Launch day: Razor Rocks

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The newest Lei Crime novel launches today! Enjoy this sample and then buy it as an e-book from your preferred e-tailer.

By Toby Neal

Detective Sergeant Leilani Texeira clutched the dashboard of her partner Pono’s jacked up purple truck, affectionately nicknamed Stanley. “Can you slow down?” 

“No.” Pono changed gears. The cop light on the dash strobing, Stanley roared forward even faster as they zoomed down Highway 30 toward Ma`alaea Harbor, whipping around a line of rental cars. 

Lei shut her eyes. “Bruddah. Getting killed on the way to the harbor won’t find your cousin any faster, and besides, if we get in a wreck, Tiare will kill us both.” 

Pono’s formidably competent wife, Tiare, was not to be messed with. Her partner’s big brown hand tightened on the chrome skull that marked Stanley’s shifter, but he eased up on the gas pedal.

Lei sat back in her seat. “I know this is hard—but whatever’s happened has already happened. You gotta stay objective about the case, or Captain Omura will pull you off of it.”

Pono scowled, his pidgin thickening. “It’s my cuz. Not jus’ any kine cuz—dis my uncle’s oldest boy Chaz Kaihale. We been close since small kid time.”

“I know. Chaz is good people.” Lei touched Pono’s tense bicep, her fingers lightly brushing the slash of a scar where a tribal tattoo of interlocking triangles had been torn by a meth dealer’s bullet. She’d been so terrified when the man who was her brother in everything but name had been shot . . . “Tell me again what you know. Let’s get a plan before we meet with the Coast Guard.”

Pono blew out a breath and put both hands back on the wheel. The truck slowed to a reasonable rate at last. “Chaz called me from sea. Remember, he’s a captain and goes out with a couple of guys to crew luxury boats for Dream Vacations Luxury Yachts. Anyway, I wen get one call from him yesterday; he stay yelling. ‘Pono! You gotta help us! Get pirates coming!’ and then damn if the phone didn’t cut off.” Pono flexed his fingers. “Ho, I was laughing. I thought Chaz was pranking me cuz it was April first! But when I tried to call back, the call nevah go through. So I’m thinking, eh, he pranked me, but even with the satellite phone, half the time his calls get cut off.” Pono glanced over at Lei. Even with his favorite Oakleys hiding his eyes, she felt his pain. “Turns out, the call was legit.”

“You couldn’t have known! I mean, it was April Fools’ Day!” Drifts of wayward curls, whipping in the breeze from the partly open window, lashed Lei’s face. She bundled her hair back with a rubber band she spotted encircling the gearshift. 

“I should have tried harder to find out what was going on. Chaz, he one prankster, but I should have called the ship-to-shore radio at least . . . anyway, I did nothing. Then, just now, I get a call from that Coast Guard guy we worked that Molokini case with—Aina Thomas. Remember him? He called my cell, telling me they found the yacht my cuz was captaining washed up on the reef off Lana`i. No one on board, but get bloodstains.” Pono speeded up again.

“No, Pono, no . . .” Lei’s stomach lurched under the sensible black polo shirt she wore with jeans and athletic shoes. “You didn’t tell me anything but ‘go get in the car, we got a case involving my cuz.’ This is big, if it’s pirates. If it’s murder.”

“I know.”

“Are you sure Thomas was calling you as an investigator? Maybe he was calling you as a witness, because you and Chaz are close. He found your name listed somewhere in Chaz’s phone or something.”

Pono’s mouth just tightened, and Lei had her answer—Pono wasn’t thinking right now.

Lei needed to take charge. She dug a Maui Police Department ball cap out of the backpack, loaded with investigation paraphernalia, resting at her feet. She tugged the cap down low and tight on her head, and took out her phone. “I’ll call Captain Omura and brief her with what we know. And let me take the lead when we talk to Thomas. We got dis, partner.”

Razor Rocks

Paradise is plundered by pirates. Someone is attacking and robbing luxury yachts as they sail the Hawaiian Islands—their passengers missing and presumed dead.

Sergeant Lei Texeira, with her typical leap first, look later style, dives into a case with the Coast Guard to find answers that lie as deep as Davy Jones’ locker.

Lei is back, solving crime again! Grab this fast-paced mystery with a twist of romance, and take a trip to Hawaii with the series that’s sold more than a million copies!

