Thursday teaser: Coconut Island

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This week’s teaser is from the brand-new Hilo Bay Mysteries collected edition, just published this week,

By J.L. Oakley

Before the first wave came, all the water emptied out of Hilo Bay. Boats were stranded, fish flopped in the sand patches and coral rocks only to be thrown back onto the beaches by a thigh-high wave.  A second wave came like a high black wall with boulders and studied force enough to knock homes and storefronts off their foundations and send them back into the buildings on the streets behind. It sucked people, cars, dogs and parts of the train depot out into the bay before the third wave came, a two-story monster. It smashed the cottages at Laupahoehoe School and grabbed four teachers and a score of students. It took out the train bridge in Hilo, the tuberculous hospital and washed away the USO buildings on Coconut Island. When all was done, the sea lay flat for several hours as if to ponder the devastation and the hundred and fifty souls left dead.

Chapter 1

Beatrice Watanabe stood at her bedroom window and looked out to Hilo Bay. It was early morning, the day just waking up but she could see far out beyond the sea break. Beatrice smiled. More than anything, she loved the sea and looked forwarded to presenting her science project on Honu, the green sea turtle, to her fourth grade classmates. She had spent a week going through old National Geographic magazines looking for pictures. Once her big sister, Hillary, took her down to Coconut Island where the turtles sometimes could be seen. When Beatrice spotted one, she took a picture with her Brownie camera. It only showed a ghostly back and head when the film was developed, so Beatrice drew some pictures with colored pencils to go with the black and white photo and pasted them onto her board. 

A truck horn beeped. On the street below her family’s two story apartment, Beatrice saw Mr. Chang’s grocery truck pull over to the beach-side of the street. Beatrice listened for the train whistle –the palm tree-lined Front Street ran parallel to the train tracks and wide beach beyond– but there was no train coming in from the Puna district at this hour. 

“Beatrice,” her mother called. “Come to breakfast. We haven’t much time.”

“Coming.” 

There was more than school today. Her brother, Jimmy, was coming home. For the past two years, he had served in the armed forces, fighting with 442nd in Italy. It was the most decorated fighting unit in the U.S. Army during the war and all Japanese. Jimmy had two purple hearts and was going to be awarded a Medal of Honor. Everyone in the family was so proud. 

Except Uncle Toshi, Beatrice thought. He had changed since the war. Always stern, he seemed angry all the time now. Maybe because he had to go away. 

“Beatrice. Please listen.”

“Coming, Mama.” Beatrice stuffed her books into her school bags, tied her brown and white saddle shoes, and started to go down to the kitchen, when she looked out the window. The water in the bay looked odd, like it was backing away from the beach. Swiftly, as though on little crab feet, the water receded behind the sea break. Down on the sidewalk, Mr. Chang stopped unloading his goods and taking his hat off, stared. 

Beatrice dropped her school bag and ran out into the hallway. “Mama! Something’s funny going on. The bay is all dry.” She rushed to the living room where there was a large window that looked over the street. 

There was a commotion in the kitchen. Bernice’s mother, hurried down to her. Her teenaged brother and sister, Clarence and Janice, were close behind. They all stared out the window at the empty bay.

Hilo’s 1946 Tsnami strikes. Photo: Hawaii News Now.

“I heard of this, children,” Beatrice’s mother said.

“Can we go down and look?” fourteen year-old Janice asked. “I could look for opihi and crab.”

“Or treasure,” Beatrice chimed in. “I could help Honu if he’s stranded.”

Their mother frowned. “No. The sea may come back and flood the street. But I think we will be safe here for now.”

Flood the street? Beatrice thought. Won’t it flood the flower shop below us? She opened a side window. The smell of plumeria and sour sea weed hit her, but the strongest thing she sensed was the lack of natural sound. No myna bird or dove called. It was deadly still.

The sea did come back. Beatrice watched in horror at the speed it filled in the bay, raced across the beach and spun Mr. Changg and his truck around. The building shuddered when something hit it.

