A mega-launch in the #LeiCrimeKW Kindle World

The day is finally here! My new #LeiCrimeKW Lei Crime Kindle World mystery is on Amazon’s e-shelves along with 11 other brand-new titles. We’re all very excited, and by all signs, so is the creator of Lei Texeira and the Lei Crime series, Toby Neal.


Don’t forget to join the whole #LeiCrimeKW gang on Facebook today, May 12, 2017 at 3:30 Eastern Time, where we’ll be happy to share facts and ideas about our books, answer any reader’s questions, and give away some prizes.

Speaking of prizes, I ran a contest until today, challenging anyone who read an excerpt of Echoes to deduce which two old rock’n’roll songs it was based on. Only one person was able to figure out one of the songs, so I’ll reveal it on Facebook today, between 7:30 and 8:00 ET. In the meantime, I’m putting out a bunch of clues on my Facebook Author page. Think you know your old songs? Try to figure it out by downloading the free sample chapters, or you can just try the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.

My new #LeiCrimeKW book: Echoes

Echoes - 529x800 V3Echoes is my fourth #LeiCrimeKW title, and the fourth featuring FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm. What’s it about, you ask?

In 1999, the Kahuna was The Man on Oahu’s west coast. The coolest guy at the wildest parties, with the coolest posse, the best weed and the most beautiful girlfriend.

Then he disappeared.

Fifteen years later, that girlfriend is no longer a high school senior. She is FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm, and she sees through every lie the Kahuna spins when he shows up again to beg her help.

How can she say no when the Kahuna wants her help not for himself, but to protect his little brother. Young Cole ‘Aukai is ready to set fire to the whole Oahu illegal drug trade—for revenge.

“I am hopelessly in love with a memory. An echo from another time, another place.” — Michel Foucault 

What is the Lei Crime Kindle World?

Kindle Worlds is an Amazon initiative that allows authors to publish stories set in another author’s fictional universe. The Lei Crime Kindle World is based on the Lei Crime series, created by bestselling author Toby Neal.

The books are great fun to read, so check out the new titles and come to the party—and invite your friends!



What book reviewers want: An interview with Janie Felix


Once again this week, Written Words turns the tables on the book reviewers by asking them questions. In this instalment, Janie Felix agreed to let us in on the secrets of book reviewing.

What genres do you review?

I review most all genres — whatever I read, because I find it helpful when I read others reviews.

I like mystery/police/ action genres.  They challenge my mind, hold my interest and allow for escape from normal life.  I like some romance, but not ” bodice ripper” types.  I like reality in romances, not necessarily happily ever after … realism.  I enjoy some sci-fi if it is relatable.

What do you look for in a book that you review?

What I look for in books is believable character development by the author.  I like surprise twists.  I also look for good beta reading (I really hate misspelled words, poor grammar and bad syntax.)  When I find an author whose style I enjoy, I veraciously read their books.

What is the worst mistake that an author can make in a book?

The worst mistake and author can make: boring, long convoluted explanations by a character.  And shabby proofreaders.

What is the worst mistake in your opinion that an author can make when trying to promote a book?

Promoting a book can be tricky. I’m not sure I dislike most book promotions. I really LIKE when an author of e-books offer their first one free. Very often if I like their style or characters, I will continue to follow them and buy more just by the “credit ” of their name alone.

Which is more important to you: the plot/story, characters, or the writer’s style?

Characterization is probably the most important part of a book for me.  If the characters become real, you can put them in most any plot and they survive.  ‘Course that all goes back to the author. So it is circular.

Name a classic book in the genre you favour most that you think today’s writers should aspire to equal.

The Stand is a book with great characters the writers can aspire to.

Desert island question: name three record albums you would take with you if you were stranded on the island from Lost (where they had vinyl records and diamond-stylus record players).

Albums: David Brubeck’s Take Five,  the 1812 Overture or any Tchaikovsky work and anything by James Taylor.

All about Janie

 IMG_1051Janie has been married for 52 years to her best friend, Gary. She is a mom of four a grandmom of seven, a Wiccan High Priestess, a clinical herbalist and an avid reader.  She is 72 years young and loves to quilt, preserve what her husband grows and teach others about her knowledge of Wicca and herbs. 

The reader as co-conspirator

Independent novel review: Head of Words

Sometimes, you see where a novel is going and guess the surprise twist well before getting to it. Sometimes, if the writer is really good, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the novel.

In the case of Head of Words, I felt like a co-conspirator with author Chris Ward. I guessed what he was going to do with the story line, and I kept going for two reasons: first, because this new novel is such a good read; and only secondarily because I wanted to make sure that I was right.

I was, and I loved the novel.