Get this thrilling new e-book from:

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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In the sunshine of words

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Summer, as we all know, is a magical time.

A time of glorious mornings, of high blue skies, of long, gentle evenings.

Of the feeling of soft grass under bare soles, of the delicious shock of water from the sprinkler.

It’s so easy for our eyes to stray from the stories on our computer screens or in our typewriters to the green vistas beyond the window. So many of us take the opportunity to move our laptops to a table outdoor.

And we find inspiration in the beauty of the natural world around us, or from the breathtaking achievements of people past.

So here are some photos showing the kinds of views that inspire some of your favorite bestselling authors.

Enjoying a quiet neighborhood, DelSheree Gladden likes to sit out on her deck to write during the summer. And she has a back yard that’s just about perfect.

Kayla Dawn Thomas also loves her back deck in Washington State. She sets up her writing desk there every minute the weather allows.

A quaint English garden is D.G. Torrens’ favorite writing place in the summer. “Especially when it is in full bloom and my cherry blossom tree is beginning to bear fruit, my garden is alive with birds and squirrels.” It’s a wonder Dawn can concentrate on her next book!

Water inspires Mary Doyle. “When I have a laptop near water, the words flow,” she says. So she likes to visit her brother and set up on his decidedly inspiring back deck in Minneapolis, MN.

Water is also a strong theme in Toby Neal’s inspiration. She finds beach walks inspiring. And with homes in Maui and near the coast of northern California, beaches seem always close at hand for Toby.

The peripatetic J.L. Oakley finds the white noise that surrounds her helpful, so she sets up at the closest café whenever she has the chance. “Plus, I get to watch the characters outside—weird and inspiring.”

Samreen Ahsan finds inspiration from old European castles and palaces, like this one, the Pena (“Feather”) Palace in Sintra, Portugal. This inspiration shows up in her fantasy novels set in a castle, Once Upon a [Stolen] Time and Once Upon a [Fallen] Time.

Scott Bury rides his bike 50 kilometres (30 miles) every day when the weather allows, and finds inspiration in the surprising sights. This week, he spotted a Great Blue Heron only metres from the bicycle path in the middle of Ottawa, Canada.

Tell us about your favorite place to read, and we’ll enter your name in a draw for a free book!

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Why that genre?

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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Monday musings by your favorite bestselling authors

Readers often associate their favorite writers with a genre: romance, mystery, thriller, science-fiction or fantasy, to name just a few.

Why did the author choose that genre? Your favorite bestsellers answer that question this week.

Alan McDermott

Action thrillers

When I pick up a book I want it to keep me gripped from start to finish and be something I can relate to. I couldn’t see myself delivering that with a science-fiction or romance novel. I could try, but I know I would soon get bored with it. If the subject matter doesn’t interest me, I can hardly expect my readers to become engrossed. I think it is important that you write about what you love.

D.G. Torrens

Romance, memoir and poetry

I write about what interests me personally. If I won’t read it then I certainly will not write about it. It is important for me to love what I do. Therefore, I apply it to what genre I write in.

Samreen Ahsan

Historical fantasy and paranormal romance

I write what I enjoy writing most, keep the readers busy. Someday, when I itch to write science fiction, I’d love to write that. Regardless of what genre it is, I want my readers to keep guessing.

Mary Doyle

Mystery, fantasy and erotica

If I were traditionally published, my biggest fear would be a publisher that insisted that I write in only one genre. That would be the end of my writing career. I’ve written mystery, urban fantasy, erotica and memoir and someday soon I’m going to write some dystopian fiction … maybe zombie stuff, maybe some other end of the world thing. I won’t write in one genre and you can’t make me!

Raine Thomas

Young adult and new adult fiction

I write romance across multiple sub-genres (YA, contemporary, sports, Sci-Fi, fantasy). I’ve always been a romantic, so my writing will always reflect that part of me. I also love diversity and exploring new things, so branching into the sub-genres allows me to explore that too. Who knows where the Muse will lead me next?

Toby Neal

Mystery, thriller and romance

I think characters are most important in writing, because no matter what genre you are in, people want to follow a heroine’s journey as they develop. So while I mostly write mystery/thriller because I love puzzles and surprises and a lot of tension, I am always writing that character arc of development. Over and over, whether it’s a thriller, a romance, or my own memoir. Riveting characters in a process of growth is what keeps readers coming back.