“To the back, children.” Bernice’s mother pulled on her arm. “Now.”

“Where’s Hillary?” Clarence asked as they squeezed down the hallway. “Shall I wake her?”

“She didn’t come home.” 

Beatrice was shocked at the tone of her mother’s voice, even more at her determined assault on  every window in the kitchen. Mama shattered each glass pane with a heavy iron pan. Through the  gaping windows, Beatrice heard someone yell.

Honu, the sea turtle, from Wikimedia Commons.

“My honu project.” The thought of it getting wet if another wave should strike the front of the apartment made Beatrice sick. “I’ll be right back.” She dashed down the hall to her room and picked up the large sheet of cardboard. She peeked out the window. Down below, Mr. Chang and a neighbor were accessing the damage to the truck and what appeared to be missing railroad rails on the other side of the street. The little palm trees looked forlorn. 

“Beatrice!” 

Beatrice snatched a stuffed animal, clamped it under her arm, then grabbed her project. A roaring noise made her turn her head. Out beyond the sea break, she saw a black wall making its way toward the town of Hilo. It went over the break as easy someone pouring water. Huge boulders twisted and tumbled along with the wave’s flow. People started to scream. Beatrice ran.

The aftermath of Hilo’s 1946 tsunami. There would be more. Photo: Hawaiihistory.org

Half way down the hall, the apartment shook so violently, Beatrice was thrown to the wooden floor. She crab-crawled her way back onto her feet and ran to her mother just as the walls of the building collapsed  The floor tilted, then seemed to push her up, as the wave broke open the ceiling, then the roof to the morning sky. Beatrice grabbed onto the closest thing to her – the glass knob on the door that once led into her parent’s bedroom. Her cheek against the door, she rode the wave as it rushed debris and people in toward the red dirt and green hills behind the town. To her horror, as she spun, Beatrice caught a glimpse of the giant wave behind the one that carried her now– the biggest thing she had ever seen. Higher than the apartment, it smashed down the remaining structure of the home and neighborhood she had known all her short life. The door caught on a large piece of the apartment’s roof and threw her on top of it. She grabbed on, her bleeding fingers seeking anything to hold onto. Somewhere in the din, she heard her mother cry out to her. The last thing she saw was Mr. Chang’s truck sweeping past her upside down and Honu from the sea, beating its legs as fast as they could go. Even the turtle’s eyes looked terrified.

The last thing Beatrice remembered was that it was April’s Fool’s Day. 

Coconut Island

Investigative reporter Tawnie Takahashi is no stranger to mysteries, but can she handle one steeped in her own family’s history? A box of letters from a WWII soldier stationed on the Big Island is found at the Big Island Historical Society and unlocks painful memories for Tawnie’s Great Aunt Bee. Bee’s older sister was swept away in the 1946 tsunami, but now Wendy suspects she was murdered first. As she delves into the mystery, Tawnie meets a group of nonagenarians who were at the USO center on Coconut Island during the war. One is a hero. Another is a cold-blooded murderer.

Coconut Island is the first of the three Hilo Bay Mysteries.

Get it as part of the collected volume on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her characters come from all walks of life, but all stand up for something in their own time and place.

Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

When not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th century folkways, including churning some pretty mean butter.

Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017. It is set in 1860 on San Juan Island in Pacific NW during a time with the British Royal Marines and US Army jointly occupied the island—peacefully.

Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Thursday teaser: Mist-chi-mas: A Novel of Captivity

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This week’s excerpt is from the historical mystery-romance

By J.L. Oakley

At six o’clock a sergeant came over to escort the women to Captain George Pickett’s quarters next door where Pickett personally greeted Jeannie and the Jenkins women at the door. For the second time that day she mused that she was the same height as the captain. With dark shoulder length hair, mustache and a long unruly goatee, Pickett was only a little over five and a half feet tall. What he lacked in height, however, she had already learned he made up in audacity, charm and a strong scent of Jamaican rum cologne. He offered her his arm and led her into the candlelit dining room.

