Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Pathway Series is now in Kindle Unlimited

By Kristy McCaffrey

Find the series at Amazon

I'm pleased to share that the Pathway series is now enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited Program. What does this mean? If you buy your eBooks from Amazon, nothing will change for you. The books will still be available for purchase, but they are also ‘borrowable’ in the KU subscription program.

If you read your digital books via Nook, Kobo, Apple or Google Play, these titles are no longer available. But what about NEW books in the series? That’s a great question! When I have a new Pathway release (novel or novelette), I’ll publish it wide for 1-2 weeks before moving it into KU. This will give those that buy books via the other platforms a chance to grab them.

Why am I doing this? For the last two years, I’ve struggled to find a readership for this series. I have a small but growing fandom at Amazon, but very little on the other platforms. It’s been frustrating because I’ve tried many things to get traction, but to no avail. I LOVE this series and I want to keep writing it, so I was forced to take a hard look at the economics of producing each book. I’m hopeful that KU will at least help me to break even. (For those that may not know, books included in KU are required to be exclusive to Amazon.) So please know that this decision wasn’t made lightly. The book publishing industry is a constantly evolving beast and especially for indie authors such as myself, that flexing can sometimes be painful. But my hope is to be an author for the long haul, so I’ll do what I can to make that happen.

Please note: the novellas BLUE SAGE and THE PEPPERMINT TREE have also been enrolled in KU. Print copies of all the books are still available and are unaffected by this transition. You can purchase them from Amazon or directly from me.

Second note: this decision does NOT include my Wings of the West series. These books will remain for sale at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Apple and Google Play.

Thank you for all your support! I truly appreciate it.

Peace,
Kristy
xoxo

Would you like a sneak peek of Ancient Winds (Book 3)?

In the jungle, there are no barriers …

Brynn Galloway doesn’t know it, but her academic career in archaeology is about to become a laughingstock. When a rare Sumerian artifact surfaces, her presence is requested in Bolivia, but nothing is as it seems. Soon, she’s entangled in a desperate hunt not only for a valuable antiquity but also for answers to humanity that might stretch across time. And by her side is a sexy mercenary physicist with a maddening belief in space aliens.

Dr. Tristan Magee is in a bad mood. When his latest acquisition—an unusual and as yet untranslated Sumerian cuneiform tablet—is stolen right out from under him and spirited away to the Bolivian jungle, he’ll do whatever it takes to get it back. Unfortunately, that includes partnering with a female archaeologist who proves to be the kind of distraction that brought down civilizations.

Coming Soon!


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Writing Deep Blue by Kristy McCaffrey

 


All this week I’ve been sharing background info on the creation of my romantic suspense novel DEEP BLUE on Facebook, so I thought I’d group it all into a blog post in case any of you missed it and might be interested in my thought process while writing it. 

I began my writing career with historical western romances, but I’d always been fascinated by sharks so had long entertained story ideas around them. About 3 years ago, I decided to finally write the book I had been thinking of. Initially, I saw it as more of a thriller (going back to an outline I’d written over 15 years prior), but in light of the devastation to the shark population due to overfishing and shark finning, I knew I wanted to write a story that showed more love to the shark than was usually the case in shark books and movies. I’m a great fan of the movie JAWS, but I wanted to explore the subject deeper than simply the abject fear that people experience when it comes to these often misunderstood fish.

Enter Dr. Grace Mann, my main character. It took a few drafts to smooth her out because at first she was smart but aloof and all business. A bit too cold, unfortunately. When I backtracked and built up her childhood, that’s when I found her overwhelming love for sharks, and the story began to click. (She accompanied her shark researcher father to the Farallon Islands as a child, bringing out her wild nature, an aspect I find really important when excavating a character.) She’s also a computer geek and that played into her rather obsessive nature regarding her work and the underwater sonar array she’s trying to develop.

Part of the backstory for my underwater filmmaker hero Alec Galloway is related to surfing. I read up on big wave surfing (THE WAVE by Susan Casey is an amazing book about giant waves, rogue waves, ship-crushing waves, and she includes chapters about the men who try to surf them – Jaws in Maui, Mavericks in Northern California, and Teahupoo in Tahiti)

I was so intrigued by this that I decided the Galloway family, led by Alec’s dad, Big Jim Galloway, would not only be a surfing family, but Big Wave surfers to boot. This includes Alec’s younger siblings, Tyler (who stars in Book 2, COLD HORIZON) and Brynn (star of upcoming Book 3, ANCIENT WINDS).

