Talking Story

Adult Fiction


Daughters of Fire by Tom Peek is an epic speculative novel set in contemporary Hawaii. Like a local plate lunch special, it’s a mix of many different genres, an unexpected combination of flavors and tastes that work well together. It’s a romance. It’s a murder mystery. It’s a political thriller. It’s a social commentary on traditional Pacific vs. western world views. It’s a speculative tale of ancient gods and goddesses, curses, prophecies, and traditions. It spans everything island-style from mo’o legends to bento boxes and from the politics of lounge singing to the politics of international stargazing.

On the surface, Daughters of Fire is the story of three strong Hawaiian women: an anthropologist who works with corporate developers to identify and preserve ancient sites, an elderly traditional healer and seer, and a young Hawaiian rights activist. The stories intertwine as a murder occurs, a controversial mega-tourist resort opens, legalize gambling rears its head, and reports of an imminent volcanic eruption are hidden from the public.

Despite its convoluted storylines, it’s an easy, entertaining read. Readers familiar with the landscape and culture will appreciate the authenticity and those new to Hawaii will get a taste of the complexity of island culture without feeling lost. If you’re looking for a book to take on a trip—or to remember your Big Island vacation—this one satisfies.

tom_peekDaughters of Fire by Tom Peek is published by Koa Books and is available as a trade paperback or eBook.

Get the book on Amazon

Connect with Tom Peek


Being a kid is complicated. There are rules, most of them unwritten, unspoken even, and heaven help you if you can’t unlock the secret code. Darrell H.Y. Lum not only has the key to the boy’s room in his collection of short stories in Pass On, No Pass Back!, he also has the contraband cigarettes.

And maybe a little something else.

The title refers to a kids’ game I remember well: somebody punches you in the arm, yells, “Pass on, no pass back!” and you have to find someone else to slam and pass it on. The playground politics in who you hit and how hard would make the UN weep. And Lum gets it.

Better yet, he helps us get it.

To anyone who grew up in Hawai‘i, Lum’s characters feel real. There’s tales of da Bag Man, karate class, scouts, toads, and mongooses from hell that still give me chicken skin. The stories are written in Hawaiian Pidgin English, a welcome sound of home for native speakers that adds another layer of authenticity to his words. Non-Pidgin speakers will have a tougher time, but it’s worth the work.

As a bonus there are also the comic strip adventures of Booly, Bullette, and Burrito by Art Kodani.

If you’re looking for authentic island writing, Pass On, No Pass Back! is fantastic.

Pass On, No Pass Back! by Darrell H.Y. Lum is published by Bamboo Ridge Press and available as a trade paperback from the publisher, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.


When emigrants came to Hawai‘i they brought their food, their traditions, their languages—and their supernatural beings. Like the humans, the supernatural beings mixed and mingled with the locals and resulting stew is a ghost story hunter’s feast.

Obake Files by Glen Grant is a collection of his scholarly research into Hawai‘i’s supernatural world culled from first hand experiences, archives, and newspaper accounts over 25 years. The spine-tingling, chicken-skin tales are told in a matter of fact tone that makes them far scarier than any horror novel. You’ll find stories of fireballs, haunted houses and buildings, calling and choking ghosts, night marchers, ancestral bones, and modern encounters with Hawaiian gods and goddesses.

As any Hawaiian will tell you, there’s more to our world than meets the eye. Grant’s collection is reminiscent of the stories I heard—and the things I experienced—living in Hawai‘i. The encounters are broken into short entertaining segments perfect for on the go, got a minute reading.

Obake Files by Glen Grant is published by Mutual Publishing and available as a paperback directly from the publisher, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Liesel_HillLiesel Hill’s debut novel, Persistence of Vision, is available! At the tail end of her blog tour, I asked her about her experience. These were her thoughts.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Lehua! As my first blog tour, spreading word of my debut novel, Persistence of Vision, draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on it a great deal. Have I learned lessons? Oh, you betcha. Some good (the questions interviewers ask can give you new insight into your own story) and bad ones (not all bloggers are as dependable as you’d hope) but overall, I’m happy to say that I’ve had a great experience and have a positive outlook for future tours.