Gathered around the table was a collection of men and women from the area. Pickett gave immediate introductions. “May I present Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Marshall of Port Townsend, my second lieutenant, James W. Forsyth, two British naval officers from the HMS Satellite, Lieutenant Fuller—Mrs. Jenkins’ brother visiting from Fort Steilacoom, and Andrew Pierce from the settlement of Seattle.”

The men rose as the women were escorted to their seats at the table. The Jenkins women were treated with courtesy, but from Lucy’s pout not enough. When Pickett pulled out her chair, Jeannie thanked him for his hospitality and sat down.

“Now, Mrs. Naughton,” Captain Pickett said as he sat down. “Do tell us all about your time in Kanaka Town. It has concerned us all, considerin’ someone has left his earthly bounds.” He put his napkin in his lap and sipped water from the crystal glass at his place.

Jeannie glanced around. The table was set just as fine as the officer’s table at the Royal Marine Camp with a linen cloth, several candlesticks spread out down the middle, and a large hurricane lamp set in the center. The candles cast soft yellow light on all the diners. Captain Pickett winked at her, but she pretended she did not notice. “An act of bravery, I might add,” Pickett went on. “Do tell.”

Jeannie wasn’t sure what account to give or whether it was a proper subject for the dinner table, but they seemed anxious to know about her time with the people of Kanaka Town, so she told them of her days there. When she was done, Pickett directed the dinner guests to a discussion of health in general. He sat at his place at the head of the table, his long hair curling at his jacket’s collar, like a country gentleman hosting guests at his estate. Jeannie could understand why Mr. Breed said he was popular with both military camps and civilians.

It soon became apparent that the women were not taken with her account. Mrs. Jenkins’ lips seemed to get acutely puckered as Jeannie went on. Mrs. Marshall, the merchant’s wife, burst out that the whole affair was unseemly.

“Don’t you think, Mrs. Jenkins, a woman should be more particular in what she chooses to undertake?” Mrs. Marshall’s rag curls banged against her neck.

“I do indeed. Don’t you, Mr. Pierce?”

Andrew Pierce was mid-bite on an appetizer of oysters. He looked startled, then blushed at Jeannie sitting next to him. “You caught me off-guard, ma’am. I’ll have to think on it.”

“I don’t believe that there is anything to think on,” said the captain of the HMS Satellite. “Women served valiantly in our hospitals in the late Crimean War. Miss Nightingale for one. An extraordinary woman. Saved many a soldier’s life.”

Mrs. Jenkins and the other ladies shrank back when the military men agreed. The matter of Jeannie’s incautious adventure was settled and to her relief, in her favor. The men agreed that containing the smallpox was imperative. It touched her deeply when they gave tender acknowledgment to her loss and the irony she could not help her son.

Dinner was served in the French style with all the dishes on the table and the serving plates assisted around. Pickett continued playing host, leading the conversation and letting topics flow from local politics to news of the social season. Occasionally, he’d interject, “Sir, ah believe that is the most interesting thing ah heard” or something to that effect. Jeannie found his accent hard to understand.

During the second hour, the conversation turned to more national subjects, though Jeannie noticed that by some unspoken agreement, they did not speak of the growing discord and talk of secession back in the States she had heard during conversations in Victoria. Instead,

the conversation settled on Pickett’s exploits in the Mexican war. The British officers were interested in the tactics of General Winfield Scott. Pickett obliged them with an arrangement of salt cellars and candlesticks on the table.

As he laid out the battlefield, Jeannie was amused to see that he had brought Mrs. Jenkins and the other women to a complete stop. Their fan-covered faces and asides were muffled. The officers leaned over and the battle began. When Pickett was done, salt had been spilled and a candlestick dripped its beeswax onto the linen cloth. To that, everyone clapped. The officers raised their glasses as Pickett returned to his seat in good cheer.

About Mist-Chi-Mas

In Mist-chi-mas, everyone is bound to something.