While they no longer do this in the present time of their stories, it was a piece of their backstory that showcased the drive and nerve that each of them possessed. It also informs Alec’s character in that he’s a fairly cautious guy because of some of the crazy stuff he’s seen and done. This created some clashes with Grace in DEEP BLUE, since he believes her actions are reckless at times. Grace, of course, doesn’t see it that way.

How do you feel about this picture? This is Ocean Ramsey, a biologist and shark conservation advocate who spends nearly every day in the water with sharks. She is also the target of much criticism due to her interactions with sharks, especially great whites. I state at the end of DEEP BLUE that my character Dr. Grace Mann was inspired by Ms. Ramsey, and this is true. Ramsey’s interactions and knowledge of marine life, and especially sharks, shows us what’s possible when it comes to human/fish interactions. I find her work fascinating, and it informed Grace in the sense that I knew these types of encounters were possible. I write fiction, and I certainly take poetic license at times, but I do try to couch my storylines in a thread of truth. There’s no easy answers as to whether interacting with wildlife – and in the case of great white sharks, very dangerous wildlife – should or shouldn’t happen. I did explore this further with Grace and another marine scientist in DEEP BLUE: COCOS ISLAND, a follow-up short story. It’s an interesting discussion that I will continue to follow, both in the real world and in my work.

One reason I enjoy writing romances is the fun in creating a scenario for two people to fall in love and following along on that journey. DEEP BLUE, and the second book COLD HORIZON, aren’t strictly romances—these books are more action oriented and I made an effort to make them more readable to a broader audience by not following the standard romance plot, which is generally filled with more internal character musings and structure. Still, at the center of these stories are two people finding their way to each other.

The key to a good romance is finding the inherent obstacle between the couple. For Alec and Grace, it boiled down to a clash between Grace’s love and confidence in the water with sharks and Alec’s inherent caution around such dangerous creatures. I built up these viewpoints by giving each of them specific experiences from their past. For Grace, it was growing up at the feet of her shark researcher dad and absorbing his obsession and respect for great white sharks; for Alec, it was having a healthy respect for the ocean, whether it be via big wave surfing or the loss of a close friend to a great white attack that has continued to haunt him. 

From there, it became great fun to write their scenes and let the sparks fly.

 

During early drafts of DEEP BLUE, I was swamped with shark info that I’d been collecting. I usually take different passes on a manuscript – one to lay out the general outline and pacing, one to add layers to the characters, one to beef up the romantic tension between the hero and heroine, one to add descriptive details. It didn’t really occur to me that I should have a shark main character (as I said, brain overload) but near the end of one of the drafts Bonnie showed up, and it stopped me cold in my writing tracks. She was a very large and very mature female great white shark. An alpha. A true alpha of any creature on earth. I immediately began moving around scenes and rewriting the beginning of the book because Bonnie needed to be present throughout the story. There’s also a secondary shark named Felix, a randy youngin’ who causes all sorts of trouble. If you’ve ever met a teenage boy, then you know what I’m talking about.

While the gist of the story of DEEP BLUE is Grace freediving with great sharks in an effort to observe their behavior without the impediment and noise of scuba equipment, a side story is the testing of a prototype shark sonar array she designed in an effort to detect sharks in a specified grid area. Her goal is to have such an apparatus installed at ‘sharky’ beaches around the world as an early warning system to swimmers and surfers. So, is this a real thing? 

I studied shark deterrents already in use and their effectiveness varied. It included such things as repellants (sonar, chemical), underwater nets (as you can imagine, these devastate more than sharks by trapping and killing everything else), and aerial spotters. The sonar array that Grace builds using artificial intelligence was a work of wishful fiction on my part. The idea is that there are multiple layers of code identifying creatures as they enter the grid area. This type of neural network is a “deep learning” program that becomes better over time as it acquires more and more data points. My son Sam, a data engineer, was a huge help as I developed this for the story, explaining to me how this would work. One exciting development was that after the book was published, I came across scientists working on a similar apparatus. So maybe one day you’ll go to the beach and pull up an app on your phone that tells you immediately what’s in the ocean you’re about to step into.

How did I research Guadalupe Island?

DEEP BLUE opens in Monterey, California, but the bulk of the story takes place on a boat off the coast of Guadalupe Island, located on the Pacific Ocean side of Baja California. It’s a fairly uninhabited island, with a handful of fisherman and scientists in residence, and from August until about January, it’s a hotspot of great white shark activity. The males arrive first, and then in October the very large females make an appearance. It’s unknown why the sharks congregate here, but it’s thought that they mate and feed, since there’s a large seal population. (And for the record, no one has ever seen or filmed white sharks mating or giving birth.) There are several companies that ferry customers on live-aboard boats to cage-dive with the sharks, with departures from San Diego, and if you’ve ever watched Shark Week on Discovery Channel, many of the shows have been filmed here.

