When Maddie’s father catches her with a boy, he hauls her into town in a pig wagon and finds her a husband. But Peter’s cabin in the woods promises something very different than Maddie’s happily ever after.
Pretty Things, a retelling of “The Robber Bridegroom,” is the first novella in the Grimm Chronicles series. Warning: not your granny’s fairytales!
In the heat of the desert, Detective Cody Oliver inadvertently stumbles upon a strange garden adorned with exotic flowers. Upon closer inspection, he finds the garden is but a cover for the scores of bodies buried below. Soon, the small town of Mt. Dessicate plunges into chaos as journalists, reporters, and cameramen from across the nation descend upon the tiny, desert town to get a piece of the action.
Along with the media, a mysterious woman appears—she may be the only person who has come face to face with the killer, dubbed the Botanist, and lived to tell the tale. If Cody can’t piece together a timeline of the land the crime scene is located on, decipher how the woman’s mysterious past is connected to the killer, and bring the Botanist to justice, he may lose the people he values most.
When a young location scout from Hollywood dashes into a local Hawaiian bar, she bites off a little more than she can chew. Set in Hawaii with a hint of ancient mythology, Tourists is a companion story to the Niuhi Shark Saga and is intended for adults. Like the woman in the story, there’s no long-term commitment here. Tourists is a quick coffee break and dessert read.
Available in eBook from Amazon.
This is an article I wrote for Tales From Pasifika. Also my first ever selfie. I don’t think my arms are long enough!
I was walking through Dick’s Sporting Goods in Salt Lake City, Utah, when I saw it hanging on the back wall: a ski jacket with the same bird of paradise print my tutu had on her couch cushions in the ‘70s. Like a teri beef plate lunch special it called to me. My daughter was appalled. “You are NOT wearing that, Mom. No way!”
“It’s reversible, right?” my son asked.
My husband shrugged. “At least we’ll be able to find you in a crowd.”
I bought it.
And I wore it. For about a week it clashed with everything and everyone, as out of place as an aloha shirt at—well, a ski slope. When you’re an ex-pat Hawaiian living near world-class winter sporting grounds it can be hard to find the aloha spirit in the middle of January.
I tried not to care. I ignored the stares and snickers and carried my childhood wrapped around me like a blanket. But one day I caved and reversed it.
“What’s up with your coat?” my son asked.
“It’s like me. I’m wearing my Hawaiian on my inside.”
He tilted his head. “Yeah, but unlike your coat you’re not even brown on the outside.”
Through a genetic quirk my youngest sister and I inherited our mother’s super fair northern European coloring while my other sister and brother have our father’s mixed Hawaiian heritage of medium brown hair, eyes, and skin.
I’m not going to lie to you. As the only blond, blue-eyed kid in the entire school district in Kahului, Maui it was rough. Unlike every other Hawaiian family I’ve known, my dad was an only child from a family of only children—and from Oahu. I didn’t have a huge ohana of cousins calabash or otherwise on Maui to vouch for me. It was easy to be the target from the teachers and principal on down.
No lie. People go to jail now for what they did to me in elementary school. But Maui was a different time and place back then. At least I like to think so.
There’s a disconnect that happens in your head when you’re beaten for being an outsider by kids who are descendants of sugarcane and pineapple workers from Asia when your ancestors farmed taro in those same fields for hundreds of years. But on the playground nobody cares about those kinds of distinctions. It’s all about freckles and the need for sunscreen.
For a year or two after school while waiting for my mom to get off work, I went to a house where the father carved traditional ki‘i—tiki statues—and the grandmother spoke beautiful Hawaiian with her friends under the shade of mango trees. They were patient with me—the gangly haole girl who watched with big eyes and listen to the melodious voices rolling like water over her head. Sometimes they would tell me stories about Hawaiian history, culture, legends, and traditions. I soaked them up like a sponge.
