Cover reveal: Echoes, a new #LeiCrimeKW mystery



May 12 is launch day for a new crop of thrillers and mysteries in the Lei Crime Kindle World. And I have a book that will be part of it: Echoes. Since that’s one month from today, it’s time for a cover reveal. Once again, it’s designed by the unequalled David C. Cassidy.

Echoes - 529x800 V3

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.

Book reviewers: If you’d like an advanced review copy, please email contact@writtenword.ca.

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.

For your summer reading pleasure: 15 new #LeiCrimeKW novellas



It’s official: Summer has started

with 15 new books from the Lei Crime Kindle World gang — 15 top, bestselling authors with 15 new mystery, romance and suspense all playing prominent roles. For your summer reading pleasure, here are your new titles, courtesy of Toby Neal, the creator of Lei Texeira and her Hawaiian universeToby-thoughtful1

NewBeginnings 800x544New Beginnings (The Girl and The Fireman Book 1)
By Amy Allen

 

Life goes on without love … or does it?

 

StealingHonoluluStealing Honolulu (a hawai’i parkour adventure Book 2)
By Terry Ambrose

 

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

 

Charade at SeaCharade at Sea
By Eden Baylee

 

A luxury cruise is ideal for a budding romance … or is it?

 

Dead Man Lying - 529x800Dead Man Lying
By Scott Bury

 

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

 

ROAD SANPACHO1The Road to San Pancho
By Lynda Filler

In this fast-paced suspense novella Peace, suffering the heartache of the recent passing of her mother, goes on a journey down ominous highways to San Pancho Mexico in search of a father she never knew.

 

SC 4 TMITTreachery Makes it Tense (Shadow Council Book 4)
By Julie Gilbert

 

When a vanquished foe resurfaces with vengeance on his mind …

 

Hula Pie and Coconut Bras KindleHula Pie and Coconut Bras (Coming Soon!)
By AJ Llewellyn

 

 

 

Darker Dawn 2Darker Dawn (Coming Soon!)
By Fiona Manning

 

Can Tiare Kaihale save Lei from a crazed killer?

 

OutOfLeague_CVROut of Her League (Gemi Kittredge Book 2)
By Shawn McGuire

 

Paradise has a dark side, and Gemi has seen it.

 

ParadiseDownParadise Down
By Donna B. McNicol

 

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

 

Spark my Desire 800x544Spark My Desire
By Noelle Pierce

 

One pageant queen, one sexy firefighter, one week in L.A.

 

SogawBadgeSoga’s Second Chance
By Patricia Sands

 

Some escapes lead full circle.

 

KAPU-FINALKAPU
By David Schoonover

Kapu means forbidden. Desecration means death. This ancient Hawaiian legal system collapsed in the early 19th century—or did it?

 

DragonTouched-Shenold copy (1)Dragon Touched (Kat’s Dragon Book 1)
By Carol Shenold

The fate of the world rests with unlikely heroes. 
Power comes with a terrible price … 

 

BornToLove-KWBorn To Love (Keiki & Lia Thriller Book 1)
By Amy Shojai

 

Can the past unlock the future and love preserve a life?

Charade at Sea: 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. Charade at Sea is the third in the series by Eden Baylee.

cas_HR4_liteA luxury cruise is ideal for a budding romance … or is it?

Lainey Lee and ex-Navy SEAL, Max Scott, shared an incredible experience when they met in Kauai. A romantic cruise around the Hawaiian Islands seems perfect for discovering if they can become more than just friends.

But mystery abounds.

Lainey meets a fifty-something newlywed on her honeymoon. The chatty woman speaks highly of her husband and his secret missions abroad. Lainey is intrigued but her intuition tells her something is not right.

Even while her feelings for Max grow, Lainey can’t help wondering about the charade being played at sea.

You can find Charade at Sea 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

Keep coming back to Written Words all week for more previews, and then come to the party to win big.

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?

TornRootsBadge
Snake-new-medium
 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.

Sydney Rye Kindle World Week: Rough Road by Toby Neal



Day 4 of Sydney Rye Kindle World Week

The new Sydney Rye Kindle World launches today—Thursday, March 17. As an extended St. Paddy’s Day present from me to you, valued readers, Written Words presents excerpts from each of the seven novellas in the project.

Today’s installment is from the author who introduced me to the Kindle Worlds concept, the bestseller Toby Neal. With Rough Road, Toby takes Lei Texeira, who will later become a Hawaii police officer, detective and FBI Special Agent, into the world of Sydney Rye and Blue.

