Excerpt week: Torn Roots — A Lei Crime Kindle World novella



All this week, Written Words is publishing excerpts from books by fellow author-members of the Jet and Lei Crime Kindle worlds. Today, I’m taking the unusual step and featuring my own Lei Crime novella, Torn Roots.

TornRootsBadgeBy Scott Bury

The man stopped a few yards from them. “Rowan Fields, come with me,” he demanded. He had short-cropped, dark hair and thick brows, a thick neck and muscles that bulged under his long-sleeved black shirt. A belt held a holstered automatic at his hip.

“Go f**k yourself,” Rowan answered.

The man scowled, stepped toward them and reached for Rowan’s arm with one hand, his other reaching for his gun.

Rowan yelled, jumped and spun. Her long left leg stretched out horizontally and connected with the strange man’s head with a solid whack. The man cried out and fell, his handgun sailing away into the underbrush.

Rowan landed in a ready pose: knees bent, fists raised. Sam grabbed one hand and pulled her away. “Come on!”

They ran uphill again, plunging into the rain forest. They followed a trail that Sam knew but that Rowan could not even see, jumping over tiny streams and fallen logs, dodging mossy boulders and ducking under low branches, always going uphill.

They paused as Sam assessed which would be the best way to go. “Still keeping up the Tae Kwon Do, I see,” he said.

“I guess you never lose it,” Rowan answered. “Which way?”

Sam indicated a path that Rowan could not see, but she followed him. The jungle got denser as they went, the terrain less even. They jumped over dips and narrow fissures in the moss-covered volcanic rock of Maui. Behind them, they could hear their pursuer crashing through the brush, cursing continually.

Sam led the way he knew well and hoped they would reach the unnamed gorge before their pursuer caught them. He chanced another glance back, and only yards behind Rowan’s shoulder saw movement under the trees. They heard more cursing.

“He’s stuck,” Sam said. He pushed a sapling to one side and let Rowan go past. “Go straight uphill. I’ll catch up.” Rowan looked scared and doubtful, but for once did not say anything and ran uphill.

The man in black appeared from the midst of a thick tangle of wet branches. His black clothes were torn and Sam could see a bruise already forming on his jaw where Rowan’s foot had connected.

Sam let go of the young tree in his hands. It sprang up and smacked the pursuer dead-center in the face. He went down again with another curse, but Sam did not stay to admire his work.

He found Rowan standing at the edge of a shallow gorge twenty feet across. “Now what, genius?”

“I am a genius,” Sam said. He took her elbow and headed to the right. “This way.” Past another tangle of bushes, they reached a mossy log stretched across the gorge.

About Torn Roots

Hawaii is known for volcanoes and sandy beaches. Beauty and danger reign.

After breaking a case of murdered poachers in Maui’s national park, Detective Pono Kaihale accepts a short-term position as Acting Lieutenant in Hana on the island’s rain-forest coast. He is looking forward to redirecting lost hikers and moderating mild lovers’ spats, and enjoying the natural beauty of the southeast shore. But by his second week on the job, Pono finds trouble here comes in unexpected forms.

As environmentalists, property developers, protesters, arsonists, kidnappers and a rogue Homeland Security agent converge on his new post, Pono feels like the eye of a brewing storm. And when a new FBI agent gets involved, Pono realizes the stakes are much higher than a quiet period in his career.

Lives will be lost if he doesn’t solve this mystery quickly.

Find it exclusively on Amazon.

About Amazon Kindle Worlds

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.

 

Excerpt week: Coffee and Kukui Nuts — A Lei Crime Kindle World novella



By AJ Llewellyn

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Abe took the plate his sister handed him. She’d carved a huge chunk of cake and the unmistakable tang of banana wafted under his nose.

“This is the Bananas Foster,” she said. “Dad’s favorite. The butter cream frosting is a blend of banana and caramel.” Abe took a seat on one of the wrought iron chairs but an ominous creak lifted him to his feet, and that’s when he saw it.

The blonde came back inside, gripping her cell phone, her face a mask of anguish. Abe felt a pang of sympathy for her. I wonder what the heck is going on?

Meleny whispered, “Abe, look.”

I’m looking, I’m looking. The woman might have been upset, but she was still stunning. Abe couldn’t tear his gaze from the long, luscious legs in their three-inch black satin pumps. Her skin was lightly tanned, her legs toned and gorgeous. There was a sheen to them, too. He hadn’t noticed it earlier.

Meleny mooned over the shoes once more as the blonde trotted past them. “Those heels have real Swarovski crystals on them.” Her voice quavered with emotion. “Look at the little ornament on the back of the ankle. Have you ever seen anything so darling? I’d love to have shoes like that for my wedding.”