I thought today I’d share a few pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned along the way.

1)      Reminder emails are your friends! If you have a ridiculously long tour (more than a month long) many people will probably forget about their tour stop. As much as I wish all people were meticulous as I am about dates and record-keeping, people are human and even I let things slip through my fingers sometimes. Wake up to reminders.

2)      Brainstorm a list of things to guest post about and don’t agree to more guest posts than you can come up with. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing quite a few guest posts on the same subject. Also, don’t agree to more than a handful of author interviews unless you know the questions are unique beforehand. Otherwise, you will also end up answering a lot of the same questions. In short, you get to know yourself VERY well. 😀

3)      A little kindness and common courtesy, especially where bloggers hosting you are concerned goes a long way. ‘Nuff said.

4)      When you’re feeling bogged down by writing, reading, editing, blog tour posts and regular posts, and dozens of emails every morning, well, dark chocolate can really perk you up.

So, if you ever find yourself embarking on a long, intimidating blog tour, make sure to prepare for lots of (friendly and tasteful) reminder emails, a plethora of blogging ideas, an awesome attitude, and plenty of endorphin-inducing sweets.

A special thank you to Lehua and all those who’ve been so helpful to me on my first blog tour. You’ll never know how much I appreciate it. Here’s to debut novels and the lengths we go to to get them read. Cheers!

book_cover_per_visionPersistence of Vision, Book 1 of Interchron, written by Liesel K. Hill and published by Tate Publishing is available in paperback and eBook. Click here for the link.

Connect with Liesel



Twitter: @lkhillbooks


Hawaiian Pidgin, as a language, is raw. It communicates on a visceral, no shibai level, cutting to the heart of the matter with a few quick words in an inflection that can leave you bloody on the floor. There’s a reason my kids don’t worry if I’m scolding in English; they know when I’m really mad the Pidgin comes out.

Significant Moments in da Life of Oriental Faddah and Son, One Hawai‘i Okinawan Journal by Lee A. Tonouchi is a powerful collection of epic poems written in Hawaiian Pidgin that tell the complicated story of multigenerational family relationships. It’s a semi-autobiographical journey from childhood into adulthood that made me laugh out loud, cry, and shake my head at Tonouchi’s very personal experiences that are on many levels so universal.

Tonouchi’s mastery of Pidgin rings true to the ear and heart with an eye for the significant detail that conveys pages of meaning in a few well-chosen phrases. I’ve never met Tonouchi, but I know his voice. I’m sure we hung out at the swings at Kahului Elementary, played shambattle at Summer Fun, and hid behind the oleander bushes at neighborhood backyard kanikapila jam sessions talking story, playing trumps, and swapping Diamond Head strawberry sodas.

Fo’real. His poetry is that good. If you’re a native Pidgin speaker, this book is a treasure.

Oriental Faddah and Son by Lee A. Tonouchi, published by Bess Press is available as a trade paperback directly from the publisher, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble and most stores where books are sold in Hawai‘i.

book_cover_per_visionImagine you wake up in Las Vegas to discover you’re missing hours in a blackout that you fear is the result of a drugged assault. Now imagine that a few months later, just when you’re finding your groove, you get attacked again, but this time you’re rescued by a mysterious stranger who takes you to a remote location and tells you that he’s from the future.

Yeah, Maggie had a tough time with that one, too.

Past, present, and future blend a little in this series and a good portion of the beginning of the novel is taken up with explaining it all. Maggie was scooped from her original timeline and taken to the future where she was part of a rebellion fighting against the big collectives, hive-like mind control groups who have mastered time travel and want to enslave all humans throughout history. She lived and fought with the rebels for a year developing strong bonds as friends, family, and even the love of her life. Maggie got captured during a mission and had her mind erased, so she has no memories of her year with the rebels. Once rescued, the rebels decided that this was the perfect time to return her to her original timeline, resulting in the missing hours and bruises she couldn’t explain back in Las Vegas. Now for her own safety and to protect the ultimate destiny of mankind, she’s been scooped back into the rebel’s timeline. She’s surrounded by people who know her intimately who she doesn’t remember at all, fighting against the collectives in a highly specialized team.

