The Top 10 Things I Learned Doing Research About Hawaii


It’s on my website, the “About Me” section of my blog, and my Facebook and Twitter pages, but some of you may not know how much I love Hawaii. I first went there on my honeymoon in 1995 and it’s been an obsession ever since. My third book, which is still without an official title, comes out next April (you’re right– I said it would be March, but things change and, unfortunately, I have no control over that) and you may or may not know that it’s set on the Island of Hawaii (yes, just like the state’s name. It can be confusing, so sometimes the island is referred to as the “Big Island”). It’s the story of Kailani, a sous chef living in Washington, D.C., who moves back home to her native island of Hawaii to take on the job of personal chef to a family of four. Beyond that, I don’t want to give much away because the book is still in the edits stages.

But I did tons of research for the book, and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite fun facts.

1. There has never been a case of rabies in Hawaii.

Learned that the hard way.

My husband and I were eating dinner in a nice restaurant (open-air) when a cat wandered up to our table. He (she?) was beautiful, gray and white, and I reached down to pet him. You know what happened next. So we called the ER when we got back to our room to see if I should go in for rabies shots and we were told, to my great happiness, that Hawaii is rabies-free.

2. Many years ago, Hawaiians brought mongoose (the plural of this word is up in the air–some say mongeese, some say mongooses, neither sounds right to me) to the islands to rid the land of rats.

What they didn’t realize is that mongoose are diurnal. And since rats are nocturnal, the two species have never met.

3. The state fish is something is called the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Say that ten times fast, or even one time slowly.

4. The Big Island is approximately double the size of the other seven major islands combined.

5. The Big Island has eleven of the thirteen climate zones in the world. Yes, there is snow in Hawaii. People actually ski and snowboard there, but only on the mountaintops.

6. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee.

7. There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and the words in the Hawaiian language are more fun to pronounce than any other in the world (this last part was my opinion, not actual searchable fact). See #3, above.

8. Hawaiian cowboys are called paniolos. Their culture is exciting and their history is diverse and they are responsible for some fabulous food and music that come from their mixed heritages.

9. The island of Moloka’i is where people with Hansen’s Disease, commonly known as leprosy, were sent forcibly until as recently as the 1960s. If you’re ever in search of a great read about this, pick up Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. It’s a beautifully-written, honest, and heartwrenching story about the leper colony on the island.

10. If you ever find a gecko indoors, don’t worry–they’re good luck!

Cockroaches, not so much.

11. BONUS! Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two mountains located on the Island of Hawaii, are the two largest mountains in the world when measured from the sea floor.

Hawaii 2013 015

Got any fun facts from somewhere you’ve been? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next week,


Book Recommendation: Senseless Acts of Beauty


It’s been a while since I posted a book recommendation on my blog, so I thought it was time for a new one. And do I have a good one for you.

Senseless Acts of Beauty by Lisa Verge Higgins is a beautifully-written story about friendship, loss, love, the passage of time, the emotional upheaval that can go hand-in-hand with adoption, and the secrets that can be unearthed when a child goes looking for his or her birth mother.

Sadie, a fifteen-year-old adoptee and runaway, is looking for her birth mother. Tess, a trucker to whom life hasn’t been kind, is looking for the daughter she gave up fifteen years ago. Their lives intersect in the town of Pine Lake at Camp Kwenbeck, a camp run by Riley Cross. Riley is an old friend of Tess and an adoptee herself. A towel from the camp is the only connection Sadie has to her birth mother and she has come to the camp looking for clues and a connection to her own past.

Sadie, full of anger and slow to trust, sees Tess as a threat.

Tess, full of memories and quick to don armor when faced with tough questions, is hell-bent on protecting Sadie from the runaway life that she led as a young adult.

Riley has her own problems, not the least of which are her overbearing but loving adoptive mother and her fight to keep Camp Kwenbeck afloat financially.

The book held my attention from the very first page. Lisa Verge Higgins has presented a raw and honest picture of what adoption can look like and the struggles that an adoptee can face when looking for a birth parent. The language is real and heartfelt, the pacing is just right, and the ending is exactly the way it has to be. The relationships among the three women in the story are complex and beautiful, but there are also other relationships explored in the book, too: between Riley and her mother, between Riley and her ex-husband, between Tess and her old nemesis in the Pine Lake police department, between Tess and her own mother, and between Sadie and her adoptive family. Each relationship is filled with rich, though not wordy, detail; each is a part of the lives that the women now lead.

If you’re looking for contemporary women’s fiction, either for yourself or as a gift to a woman in your life, consider Senseless Acts of Beauty. It was a bit of a break from the types of fiction I normally read, and I’m so glad I read it! I found Lisa Verge Higgins’s writing style similar to that of Kristin Hannah.

