Dandy Delivers: A new novella

Dandy, the Boston Terrier in my Victorian San Francisco Mysteries series, modeled on the Bostons in my own life, has always been one of my favorite characters. He was the first to get his own short story, Dandy Detects, and he always makes sure to show up in my longer books, if only for a cameo appearance. For some time, however, he has wanted to have another starring role, and I found that before I could get serious about writing the next novel in the series (title Scholarly Pursuits, estimated publication date some time this fall), I had to write this story, which became Dandy Delivers.

As with Kathleen Catches a Killer (my most recent story in this series), this started out to be a short story and turned into a short novella, which means that I will price it at $2.99. However, I want all the fans of the series to get a chance to get it first at a discount. So for a limited time it will be only 99 cents.

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It’s January, 1881, and while the adults in Annie and Nate Dawson’s San Francisco O’Farrell Street boardinghouse are busy with their own affairs, two boys and a dog find their own adventure. Ian Hennessey, a poor boy from South of Market, who is trying to shoulder a man’s responsibilities, gets in trouble, and his best friend, Jamie Hewitt, does what he can to help. But it is Jamie’s young Boston Terrier, Dandy, who saves the day.

This short novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises and Kathleen Catches a Killer but can act as an introduction to the late gas-lit world of Locke’s historical mystery series.

For a limited time only, 99 cents on Kindle  iTunes  Nook  Kobo  GooglePlay

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In addition, Deadly Proof, the fourth book in the series, just won the 2017 Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem award for first in the historical mystery category. To celebrate, I have made it Free until May 10th (making it a great gift for Mother’s Day.)

It’s the summer of 1880, and once again the lovely and inquisitive businesswoman, Annie Fuller, is helping San Francisco lawyer and beau, Nate Dawson, with a troublesome case. Nate’s client, a female typesetter accused of murdering her boss, refuses to help in her own defense. Complicating matters, Nate’s sister Laura insists on getting involved in the potentially dangerous investigation, while Laura’s friend Seth Timmons, troubled Civil War veteran, finds himself a witness for the prosecution. Will Nate be able to win his first big case? Will Laura and Seth find some way of becoming friends? And finally, will Annie and Nate’s upcoming nuptials be derailed by their attempts to track down a killer?

FREE until 5/10 on Kindle  iTunes  Kobo  Nook  GooglePlay

Enjoy,

M. Louisa Locke, May 4, 2018

Valentine’s Day Promotion

Bloody Lessons Is free:

Since Bloody Lessons, the third book in my Victorian San Francisco series, features Valentine’s day (as Uneasy Spirits is set during Halloween, Deadly Proof during a July 4th celebration, and Pilfered Promises during the Thanksgiving to Christmas holidays) I have decided to offer it free, as a perfect Valentine for you to give to yourself or someone you love.

It is Free on US Kindle, International Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and GooglePlay until 2/15, and if you get the Kindle ebook version, the audiobook edition is discounted to $7.49. Plus, don’t forget there is also a lovely paperback edition for those of you who still enjoy print.

In addition, for those of you who missed the blog post I did on Victorian Valentine celebrations and the writing of Bloody Lessons, check out this blog post I did four years ago for the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative (a site with lots of great historical fiction novels.)

Update on the next novel:

After my excursion into the future with my Paradisi Chronicles science fiction stories, I am happily back in the Victorian era and making great headway on the next full-length novel in the series, which will feature Nate’s sister, Laura, as she and her friends unravel a mystery at the University of California in Berkeley. I am right at the end of the research phase, discovering all sort of interesting facts that I am going to be able to weave into my mystery–from college high-jinks, a fraternity hazing scandal that resulted in a shooting, and a divided faculty that got the university president fired in the spring of 1881, which is when this next book is set. I am hoping that this novel, title tentatively Scholarly Pursuits, will be ready for publication by mid-to-late summer of 2018.