There’s a lot to chew on in this book. There are elements in this series that echo some of the deeper mythologies in classic science fiction series like Dune. Readers who like to get into the nuances of how things work and what makes people tick will enjoy it—it’s an intellectually satisfying read. Once the backstory comes out, the pace picks up substantially and the pay-off’s good.

Persistence of Vision, Book 1 of Interchron, written by Liesel K. Hill and published by Tate Publishing is available in paperback and eBook. Click here for the link.

Liesel_HillConnect with Liesel



Twitter: @lkhillbooks


This week’s blog is an interview with debut author Adrienne Monson whose book Dissension, Book 1 in The Blood Inheritance Trilogy, was published by Jolly Fish Press on  Feb. 23, 2013. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other fine bookstores.

Okay, Adrienne, let’s start with the tough questions. If you knew you were going to be stranded on a tropical island a la Survivor, which five books would you sneak in your backpack and which five essentials would you kick out to bring them?

This is a tough one, because I’d want to take five different series with me, not just five books. So after thoughtful consideration, I guess I’d go with the following:

  1. Ender’s Shadow, by Orson Scott Card
  2. Ransom, by Julie Garwood
  3. Pale Demon, by Kim Harrison
  4. The China Bride, by Mary Jo Putney
  5. Knife of Dreams, by Robert Jordan

As for essentials I’d replace them with, that’s also tough because it depends on what you consider essentials. So here’s what I consider essentials I could live without in order to enjoy a great book:

  1. Makeup (Who cares if you’re stranded on an island anyway, right?)
  2. Floss (I’m sure I can figure out a way to make leaves into string or something.)
  3. Hair accessories (As long as I have a brush, I don’t need anything else.)
  4. Phone (I doubt I’ll get reception anyway)
  5. Extra shirts (I’ll just wash the one I’m wearing.)

Yeah, make-up would be the first thing to go for me, too. It’s a great day when I don’t have to put mascara on! Also, thanks for recommendations; there are a couple of books on your list I haven’t read yet that must be awesome. Now if I could only get stranded somewhere with books and chocolate and no cell phone…

With all the many hats you wear—Mom and wife being just two of them—how do you find the time to write?

Don’t remind me! It’s definitely something you have to MAKE time for. If you’re waiting for free time to fall into your lap, it won’t. But I utilize sleeping time. My kids have an early bed time, so I do most of my work then. I also have a fabulous husband that’s more than willing to take the kids out for an hour or two while I’m trying to meet deadlines. But mostly, I just stay up later than the rest of my family to write. Yes, I lose sleep and am looking forward to the day when my youngest will go to school, but I make it work. 🙂

I’m a night owl, too. Do you work on one writing project at a time or do you have several irons in the fire?

I try (try!) to stay focused on the one that needs to be turned into the publisher next, but if I get ideas for my next WIP, I will definitely take the time to write notes on that novel so I don’t forget.

Vampires vs. Sharks. Who’d win the smackdown? No, seriously, our series both have a dark side. How do you tap into your inner blood sucker?dissension_cover

Gotta say vampires, here, Lehua! But I am biased. 😉 This question is ironic to me because I am a fun, upbeat kind of woman. I am good at thinking positively and don’t really like watching gory movies. However, I obviously have a dark side that emerges when I’m writing. If you’ve read my short stories on my website, you would think I’m seriously twisted. And, I guess I am – my darkness just comes out in an artistic way. As far as how I tap into that, I don’t really. It just rises to the surface as I write. Sometimes, I even disturb myself to the point that I need to watch a comedy after I’ve written a particularly dark scene. (Don’t worry readers, I’m not graphic in my writing or anything, but in my head, I see all the gory details.)

Reminds me of a story I once read about a man who made gruesome art, but was kind. Villagers complained about his art, so he starting making cherubs and became really mean. Maybe we’re letting our inner demons out through our books!

