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!

A mega-launch in the #LeiCrimeKW Kindle World



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

12newLeiCrimeKWbooksMay17

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

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

My new #LeiCrimeKW book: Echoes

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

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

Then he disappeared.

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

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

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

What is the Lei Crime Kindle World?

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

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

 

 

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: 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.

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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:

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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