The Islands of Aloha

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As you probably know, Hawaii is called The Aloha State. The word “aloha” actually has more than one meaning. It’s commonly used when greeting someone or going away from them, but it means more than “hello” or “farewell.” It also connotes love and affection. But more than that, its meaning is inextricably linked with the spirit of the Hawaiian people and the idea that life should be lived with respect, love, and gratitude for family, friends, the earth, the sea, fish and animals, and anything else that brings goodness to people. To live with the spirit of Aloha means that a person spreads joy, peace, and respect to others and is grateful for the aloha given in return.

You don’t have to be Hawaiian to spread aloha. My son was once scolded and lectured (he was 4) by a Hawaiian woman who was offended that he used the word “aloha” when he greeted her, a stranger. In truth, my son was the one exhibiting the aloha in that encounter. The woman spread no joy, treated a small boy with disrespect, and showed her contempt for anyone not obviously of Hawaiian descent using a Hawaiian word. But that didn’t stop my son from continuing to greet people in that manner. And he found that most people did respond with aloha- with smiles, kindness, and gratitude.

So now that you know a little about the use of the word “aloha,” I’d like to tell you a bit more about the Hawaiian islands.

Hawaii is made up of eight major islands and hundreds of tiny uninhabited islands and atolls. The southernmost island is the Island  of Hawaii, commonly called The Big Island. It’s where my new novel (available next Tuesday- woo hoo!), House of the Hanging Jade, is set. What makes the Big Island so fascinating are its climate zones- its mass contains almost every climate zone on earth. You can go from a polar climate (yes, it does snow in Hawaii!) to dry and arid to rainforest in a single day. The island also has a green sand beach (one of four in the world), and black sand beaches, too.

Pololu Valley

Moving north, you’ll see tiny Kaho’olawe, an uninhabited island which the US government used for target practice. There is always a cloud cover over Kaho’olawe. No one is allowed on the island without special permission, as there may still be unexploded ordinance on the island.

Next you’ll come to Maui. Also known as the Valley Isle, Maui is the home to Lahaina, a former whaling town and now a great place to stay, play, eat, and shop. Maui has the largest dormant volcano crater in the world, Haleakala. Seeing the sun rise over Haleakala is an unforgettable experience.

Breach

Not far off Maui’s western shore (just 9 miles!) is the island of Lanai, a sparsely-inhabited island with a population of just a few thousand. It’s commonly called the Pineapple Island, a nod to its important role in the history of the pineapple industry. It’s a dream destination for people who want quiet and calm- there are no traffic lights on the island!

North of Lanai and Maui is the Island of Molokai, which is probably best known as the place where a Hansen’s Disease settlement (often called a leper colony) was founded, just beyond the cliffs of Kalaupapa. Also called the Friendly Isle, Molokai is home to the world’s largest sea cliffs. Much of the population of Molokai are people of Native Hawaiian descent, and this is an island where Hawaiian culture thrives and lives on.

You can’t miss Oahu as you travel north from Molokai. Often referred to as The Gathering Place, Oahu lives up to its apt name. It is the most densely populated island in the Hawaiian archipelago and is home to Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu, as well as Pearl Harbor. It’s where you’ll find the only royal palace in the United States and where you’ll find major surfing championships along its legendary Banzai Pipeline.

North of Oahu is the Island of Kauai, or the Garden Isle. It’s a haven for people looking for spectacular mountains, valleys, rainforests, and otherwise stunning scenery. Kauai is home to one of the wettest spots on earth, Waialeale. Kauai is not as busy as the islands farther to the south, so it’s a great place to go if you want to relax and kick back without a lot of people around.

And finally, the last of the inhabited islands on your trip north through the archipelago is the Island of Ni’ihau, also called The Forbidden Island, a privately owned island with a population of under two hundred people. Visitors to the Hawaiian islands generally do not make the trip to Ni’ihau, as it is home to only Native Hawaiians. Its inhabitants speak Hawaiian and live without most of the conveniences we take for granted in the rest of the United States- including indoor plumbing, paved roads, cars, emergency services, and much more.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour of the Hawaiian Islands, and I hope your day is filled with the spirit of aloha which gives the islands their name.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. There’s still time to support my Thunderclap for the release of House of the Hanging Jade! Click here to sign up- Thunderclap does all the work!

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today (2)

Just Two More Weeks!

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today (2)

House of the Hanging Jade comes out in two weeks: at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26th. In case you’re counting (I know- I’m the only one who’s counting), that’s just 356 hours and 1 minute from the time this post goes live. So it’s time, don’t you think, for an excerpt? Maybe two?