Dissension, Book 1 of the Blood Inheritance Trilogy, was published Feb. 23, 2013. Books 2 and 3 are titled Defiance and Deliverance. What can we look forward to in book 2?

I really don’t want to give much away. I will tell you that both Leisha and Samantha experience a little bit of romance and that they figure out where the prophecy child is. There’s still plenty of action scenes that I hope will keep you turning the pages. That’s all I will give. The rest, you must find out yourself. 🙂

Arrgh! And for me patience is not a virtue! Sure you won’t take a bribe? No? You’re really going to make me wait for book 2? Sigh.

Thanks for stopping by, Adrienne. Now get back to writing!

Adrienne Monson, winner of the 2009 Oquirrh’s Writer’s Contest and the Utah RWA’s Great Beginnings, has immersed herself in different kinds of fiction since a young age. She lives in Utah with her husband and two kids, whom she loves with all her heart. She loves Zumba, kickboxing, and weightlifting. She also enjoys yummy foods, so she won’t look like a workout guru.

Keep up to date with Adrienne’s events and writing:





To read my review of Dissension, click here.


What do you do when your very existence is an anathema to you, the love of your life has wanted to kill you for 2,000 years, your stalker ex is back, and you’ve a teenage girl dumped into your lap that can’t go home?

When you’re Leisha, one of the original vampires, you do the most logical thing—foment dissension in the ranks of vampire-dom in the hope of getting your mundane life back.

Dissension, written by debut author Adrienne Monson, takes the reader on a thrill ride spanning kidnapping, torture, murder, blood lust, slavery, government conspiracy, psychic abilities, and hints about a mysterious child—all in Book One of The Blood Inheritance Trilogy.

Fans of vampire lit will find much to like here from an origin mythology to hints of a final destiny. Most interesting is the developing relationships between the characters as they uncover miscommunications and misconceptions about each other that have ruled their actions for 2000 years. With all the conspiracies and chess pieces swirling around, what I really want to know is can Leisha ever get back to being a wife and mother and what’s going to happen to teenage Samantha, Leisha’s thinly veiled substitute for the family she lost?

Guess I’ll have to read book 2 to find out!

Dissension, Book 1 in The Blood Inheritance Trilogy, written by Adrienne Monson and published by Jolly Fish Press is available in hardback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.

Adrienne MonsonAdrienne2



Twitter: @adriennemonson

It’s no false crack; Hawaiian author Chris McKinney’s latest novel Boi No Good takes an unflinching look at a Hawaii that locals live in every day and tourists never see. It’s gritty, real, and not for the faint of heart.

McKinney’s characters are people I feel I know and grew up with, from the welfare ice queens to the keep Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands revolutionists, to the wanna be good but no can boyz to the Kahala private school we can make a difference politicians, he’s nailed them all.

I’m always amazed at the difference between the real Hawaii and Hollywood’s version. McKinney is an insider’s insider. He knows that beneath the tourist hula shows, pink manapua boxes, and Reyns Aloha shirts a rage simmers, Pele’s lava looking for a steam vent, an anger that wants to make a mark, a difference, to change the status quo. In some island circles these feelings are shoveled in and swallowed daily at the breakfast table right along with the shoyu rice, ketchup covered scrambled eggs, and fried spam.  Eventually, the bitterness starts to choke, and it can be do or die, especially in the it’s all about who you know climate of Hawaii. There is an underground attitude in the islands that violence is the universal language, a no push me or I going snap cock of the walk. And snap Boi does.

What I liked about this book is that there are no easy answers and most characters have redeeming qualities mixed with spectacular faults and myopic vision.

Boi No Good is raw, true, engaging, and sure to make you think. It’s the kind of story that stays with you long after you read the final page. But I gotta warn you, it’s graphic and in my opinion, for adults only.

Boi No Good is McKinney’s fourth book. All of his titles, Tatoo, Mililani Mauka, Bolohead Row, and Boi No Good can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local Hawaiian bookstores.


