What I’m working on now: A new book



After publishing 10 books in the past two years (wow—I just blew my own mind), I am not slowing down, but I am changing direction.

I had a writing and publishing plan.e72b9-bonescoverfinalforweb

Two years ago in July, I published two books in two different Kindle Worlds: Torn Roots in the Lei Crime Kindle World, based on Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series; and Jet: Stealth in the Jet Kindle World, based on the bestselling series by Russell Blake.

Up to that point, I had published only three book-length titles:

  • The Bones of the Earth, book one of a planned Dark Age trilogy, a historical fantasy
  • One Shade of Red, a spoof of Fifty Shades of Gray
  • Army of Worn Soles, the first book in my Eastern Front trilogy, based on the real experiences of my father-in-law in the Red Army during the Second World War.

My plans at that point were to complete the Eastern Front trilogy (done!), then move to the second and third books of the Dark Age series. I also thought I might intersperse those projects by writing and publishing
stories that would tie together into a paranormal-occult-romance novel, Dark Clouds. I had written four chapters, publishing them on various platforms. A lot of people liked the first chapter, which stands alone as a story called The Mandrake Ruse. You can download it for free.

At that point, I had never even heard of Kindle Worlds, and never considered writing fan fiction.

Then Toby Neal diverted me.

Near the end of 2014, Toby Neal, bestselling author of the Lei Crime series and other books, and a prominent member of the BestSelling Reads authors group, selected a few authors to write for her brand new Lei Crime Kindle World. The idea was to publish a novella, something between 10,000 and 40,000 words, based on the characters and situations of her mystery novels.

I was excited and, to be honest, flattered to be one of the first invited to this project. And it also solved another problem for me. I had an idea for a light-hearted thriller with characters based on my family, but I could not make the plot work. When I got Toby’s invitation to write a Hawaii mystery, the plot, setting and characters fell into place.

However, there was one big problem: my main character was a geologist, and I knew nothing about the geology of Hawaii. I wasn’t getting the details I wanted from books or the Web. So I booked my next vacation to Maui, and what I experienced added a lot of realism to the book. And while I missed the first launch in April 2015,
I did manage to write a book, re-write it, get a cover, get it edited and proofread—and share a beta draft with Toby Neal herself—in time for the “second surge” in July.

While I was working on my first Lei Crime book, Russell Blake invited me (and several others) to write for his new Jet Kindle World, too. Its first deadline was the same as the second one for Lei Crime: July 31, 2015.

So, while Torn Roots was with beta readers, editors and proofreaders, I wrote a short, fast-paced thriller called Stealth, introducing two more characters based on people I know: Van Freeman and Earl LeBrun. And I met the deadline without cutting any corners.

My writing went fast in a new direction.

Since then, I wrote and published two more Lei Crime novellas and one novel. I was invited to another Kindle World, based on Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye series about a kick-ass woman detective and her giant dog, Blue. I’ve written two books for this series, both featuring Van and LeBrun.

Now, it’s time to get back to the original plan.

Don’t get me wrong—writing the Kindle World books has been a blast. I really enjoyed the characters and situations I created, and to judge by the reviews, my readers have, too. And I think I will find it irresistible to return to them, putting them in more impossible situations.

But I want to get back to the next book in the Dark Age trilogy. Last year, when I was waiting for medical attention after breaking my knee, I worked out the plot outline for book 2, The Triumph of the Sky. (Guess which song inspired that and I’ll send you a personalized, signed e-copy of The Bones of the Earth.)

The Dark Age trilogy is what I call “historical magic realism.” It’s epic fantasy, but set in a real time and place: the sixth-century CE Eastern Roman Empire, often known now as the Byzantine Empire. But the people there at the time called themselves “Roman,” even though most of them spoke Greek.

The Bones of the Earth, book 1 in the trilogy, was about Javor, a poor Sklavenic boy from beyond the Empire’s borders, who travels to Constantinople, the capital of the Empire, searching for answers about his parents’ death and his great-grandfather’s magical dagger. The second volume will tell the story of Javor as a young man, living in Constantinople with a wife and family, going on several adventures and contending with deep, supernatural forces. It’s based on a number, just as the first volume was. I’ve made some progress: two chapters written. In a future post, I’ll post some advance samples when I’m happy with them.

But don’t get too excited. Triumph is going to be a big book, like Bones was. But I’ll keep you up to date on progress, and I’ll have lots of contests and giveaways along the way. One of the first will be a giveaway to anyone who can deduce or guess which number figures prominently in the plot of The Bones of the Earth, and later another one for the number that’s the basis of The Triumph of the Sky.

See you soon!

Sneak peek: Echoes launches May 12



Echoes, my new #LeiCrimeKW Kindle World novel, launches along with 8 other new novelettes and novellas on May 12. Don’t forget to go to Facebook on that day—there’s going to be a launch party and a lot of prizes to be won.

