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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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 Amazon.com 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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