***

I was still working for Geoffrey a couple weeks later, still floundering through the endless winter weather and finding our relationship a bit awkward. He made excuses to be wherever I was, whether it was in the kitchen or the basement of the restaurant or while I was coming to work or leaving work to go home. I was actively looking for a job on the Big Island, and didn’t want to return home without any employment prospects, but I was seriously beginning to consider going home without a job just to get away from Geoffrey. I had told all my friends and colleagues in DC and on the island of Hawaii that I was going back home; everyone wished me well.

One night I worked very late at the restaurant. I couldn’t catch a cab, so I had to walk home. I walked briskly on the dark sidewalk, trying to stay warm. I slipped on a patch of ice at one point, dropping my bag. As I stooped down to pick it up, I noticed a man walking not too far behind me. He had a toque pulled low over his forehead. I walked a little faster after that, not wanting to be the only woman on the street late at night. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed that the man walked a little more quickly too. A shiver of apprehension crept up the back of my neck. I ducked into a tiny twenty-four-hour grocery store and browsed for a few minutes, buying nothing, but giving the man plenty of time to walk past me and continue on his way.

When I went back outside, I looked left and right to make sure no one was following me. Seeing nobody, I kept walking, but it wasn’t long before I noticed the same man walking slightly behind me and on the other side of the street. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t because the sidewalks were too treacherous. All I could do was fumble for my cell phone and have it handy to call 911 if he came any closer. I looked over my shoulder again; he was crossing the street, walking a bit faster. I went faster too.

I took off my gloves and shoved them in my coat pocket so I could dial 911 quickly. I was almost in front of my building, pulling my phone out of my other pocket when I heard footsteps directly behind me. The man grabbed my elbow and I let out a cry.

“Kailani, it’s me.”

“Geoffrey! You scared me to death! What on earth are you doing?”

“I was just following you to make sure you made it home okay,” he said, still gripping my elbow.

“You’ve never done that before,” I said, my voice grating in irritation. “Why start now?”

“I was just concerned about you, that’s all.”

“Thank you, but I’m fine. Don’t ever do that again. You really scared me.”

“I’m sorry.”

I shook his hand off my elbow and walked away. As I unlocked the door to my apartment building, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, watching me. I shivered, but not from the cold. Now I really couldn’t wait to leave Washington. And Geoffrey.

***

I was crouched down, looking for a Dutch oven, when Akela came in. “Kailani, there’s someone here to see you.”

“Who is it?”

“He didn’t give his name. He’s waiting at the end of the driveway. The police wouldn’t let him come up to the house, so one of them came to escort you.”

I followed Akela to the front door, where an officer stood waiting. He explained that he and his partner could not allow anyone on the property and said he would take me to see my visitor. We walked in silence to the end of the driveway. Another officer was stationed by the large gate, and on the other side of it a tall man in shorts and a T-shirt stood with his back to me. Even before he turned around I knew who it was.

“Geoffrey? What are you doing here?” I asked, incredulous. I had only emailed him a couple times since leaving Washington, and none of those emails had included an invitation to visit or the location of my new job. I opened the gate slowly.

He turned to look at me, a big grin spread across his face. “Surprise!” He came forward and gave me a big hug. I pushed myself away gently.

“I can’t believe you’re here! What made you decide to come all the way to Hawaii?”

“You! What else?” I stole a glance at the officers, who were politely looking in the other direction.

“Wow. I’m flattered. I wish you’d told me you were coming, because I could have met you at the airport or something.” I faltered, searching for the right thing to say. I thought he had realized that I didn’t want to see him anymore. That he wasn’t part of my life in Hawaii the way he had been in Washington.

He stepped back a bit. “Is it okay that I’m here? I mean, do you mind? I just thought it would be a nice surprise.”

“Oh, no,” I assured him quickly. “It is a nice surprise. I just can’t believe you came all this way, that’s all. How did you know where to find me?”

“It’s a long story,” he said vaguely. I let that go for the moment.

“Why are the police here?” he asked.

“Someone died here last night.”

His eyes widened. “Really? Who?”

***

As release day approaches, I will be updating my blog about my blog tours (lots of giveaways!) and other places online where you can find excerpts of House of the Hanging Jade, other guest blogs, and interviews. I hope you’ll take a look!

And one more thing: I’m 51% of the way to my goal in my Thunderclap campaign! I hope you’ll consider lending me your voice of support on the day my book comes out- Thunderclap does all the work. All you have to do is click the link and sign up to support me on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr! Here’s the link: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/38945-be-a-part-of-a-book-birthday. And thank you!

Until next week,

Amy

 

Meet Phyllis Moore

 

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My guest this week is Phyllis H. Moore, author of Opal’s Story and the Sabine Trilogy. She’s here to discuss her newest release. Welcome, Phyllis!

Tell me about your new book.