But to whet your appetite, here’s a taste of Echoes.

Out of the past

2014

The first time that the Kahuna was able to sneak up on Vanessa was the first time she met him, when she was 16 and he was 19. He wasn’t able to do it again for sixteen years, until a bright morning in Honolulu as impossibly picturesque clouds floated across the impossibly blue sky. Vanessa was walking along Beretania Street, taking an iced coffee to start her day in the FBI Honolulu field office.

One second, she was walking by herself, trying to time her steps so that she would arrive at the corner of Punchbowl Street just as the light turned green. The next second, a tall, muscular Hawaiian man with graying hair tied in a pony tail was in step at her right shoulder. She noticed him and stopped, her mouth open.

Honolulu Hale—the municipal building of Honolulu, HI. Photo: Wikipedia.

“Come here often, Nani?” he said, using the pidgin term for “beautiful.”

Vanessa’s coffee sloshed over the rim of the cup. It took her several seconds to find her voice. “Dylan ‘Aukai?”

He turned on that smile that she remembered had made her knees weak when she was a teenager. “Long time, Babe.”

“What are you doing here? And where have you been for so long?”

“I could ask you the same thing, Nani. But why don’t we get a cuppa coffee and catch up?”

“I already have a coffee, Dylan.”

He tilted his head and turned on the high-beam smile again. “C’mon. You gotta couple minutes, doncha?” He nodded down the street. “You’re right. I don’t actually wanna sit in one of these fancy coffee places that don’t even serve Hawaiian coffee.  Let’s sit in the park, in the shade. I hafta tell you somethin’.”

Vanessa looked at her watch. She’d arrive at the office a few minutes late, but knew it would not be a problem. She found herself walking fast to keep up with Dylan’s strides to the park across the boulevard from the Honolulu City Hall.

Dylan led her to a bench under a koa tree and stretched his long legs out in front of him as she sat beside him, careful not to spill more of her drink. “What do you want to tell me, Dylan? No, wait. Before that: where have you been for the past 15 years, and why did you take off that night without a word of why? What happened?”

He turned and smiled again. “Let’s not dwell on the past, Nani. Let’s look to the future.”

“Knock off the cheesy lines, Dylan. You abandoned me at a very critical moment for a young woman—probably the most vulnerable moment in my life to that point. You know what I’m talking about. What happened?”

Dylan sighed, looking around the park, from the massive and impressive city hall, to the arching koa trees, the carefully watered and maintained grass at his feet, the nannies pushing strollers through the park. He took another deep breath and held it for a moment before looking at Vanessa again. “You’re right. I knew it was a very special time for you. And I wouldn’t have left if I didn’t have to. Truth is, the cops were after me. They framed me. For all I know, they’re still after me.”

“That sounds like bullshit, Dylan.”

“It’s not bullshit. But it’s the past. Look, I came to you for help, not for me, but for my brother, Cole.”

Watch for it on Amazon on May 12.

What’s Echoes about?

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.

Echoes will be live on Amazon on May 12, 2017. Visit here to find it and all the new releases.

What is the Lei Crime Kindle World?

Echoes is the fourth book I’ve written in the Lei Crime Kindle World. It joins Torn Roots (July 2015), Palm Trees & Snowflakes (December 2015) and Dead Man Lying (2016).

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.

Cover reveal: Two new books coming over the next three weeks



I’ve told you about Echoes, my new Lei Crime Kindle World mystery featuring FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm. This full-length novel appears on May 12, and I think it’s my best mystery, yet.

But two weeks before then, one week from today, on Thursday, April 27, a new Sydney Rye Kindle World adventure launches, too: The Three-Way, featuring your favourite, scruffiest, most irresistible and stubbornly independent secret agent, Van Freeman, along with his mysterious, ingenious partner, Earl LeBrun—the characters I introduced in Jet: Stealth, and featured again in The Wife Line.

3-WayCover-FINAL-smaller

In The Three-Way, Van and LeBrun take on Daesh, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.  Van, as usual, gets himself in way over his head. How he gets out has delighted beta readers so far.

Characters from the Sydney Rye universe created by Emily Kimelman include the smooth businessman and all-round enigma, Robert Maxim, as well as the Kurdish woman warrior from The Girl with the Gun, Mujada Taib.

Here’s a short sample

Chapter 2: Meet Van Freeman

Van swallowed the last of his espresso when he heard a voice that exuded confidence bordering on condescension. “Well, if it isn’t Van Freeman.” 

Deep, assured, relaxed. Van twisted toward the back of the café, nearly falling out of his chair. A tall man who looked to be in his late fifties sat in a chair against the wall. He leaned back, one ankle on the other knee, a hand on his raised thigh and his other holding an espresso cup. He had short brown hair, cut expensively, with silver at the temples. He wore dark travelling pants, a khaki-colored shirt and a light grey blazer that appeared to be poured onto him. 