Jeannie Naughton never intended to run away from her troubles, but in 1860, a woman’s reputation is everything. A scandal not of her own making forces her to flee England for an island in the Pacific Northwest, a territory jointly occupied by British and American military forces. At English Camp, Jeannie meets American Jonas Breed. Breed was once a captive and slave — a mistchimas — of the Haida, and still retains close ties to the Coast Salish Indians.

But the inhabitants of the island mistrust Breed for his friendship with the tribes. When one of Breed’s friends is murdered, he is quickly accused of a gruesome retaliation. Jeannie knows he’s innocent, and plans to go away with him, legitimizing their passionate affair with a marriage. But when she receives word that Breed has been killed in a fight, Jeannie’s world falls apart. Although she carries Jonas Breed’s child, she feels she has no choice but to accept a proposal from another man.

Twenty years later, Jeannie finds reason to believe that Breed may still be alive. She must embark on a journey to uncover the truth, unaware that she is stirring up an old and dangerous struggle for power and revenge…

Find it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written the Hilo Bay series of four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands. Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017.

 Get to know more about Janet on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Thursday teaser: Tree Soldier

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This week’s #teaser excerpt is from the historical romance set in the Pacific Northwest in 1935

By J.L. Oakley

CHAPTER 4

The game was in the third ending when McGill and some others struck. It was all supposed to be a joke, a tradition, but from the start, it turned ugly. Surrounding the group of eight, a crowd of local enrollees began to ask questions of the boys and when Costello or Spinelli spoke they got teased for their accents.

“Hey, they did all right,” a blonde local named Larsen said. “They did their share.”

McGill knocked the enrollee’s cap off. “Sure they did. You’re gonna get dunked.”

“So?” Staubach said. The big blonde Pennsylvanian straightened his back. He was a farm boy, but not the hayseed they thought he was. He put up his dukes. “We’ve got bigger rivers where I come from.”

“Yeah, but we’ve got man eating fish. Ever wonder why a salmon looks so threadbare by the time it spawns?  It’s the little fishes in the water that nibble at them, bit by bit. They can take off your toes if you’re not watching. If the cold don’t get you, they will.”

“Where do I sign up?” Staubach asked.

“Why, over there,” one of McGill’s buddies said. He pointed to the willow-lined bank at the end of the field, some fifty feet away.

“Come on fellows, let’s show them what we can take,” Staubach said.

“Now wait a damn minute,” McGill growled. “You got to be done proper.”

“Then carry me there.” Staubach swaggered his shoulders.

McGill looked annoyed but instantly several enrollees seized and carried Staubach like a plank of wood to the river. There they swung and tossed him out into the river. When he yelled as he hit the water, some of the locals began to cheer and chant, “Dunk them, dunk them.” The boys pushed on Joisey Squad, edging them toward the water. Joisey Squad pushed back.

Careful, Hardesty thought. He didn’t like the feel of the whole situation. A strange electricity prickled around the water’s edge.

“You’re next,” McGill said to Jacob Golden.

“Where’s Jeff?” Golden craned his neck and looked down river.

“He’s okay,” someone said. “He’s making his way down to the next stop.”

“How fast is it here?” Hardesty asked.

“You worried?” McGill sneered, his face puckered up like a Boston terrier’s.

“No, I’m just inquiring whether I should dog-paddle or display my Tarzan-like swimming skills.”

“It’s not too fast,” an enrollee said. “And it’s deep.”

“Stop talking,” McGill said. “You, Toland. Get some of the boys to bring up Golden and O’Connell.”

“Don’t sweat it,” Golden said and let himself and O’Connell be thrown in. Hoss Werner was next. He stood at the edge and held his nose before jumping off. Some of the locals laughed. A ways downstream Staubach waved as he climbed out and then turned around as Golden and O’Connell came paddling by. They had narrowly missed a big snag in the water, coming around it backwards.

Up on the bank, it was Costello’s turn. McGill’s squad charged him, but he fooled them all and twisting out of their hands, took a flying leap and went blind into the water. Fortunately, he avoided going out into the river’s faster middle.