The plot

Head of Words is narrated by Daniel Barker, a university drop-out who’s set up a “doss house” in a very small apartment in Bristol. For my readers on the western side of the Atlantic, that means he takes in as roommates just about everyone he meets. At the opening of the novel, there are thirteen people living in the one-bedroom flat, plus a small dog: Daniel himself; the angry and dangerous Shane; Stevie, who dreams of being a rock singer; Aunt Rita and Uncle Rick; the cynical Clive, Dan’s oldest friend who’s endlessly playing chess with Uncle Rick; the bickering, indecisive twins, Ernie and George; Polly, the exotic pole dancer; Angelo, the great seducer; Bernard from Jamaica, who has an inexhaustible supply of weed; the eccentric tinkerer Franz; and the latest addition, Lisa, the talented artist.

The book chronicles the adventures, stresses, arguments and compromises inevitable among such a large group in a small space. Aunt Rita establishes some kind of order, cooking meals that somehow stretch one income to feed thirteen people and a dog. Angelo alternately pursues Polly and Lisa, while dodging a former lover’s phone calls; Shane gets into fights, justifying his actions by claiming he’s defending the group; and Stevie exasperates everyone with futile striving for rock stardom.

The style

Ward writes a story or two for almost every character. He shows us how each one came into Dan’s life and, usually immediately, into his house, too. Every character is believable and developed, except maybe for Clive — as Dan’s oldest friend, he should have more ink in this book.

The writing is funny, touching, moving and absolutely compelling. Ward is obviously a professional writer, and although (I hate to admit it) I had never heard of him before he contacted me with an advance review copy, I find he’s already published several collections of short stories. From the style, any reader can see he knows the craft of writing. Another example of the kind of writing that the publishing companies and critics SAY they want to see, but don’t actually support.

Head of Words is one of those books you cannot put down. And if you, too, guess the twist, I don’t think you’ll be able to close it on that account.

Chris Ward knows how to keep readers on for the ride.

5 *

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CBDD73Q/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CBDD73Q/

Action sample Sunday: The Avar horsemen

A golden jug from the Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós depicting a possibly Avar warrior with his captive. Notice the severed head hanging from the saddle. Source: Wikipedia.

This week, I am again presenting a fan favourite: an action excerpt from my first book, The Bones of the Earth.

This passage comes from Part 2: Tests. In this section, the hero, Javor — cast out of his own village because of his autism and tendency to attract trouble — and Photius, the mysterious traveller, have found refuge in another village. But it’s not long before the village is attacked by raiders, a group of the horsemen who swept across Europe during the Dark Age. Javor and Photius have tried to organize some defence of the village’s wooden stockade, to little effect.

The riders charged from all directions at once, standing on their saddles to vault the stockade. One landed behind Javor, whose sword seemed to find its own way to the raider’s head, biting through the mail and killing him on the spot. Javor wrenched the sword free of the falling body and ran toward another attacker. His sword led the way, piercing the man’s chest.

But there were too many of them. They killed villagers indiscriminately. Spears and swords bloodied tunics and skirts. Mstys wielded a scythe, cutting down the raiders until a blow to his head knocked him down. Photius had his sword out and Javor saw him dispatch two raiders before another blocked his view.

Javor swung his sword, but the raider was quick and skilled and engaged him in a terrifying bout. Time after time, Javor barely dodged swipes of the curved blade. He couldn’t connect and was conscious of his own lack of skill and experience.

The other man knew he had the advantage. He hit Javor on the arm, then on the head with the flat of his blade. He drew no blood, but the pain slowed Javor down. He swung his blade again and missed again. His opponent seemed to go for his chest, but suddenly swiped savagely at Javor’s legs, tripping him. Javor went down hard. The amulet fell out of his jerkin then, but its chain was still on his neck, and Javor grabbed it unconsciously. The curved sword struck his back, ringing on the armour, but it didn’t penetrate.

Javor rolled on top of his sword. He tried to get out his dagger, but the raider brought his down on Javor’s chest. The blow winded Javor, but the armour held, ringing.

I hope you liked that. Leave a Comment below, one way or the other!

And if you want to find out what happens next, you can get The Bones of the Earth on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and other e-tailers.

Get on board

The One Shade of Red Launch Blog Tour

One Shade of Red launches on April 2, and 12 great bloggers — all professional, top-notch independent authors — have generously donated their blog space to helping the book’s profile rise.
Each day over the next two weeks, you can visit the blog for a different excerpt from the book, my second novel. And starting on April 2, you can link to buy the book (if you want to) on Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes and other major e-tailers.
March 26: Alan McDermott, Jambalian blog — excerpt from Chapter 1: Falling Down
March 27: Siggy Buckley, Writers Get Together — excerpt from Chapter 2: The Re-Do
March 28: Charity Parkerson, The Sinner Author — excerpt from Chapter 8: Cleaning Pools
March 29: CR Hiatt, McSwain and Beck — excerpt from Chapter 5: Shopping
March 30: Dawn Torrens, My Books & I blog — excerpt from Chapter 7: Argument with Kristen
March 31: Bruce R. Blake, The Thoughts and Opinions of a Writer on the Rise — excerpt from Chapter 6: Building the Client Base
April 1: David C. Cassidy, Because Life is a Really Good Story — excerpt from Chapter 11: Dom and Sub
LAUNCH DAY, April 2: Cinta Garcia de la Rosa’s Indie Authors You Want to Read — excerpt from Chapter 10: Dinner Date
ALSO: Guest post about writing a different kind of fiction on Joyce Strand’s Simply Tips
April 3: Doug Dorow, Thriller Author — excerpt from Chapter 9: Mrs. Casales
April 4: Valjeanne Jeffers, Collision of Worlds — excerpt from Chapter 4: What a Morning After
April 5: Frederick Lee Brooke, AuthorUnplugged — Excerpt from Chapter 12, Hell and Heaven and Hell Again
April 6: Best-selling author’s Shannon Mayer’s blog — Excerpt from Chapter 15: Mom’s Advice
Thank you, all!
Take a look at each one on their day, read the excerpt and leave a comment. Show them all some blogger love!
I hope you enjoy the excerpts. If you don’t, let me know in a comment below.

