebrow.

Unable to help himself, he smiled.

It had been a very, very long time since a woman had intrigued him after exchanging just a few sentences. She took his breath away and made him want to laugh. Judging by her frown, this was not the response she’d expected.

Garrett turned to Jens. “I believe you have other passengers to look after. I’ll take care of Miss Riesenbeck and anything she may require.”

Jens nodded. He bowed to both of them and practically ran away.

“I don’t know if I should be insulted at the speed of his departure or pat his cheek.”

Garrett chuckled. “Neither. I just think you are too much woman for him. He wouldn’t know how to handle you.”

She widened her eyes. “And you do?”

He curved his lips and knew his smile carried an edge. “Would you like me to prove it?”

She scrutinized him, leaving him hanging on the lip of the abyss, waiting for her response.

“Give me the tour Jens had promised to escort me on, and I will let you know at the end.”

Challenge curled through him. He bowed lightly but continued to hold her gaze captive. “Please step into my cargo hold.”

Her smile lit up her face. Her beauty was not conventional, but in that moment, it grabbed him by the throat. “Said the spider to the fly.”

“Will you step into my web?”

She turned around and threw a glance over her shoulder. “That has yet to be determined.” She strode to the door, and Garrett fell into step behind her.



Tina Christopher spent her early years flitting across the Channel between Germany and England. After touring the world extensively—from hanging out with elephants in South Africa to hiking through the wilderness in Alaska—she finally laid down roots in Toronto. Although Canada’s winters may be frigid, Tina’s characters are anything but!

Like most writers, Tina often hears voices in her head, but it took the encouragement of an editor friend to have her actually put fingers to keyboard. While those first stories will never see the light of day, she’s subsequently honed her craft and learned to build not just worlds, but entire galaxies. History has always been an area of interest for her, and she’s enjoys few things more than imagining what could happen when history and future meet.

When not imagining far-away worlds and scorching-hot encounters, Tina can be found on her sofa working through her never-ending TBR pile or venturing into the real world—whether to a nearby café or a passport-required destination. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America Toronto chapter and looks forward to where her characters take her next!


Enter to win a Steampunk jewelry set and an 8 book collection of Tina’s works!

Leave a comment and follow the tour for more chances to win!