Still, I found it a challenge to find information about the area so that I could realistically write about it (and since I was unable to go myself). Internet searches turned up general info, but I’m always in search of smaller, more interesting tidbits, the kind of stuff that isn’t on a Wikipedia page. It took me a while, but I finally located several blogs written by people who had visited the area, offering raw first impressions that made the writer in me squeal with delight.

I’ve envisioned the Pathway series as loosely connected standalones, which has been both a pro and a con when it comes to marketing. Because the series isn’t deep, meaning I only have two books currently available, advertising them has been a challenge. Eventually when I have the planned 6-8 books published, it will be easier to do more extensive marketing.

The main reason I wrote DEEP BLUE: AUSTRALIA was to offer a free but exclusive read to my newsletter subscribers, giving them another chance to hang out with Grace and Alec. An author’s newsletter list is a beloved holy grail because it offers us the chance to reach our readers directly (Amazon and Facebook greatly throttle that ability). But … if readers are signed up for too many newsletters, they can be rightly overwhelmed by the email volume in their inbox. It was my hope to sweeten the pot by offering something they couldn’t get anywhere else in exchange for their valuable time.

Last year, I managed to get a coveted BookBub Feature Deal for Deep Blue, but I had to make the book free. The key to making this type of advertising work is to have follow-up books in which to recoup your losses. BookBub deals aren’t cheap and generally run in the hundreds of dollars. I had COLD HORIZON out, but with its mountain climbing theme it was a very different book than DEEP BLUE, so in an effort to compensate for a low read-through rate, I decided to publish AUSTRALIA and charge $2.99 for digital downloads. This is an aggressive price for this type of short, and while other authors do use this price point successfully, I didn’t have the name recognition to pull it off. The result was reader backlash. Being an indie author means I’m able to pivot and switch gears quickly, so I did. I wrote two more short adventures – REUNION ISLAND and COCOS ISLAND – so that I could package all three together for $2.99, giving readers a little more bang for their buck. While I must always consider the economics of creating and pricing my projects, I strive to balance that with reader expectations.

Some people have asked for another novel starring Grace and Alec, but since that can take me upwards of a year to write, these shorts were a way to continue their story while I work on other books in the Pathway universe. I sure hope you enjoy them!

Did you know there’s a bonus scene of Alec’s first impression of Grace over at Book+Main Bites? You can read it here.


To learn more about DEEP BLUE, visit my website.

 

 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Durango, Colorado, and THE PEPPERMINT TREE is on Sale

By Kristy McCaffrey



Situated near the Four Corners region of the U.S., the town of Durango sits on the Animas River in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. In the 1870’s it was called Animas City, but when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad arrived in 1881 the town was renamed by ex-Colorado Governor Alexander C. Hunt after Durango, Mexico. The name originated from the Basque word Urango, which means “water town.”

Durango, Colorado, 1883

The San Juans are part of the Rocky Mountains, and with high quantities of minerals present, gold and silver mining camps soon popped up during the 19th century. Those camps are now major towns such as Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, Lake City, Creede, and Durango.

The San Juan Mountains

In 1882, a narrow-gauge steam railroad was constructed to connect the mining town of Silverton with the coal and smelting operations of Durango. Today, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad makes daily trips between the two towns for anyone who wishes to see the grandeur of the San Juans. Additionally, visitors can enjoy wilderness trekking, mountain climbing, and camping. In the winter, skiing is a favorite pastime at the well-known Durango Mountain Resort, known locally as Purgatory.


It’s Christmas in July!! Digital copies of my contemporary western novella, THE PEPPERMINT TREE, are on sale for 99 cents. The story is set in and around the Durango area.

When an unexpected inheritance draws lawyer Skye Mallory home for the Christmas holidays, she’s surprised by a longing to set down roots in her Colorado hometown. Only one thing stands in her way—a cowboy who broke her heart in high school. Joe Carrigan has returned to the community he left years ago, ready to face his one regret in life—Skye Mallory. But this time, he won’t be so chivalrous.

Read an excerpt
Joe Carrigan watched as the red taillights in the distance slid from left to right and then right even more, finally stopping. He’d been following the Prius for a while, and the driver had been conservative, but their luck had just run out. He was in his Bronco—the same one he’d driven in high school on these very roads—and it could still be trusted in bad weather. He’d been able to afford better cars over the years, but he still had a habit of jumping in this one, especially on a night like this.

