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 seven years have been enormously rewarding, with the publication of five novels in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series Maids of Misfortune, Uneasy Spirits, Bloody Lessons, Deadly Proof, and Pilfered Promises, as well as a novella, Violet Vanquishes a Villain, and a short story collection, Victorian San Francisco Stories, and the 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.
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, where we usually had one snowfall by December. However, I have lived the last fifty years in the southwest, mostly in San Diego, where snow never falls. Consequently, I confess I wait every year for December 1 when WordPress starts its falling snowflakes on its websites. Makes me smile every time. And today, as those virtual flakes begin to fall, I am particularly happy to announce that I have two fun gifts for the fans of my Victorian San Francisco mystery series. I have just published a brand new novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer, that features the O’Farrell Street maid, Kathleen, and I have given Pilfered Promises, the fifth book in the series, a new holiday cover and made the book Free until December 15. The events in the novella come immediately after those in Pilfered Promises, so these two make a perfect holiday duo.
It is November of 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together.
For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar.
However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems.
Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house.
It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family.
However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.
While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.
Wishing you all a happy holiday season,
M. Louisa Locke
A year ago, I had just published Pilfered Promises, the fifth book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series, and I had just begun work on the sequel to my first full-length science fiction novel, Between Mountain and Sea. I hoped that I would get this book done and out within six months, so I could go back to doing the work on my next book in the continuing story of Annie and Nate and the O’Farrell Street Boarding house. I told myself, surely I could write a nice short book…maybe in the 60,000 to 70,000 word range…in that time, and still be able to live a balanced life (theoretically I am retired.)
But of course, life and the writing muse had different plans.
A series of trips (to conventions and visits with my daughter and grandsons), the constant work it seems to take to keep my body moving at my age, a demanding schedule of lunches and tea dates with friends, a number of other authors’ manuscripts I had the honor to beta read, and the unexpected discovery that my short sequel had turned into two full-length books, meant that here I am, not six months, but a year later, finally, starting to work on my next historical mystery.
But I do have the satisfaction of having produced two books more books in the Paradisi Chronicles series that I am quite fond of, and the following promotion is my way of celebrating this achievement.
For the rest of September, Between Mountain and Sea will be free, and the second book, Under Two Moons, only 99 cents. The third book, Through Ddaera’s Touch, was just published this week, and I am hoping that everyone who reads the first two books will be more than happy to buy the third, which completes the set, for the low price of $4.99.
And the novella set in the Paradisi Chronicles World with my daughter, The Stars are Red Tonight, is now free if you get Kindle Unlimited.
M. Louisa, September 17, 2017
Been very quiet for months because I was working…still am…on my science fiction books set in the open source world of the Paradisi Chronicles that I helped create. This week Under Two Moons, the second book in my Caelestis series has come out as a ebook, to be followed in mid September by the third book, Through Ddaera’s Touch. Both books will be available in print by the end of September.
Introduction to the Caelestis Series
In the early decades of the twenty-first century, the problems of climate change, epidemics, civil war, cyber terrorism, and nuclear proliferation have set Earth on a path of escalating disasters.
In the year 2025 AD, ten men and women come together to address these problems. These individuals each have enormous personal wealth that they made in a variety of commercial enterprises around the globe. What they have in common besides their great wealth is a deep pessimism about the future of Earth and an enormous optimism about space exploration as the only viable solution for the continuation of human kind. To that end, these men and women, who call themselves the Founders, begin the Paradisi Project.
The purpose of the Paradisi Project is the colonization of New Eden, a recently discovered planet in the Andromeda Galaxy that scientists deem capable of sustaining human life. The Paradisi Project harnesses the best minds on Earth to develop the scientific breakthroughs in intersteller travel and wormhole technology needed to transport the ten Founding Families to New Eden to establish a viable colony. Once there, their mission will be to ensure that this new colony doesn’t make the same mistakes that are destroying Earth.
By 2092 AD, the Paradisi Project has achieved its goals. With Earth continuing on its path to destruction, a fleet of ten ships are launched, each carrying 10,000 passengers––Founding Family members, their loyal employees, and the staff necessary to build a new civilization once their journey ends. What the Founders didn’t count on was that, even though they easily conquer the technologically backward natives they encounter when they first arrive, these Ddaerans have mystifying powers that will make them dangerous enemies
Meanwhile, the Founders had left behind on Earth the SS Challenge, the 11th ship and the prototype for the rest of the Nautilus Fleet. The Reachers, employees of the Reach Corp, were promised passage on this ship if they retrofitted for the long journey to New Eden, and as a reward for their role building the space elevators, stations, and ships that made the Paradisi Project possible, but when the time comes for their journey to New Eden, they face nothing but betrayal.
By the fifth generation of settlement, New Eden isn’t quite the paradise the Founders hoped for and there are the beginnings of a movement to resist the ten Founding Families and the Council of Ten that governs the world.