Who is this guy? He wasn’t sitting there when I sat down. How did he get in without my noticing? Van thought. 

“Heyyy,” he said, smiling broadly. “Wow. It must be … How long since we’ve seen each other? And what brings you … Here, of all places?” He felt a tingle as the short hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He controlled his breathing and kept smiling. Without moving his eyes from the strange man, he scanned the room with his peripheral vision, looking for other threats, possible allies of the strange man and fastest escape route.  

“Relax, kid,” the stranger said, gesturing toward the chair across the table from him. “You’ve never met me, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your memory.” 

Van moved so the table was between them. “Then how do you know my name?” 

“You stand out, especially here: a six-foot surfer dude with blond hair past his shoulders, and no beard. You’re hard to miss.” 

“That doesn’t explain how you know who I am.” 

“I read the report that Sydney Rye wrote.” 

Van’s chest tightened. He breathed out slowly. “Sydney wrote a report about me?” 

I have several people to thank for helping me get this book out so fast: my wife, Roxanne, for putting up with long silences as I wrote this furiously over a month; my elder son, Evan, for inspiring the character of Van and polishing his dialogue so it seems more realistic for a Millennial; Roger Eschbacher, Gary Henry and Joy Lorton for advice, insight, editing and proofreading; and Emily Kimelman for inviting me to the Sydney Rye Kindle World, and for creating the characters of Sydney, her dog, Blue, Bobby Maxim and Mujada Taib.

If you’re willing to leave a review on the Amazon page on release day, email me at contact@writtenword.ca and I’ll send you an advance review copy.

 

 

A look back at a tough year



To many, 2016 has been a horrible year. The war in Syria, the loss of refugees from that conflict and others, the record number of celebrity passings, record homicide numbers in my home town, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency … I won’t go on. It’s too painful.

For me, it’s been a turbulent year, too. I broke my knee in May and went through months of intensive physiotherapy and exercise to get back the range of motion and strength I needed for my two-week whitewater canoeing trip. My son had appendicitis, my other son had some issues with school and work.

In the fall, I came down with a wicked case of pinkeye. There were more problems in this single year than in many that I can recall.

On the other hand, there were some “ups,” as well.

  • I published three books this year:
    • IMG_0020.jpgUnder the Nazi Heel, Book 2 in my Walking Out of War trilogy based on the World War 2 experiences of my father-in-law, Maurice Bury.
      It won Second Prize in the East Texas Writers Guild 2016 Awards for nonfiction/memoir.
    • The Wife Line, a Sydney Rye Kindle World book that features my spy-thriller characters, Van Freeman and Earl LeBrun.
    • Dead Man Lying, my third Lei Crime Kindle World title, featuring my FBI Special Agent character, Vanessa Storm. It won First Place in the 2016 East Texas Writers Guild Mystery Awards.WifeLine-final-small
  • I edited three very strong books by independent authors:
  • I participated in some group publishing efforts along with other members of BestSelling Reads, an authors’ group that cross-promotes members.
  • New members joined Independent Authors International, a collaborative publishing venture where members share skills to provide all the functions of a full, commercial publishing company.
  • PaddlersI canoed 325 kilometres down the Missinaibi and Moose Rivers in northern Ontario to Moose Factory on James Bay, and capsized only once.
  • I visited the Finger Lakes in New York, and met some very nice, interesting people and drank some excellent wine.
  • I crafted an outline for The Triumph of the Sky, the follow-up to my first full-length novel, The Bones of the Earth.
  • I outlined a new Lei Crime novel featuring Special Agent Vanessa Storm: Echo of a Crime, and have so far written about half of it.
  • And I came up with a concept for a new Sydney Rye Kindle World novel which will feature Van and LeBrun.

So 2016 has been a year with ups and downs, and now that I look at it, for me at least, there were more good points than bad. And for the family, too.

But for the world, it’s been a tough year. For Aleppo and the rest of Syria, for Iraq, for France, Belgium and the U.K., for Japan, Italy and Fort McMurray. For the U.S., 2017 is going to be … interesting politically.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, loving, peaceful and plentiful 2017.

Written Words interview the reviewers: Sue Devers and Amina Giraldez



CatReadingThis week, Written Words turns the tables on book reviewers by asking them few questions about what they’re looking for in the books they review.

Today, we have two avid readers whose have carved out a broad platform on Amazon and Goodreads: Sue Alexander Devers and Anima Giraldez.

What genres do you review?

Sue Devers: Almost anything that isn’t Romance, Western, or Zombie.

Anima Giraldez: Anything and everything.  I prefer a suspenseful mystery or crime novel with a hint of romance.

Why do you prefer those genres?

Sue Devers: They are exciting and they are good at helping me escape my boring everyday life.

