Monday, December 2, 2019

A Christmas Cowboy To Keep

By Kristy McCaffrey

It's that merry time of year once again. Last year I published a contemporary western long novella in the anthology A Christmas Cowboy To Keep, so if you didn't have a chance to read the collection then, be sure to grab a copy now. It includes stories from Carra Copelin, Andrea Downing, Devon McKay, Hildie McQueen, Hebby Roman, and Patti Sherry-Crews.

Only 99 cents at Amazon or read it in Kindle Unlimited

The weather is cold, the atmosphere is festive, and the cowboys are hot. How do you keep a cowboy at Christmas?

Nashville event planner, Liberty Ann Hart, tries not to fall for a local carpenter, but his charisma is difficult to ignore, especially at Christmas and in the rustic setting of a Texas town called Mistletoe. Daniel Dylan Layman is determined to show the headstrong city woman a country life. Will a Christmas fundraiser spark a lifetime of love?

A CHRISTMAS CAROLE by Andrea Downing
Carrie Matheson is happy to start a new life at the Wyoming ranch she has inherited, but her six-year-old son wants to return to New York. As Christmas approaches and his pleas to Santa receive replies, it’s alarm bells not sleigh bells that start ringing. Tate Schrugge is amused by his new neighbor when she jogs over with some mis-delivered mail, but after she calls him Scrooge, she’s definitely not on his Christmas list. If these two can get together, it might be the Dickens of a romance.

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.

Some things never change. Kristen Kelly’s hometown is still Christmas crazy. Her sister, Laney, will always need to be rescued. And Cole Lawson will never stop pestering her. The handsome cowboy has picked right up where they left off, teasing her without mercy. And though her head tells her to run from Cole as fast as she can, her heart has a mind of its own.

SLAY BELLS by Hildie McQueen
Carmen and Jared can’t avoid the sparks that fly between them at first sight. But when a dead body surfaces at the Christmas festival, she becomes a witness and he becomes a suspect. Not exactly the recipe for a perfect match. Can they find love amidst the mayhem and sleigh bells?

Sofia Rossi and Gar McCulloch meet under challenging circumstances—her estranged son has been admitted to Gar’s ranch rehab-center. Sofia is a successful New York model who had an ill-advised liaison with a wealthy, married member of New York society and lost her son to her ex’s manipulation. Gar is divorced and lost his daughter to a drug overdose. When they bond together to reclaim Sofia’s son, the last thing they expect is to find redemption in each other’s arms, making this their best Christmas… ever.

Melody Evans, a professional wedding planner, views happily-ever-after endings with a skeptical eye, but she's never lost her childlike enthusiasm for her favorite holiday—Christmas. To veterinarian rancher Leland Jennings IV, Christmas is just for kids. If he could, he'd skip the whole month of December. But he does believe there’s one woman out there for him, and he's holding out for her. Melody revives Leland's Christmas spirit, and he rekindles her heart.

An excerpt from The Peppermint Tree

Skye made the mistake of glancing at Carrigan. His hooded gaze bore into her, and she almost turned to look behind her for the woman that he was obviously shooting lusty thoughts toward, because it sure as hell wasn’t her.

On top of everything else, she now had to contend with broken radar when it came to men.

Man, she needed another drink.

“You can come to the Ball tomorrow,” Celeste said.

The Mistletoe Ball was an event her folks and many of the people in Durango and the surrounding communities attended every Christmas, and Skye had forgotten completely about it. The last one she’d attended had been five years ago.

Celeste glanced around the table. “We’re all going. I even got a ticket for Tina.”

Carrigan’s date.

An invisible anvil clobbered Skye’s chest. He hadn’t professed to having a wife and kids, so obviously Celeste was playing matchmaker. She had done it plenty over the years, meddling regularly in Skye’s own love life. It was the exact reason Skye had never confided in her best friend about Carrigan. She hadn’t wanted Celeste plotting and planning, no matter her good intentions.

But now Skye would have a front-row seat to the Carrigan and Tina show.

“I don’t have a dress,” she said quickly. “But thanks anyway.”

She avoided looking at Carrigan by draining the rest of her Whiskey Sour.

