Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Kiss of the Shaman's Daughter

There's been a lot of discussion about the advent of self-publishing in the last couple of years. I don't want to rehash the pros and cons; we all know that the book industry is changing rapidly, with a flood of writers striking out on their own. Many of them have little realistic hope of financial or critical success, but some are darned good storytellers who know their craft.

One such writer is Peter Bernhardt, who hails from Germany and now lives in the Southwestern US. His novels, The Stasi File and Kiss of the Shaman's Daughter feature East German ex-pat Rolf Keller and the opera singer Sylvia Mazzoni. Here's my Amazon review of Bernhardt's latest:

The second novel in a series featuring East German expatriate Rolf Keller and up-and-coming opera star Sylvia Mazzoni, Kiss of the Shaman's Daughter evokes memories of Tony HIllerman's novels. An old law school classmate named Slater shows up in Keller's life in Santa Fe in 1990, and the fellow is on the run from two thugs. The bad guys deal in Native American artifacts, which by law belong to the native tribes and can bring high prices on the black market. Rolf gets sucked in, even though Slater is not a friend. Meanwhile, Sylvia works hard to establish her professional chops as a soprano at the Santa Fe Opera. She's going to star in Tosca on short notice, but can her career survive the difficult stabbing scene of the final act?

A major plot thread, and this is what sets this mystery apart, takes place over three centuries earlier, in 1680, when local natives plan to stage an uprising against their Spanish oppressors. Readers may not immediately see how everything ties together, but it all does so quite effectively. Author Peter Bernhardt clearly shows off his love of music, the Southwest, and good yarns in this well-constructed, well-written mystery. This is one of the best indie novels I've read in a while.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

About Goodreads lists

Many thanks to all who voted for my three books on the Goodreads poll. No deadline had been set, but since it was entitled "Best Indie to Read in 2012," it seemed logical to consider New Year's Eve to be the deadline. By that measure, my books finished 1, 2, and 4. But more votes trickled in, and the last time I checked, they were 1, 2, and 3. Gosh, who can complain about that?

Goodreads has all kinds of book lists where you can vote. Just go to, where you can see them. Notice that in the upper right corner there is a link where you can create your own list. Explore them and get ideas for books that might interest you, or for lists that might be suitable for your own books. You may add the books yourself.

Once your books are listed, you need to let people know. I contacted most of my friends and acquaintances on writing lists and on Facebook. The most effective approach for me was to ask each person individually. It's more work than a blanket request, but much more effective. Most people gladly helped, because I assured them it would take only a minute. Only one friend told me no, because she mistakenly thought it required Facebook membership, and she claimed that Facebook is "the beast of the apocalypse"! Oh well. Mostly I stuck to a no-nag policy--ask a person only once, and move on. To avoid duplicate requests, I kept a list on Word of everyone I asked.

Make the process easy. At first I sent people the steps necessary to locate my books on the list, and that was cumbersome. So what worked was finding the exact location of my highest-ranked book on the list, copying the URL, and converting to a short URL using Once I did that, many people voted for my books quickly and easily.