Gae-Lynn Woods

Mystery

I’ve always been drawn to stories with multiple layers and characters who grow and change. I love the challenge of figuring out “who done it” in another writer’s work, and seeing if I can keep the reader guessing in my own. I end up creating the characters I want to know more about and writing the stories I’d want to read.

DelSheree Gladden

Young adult, new adult, romance, fantasy and more

I write in multiple genres because I read just about every genre and like to try new things in my writing. When an idea comes to me, I go with whatever genre seems to fit that story and let it develop organically. The character’s journey is more important to me than following genre conventions.

Caleb Pirtle III

Thriller, literary fiction and memoir

I generally write historical thrillers or historical mysteries because I prefer living in the past. There is a certain feeling of the unknown and unexplained in an earlier time, especially when my stories have a World War II backdrop. Evil has a face. And the night holds suspense with every tick of the clock. It’s difficult for me to write suspense when all my hero has to do is pull out a cell phone can dial 9-11 if he’s in trouble. I can research the 1930s and 1940s, and every incident I find hides a mystery just waiting to be found and told.

Next week: more authors on why they chose their genre, including David C. Cassidy, Scott Bury, Seb Kirby and more!

And happy Canada Day to all our Canadian readers!

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Secondary characters we love

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Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

Great characters make great books. Creating great characters is something that every writer works very hard at. They’re what readers remember: Oliver Twist, Sherlock Holmes, Bilbo Baggins, Lancelot. If the writer does their job right, we identify with the protagonist and experience the story through their senses.

But a story needs more than one character to come alive. The hero needs a villain, a best friend, a mentor, a love interest. Fagan, Watson, Gandalf and Guinevere are also characters that resonate with audiences.

For the author, these secondary characters can be great fun to create—and just as much work as the hero. We asked some of your favorite BestSelling Reads authors to tell us who is their favorite secondary character.

Samreen Ahsan

Of all the side characters I created, I have admired King Stefan from the [Stolen] Series. He is a tyrannical ruler whose mission is to break down his son Edward, and make a diabolical copy of himself.

Stefan is ruthless when it comes to punishment, and though he forbids his son to enjoy poetry, he himself reads poems, lives in them, and even fantasizes about the same woman his son loves. As the story progresses, he becomes more inhumane and evil towards his own son. 

Scott Bury

The character I enjoyed writing the most was Rowan Fields, the linchpin of Torn Roots, my first Hawaiian Storm mystery. She’s not very likeable: loud, opinionated, careless of others’ feelings, but she’s also passionate, dedicated to protecting the environment, and though she never admits it, deeply in love with the real hero of the story, Sam Boyko.

I have to admit, I still get a little thrill thinking about the insults Rowan throws around.

David C. Cassidy 

In Velvet Rain, the villain, Brikker is my favorite. He is cold, ruthless, sadistic … and brilliant.

His real-life counterpart would be Josef Mengele—and if Brikker were real, I’d wager he’d be far more terrifying.

M.L. Doyle

Harry Fogg (with two Gs) is a British SAS soldier and the love interest of Master Sergeant Lauren Harper in my mystery series. He is rough around the edges, a hardcore soldier, but has a brilliant sense of humor and tests my ability to write British-sounding expressions. I have to have some of his dialogue vetted by friends across the pond. I absolutely love Harry and my readers do, too.

I love all of my characters, but Granite and Pearl rank right up there as the best. They are cougar sized cats that were gifted to Hester Trueblood, in my urban fantasy series starting with The Bonding Spell. Hester, who also happens to be the embodiment of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, was given the cats by her demi-god lover Gilgamesh. Gil found them in room 56 of the British Museum, where they’d been magically imprisoned in stone. Once freed, the cats, who can talk to Hester telepathically, can also switch to human form. But they seem a bit confused when on two feet, so they prefer to be in their furry state. I love these cats.

Alan McDermott 

Simon ‘Sonny’ Baines is my favorite.

He has appeared in all the Tom Gray books from the very first, Gray Justice, and also appears in my new Eva Driscoll series.

He likes a little fun, but can be deadly serious when it matters.