Copyright © 2018 K. McCaffrey LLC

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Write A Novel In A Month #NaNoWriMo

By Kristy McCaffrey

If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter, then you might have seen posts about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. During the month of November writers from around the world collectively put their butts in the chair and pound out a novel. There’s a website where you can register your project, track your daily word count, and interact with your friends and colleagues who are also participating. To win NaNo, you must write 50,000 words by November 30. If you’re a writer, you know how tough this can be. And if you’re a reader, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.

I’ve successfully completed two previous NaNo’s—the first was for my western romance THE BLACKBIRD (2014), and the second was my romantic suspense novel about great white sharks titled DEEP BLUE (2016).

How does NaNo benefit a writer? It forces the internal editor to take a vacation. Believe me, this is far harder than it sounds, and is probably the biggest battleground an author will face in trying to complete NaNo. The internal editor not only encompasses good sentence structure and proper grammar, he/she also wants fully-fleshed characters right out of the gate, will insist on researching the name of the road in that western town in 1877 before allowing any more forward movement in the story, and wants to investigate every Irish surname for a secondary character who only appears in one scene. The internal editor can be the harshest of critics, and many a writer has succumbed to crippling self-doubt as a result.

But if an author has already published several novels, he/she must have found a way to work with this ridiculously overbearing boss, right? Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. Okay, I’m back. The short answer is, no. But all is not lost, and that’s where NaNo helps writers to shine. It forces us to push past the persnickety side-commentator and get the story down. NaNo is all about the first draft—those random and sometimes illogical beginnings of our stories. As a reader, all you’ve ever seen is the spiffed up final version of a project, so it’s hard to understand that it didn’t always look that way. Most first drafts would shock the spit right out of you. Just kidding. They’re not that horrifying, but they can be quite the hot mess.

To write 50,000 words in one month (and November only has 30 days), a writer must punch out 1,667 words per day. I usually round up to 2,000, because life doesn’t stop for me to write, so there will be days when I don’t hit that goal. Since my novels tend to be 75-85K in length, writing 50K won’t be the entire book. This leads to the most important advice I can offer about NaNo—make sure you get to THE END. This means that some scenes will be skipped, heavy description and backstory will be lightly touched upon, and character development will be invariably sketchy. But this is a good thing. Getting to the end offers insights that can’t be found any other way, and it will make the first revision pass much more fruitful.

One quirk I’ve learned during NaNo is that my scenes end up out of order. Since I know this about myself, I don’t spend too much time in my transitions from one incident to the next, because I’ll likely be moving them around later. I simply try to find the interior energy of a scene and expound on that as best I can. Then I move on. You can’t dilly-dally during NaNo.

And while it’s true I’ll be forced to discard large chunks of my preciously speed-written prose during the refining stages of the manuscript, it’s never wasted. I almost always learn something from the misstep, either about my characters or a plot direction that wasn’t going to work. I’ve also had delightful surprises. I didn’t find the great white shark star of my suspense book until the very end of the first draft. Her name was Bonnie, and when she arrived she changed the whole tone of the story. That’s why it’s important to get to the end. Once I knew about her, it was clear how I needed to lay the groundwork for her presence earlier in the book, and it completely informed the direction of my revisions.

This year, I’m unofficially participating and I won’t lie, it’s stressful. Some days I just can’t figure out what should happen next, and my mind’s innate tendency to wander off—online Christmas shopping! Let’s do that!—must be held in rigorous check. The manuscript (ANCIENT WINDS, the third book in my suspense series) is unfolding in a choppy and somewhat haphazard way, and it’s downright maddening. But … I’m finding those little gems along the way. (I have a fabulous scene in the Amazonian jungle with my hero and heroine and an anaconda that quite surprised me.) And this is because NaNo doesn’t let up; it forces you to write somethingAnything. It inspires innovation.

So, if you’re a writer and haven’t given NaNo a try, consider it. You might astonish yourself. And if you’re a reader, have sympathy for those participating. We won’t be grumpy lunatics for long.

Connect with Kristy

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Read a Book, Help a Cowboy

Today I'm sharing how my author pal Shanna Hatfield supports injured rodeo athletes, along with her wonderful new book release.

* * *

For most rodeo athletes it is a matter of when they get hurt, not if.

Many are uninsured and for those who find themselves out of work for months on end, the injury can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially.

That’s where the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund steps in. The JCCF provides financial assistance to rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries that leave them unable to compete for an extended time. Rather than worry about how they’ll pay their bills, they can focus on healing.

