Welcome to my Front Parlor, where I hope to engage you in some stimulating conversations about my journey as an indie author, the lessons learned about marketing, and the joys of writing fiction. The past five years have been enormously rewarding, with the publication of four novels in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series Maids of Misfortune, Uneasy Spirits, Bloody Lessons, and Deadly Proof, a short story collection, Victorian San Francisco Stories, and the forthcoming publication of my first science fiction novel, Between Mountain and Sea. Do come in, look around, comment, and before you go, please leave a visiting card (url, twitter, fb address, etc) so I can return the courtesy and visit you next time.
Murder and Mayhem is a boxed set of four historical mysteries written by members of the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative that will be only 99 cents between March 22-27.
These four mysteries range in time periods and settings from I. J. Parker’s The Hell Screen, set in Medieval Japan, to Anna Castle’s Murder and Misrule, set in Elizabethan England, to Libi Astaire’s Tempest in the Tea Room, set in Regency England, to M. Louisa Locke’s Maids of Misfortune, set in Victorian San Francisco.
M. Louisa Locke, March 22, 2016
The Pot o’ Gold Giveaway Hop is Coming – All Day on St. Patrick’s Day!
19 amazing authors have come together to give away $100 in gift cards to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, & Starbucks – plus eBooks, swag, and even more great prizes!
Just visit any of the following Facebook pages from midnight to midnight, Eastern time on Thursday, March 17th. Then hop to the next author on the list for more chances to WIN!
Don’t forget to give the pages a LIKE – and check out their books. You might find your next great read!
I turned sixty-six today, and I can’t help but think about my mother, who died when she was my age after a long illness. In that context, this particular milestone seems unusually significant. Both of my parents are gone…and yet daily I am reminded of the impact both of them had on my life.
Six years ago, I wrote a tribute to my father, Second Chances and Role Models, that talked about how his choices in life and his decision to write poetry in his retirement years influenced me in my decision to finally fulfill my dream of writing historical fiction by becoming a self-published author when I was sixty.
Today, however, I would like to talk about my mother and how I can see her influence in my journey as an independent author.
The two characteristics I associate most with my mother are friendship and service. When I remember her, I picture her on the phone, cup of coffee in hand and pad of paper next to her.
When the pen and paper weren’t being used, I knew she was listening patiently to her friends as they confided in her about their marriages, their children, their aging parents, their hopes and their fears. Friendship was important to her…and she spent quality time maintaining those relationships. Something she taught me to do as well.
But when the paper and pen were being used…I knew that my mother was organizing someone or something to be of service to others. She wasn’t just the normal 1950s mother volunteering as Girl Scout leader, Sunday school teacher, PTA president (although she did all those things.) But she organized vaccination drives in the inner city, was the first female elder in our church, helped found the first domestic violence hot line and shelter for battered woman in Pittsburgh, and became the volunteer Executive Director of Pennsylvania Common Cause—an organization committed to campaign reform that was started in the 1970s.
Friendship…and service to others. The twin pillars of her life.
So what does that have to do with my journey as an independent author?
When I worked as a college professor, I was part of a community, building friendships and actively serving that community. Following my mother’s example, in addition to my teaching responsibilities, I served on multiple committees, volunteered for faculty leadership positions, raised money for scholarships, and helped on the campaigns that got bonds passed to completely rebuild our campus. Hours and hours of time spent with paper and pen at my side, listening, talking, organizing, serving.
But I thought when I retired to focus on the solitary occupation of writing that it would be isolating. I told myself I would visit campus to keep up with old friends, maybe volunteer in the community.
But none of that happened because I found many of my new friends and opportunities for service among the growing indie author community. And I think that is because members of the indie community, by-in-large, do not see other authors as competitors, don’t see writing and publishing as a zero-sum game, and they are willing to share with each other, believing that our mutual goal is reaching readers not beating out each other for one of the few “contracts” doled out by traditional publishers each year.
As a result, on any given day, I check in with author friends scattered as widely as Australia, England, Canada, and practically every region of the U.S. We chat online about how our writing is going, share information on marketing initiatives, ask about the weather, commiserate over colds, and share funny cat pictures. Checking my Facebook to talk with both fans and other authors has become my reward when I hit my target of words written. And, over the past couple of years, I have actually gotten to hang out with some of these friends in the real world at conventions…turning what I have always seen as a chore into a delight.
But the indie author community has also provided me with opportunities for service. I know the common wisdom is that to be a successful indie author you need to treat it like a business…being focused, efficient, and subordinating everything to writing and marketing. And while I agree, my mother taught me that giving back to the community that sustains me is also important, making life rich and rewarding.
So I write blog posts on this website about my journey as an indie author…not as a marketing ploy…but as a way of giving back to a community of authors who have been generous with their own information.
For the past five years, I have helped serve the Historical Fiction Author Cooperative that I belong to (a group of 50 authors of quality historical fiction) by setting up author and book pages on the website (hfebooks.com) and organizing the weekly blog posts on Mondays, and putting together the Thursday posts that publicize when our books are discounted or newly published.