He checked his rearview mirror. Thankfully, no cars behind him. He slowed the Bronco and guided it as far to the right as he could without getting stuck.

Stepping out of his vehicle, a blast of cold air hit him as heavy snowflakes engulfed him. He really shouldn’t be out in this, but he’d agreed to meet Oliver and Celeste and a friend of Celeste’s, a blind date he’d been badgered into. His life had been too busy of late for a woman, but it didn’t mean he actually needed or wanted one in his life.

He reached inside the Bronco and grabbed his heavy canvas coat, quickly pulling it on and zipping it to his neck. The snow crunched beneath his boots and his breath came out in white puffs as he crossed the beam of his headlights and approached the Prius. He tapped on the driver’s window, the shadowy figure of a woman on the other side. She hesitated a moment then rolled the window down.

“Are you all right, miss?”

As the woman’s face became fully visible, he did a double-take. “Skylar?”

Her forehead pinched into hard ridges, and her eyes registered a flash of outrage. “Carrigan?”

As if a freight train had hit him, he uttered, “It’s been a long time.”

LEARN MORE



Also, don't miss my July website giveaway - an autographed print copy of THE PEPPERMINT TREE. Enter today.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Book Review: The Girl With No Name by Marina Chapman




The Incredible True Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys



Review by Kristy McCaffrey

This story of survival and endurance is all the more amazing because Ms. Chapman was five years old when she was abandoned in the jungle following a terrifying abduction from her home in Colombia. After wandering for several days, alone, bereft, and confused, she collapsed and a family of capuchin monkeys found her. They didn’t exactly raise her, or even accept her at first, but their tolerance was key to her survival. By watching and imitating them, she was able to find food and shelter. Over the course of five years, she even came to understand their primitive language of screeches, whistles, and calls. In time, she developed an affectionate bond with several of the members.

Some of her experiences are extraordinary, such as the time the grandfather monkey saved her life when she ate the wrong plant. He dragged her to a muddy pool of water and forced her to drink, inducing her to vomit and eject the poisonous plant. Eventually she was rescued by poachers. The course of her life following this was almost unimaginable. She was sold to a brothel, where she was abused until she ran away. Then she lived as a street urchin, putting the skills she learned from the monkeys—namely theft—to good use. When she was finally able to get off the street, she ended up in the home of a local cartel family where she was further abused. When she realized her life was in danger, she escaped to a convent.

While this story might sound depressing, you can’t help but admire the sharp resiliency of Marina herself. This was the name she chose at age fourteen, after years of others calling her what they wanted. This is an extraordinary journey of survival, written with the help of Marina’s daughter and a ghostwriter. I couldn’t put it down.


Find The Girl With No Name at Amazon

Friday, May 22, 2020

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow




By Kristy McCaffrey

A lyrical and innovative novel that plants both feet in reality and then slides easily into fantasy-elements. It begins in the early 1900’s with January Scaller, a young girl who is the ward of the very wealthy Cornelius Locke. Mr. Locke employs January’s father, Julian, as a rogue explorer/collector, and looks after January since her father is almost always away on a journey for artifacts of all kinds. As January matures, the resentment she feels toward her father and his frequent absences burns as brightly as the rules and regulations that Locke enforces. While Locke loves her like a daughter, he is adamant that she behave like a proper young lady.

January’s natural curiosity and longing for adventure lead her to an amazing discovery—doorways to other worlds. At first, she is frightened and suppresses the knowledge throughout her childhood, but finally, when she turns seventeen she is pushed into a mad scramble for power that involves not only Locke and her father but also the mother she never knew.

I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole as this story wrapped around me. It’s touching and maddening and desperate, but also romantic and fantastical. Ms. Harrow balances the magical alongside a gripping coming-of-age story with a deft hand. January is the girl we all want to be, and this novel is a love letter to storytellers everywhere. Read it and see what I mean. A wonderful book that I highly recommend.

Find The Ten Thousand Doors of January at Amazon

Monday, May 11, 2020

A New DEEP BLUE Short Adventure

By Kristy McCaffrey


Travel to Cocos Island with Alec and Grace in a new DEEP BLUE short adventure.


Grace is invited to participate in a documentary alongside several distinguished female marine scientists, and Alec, Double D, and Stephie come along to film them in the waters off Cocos Island near Costa Rica. Grace is still dealing with recent criticism of the film Alec made of her last year diving with great white sharks, and in the company of such accomplished women, she struggles to keep her insecurities at bay. When differing viewpoints lead to friction, Grace must learn to stand up for herself, but a bright spot emerges when Alec makes a surprise decision about their relationship.