Anima Giraldez: The idea of trying to solve the mystery or figure out the plot is the most intriguing.  As a stay-at-home mom with a LEO for a husband I just don’t have that much excitement in my world.  I get to visualize a beautiful country I’ll never visit, learn something new or experience danger I would never get to otherwise.

What do you get out of them?

Sue Devers: I get to visit different places–real or not–some of which I would love to go to myself!!!  LOL  Also meeting new friends and enemies.

Anima Giraldez: The idea of trying to solve the mystery or figure out the plot is the most intriguing.  As a stay at home mom with a LEO for a husband I just don’t have that much excitement in my world.  I get to visualize a beautiful country I’ll never visit, learn something new or experience danger I would never get to otherwise.

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

Sue Devers: Continuity, a good story and well-rounded characters.

Anima Giraldez: I look for that thrill that keeps me reading past bedtime, while my kids are playing so I can ignore them or keep me on the elliptical longer while I forget I’m exercising.  I look for a book that can put some zing between the sheets without making it raunchy or too frequent that I lose interest.  I also need to have at least two weeks to adjust for others on my calendar or having to read others in a series first.

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

Sue Devers: Something that pulls me from the story, sends me back to the “real” world.

Anima Giraldez: Timelines are tricky.  When dates are splashing about and ages are mentioned I have a nasty habit of trying to make it sure lines up right, when it doesn’t I’m the first to call it out.  Guess that’s my OCD coming out.

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

Sue Devers: Not describing the book accurately in the blurb.  I hate picking up books thinking they are one style and they are something totally different.

Anima Giraldez: Sending a book out to reviewers far too early, which can get forgotten. Sending it out not early enough, which means a speed read or it’s not read in time for release. Promoting is tricky enough but I would think a few solid reviews could really help a release.

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

Sue Devers: The plot/story—unless it is labeled fantasy, then make it at least mostly believable.

Anima Giraldez: Man, that’s tough. Characters that are memorable in some way is important to me.  The banter they flirt or tease with will either have me laughing in stitches or cringing with distaste. Chemistry is important in romance or murder mystery, in the normal world we have to get along and normal feel good vibes are important.  I feel like the plot could be anything as long as the characters are people I could hang with and actually have some intelligence.

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

Sue Devers: Well, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien; The Godfather by Puzo; Laurell K Hamilton for vampires, shifters, zombies, and such.

Anima Giraldez: I can’t say that I’ve read a classic book in ages, probably since my AP English classes 20 years ago and they weren’t in my fave genre.

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). 

Sue Devers: The Eagles—best of 75 thru 79; any of the a cappella group Home Free’s albums; and I don’t know for a third—maybe Enya.

Anima Giraldez: Anything by Dean Martin, Van Halen (if a record was available) and Billy Joel. 

Thank you, book reviewers!

meSue Alexander Devers has lived in St. Joseph, MO most of her life. She’s been an avid reader since a very young age, and drove a school bus for 10 years, then a semi for about a year. She’s also been a truck driver, then dispatcher and supervisor until she became disabled. Now, reading and reviewing books take up much of her time.

 

 

10151396874681448Amina Giraldez lives in Salinas, CA about 15 minutes from Monterey and beautiful Carmel with her husband, a 20-year law-enforcement officer, and two young children. Her full name, Anima-Christi, is a Catholic prayer that means “spirit of Christ.”

“My parents felt the creative bug, I guess,” she says.  

“I became an avid reader after reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and followed it up with the 50 Shades series, then I grabbed whatever I could.  When my husband works the midnight shift, I have plenty of quite time in the evenings to devour books.  After making some contacts with favorite authors on Facebook I began getting early releases for free and realized how important reviews are to the author.  I pride myself on getting reviews posted on release day and supporting the author through my ratings.”  

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7011603-anima.

 

 

 

 

Book launch day: Dead Man Lying, the new #LeiCrimeKW mystery



Party time!

LCKW-party-2016

It’s launch day for my new #LeiCrimeKW mystery, Dead Man Lying, and there’s a huge party on Facebook where you can win some awesome prizes:

Book launch

A book party is a great time to launch my latest book, Dead Man Lying — a new #LeiCrimeKW mystery featuring a favourite character of readers, FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm. Dead Man Lying is a locked-door mystery evoking the noir mysteries of the 30s, 40s and 50s. I’ll let you figure out which specific book was an important inspiration for the plot.

What’s it about?

She knows when you’re lying …FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm is back on Maui to catch a killer.

With lush rain forests, black sand beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle, Maui offers the perfect retirement location for once-famous country singer Steven Sangster … until he ends up dead.

As the killer, or killers, strike again and again, Detective Lei Texeira and FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm must untangle the lies spun by the singer’s associates, friends, family — and the singer himself before the music dies.