Between Mountain and Sea (Caelestis Series Book 1) features Mabel Yu, one of the Founders who made the journey to New Eden, and her descendent, Mei Lin Yu, who, in 165 AA (After Arrival), comes to live at Mynyddamore, the ancestral home that Mabel Yu built in the first years of settlement as a place where Founders and Ddaerans, the natives that were already living on New Eden, could live in harmony. Here, Mei Lin discovers secrets about herself and her family’s past that will forever change her destiny.
Under Two Moons (Caelestis Series Book 2) is set in 167 AA, two years after the events of Between Mountain and Sea, and features Mei Lin Yu and her family and Ddaeran friends as they discover visitors from a distant past and a threat to Mynyddamore’s future.
Through Ddaera’s Touch (Caelestis Series Book 3) (Coming soon!) begins right after the conclusion of Under Two Moons, as Mei Lin works to forge an alliance between Ddaerans, New Eden citizens, and Reachers to resist their common enemies.
After you finish Between Mountain and Sea, Under Two Moons, and Through Ddaera’s Touch, I would suggest you read the short stories in Chronicle Worlds: Paradisi and the two series of novellas by Andy McKell and Cheri Lasota that detail the experiences of the Reachers on the SS Challenge. For the beginning of the story of a different Founding Family–the Kuttners, do check out The Stars are Red Tonight, a novella I have co-written with my daughter, Ashley.
For more information about the Paradisi Chronicles series, including maps of Caelestis, New Eden, where most of the action in my books occurs, go to https://paradisichronicles.wordpress.com
Mei Lin Yu, a shy studious young woman from a Founding Family, and Silence, a fierce snowcat running with outlaws, shouldn’t have anything in common. But on New Eden, a world where the native Ddaerans have psychic abilities, a world ruled by the Founders who fled a dying Earth…anything is possible.
When Mei Lin is forced out of the comfortable refuge of Mynyddamore and confronted with a secret from the past that is very much alive, will she be able to save herself and Silence to gain the trust of a man who has no reason to trust anyone from a Founding Family?
Under Two Moons, a science fiction action adventure novel, is the sequel to Between Mountain and Sea and is the second book in Louisa Locke’s Caelestis series in the Paradisi Chronicles (an open source science fiction series created by multiple authors).
Ebook: Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, GooglePlay
Jefferson Square Park was considerably more crowded by the time the first group of friends and boarders returned from watching the parade. The first to arrive were three of her boarders, Mr. David Chapman, and Mrs. Barbara Hewitt and her son Jamie, along with her maid Kathleen’s younger brother Ian. They’d all been invited to see the parade from the upper floors of the firm where Chapman worked.
Annie, watching the boys tell Kathleen and Beatrice about the parade, said to Barbara Hewitt, “They certainly seemed to have had a splendid time. How long did the march go on? I expected you all would get to the park earlier. Were the crowds just awful once the parade ended?”
Nate was now two hours late, and she was trying not to worry that more than crowded horse cars were the cause. What if he’d gotten cold feet after last night? Setting the date making their future together all too real. No, she was being silly.
“My goodness, yes. While the tail-end of the procession passed us around three, just getting across Market Street took forever.”
Annie turned to Jamie who had come up beside them, saying, “What was your favorite part of the procession?”
“Oh, the wagon with the mining camp. They were so jolly. There was a fiddler, and they were doing some sort of jig. You should have seen the cart that was supposed to be the North Pole with the ship the Jennette that is stuck up there. The ice looked so real, and there was a polar bear and everything.”
“My, that does sound wonderful. I gather there were a good number of bands. We could hear some of them as we left the boarding house. They must have been quite loud.”
“Deafening, some of them,” said Barbara. “Each trying to outdo the next.”
“Well, from where you were watching the parade, you were probably getting them coming and going,” Annie said. “I am just glad everyone had a good time. Jamie, why don’t you go and ask Mrs. O’Rourke to start distributing the food? I expect you and Ian are pretty hungry after all that excitement.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jamie said with fervor and ran back over to Beatrice.
His mother laughed and said, “You would think they hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast, but Mr. Chapman was so thoughtful––providing lemonade and sandwiches for us all. I don’t see Laura yet. Is Mr. Dawson bringing her?”
“No, Laura was invited by her friend Kitty Blaine to attend the procession, and I do believe they were going to attend the literary and musical events after the parade. As for Nate, I don’t know what has kept him.”
Barbara pointed towards the street and said, “Look, isn’t that Laura getting out of that carriage? Oh, and there is Kitty behind her.”
“Oh, Annie, Barbara, what an extraordinary treat today has been,” Laura said, running up and giving each of them a hug. “Kitty’s father rented a room right at the corner of Third and Market, so we saw everything. And since we were at the beginning of the procession, there was lots of time for us to make it to the Grand Opera House down on Mission for the later events.”
Annie reached out her hand to Kitty, who hung shyly in back of Laura, saying, “Miss Blaine, so pleased you were able to come to our picnic. And I know that Mr. Dawson would like me to convey his thanks to you and your father for entertaining Laura today. He should be here soon to thank you himself.”
“It was all my pleasure, Mrs. Fuller. Father knew I wouldn’t want to sit with him on the viewing stand, and literary events aren’t exactly his cup of tea, so he was delighted I would have a companion for the day. And John the coachman did an excellent job of making sure we weren’t bothered by the crowds.”