All three Deep Blue shorts are now available in one collection. Grab a digital copy for only 99 cents. (Hurry - the price will increase on May 18th.)



Find it on Goodreads

Please note: the individual shorts are no longer available. By putting them together, I was able to create a paperback version for those of you who don't use e-readers.


I hope you enjoy these mini-adventures. I do love spending time with Grace and Alec, and have a few more tales brewing in my imagination.

Stay safe. Be well.

Kristy
xoxo

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

What’s New On The Writing Front




By Kristy McCaffrey

It’s a strange and heartbreaking time we’re going through, filled with anguish, boredom, sadness, irritation and fear. During this unprecedented worldwide quarantine, my family and I have been taking it one day at a time. Admittedly, some of those days have been better than others. It’s been a challenge for me to write, because I’m a worrier, and times like these have raised the anxiety level for many of us.

I had hoped to have my next novel, ANCIENT WINDS, completed by now, but I’m still mired in plot shenanigans that I’ve been meticulously unraveling. I need more time with Brynn Galloway and Dr. Tristan Magee and their adventure in the Amazon jungle, so I hope you’ll bear with me. Hopefully by June I’ll have an idea on a release date. I had planned to immediately dive into Book 4 in the Pathway series (COBALT SEA), but I’ve decided to set that aside for now and instead, once ANCIENT WINDS is done, I’ll begin working on COPPER CANYON, a new historical western romance.

In the meantime, I do have a fun treat coming – a new DEEP BLUE short. It’s currently with my editor but should be ready in a few weeks. Here’s the blurb:

DEEP BLUE COCOS ISLAND – A Pathway Short Adventure
Dr. Grace Mann is invited to participate in a documentary alongside several distinguished female marine scientists, and Alec Galloway, Double D, and Stephie come along to film them in the waters off Cocos Island near Costa Rica. Grace is still dealing with recent criticism of the film Alec made of her last year diving with great white sharks, and in the company of such accomplished women, she struggles to keep her insecurities at bay. When differing viewpoints lead to friction, Grace must learn to stand up for herself, but a bright spot emerges when Alec makes a surprise decision about their relationship.



So far, the DEEP BLUE shorts have only been available digitally, but I’ll be grouping all of them together (AUSTRALIA, REUNION ISLAND and COCOS ISLAND) for a paperback edition for those of you that prefer print.



As always, to receive the most up-to-date info on my projects, subscribe to my newsletter. (I’ll be sharing the cover for ANCIENT WINDS soon. I love it! I hope you will too, and subscribers will see it first.) You can also catch my latest news at my Facebook and Twitter pages.

I’m still working on a Wings of the West novella, THE SONGBIRD. I’ve got a bit written, but right now I’m only writing on it when I have a spare moment here and there. I’m hoping this summer to set aside some time to give it the focus it deserves. My creative well is a funny thing – it doesn’t always cooperate when I switch gears too much.


I’m also exploring a new COLD HORIZON short adventure starring Ty and Lindsey. If you recall, they spoke about a mountain called Hkakabo Razi in the short story COLD HORIZON TELLURIDE, and it keeps nudging me. I think I’ll have to write this one soon, but preliminary research has shown me that this journey will be a bit complicated, so I’m not gonna dive in just yet.


I hope you and your families are well, and if that isn’t the case then I send you my heartfelt prayers.


Brighten the day with music (and maybe a nice hot cup of orange-cinnamon tea). What I’m listening to: Thriller, YMCA, One Night in Bangkok, Marrakesh Express, Sweet Emotion, Sultans of Swing, Take Me Home Country Roads.

I wanted to share a favorite recipe that I frequently make because it’s so easy.


Spaghetti with Lemon and Basil

½ lb. uncooked spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. lemon zest, plus ½ cup fresh juice (from 3 lemons), divided
5 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 3 1/3 cups)
¼ tsp. finely ground sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh basil (if I can’t find basil, I substitute fresh spinach)

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add spaghetti, and cook until al dente, 9 to 11 minutes. Drain spaghetti, reserving ¼ cooking water. Return drained spaghetti to pot; cover and set aside.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice and reserved ¼ cup cooking water in a medium bowl; add cheese, and stir until mixture is thick and creamy. Stir in salt and pepper.

Add lemon sauce to spaghetti in pot; toss until pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Stir in basil and lemon zest; serve immediately.

Serves 6. Total prep time: 15 minutes.

So delicious and the citrus is great for the immune system.



Be Well. Be Safe.


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