Dead Man Lying - 529x800One more giveaway

I’ll give away two free e-copies (suitable for Kindle) to someone who can answer one of these two questions:

  • Which classic noir thriller from the early 20th century is the inspiration for the plot structure of Dead Man Lying?
  • Which country-folk singer is the inspiration for the victim in Dead Man Lying?

Leave your responses in the Comments section, along with your contact information, and I’ll pick one right answer to each question at random.

Then come to the party!

Paradise Down: The #LeiCrimeKW blog tour



A new crop of Lei Crime Kindle World books are coming your way through June, culminating in a big Facebook party on June 27. Paradise Down is D.B. McNicol’s first Lei Crime novella.

By D.B. McNicol

Paradise Down by D.B. NcNicol

Paradise Down by D.B. NcNicol

“What a great day. Thanks for being a such great guide, Jared. Diving Hawaii was even better than we expected. We will be calling you tomorrow to book again before we head home.”

Jared waved the clients off and walked up to the shop, thinking this was the strangest vacation he’d ever had. He was glad he’d taken two weeks or he would have had to desert Lucia before she was squared away.

Lucia. She is so sweet and so cute. He then recounted the reasons he wasn’t interested in her. One, she’s too young. Two, I have to go back to Maui and she will go to the university in Honolulu. Three, no responsibilities! Oh, and four, she’s like my kid sister.

He laughed at himself. At least he was here to help her now. He dropped his gear by the front door and enjoyed the sound of the chimes as he stepped inside. The first thing he saw was a big brown dog in front of him, growling. The second thing he saw was everything had been trashed. Someone had vandalized the shop. His head spun around, searching. “Lucia? Where are you? Damn it! Answer me!”

The dog stopped growling and whimpered. “What’s up, pup? Do you know where she is?” He took a step forward, watching for any signs of aggression from the dog. Nothing. He took another step, and another and then he saw her, laying unconscious on the floor.

“Shit! Lucia, it’s me. Jared.” He felt for a pulse and noticed the blood pooling under her head. “Hang on, help is coming.” He ran to the front porch, pulled his cell out of his dry bag and dialed 9-1-1.

“We need an ambulance and police to Dave’s Deep Dive, Anini Beach. The shop was vandalized and the owner is unconscious and bleeding from the head. This is Jared Stevens from the Maui Fire Department. I’m going to try to stop the bleeding. My cell will be beside me.” He clicked off, pulled his first aid kit out of his bag and went back inside.

The dog had lain down beside Lucia, head between its paws, but still watching every move Jared made. “It’s okay. Help is coming.” He found the source of the blood and used gauze pads for compression. The pup whimpered again. “It’s okay. Head wounds always bleed a lot. I’m more worried about a concussion.” He kept talking to Lucia and the dog, straining to hear sirens in the distance. “They’ll be here soon. It won’t be long now, just hang on.”

The front door opened and he shouted out. “Back here. In the back.”

A female voice responded. “Oh my! What happened? Is she dead? I think I feel faint.”

Jared shouted, “Don’t you dare. Please go back outside and wait for the ambulance and police. They should be here any minute.”

“Oh.” With that, she tottered back outside.

Jared looked at the dog. “Well, that was a big help, wasn’t it.” All he got in return was a whimper.

Sitting on the floor beside Lucia, Jared reflected on the damage around him. Who could have done this? And why? It made no sense. First her brother disappears and now this.

The dog perked up and gave a bark. “What, do you hear something.” Another bark and then Jared heard the sirens. “It’s about time.”

About Paradise Down

Aloha Nicholás!  But will this be a hello or a goodbye?

When Lucia Santerez returns home to Hawaii to help her brother Nicholás with his new dive shop, she learns Nicholás has disappeared–and someone doesn’t want him found.

Enlisting the aid of hunky vacationing firefighter, Jared Stevens, gets them the wrong kind of attention. They discover what lies under the water off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kaua`i could make you rich or get you killed.

You can find Paradise Down exclusively on Amazon, as part of the Lei Crime Kindle World.

There are a lot more new Lei Crime Kindle World releases this month, and it’s all building up to a huge party on Facebook on June 27 with hundreds of dollars in prizes.

LCKW-party-2016

About the author

I think I was destined to be a writer – in the 4th grade I took my toy typewriter and painstakingly typed out the neighborhood news, one copy at a time, and sold it to the neighbors for ten cents each. But as often happens, life intervenes and writing took a back seat to spending 30+ years in the IT industry.

A late in life lover of adventure, I learned to ride a motorcycle at age 55, traveled the US solo on my Harley-Davidson at age 58 (42 states and 27k miles), selling my home and everything I owned to become a full-time RVer. I eventually met my current husband, also widowed, a full-time RVer and Harley rider. Fate!

We traveled the US for several years before putting it in storage and moving to Cuenca, Ecuador for two years. What at adventure! Now we are back and continue to travel in our 41′ fifth wheel toy hauler trailer.

I continue to travel and write, savoring every moment of every day!

