In The Writer's World

The first thing I want to say about the Indie Scene is that, since I am a part of it, I have decided to devote half the books I read in 2014 to indie and self-published authors.

While many indie and self-published books do rise to the top in sales, it’s more difficult for us small-scale participants in the e-book and book publishing world to get noticed. From what I’ve seen, there have been a number self-published best sellers. Many of these are offered for sale at 99-cents per download and fit into a genre (vampire, post-apocalyptic, steam-punk, dystopian, fantasy, or some combination thereof) where you will never see my by-line. So, to some extent, we’re talking about two different worlds within the selfie/indie publishing world

More on that at another time. Today I am going to talk about two very good mystery series by regional authors who work through small regional publishing companies.

I met C. Hope Clark first when I subscribed to her free weekly newsletter, “Funds for Writers“–an invaluable resource for folks like me, with more than 45,000 subscribers. That was Clark’s day job. She is a retired rural loan manager for the USDA, and released her first novel in the Carolina Slade mystery series, “Lowcountry Bribe”, about three years ago. I’ve just finished the second in the series, “Tidewater Murder”, and it’s better than the first. Third in the series comes out this month.

Her novels are published by Belle Bridge Books, a small regional publisher based in South Carolina, and I only know about them because Clark plugged them in her newsletter. But I bought the first book, and the second, and I’ll buy the third. Good characters, great plot development, a wonderful sense of place, and a milieu that to me is unfamiliar and intriguing. Carolina Slade is a USDA rural loan officer, and I am learning something about what these people do–an added bonus. Slade is spunky, sassy, and often inappropriate in her butting in. She gets herself into amazing situations. In “Tidewater Murder” my favorite scene was when Slade was hiding on the roof of a shed, in bad need of a pee, listening to the villains in the shed below her talking about what they were going to do to her when they found her!

My other discovery is Colorado-based novelist Mark Stevens. I recently ran into Stevens when I was snooping around on-line looking up people who review books. What a treat. Stevens and I traded books, and I ended up with “Antler Dust”, the first in the Allison Coil mystery series and contender for the  2012 Colorado Book Award. Allison Coil is a young woman who retires from a fast-moving career after she survives a plane crash. She moved to the Flattop Mountains of Colorado to become a hunting guide. She is smart, solid, and low key but tenacious. Mark’s first novel is populated with all varieties of people one would expect out there in the back country, and they’re real folks. His style and content are reminiscent of Nevada Barr and Craig Johnson, his descriptions of the great outdoors majestic. Stevens is a former newspaper reporter and tv news producer who now runs a small PR firm in Denver.

I’ll be on to Stevens’s second novel as soon as time allows, and as the third will be released in November, so I won’t have to wait long for that one. Like Belle Bridge, People’s Press is a small regional publisher that favors the work of Colorado writers. While it’s not always easy to find lower profile authors, when one does the search is worth it. Particularly if you’re tired of the cookie-cutter best sellers in genre fiction. As a mystery fanatic who loves series, I have my pack of authors I love, and these two are great additions!




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