Release Day Blitz for Waxwood Series Complete Box Set!

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Title: The Complete Waxwood Series Box Set: Books 1-4

Series: Waxwood Series

Author: Tam May

Genres: Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction

Release Date: June 29, 2024

One woman’s journey to self-discovery in the Gilded Age could destroy everything she’s ever known.

“May’s historical fiction picks apart the delicate facade of American gentility in upper-class, well-heeled families on the wild West Coast at the end of the nineteenth century.” – Lisa Lickel, author and blogger, Living our Faith Out Loud

In this 4-book box set:

Book 1: The Specter: Vivian Alderdice is not your typical Gilded Age debutante. In the midst of her glamorous life of parties and balls, her grandmother dies. A woman shows up at the funeral claiming the woman she knew was not Penelope Alderdice, Nob Hill socialite and wife of the city’s biggest shipping tycoon but Grace Carlyle, an artist in search of adventure in a small coastal town named Waxwood.  Is the intruder a crank or, as Vivian’s mother claims, “confused”? Or is she telling the truth? Vivian’s determination to find out takes her into the life of the woman she thought she knew, uncovering family lies kept hidden for over forty years.

Book 2: False Fathers: At nineteen, Vivian’s brother Jake has a huge burden on his shoulders. His mother expects him to take his place as the new head of the family, but Jake hardly has the qualities of a patriarch. When the family goes to Waxwood for the summer, Jake befriends an older, illusive man prepared to teach him all he needs to know about Gilded Age manhood. But is his mentor all he claims to be? Or is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Will Jake discover the true meaning of Gilded Age masculinity or will he redefine it?

Book 3: Pathfinding Women: Vivian Alderdice is now twenty-six, unmarried, and has no prospective suitors. Her brother’s tragic plight the year before left the family on shaky ground in Nob Hill society. Their social position depends on Vivian capturing the heart of a wealthy Canadian bachelor determined to become a member of their exclusive society. But to win him, she and her mother must spend the summer in Waxwood. When a young man she meets on the train brings skeletons of the past out of the closet, Vivian finds herself torn between fulfilling her social obligations or embarking on a journey to uncover more family lies. Will Vivian’s summer unravel truths that might destroy the Alderdices forever? Or will she unearth a more authentic version of herself as the new century approaches?

Book 4: Dandelions: For Vivian Alderdice, the twentieth century begins with a new start. Now a working woman and progressive reformer, she’s forsaken the elegance of Nob Hill for the more modest Waxwood. She’s laid Penelope Alderdice’s specter to rest at last. But Vivian’s peaceful existence is thrown into turmoil when the man who ruined her brother’s life appears like another specter she must exorcise. At first, Vivian hates him with a passion. But when she sees how his own undiscovered past has destroyed him, leaving him helpless in the hands of a cousin who hates him worse than she does, she finds herself wanting to help. Is it his journey Vivian will discover in the dark forest of guilt and betrayal or her own?

About the Author

Writing has been Tam May’s voice since the age of fourteen. She writes stories set in the past that feature sassy and sensitive women characters. Tam is the author of the Adele Gossling Mysteries which takes place in the early 20th century and features suffragist and epistolary expert Adele Gossling whose talent for solving crimes doesn’t sit well with her town’s conventional ideas about women’s place. Tam is also working on a new series, the Grave Sisters Mysteries about three sisters who own a funeral home and help the county D.A. solve crimes in a 1920s small California town, set to release in 2025. She has also written historical fiction about women breaking loose from the social and psychological expectations of their era. Although Tam left her heart in San Francisco, she lives in the Midwest because it’s cheaper. When she’s not writing, she’s devouring everything classic (books, films, art, music) and concocting yummy plant-based dishes, and exploring her new riverside town.

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammayauthor/

Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/tammayauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tammayauthor/ 

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tam-May/e/B01N7BQZ9Y/ 

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tam-may

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16111197.Tam_May

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America’s Mini War: The Spanish-American War of 1898

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Today, on Memorial Day, we honor those who fought for our country and the sacrifices they made. We think of war as a big, complex thing — that is, they go on for years and cost many lives. World War I lasted 4 years (though America didn’t get involved until the last year of the war) and World War II lasted six (though, again, America didn’t enter the war until three years after it started). The Vietnam War was even longer and more complex. It began in 1955 and ended in 1975, though American involvement lasted from 1965 to 1973. 

So it’s no wonder many do not remember the war that happened in between the Civil War (1861-1865) and World War I (1914-1918). But its implications and impact resonated for years to come and even today.

Photo Credit: Headline in the New York Journal of Congress declaring war which began the Spanish-American War, 25 April 1898, New York Public Library: Picryl/Creative Commons CC0 1.0

The Spanish-American War stands out in the annals of American history for several reasons. First, it was a very short war. War was officially declared on April 21, 1898, and the fighting ended on August 13, 1898 (though the war itself officially ended four months later). America was involved in this war for financial and humanitarian reasons. The consequences of the war for the United States helped to push the nation toward one of the greatest changes that occurred during the Gilded Age — it hurled the country onto the world stage.