Because she grew up around cowboys and loves to include them in the stories she writes, author Shanna Hatfield supports the JCCF through her Read a Book, Help A Cowboy campaign. In its sixth year, the campaign raises funds and awareness for the JCCF. Now through Christmas Eve, Hatfield will donate ten percent of the proceeds from every book purchase to the JCCF.

A wonderful addition to this year’s campaign is Hatfield’s brand-new book called  A Cowboy Christmas. The book features 300 pages of western holiday fun with more than 70 full-color recipes.

The jangle of spurs mingles with the jingle of sleigh bells in this celebration of Christmas—cowboy style!

Welcome home to a western holiday with A Cowboy Christmas. A collection of unique holiday décor, traditions, recipes, and guides for entertaining with ease make this your go-to resource for an amazing western Christmas. Filled with stories of real-life ranch families and rodeo cowboys, get a glimpse into their traditions, try their family recipes, and experience their lifestyles. From preserving memories of the past to tips for wrapping presents, discover the special touches incorporated throughout this book that make it a holiday keepsake you’ll cherish for years to come. Brimming with holiday cheer, recipes with full-color photographs, and one-of-a-kind ideas, this book is a wonderful celebration of the holidays that will help make your Christmas unforgettable.

This book is available from:


Chocolate Chex Trees

These yummy and adorable trees are so simple to make and a great project if you have kids at home who need something to do. Set them on a disposable plate, foil-wrapped piece of cardboard, or a large sugar cookie wrapped in cellophane for gift-giving!

3 cups Chex Chocolate cereal
6 pretzel sticks (the thick kind, made for dipping)
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup Nutella
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix the peanut but­ter, Nutella, but­ter, and pow­dered sugar in a bowl.
On whatever you plan to use for a base, mold the peanut butter mixture around the pretzel stick until it stands upright and forms a slight cone shape.
Hold it steady by using the tip of the pret­zel as a han­dle and begin insert­ing pieces of cereal into the peanut but­ter mix­ture in a sym­met­ri­cal pat­tern around the stick. You can tip the cereal pieces up or down, depending on your personal preference. Add more cereal pieces, stag­ger­ing them as you move upward, until you get near the top.
For the top of the tree, use broken pieces or cut them in half to get the smaller scale of branches near the top.
Use two pieces of cereal back to back to form the top.
Dust with powdered sugar.
Makes 6 trees

"Absolutely one of the best Christmas entertaining books I have ever read or seen I would hold this up against even Southern Living’s Christmas book they put out every year and that’s saying a huge thumbs up for A Cowboy Christmas. The recipes are all easy and quick sounding which is always the type of recipe I love to use. Once again Shanna Hatfield is the best at what at she does!"
Goodreads Reviewer

 "Such a beautiful book, and such a wonderful celebration of traditions and ideas to introduce into your own family. Included are heartwarming stories, recipes, craft ideas. This book shares with Shanna Hatfield's readers her joy and enthusiasm for the Western Way of life and the continuity of family that needs to be handed down to the new generations."
Amazon Reviewer

About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up sassy characters, twisting plots, or testing out new recipes, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller. She resides near Walla Walla, Washington.

Monday, October 7, 2019

An Interview With Kristy

Tell us about yourself.
I’m an Arizona native, and live with my husband in the desert north of Phoenix with our two dogs and youngest child. My three older kids are grown and gone. My education is in engineering, but I’ve been a passionate writer since I was seven years old.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Book ideas come from everywhere: the news, magazines, the internet, TV, films, and my own curiosity.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Sometimes I use real people as inspiration, but ultimately I develop the character that I need for my story. Character and plot go hand-in-hand for me.

How do you pick your characters’ names?
I often use a baby book to get started, but sometimes I’ll change a name well into writing the story if the current one doesn’t seem to fit. I also love to watch the end credits of movies. Lots of great names to choose from.

What's your writing process?
I mostly write in the afternoons. I tend to plot a little, then write, then get stuck so I’ll plot a little more again. Rinse and repeat.

Is there a drink or food that keeps you company while you write?
I drink water and tea. If I'm particularly stressed over my writing, I tend to turn to candy. Sweetarts, red licorice, and gummies are my favorite. I also chew a lot of gum.