After my family moved back to Oahu, I was accepted into The Kamehameha Schools and that changed my life. I didn’t have to fight so hard to belong because everyone knew I wouldn’t be there if I didn’t. At Kamehameha I learned more about what it means to be a modern Hawaiian, and like my classmates, promised to perpetuate our culture in positive ways. Our princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop had given us the precious gift of an education; we therefore have an obligation to be her hands and pass aloha along.
I write the Niuhi Shark Saga and other stories for island kids who never see themselves or their families in popular literature. So much about Hawaii has been rewritten by Hollywood and that’s tragic. There is a need for authentic Pasifika voices to tell our stories, and I hope to add to the conversation in my small way.
When people read the words, they hear a Hawaiian voice. But when I show up at a book signing or appearance that disconnect happens again. “You’re Lehua? From The Kamehameha Schools? No way!” I don’t think anyone ever gets used to being called a liar within the first few minutes of meeting a stranger, but I smile and roll with it. I’ve thought about putting my dark-haired sister’s photo on the back of my books and sending her to out into the world as Lehua, but I know that wouldn’t be pono. And for a Hawaiian, living a life that’s pono—a life in harmony with what is good, noble, and true in thought, action, and deed—is our deepest aspiration.
Like many of my classmates, I went to the mainland for college and stayed to raise a family—a family of towheads like me with looooong Hawaiian middle names. And I worry about that.
Every year I grind my teeth when the local grocery store hosts its Hawaiian days with samba music from Brazil, masks from Papua New Guinea, paper flowers from India, and calls anything with pineapple Hawaiian. In the summer neighbors are keen to throw luaus where they wear cellophane grass skirts, fake coconut bras, and serve Hawaiian haystacks—a truly vile concoction of shredded chicken, raw veggies, coconut chips, long-grained rice, and Campbell’s cream of chicken soup. About the time they bring out the limbo stick and form a conga line is when I sneak home. I know I should be more gracious, but it’s hard.
I insist my kids call flip-flops slippahs, snow cones shave ice, and understand that true aloha is colorblind. I wonder if I’m going to be the last generation in my family that remembers how Maui captured the sun, when the makahiki season starts, and why haloa is the staff of life. But then I hear about how my son called out his AP World Geography teacher about comments he found derogatory and inappropriate about Polynesians—and insisted on an apology. When the teacher balked and called him a poser, my son told his teacher to look at his middle name and offered to have his mother come in and explain real Hawaiian history to the class.
Maybe I won’t be the last after all.
Anthologies are the ultimate pupu platter, a delightful cornucopia of unconventional flavors and textures served in bite-sized morsels. Meant to be shared, they are the perfect literary tray from which to sample new writers and new voices, to explore new worlds, to boldly go where no reader has gone before—no, wait a minute; that’s Star Trek. But the principle’s the same.
Like all origin myths, the humble beginnings of the Secret Door Society and the creation of its first anthology, Secrets & Doors, began with a ragtag group of over-caffeinated sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts who saw through the shimmer of a transporter’s beam and the sheen of an elven blade the barest glimmer of a true storyteller’s power to change the world.
Don’t believe me? Consider the impact of the daily news, advertising, history, religion, movies, novels, and art in all its forms. Do you deserve a break today? Notice that backpack unattended on the subway and get a little nervous? What about the homeless man over there lying on the bench or the stranger stranded with a flat tire along the side of the road?
All of these scenarios trigger stories within us, stories about enjoying a burger instead of cooking, the dangers of terrorism, and even what it means to have charity. We internalize these stories until they literally and figuratively shape our perceptions of the world—and perceptions determine behavior.
From our earliest memories it is through stories that we learn to see the world clearly, both the grittiness of reality and a hint of the possible other. In stories our imaginations are engaged, and we begin to dream of a different sort of reality, a reality where space travel is practical, where fairies grant wishes, and people celebrate diversity instead of squashing it.
When enough people hold the same dream, that dream can transform the world. The end of slavery. The right to vote. The right to worship or not worship according to the dictates of one’s heart. The right of a child to be raised in love and not anger. The list is endless, but each begins with a vision of a different future. No wonder John wrote, “In the beginning there was the Word.”