The war involved fighting in Cuba, a colony of Spain at the time. Spanish rule was oppressive to Cuban insurgents, and they had been fighting three years prior. The brutal treatment of the Cubans by the Spanish gained a lot of sympathy in the United States, thanks to the yellow journalism popular at the time. It was very much on the minds of Americans. In Senator North, a novel by Gertrude Atherton published in 1900 but set a bit earlier, shows Washington society discussing the war constantly at their dinner parties and picnics, and outlines some of the great debates going on in the Senate about whether America should or should not enter the war. The thing that pushed America to declare war on Spain was the sinking of the battleship USS Maine, which newspapers played up as having been caused by either mines or torpedoes fired by the Spanish army (though it was never established whether this was really true, or whether it was some kind of technical error having nothing to do with the Spanish). 

A major player in the war was Teddy Roosevelt, who left his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to join in the fighting with a group of soldiers known as the Rough Riders. This short war made Roosevelt a hero and cemented his emerging political career at the turn of the 20th century. The nation ensured independence for Cuba (which helped with political and financial trade) and gained control over the Pacific, including the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The war also allowed the United States to declare Hawaii its territory (though Hawaii wouldn’t become a state until 1959).

There were relatively few casualties in this war (about two thousand, as compared to 116,000 during World War I, 700,000 in World War II, and 58,000 in the Vietnam War). But those who fought made this little war an important part of American foreign politics and trade.

False Fathers, the second book of my historical coming-of-age series, the Waxwood Series, takes place during the summer of 1898, so the war is very much on the minds of Waxwood’s resort guests. In one scene, Jake and Stevens, a father figure who guides Jake throughout the book on his journey to manhood, are watching Stevens’ cousin Roger and his friends play billiards, and the subject of the Spanish-American War comes up:


The sky grew black, and the sea calmed. The young men played and drank into the night, and Stevens showed no signs of retiring. Jake wanted to leave, but his feet felt cemented int hat room. He listened as their talk moved from college professors and sports to the war in Cuba. 
“We ought to pull out while we can,” said Mr. Harrington. “It’s not worth the lives we’ve already given for it.”
“We’re not there for fancy, boy.” Mr. Trent shot two balls in the left side pocket. “Let Spain and every other country see we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Mr. McDonaugh cocked his head. “The frontier’s all taken, so what have we left?”
“Virile man conquer virgin territory,” Roger agreed, his words sounding thick.
“We’ve almost won anyway,” said Ivan Morvell. “Not two weeks ago, the Rough Riders—”
“Those braggarts!” Roger snarled. “Posing for the papers like gladiators. And that goose with his mustache and spectacles!”
Stevens jumped up. In the shadow left by two lamp, his indignation was unavoidable. “I suggest you speak about Mr. Roosevelt with respect.”

For these young men who are coming of age in the last years of the 19th century, the war symbolizes the potential for bigger and better things, not only on a national level but on a psychological level for them as young men going out into the world. The idea of power expands both in the public and private spheres. 

The complete Waxwood Series will be out in one box set next month, but feel free to get a head start by grabbing Book 1, The Specter, now. The book is free on all book vendor sites and you can get all the details and links here

If you love fun, engaging mysteries set in the past, you’ll enjoy The Missing Ruby Necklace! It’s available exclusively to newsletter subscribers here. By signing up, you’ll also get news about upcoming releases, fun facts about women’s history, classic true-crime tidbits, and more!

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Historical Cozy Mysteries: Getting Cozy with the Past

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Years ago, I belonged to an amazing group of creative businesswomen. When I shared with them in 2022 that I was shifting gears in my author career to focus on historical cozy mysteries, I got a deer-in-the-headlights look. One of them ventured to ask, “What’s a historical cozy mystery?”

It was my bad because I had forgotten not everyone is familiar with the word “cozy” nor are they aware historical cozy mysteries exist. 

Historical cozy mystery is really a subgenre of a subgenre. In writer-speak, genre is a book’s category, usually with specific reader expectations. For example, romance is a genre (expectations: a love relationship as the main storyline and usually, though not always, a happily-ever-after ending). So is horror (expectation: You’re going to be scared out of your wits). Historical cozy mystery marries two subgenres: historical mysteries (subgenre of historical fiction) and cozies (subgenre of mystery fiction).