“How’s the water?” Spinelli yelled to Costello. He got an answer quicker than intended when he was pushed in. He grabbed onto an enrollee from Spenser’s squad and they went in together. The local man came up sputtering to the roars of the others. Both young men made it down to the stony shore several hundred yards down, safely making it around the snag. Costello and Werner were there to pull them in.

“That leaves you two,” McGill said. He looked really steamed. Turned around and looked sharply at Hardesty and Sal Lorenzo. “Who goes first?”

Hardesty shrugged. At this point, they had no choice, but go in. The honor of squad at stake. He looked over at Lorenzo and was surprised to see him pale and drawn. A tough, wiry Puerto Rican from Newark, what bravado he normally carried was long gone. He worked his mouth constantly, his dark eyes on the water. Sensing Hardesty’s gaze, he looked up at his straw boss and instantly Hardesty knew what was wrong. Lorenzo couldn’t swim.

“I’ll go,” Hardesty said. “I’ll wait for you, Sal,” he said directly to him, ignoring McGill’s curious look.

“I’d rather not go at all,” the eighteen-year-old replied.

“You gotta. It’s tradition,” a local enrollee next to him said. “Unless you’re chicken.”

“I ain’t chicken.” Lorenzo spat.

McGill suddenly understood. “Aw, he can’t swim. That’s what he’s afraid of.” His eyes grew wide. “Hey, Larsen. Get that clothesline rope.”

“What for?” Lorenzo asked.

“To snag a fish.”

“Do I have to?” Lorenzo asked Hardesty.

“No,” Hardesty said. “You don’t have to.”

“It’s okay,” Larsen said. “I’ll tie you good. You’ll only get wet.” Squeezing through the group around the remaining enrollees from Joisey Squad, the blonde put the rope around Lorenzo’s waist and tied it in front. “We’ll hold onto you.  I won’t let go. I promise.”

Lorenzo seemed resigned to his fate. Hardesty could see it on his face and appreciated the fact that he had probably faced worse things in the streets back home.

“You going in, Park?” Lorenzo asked.

“Sure.  I’ll go in.” He took the rope in his hands. It didn’t seem strong. Its cotton fibers looked old and rotten. “You got another?”

“This’ll do,” McGill said. “Quit babying him. You going in?”

“Sure… I’ll do it,” Lorenzo said. “When Park’s ready.”

“Ready?” McGill nodded to two of his friends and before Hardesty could react, Lorenzo was picked up and tossed far out into the river. He went down, then came up sputtering, grabbing desperately for the taunt rope.

“That was a dirty trick.” Hardesty got right in McGill’s face and slammed him on his shoulders. “What the hell did you do it for? What was the point?”

McGill shrugged him off. “Watch your paws.”

Hardesty watched the boy flounder in the water and hoped Larsen and the two others that held him would bring him in quickly. He hesitated, wondering if it would do any good at all to go in, when he could help haul him in here on shore.

“Bring him in, Larsen,” he finally asked. “He’s done his time.”

“Yeah, sure.”

“No wait,” McGill said. “He’s not done.”

“He’s done.” Hardesty reached for the rope but before he could lay hold of it, in one sickening moment, it broke, causing Larsen and the others to fall to the ground. Lorenzo went spinning out into the middle of the river, thrashing his arms wildly where the rope had once been secured.

“Park!” The boy screamed, then quit when he got a mouthful of water.

“You bastard, McGill.” Hardesty tore along the edge of the bank, looking for a place to go in, watching in horror as Lorenzo swung back into shore directly in line with the snag. For a moment, he seemed to be held in place there, before swinging out into the current again and crashing back into the weathered gray roots of the old tree.

“The rope!” Careless of his safety, Hardesty dove into the water and let the current take him down to the snag. At the last minute he stroked over to where Lorenzo was caught on some roots. The boy’s head was bleeding and half-submerged under the water. Hardesty came alongside and kicking out, clung onto one of the roots while desperately lifting Lorenzo’s chin out of the water.