This year I helped found the Paradisi Chronicles, an open source science fiction world, which I hope will also become a vibrant community of science fiction authors committed to pushing the envelope of independent publishing. And I also had the wonderful chance to mentor a high school student as she self-published an anthology of her poetry and essays, entitled Tales of a Navy Brat.
And as I do these things…I think about my mother and smile. She might be puzzled by my use of a laptop instead of paper and pen or wonder how I was able to skype face to face with my mentee who lives in Singapore. But she would absolutely recognize that I am honoring her with the time I spend in friendship and service.
M. Louisa Locke, January 25, 2016
Yesterday, M. Ruth Myers and I posted Part One of our joint interview with our two female sleuths, Maggie Sullivan and Annie Fuller. Today, Part Two of the interview concludes over on Myers’ blog. Do go on over and read it, I think you will find that these two women end up having a lot in common.
Meanwhile, Uneasy Spirits, the second book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, is still free today and tomorrow (1/21-22) on Kindle.
When M. Ruth Myers and I discovered we were both promoting books in our respective historical mystery series at the same time, we thought how much fun it would be to compare the responses our female sleuths from different historical periods would make to the same questions.
On the surface, Mrs. Annie Fuller, the protagonist in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, is a rather typical 19th century widowed woman who supports herself by running a boarding house. The fact that she supplements her income as the pretend clairvoyant, Madam Sibyl, is a secret she must protect in order to preserve her reputation as a respectable lady.
In contrast, in M. Ruth Myer’s award winning series, her protagonist, Maggie Sullivan, is proud of her profession as private eye. Living in Depression-era Dayton, Ohio, Miss Sullivan drives a DeSoto, carries a .38, and isn’t ashamed to admit she likes an occasional nip of gin.
In short, you might imagine that Miss Maggie Sullivan couldn’t be more different than my genteel Mrs. Annie Fuller.
Well, let’s just see, as we ask them a series of questions.
Today’s post is Part One and tomorrow Part Two will continue over on Myers’ blog at http://galgumshoe.com
1. What got you interested in pursuing such an unusual profession for a woman?
ANNIE: Although I know that there are such things as female investigators who work for the Pinkerton Agency, I am strictly an amateur. In fact, it is my occupation as the clairvoyant Madam Sibyl, giving out financial advice to wealthy San Francisco businessmen, which got me involved in solving crimes. When one of my favorite clients died under suspicious circumstances, I decided to go undercover as a servant in his household to find out who killed him (and recover his missing assets.)
MAGGIE: My dad was a cop, so I grew up around cops from the time I knew how to toddle. I wanted to do what they did, but I wasn’t very good at following rules the way policemen had to. Then a woman in our neighborhood killed herself after her husband skipped out and she heard rumors he might have another family down in Cincinnati. My dad said if she’d been able to hire a detective and find out for sure, it might not have happened. I decided that’s what I wanted to do, to help people like that.
2. What is your relationship with local law enforcement like?
MAGGIE: Way too many of them try to mother hen me because they watched me grow up. Half the others, I went to school with. I get along fine with everyone on the force except two. One made a pass at me and I had to hurt him where it counted to convince him No meant No. The other’s the head of homicide, who clings to the notion I find things out by batting my eyes instead of using my brain. Nobody slips me information and I never ask for special favors – although I’ve been known to trick people into inadvertently letting a tidbit drop now and then.
ANNIE: Actually, I have tried very hard not to have my activities as an investigator come to the official attention of the San Francisco authorities, since any public recognition of my involvement would damage my reputation as a lady. All formal connections with the police have come through the San Francisco lawyer, Nathaniel Dawson, and Patrick McGee, a local patrolman, who happens to be my cook’s nephew. They have both proven to be invaluable collaborators in my investigations.
3. How do clients hear about your services?
ANNIE: Several of my first cases came from people who live in the boarding house I run who asked for my help, and Mr. Dawson has kindly brought me in to assist people that his law firm was hired to represent. Recently, it has been my growing reputation as an accountant who can ferret out financial wrong-doing that has led people to ask for my assistance.
MAGGIE: Many of my clients come to me through word of mouth. Some come because they’ve seen my number in the telephone directory. One even came to me because she found my business card in a library book.
4. Are there any ways in which being a woman gives you an edge over a man in pursuing your cases?
MAGGIE: Sure, several. It doesn’t occur to most people that a woman could be a private eye. That means I can blend in. Men, even when they find out what I do, tend to underestimate me. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to talk to me than they would a man. Sometimes I have to let them chatter on to sift out a tidbit or two. Men don’t have that kind of patience. Mostly they don’t even think of questioning the likes of manicurists and cigarette girls because such women are invisible to them.
ANNIE: I must say I agree with Miss Sullivan, that the fact that people tend to underestimate or over look me as a woman gives me an edge. It was amazing what I learned when I pretended to be a female domestic…people simply didn’t notice I was in the room. Women have to be observant to survive in a world dominated by men, so despite my relative youth, I have learned how to read the unspoken meanings behind a person’s clothing, the way they hold their bodies, and their facial expressions. And I can ask the kind of questions that would be seen as suspicious or rude, if I were a man, because I am perceived as just a gossipy woman.
The second book in my series, Uneasy Spirits, is free for the next three days (1/20-22) on Kindle
M. Louisa Locke, January 20, 2016