Clockwork Dragon Release Giveaway

The dragons are coming!

The Clockwork Dragon, book three in the Section 13 adventures, is on the way. Jack, Gwen, and a bunch of dragons arrived in stores on 5 February, but don’t wait. Order by 20 February and get a prize pack!**

Order your hardcover or ebook of The Clockwork Dragon, send us proof of purchase, and we’ll send you a prize pack worth more than twice the cost of the book.***

Not only that, we’re extending this offer two weeks into the release period. That means you have until 20 February to order!

To receive a prize pack, you must send us a picture of your receipt along with a valid U.S. address via the “Contact The Ministry Express” tab at the top of this page, or send via

Here’s what’s inside:

We’re very excited about this prize pack, especially the collectable challenge coins, but we’ll get to that in a moment. First, here’s the list of what you’ll receive for each book ordered when you send us proof of purchase.**

One All Forms Must Be Completed pen; gunmetal finish, stylus on top. This is the nicest pen ever to emerge from our Tinkers Guild shop. Plus one Clockwork Dragon cover art notepad. The pen and pad make a perfect combination when you need to jot down clues.

One Ministry of Dragons In Case of Dragon Attack bookmark (both sides shown). They may push the envelope of danger while corralling dragons, but the Dragos are all about safety. The back of this bookmark tells you steps to take in a fire—approved by the Ministry of Dragons and FEMA.

Eight stickers! Four large Ministry of Dragons seal stickers. Slap one on the front of a notebook to let the world know you are ready for any dragon it sends your way. Plus four mini The Clockwork Dragon cover stickers, good for sealing notes passed to other agents.

Plus FOUR secret society challenge coins. All new editions.

Four coins in total. Both sides of each coin shown in pictures. More info below.

Check out these coins:

Yes, we are excited about these coins!

Our new coins are each two inches in diameter, with dual metal finish and sculpted edges. They are true collectables, and you get all four with each pre-order prize pack. Don’t miss out!

For the release of The Clockwork Dragon, we commissioned brand new secret society challenge coins. Members of our four secretive ministries carry these coins for positive identification. You know you can trust the bearer of a challenge coin (most of the time).

What are you waiting for? Get your prize pack!

Order your copy of The Clockwork Dragon and send us your receipt.

**Prize packs will be shipped to valid U.S. addresses only. Coins available while supplies last. Proof of purchase required. One prize pack per book ordered. Receipts must be dated prior to 11:59 pm, 20 February 2019. Screenshots or PDFs of receipts and addresses may be sent to or via the Contact The Ministry Express page on this blog. Receipts will be accepted until 15 April 2019.

***Retail value of a complete and shipped prize pack exceeds $35. Suggested retail cost of a single hardcover is $16.99

The Fourth Ruby is Here!

Well, not the ruby itself. To find out where the ruby is hidden, you’ll have to read the book and follow the clues with Jack and Gwen. But the book is here.

If I’m honest, the book isn’t here either. Not here here, anyway. But it is in bookstores. Or you can find it *face palm* here on this blog by going to the links tab.

Ancient mysteries? Diabolical villains? A Thieves’ Guild with their own underground city? Yes, please! Read below to find out what it’s all about, then check out the book by Mr. James R. Hannibal, the unofficial chronicler of London’s most ancient and most secret agencies. And if you’d like to start with his first chronicle, look here:

It’s been a year since Jack Buckles discovered the Keep beneath Baker Street, an underground tower no Section Thirteen was ever supposed to see; a year since his dad fell into a coma. Nothing has been the same since. Jack’s tracker abilities are on the fritz, Gwen’s not speaking to him and, what’s worse, there’s a pounding voice in his head calling for “the flame.”

Jack and Gwen are framed for the theft of a historic crown jewel—the Black Prince’s Ruby, one of three cursed rubies said to bring knowledge, loyalty, and the command of nations to whomever wields them all. Now, they must retrieve the other jewels before the true thief does, or risk unleashing a reign of terror unlike anything history’s ever seen.

Boys, Families, and Section 13

For two years I ran a monthly book club with middle grade boys from our church family. It taught me a lot about the age group, and the literature available. Running that book club also had an immeasurable impact on how I would write The Lost Property Office.