Kathleen Catches a Killer:

In case you missed it, right before Christmas I published Kathleen Catches a Killer, a Victorian San Francisco novella that features the O’Farrell Boarding house maid. It is available on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and GooglePlay. It’s only in an ebook version now, but it will be coming out as an audio book in March. (Rest assured I will let you know when that happens.)

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day,

M. Louisa Locke, February 12, 2018

New Holiday Offerings

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.

Pilfered Promises is FREE  on  Kindle  iTunes  Kobo  Nook  GooglePlay until 12/15/2017

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.

Now available on Kindle  iTunes  Nook  Kobo  GooglePlay

Wishing you all a happy holiday season,

M. Louisa Locke

July 4th, 1880 Victorian San Francisco

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

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2017 Goals #1: Writing More Blog Posts

newspaper-clip-art-1201187650_b7db851855Once I start to think about goals for a new year, I start to think about goals I failed to achieve in the previous year. And one of those goals was to blog more frequently. Well, guess what? Having written only 6 blog posts of substance in 2016 (only about half the number I did in 2015), I think I can firmly say that goal wasn’t met!

However, being the analytical person that I am, I decided to blog a bit about why I think that happened.

First, when I began blogging in December of 2009, I was primarily detailing my own journey as an independent author, in a time when we were rare enough creatures to actually be quite interesting to others.

Second, I soon discovered a few selling strategies that were working very well for me that not everyone had heard of (for example, using free short stories to hook readers, tweaking categories to help make a book more visible, using KDP Select marketing tools), and as a result I felt that I had something valuable to share with other authors.

And in addition to blogs about my writing journey and strategies, I wrote pieces detailing the historical background to my mystery series, set in Victorian San Francisco. And as my readership for this series grew, positive reactions to these pieces followed.

And frankly, what writer doesn’t like to write about things that other people are interested in reading?

So what happened this year?

Well, first, indie authors are now a dime a dozen, and many indie authors are enormously more successful than I am in terms of books written and sold.

And, not only have most of my strategies been discussed to death in detail elsewhere, but they are no longer as universally applicable, so I feel I have to qualify every piece of advice I give.

In short, I began to find it harder and harder to believe that continuing to tell about my writing journey or providing detailed discussions of my current marketing strategies was of much interest or particular value––or couldn’t be found just as easily on some other author’s blog.

As a result, I found myself hesitating whenever I looked at my to-do list and saw “write a blog post” on it. And what I usually decided was that I would rather spend my time working on my next work of fiction. Or, if I was going to spend time doing something on social media, I would rather do something that takes less time.

Which brings me to the third reason I haven’t been blogging. I take too long on each blog, including the historical ones. Generally, it took me at least a day, if not more, to review what others are writing on a subject, put together my own marketing and selling statistics, or gather together the historical research I have done on a topic. Then at least another day, to write and edit the actual piece.

So each time I get to that “write a blog piece” on my to-do list, I ask myself how many chapters could I write on my WIP in that time? How many facebook posts could I compose? How many pages of someone else’s manuscript could I edit?

Well, you get the point.

Yet the truth is, that I know people still want to hear more about Victorian San Francisco…something I am uniquely qualified to write about. And at least once a week or more I find myself giving marketing advice on different group forums, or answering emails from beginning writers about things they should consider as they make the jump to independent authorship. In short, it does appear that there might be some people who would still find what I have to say on these subjects of value.

So, this year I have decided to try something different. I have decided to try to write a post at least every week. But to only let myself spend one hour researching and writing a draft, and one hour editing that draft, before I hit publish. This might mean simply taking an old marketing post and updating it, or breaking my posts up into smaller segments. Or just trying to be more succinct!

So here goes. Post number one of 2017! And I seem to have completed it in under two hours from start to finish. (Smile)

M. Louisa Locke, January 7, 2017

Oh, and by the way, Maids of Misfortune, the first book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series is still perma free everywhere and Between Mountain and Sea, the first book in my Paradisi Chronicles science fiction series is also 99 cents on Kindle for two days, (January 7-8).