Sample Sunday: Damian falls down

With this post, I’m reviving a Written Words tradition: posting brief samples of my upcoming work on Sundays.

I’m aiming to publish One Shade of Red, my spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey, in about a month (hopefully less). And to give you a taste, here’s a bit of Chapter 1: Falling Down, where the protagonists first meet.

Leave a comment at the end!

Clutching an aluminum pole in one hand and a canvas bag in the other, I rang the doorbell. I heard a deep ring from somewhere inside that echoed for seconds. Then silence. I waited for what seemed like a very long time. Sunlight burned the back of my neck.

Should I ring again? Would it be rude? I didn’t want to piss off these rich people.

But—hell with it. This is Nick’s business, not mine. I pressed the doorbell again, heard the same deep ring and echoes.

Then I nearly jumped out of my skin as a buzzing voice said: “Yes? Who’s there?”

I hadn’t noticed the little speaker, a white plastic box that blended with the trim around the doorway. I pressed a little round button under the speaker grille. “PoolGeeks,” I said, loudly and clearly.

“Don’t talk so loud or so close to the speaker,” the voice buzzed. It was impossible to tell if the speaker was male or female, young or old. “Come around the left side of the house. I’m by the pool.”

Great. The old biddy was going to watch me clean her pool. I pictured a crone in a flowered sun-dress and a big floppy hat, sipping on a mint julep, saying “Don’t miss the far corner.”

I threw the strap of the canvas bag over my shoulder and followed a stone path around the house. The side yard was filled with flowering bushes and exotic shrubs. A gate with a semi-circular top that matched the front door pierced a solid cedar fence. I pushed it open with the aluminum pole of the pool skimmer to see a huge patio of interlocking reddish stones. In the middle of it a curved pool gleamed blue and white in the sun.

“You’re early,” said a musical voice from somewhere around the back corner of the house at the same time that the gate closed, catching the butt of the pool-skimmer pole just as I took a step forward. It was enough to yank me back, just a little, and I fell forward.

The canvas bag, loaded with accessories and supplies, vomited all over the stone walk. The aluminum pole hit the ground and bounced up, smacking me in the face as I went down. I barely got one hand under my face before it hit the stone, too.

“Oh, dear! Are you all right?” said the musical voice. Nothing like the buzzy squawk from the speaker by the front door. All I could see, though, was flat stone and a little green blur to the side.

I craned my head up. This can’t be real, I remember thinking.

She was a dream. My dream. A tall woman with long, wavy brown hair. Couldn’t be more than 30 years old.

In a big floppy hat. And a string bikini.

I scrambled to my feet. My hands and knees were scraped and my face hurt where the aluminum pole had hit it. “Ya, yah, fine,” I stammered. “I’m from PoolGeeks.” I yanked the pole free of the gate.

“You’re early.”


“No, that’s good. For once, my pool will be clean before all the neighbours’.” She pointed at the pool. “Well, as you can see, there it is.”

I couldn’t look at the pool, because I couldn’t stop looking at her. I felt like I was in junior high again. The only word that came into my mind was: stacked. There were acres of bare skin. The bathing suit barely covered her nipples and pubis, but none of those words made it into my mind at that moment.

She looked at me, eyebrows raised, and I realized that she was waiting for me to say something. My tongue felt thick and heavy.

“I’m … um … Damian.” I looked at her some more. I forced my eyes to stay level with hers, but it was so hard not to let them just fall, rest on the curves of those big, beautiful breasts … I coughed. Choked, actually. “From PoolGeeks.”

She laughed. “Yes, you said that.” She bent down daintily, knees together, and picked up the little round net that fit onto the end of the aluminum pole. She took two long steps toward me, stepping carefully because she had bare feet. I held the canvas bag open, and she slipped it inside. “This is yours, I think. I’m Mrs. Rosse. Come on to the pool.”

She had a high, musical voice — oh, did I say that already? Sorry. Okay, she turned around, and I was very happy to follow her. It was a long way around the side of the house to the big patio in the back. No, I did not stare at her ass the whole way there. Okay, I did, but not the whole way.

One Shade of Red will be available as an e-book on Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks and other major retailers in March, 2013.