“Sal!” he shouted above the water’s noise. He slapped him on his cheek and the boy’s eyes opened. “Hold on. I’ll cut you free. Can you do it?”

The boy nodded, choking and spitting out water. “I think so…” He had one of his arms wrapped around a gnarly root, but when he brought up his free arm, he cried out in pain. One glance told Hardesty that it was broken. “Just hold on.”

Hardesty got his knife from its soggy scabbard and sawed on the rope. The water was a numbing cold and he found it hard to concentrate as it pulled relentlessly on his clothes and body. His feet were in danger of slipping off the root he stood on. He did not notice that Spenser had joined him until he was beside him. Together they got the boy untangled from the snag.

“Dumb tradition!” Spenser yelled over the water’s torrent. “You did good, Sal. No one’s going to give you a hard time.”

The boy smiled weakly. He looked like he was going to pass out and Hardesty feared shock. When he was completely free, Hardesty asked if anyone had gone to get a doctor.

“Yes,” Spenser said.

“Then let’s get him away from this.” Knowing that it would probably hurt him, Hardesty chose the best lifesaving hold he could think of for this water and kicked out into the river with Lorenzo. Spenser stayed close and together they were swept downstream to the low bank. By now most of Joisey Squad was standing there ready to help as well as a crowd of boys from the other squads. The dunking had turned ugly and many were ashamed. As soon as the three were within grabbing distance, there were hands to help pull them in safely to shore.  Groaning, Lorenzo was gently lifted out of the water and brought up on the bank. A blanket was produced and the boy wrapped up. A group of enrollees volunteered to take him to the infirmary, but Hardesty checked him again for shock. The boy looked cold and pale, but Spenser okayed the move and Lorenzo was quickly taken away.

“What happened?” Spinelli asked.

“That happened,” Hardesty replied pointing to McGill as water dripped off his head and nose. His sopping wet clothes clung to him like he had just emerged fully clothed from a bathtub. His skin was like goose flesh. As they walked back up towards the field, McGill was standing with his little group. Larsen off to the side looked horrified, but McGill didn’t look particularly perturbed. There was a sly smile on his face when Hardesty came up to him.

“He couldn’t take it,” McGill sneered.

“He took it all right. Here’s his answer.” Hardesty slugged the Tar Heel in the mouth in a single movement that sent McGill to the ground. Hardesty stepped over him and walked on, gathering people as he went. His own squad stayed close to him, clearing the way as he went back into the camp. Something roared behind him, yelling at him to stop. Hardesty turned in time to see McGill charging up to him.

“No one lays a hand on me!” he shouted. “No one!”

“All right, I won’t.”

McGill didn’t see Hardesty’s foot until too late.  Tripping, he lost his balance and went rolling down the bank to the pebbly narrow beach below.

“I’ll get you, you dirty foreigner,” McGill shouted as he climbed back up, but Hardesty was already across the field. He held his hands up in the air.

“No hands,” he yelled back, his squad laughing beside him.

Win a copy of Tree Soldier

Author J.L. Oakley will give a free e-copy of Tree Soldier to one of the reader who can answer this question:

Name a state or national park in your state built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. If you are in Canada or beyond, name a Great Depression program that helped put people back to work.

Leave your answer in the Comments below, and J.L. Oakley will choose from the correct answers.

About Tree Soldier

One mistake can ruin a life. One mistake can transform it.

A government forestry camp set deep in the mountainous forests of the Pacific Northwest might not seem the likely place to find redemption, but in 1935, Park Hardesty hopes for just that.

Blaming himself for the fiery accident that caused his brother’s disfigurement and the death of the bootlegging woman he loved, planting trees, building bridges and mentoring tough, homesick New Jersey boys brings him both penitence and the renewal of his own self-worth. When he wins the love of Kate Alford, a local naturalist who envisions joining the Forest Service, which allows only men, he also captures the ire of a camp officer who refuses to let her go. Just when he is ready to seek his brother’s forgiveness, he is falsely accused of rape. Every aspect of his life he has tried to rebuild is put in jeopardy. In the end, the only way he can defend himself is to tell the truth about his brother, but he risks being kicked out of the camp. Worse, he could lose Kate’s love forever.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written the Hilo Bay series of four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands. Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017.