Today’s blog is courtesy of Jennifer Griffith, author of Big in Japan and member of the Jolly Fish Press ‘ohana. Her newest novel is a fish out of water story about a plus-sized Texan who goes to Japan on a quick business trip, but ends up living in a sumo stable fighting for his life and chasing after the girl of his dreams. At turns sweet, thrilling, and always hilarious, it’s a great read.

Thank you, Lehua, for allowing me to guest blog today. It’s an honor.

My latest novel, Big in Japan, has been out for just over a month now, and it’s amazing to see the reactions to it. The funniest one might be, “How the heck did you write that?”

Maybe they’re asking how a short, mom-type person wrote from the perspective of a … well, a giant. Who’s a 24 year-old man. That’s a valid question. I guess I channeled my inner sumo wrestler.

It’s been a lot of years since I lived in Japan. Like, almost 20. I wanted Big in Japan to be as authentic as possible—as much of a virtual trip to Tokyo as I could muster with the little details of sights and smells and the kitchy things that are Japan. Unfortunately, I’ve given birth five times since then, which is a veritable mind-wipe each time. So the most legitimate meaning of that question should actually be, “How did you write that and remember all that stuff?”

To which I reply, duh! In Japan you take your camera with you everywhere and you photodocument every single aspect of your day.

Cases in point: I have pictures of my bathtub; of my lunch of sliced cucumbers and barbecued squid and a pile of Kewpie mayonnaise; of mugi (wheat bran) muffins boiling over in my toaster-oven sized oven; of my clothes drying on the line; of myself going off a jump on my hot pink mountain bike wearing the kind of helmet only the mentally challenged Japanese people (and the American girls) wear; of my feet turned green and blue from the dyed leather in my blue oxford shoes after walking through the ankle-deep water after the August typhoon in Tokyo. I have pictures I took in the grocery store of bags of tiny round mochi balls in pink and green and white and of the narrowest house I’ve ever seen—just barely wider than my armspan from fingertip to fingertip.

But as a writer, the pics are not my only “external hard drive” source to remember details about beautiful Japan. I’ll be forever grateful I kept an almost-daily journal of my experiences.

I’ve got a record of “funny.” I have daily lists of the wacky English-language text on t-shirts, like the one with the tortoise at the top and the caption, “His mustache is so proud of him.” I’ve got stories about someone we lovingly referred to as “underwear man,” and the time I had to eat a stir-fried cricket on a dare. I also kept a record of the high cost of fresh fruit. Like the fact that a single watermelon cost upwards of $100!

Beyond that, when I was writing about Buck’s difficult transition into the Japanese culture, I had my own rocky emotional mess all bleeding out in hot pink pen all over my journal to draw from. And to write Buck’s final settling in, his acceptance of the country after some pretty significant culture shock, I had the feelings of catharsis I’d recorded as well.

Best of all, I’ve also got a whole cast of interesting and amazing people I met while I was there, and the heroine of the story is a conglomerate of the best of the Japanese women I met during my year and a half on the island.

When I first received my assignment to go to Japan, I was scared spitless. Then I told my grandpa, and he about jumped out of his skin. He’d lived there with my grandma and their six-or-so kids in the 1950s. He insisted I drive the half hour to his house because he was pulling out his slides. There were hundreds of pictures of the forests of Matsushima and the gardens at Nikko, and the ocean and houses and smiling people. His photodocumentation went great lengths toward calming my fears, and his love for Japan oozed its way into my heart, where it has lodged ever since.

I hope that love oozes into the hearts of the readers of Big in Japan.

Jennifer Griffith lives in Arizona with her husband and five kids. She lived in Japan for a year and a half during college and at 5’1” she is far too short to ever consider sumo as a career. This is her fourth published novel. Big in Japan is available  as a hardback and ebook nationwide at purveyors of fine books such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Click here to see the book trailer. Trust me, you wanna see it.

Follow Jennifer’s adventures in writing at:

To read my review of Big in Japan, click here.


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When you’re allergic to water,
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Everything you thought you knew
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