On the face of it, a historical cozy mystery is sort of a modern version of the traditional mystery (sometimes called the “whodunit”). Think Agatha Christie. One of my favorite things to do at the end of a particularly stressful and annoying day is to relax on my recliner with a cup of peppermint tea and open the Kindle reader on my iPad to a Poirot mystery (yes, he’s a pompous little man, but I like him). I immediately get into the story, following the clues and suspects, feeling the carefree times of 1920s England. I know I’m in for an hour of puzzle-solving and I know Poirot is going to get the criminal in the end one way or another. Nowhere else in the 21st century can you find that kind of justice. It makes me feel soothed and, well, cozy, like all the bad things that happened during the day don’t matter.

Ah, the epitome of cozy: A pipe and an Agatha Christie book!

Photo Credit: DietmarRauscher/Depositphotos.com 

The cross between mystery and history gets interesting when we consider the main purpose of historical fiction is to submerge readers in the past, and the purpose of mystery fiction is to present a human puzzle for the amateur sleuth or detective (and the reader) to solve. Writers of historical cozy mysteries aren’t only building a story around a crime that has to be solved. They’re also giving readers insights into another era. 

And not just the daily lives of people living in that era, but criminals and crime detection. We have to remember these things have changed dramatically over the centuries. There were no cyber crimes in the 19th century. There was no DNA testing to help solve crimes until the late 20th century. Taking photographs of a crime scene appeared on the scene in the mid-19th century but wasn’t common practice until the 1920s. So crime detection was relatively primitive and pretty crude in most cases. That makes it more of a challenge for the historical sleuth or detective, but funner for readers because detectives must make do with their wits and skills rather than rely on forensic scientific evidence.

In Book 1 of my Adele Gossling Mysteries, Adele’s brother, a former big-city detective, is amazed that the small-town sheriff of Arrojo knows enough to block off the crime scene so no one will tamper with it. Even fifty years before the book takes place (1902), this wouldn’t have been the case and it’s well-documented crime scenes were trampled over by police, reporters, and sightseers. Not a great start to solving a murder.

Another thing about how cozy mysteries differ from crime fiction, in general, is they introduce you to a host of quirky characters. That’s one reason I was drawn to writing cozies as opposed to other types of historical mysteries. In a cozy series, the characters become as familiar to readers as their own family and friends because flawed as they are, they’re also likable. I’ve had several readers tell me how much they love Adele and Nin and how they’re anxious to read more about them in each book of the series. 

The sleuths in cozies are always approachable, often funny, and very human. Who doesn’t love Jessica Fletcher in the 1980s hit TV series, Murder, She Wrote? She’s grandmotherly while at the same time sharp-witted and shrewd. Holmes is a cocaine addict and an egotist (at least, in my opinion) but he also cares deeply about solving crimes, more than he’s willing to admit. Fletcher and Holmes couldn’t be more different, but they share one quality, as all cozy mystery sleuths do: They’re on the side of justice. It’s hard to dislike a character who’s on the right side of the law.

Writers don’t always strive for character likability because many feel an amiable character is unrealistic and too Pollyannaish. But cozies aren’t about realism. They’re about escaping into another world where justice is served and criminals are always punished. And with historical cozies, you get the double-whammy: Not only do you get to escape into a “crime doesn’t pay” world but you get to do it in another era.

So if you’re ready to give historical cozy mysteries a shot, I invite you to check out my Adele Gossling Mystery series. I published the first book exactly two years ago and it has not failed to delight readers. The Carnation Murder is forever free on all the bookstore sites. You can get more information about it plus links to download the book here

If you love fun, engaging mysteries set in the past, you’ll enjoy my novella The Missing Ruby Necklace! It’s available exclusively to my newsletter subscribers and you can get it here. By signing up, you’ll also get news about upcoming releases, fun facts about women’s history, classic true-crime tidbits, and more!

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Introducing the Grave Sisters Mysteries Series!

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If you’ve been subscribing to my newsletter (and if you haven’t, you might want to check out the link below because you’ll get a bunch of cool stuff, including a couple of freebies) you know I announced last year that I would be working on a new series in 2024 to launch in 2025. I’m now ready to talk a little bit about that new series.

The Grave Sisters Mysteries is going to be another historical cozy mystery series (like my Adele Gossling Mysteries). The two series have several elements in common. They both feature strong women sleuths who defy the conventions of their time. They are both set in small towns in California and they both include women who help men in law enforcement solve crimes. 

But the Grave Sisters Mysteries has a few differences that set it apart from my current series. As the name suggests, there is more than one sleuth in this new series. The sleuths, in fact, are three sisters. Eve is the oldest and most involved in solving the crimes. The middle sister, Helena, is her aide and brings different skills to the table. Their younger sister, Violet, is less involved in crime solving (at least at the beginning) but she nevertheless puts her hand in.

Another thing that makes the Grave Sisters Mysteries different from the Adele Gossling Mysteries is the sleuths’ non-crime-solving occupation. Adele runs her own stationary store in town. The Grave Sisters own a family business and its nature might surprise you. They run the only mortuary in town! That’s right. They deal with dead bodies in their line of work, though most of them get that way from natural causes rather than murder. Eve handles the administrative and accounting side of things while Helena is the resident mortician who prepares the bodies for burial. Violet, who is only eighteen in the first book, doesn’t get as involved in the family business until much later.