Toby Neal

My favorite is Jake Dunn in the Paradise Crime Thrillers. An ex-Special Forces soldier turned private operative, he appears in Book 2, Wired Rogue, and in the rest of the series. Jake is all action and passion, a black-and-white thinker, a thrill seeker and fun-loving guy, and someone who is growing beyond his own comfort zone to appreciate the shades of gray in dealing justice. I tried to get rid of him several times, but my heroine pined and the stories lost zip and zing without him. He is more than he first appears, and I love that layers keep revealing themselves about him and what he brings out in those around him.

J.L. Oakley 

I have two favorite characters, both in The Jøssing Affair.

First, Tommy Renvik is a member of Milorg, the military resistance organization in Norway in WWII. A friend of intelligence agent Tore Haugland, he helps Haugland deliver arms and helps him escape to Sweden after capture by the Gestapo.

The other is Katherine Bladstad. In 1907, she is best friend to Caroline Alford. The wife of a logging mill manager, she is an outspoken proponent of hiking in the mountains and of the “New Woman,” a woman’s right to vote.

Caleb Pirtle III

I only needed Chester Giddings for one scene in Conspiracy of Lies.

He was a meek, mild-mannered little man so timid that a car backfiring would frighten him, and he occupied the second-story room of a walkup hotel where my hero needed to hide, unannounced, while the bad guys were trying to gun him down.

The scene ended with one dead, police crawling over every inch of the hotel room, Chester trembling and pale in the corner, and it was time for him to go. Chester refused to leave the story. He kept showing up when he was least expected, time after time, and near the end of one of the final climactic scenes, it was Chester Giddings who took a deep breath, clenched, his jaws, tensed his muscles, gave his heart to God, and fired the crucial shot. He didn’t leave because he knew that 182 pages later I would need him, and so I did.

Raine Thomas 

My favorite secondary character is probably Finn from my Estilorian novel, Deceive.

Finn is charming, quick with a laugh, and doesn’t take life too seriously, but he has a depth to his character that helps his family and companions through many of their challenges. I loved his shapeshifting character so much that he might make it into another Estilorian story…shh! 😉

Who is your favorite secondary character?

Tell us in the Comments section below who your favorite secondary literary character is — and if they’re from a book by a member of BestSelling Reads, we’ll send you a free book!

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New mysteries and thrillers

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Mystery and thriller lovers, rejoice—your favorite BestSelling Reads authors have thrilling, chilling mysteries for you to sink your teeth into.

The latest mystery releases

Order Wired Truth from your preferred retailer.

Toby Neal: Wired Truth is the 10th book in the Paradise Crime series. Like her first mystery series, the Lei Crime books, they’re set on the Hawaiian Islands.

In this latest installment, a heist at a high-end auction house sends tech specialist Sophie on a new case hunting down a thief whose skills match her own. Even as she chases a cache of precious gems, events begun in a distant land threaten the fragile happiness Sophie’s building—and an enigmatic new partner brings challenges close to home, luring Sophie into the world of vigilante justice.

“Great character development, twists and turns! You never know how these books will end.”—Tango

J.L. Oakley: The Hilo Bay Mystery Collection: The past never forgets. No one gets away with murder.

Auntie Bee Takahashi is a retired fourth grade teacher. Her great-niece, Tawnie Takahashi, is a hard-nose Honolulu TV crime reporter. When crimes from the past touch friends and family, Auntie Bee and Tawnie—with a little help from a historian— face down the past in hopes of finding justice and healing for the victims and their descendants.

Award-winning author Janet Oakley brings history to her collection of three cozy mystery novellas set on the Big Island of Hawaii: Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali.

“Characters that come across as warm as the sun.”—Amazon reviewer

DelSheree Gladden: Incendiary is the fourth book in the Eliza Carlisle Mystery series. For Eliza Carlisle, starting a new year means making tough choices, even if those decisions mean losing friends and possibly getting kicked out of culinary school. She’s all set to take her life in a new direction when her demented half-brother Simon’s reappearance changes everything.

Broken and more alone than she’s been since fleeing her childhood home, Eliza struggles to hang onto the fragile threads that are holding her life together. Only a comically disastrous young chef and the threats against her life pull Eliza out of her fog of self-loathing.

“It was so good I finished in less than 24 hours and it was hard to stop reading to get some sleep!”—Didiwi, Amazon reviewer

Get it on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III: Bad Side of a Wicked Moon is the second in the Boom Town Saga series of historical mysteries. Strangers pour into Ashland, an East Texas town that’s dying in the Great Depression—until the discovery of oil. Where there is oil, there are jobs, as well as con artists, thieves, scalawags, and at least one murderer.

