Release Day Blitz for The Carnation Murder!

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Title: The Carnation Murder

Series: Adele Gossling Mysteries (Book 1)

Author: Tam May

Genres: Historical Cozy Mystery

Release Date: April 30, 2022

California, 1903: Smart, inquisitive, and a firm believer in the new progressive reforms, Adele Gossling seeks a new life after the devastating death of her father. She flees San Francisco for the small town of Arrojo, planning a life of peace and small pleasures with nothing more exciting than selling fountain pens to the locals in her stationery shop and partaking in the town’s favorite pastime: gossip.

Peace is exactly what she doesn’t get when she discovers her neighbor’s dead body in her gazebo. The police think they have a firm suspect: the young man who was secretly engaged to the victim. But Adele and her clairvoyant new friend Nin Branch are sure he’s innocent. In spite of the raised eyebrows from Arrojo’s Victorian-minded citizens, they set out to prove the young man didn’t do it. But if he didn’t, who did?

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? 

You can get your copy of the book at a special promotional price from your favorite online book retailer here.

Excerpt

James showed them into the ballroom. 

“I can’t imagine what you think you’ll find, Sheriff,” Adele remarked. “The servants cleared every morsel of the party ages ago.”

“One can never tell.” He examined the floor. “We already know the body was dragged from somewhere. It could have easily been from some hidden corner in this house.”

“In a house this size, it’s entirely possible,” Jackson agreed.

“I beg your pardon, sir.” James cleared his throat. “Mr. Blackstone was most particular about people straying too far from the ballroom. For young Mickey’s sake.”

“Young boys are always afraid of missing all the excitement,” Jackson said ruefully.

“He particularly asked the servants to redirect anyone who wandered past the hallway,” James continued.

“But Mr. and Miss Gossling said they saw some people going out the back door.”

“Yes, sir,” said the man. “It leads to the veranda. Mr. Blackstone had no objection to guests going out for a bit of fresh air.”

“Can you show us?” 

James led them to the hall and opened the back door. The lace curtains seemed limper than they had been a few nights before. Japanese paper lanterns were still strung up, though not lit.

“It must have been quite a spectacle out here,” The sheriff remarked, eyeing them.

“We wouldn’t know,” said Jackson. “Neither Adele nor I ventured outside.”

“Quite content to watch the intrigues going on inside, eh?” Hatfield eyed him.

“Quite.” Jackson’s voice was guarded. “If Lucy was killed out here and dragged, there would be a mark somewhere.”

“I scarcely think it’s possible that she was killed here, Sheriff,” said Adele. 

“And why is that?”

“The lights.” She steadied a swinging lantern with her parasol. “They would have illuminated even the slightest movement. The curtains were drawn in the ballroom and as you can see, that room overlooks this part of the veranda.”

“I see you and your brother both inherited strong powers of observation,” said Hatfield with a gleam in his eye.

About the Author

As soon as Tam May started writing when she was fourteen, writing became her voice. She writes engaging, fun-to-solve historical cozy mysteries. Her mysteries empower readers with detailed plots and a sense of “justice is done” at the end. Her fiction is set in and around the San Francisco Bay Area because she adores sourdough bread, Ghirardelli chocolate, and the area’s rich history. Tam’s current project is the Adele Gossling Mysteries. The series takes place in Northern California in the early 20th century and features amateur sleuth and epistolary expert Adele Gossling. Together with her clairvoyant friend, Nin Branch, they ensure justice is served for women, both living and dead. Tam lives in Texas but calls San Francisco and the Bay Area “home”. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature, watching classic films, reading self-help books, or cooking yummy vegetarian dishes.

Social Media Links

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

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

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

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

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

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This Month’s Woman in History: Nannie Helen Burroughs

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Photo Credit: Nannie Helen Burroughs, 1909, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: FloNight/Wikimedia Commons/PD US 

For women to take on the entrepreneurial spirit in the 21st century is not only accepted but supported. Women business owners have a lot of resources online and in their communities these days to help them build and grow their businesses in whatever field they choose. When they can’t get the job they want, they create it.