The boys and I started with classics and historical books that we could connect to on a manly level, like My Side of the Mountain or Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, but we also wanted to read some contemporary works—maybe broaden our horizons beyond survival stories. As I searched for selections, though, I noticed a trend. The families in popular secular middle grade books were beyond broken. In the most popular series, the parents were dead and the hero’s adopted family was both comically and tragically abusive. In the next most popular series, the hero’s mother didn’t make it past the first couple of chapters. His step father was abusive, and his father was . . . well . . . an absentee Greek god—as in the original version. Thus, we turned to Christian books for our first few contemporary selections, but the stories were similar. In the first book we tried, the hero’s parents were divorcing and losing touch with him. In the next book, the hero’s adopted father attempted to kill him. These books were not what my heart was yearning for as a guide and teacher.

Children need windows to look through and mirrors to see themselves in, meaning they need to read about different types of families. And families don’t always look the same. But whether the hero was adopted, or helping a single mother deal with adversity, I wanted a story where the love between parent and child, brother and sister, became the center. When I finally confessed this to my wife, we could not come up with a suitable book, and so she told me to write the book myself.

The Lost Property Office opens with a family in crisis and a young teen thrust into becoming the man of the household—with a sister who isn’t exactly cooperative. Jack may react to all this change with teen angst, but the reader is never in doubt as to the love he holds for his mother and sister or the love they hold for him. And that love continues through the story until the family is whole again. When I finally handed the manuscript over, I was terrified because I hadn’t read anything like it in recent months. How could a story with a loving family survive in a market filled with abusive step-parents? But then something wonderful happened. People connected with the Buckles family. Jack’s story became a Book Expo America Buzz Book. Sony optioned it for film.

As it turned out, others had similar ideas. In April, former children’s laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson vowed to restore “lovely dads” to children’s literature. In a Publishers Weekly interview, a YA agent described seeing and selling more books with a “family or sibling story at their heart.” Suddenly, this story I had worried so much over was at the crest of the wave. Who knew?

God knew. I felt called to write The Lost Property Office for the broadest possible audience. I wanted children from all types of families to have that mirror or that window into love-centered family relationships. Sadly, I’ve missed my chance to read this book with my middle grade boys’ book club. They grew into highschoolers on me while I was busy writing. But I hope they’ll read the Section 13 books anyway, and enjoy stories that shows the love between a mother and child, brother and sister, and father and son.

Uncle Percy’s Secret Society Secret Santa Gift Guide

Uncle Percy, here. Quartermaster extraordinaire. And I’m back to bring you this year’s Secret Society Secret Santa Gift Guide.

If you’re new to the world of The Lost Property Office and London’s hidden Elder Ministries, let me catch you up. There are four secret societies that serve the British Crown—the dragos of the Ministry of Dragons, the crumbs of the Ministry of Trackers, the toppers of the Ministry of Guilds, and the spooks of the Ministry of Secrets. No matter which of these secret societies fits your loved ones best, this little guide will give you a leg up in finding that special something to brighten their Christmas morning.

As always, our jolly journey begins with the Crumbs at the Ministry of Trackers.

Our apprentice clerks—who helped me build this list—have a particular love of puzzles and codes. This year, along with the usual themed underwear and spyglasses, they’ve asked that you stuff their stockings with a cryptex puzzle pod or anything from UGEARS, makers of functioning wooden puzzles.

And what about our fully fledged agents? Well, nothing says I am the master of my domain like having the ability to boss your whole house around—literally, the house. I’m talking smart home technology. Don’t tell Mrs. Hudson, but I had the Baker Street clerks work late to research this one. We’ve discovered three major competitors, but the unanimous choice is the Amazon Echo.  Now starting its third year, Echo is the most vetted and versatile of the smart home hubs.

Amazon Echo $179.99
It is, however, a bit of a give a mouse a cookie scenario. The Echo hub pairs with other available tech packages to allow your favorite quartermaster to control the lights, doors, thermostat, and who-knows what else, all while ordering dinner, setting appointments, and a host of other activities. If you live in a smaller flat, the less expensive Echo Dot will suffice. In a larger house, adding Echo Dots to each floor will give you total control. Yes, Google has their own version, but it is far less vetted, and frankly, the clerks and I believe it to be a Ministry of Secrets plot.


Speaking of the spooks, what do you get for the spy who has everything?

More spy gear, of course!

Our Secret Society Secret Santa journey continues down the Thames to the Ministry of Secrets.

And here we have a bit of one-stop, online shopping.

Whether you’re talking spook spuds, spook sprites, or active spook agents, you’ll find what they want on the website of the International Spy Museum Store. For the younger spies, you might try the Ultimate Spy Kit or the Spy Girl Mission Kit, or build your own goodie bag from their expansive collection.

For agents in their prime, though, you’ll still find what you need: everything from wallet-size survival tools to lipstick power banks, to WiFi USB cuff links. Your imagination (and your bank account) really are the the limit. But beware. These are spooks we’re talking about, so don’t think they won’t turn your gifts around and use them against you.

