Lani Steele



An Undersea Book of Hours

Lani Steele was lucky enough to live among the 7000 beautiful islands of the Philippines, where she spent as much time as possible in the water, gazing down at bright fish living among fanciful coral castles. Wonder, beauty, imaginative and sometimes silly rhyme make up the twenty-four poems, a book of hours of the day. They are fun reading for all ages. Steele’s poems are beautifully complemented in paintings by students from the school where she taught. A feast for eyes and hearts.

A Plague of Angels

A Plague of Angels will charm, disarm, and move you. Its originality is rich with the irony, humor, and insight for which Lani Steele is well known. You will want to read it again and again.
— Jane Elsdon, SLO County Poet Laureate, 2005


Absence Is No Alibi

In this nicely woven mystery, a ruthless school superintendent is found in a California Central Coast park, beaten to death with a most unusual weapon. The murder creates havoc in the district when Dr. Ross Talbot, a counselor who has been wronged by the superintendent, assumes the task of finding the killer before he or she strikes again.


When it comes to murder and mayhem, the California Coast is the perfect place to commit both! In these stories you’ll find no shortage of inspiration: the ocean, dunes and hills; the history; the people, birds and animals; the weather, the traffic, even the shopping. We’ve mixed up the stories: some nice and long, some flash-fiction short, and the rest somewhere in-between. So no matter how much time you have—10 minutes or two hours—you can pick a story and finish it. In these pages you’ll be transported all over the California Coast, witnessing all sorts of murder and mayhem. So, keep the lights on and enjoy!

Ink Stains, Volume 12

In the twelfth volume of Ink Stains, authors Adan Berkowitz, Michael Martin Garrett, James Harper, Marty Keller, Jamie Landry, K. L. Lord, Paul Lubaczewski, Jose Gabriel Siles, Lani Steele, and Alyssa N. Vaughn explore the secret hostilities and inner demons that lie beneath the seeming calm waters of those we love the most. We may even find out how thick blood really can be.

Mystery Weekly Magazine: September 2017

Lani Steele’s “How Mrs. Hitt Stopped Scrimping And Found Happiness With A Hit Man” finds Mrs. Hitt a satisfied customer of her mysterious hit man. Then Detective Snapp threatens to ruin everything.


Lani Steele holding a copy of her book Absence Is No Alibi

Despite a seemingly chronic inability to stay home, Lani Steele has been writing and publishing poetry, fiction, and other genres for decades. It started in fourth grade, when her teacher encouraged her to write a story instead of making a frilly valentine. She never looked back, and although she lives with one foot in California and one on the wind, writing is always a focus.

Steele’s work has appeared in over fifty local, state, national and international publications. Poetry, literary and mystery short stories, feature and travel articles, one-act plays, and educational print and media materials comprise her portfolio. Steele’s poetry has won prizes in many contests around the states, and she served for several years as Area Co-Coordinator and Poet-Teacher for California Poets in the Schools. She is a volunteer supporter of Poetry Out Loud. She is also a founder and member of the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (crime writers). Journal publications include California State Poetry Quarterly, Napa Review, Café Solo, Dark Horse Literary Journal, Red Herring Mystery Magazine, Women’s World, Endless Vacation. Many anthologies, including the Tuesday Poets Anthology, and several Sisters in Crime compilations, contain her poems and short stories. Steele’s well-received first poetry chapbook, Crowded With Ghosts, was published in 1986. Her second, A Plague of Angels, traveled with her from year to year and country to country until its publication in 2013. Her non-fiction account of a motorcycle journey with her husband, Sierra Cycle, came out in 1988.

An Angeleno by upbringing, Steele is a proud Bruin, with BA and MA in American History, and Ph.D. in Education from UCLA. Teaching gigs in Switzerland, the Philippines, and Chad are part of her fifty years as an educator. Steele taught elementary and secondary levels, and spent twenty-six years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo instructing and supervising future teachers. Her favorite job was teaching high level IB English at a private school in Manila, where she designed her own feminist, slightly revolutionary, minority-peoples-focussed, literary curriculum.

From educational road trips as a child to recent multi-month tours of Europe and Japan with her husband, Steele has traveled wherever and whenever she can, visiting about ninety countries so far. A son and his family in Korea make that country a frequent destination, although she struggles to learn Korean. The several homes of Pablo Neruda in Chile, and Easter Island, are on her bucket list. Because of an unconquered shopping habit, Steele’s friends often refer to her home as “Lani’s museum.” When she is at home, Steele reads, sews and quilts, gardens, hikes, plunks away on her ukulele, and plans the next trip.


Since 1985, Steele has been owner/proprietor of Oblong Press. Publications include


The Repositioned Corpse:

If you killed a fellow passenger on a cruise ship, why would you NOT throw the body overboard? Something is definitely not shipshape on this Atlantic crossing. A sea story soon to be posted in Lani’s Tales and Poems.

Crowded With Ghosts, Ed. 2:

New poems, including a section on Australia/New Zealand. A look at first peoples and those who dispossessed them.


Lani Steele is available for writing and poetry workshops and speaking engagements.