That motley crew of writers meeting at Barnes & Nobles and Starbucks were soon joined by editors, publishers, and illustrators in a clandestine cabal and thus the Secret Door Society was formed. Together they realized that through the power of words not only could people be entertained, but a greater good could be served.
That’s why the proceeds of their first anthology, Secrets & Doors, benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The JDRF is dedicated to eradicating Type 1 Diabetes, a terrible medical condition that currently has no cure. T1D kids face a lifetime of insulin injections and blood test monitoring along with increased health risks that can lead to blindness, amputation, and early death. 100% of the net profits from the sale of Secrets & Doors in both eBook and paperback go toward the fight against juvenile diabetes.
The power of words can change the world.
As Captain Picard says, engage.
Secrets & Doors is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories by the Secret Door Society, a philanthropic organization of amazing people who also happen to be authors, editors, illustrators, and publishers. All of the proceeds from this book are going to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in their quest to cure Type One Diabetes (T1D).
The cover was designed by Faun Jackson, a fine arts photographer who moonlights as a librarian. Published by Crimson Edge Publishing, Secrets & Doors is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon.
From the back of the book:
Open the door and unlock the secrets in eleven short stories from The Secret Door Society, an organization of fantasy and science fiction authors dedicated to charitable work. All proceeds from this anthology benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in their quest to cure Type One Diabetes (T1D).
In these pages you’ll discover a modern woman trapped in an old fashioned dreamscape, a futuristic temp worker who fights against her programming, a beautiful vampire’s secret mission disrupted by betrayal, a sorcerer’s epic battle against a water dragon, the source of magical mirrors—and more. There are tales for every science fiction and fantasy taste, including new works from award-winning authors Johnny Worthen, Lehua Parker, Christine Haggerty, and Adrienne Monson.
Join us in the fight against T1D as you peek into a world of magical and mysterious doorways—if you dare.
Quick note: while all proceeds benefit children, this one’s for adult readers of science fiction and fantasy.
I wrote a gritty short story called Red. It’s published in a collection of western horror by Griffin Publishers and available as a trade paperback and eBook through Amazon and other retailers. It’s not for the faint of heart–my son refused to read past the opening paragraphs because–well, he’s a gentle soul and at first this story is shocking and raw, but there’s a pay-off that puts the whole thing in a different light. I’ll be signing copies in February at LTUE and advanced copies will be available in January at FanX in Salt Lake City, UT.
From the back of the book:
The West has always been a symbol of the wild frontier, rugged adventure, and dangerous exploration. However, if it wasn’t for fear of the unknown, the West would just be another cardinal direction. Old Scratch and Owl Hoots delves into that fear and captures it in fourteen tales of terror set in the West ranging from the 1800s to the present day. Take a gander inside and you’ll find stories dealing with… …a strange creature on Antelope Island that can never satisfy its hunger… …a young girl kidnapped by highwaymen; but she carries a dangerous secret… …a woman’s vacation to Zion National Park that takes a dark turn when she can’t stop hearing the cries of a newborn baby… …an outlaw on the run from Porter Rockwell who finds more than he bargains for in the Utah wilderness… …a war veteran who carries a darkness inside him that threatens his very own family. Experience these stories and more in Old Scratch and Owl Hoots. All the stories in the anthology are written by authors with Utah connections. Some are veterans at the craft, while others are making their debut. Cozy up next to a campfire and delve into these fourteen stories and find out why it’s dangerous to be out and about in the West when the sun goes down.
I admit it. This year Christmas sneaked up on me. No decorations went up in the house until December 21st. A lone wreath my husband bought at Costco after Thanksgiving was propped on a sofa table for weeks waiting for someone to find a door hanger. The weather was the weirdest ever; in prime ski country we had no snow until early Christmas morning—a result, I am certain, of the fervent prayers of foolish people who believe in the necessity of a white Christmas.
But I digress. We’re supposed to be talking about poi here.