“How much do they cost?” Abe wasn’t sure he really wanted to know.

“Sixteen-hundred bucks a pair.”

Abe almost choked, ignoring her pleading glance. She still lived in the family house up in Manoa and could barely cover her expenses as it was. As far as he was concerned, Oswaldo could dress her up in anything he wanted on his dime, once the wedding was over. Fork in hand, his gaze fell on a tall, dark-haired man wearing a grey suit, standing outside in the alleyway. He hovered against the far wall, holding a cell phone to his ear. He seemed nervous. Something wasn’t right. The blonde had rejoined the table with her gossipy friends and let out a loud sigh.

“James is making my life hell,” she complained. Abe caught snatches of conversation. Therapy was mentioned. So was, “You need to call your attorney.”  The blonde retorted, “Who do you think I was talking to?”

Abe forked the cake and tried it, but for some reason, there was no taste. He noticed the man outside pacing behind Abe’s rental, then the blonde’s car. Abe gaped when he realized the man wore skin-tone latex gloves. He moved so fast, reaching into his jacket. He drew out a red-tipped slim Jim, slid it into the window frame, popped the lock then dropped a square-looking black object into the back of the vehicle. The man closed the door and with a quick glance back at the cake shop, strode away from the BMW.

Abe almost thought he’d imagined it, but he knew he hadn’t. Guy was a pro. Fifteen seconds, tops. The cake stuck to the roof of Abe’s mouth. What on earth… What had he put inside the car? Abe’s senses flared, his mouth grew hot. He tried to swallow. No. It couldn’t be.

Bomb.

About Coffee and Kukui Nuts

Hawaiian explosives expert Abe Torufu looks forward to a day trip on Oahu helping his sister Meleny taste-test wedding cakes. Abe loves cake almost as much as malasadas, but something deadly interrupts their plans for butter cream and spongy goodness. A bomb.

Abe unwittingly uncovers a near-fatal plot in a marriage gone awry and soon becomes the target of not one but two hit men. He now requires round-the-clock protection from a U.S. Marshal. But not only is Tony McCracken skinny and shorter than the big Tongan detective, Abe doesn’t need protection.
Well, that’s until McCracken saves his life in a spectacular way when one of the bad guys finds him. What started as a fun, family day becomes a nightmare and Abe must touch a stranger with his life. Can he? Or is he in big, bad, Hawaiian trouble? Will he live long enough to walk his sister down the flower-strewn, tapa-carpeted aisle, or is there worse to come?

Get it on Amazon.

About the author

 A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep this writer refueled.

A.J’s passion for the islands led to writing a play about the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani’s kingdom.

A.J. never lacks inspiration for writing erotic romances but has many other passions: collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with family, friends and animal companions.

A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.

Visit her website and blog, and see her other books on Amazon.

About Amazon Kindle Worlds

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.

Exploring other worlds—Kindle Worlds, that is



I have not only entered the Lei Crime Kindle World, I have been exploring it deeply from a number of perspectives.

I missed blogging last week because I was busy traveling and writing, but I can now announce that my newest book is finished and the manuscript is in the hands of my editor, the redoubtable Gary Henry.

The new book is called Torn Roots, and it’s a part of the Lei Crime Kindle World.

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A little explanation

The Kindle World concept is an Amazon initiative, where writers can publish stories and longer works based on another writer’s creation—a type of professional fan fiction. With Kindle Worlds, however, the original authors retain some control by setting parameters for the works from other authors, and get some of the royalties for the use of their concepts and characters. Amazon also performs a quality control function.

Toby Neal is the best-selling author of the Lei Crime series of nine (so far) novels that chronicle the personal and professional development of Leilani Texiera. In the first, Blood Orchids, Lei Texiera is a rookie police officer in Hilo, Hawaii. In later books, Lei is promoted to detective and moves to other Hawaiian islands, does a brief stint in the FBI on Oahu, and eventually settles down on Maui as a sergeant in the Maui PD. She makes friends, enemies and rivals, as well as an important love interest, gets reunited with some family members and loses others.

Author Neal takes great care in detailing her characters’ emotional and psychological journeys as well as solving mysteries. We learn about Lei’s traumatic childhood as well as the personalities of her secondary and tertiary characters. She also describes the social background of Hawaii, the setting of her novels.

Neal is the only popular author I can think of today who deals seriously with ethnicity. In most popular fiction, especially in the mystery/thriller genre, main characters invariably have English, Scottish or Irish last names, and their ethnic background is not a factor in the story. Leilani Texiera is the only protagonist I can think of with a multi-ethnic family background that has an impact on the character’s development as well as the story.