That brings us to the toppers of the Ministry of Guilds, and this year’s guide for giving to guildsmen focuses on the Tinkers Guild.

The clerks and I have found the tinker gift that keeps on giving. Apprentice and journeyman tinkers alike will love a subscription to Tinker Crate from the makers of Kiwi Crate. Each month, a box will arrive with a different DIY project that produces something cool. Gavin, the ten year-old who waters the plants at my flat, demonstrated his latest Tinker Crate project for me. It’s top quality work. The guild fathers should take a sharp look at this boy (and this monthly crate service).

For the master tinkers, we have something a little more advanced. One tinker that I’m particularly fond of shared with me an automotive project he completed. This Sequential LED Kit, sold for $269.95 by the Mustang Project (not to be confused with a horse charity of the same name), offers a quick tinkering project and years of fun by modifying the break lights of a hot rod. Don’t fret. This gift idea is not mustang-specific. The website has plug and play projects for every tinker’s favorite car. And yes, there are two mustangs in that tinker’s garage.

Thanks for noticing.

Finally our little yuletide trip around London brings us to the Ministry of Dragons, exchanging gadgety goodness for medieval merriment.

The most fun-filled drago gifts this year can be found on craft sites like Etsy. For instance, what little dragon-fighter wouldn’t want a pair of these dragon scale gloves to keep them warm? This pair comes from Tender Creation Shop, but there are a host of colors and materials to be found from various vendors. And if gloves aren’t your drago’s thing, how about his or her very own dragon egg? A good many can be found on Etsy, but my personal favorite nest of decorative serpent shells is found on The eggs there are truly spectacular.

Then again, drago knights of a certain age might be hoping for something even more special. and the clerks and I have come up with the perfect thing. Brian at DBK Custom Swords & Scabbards is an amazing artist. Does this gift cost more than a few bob? Absolutely. But what better way to tell your knight I love and respect the testosterone-fueled warrior within you than the gift of a deadly medieval weapon and a finely-crafted scabbard to hold it.

And so we’ve come full circle, back to the fireside in my office at the Ministry of Trackers Keep.

Wait. What do we have in these stockings? Why, one more gift that suits any secret society agent. The Lost Property Office is a perfect fit for every crumb, drago, spook, and topper. And with that gleaming foil cover, you don’t even have to wrap it.

But don’t take my word for it. This story is recommended as a hot holiday gift by both Publisher’s Weekly ShelfTalker and The Los Angeles Times. And it’s great for ages 8 to 80. So give The Lost Property Office a Christmas whirl. You can get it directly from Simon & Schuster for 40% off and free shipping, making this beautiful hardcover the price of your average stocking stuffer.


That about “wraps” it up for this year’s Secret Society Secret Santa gift guide. From all of us at the Ministry of Trackers, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

I think it’s time for some tea.

Sony Pictures Options The Lost Property Office

Publishers Marketplace has announced the sale of film rights for THE LOST PROPERTY OFFICE by James R. Hannibal to Sony Pictures Entertainment.

This is a dream come true. I am utterly thrilled that a studio with Sony’s caliber will bring the characters like Jack and Sadie Buckles, and Gwen Kincaid to life. Here is the simple—and yet, for me, world changing—announcement on Publishers Marketplace:


Thank you so much to Dana and Sara for working so hard to make this happen. Onward!!

Birth Defects and Superheroes

So you might have seen my posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Big black cover.

Enormous clockwork beetle.

The Lost Property Office is a new children’s adventure coming this fall from Simon and Schuster. It will also be highlighted this May as one of 5 middle-grade trendsetters at Book Expo America—a blessing I am exceedingly grateful for. But there is another side to this story that is, perhaps, less obvious.


Jack Buckles, the thirteen-year-old tracker in this London adventure, is a character I poured my heart and soul into, particularly in the way Jack experiences the world. He is, if you will, a new take on the hyper-observant detective, because of something Jack and I share—a “birth defect” known as synesthesia.

I never use the word synesthesia in the book. The Lost Property Office is written in Jack’s point of view, and he doesn’t know he has it—much like I didn’t know for three and a half decades, and much like a good number of kids today who are misidentified as inattentive or ADD don’t know they have it. 

To give you a quick definition, synesthesia is a lack of walls between the senses. It can be debilitating at times and empowering at others. Knowledge can mean the difference between the two.

Let’s take a look at a well-known kid whose friends and teachers might have considered him “different.”

Imagine you are young Clark Kent, and you have no idea why you struggle so hard to fit in. 