“A series of climaxing scenes keep the reader riveted to the pages until the very end.”—Patricia J. La Vigne, Amazon reviewer

” Excellent writing! “—
Thonie Hevron, Amazon reviewer

Scott Bury: Torn Roots is the first Hawaiian Storm mystery. Vanessa Storm thought her first week on the job as an FBI Special Agent in beautiful Hawaii would be about settling in. But she’s immediately sent to Hana on Maui’s rain-soaked shore to find a kidnapped woman—and solve a possible murder.   

Published last year, it’s now available in paperback, as well.

Torn Roots is wonderfully rich with plot and setting, but it was Mr. Bury’s command of the story’s pacing that impressed me most.”—Eden, Amazon reviewer

Coming soon

M.L. Doyle: The Bonding Blade combines ancient mythology and gritty urban mystery. Former Army Sergeant Hester Trueblood struggles to find the answer, seven years after fate bonded her to the ancient Sumerian Goddess, Inanna. When her warrior Quincy is stricken with a mysterious illness, Hester thinks a supernatural blade could be the answer to save him. Or it just might destroy the world.

“You know it’s a good book when you’re in a real-life situation and think about how one of the characters would react. That happened. It’s because of this book.”—Susanne Aspley, author of Ladyboy and the Volunteer and Granola Minnesota.

The Bonding Blade will be available on Amazon on June 19. You can pre-order it now.

Toby Neal is bringing reader favorite character Lei Texeira back in the thirteenth Paradise Crime Mystery, Razor Rocks.

Paradise is plundered by pirates.

Someone is attacking and robbing luxury yachts as they sail the Hawaiian Islands—their passengers missing and presumed dead. Sergeant Lei Texeira, with her typical leap first, look later style, dives into a case with the Coast Guard to find answers that lie as deep as Davy Jones’ locker. 

Lei is back, solving crime again! Grab this fast-paced mystery with a twist of romance, and take a trip to Hawaii with the series that’s sold more than a million copies!  

Razor Rocks publishes on August 13, but you can pre-order it from your preferred retailer through Toby’s website.

Thrillers

Find Rainy Night to Die on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III continues the Quiet Assassin series with Rainy Night to Die. Roland Sand’s His missions for intelligence agencies are those no one else wants to tackle. The reason: Sand is expendable.

In this story, he’s sent to Ukraine to smuggle out a beautiful lounge jazz singer who, for years, has been smuggling Russian secrets back to MI-6’s home office in Great Britain. Her contact in London has been compromised. He is found floating in the Thames River. Sand must extricate Pauline Bellerose before the Russians trace the stolen secrets back to her and place a noose around her neck.

He has twenty-four hours to find the singer and remove her to safety. If she is caught, he dies.

Coming soon

Alan McDermott has been thrilling readers since Gray Justice came out in 2014, launching the Tom Gray series. His new project brings back some of his readers’ favorite characters into a new story arc featuring the beautiful and deadly Eva Driscoll.

Fight to Survive is the third book in the series. After taking on the super-secretive Executive Security Office, Driscoll has found a new life in Australia. But the ESO has been watching her every move force her to help with a high-risk mission in North Korea. After she decides to take matters into her own hands and her handlers become suspicious, time is not on her side.

Fight to Survive publishes on June 20, and you can pre-order it now.

“Alan McDermott’s books are always fast paced, full of action, and hard to put down once started.”—Bill, Amazon reviewer of book two in the Eva Driscoll series, Seek and Destroy.

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Thursday teaser: Freckled

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A Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii

By Toby Neal

At preschool I heard the ladies talking about ESP. There are two kinds of ESP: the kind where you hear other people’s thoughts, and the kind where people can make other people do what they want just with their thoughts. 

I always listen to grownups so I can know things— “Elephant ears” Mom calls me. Grandma Gigi, Pop’s mom, believes in ESP too. “I can tell when you’re thinking about me, so that’s when I call,” Gigi says. She does usually call when we need something, and I love when her packages come in the mail, even though Pop grumbles that I’m getting spoiled.

I want to have the make-people-do-stuff kind of ESP.

We’re at dinner, and the sun has gone down behind the ocean. I can hear the surf outside; it’s coming up bigger with a shushing sound.