Annie smiled inwardly, having met “John the coachman” several times when she went out to ask if he wanted something to drink while he waited to take Kitty home from visiting Laura. He was a slow talking but very polite giant of a man, who appeared quite capable of acting as chaperone to his mistress. She didn’t imagine even the most high-spirited of July Fourth revelers would dare harass any young lady under his protection.
Annie told Laura and Kitty to go over to say hello to Mrs. O’Rourke. “She and Kathleen seem to have cooked up enough for an army.”
To Barbara, she said, “Why don’t you rescue poor Mr. Chapman from the boys, while I see if Kathleen will make up a plate for Kitty’s coachman? I know from experience he won’t leave his horses, but it looks like he is planning on staying until it is time to take Kitty home.”
A few minutes later, Annie stood for a moment to look at the scene laid out before her. Beatrice had turned over the sturdy wooden crate she’d used to transport the plates and utensils for the meal and was sitting on it in queenly dignity under the shade of the oak. Meanwhile, Kitty and Laura were laughingly trying to sit upright on the ground in their fashionable attire, while eating from their heaped-up plates. Kathleen, whose dress was a bit more serviceable in the shape and volume of its skirt, was sitting quite primly, eating a ham sandwich and listening to Ian and Jamie, who were trying to eat and talk at the same time. David Chapman had piled several of the extra blankets up for Barbara to sit on and was holding her plate while she delicately picked at her potato salad.
All around her in Jefferson Square were similar scenes. Small children darted and shrieked around women in gaily colored outfits and men in their more somber hues. She heard snatches of songs from a group with a guitar, noticed an impromptu game of croquet at one corner of the park, and saw that the members of one of the parade’s bands were asleep under a tree in apparent exhaustion, their instruments at their sides. There were a couple of hours before the sun would sink behind the dunes to the west, but the shadows were long, and the light through the dark green shrubbery and evergreens of the park already began to take on the soft haze that meant the evening fog was massing along the coast.
Annie felt suddenly chilled, and she pulled up her shawl and walked over to Beatrice to ask her to make up two plates, one for her and the other for Nate. Surely he will be joining us soon. –– Deadly Proof: Victorian San Francisco Mystery Book 4
Hope you are all having a lovely 4th of July. I am deeply into the editing of my next two books in my Paradisi Chronicles series. But I am happy to announce that the Violet Vanquishes a Villain, the novella that comes right after Deadly Proof is now available as an audiobook. Also, I have started the research for the next book in the Victorian San Francisco series.
M. Louisa Locke
I wasn’t surprised to learn that almost all of the books I bought and read in 2016 were ebooks—bought online from Amazon. In fact, a number of the books I decided to reread I already owned in print, but I decided to buy ebook editions after I started to reread them. This was because those books that were paperbacks (some that I bought over 30 years ago) were generally in terrible shape—covers falling off, pages falling out––and the small print made some of them unreadable. The hardbacks were in better shape, with larger print, but they tended to aggravate the arthritis in my wrists when I read them for any length of time at one sitting.
In contrast, my Kindle Paperwhite is small, lightweight, with adjustable fonts, and it is easy to dust so I don’t sneeze when I pull it out to use.
Of course, all of these reasons for my shift to ebooks are to a degree related to my age, but there was another reason I was willing to pay for a book I already owned, as well as buy so many other books by new authors; the relatively low prices on many ebooks.
Throughout this past year, there has been a constant stream of articles stating that ebook sales are in decline (and print sales are up.) See this post as one of the most recent examples.
While the data coming out from traditional publishers—and the Association of American Publishers—seems on the surface to support this claim, what anyone who has followed this discussion should know by now is that this data only describes what is happening with books published by traditional publishers. In contrast, the Author Earnings Reports, which are the most comprehensive data we have on ebooks, conclude that Amazon ebook sales rose 4% in 2016.
The main plausible explanation for this negative trend in ebook sales for traditional publishers is their pricing. Once the big five got back the right to set their own prices for ebooks without discounting (something they had lost temporarily when they were found guilty of anti-trust violations), they went back to pricing their ebooks higher—often at the same or higher price than their mass market paperbacks.
At the same time, Amazon, once they lost the right to discount traditionally published ebooks, started discounting traditionally published print books. This made the print editions of traditionally published books more attractive than ebook editions to many customers.
What publishers didn’t anticipate was that this simply drove more people to buy their print books online (when their stated goal for pricing ebooks high had been to help brick and mortar books stores stay competitive.) Ah, the problems of unintended consequences.
And what traditional publishers seem willfully to misunderstand is that many of their customers didn’t just shift to the print edition of a book, many of them decided not to buy that traditionally published book at all, but to take a chance on an indie authored book.
I found my buying patterns quite representative of these trends in consumer buying.
Let’s first look at my buying patterns before ebooks, which followed a very predictable pattern.
First, for authors who I had read and liked, I routinely bought their books as hardbacks as soon as the book came out. I justified this because I knew there was a very good chance I would reread those books often multiple times, so the higher price (and longevity) of the hardback seemed worth it. Continue reading