You see the other children at Smallville Elementary easily keeping their feet on the ground. They don’t have to work at it like you do. Their pencils never snap in their hands, and their deskwork never spontaneously combusts.  

Maybe they’re all just smarter than you are.

When you finally get up enough courage to ask another boy how he makes it all look so easy, he stares back at you like you’re crazy. Soon, all the little girls point and giggle when you walk by.

The coach likes you, as much good as that does. 

“Clark? Sure, he’s a little rowdy. Always moving. Head in the clouds. But you should see him boot that kickball!”

Your teacher is constantly calling your parents in for a chat, and it’s never good.

“We love little Clark,” she tells your mom at their latest impromptu conference. “But he’s practically bouncing off the walls. I literally have to pull him down off the ceiling twice a day. If you can’t get him to quit leaping over the annex in a single bound, we’re going to have to put him in a special class.”

You overhear. You know what “special class” really means.

Now try to see yourself as a child with synesthesia. 

You’re trying your best to concentrate on the teacher. A bird chirps outside the window, soft and sharp at the same time. Pinkish-white spikes the fly across the left side of your vision. You can’t suppress them, even though you can see the teacher eyeing you. 

How do all the other kids do it so easily? Why doesn’t the chirping bother them? You look down at your hands, willing the bird to shut up, then back up at Ms. Moore. One eye is still locked on to you. She’s waiting for you to crack.

Then old Mr. Gufford drives by on his rickety lawnmower. 

It’s all over. 

Resistance is futile.

Some of the other kids are distracted, too, but your vision is completely taken over. Your mind’s eye fills with a bumpy gray-brown mass. Not because you’re imagining things. It’s there, out of your control. You feel every thump, thock, and crack of the motor in the back of your neck—real, but not real at the same time. 

How can you, a ten-year-old, explain such a concept to Ms. Moore, the scariest creature the Fifth Grade Teacher Factory ever spat out?

At the same time, you’re absolutely brilliant at math and memorization. You know it, but you have no idea why. Letters and numbers, words and concepts, have colors and textures for you that are always the same. You don’t have to think about them to recall them. They just fly around your head in purple wisps and rainbow ribbons. But isn’t it the same for everybody else?

And the school nurse thinks you’re some sort of audio-prodigy. She’s tested your hearing nine times and its always off the charts. You don’t see why it’s so hard. How could anyone miss those pink, brown, and blue blobs on the left or right side of the mind’s eye. You don’t have to hear the tones. You can see them.

Then again, you’ve been in the nurse’s office three times this week for throwing up when the lunch lady tossed peas and onions onto your tray. “You’re not sick. You have no temperature,” she tells you.  “If you keep making yourself vomit for attention your going to really hurt yourself.”

You’re not making yourself do anything. 

The smell of those onions is like wading through slimy black mush. Real, but not real. There, but not there. You can’t tell that to the nurse. She’ll have them put you in the special class.

“I don’t know,” Ms. Moore tells your mom with yet another sigh at yet another parent teacher conference. “He tests so well, but his listening comprehension is”—she glances your way, then leans toward your mom and whispers— “abysmal,” as if you can’t both hear and see the word. “He simply has no focus.”

This is very much how Jack’s life went before he came to London in search of his father—before Jack discovered his gift had a name.

And the name for that gift is not synesthesia.

Not in my make believe world. 

Jack Buckles is a tracker.

You can have a “birth defect” or you can be a super hero. 

Your choice.



From the THE SYNESTHESIA PROJECT at Boston University with Dr. Veronica Ross:

Synesthetes, on the other hand, do not know that anything is “wrong.” They recognize their synesthesia early in life but without external input, they will not realize that what they are experiencing (colors, tastes, sensations) is unique. In the eyes of a color-graphemic synesthete, her synesthetic percepts are shared by the whole world. When the synesthete does recognize that he or she is doing something unusual, he or she may be reluctant to discuss what’s going on for fear of being labeled a freak, shunned, misunderstood, accused of lying, or even diagnosed with a mental illness. It is common for a synesthete to remain silent about his or her synesthesia for decades until a magazine article or radio program makes the synesthete realize that she’s not alone and he’s not crazy.

LPO To Be Featured At BEA

March 3, 2016

Book Expo America, the flagship trade show of the publishing industry has announced this year’s 15 picks for the Editor’s Buzz Forums, and THE LOST PROPERTY OFFICE is among them!

“BEA has had a good track record in selecting upcoming bestsellers and I think that once again this crop of authors is likely to become household names in the coming months,” said Steve Rosato, event director. “We’re happy with these selections and look forward to exploring these works further at BEA.”