Welcome my friend Toby Neal, author of Blood Orchids to the blog today! As a resident of Hawaii, Toby wanted to share a little bit about the things in her every day that make living in Hawaii so special to her. I admit I’m a tad jealous reading about her tank top moments right now as I look out my window at the inches of Colorado snow.

Take it away Toby!


Hawaii is a beautiful place to live—and in February in the U.S., one of the best places to be in the whole nation! Thought I’d share some of my favorite things, and not just the obvious palm trees and blue water (though that’s hard to beat.)

  • Whalesong underwater when swimming—in February, we have the most whales of the whole season.
  • Lilikois (passion fruit) falling off the vines—like untimely Easter eggs, passion fruit collect in the grass waiting for me to make scrumptious pies, jam, sauces out of them.
  • Going snorkeling in the rain. Something about the patter of rain all round as you swim through the warm ocean—bliss.
  • Playing tennis with my daughter, working up a sweat, in my tank top…while the rest of the world digs snow out of their driveways. I grew up in Hawaii, so it wasn’t until I lived in the Midwest for seven years that I really “got” this one—but now I relish every tank-top minute of it.
  • Clouds dancing elaborate ballet on the mountains—in Hawaii clouds are almost like another physical part of the landscape, they have such form and drama.
  • Wind—which means windsurfing, kiteboarding, and spectacular feats of athleticism on the part of many sporty friends (I prefer to spectate.)
  • Mynah birds commenting on everything, hopping around beady-eyed busybodies.
  • Sugar cane bending in the aforementioned wind, entire fields dancing hula skirts of green.
  • Waterfalls pumping rainbows as they refill our waterways.

We have our challenges here in Hawaii, and I explore some of them in my books—but living in this lush natural beauty isn’t one of them while making a living is!

Visit Toby’s Blog

Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. She wrote and illustrated her first story at age 5 and has been published in magazines and won several writing contests. After initially majoring in Journalism, she eventually settled on mental health as a career and loves her work, saying, “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.” She enjoys many outdoor sports including bodyboarding, scuba diving, beach walking, gardening and hiking. She lives in Hawaii with her family and dogs. Toby credits her counseling background in adding depth to her characters–from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous and vulnerable heroine in the Lei Crime Series.

About Blood Orchids:

Fast-paced crime mystery with a touch of romance, readers call Blood Orchids “un-putdownable”!

“Sometimes in crime fiction you stumble across a character who lives on beyond the book’s end by virtue of their psychological complexity, and the richness with which the author has drawn them. Will Graham, Jack Reacher, Alex Cross, and now they have a worthy female counterpart in Lei Teixera. Blood Orchids is that rarity among debut novels, in that it satisfies on every level. A powerful new talent is on the scene, whole-heartedly recommended.”
-Drew Cross, former police officer and author of BiteMarks

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

About the Author Corinne

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  1. Hi Toby,
    Loved the post. I wish I was enjoying Hawaii instead of the cold and snow in Wisconsin. However, the cold does give me more reason to stay in and read Blood Orchids which I am enjoying immensely.

  2. Hey, Toby! Great article. I’m reading Blood Orchids right now and I feel like its a sci-fi novel. Hawaii is practically an alien planet compared to NJ. :)

    Really enjoying it so far, by the way!

  3. Hawaii sounds like a slice of heaven. For people like me who live in eternal sunshine, it’s hard to imagine snow outside. :) Good job with Lei. I can see how what you do for a living helped in creating such a special character. I’m holding off on getting the others in the series ’cause I have some reviews that are calling. Great job on Blood Orchids. Thanks for hosting, Corinne.

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