Visit Donna’s

And follow her on Twitter @dbmcnicol.

Stealing Honolulu: The #LeiCrimeKW blog tour



A new crop of Lei Crime Kindle World books are coming your way through June, culminating in a big Facebook party on June 27. Stealing Honolulu is Terry Ambrose’s second Lei Crime novella.

StealingHonolulu

When the goal is to steal millions, all obstacles must be removed. 

Marty Fitch is settling into life in Honolulu. He and his cousin Pono Kaihale are getting along well, Marty has a new girlfriend, and it looks like he might even have a big case to investigate for his video blog thanks to his best friend Jake. 

When Jake dies in a freak accident, Marty feels responsible. He can’t let go of the investigation. He can’t apologize enough to Jake’s widow. And he can’t escape the feeling Jake’s accident may not have been an accident at all. 

Marty buries himself in his work to clear his conscience. His investigation takes him into the dangerous world of ATM theft, where millions of dollars are at stake and the dark web rules. It’s a place where anonymity is king, and the pawns find their lives worthless. 

With bodies piling up behind him, his identity exposed, and a killer out to get him, Marty has only one move left. Even he’s not sure if he will he be fast enough.

You can find Stealing Honolulu exclusively on Amazon, as part of the Lei Crime Kindle World.

There are a lot more new Lei Crime Kindle World releases this month, and it’s all building up to a huge party on Facebook on June 27 with hundreds of dollars in prizes.

LCKW-party-2016

About the author

Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark to “help” when negotiations failed.

A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons, such as:

Always keep your car in the garage.

Visit Terry’s

 

Sneak peek: A new #LeiCrimeKW mystery — Dead Man Lying



That’s right: I’m about to launch a new book. Dead Man Lying is a new Lei Crime Kindle World novella.

I know many of you liked FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm from Torn Roots and Palm Trees & Snowflakes. You’ll be happy to know she returns in Dead Man Lying, along with the beginning of the whole Lei Crime Kindle World, Maui police detective “Lei Texeira herself.

It will launch along with a new crop of Lei Crime KW titles in June. For now, here’s a peak at Chapter 1.

Vanessa paused at the edge of the forest to try to rub some of the dirt off her shoes. “Steve Sangster. I can’t believe I’m investigating his death. Did you like his music, Detective Texeira?”

“Call me Lei. Yeah, I love all that folksy-rock stuff. I even had one of Steven Sangster’s albums as a girl. Did you?”

Vanessa could not repress a smile. “I was a big fan. I had all his old CDs — still do. I had such a crush on him when I was 16. He was so handsome.”

Lei smiled back. “The blue eyes and the square chin, huh?”

So this is the famous Lei Texeira, Vanessa thought, looking at the slender detective with her peripheral vision while appearing to study the heiau. She was small for a cop, but athletic, with beautiful big brown eyes and a sprinkle of freckles across her cheeks and nose. Her features spoke of a mixture of Hawaiian, Asian and European extraction. Her dark brown curls rippled to her shoulders, and Vanessa wondered briefly how much of the curling was due to the incredible humidity of Hana, on Maui’s rain coast.

“Is this where it happened?” said an unfamiliar voice. Vanessa and Lei turned and Vanessa’s shoe slipped again. Her knee buckled and she almost went down, but Lei’s small hand grabbed her arm, steadying her. Vanessa was impressed — Lei was stronger than she looked.

Steady again on the wet lava, she looked up to see a short, balding man letting the yellow police tape down behind him.

“Don’t the words ‘Do not cross’ mean anything to you?” Lei demanded, stepping toward the man.

“I’m Simon Sangster. He — the victim … I mean, he was my father,” the man stammered. He did not step back, but actually put a foot up on the lava rock.

“I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Sangster, but you still cannot step past the yellow tape.”

The man scowled, straightened his back and puffed out his little chest, which did not protrude nearly as much as his belly. “Now that my father is … this is now my property.”

“Even so, this is a crime scene and you’ll have to step back past the yellow tape,” Lei retorted. She lifted the tape for him.

“It’s so that no one compromises the investigation,” Vanessa offered. “Please, step back.”

“In-investigation?” he said, seeming to deflate. “I thought it was an accident?”

“We’ll have to wait for the coroner’s final report to know that,” said Lei. She stepped off the heiau and took the younger Sangster by the arm.

Vanessa had one foot off the lava platform when a tree beside the path exploded and a boom rolled up the hill. Lei dove between the trees, pushing Sangster with her. Vanessa dropped and rolled, conscious of her jacket tearing on the rock, ending up half buried under bushes with long, pointed leaves. The top half of a young koa tree toppled. She waited, counting to five before lifting her head. Her face was wet from the bushes and covered with bits of shredded wood.

