Holiday Promotions

BostonTholidayI thought I would let you all know about a couple of promotions I am running for the holidays. Maids of Misfortune, the first book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, is still free in most ebookstores, but I have also made Uneasy Spirits, the second book in the series, FREE until 12/27 on Kindle, iTunes, Nook, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

In addition, Uneasy Spirits has just been whispersynced, which means that if you own a copy of the Kindle ebook edition you get the audiobook version for only $1.99.

For those of you like to give ebooks as gifts, a reminder that the first four books in the series is available as a boxed set for $8.99–a 40% discount.

Finally, Between Mountain and Sea, my first novel in the Paradisi Chronicles series, will be only 99 cents on Kindle between January 2-8, 2017. (Oh, just wrote 2017 for the first time!) Since I am busily working away on Under Two Moons, the sequel, you might think about getting it now (and it is free for a limited time on Kindle Unlimited as well.) 

Happy Holidays!

M. Louisa Locke

Victorian Shoplifters

Pilf_front_cover_1600x2400Pilfered Promises, the fifth installment of my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, is now available in print and ebook. This book takes my two protagonists, Annie and Nate Dawson, into the world of the modern 19th century department store, and on the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative blog, I have written a post about the surprising role of women shoplifters in the Victorian era. Please check out the blog post HERE.

Pilfered Promises can be bought on Kindle  iTunes  Kobo  Nook and as a paperback on and Barnes and Noble.

Get the chance to win one of two paperback copies by applying to the GoodReads Giveaway between August 8-22, 2016.

January Promotions

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Maids of Misfortune is the first book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, and I am pleased to say that six years after I first published it on Kindle, it is still selling quite nicely (one of the benefits of writing historical fiction is that these books never go out of date.). It has over 1100 four and five star reviews, and the whole series continues to attract readers who just want a light, fun, easy read (always my goal.) It will be 99 cents on Kindle for the next 3 days.

Next up is the second book in my series, Uneasy Spirits, which will be free on Kindle 1/20-22. This book is probably my most edgy, in that it deals with the question of whether or not spiritualism (which was a very popular belief in the 19th century) was real or not. So in addition to it being a fairly straight-forward mystery, it’s got a good deal of suspense going on as well.

Finally I want to report how happy I am with the sales of my novella, Violet Vanquishes a Villain, which comes chronologically right after the fourth book in this series, Deadly Proof. But I would also remind you that you can get this novella, and my collection of short stories, as a free download if you subscribe to my newsletter.

M. Louisa Locke

Historical Fiction Story Bundle Goes on Sale Today!

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I am excited and proud to have 2 of my books as part of a Historical Fiction StoryBundle that is available, November 4-26.

In case you don’t know, StoryBundles offer readers a chance to discover quality books by independent authors in a particular theme. These bundles are put together and are available for a limited time. The reader can look at the basic bundle and decide how much they would like to pay, whether they would like to also obtain the bonus books, and whether they would like to donate some of the money raised to charity.

The Historical Fiction StoryBundle comprises a total of ten terrific titles by top-notch authors, together representing a breadth and variety of experience. These stories blend real-world historical settings with romance, adventure, fantasy and mystery to bring you whole worlds of fun! You’ll visit ancient Egypt, the Americas, the Caribbean, Great Britain and Japan; you’ll meet pirates and warriors, witches and princesses, detectives, time-travellers and more.

MAIDS_800x1200x72dpiFor my participation in the Historical Fiction StoreBundle, Maids of Misfortune, the first book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series has been made available to those people who subscribe to the StoryBundle Newsletter, while the second book in the series, Uneasy Spirits, is part of the basic bundle.

My Victorian San Francisco Mystery series features Annie Fuller, a young widow who supports herself by running a boarding house and supplements this income by giving business and domestic advice as the clairvoyant, Madam Sibyl. While no one would think twice about Annie Fuller’s occupation as boarding house keeper (one of the most common jobs held by married or widowed women in this period), her second occupation, as the clairvoyant, Madam Sibyl, was not so ordinary.