So yes, I’m a fan.

And that’s why it was such a thrill in January when Toby asked me, among a small group of other writers, to participate in her Kindle World by writing a novella based on her settings and characters.

And why I was so torn at the time, because I just could not meet her original deadline of April 1, 2015.

Eight other authors did publish excellent short stories, novelettes and novellas in the Lei Crime world:

  • Eden Baylee—A Snake in Paradise
  • Christine Nofli—The Shell Keeper
  • Emily Kimelman—Warrior Dog
  • M.J. Doyle—Hidden Poppies
  • Craig Hansen—Fireweed Trail
  • J.L. Oakley—Saddle Road
  • Corinne O’Flynne—Never Again
  • Julie C. Gilbert—Half-Moon Girls
  • Some authors wrote mysteries, some stories in other genres. I’ve read several, and they’re all excellent.

That’s just another reason I’ve been kicking myself for not getting my act together and publishing by April—to be associated with such a stellar group of excellent, and best-selling authors.

Thus, in late March, I resolved to get going and write a story in time for the second wave of Lei Crime books. I will be joined by some of the same writers who were working on second entries in the World, as well as some new people. I incorporated a few of Toby Neal’s characters, such as FBI Special Agent Marcella Scott.  I promoted Lei’s former police partner, Pono Kaihale, to Acting Lieutenant temporarily in charge of the police station in Hana, Maui County, Hawaii. And I created some new characters, including FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm, geologist and PhD candidate Sam Boyko and environmental activist Rowan Fields.

HanaHighway2I decided to set the story in the Maui town of Hana, in the rain-forest, because the Haleakala National Park comes down to the ocean shore near there, and that’s an importMauiMapScreenShotant element in the plot. But as I started writing my story about a geologist working in the rain forest, I realized something crucial: I know absolutely nothing about the geology of Maui.

I convinced my lovely and very patient wife, Roxanne, to alter our vacation plans to Maui. (It wasn’t that hard. “Honey, how would you like to take a vacation in Maui?”) I wrote a complete draft of the story, about 35,000 words, and sent a copy to Toby Neal, the original author, as well as to my editor (Gary Henry).

When I got to Maui, I realized I would have to make several changes to the story.

I realized, as I drove the twisting, narrow, spectacular, breath-catching and death-defying Hana Highway, that I would have to restrict the action to a much smaller geographic area. There is no way I could have the characters zipping back and forth between the towns of Hana and Paia or Kahului, even though they’re only 40 miles apart, less than an hour’s drive on a regular highway. I spoke with Lieutenant Hankins of the Hana police detachment, who explained that “it’s not realistic to commute two to three hours every day on the Hana Highway.” The police department provides a “Lieutenant’s Cottage” as well as accommodation for seven other officers in Hana. I had to move Pono and his family there, at least temporarily, for my book.

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Bestselling author Toby Neal and me meet in a restaurant on Maui, Hawaii, to talk of many things.

My lovely wife read the manuscript and made a number of suggestions. I am indebted also to Toby Neal, who read that same draft and recommended other changes to the characters’ dialog, use of idiom and to details about Hawaiian geography, flora, fauna and society. I’m so glad I got to meet her on Maui to talk about my book, her books and many other things (although we didn’t get to cabbages and kings).

Gary Henry made more changes and corrections to grammar, expression and punctuation, and pointed out some areas that were unclear or made little sense in terms of the story.

I made all these changes during my two weeks on Maui, and I think I have a strong story now. When Gary gets through the second draft, I’ll reveal some of it in previews.

Meanwhile, I put my cover designer, the matchless David C. Cassidy, through hell with ideas and suggestions for a cover image. I’m sure he has pulled out much of his luxurious hair by now, but we’re very close to a cover design. I’ll reveal that in an upcoming post.

It’s been a blast

working on this story. I’ve written it in near-record time for me, a little over a month for the first draft and two weeks for the second. Working in someone else’s established universe has actually reduced the amount of work I had to do. And what could be better than doing on-the-ground research in Hawaii?

Thanks again to Toby, Gary, David and, of course, Roxanne for helping me to make Torn Roots a better book.

The next world

Just as I was getting into writing Torn Roots, another independent author, the force of literature that is Russell Blake, announced his Jet Kindle World and invited me, among several others, to write for it. That’s my new project. It’s going to be hectic producing a Jet work for the end of July, but I have committed to it. This one is called Jet: Stealth, and is set just before the action of the first Jet story. I’m incorporating only the title character, and have created two new people for this: Van and LeBrun. It’s going to be yet another departure for me, yet another genre, but I’m looking forward to it.

I have outlined the plot, developed the characters. Now to write it.

Onward!