About the book

When a once-famous singer is found dead on his own estate on Maui, it’s all FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm can do to untangle the webs of lies spun by every member of the singer’s family. Dead Man Lying is a new addition to the Lei Crime Kindle World, based on characters and settings created by Toby Neal.

Dead Man Lying will launch in June 2016.

You can win a free e-copy by leaving a comment below.

Characters, crime & roses—A chat with Toby Neal



toby-neal-profile-aboutHow can you get a copy of a Rough Road, a Sydney Rye Universe novella? Read this interview and find out.

Toby Neal hit the best-seller lists five years ago with Blood Orchids, her first novel and the opening of the mystery fan favorite Lei Crime series. Now with over 20 titles on Amazon’s virtual shelves, Toby Neal is not just prolific—she’s a force of literature and a true professional. I asked Toby about her approach to writing and how she crafted all those terrific books.

Where did you first get the idea for a series about a cop named Lei Texeira? Did you envision it as a series from the beginning, or did each book emerge from your imagination individually?

I’ve shared before that Blood Orchids began as a short story on my anonymous blog, sparked by real life events: the tragic, apparently homicidal drowning of two young girls (14, 15) at the high school where I worked. My role as school counselor felt unfulfilling; I wanted to INVESTIGATE and bring the perp down!

Lei was born out of that frustration, and the story got longer and longer as I added chapters, and finally became a novel. The drownings were later ruled accidental, but I had realized by then that Lei actualized a part of me that wanted to be more active than mopping up the tears of victims, my role as a therapist.Blood Orchids

Having it become a series was evolutionary. I discovered I’m a series writer as I got more experienced. I seldom have only one tale in me with a set of characters!

The books have followed Lei Texeira from her early days as a Hilo uniformed officer, to detective, to FBI Special Agent and back to detective, on Maui. We’ve read about Lei being pregnant, about her raising another woman’s child, and in Bitter Feast, she’s pregnant again. This is the 12th book about Lei. How much farther are you going to explore her life? Or do you know?

There have been two major times I thought I was done with the Lei Crime Series: after book 5, Twisted Vine, and after book 9, Rip Tides. I also feel “done” now, as I finish Bitter Feast, and you will see a lot of dangling ends tied up in this upcoming book. But I find, when I’m away from Lei, Stevens and their ohana for long, I MISS them, like they are real friends of mine. So I won’t say its over—but I would need a whole new subplot to get going again.

The series IS at a pause point after Bitter Feast.

Wired In by Toby NealI plan to write the next two Wired books, with Sophie Ang, and see where they go! I hope that will be my next major series.

You’ve also published “spin off” books that are focused on secondary characters from the Lei Crime novels, such as Dr. Caprice Wilson, FBI Special Agent Sophie Ang and Special Agent Marcella Scott. Do you, or will you, ever bring characters or plot elements that began in those books back to a Lei Crime book?

Sure! I love having this interconnected World. I thought of that long before the Kindle World came along—I was doing my own Kindle World! The spinoff books never sell as much as the main series books, though. People love Lei and Stevens most!

Is the Lei Texeira character based on you or someone else you know?

Not specifically. Her appearance is, though. She’s a composite of a woman I worked with at a mental health agency, and another woman, mother of a client. Both were mixed race, athletic, with abundant, curly hair and unique features. I loved their multi-ethnic blended looks and it’s unique to Hawaii.

Lei has some elements of me in her: a certain relentless drive (she is about her cases as I am about my writing) athleticism, passion with her love, risk-taking—but I’m not neurotic and damaged as she is, thank the good Lord! I’m more like Dr. Wilson, personality-wise—but not an alcoholic.

Most of your readers know that you had a dog, Nalu who was much smaller than Keiki, but upon whom you modelled the Keiki character. Tell us more about her.

My grief over losing Nalu in November is still fresh. We had her for sixteen wonderful years. I wrote a blog post about her.

Here’s a quote from it: “loyal, loving, intelligent, modest, tirelessly protective and fierce in her duty, Nalu never knew she only weighed thirteen pounds and was a Chihuahua terrier—and we never told her.”

Where do your characters come from? Do you base them on specific people you know? Or are they created fresh in your mind?

My characters are often sparked by real life people I know or meet here on Maui. But seldom any one person. I do notice EVERYTHING about someone I’m thinking would make a good character. For instance, Michael Stevens is (physically) my husband, as he was in his early thirties (he’s sixty now.) Pono is based on a wonderful, kind, funny Hawaiian man I worked with at an agency. Captain CJ Omura is modeled on several Japanese women I’ve worked with over the years too. Minor characters are sparked by people I know less well. I usually change details so people aren’t too recognizable—but once my husband (not a reader) heard the audiobooks, he pinned me with those amazing blue eyes and said, “That guy sounds awfully familiar.”

“Pure fiction,” I replied. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

When did you first get involved with Kindle Worlds?