Who are your top 5 favorite authors?
Jane Austen, Katherine Neville, Anne McCaffrey (no relation), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Katherine Neville, author of THE EIGHT, an ambitious and complicated novel that I love so much. I’d simply want to talk craft with her.

Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes. Nancy Drew books and Charlotte’s Web were favorites.

When did you start to write?
I’ve been writing compulsively and for fun since I was a child, but I didn’t write my first novel until I was 32 years old and had four children under the age of five underfoot.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
If you mean one of my own books, I wouldn’t. I’m pretty happy with how each of them ended. As for other books, I’m going to extend the criteria a bit to include the season finale of ‘Game of Thrones.’ I hope I’m not spoiling it for anyone since plot points have been plastered all over the internet, but I would change Dany’s character arc. She wouldn’t die, and she’d be on the throne.

Is there a book you wish you had written?
Yes, THE EIGHT by Katherine Neville.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be? 
The Art of Sleeping-In

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
This was harder than I thought it would be. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to choose film characters. I’m a sucker for a strong female lead in a movie. Here’s a few of my favorites: Bess Armstrong from Jaws 3-D; Kate Bosworth from Blue Crush; Sandra Bullock from Practical Magic; Reese Witherspoon from Legally Blonde; Brie Larson from Captain Marvel. Where would we go? A girl’s weekend at a nice resort—hit the spa, eat out, and have a great time chatting about life.

Do you take a notebook with you to write down ideas?
No, but I do take notes on my phone.

Have you considered writing in a different genre in the future?
No. I currently write in two genres (romantic suspense adventure and historical western romance) and it keeps me very busy.

Which genre do you not like at all?
I'm pretty open to reading anything that catches my eye, so I try not to limit myself.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on Book 3 in my Pathway Series, ANCIENT WINDS. This will feature Brynn Galloway and Dr. Tristan Magee as they search for an ancient artifact. It will be a mix of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘The X-Files.’

Any release news?
I'm about to release my first western romance, THE WREN, in German. I'm very excited to expand into a new market.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
My husband takes me to lunch.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Review: One of Our Own by Cheryl Reavis

Review by Kristy McCaffrey

One of Our Own
Cheryl Reavis

Sloan Baron has come to Navajo Country to see her estranged brother, who's in critical condition after a car accident. She has already been caring for two of his children, and now she learns that he has a third child, a young half-Navajo boy. As she navigates the mess her brother has left behind, she finds an unlikely ally in Navajo Tribal Policeman Lucas Singer. Together, they try to unravel the laws regarding children on Indian Reservations. They also fall hard for each other.

This is such a wonderful book! Ms. Reavis has created well-rounded characters that you’ll love and root for and cry over, along with a peek into the traditions and beliefs of the Navajo people. This is a story that will stay with you long after it’s ended. Moving and deeply romantic, I highly recommend.

Find it at Amazon

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Jumping Genes and an Excerpt from COLD HORIZON

By Kristy McCaffrey

Jumping genes, or transposons, are small pieces of DNA that have the unusual ability to copy and insert themselves in random places within a genome. These genes—long known as junk DNA—were thought to be nothing more than genomic parasites, but research is beginning to show their importance in evolution.

Most cells in our body contain DNA, a molecule composed of a double helix that carries the genetic instructions required for life. (Mature red blood cells are the only ones that lack DNA, having gotten rid of it to pack themselves full of more hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein). For cells to access the information contained in DNA, they must transcribe it onto a related molecule called RNA. Despite that the same DNA is in almost every cell, not every cell is expressed in the same way, otherwise we would be one giant blob of undifferentiated matter.

Jumping genes were first discovered by geneticist Barbara McClintock in the 1940s. At the time, most scientists dismissed them, but McClintock suggested they might play a regulatory role by determining which genes are turned on and when.

Barbara McClintock

Transposons have been found to jump across plants, animals and fungi as well. The process is known as horizontal transfer, as opposed to the normal parent-offspring transfer, and has had an enormous impact on mammalian evolution. For example, 25% of the genome of cows and sheep is derived from jumping genes.

One such jumping gene is called LINE1, abundant in almost all genomes of mammals. It’s repeated half a million times in the human genome, making up nearly a fifth of the DNA in every cell. Studies of mouse embryos have shown that LINE1 is especially active during early development of the organism, suggesting that the segment might play a key role in coordinating the formation of cells. Researchers believe that LINE1 RNA particles act as a molecular “glue,” switching off the two-cell stage of early development and jump-starting it to the next phase.

