Would a Rose by any other Name: The Thorny Question of Titles

I have belonged to a writing group for nearly 25 years, and I cannot count the number of hours we have discussed the titles for our books over those years. For those members who were fortunate enough to be traditionally published (remember those days of yore when it was assumed that a traditional contract was the height of good fortune), the titles they came up with were always tentative because we weren’t ever sure they would be permitted to use them. In fact, when I think of the laughter that erupted as we threw out–often absurd––suggestions, I wonder if this Read more…

Victorian San Francisco in 1880: Social Structure and Character Development

I have embarked upon writing Bloody Lessons, the third book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series that features Annie Fuller and Nate Dawson, which means I am creating a whole new raft of secondary characters. And, as I have done in previous books, I am carefully considering the specific social make-up of San Francisco as I do so. What follows is a brief summary of the social structure of San Francisco in 1880 (primarily from my dissertation, Like a Machine or an Animal) and how this has influenced some of the choices I have made in developing my characters Read more…

The Victorian San Francisco Palace Hotel: Gone but not Forgotten

The Palace Hotel One of the difficulties an author faces in writing historical fiction is recapturing the feel of cities in a prior period. In the United States, city landscapes are constantly changing at the whim of urban renewal/development projects that tear down and rebuild buildings in succession, often making it difficult to imagine the city fifty years earlier much less a century before. My series of novels and short stories are set in late 19th century San Francisco, and there are particular problems for picturing this city in this period because the 1906 Earthquake and Fire wiped out a Read more…

Golden Gate Park in Victorian San Francisco

Dear Reader, When I started this blog several years ago, I assumed that most of my posts would be about historical topics. After all, I had a doctorate in history, I was winding down a thirty-year career as a college history professor, and the book I was talking about was an historical mystery. What I didn’t expect is that the overwhelming majority of my posts would be on the subject of self-publishing. While I expect to continue to post pieces about publishing, marketing, and other themes related to being an indie author, I also want to begin to get back Read more…

Victorian San Francisco Short Story

My short story, set in 1879 San Francisco, features two elderly dressmakers, Miss Minnie and Miss Millie Moffet, who face a moral dilemma of no small dimensions. They turn for advice to Annie Fuller, a widowed boardinghouse owner who supplements her income as a clairvoyant, Madam Sibyl. For those who have read Locke’s two full-length Victorian San Francisco mysteries, Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, this is an amusing glimpse into the lives of Annie Fuller’s two most eccentric boarders. For those unfamiliar with Locke’s mysteries and the late nineteenth century world they portray, this is just a taste of Read more…