No snow, no decorations, no surprise that it was Dec. 23rd when my husband and I were frantically trying to get all the shopping done, shopping that I used to pat myself on the back for finishing before Thanksgiving. (My younger self was such an overachiever.) I’d invited my parents and my brother for Christmas dinner and now needed to figure out what to serve.
“Something simple,” my son requested. “Something good that can sit in an oven while we play cards.”
“You mean like a roast?”
“Yeaaahhhh.” Not too enthusiastic.
I thought some more. “How about a pork roast? I’ll make it kalua style.”
“Perfect!” He grinned.
What can I say? The kid loves Hawaiian food.
Running our last minute errands, my husband and I’d bought the roast, cabbage, and sweet rolls. Liquid smoke and alaea salt were already in the pantry. Rice, I thought, steamed yams, carrots for those who hate yams, haupia—I have two cans of coconut milk and cornstarch. What else?
Oh, no. “Uh, Kevin?”
“We need to run to a few more places. There’s just one thing I need to pick up for Christmas dinner.”
“Poi?” The car came to a screeching halt. “It’s Dec. 23rd!”
“I can’t serve a traditional Hawaiian dinner—”
“Without poi. I get it. At least we’re in Provo. You better pray somebody got a holiday care package they’re willing to share.”
Our first stop was L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. L&L Drive-Inn in Hawaii is plate lunch place the serves all the best local foods. In Provo I found it to be hit or miss—mostly miss.
I walked up to the counter, scanning the menu for poi.
“Can I help you?” asked the perky girl with long black hair pinned with a fake plumeria.
“Yeah.” I pointed to the tip cup taped to the cash register. “I’d like some poi to go, about that much.”
“Poi? You mean that kalua pork?”
I blinked. That kalua pork? “No, poi.” She looked at me blankly. “It’s mashed taro root.” Still nothing. “It’s greyish/purplish and thick like a paste.”
“Uh…” She yelled over her shoulder to the cook. “¿Tenemos poi?”
“Poi. ¿Hay poi?”
You have got to be kidding me. My husband saw the look in my eye, grabbed my arm, and shook his head. He slowly backed me away from the counter.
“¿Que es poi?”
Another voice from the back said, “No hay.”
“Sorry,” she called, but by that time he had me half-way out the door with a kung fu death grip on my shoulder.
For their own safety, of course.
Our next stop was a pacific rim/Asian market called Food From Many Lands. When I was in college it was the place to buy calrose rice, rice cookers, shoyu, kakimochi, and dubious Portuguese sausage. The same Chinese proprietor very kindly told me she didn’t carry poi, but the 7-11 next door was owned by a Hawaiian man who might know where I could get some.
Back in the car we jumped. Down the road was another Hawaiian food place called Sweets. When I walked in the beautiful young woman behind the counter began uncovering trays of teri chicken, beef stew, and other plate lunch staples. Hawaiian, I thought, hapa-haole and maybe some Samoan or Tahitian. “Hi,” I said, “I’m looking for poi. Do you have any?”
A panicked stare. “Um…”
Raised on the mainland. Bummers.
She disappeared in a flash.
Another beautiful Hawaiian woman came from the back, the girl’s mother perhaps, and eyed us with The Look. I knew it well. It was the look Hawaiians reserve for crazy haoles who had lived TDY at Schofield Barracks or Wheeler Army Airfield for a year and thought that made them Hawaiian. She spoke carefully and slowly. “We don’t have poi today.”
“Oh. Do you know where we could get some?”
“Try the Hawaiian 7-11.”
Hawaiian 7-11? Another round of send the haoles on a wild nene chase? Seeing the confusion on my face, she continued.
“It’s just up the block. They might have some in the freezer.”
“The Hawaiian 7-11?”
“Oh, yeah. He has all kinds of things there—poi, laulau—”
“Laulau? No way.”
She laughed. “Check it out.”
When we pulled up to the 7-11, I was disappointed. Nothing about it said Hawaii, no signs about deliciousness available inside, no throngs of Pacific islanders standing in line for last minute stocking stuffers. I walked through the entire store and saw nothing out of the ordinary—just coffee, burritos, chips, candy, gum.