But in the early 20th century, this wasn’t the case. In spite of the rise of the suffragist movement during this period, ideas about women’s place were still hampered by the previous century’s separate spheres. Even progressive women like Adele Gossling, the protagonist of my new series, The Adele Gossling Mysteries, is looked down upon by the inhabitants of her new home because she prefers running her stationery store and helping the police solve crimes over marriage and children.

One woman who took the entrepreneurial spirit to new heights and opened many doors for African-American women at the turn of the century was Nannie Helen Burroughs. The daughter of former slaves, Burroughs took her high scholastic achievements and applied for a job with the Washington D.C. public school system. She didn’t get it. So, like many women entrepreneurs, she decided to create the job she wanted. Her dream was to open her own school for girls that would teach them how to make their own living and give them the courage, strength, and education to fight for the rights of their people. 

Burroughs began putting her plan into action by doing what many women entrepreneurs do: She worked at odd jobs to save up money to build her school. She solicited all the funds she could from the African-American community, refusing to accept donations from whites so she could dictate the curriculum of her school in her way. When she bought the buildings and land for her school, she did much of the work herself. She opened the doors to the National Training School for Women And Girls in 1909 and from the get-go, it was a huge success.

Photo Credit: Trades Hall, National Training School for Women and Girls, now the headquarters of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, taken by Farragutful on 8 July 2017: Farragutful/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY SA 4.0 

Burroughs’ ideas of women’s education were progressive for her time. Like many New Women, she believed the sky was the limit to what girls could and should learn. At the same time, her school emphasized the importance of practical training so her girls would graduate with the skills to support themselves. The curriculum included courses in dressmaking and handicrafts along with literature and science. Like many New Women, Burroughs also believed in physical activity for girls, abhorring the previous century’s “delicate woman” and the school had its own basketball team. 

Burroughs’ school evolved with the times, such as teaching skills relevant to women seeking work in factories during World War II. Upon her death in 1961, the National Training School for Women and Girls was renamed the Nannie Helen Burroughs School. Today, the six-acre complex houses several facilities, including the headquarters of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, a group that works for civil rights and social justice, and a private high school.

Let’s celebrate this amazing woman educator, suffragist/feminist, and civil rights activist during this Black History Month!

Is the life of a Gilded Age debutante all parties and flirtations? Read “The Rose Debutante” to find out! It’s FREE! Plus, you’ll get to know about life in the past and about the resilient women the history books forgot. And how about fun historical facts, great deals on historical fiction books, and a cool monthly freebie thrown in just because? Here’s where you can sign up.

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American Reform and Progress at the Turn of the 20th Century

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Although this cartoon refers specifically to only one of the reforms during the Progressive Era (women’s suffragism), it is visually a great example of what was going on with all reforms during this time.

Photo Credit: Political cartoon about suffrage in the United States. Four women supporting suffrage on a steamroller crushing rocks “opposition”. Illustration in Judge, v. 72, 1917 March 17, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: Unsubtlety/ Wikimedia Commons/PD 1923

I’ve talked a lot about The Gilded Age here and here because much of the Waxwood Series takes place during this time but also because the excess, glitz, and innovation of that age fascinates me. The Gilded Age led into the turn of the 20th century which proved to be as significant, if not more so, for American society, politics, and culture, than the era before it. If, according to humorists Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, the last quarter of the nineteenth century in America were gilded, the start of the new century tarnished that image somewhat. We might even venture to say that the progressive reforms of the turn of the 20th century came as a sort of backlash to the decades preceding it.

Life was good in America after the financial shock wore off from Panic of 1873. America was making a name for itself on the world stage, and there was promise and hope for a better life for most people with new inventions and attitudes. But the era also had a dark side. Excess was the name of the game, especially for those who became millionaires for the first time in their lives and had no qualms about flaunting their new wealth and social standing. Social and economic divides were becoming more prevalent and consumerism and commercialism more important to American life. Wheeling and dealing in politics and business ran rampant, and things were out of control. 