“Should be good tomorrow,” Pop says, sipping his beer. Because my dad’s a surfer, we always pay attention to what the surf is doing and the weather conditions. There’s “onshore,” which means the wind is in my face off the ocean and that’s bad for surf—I don’t really know why. Then there’s “offshore,” which is best to make the waves good, and “Konas,” which means the wind is light and from the side. 

Mom is sitting between Pop and me. Her tummy is super big, almost touching the table, and she’s wearing her favorite blue muumuu that she sewed herself. There are some oven-baked fries, special because they are not goodforyou, and fish Pop caught, and Mom’s salad with bean sprouts. We have white plates with a flower border, a milk bottle filled with daisies, Mom’s favorite flower, and everything is pretty and good.

Even after he smoked today, Pop was still grumpy. I can see how he’s feeling like a black cloud over his head. Bad things can happen when I make him mad, and I do that a lot because I’m noisy and too bouncy. I’m always trying to get him to like me and see that I’m smart and can do things as good as a boy. Because I was supposed to be a boy and be named James Theodore the Third. 

Mom and Pop didn’t know what to call me when I was a girl, so they named me Toby after the redheaded boy who runs away to the circus in a movie Mom watched at the hospital. I have no middle name because “when you’re old enough, you can choose your own middle name.” This worries me. How do I pick the right name? I wish I could just be named James Theodore the Third, even if I am a redheaded girl.

Maybe I can make Pop do something with ESP. 

PICK UP THE KETCHUP, I think. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. 

Pop looks up at me. His green eyes have red around them. The overhead light shines on his curling blond hair, going thin at the top. I stare at him, my lips moving, as I think as hard as I can—PICK UP THE KETCHUP.

“What are you looking at?” His voice is a low thunder sound. He narrows his eyes. I don’t look away or answer. He’s going to PICK UP THE KETCHUP any second now. I just know it!

“Stop staring at me.” Pop gets louder and seems to swell.

I can tell how mad he’s getting, but I stare until my eyes hurt because I can feel it almost working—he’s going to hear me any minute now. I don’t blink. I want to be scary: eyes wide, mouth tight, staring hard as I think PICK UP THE KETCHUP. I will make him do what I want!

“I said stop looking at me, disrespectful little brat!” He stands up and his chair flies back and lands on the linoleum with a thud. He’s enormous. 

My mom makes fluttery noises, but it’s too late. Roaring something I don’t hear, he comes around the table and whips me off the chair by my hair. I crash onto the floor and hold onto my head and use my legs to hold myself up, trying to keep from being dragged—it hurts so bad, as he hauls me down the hall, but I won’t cry. I’m stubborn like that. I’m not afraid of pain.

I’m still thinking, PICK UP THE KETCHUP. Like it’s going to save me. Like he can hear me.

But he doesn’t. 

**Download Freckled and continue reading now!**

🌺 Amazon US fb: tobyneal.net/Frfb
🌴 iBooks: tobyneal.net/Frib
🌺 Barnes & Noble: tobyneal.net/Frbn
🌴 Kobo: tobyneal.net/Frko
🌺 Google Play: tobyneal.net/Frgp
🌴 Paperback: tobyneal.net/Frppbk

Freckled

For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise.

We never call it homeless. We’re just “camping” in the jungle on Kauai…

We live in a place everyone calls paradise. Sure, Kauai’s beautiful, with empty beaches, drip-castle mountains, and perfect surf…but we’ve been “camping” for six months, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, and wearing camouflage clothes so no one sees us trespassing in our jungle hideout. The cockroaches leave rainbow colors all over everything from eating the crayons we left outside the tent, and now a tractor is coming to scrape our camp into the river.

Standing in front of the tent in my nightgown, clinging to my sister as we face the tractor, I know my own truth: I just want to be normal.

But Mom and Pop are addicted.

Addicted to Kauai’s beauty, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules out from under their high-achieving parents’ judgmental eyes. I’m just their red-headed, mouthy, oldest kid. What I want doesn’t matter.

But I’m smart. I will make a different life for myself someday if I keep up my grades no matter what happens.

No matter how often we run out of food.

No matter how many times I change schools…or don’t go to school at all.

No matter how many bullies beat me up for the color of my skin.

I might be growing up wild in Hawaii, but I have dreams I’m going to reach, no matter how crazy things get.

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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