Amazon approached me about having a Lei Crime Kindle World two years ago. A huge honor! I knew about the program from being familiar with Hugh Howey’s Kindle World and the popular Silo series.

The Lei Crime Kindle World, based on your series, launched last year and now has more than 33 titles. But you started by inviting about 12 authors to contribute to the first batch of stories. How did you select them?

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 Warrior Dog by Emily Kimelman
I asked writers I knew, whose work was at a professional level that I respected. I knew anything they wrote would be good! Only eight were able to participate in the launch, but all the books have been high quality—in part, I think, because I give more input, feedback, editing and other support than many other KW main authors.

The different books span quite a range. Some incorporate elements of the paranormal and occult. How do you feel about that genre-crossing aspect and what it lends to the Lei stories?

Elysium Tombstones by R.S. GuthrieI LOVE all the variations and twists and turns that people have come up with. The stories are so wonderful, and so many things I’d never think of or have time to do. I couldn’t be happier with the quality and intrigue of the expanded World. Some things I was surprised by, like R.S. Guthrie has Lei fall for another guy—but I loved that too. The World is a place where anything goes and the imagination can take beloved characters and run wild with it. I can’t wait for a Lei Crime vampire romance!

Are there any characters, situations, settings or ideas from other authors’ Lei Crime stories that you would like to incorporate into a future Lei Crime novel?

That is already happening with Bitter Feast—but you’ll just have to read it to find out which ones!

Are there any stories or themes you would like a Kindle World contributor to write?

I’ve wanted to see a romance for Jared Stevens, Michael’s hot firefighter brother. Hopefully someone will do something with that, or I will have to! But they’ve been terrific, really, and the top ratings and reviews back up the good quality of the Lei Crime Kindle World. Truly proud of that.

You’ve also written for other authors’ Kindle Worlds, such as Russell Blake’s Jet. Most recently, you wrote for the new Sydney Rye Universe. One of the stated purposes of the Kindle World concept is to give more exposure to an author who is not as well-known, by presenting their work to an established author’s readership. You, obviously, do not need that with a consistent presence on the bestseller lists. Why did you decide to write for other Kindle Worlds?
In a nutshell, relationships. I am friends with Russell Blake, and he’s been an incredible inspiration to me with his relentless work ethic and span of talent. He asked me to write, so I did, and I was glad I did. My experience writing a spy novella, Nightbird, set in Paris and Israel, was just magical. I had so much fun with the genre, the locations, the characters… And then Emily, who is also a personal friend, asked me to write for her World, and of course I said yes, and Rough Road again surprised me with how fun and delightful a writing experience it was.I owed both of these writers in a personal way and wanted to support them in launching their Kindle Worlds.

Tell me about your decision to incorporate Lei into the world of Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye and Blue.

That was so much fun! As soon as I decided it would be a Blood Orchids prequel, and set early in Emily’s series, I saw these two reckless young women learning some life lessons together. I didn’t plot Rough Road, I “pantsed” it, and lo and behold! The prequel REALLY set the stage for who Lei is in Blood Orchids. I don’t feel done with exploring this theme, so I am thinking of doing a second one for Emily’s world with Lei and Sydney, tentatively called Cinder Road and set on the Big Island early in Lei’s police career.

Do you plan to write in other Kindle Worlds? What would attract you to a particular world?

I would enjoy doing a romance for one of the romance Worlds, or maybe something for another crime World. But I would want to be asked personally by someone I knew, and be supported in promoting the KindleWorld novella at the same level I support my authors…and I’m not sure either of those things will happen! I do more for my authors than most of the other main World authors.

Tell the readers two things about you that they don’t already know.

I have fifteen fussy rose bushes and enjoy taking writing breaks to go out and trim, weed, spray, and fiddle around with them in their pots. I also collect art, mostly Impressionistic Hawaii landscapes, but some modern and multi-media too. I love supporting fellow creatives and being surrounded by beauty!

Thank you very much, Toby!

Toby Neal’s official bio states:

Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. After a few “stretches of exile” to pursue education, the islands have been home for the last fifteen years. Toby is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her books. Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life in Hawaii through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking.

She has published 20 books so far, with 11 in the Lei Crime series, 2 more Lei Crime Companion novels that feature characters from the main series, the Somewhere series of contemporary romances, a Young Adult fantasy-adventure called Island Fire, entries in the Jet and Sydney Rye Kindle Worlds, and a non-fiction book, Building an Author Platform that can Launch Anything. She has also been featured in anthologies of mystery and independent authors.

And as this author can attest, Toby is a very supportive main author to contributors to her Kindle World, providing detailed character and plot summaries and lots of advice.

The 12th Lei Crime mystery, Bitter Feast, is due to be published on Amazon in May.

Win a free copy of Rough Road, Toby Neal’s Sydney Rye Kindle World novella.

Just make a comment below, explaining why you like mysteries. Toby will choose one commenter to win a free copy.