There are many different types of jumping genes, including some that drive the evolution of genomes, thereby creating more genetic diversity in a species.

In my book COLD HORIZON, Lindsey Coulson is a chemist who studies jumping genes.

Two years ago, Lindsey Coulson lost her sister on K2, the second highest mountain on earth. Searching for answers, she sets out to climb the Savage Mountain. Mountaineer and freelance writer Ty Galloway has assembled a small team to conquer K2 and welcomes the esteemed climber. But K2 is a force unto itself, as is Lindsey. Both will test his limits. Both will test his heart.

“Blending romance, suspense, adventure, and action, it really was a great thrill ride of a book and one that I gladly recommend.” ~ Jamie, The Romance Studio

Excerpt from Cold Horizon

Lindsey scooped more snow into the pan and set it atop the stove. Ty was all business with her, giving no indication that they were more than friends. A few times she had to stop herself from touching him, or leaning into him, or standing too close. Not that there was any big reason to keep it a secret. Still, she was tempted to kiss Galloway in full view of Fiske if only to get the jerk off her case.

“Ty, you still planning to go to the South Pole?” Beck asked.

“Maybe. It depends on my schedule.” He drank from his water bottle, flinching from the hot liquid.

“You wanna go?”

“I’m interested. Let me know when/if you settle on a date. Maybe you should come too, Lindsey.”

“Why’s that?” she asked.

“It’s the last great frontier. A real feather in any explorer’s cap.”

“I thought space was the last frontier,” Packer said from his spot just outside their circle.

Beck ripped open the wrapper on a candy bar. “We’re nearly in space on this mountain.”

Packer laughed. “That’s for damned sure.”

Fiske took a bite of a power bar. “Mountains are more difficult,” he said around the food in his mouth. “The South Pole is just dragging a sled for miles.”

“It’s all about the mind, Fiske.” Beck broke off a piece of chocolate and popped it in his mouth. 
“Seeing if you have the mental capacity to do it.”

Was it Lindsey’s imagination, or did Beck’s voice hold a hint of sarcasm?

If Fiske noticed, he gave no indication, and said, “I think it a waste of time. Climbing has better goals. Will you climb while you are there?”

Ty shook his head. “No. It would be a trek across ice.”

Beck’s attention shifted to her. “So, what do you think?”

If for no other reason than to irritate Fiske, she answered, “I’ve always wanted to visit Antarctica.”

Ty gave her a sidelong glance, a wicked gleam in his eyes. “Then you should come.”

She smiled and looked away before she did a happy jig over the open invitation.

Packer moved to stand beside her and said, “But please, by all that’s holy, don’t go near any strange creatures and try to study their DNA. We all know what happened in ‘The Thing.’”

“Because that was a completely true story,” Ditch said in a dry tone.

“Did you know that the dot on an ‘i’ is called a tittle?” Packer chuckled.

“Do you get whiplash?”

“From what?”

“Your ADD,” Ditch said.

Lindsey looked over her shoulder at Packer. “That movie wasn’t really that farfetched. The alien functioned like a virus, infecting its host and taking over. Viruses like to jump around, and we humans are ripe for the picking because we like to take a lot of risks. We eat things we probably shouldn’t, and we poke around in places where maybe we should stay away.”

Packer’s eyes widened. “Like here?”

Lindsey smiled. “We do like to push those boundaries. It’s evolution, baby.”

Copyright © 2019 K. McCaffrey LLC

COLD HORIZON is available in ebook and print.

Kindle | Nook | Apple | Kobo | Google Play | Print

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Win a print copy of Blue Sage

Don't miss my August website giveaway - a print copy of my long novella Blue Sage, a contemporary western romance.

Braden Delaney has taken over the family cattle business after the death of his father, but faced with difficult financial decisions, he contemplates selling a portion of the massive Delaney ranch holdings known as Whisper Rock, a place of unusual occurrences. Archaeologist Audrey Driggs arrives in the remote wilderness of Northern Arizona looking for clues to a life-altering experience from her childhood. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.

Click here and enter today.

Blue Sage can be found at these eBook vendors.