Enter the Progressive Era. There had always been civic-minded reformers, largely white and middle-class, who vocalized their concern as to the consequences of Gilded Age extravagance but at the turn of the 20th century, there began more aggressive push for the government to pass laws and make reforms. While much of this was positive, these reform had hidden agendas, kinks in the road, and unanticipated consequences.

Political reforms spring to mind when we talk about the Progressive Era, of course, like government clean-ups and the fight for the vote for women. But, as my fiction involves more social and psychological history, I prefer to focus on these issues in light of turn-of-the-century reforms. 

The settlement house movement was one of the best known reforms of the era. Settlement houses conjure visions of white, middle-class women whose privileged lives and separate sphere ideals left them with little space in which to exercise their energies. One of the few outlets for nineteenth century women to show their creativity, learning, and efficiency was in aiding those in need. But settlement houses were about more than this. They set out to educate the working-class with the goal of giving them skills they needed to get better jobs and build better lives for themselves. This included not only practical subjects such as reading and writing but also more culture-oriented topics like art appreciation and music. These well-meaning women, though, were not without their hidden agenda, which was to “Americanize” the largely immigrant population which they served. Many of their teachings was firmly grounded in white middle-class values and beliefs that these women held to be true and right. There was not the awareness of or respect for other cultures that we have today. In other words, the settlement houses offered help and education in exchange for acceptance of a narrow view of American life and values that was based on a privileged population.

One of these white, middle-class beliefs was that a pretty environment bred pretty thoughts and manners. Since urbanization grew rapidly in the second half of the 19th century, these reformers abhorred the filth and neglect of city streets and slums, and lobbied for better sanitation and housing conditions. They also started the City Beautiful movement. It’s no coincidence many city parks we have today were established in the late-19th century. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, for example, was conceived in the 1860’s, but construction began to fall into place from the 1880’s when this movement was in its infancy. Of course, there were detractors of the movement who argued that these reforms were meant more for the eyes of the middle-class and did nothing to address some of the real issues many Americans living in the cities were facing, like shameful house conditions and lack of sanitation. 

Photo Credit: Photo of Modernist author Djuna Barnes (working as a reporter) being force fed, like so many of the suffragists of the Progressive Era with the headline for her article, “How it Feels to be Forcibly Fed”. World Magazine, 6 September 1914: Celithemis~commonswiki/Wikimedia Commons/PD US

Many of my protagonists are women, so it’s no surprise women’s suffragism plays a big role in my fiction just as it did in the Progressive Era. Suffragism started to gain ground in the late 19th century after a hiatus of sorts from mid-century reformers and, indeed, this movement plays a role in several books of the Waxwood Series. At the turn of the twentieth century, women across the country were protesting the social and psychological limitations placed on them. Many of their guerrilla tactics are now more familiar to us since the film Suffragette was released in 2015. One of the most revealed articles that gave people a glimpse of what the suffragists went through was written in 1914 by Djuna Barnes who later became an icon of Modernist literature. The article describes in detail what it was like for these women reformers, who often went on hunger strikes to protest their treatment by government authorities and police, to be force-fed, one of the hallmarks of the more radical tenants of suffragism.

While the Waxwood Series is set somewhat earlier than the height of the Progressive Era, my upcoming historical mystery series puts Adele Gossling, its main protagonist, right in the center of these reforms. As a young, outspoken woman of this era, she embraces suffragism and other reforms and, in fact, earns the stigma of being a “radical” from some of the more Victorian-minded people living in Arrojo, a small town where she resides after her father’s death. She helps the police solve crimes, many of which are form fitted to the era and expose some of its rising tensions.

To find out more about this upcoming series, you can check out this page.

To find out more about the Waxwood Series, go here. The first book of the series can be found here.

Want more fascinating information on history? Like social and psychological history and not just historical events and dates? Then sign up for my newsletter! Plus, you’ll get a free short story when you do :-). Here’s the link!

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