My latest book is Tangled, A Southern Gothic Yarn. It is a saga of the Kirkland family, an east Texas oil tale of new money and bad blood. Nettie Randall, the newest generation and protagonist, is desperate to discover her father and try to redefine the Kirkland legacy. However, she is still tied to her dysfunctional mother, Delores Cecelia Kirkland and the haunted mansion built by Nettie’s great grandmother, Roberta. Nettie is sensitive to spirits, human and animal, and looks to these angels for guidance and information. She has choices to make, but she does not always distinguish between the heroes and the culprits.

Who is the audience for the book?

I think all of my books would appeal to women who enjoy fiction with some mystery, twists and a touch 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 live close to the fictional scene of my book. It is a sparsely populated rural area near the Texas coast between Houston and Beaumont. It is a productive oil field in close proximity to east Texas and the Louisiana border. When I worked as a social worker, I frequently rode the ferry from Galveston Island down the Bolivar Peninsula. I liked the birds and landscape of the area and made up stories in my mind about the families that might live in large houses down isolated roads. I am familiar with the beaches, storms and barriers to daily living in the area.

I did some research regarding life in New Orleans in the early 1900’s to formulate Nettie’s great grandparents and how they arrived in the area. The other characters I drew from my years of social work and situations I found families in during my visits.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Originally, I wrote the story from Nettie’s view point as a precocious child. After attending a writer’s conference, I decided to rewrite it from a third person point of view and change Nettie’s coming of age story to more of a reflection of her childhood. It was difficult to reimagine her older. I also added two characters. Weaving these characters into the story took time, but I enjoyed it and love the characters: Pup and Tess.

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

I envisioned people when I was writing and I clearly saw Margo Martindale from August Osage County, playing Mrs. Sophie and I saw Woody Harrelson as her husband, Joe. I am so out of touch with the young actresses, but Jennifer Lawrence or Abigail Breslin would be Nettie and DeCe would be Ashley Judd. DeCe is the most colorful character- and the most flawed.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, I have written a novel, Opal’s Story. It is set in west Texas, a place I visited often as a child. A tragic event occurs in the late 1940’s and a family has to deal with that history in preparation for the death of the central character in 2008. I have also written a trilogy, The Sabine Trilogy: Sabine, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

Yes, I am in three Facebook groups and talk with a group of self-published authors in my area.

Do you write every day?

I try to write every day. When I do, I write all day and I do not want to stop.

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

I like Fannie Flagg, Rebecca Wells, Rick Bragg, Jeanette Walls, and Kathryn Stockett. Women’s Fiction in the gothic style is what I enjoy most. Occasionally, I will pick up something my husband is reading in the thriller/suspense genre and I always enjoy it, but it is not what I am drawn to first.

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

Scotland. I want to look at castles, men in kilts and sit in a pub.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write and write, then write some more. Read From Where You Dream by Robert Owen Butler and then write again.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I like the old horror movies, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The movies before gore and blood became popular and Bette Davis wore gauzy gowns and red lips. Anything by Alfred Hitchcock. Those remind me of my childhood.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy your skin and body because it is going to be downhill . . . and pay attention to what you enjoy and do that. Follow your passion.

Describe yourself in three words.

Gardener, reader and writer.

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

I began writing three years ago when I was sixty. I had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I do. Then when I started thinking about publishing what I had written, I soon found I may not have time to wait for agents, editors, etc. I made the decision to self-publish. I have learned to format, design covers, and this marketing thing. The things I have learned about social media and algorithms boggle my mind and I still don’t understand it, but there are new things to learn every day. It has been a learning curve of major proportions, but a terrific ride.

Here’s a bio I’d like to share with my readers about you, Phyllis:

Phyllis H. Moore is a retired social worker. She has reinvented herself twice since retirement in 2004. Her first reinvention was to own and operate a bed and breakfast with her husband for seven years. You never know people until you sleep with them. After selling the B & B, they moved to a cabin in the country and she began to write three years ago. Phyllis lives on a small ranch with her husband and their adopted terrier, Ollie Bubba. They also claim a gopher-eating feral cat. Phyllis enjoys travel, reading, gardening, writing, and visiting her adult children on Galveston Island, Texas

Where can readers connect with you?

http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://www.facebook.com/phyllishmooreAuthor/

http://www.pinterest.com/corazon

https://www.Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6047212.Phyllis_H_Moore

https://www.twitter.com/phyllishmoore

Where can readers find your books?

http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

Thank you so much, Phyllis, for visiting Reade and Write. Readers, do you have any questions for Phyllis? Please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

And before you leave, please consider lending me your voice for the release next month of my new novel, House of the Hanging Jade. I’ve set up a Thunderclap campaign. It’s like an online flash mob. It’s easy to participate. You just click on this link: http://thndr.me/RgNkzh and sign up to support House of the Hanging Jade through your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account. It doesn’t cost you a cent and Thunderclap doesn’t share your information or do any other nasty thing. On April 26th, release day, a blurb hits your feed that says you support the House of the Hanging Jade Book Birthday. Thank you!

Until next week,

Amy