The time frames for both series are also different. Those who know the Adele Gossling Mysteries know the first book is set only a few years after the turn of the 20th century and the series is currently up to the middle of its first decade (spoiler alert: Book 7 is going to take place during the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire). Adele’s values and ideas fit the Progressive Era and her New Woman status lends interest and background to the mysteries.

The Grave sisters live in a later era. The first book is set in 1921, a period in American history that was just as vibrant as the Progressive Era, though in a different way. World War I  was behind us but the Roaring Twenties wasn’t exactly in full swing. In fact, the nation was experiencing a sort of dip in prospects with so many World War I veterans who returned home to find they couldn’t get jobs (this becomes one of the themes of Book 2 of this series). But the sisters are firmly planted in this era that was experiencing a transition from the old to the new. America was still trying to hold on desperately to its old values and yet, the younger generation was sick and tired of the old ways and bringing in the modern age against their parents’ and grandparents’ resistance. All of these things affect the sisters and their relationship to one another. Future blog posts will address some of these topics. 

Even though Book 1 of the Grave Sisters Mysteries won’t be released until the spring of 2025, don’t despair! I have more information for you about the series here. Book 1 will be available for preorder sometime later this year. I’ll also be including more updates about this series as well as details and excerpts in my newsletter this year, so if you’re not signed up for my newsletter, now is a great time to do so!

If you’re new to my site and haven’t yet checked out the Adele Gossling Mysteries, I encourage you to do that too! Book 1 of that series, The Carnation Murder, is free on all bookseller sites so you lose nothing but picking up a copy. You can find all the links here

If you love fun, engaging mysteries set in the past, you’ll enjoy The Missing Ruby Necklace! It’s available exclusively to newsletter subscribers here. By signing up, you’ll also get news about upcoming releases, fun facts about women’s history, classic true-crime tidbits, and more!

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Release Day Blitz for Adele Gossling Mysteries Box Set: Books 1-3!

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Title: Adele Gossling Mysteries Box Set 1: Books 1-3 (Adele Gossling Mysteries Box 

Series: Adele Gossling Mysteries

Author: Tam May

Genres: Historical Cozy Mystery

Release Date: November 25, 2023

Can a forward-thinking woman help the police solve crimes in a backward-thinking town?

“Great new series!”

Smart, inquisitive, and a firm believer in Progressive Era reforms, Adele Gossling seeks a new life after the devastating death of her father. She flees San Francisco for the town of Arrojo, planning a life of peace and small pleasures. But both elude her when she and her spiritual sidekick, Nin Branch, get involved in helping the local police solve the case of a dead debutante, a poisoned schoolteacher, and a family matriarch who may or may not have left a generous will.

The Carnation Murder: Adele Gossling has barely been in Arrojo for a week when she discovers her neighbor’s dead body in her gazebo. Can Adele and Nin solve this puzzling case involving a striped carnation, a diamond ring, a note, a muddy pair of boots, and a broken promise?

A Wordless Death: Millie Gibb, the new teacher at the local girl’s school, is found dead and everybody in town assumes the homely, unmarried spinster committed suicide. Can Adele and her clairvoyant friend Nin prove Millie’s death was foul play based on a cigar stub, a letter fragment, and a cigarette lighter before the case is closed for good?

Death at Will: When the affluent Thea Marsh dies unexpectedly, the trail of suspects leads to Thea’s beloved and favored eldest son, Theo. Will Adele make a case against Theo’s guilt for the police out of a stained teacup, a fountain pen nib, ashes that should have been in the fireplace, and daisies that should have been fresh?

Pick up this box set of the first three Adele Gossling Mysteries and immerse yourself in turn-of-the-century Northern California in all its dynamic and chaotic glory for a fun and cozy read!

You can get your copy of this box set at a special price at the following online retailers.


About the Author

Writing has been Tam May’s voice since the age of fourteen. She writes stories set in the past that feature sassy and sensitive women characters. Tam is the author of the Adele Gossling Mysteries which take place in the early 20th century and features suffragist and epistolary expert Adele Gossling whose talent for solving crimes doesn’t sit well with the town’s more conventional ideas about women’s place. She has also written historical fiction about women breaking loose from the social and psychological expectations of their era. Although Tam left her heart in San Francisco, she lives in the Midwest because it’s cheaper. When she’s not writing, she’s devouring everything classic (books, films, art, music) and concocting yummy plant-based dishes.


Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammayauthor/

Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/tammayauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tammayauthor/ 

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tam-May/e/B01N7BQZ9Y/ 

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tam-may

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16111197.Tam_May

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