However, in 1880, spiritualism was very popular, and on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle were listed at least a dozen clairvoyants of one type or another, mostly women. In fact, in the 1870s a famous woman, Victoria Woodhull, had gained national notice when she and her sister set up the first known female brokerage firm. Like Madam Sibyl, they suggested that they got their stock tips through supernatural means.

Spiritualism, as a religious movement, took off in the United States in 1848 when the young Fox sisters began to communicate with the dead through a series of mysterious rapping sounds. Spiritualists believed in universal salvation and that spirits could communicate with the living. Mediums began to appear throughout the United States, and they professed to have the ability to speak with the dead through a variety of mechanisms, including spirit guides, celestial music, alphabetical codes, and slate writing. These mediums went into trances and spoke before large audiences in public halls, and they held séances and private “sittings” where the spirits gave advice and foretold the future.

Women found Spiritualism a particularly welcoming movement. Based on the belief that the individual could communicate directly with the divine through spirits, Spiritualism challenged the authority of established churches and permitted women an unprecedented degree of power. As Spiritualists, women spoke in public, formed and led organizations, wrote newspaper articles, and made money as mediums.

However, this movement also became a perfect haven for fraudulent activities as men and women used rigged tables, tricks with the new medium of photography, and the general gullibility of human beings to extract money…often from grieving individuals who desperately wanted to contact a departed love one.

Uneasy_Spirits_800x1200_72dpiIn Maids of Misfortune, one of Madam Sibyl’s clients dies in mysterious circumstance, and Annie goes undercover as a domestic servant to discover what really happened. In Uneasy Spirits, one of her boarders decides that because of her experience as a pretend clairvoyant that she would be the perfect person to investigate and expose a fraudulent trance medium. Her investigation takes Annie into the intriguing world of 19th century spiritualism, encountering true believers and naïve dupes, clever frauds and unexplained supernatural phenomena.

But the historical Fiction StoryBundle doesn’t just offer you my two books, but you will also be able to take a walk through ancient Egypt with Libbie Hawker’s House of Rejoicing, the first part of a captivating series featuring the famous Nefertiti. Travis Heermann will spirit you away to 13th-century Japan in Sword of the Ronin, an intricate novel blending the tale of a lone warrior with myth and fantasy. You’ll go on a thrilling pirate adventure with Helen Hollick in Sea Witch! Here be pirates! And magic, and romance, and combat upon the high seas! And I’ll introduce you to a re-imagined Regency England in Miss Landon and Aubranael, which mixes a refined tale of life among the gentry with fairytales, magic and folklore.

And that’s just the basic bundle! You’ll get all of that for just $3. For $12 or more, you’ll receive four more terrific titles including the second part to Libbie Hawker’s saga of pharaohs and queens, Storm in the Sky. The further adventures of Helen Hollick’s pirate hero Jesamiah Acorne will also be yours in Pirate Code. In Mercenary, David Gaughran tells the thrilling (and true!) story of Lee Christmas, an American embroiled in revolution in nineteenth-century Latin America. And on top of all of that, Sarah Woodbury will take you time-travelling back to medieval Wales in Footsteps in Time, an enthralling tale of romance, fantasy and adventure.

To find out how to buy the Historical Fiction StoryBundle, just click here and enter a world of romance, mystery, fantasy, and adventure all in an historical setting.

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A Halloween Repeat Treat

“The feast of All Saints, which was ushered in Friday evening by the old-fashioned games of ‘All Hallows’ E’en, was yesterday celebrated in the Catholic and Episcopal Churches.” San Francisco Chronicle, 1879

“It’s barmbrack cake. Beatrice has baked a ring in it, and tradition has it that the girl who gets the slice with the ring will marry within the year.” Annie Fuller, Uneasy Spirits.