RoughRoadCover

Chapter 2

The area around the dirt road was sandy soil, dotted with the round balls of desert sage and tumbleweeds, an occasional barrel cactus or saguaro adding an extra hazard as Lei ran.

Lei had one advantage—she ran a lot. Terror gave her extra speed and she tore through the sagebrush and sand, leaping over a small barrel cactus in her path like a hurdler, never looking back to see if they were catching up to her. Lei’s only advantage was speed, and she couldn’t waste it.

Lei could hear them behind her: panting breath, crunching brush, the occasional curse. She focused on the ground directly ahead of her, thankful that she’d worn her usual outfit of athletic shorts, tank shirt, and a pair of running shoes in spite of Amy’s teasing to get into something cuter.

The sounds of pursuit grew fainter. She was leaving them behind, and it was a good thing too, because she was reaching the limits of her endurance. She hurtled up the long swell of a brush-covered sand dune, breath searing through overworked lungs.

She reached the top and turned, slowing her steps. Her shoes sank in loose, deep sand as she paused, leaning over to rest her hands on her knees and look back.

The two men were already returning to the car. Fernando looked right at her as he opened the door of the truck. He reached in and pulled Amy up by her hair. Looking right at Lei, he flourished his huge Buck knife against her friend’s neck. Lei gasped, covering her mouth with her hands.

He was trying to make her return, by holding Amy hostage.

If Lei went back, he’d just have two girls to torture. If Lei found help, one of them at least might survive. But was she just justifying leaving Amy there to suffer? Lei’s mouth was chalky with the horror of her dilemma.

She took too long to decide.

Slower on his feet, Joao finally reached the vehicle. She saw the men exchange angry words, and Joao got in. Fernando waved the knife toward Lei again, and then unceremoniously shoved Amy into the middle of the seat and climbed in, too, slamming the door. The truck fired up and drove away, churning dust over the red Mustang still fishtailing in its wake.

“Oh my God.” Leis knees buckled and she sat abruptly. She was in the middle of nowhere, in the desert, without water or a cell phone. She hung her head for a moment, getting her breath and her bearings, shaking with delayed shock. “Poor Amy. Oh my God. I have to help her.” She stood up and hiked the few more feet to the top of the dune.
From that vantage point, Lei could see back to the road, an empty line through the desert that led toward the mountains. Those hills were arid and shadowed with shades of mauve, blue and dusty green as afternoon waned. In the other direction, the ocean gleamed in the distance, cool and taunting, behind a bank of dunes.

Might as well head that way. Where there was a beach, there was the possibility of people, and she was afraid to return to that rough, empty road.

What is Rough Road about?

Some bad road trips are still meant to be taken.

Twenty-one year old Lei Texeira and her friend Amy set off on a road trip for Cabo San Lucas, looking for fun in the sun—but a wrong turn leads to danger south of the border. Lei meets Sydney and Blue in the desert, learns the ways of vigilante justice, and a friendship is born. Merl, Sydney’s badass trainer, teaches Lei the sweet rewards of taking a risk and learning to let go. In this prequel to Blood Orchids, (Book One in the Lei Crime Series), Lei makes discoveries that will shape her life and future forever.

Rough Road falls right after Book Two in the Sydney Rye series, Death In the Dark (and thus a year or two before my Sydney Rye book, The Wife Line).

Rough Road is action-packed, sexy, and impossible to put down. Lei and Sydney working together are so good! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Toby will decide to write another.”—Emily Kimelman, author of the Sydney Rye Series

About the author

TobyAndMe3Best-selling author Toby Neal was raised on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where she lives today after “stretches of exile” to pursue education. A mental health therapist, Toby credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series. She is a member of BestSelling Reads.

Visit her

 

What are Kindle Worlds?

Sydney Rye Kindle World WeekKindle Worlds is an Amazon initiative that allows authors to publish stories set in another author’s fictional universe. The Sydney Rye Kindle World is based on the characters and situations created by bestselling author Emily Kimelman.

The Sydney Rye series of vigilante mysteries feature a strong female lead and her rescue dog, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, a dash of sex and don’t mind a little salty language. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery with tons of action that will keep you reading late into the night!