 Get to know more about Janet on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

 

 

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Thursday teaser: #excerpts from Mist-Chi-Mas

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This week’s excerpt comes from tale set in the Pacific Northwest of 1860

By J.L. Oakley

Troubles with San Juan Town

Breed stood on the porch of Krill’s Mercantile and checked the double doors. Behind him, lantern light from a dozen shacks groped its way through the thickening mist. A tinny piano played a throbbing tune. Voices and laughter sounded disembodied. The only light on the porch was a candle lantern on the store’s post.

“They’re locked.”

“Use this.” Collie Henderson handed him a picklock out of a leather case. Breed had to squint to see it. The sun had long since gone down, leaving the summer twilight to spread its shadows over the collection of twenty ill-formed buildings and tents that made up San Juan Town. Yet the reason he was here was urgent—the rescue of the twelve-year-old daughter of a Makah friend. He thanked the spirits for the mist softly drifting off Griffin Bay onto the main lane.

Breed jiggled the lock. “When’s the last time Billy Po saw her?”

“About a half-hour ago,” Sikhs said. He stood at the dark edge of the building holding a shotgun.

“Krill was talking about taking her out of the root cellar,” Collie said. Wanted to bring her up into one of the rooms.” Collie’s voice was taut with anger. “Shh—”

Two buildings down, a door opened and a couple of soldiers stumbled out onto the candlelit porch. One bumped into a post before weaving down the steps into the lane. They’ll be in trouble for sure, Breed thought as he pressed up against the shuttered store. Pickett had to expand the boundaries of the military post to within a few feet of San Juan Town just to keep the soldiers in line.

One of the soldiers, his corporal’s stripe nearly erased by the dying light, bent over in the middle of the street and retched. The stink mixed with the other smells of the settlement: wood pile litter, broken whiskey bottles, and barrels reeking of spoiled food and brackish water. Breed fought back the urge to retch too. They had so little time. Since he had learned of the girl’s kidnapping, Breed had been on the lookout for her for the past two days.

Krill’s place was more than a store selling civilian and soldier’s needs. Behind the Chinese glass bead curtains next to the counter, there were several rooms that stretched back to the lagoon. Krill’s boarders.

“Get on, Liam. Sarg’s goin’ to give us piss.”

“I’m pissed. A shiny dollar for that swill.” The soldier spit a final time, keeping his hand on his belly.

The two soldiers staggered off, this time off toward the high grassy hill leading back to the army post. Breed waited until they were out of range then went back to the lock on the store’s double doors. The street was deserted now, everyone seemingly indoors, staying warm from the unexpected change in the weather.

He was about to jiggle the lock when a woman screamed. Both men swung around, Collie pulling out his sword from his scabbard on his back. But then the woman’s voice changed into a squeal of pleasure and laughter. Breed almost missed the cry from the store on the other side of its doors.

“Jonas.” Collie rammed his shoulder against one of the doors.

“I heard it.” Breed signaled Sikhs to go around to the back. He gave the pick lock one more turn and they spilled into the store. Inside, the store was dark, the floor to ceiling shelves behind a thick counter displaying tins and wooden boxes like plaques in a mausoleum, but down the hall there was candle light.

A muffled cry and then someone spit out, “You little heathen.”

“There!” Breed leaped over the counter and raced down the hall, kicking in the nearest door. Collie came behind him, slashing the bead curtain with his sword into smithereens. The little beads bounced and rolled down the floor into the room where a naked man and woman were stacked up against the headboard in a state of disarray and shock. Breed was gone and into the next room before the couple gave alarm.

About Mist-Chi-Mas

In Mist-chi-mas, everyone is bound to something.