The first quote above is from a real person, who was reporting for the San Francisco Chronicle about real events. The second quote is by Annie Fuller, a fictional person and my protagonist, from the second book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, Uneasy Spirits, which is set in 1879 San Francisco. As we approach Halloween, I thought it would be fitting to discuss how I used factual data from the past to provide historical context for a work of fiction.

As I was plotting Uneasy Spirits,  I knew that I wanted the story to start only a few months after Maids of Misfortune, the first book in the series, ended, which was the last week of August, 1879. I also knew the basic plot was going to revolve around Annie Fuller trying to expose the shenanigans of a trance medium who claimed to commune with the spirits of the dead. So, placing the action of Uneasy Spirits around October 31 and the celebration of Halloween seemed a fairly obvious choice.

I got a calendar for October 1879 (one of the wonders of the internet is being able to find this sort of thing so easily), made a list of the main scenes I had outlined for the book, and then decided to make Halloween (which was a Friday that year) the day when several of the semi-climatic scenes in the story occurred. I then literally counted back from October 31, and determined that the opening scenes of the book should happen about 3 weeks from this date. In the final version of the book, the first chapter opens on October 11.

But then I was faced with a real problem. Despite being a professional historian and having written a dissertation that focused primarily on women who worked in San Francisco in 1880, I had no clue how people in 1879 San Francisco would have celebrated Halloween. Did they trick or treat? Wear costumes? Have Jack o Lanterns? I had some vague idea that young boys in small towns went around tipping over outhouses on this night in “earlier days,” but beyond that, I didn’t even know if anyone would actually celebrate this night at all, much less how, in a larger city like San Francisco.

A little research was in order. The first clue came with the mention in the San Francisco Chronicle of “old-fashioned games of All Hallows’ E’en.” I now knew to look for what someone in 1879 would consider “old fashioned games,” which led me to several internet sites that reported on Halloween, including an article in Harpers Magazine for 1886. In addition there were a good number of contemporary articles detailing the history of this holiday.

All these articles agreed that, while Halloween’s roots can be traced back to a number of ancient cultures and religious beliefs, in the 19th century it was the Celtic peoples, particularly the Irish, who had the strongest influence on the development of Halloween as a night of celebration. It was the Irish who seemed responsible for turning October 31 into a night of fun and games, and Irish immigrants brought their traditions with them to America, profoundly influencing how this country celebrated this holiday.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with this information because the Irish were an enormously important ethnic group in San Francisco in 1879. They not only made up a substantial percentage of the working class of the city, they also were represented among some of the economic and political leaders of San Francisco (men like James Flood and William O’Brian, the Silver Kings, and Frank McCoppin, a former mayor.)

Not coincidentally, two of the most important people in Annie Fuller’s life are her cook, Beatrice O’Rourke, and her maid-of-all-work, Kathleen Hennessey, both Irish. Once I knew about the prominence of parties as the way to celebrate Halloween in this time period, it was easy to decide that Annie Fuller would host a party at the boarding house she owned, with Beatrice and Kathleen inviting their friends and family. A perfect setting for one of the main climatic scenes of the book.

Uneasy_Spirits_800x1200_72dpiAnd what fun that party was to write. There were indeed jack-o’lanterns at that time (in Ireland the tradition was to use turnips!), and I was able to work a pumpkin into the plot in what I thought was an unusual way. In addition, there were games like “snap the apple,” dancing, and special foods, like the barmbrack cake, which was one of several elements of Halloween activities that revolved around trying to foretell the romantic futures of participants.

I now had a way to provide a new and different setting in which my characters could interact. The detail I had gleaned from my research would make my portrayal of the past more authentic. And finally I was able to leaven what could have been a series of very “heavy” scenes with a light, humorous scene, which is one of my goals as a writer. And I learned something, which was much fun for me as I hope it is for the reader.

Oh, and click here to find a recipe for that barmbrack cake, in case you want to make it for Halloween! 

I am also part of a Halloween Giveaway Hop…Just go on over to my FaceBook Page and learn how to participate!