Cover reveal! Palm Trees & Snowflakes—a new Lei Crime mystery



I did it! I wrote a 10,000-word mystery story for the Lei Crime Kindle World in four days at the beginning of December. Since then, I’ve re-written it, shaved it down by 1,000 words, gotten it reviewed, changed it again, got it edited and got a fantastic cover image by the matchless David C. Cassidy. So without further ado, here it is:

PTAS-800x500

 

Palm Trees & Snowflakes

Snowflake has a whole new meaning in Hawaii. The new designer drug being trafficked through Oahu gives users the perfect high—and slowly kills them.

In Honolulu, where the palm trees are strung with lights for the holidays, FBI Special Agents Vanessa Storm and Ken Yamada have their hands full trying to stop this deadly flow. Faulty intel brings the agents into a deadly firefight, which yields even more puzzles.

How do the drug lords change their smuggling routes and methods with every single shipment? Vanessa’s handsome, charming, and untrustworthy ex-boyfriend might have the answer.

Many debts of thanks

Thanks to:

  • Toby Neal, for inviting me to participate in the Lei Crime Kindle World in the first place
  • Julie C. Gilbert, fellow Lei Crime author, for inspiring me to write a Christmas-themed Lei Crime world by announcing her own, Christmas Makes it Chaos
  • Julie Gilbert, again, and Toby Neal (again) and Autumn Birt for excellent feedback to a beta-read
  • Joy Lorton for fast turnaround and excellent proofreading that caught some very embarrassing typos
  • and David C. Cassidy for such an outstanding cover.

Palm Trees & Snowflakes launches December 21 with eight other new Lei Crime titles. Watch for it on Amazon.  LeiCrimeChristmasLaunchBadge

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: Nightbird, a JET Kindle World novella



By Toby Neal

All this week, Written Words is publishing excerpts from books by fellow author-members of the Jet and Lei Crime Kindle worlds. Today, enjoy this taste of Toby Neal’s Jet novella, Nightbird.

small NightbirdThere was never anything good in the news, nothing but more bombings and destruction. Dr. Lila Weiss wondered why she even bothered to read it. She set the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv aside and looked back into the ocular piece of the microscope.

The long, slender fibers of the neurons on the slide looked like graceful branches, their delicate synaptic filaments frozen forever, fixed with a purple stain. She studied the slide carefully, delicately tracking along the cell fiber, using a motorized dial to move the slide whose exact position could be captured like map coordinates.

There it was: a tiny snarl in the slender trunk of the neural cell.

She isolated the spot, zoomed in on it further, and discerned the telltale patch of plaque that was interfering with the transmission of signals along that particular neuron. Saving a digital image for the project’s file, she lifted her eyes, focused on the bleak far wall of the lab, and rolled her shoulders, standing up from her stool.

Doing this pathology work was a necessary part of her latest research project, a catalogue of known brain diseases and their etiology—but it became monotonous, and her eyes needed a break.

Straightening her back, she picked up the paper again, scanning through the story on a firefight that had occurred last night at a mosque. “Investigation is ongoing, but an Israel Defense Forces soldier, Maya Weiss, has been taken into custody in connection with the attack.”

Maya Weiss.

Lila sat abruptly on the steel stool in front of her workbench, one hand coming up to cover her mouth as her finger touched the grainy photo on the rough newspaper of a woman, shrouded in a headscarf, held between two soldiers.

“Maya,” she whispered. “I can’t believe I’ve finally found you.”

Lila shot to her feet and pushed away from her microscope, shrugging out of her lab coat. She had to help her little sister.

***

Amos

Amos Arran, codename “Benjamin,” watched the prisoner through a one-way unbreakable mirror into the holding cell. Maya Weiss, supposedly fluent in six languages, looked small, bedraggled and about as deadly as a kitten curled on the mattress in the corner of her cell, her Israeli Defense Force uniform filthy and stiff with dried blood from the head injury she’d sustained during the firefight.

She’d been one against twenty, and she hadn’t been doing too badly until a rifle butt brought her down. According to the woman’s lawyer, Ari, her mediocre application to Mossad had been messed with. It was going to be interesting to find out if that was indeed the case, because if she had half the skills he claimed she did, this little kitten was someone he needed to bring in.

Turning away from the window, he faced Ari. “Set up the interview,” he said. “I want to verify your claims.”

“Yes.” Ari gave a brisk nod. “Maya says her superior was sexually harassing her, and that he tampered with her application. She speaks six languages, is highly intelligent, and has at least ten kills under her belt. You need someone like her.”