Jeannie Naughton never intended to run away from her troubles, but in 1860, a woman’s reputation is everything. A scandal not of her own making forces her to flee England for an island in the Pacific Northwest, a territory jointly occupied by British and American military forces. At English Camp, Jeannie meets American Jonas Breed. Breed was once a captive and slave — a mistchimas — of the Haida, and still retains close ties to the Coast Salish Indians.

But the inhabitants of the island mistrust Breed for his friendship with the tribes. When one of Breed’s friends is murdered, he is quickly accused of a gruesome retaliation. Jeannie knows he’s innocent, and plans to go away with him, legitimizing their passionate affair with a marriage. But when she receives word that Breed has been killed in a fight, Jeannie’s world falls apart. Although she carries Jonas Breed’s child, she feels she has no choice but to accept a proposal from another man.

Twenty years later, Jeannie finds reason to believe that Breed may still be alive. She must embark on a journey to uncover the truth, unaware that she is stirring up an old and dangerous struggle for power and revenge…

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Or win a free e-copy

J.L. Oakley will give away a free e-book copy of Mist-Chi-Mas to someone who can identify the company of adventurers who controlled the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest, and other large regions of North America, in the 1860s.

J.L. Oakley

She writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands, part of Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World. Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017.

 Get to know more about Janet on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Monday musings: J.L. Oakley’s writing year ahead

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By J.L. Oakley

Aloha! Klahowya! God dag!! BestSelling Reads wants to know what my literary plans are for the coming year. I am a writer of historical fiction and mystery novellas set in Hawaii. I just launched my latest Lei Crime Kindle World novella, Hilina Pali—which has history in it—so first, I have to clear out all the research off my desk and put things away. Then I can get back to my WIP, The Quisling Factor, set in postwar Norway. It’s the sequel to The Jossing Affair.

I went to Norway last September to talk to experts on the Resistance and the war crime trials of a true monster, Henry Oliver Rinnan. I plan to concentrate on Quisling Factor for the year, but I’m easily distracted. Here’s why.

An exhibit of a German soldier and regalia from the World War II occupation of Norway at the Trondheim Resistance museum in Norway.

My first novel, Tree Soldier, is set in the Pacific northwest at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in 1935. The CCCs, one of the great programs of the Great Depression, has become more than a topic I researched for the novel. I was selected as a Washington Humanities speaker on the topic and spent two years going around Washington State talking about CCCs. This spring I will be again fully concentrating on the CCC history, as a year-long effort to get a CCC worker statue for Mount Baker National Forest has been approved. On April 28, I’ll be giving a talk along with a fellow historian at an indie bookstore about the statue project, but I’ve already been out in the classroom talking about the CCCs.

The Glacier Ranger Station in Glacier, WA, built by the CCCs in 1939.

This past Thursday, I did a poetry project with 4th graders. The CCC boys published poetry in their camp newspaper, The Bulldozer. Some of it is quite good. I’m making the connection between their poems published in 1934–35 with poetry kids can write in the classroom today.

On June 16th, the statue will be dedicated. From now to then, I’ll be writing text for a wayside sign that will go by the statue. I’m also in charge of organizing the party in conjunction with the National Forest District.

CCC worker statue

Other plans for 2018? April 12-15th, I’ll be at a writer’s retreat in the mountains and at the end of that month, I’ll be attending the Chanticleer Author Conference. (It’s a great conference on marketing. My latest novel, Mist-chi-mas is shortlisted in two prize categories) I’ll be doing a book club visit between that and a book talk at the library in May.

Early June takes me to a book to film conference in Spokane, WA. I pitched The Jossing Affair to this conference, Connecting Writers with Hollywood, last year. I hoping to be signed sometime in the near future.

Summer will be lazy, but in the fall, I plan to attend the CCC Legacy conference in Portland, Oregon. Projects on Mount Hood will be highlighted. I’ve always wanted to see that mountain.

 

Janet Oakley

I write every day, no matter what form. If I’m lucky, I’ll have Quisling Factor done in the next twelve months. Or not. Writing life is good!

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

When not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th century folkways, including churning some pretty mean butter.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands, part of Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World. Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017.

 Get to know more about Janet on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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