Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Susan Oleksiw Books

I finished reading not one but two books by Susan Oleksiw last week and loved them both.

The Wrath of Shiva is her second novel featuring Anita Ray, who solves mysteries in Kerala, South India. Anita has an American parent but is comfortable living in her Auntie Meena's hotel and doing photography. When a cousin fails to arrive on a plane and a servant starts to go into trances and then blames it on an angry goddess, Anita investigates and is drawn into more intrigues than she bargained for. 

Susan does an amazing job of making you feel like you are there under the tropical trees near the sea. You feel the humidity, hear the night sounds of birds and animals, and become immersed in the local culture of tradition. She brings the local dialect into dialog in a natural way as we get to know her grandmother, her Muttachi. Anita also grows closer to her handsome friend, Anand, who plays a part in solving the mystery not only of her cousin's disappearance but also of valuable antiquities missing from the family. 

The twists toward and at the end were superbly done. I can't wait to read the next Anita Ray!

I've been waiting years to read the next Joe Silva book. Susan published the Murder in Mellingham series but it was discontinued before Last Call for Justice came out. I'm so pleased she decided to self-publish this book. Joe was a good cop with some conflict in his past. Joe is now happily settled with Gwen, his woman friend and her teenage daughter, and brings them to visit his family for the first time.

This book takes place entirely at his parents' home for a family reunion his elderly father has arranged. It's a big Portuguese family with lots of traditional views. Two estranged siblings show up from across the continent who haven't visited in decades and the tension mounts. When a relative is killed at the party, Joe has very little time to find the murderer before more damage is done.

This is almost a psychological suspense novel. The characters are drawn in depth and we see what Joe has to go through to reconcile justice, love for his family, and wanting to make everything right for everyone.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rehab Reading

I've been quiet around here because I went in for knee-replacement surgery on January 15. The recovery is very painful and sitting at the computer is particularly uncomfortable. I'm certainly not getting any new writing done yet.

The upside is that all I'm really capable of doing is reading and sleeping, and watching the occasional movie. And that means I get to read almost ALL THE TIME. For a woman like me with a way-too-busy normal life this is a huge treat. 

When I was recuperating from my back surgery two years ago, I did the same. I wrote a review on this blog of each book I read. I'm already behind schedule, but I hope to catch up, at least for the books that I really loved.

So far I have read the following novels:

I got halfway through a novel on my Kindle by an author new to me until I realized I just didn't like the story and the writing enough to finish it. So many books on my list and so little time!

Short stories and novellas include the following:

I'm even reading some non-fiction:

So stay tuned for reviews!

Friday, January 11, 2013

On Self-Publishing

I went on a new adventure last week. It occurred to me that two of my short stories that were published in the last ten years included some dark back story for two of the main characters in Speaking of Murder.

My story "Reduction in Force" describes revenge after corporate layoff and was published in Thin Ice, an anthology of mystery and crime fiction, by Level Best Books, 2010. The main character is Lauren Rousseau's sister, Jackie, who is an important secondary character in Speaking of Murder.

"Obake for Lance" was a short story about murderous revenge published in Riptide, an anthology of mystery and crime fiction, by Level Best Books, 2004. This story describes a dark incident in the past of Lauren's best friend, Elise, who plays a pivotal role in Speaking of Murder.

The rights to both stories reverted to me a year after publication. People who read Speaking of Murder have asked me when the next Lauren Rousseau book is coming out. It won't be out anytime soon, despite being mostly written, because I need to keep writing and promoting the Local Foods mysteries around the demands of my day job and daily life.

But it occurred to me that these two stories are directly related to Lauren and might satisfy some of the hunger of readers. So I read my writing colleague Kaye George's booklet The Road to Self-Publishing and cleaned up the formatting.

With the help of Kaye's booklet, I figured out how to publish the stories for most formats through Smashwords and for Kindle through Amazon. And while it requires some careful attention (that is, don't start doing it at night if you're a morning person), it really isn't that hard.

Through the unfailingly helpful Guppies I found a cover artist, Stanzalone Design, who uses open-source stock photographs and adds the lettering, which makes her covers very affordable, so I commissioned a cover for each. Which I love!

I also realized that Obake was the wrong word to use in that story. The real name of the triangular rice-dough pastry filled with sweet bean paste is Yatsuhashi, so the newly published story is called "Yatsuhashi for Lance."  It's up on Amazon and is already #25 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Asia > Japan and #77 in Books > Travel > Asia > Japan > General. Cool! (We won't worry about the fact that it isn't nonfiction...) It should be up for Nook, Kobo, and Apple formats before the end of January. 

I also liked the cover for "Reduction in Force" since it takes places in a software company and tea plays a critical role in the revenge. It's up on Amazon, too. 

This exercise gave me confidence in the world of self publishing, even though I have "non-me" publishers for all my books so far. I can track sales and let people who ask know that there is more of my writing out there they can read. For a mere ninety-nine cents! I'm not expecting to get rich on a couple of short stories but I like having them available. And you never know...

Have you self published anything? Do you order short stories for your ereader?  If you don't have an ereader and a story isn't available in paper, would you buy it and read it on your PC?