Six languages meant a brain that was uniquely plastic, wired to learn language easily. Amos remembered another woman like that, also named Weiss—a tall, willowy girl with golden-brown eyes and black hair. He didn’t think he’d ever forget the linguistic and neurology doctoral student he’d had in one of his psychology classes before he began screening and profiling for Mossad full time.

He glanced back at the figure on the bed. Even curled up, he could see that Maya was a petite one and a half meters. He had her file tucked under his arm and in the photo inside, Maya, with her Asian features and green eyes, looked nothing like the Lila Weiss he remembered. The name and linguistic aptitude had to be a coincidence.

He itched for a cigarette. He brushed the wrinkled fabric of the charcoal-gray suit he’d been wearing for more than a day. It didn’t look like that day was going to be over any time soon.

“The truth about her will come out in the testing and interviews.” Amos turned and lengthened his stride as he walked down the echoing corridor, so that Ari had to jog to keep up. “I hope Maya’s half what you say she is.”

About Nightbird

What if Jet had a sister?

Lila Weiss, full time neurobiologist and part time ballerina, has been searching for the little sister she lost through divorce and death. She finds Maya in prison—and a whole lot more, in the brooding presence of a psychological profiler codenamed “Benjamin.” Benjamin sees Lila’s potential value to Israel’s interests and recruits her as an asset for Mossad, giving her a crash course in spycraft, destruction and love that has international repercussions.

“This story has legs.” — Russell Blake

About the author

Toby-thoughtful1Award-winning author Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. A social worker turned author, she says, “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.”

Toby credits her counseling background in adding depth to her characters, from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous and vulnerable heroine in her mysteries.

Over a million copies of Lei Crime Series are in circulation, and her books have won multiple awards.

Toby loves life in Hawaii with her family and dogs.

About Amazon Kindle Worlds

Kindle Worlds is an Amazon initiative that allows authors to publish stories set in another author’s fictional universe. The Jet Kindle World is based on the character Jet, created by bestselling author Russell Blake.

 

IT’S ALIVE! JET – Stealth launches with the JET Kindle World



The JET Kindle World has launched! I feel both proud and humble to be included in this group of bestselling writers. JETworldimage

The Kindle World is an Amazon initiative where writers can contribute to the fictional world of another author. Russell Blake invited me and other authors to write stories based in the blistering-paced world of his Mossad-agent-turned-Mom, Maya, code-named Jet.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing JET – Stealth, a story that features the title character and introduces two of my own, Van and LeBrun.

JET - Stealth - 500 x 800

 Here’s a sample:

Maya heard an odd buzz from the gun as the flight attendant flew backward and fell onto the passenger in front of Maya. She saw blood bubbling out of his mouth and spreading down the front of his navy-blue uniform.

The first flight attendant’s continuous wails were joined by screams from nearly everyone in first class. “Quiet!” shouted the gunman. He leveled the gun at the flight attendant, who clamped her mouth shut even as her eyes seemed to be trying to pop out of her head.

The wounded flight attendant fell off the passenger and onto the floor, gasping for breath. Maya undid her seat belt and reached for him, ripping his uniform shirt open.

“You! What are you doing?” shouted the gunman. Maya looked up into his brown eyes and said calmly, “I am going to try to save his life.” She tore two strips off the wounded man’s shirt and pressed them against the wound. The bullet, probably a .32, had punctured a lung, and it was a toss-up whether the man bled to death or suffocated first.

The gunman turned his attention to the female flight attendant. “Take me to the pilot. We’re changing our destination for Columbia.”

This can’t be happening, a part of Maya’s mind thought even as she struggled to keep the wounded man alive. She grabbed the collar of his shirt and ripped off half of it, then tossed it to the passenger he had fallen on, another businessman who was watching the goings-on with his mouth hanging open. “You,” she ordered. “Tear this into strips for bandages.”

A useless order. The flight attendant was bleeding out in front of her.

She heard pounding footsteps from behind and turned to see the rest of the cabin crew running forward to the first class compartment. A man in the last first-class row stood and blocked their way. “Stay back, or you’ll get what he did,” he said with a nod of his head toward the dying man.

How could anyone hijack a commercial jet in this day and age? Maya wondered.

I would like to say thanks to Gary Henry and Roxanne Bury for editing the manuscript, my good friend Thane Brown for excellent advice, and of course David C. Cassidy for such a great cover. (I think it’s the best in the series, but I’m a little biased.

Check out the JET Kindle World and all the great new titles. And if you like one, write a review!