Then my husband called from the other side of the cash register, the part of the store that looked like employee-only storage. “You gotta see this.”
And there it was. A freezer case with char siu manapua, red Redondo’s hot dogs, S&S Saimin, a pink slab of kamaboku fish cake, laulau, cubed ahi for poke, spicy and mild Portuguese sausage—and frozen 1 lb. bags of Taro Brand poi.
Next to the freezer were mostly empty shelves (it was Christmas, after all), but there were a few bags of crackseed, kakimochi, jars of guava jelly, and li hing mui powder. I grabbed lemon peel, dark arare, rock salt plum, dried cuttle fish, cream crackers, spicy sausage, and two pounds of poi. I handed my credit card to the clerk and tried not to gulp at the total.
It was Christmas after all. Well, Dec. 23rd. And everyone knows two day poi is the best!
The fun-sized candy calls eat me, eat me, eat me to Josey Brackenburg. No, she resists, but an hour later Josey heaves herself behind the steering wheel trailing empty wrappers like breadcrumbs. Gotta start line-drying my jeans, she thinks. Stupid dryer’s shrinking them.
In her grocery cart she chases apples with caramels, adds popsicles for their sticks, and stacks cases of soda underneath—no diet-death chemicals allowed in her house, thank you very much. Rounding the bakery, pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies leap off the shelves, perfect for midnight snacking. Not until Piggly-Wiggly’s checkout does she remember. Halloween. She needs more candy.
With twenty bags jammed in the trunk, Josey hitches herself back into the driver’s seat, popping the button on her jeans. Cruising past the drive-thru, she scans the line stretching around the block and reluctantly parks. No time to wait. Waddling in, she super-sizes her biggie fries. Hot grease and salt sizzle as she drags them through her peanut-butter malt.
Catching her eye, Annie hefts her triple burger. “It’s perfectly normal to gain a few pounds before winter,” Annie laughs. “We’ll diet later!”
Josey pats her swelling muffin top. “Carrots sticks and rice crackers in January,” she grins. “But through the holidays let’s all get fat and happy!”
In space Zargog adjusts a dial. “You’re right, Captain. The mountain species are more susceptible than the coastal varieties. Scans also show fewer contaminates.”
“Excellent. Inform Chef the calorie ray is optimized. Harvest Fest will commence as scheduled.”
Zargog smacks his lips.
Heart of Annihilation by C.R. Asay is an electrifying military black ops thriller with a sci-fi twist that challenges ideas of nature vs. nature and cold war politics.
It’s a little complicated, so bear with me. U.S. Army Specialist Kris Rose has her own hidden agenda when she’s plunged into a military secret. She discovers that our world is home to several societies living in different dimensions with different technologies and philosophies. The most advanced is 13 and it’s been known not to play well with others. Someone in number 12 has developed a weapon—the Heart of Annihilation—that has the potential to take care of number 13’s proclivity to end other dimensions.
12’s a mannered, pacifist society, so there’s some (ahem) disagreement between factions about whether or the Heart of Annihilation is a good thing. Most of the time, 12’s solution to conflict is a quick serenity break. For those who can’t chillax, 12 relocates them to a penal colony more their speed—our everyday world. Medium bad guys keep their memories. Really bad ones gets the ultimate reboot with their memories wiped and are regressed back to infants. They aren’t human, but can usually pass.
Did I mention the Heart of Annihilation is lost?
You can see where all of this is heading.
C.R. Asay’s own military experience shines as so many of the details from wounds to the interior of a C-130 to tactical mind-sets are spot on. Lovers of stories within stories will find much to enjoy here along with a lot of shoot-‘em-up-cloak-and-dagger action. As fun as the guns and camaraderie are, it’s really a story that explores the nature of evil and questions how much a person can be nurtured away from destiny.
With such big concepts and worlds to explore, Heart of Annihilation is the first in a series. Looking forward to the next book!
Facebook: C.R. Asay