Incidentally, I won the book on a Facebook launch party. For those of you who may not be familiar with a FB launch party, it’s usually a three- or four-hour event that takes place entirely online. The author of the book being released hosts other authors and special guests on a dedicated FB page and fans are invited to ask the authors questions about anything–their books, where they like to go on vacation, what they like to eat, how they do their research, etc. The authors almost always have giveaways of their books or other book-related items to people who leave comments during the party, and I’m happy to say I’ve won several books this way. I highly recommend the FB launch party as a great way to learn about other authors and possibly snag some goodies!


Until next week,


My Homework Photos

As you may remember, a couple weeks ago I gave you some homework: visit someplace new. There were quite a few comments about places my intrepid readers wanted to go, and I’m wondering where you went and what you thought of it.

I’ll go first.

I went to Historic Cold Spring Village, a tiny settlement that was populated during the 1700s because of its proximity to — you guessed it — a cold spring. It was common for villages and towns to form around and near sources of fresh water so the inhabitants didn’t have to go far to get the water they needed for drinking and cooking and laundry.

Historic Cold Spring Village has a number of buildings that have been beautifully restored. There is a bookbindery, a tinsmithy, a woodworking barn, a blacksmithy,  a tavern, an inn, a school, a house, a general store, a pottery, a print shop, a broommaker’s shop, and a number of other buildings. There is, of course, a cold spring complete with pump handle and barrel. When my daughter and her friend were covered with soot from the blacksmith’s shop, we headed right to the spring to wash it off.

I designated my daughter the official photographer of our visit, so I’m sharing some of her pictures with you this week.

woodworking building at HCSV Woodworking building

tinsmith at HCSV Tinsmithy

small building at HCSV I actually don’t know what this small building was used for!

schoolhouse at HCSV Schoolhouse

blacksmith at HCSV Blacksmith

bookbindery at HCSV Bookbindery

tavern dining room at HCSV Tavern/Inn dining room

inn at HCSV Inn (tavern to the right, dining room to the left)

tavern at HCSV Tavern (women not allowed!)

rooster at HCSV

pig at HCSV

horse at HCSV

And last, but not least,

pump at HCSV the cold spring!

So, how did I do on my homework?

I’d love to hear what you did!

Until next week,


Amy Metz Interview


This week I welcome author Amy Metz, author of the Goose Pimple Junction books. I just recently downloaded the first book in the series, Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. Nice to have you here, Amy!

Interview Questions for Reade and Write

Tell me about your new book.

Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction is the second book in my Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. The main characters in this book are Martha Maye Applewhite and Johnny Butterfield. All of the same characters from the first book are back for this one, plus a few new ones. There are several mysteries to solve – some more sinister than others – and of course, someone has to die!

Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone who likes mysteries and has a sense of humor.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I’ve been told that the town itself is almost a character of its own, and that makes me very happy. Goose Pimple Junction is a combination of a couple of real life small towns and my imagination. I wanted a close-knit community with whacky characters and a beautiful, clean Southern town. I hope it’s a place readers would like to visit or live.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

I had a hard time coming up with a plot with this second book. I actually had a different killer in my first draft. And editing . . . don’t get me started!

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

I think Kathy Bates would be a great Louetta. Or Shirley McClain. But Louetta’s a heavy woman, in my mind, so maybe Shirley wouldn’t work. For the other characters, I just don’t know. I’m coming up blank.

Have you written any other books?

I’ve written the first book in the series, Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction (of course), and I’m writing the third book now. I also have a novelette just about finished up that explains a few things that happened in between the first and second books.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I was when I wrote Murder & Mayhem, but I’m not anymore. I do think they’re a great source of advice and support. I just don’t have time to properly participate right now.

Do you write every day?

In normal times, yes. My life is in total upheaval right now, so it’s been a while since I’ve written. I am itching to get back to it. I have a new character in mind, and he’s giving me all sorts of ideas.

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I love mysteries, and Robert B. Parker is my favorite author. I also like humor, so when an author combines mystery and humor, I’m hooked. David Rosenfelt and Dennis Hart do a really good job of that in their novels. Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Nelson DeMille . . . there are so many to love.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

To The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine. I’ll sit on the veranda overlooking the ocean, sip a cold drink, alternating from reading a book to photographing the beauty of the area and the activity on the water. Heaven.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Run, Forrest, Run!

What is your favorite movie and why?

Hmm…not sure I can pinpoint it to one. I love Princess Bride, O Brother, Where Art Thou, My Cousin Vinny. One really weird one that I love is Wild Wild West, with Kevin Klein and Will Smith. There are a lot of movies to love, too.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Follow your heart, but listen to your mind.

Describe yourself in three words.

Crazy old lady.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

Nope. I’ve been in the hot seat long enough!

Where can readers connect with you?






Where can readers find your books?

Right now they’re only at

Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction:

Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction: