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Monday, January 16, 2017

Monkey Jungle

By Kristy McCaffrey

Over Christmas, my family and I went on our first-ever cruise. My husband and I were celebrating our silver anniversary and wanted a way to bring our college-aged children, significant others, and grandparents together in an easy way. One of our stops was the Dominican Republic, where we visited Monkey Jungle, a sanctuary for squirrel and capuchin monkeys who have been rescued from the exotic pet trade and the inevitable abuse that occurs from it.

A squirrel monkey mama and her baby.

Squirrel monkeys.

We first entered a large enclosure with each of us bearing a plate of banana slices and raisins. Although we were told not to touch the squirrel monkeys, the monkeys didn’t get the memo. While they have little affinity for humans, they’ve been conditioned to approach for food, and to everyone’s delight they hopped all over us. It was a unique opportunity to see these little creatures up close.

My mom making a new friend.
My daughter Kate making an offering.

The mamas were quite agile with the babies on their backs.
My son Ben.
Ben's girlfriend, Layla. She was very nervous, but check
out the photo below.

My son Sam.
Sam's girlfriend, Alex. I think she got this little
guy to pose.
This is me, trying not to startle them, although they
certainly startled us.
My dad.

The monkeys didn't seem to mind all the attention.
In a smaller enclosure nested inside the larger one, the sanctuary also housed several capuchin monkeys. These much bigger primates were so aggressive that we were cautioned not to approach the cage. Capuchins can be quite manipulative and will entice you close with air kisses and the waving of their hands only to steal your iPhone and break it.


Capuchin monkeys.

The capuchins, unfortunately, were all severely abused and bear long-term emotional scars. Our lively guide—a young biology student from Minnesota—shared that socially they are all a bit off. For instance, one of the males has no interest in female capuchins and has instead imprinted his romantic longings on the human biologist. She says there are times when their interactions become a bit weird.

Another male, who is the largest and should therefore be the alpha, has no idea how to attain that position, so a smaller male has filled that spot. Apparently, one day the larger one accidently fought back and by rights became the alpha. He was so distraught that he cried all day because he had no idea what to do. Within a day, the group of females had turned away from him and given alpha status back to the smaller male.


Monkey Jungle is a well-run facility and their work in helping these challenged monkeys is admirable.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Massive Giveaway

Lit Ring Giveaway



I’m participating with over 300 authors for a huge promotion this month and there are awesome prizes!!

All you need to do is answer a few questions on a very fun quiz. You’ll discover new-to-you books based on your answers.

And what can you win?

1 ~ $500 gift card
4 ~ $100 gift cards
1 Kindle Fire
1 Nook Color
1 iPad Mini
1 Kobo Aura


Don’t wait - enter today!




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Resolve Your Resolutions

By Kristy McCaffrey

It’s that time of year again.


I recently came across the concept of Sankalpa from the yoga tradition. A sankalpa practice begins with the premise that you are already enough to fulfill your life’s dharma. The trick, then, is to focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and channel the divine energy within. Sounds easy enough. Hah.



My writing goals last year were lofty and I didn’t reach them. My latest release (The Bluebird) was a cool ten months late. So, as I look at what I want to accomplish in 2017, I’m feeling both ambitious and cautiously guarded, knowing how easy it is for such plans to go out the window.



A few items on my to-do list for 2017:

**A new website.


**Distribute my Wings series at multiple vendors (they are currently exclusive on Amazon and the Kindle Unlimited program, but that will end this week; my goal has always been for wider distribution).

**Create an audio option of Alice: Bride of Rhode Island (if all goes well with this book, I’ll move on to the Wings series).

**Create a newsletter-exclusive novella tied to my Wings series (this is almost complete and is titled Song Of The Wren—it features Matt, Molly, Nathan, and Emma two years after The Wren and The Sparrow, with a cameo from Cale—be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get all the deets as soon as they’re available—this story will be FREE to newsletter subscribers).

**Release the first book in a new contemporary series. The first novel is titled Deep Blue and features a marine biologist studying great white sharks. It’s a sexy, adventurous story that I hope to release in the spring. It will be followed by two more books, tentatively titled Cold Horizon (about high-altitude mountain climbers on K2) and Ancient Winds (a female archaeologist in Bolivia). These three titles will be tied together with siblings, but I hope to write more books that will be loosely linked to these characters as well. I’ve been sitting on these story ideas for quite a while; with my Wings series now complete, I decided it was finally time to focus on these books. Creative concepts tend to gnaw on a writer and make them irritable if not eventually released.

I have a few more goals, but I’m not going to overload myself. I owe it to my husband to not be so burdened by work that I’m a grump all the time. So, I will focus on the new books, which are truly a desire of my heart, thus allowing the writing muse an easier path (and maybe an easier flow during the first drafts).

If we accept that we already have the tools we need to succeed, then the inner path of resistance can be quieted and we can simply get to work.


Here's to a productive 2017!


****

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Monday, December 19, 2016

A Few Of My Favorite Things

By Kristy McCaffrey

As 2016 comes to a close, it's natural to think about the hardships we've endured, but I thought I'd share some of my favorite things. Not to sound cliche, but an 'attitude of gratitude' can move mountains, big and small.

1. Eggnog. Creamy, sweet...in short, the perfect beverage.


2. Space Opera Novels.

3. Catalog Shopping.

4. Family Feud. It airs when we eat dinner. The husband and I get quite involved.


5. Great White Sharks.

6. My husband's sense of humor.

7. Going to yoga class with my dad.


8. Achieving my Goodreads reading goal.

9. Running in the desert.

10. Popcorn at the movies.


11. Instagram. My favorite app. Ever.

12. The week after coloring my hair - no gray.

13. The bird feeder outside my home office window - visited by sparrows, rock wrens, finches, mourning doves, gilded flickers, and a gorgeous pair of red cardinals.

14. Autumn squash soup sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.


15. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - making a difference by saving one orphaned baby elephant at a time.


16. Apple and cinnamon air freshener.

17. Jumble puzzles.

18. Blueberry pie.


19. Hearing 'Sleigh Ride' on the radio.

20. Having all my children at home at the same time.


Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

*****
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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Guest Post: Author Paty Jager

Please welcome author Paty Jager to my blog!!

Kristy, thank you for having me here today. 

I'm Paty Jager, a hardcore Oregonian who enjoys living and writing the western lifestyle. I recently re-released my second contemporary western romance, Bridled Heart. While it can't be slated as the book of my heart, it is a story that I felt compelled to write. One reviewer said it should come with a warning even though it isn't graphic. The warning is because this book is about one woman's strength and belief in herself to overcome childhood sexual abuse.

I didn’t write this story as a downer in any way. I wrote it to give women who have had a similar experience in their life to know they can make a change and they can be happy.

This story is upbeat and leads the heroine, Gina Montgomery, on one more self-discovery. That she can have a normal life after all she's been through. And the kicker—it's with a rodeo cowboy of all people. Having a stereotypical image of cowboys, she comes to learn that people can't be put into categories and you never know who can come along and change your look on life.



Gina is a stickler for rules. Ones she makes for herself. Holt Reynolds, bareback bronc rider, is all about knowing when the rules should be broken. He realizes there is something special about Gina and also a sadness he was too busy to see in his suicidal sister.

The most fun I had writing this book was interviewing four-time PRCA World Champion Bareback Rider Bobby Mote and his wife Kate. They have a wonderful family and were very open and forthright in answering my questions about the rodeo lifestyle. 

Do you like reading romance books about sensitive subjects?

Here is the blurb and excerpt for Bridled Heart.

ER nurse, Gina Montgomery, uses a self-imposed vow of celibacy to keep from getting too close to anyone. Music saved her from an abusive past. But that same solace compromises her solitary life when her piano playing draws the attention of a handsome bareback rider. 

Holt Reynolds let his sister down when she needed him most. Seeing similarities between his sister and Gina, he can’t get visions of the woman or her poignant music out of his mind. He vows to find a way to free her of her past and prays it doesn’t resurface and destroy their chance at happiness.


Excerpt

 “I’m between jobs. I always take several weeks off to help with the fundraiser.”
“Why this event?” He laced his fingers together, resting his hands in front of him. His coffee-colored gaze held admiration.
Gina dropped her gaze and picked at her napkin. His interest was flattering, and he hadn’t attended the event just to inflate his image. If that had been his agenda, he would have stayed to be photographed with the person who purchased his art.  She peered into his smiling face. He waited so patiently for her to answer. By this time, most men had given up on her and moved on to someone else. She searched his eyes, surprised to find genuine interest. 
She took a deep breath and hoped she wasn’t going to regret divulging more. “I see so many children in the ER rooms who…” She turned her head and chewed on her cuticle. When they arrived needing her care, she put aside her emotions and did the job, but afterward, she always broke down. She knew how it felt to grow up feeling different. How could a parent do that to a child?
He placed his hand over her other one on the table. “It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me. I can see their plight affects you.” He squeezed. “I could tell when you were playing the piano, your heart is filled with sorrow.”
Gina stared into his eyes. The sincerity of his words and the acceptance of her pain, even though he thought it was all for others made her want to weep. She hadn’t had anyone care about her in so long, she didn’t know how to act.
Jerking her hand out from under his, she stood. “I have to go.”
“Wait.” He snagged her hand as she grabbed her coat from the back of the chair. “Do you have a phone number?”
He held her firm but gentle. Warmth spiraled up her arm and settled in her chest. Why didn’t she feel frightened or invaded by this man? She shook her head. She didn’t want to see him again. If she did, it would be hard to remain faithful to her vow. He’d started to seep into the empty cracks created over the years.
Holt took her coat and helped her into it. He didn’t know why she’d jumped like a scared rabbit, but he’d let her go, and could only hope she’d contact him when she was ready.
“Don’t move.” He peered in her eyes to make sure she wouldn’t bolt, then grabbed a pen and napkin from the counter to scribble on.
“Here’s my cell. I have it on and with me all the time except when I ride.” He tucked the paper into her pocket. “Call me. Anytime. For whatever reason.”
She stared into his eyes before turning and disappearing out the door. Fear sliced through him. The hurt and confusion in her eyes tugged at his heart. He’d witnessed that same thing in another pair of brown eyes and regretted not taking the time to ask questions. His gut told him Gina was a lot like Sherrie.
He didn’t do right by his sister, but, somehow, he’d do right this time.



The ebook is $0.99 until Dec. 10th

Amazon / Nook / Apple / Kobo  


Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Western Romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

blog / websiteFacebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest

Monday, December 5, 2016

NaNoWriMo

By Kristy McCaffrey


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Each November, writers everywhere attempt to write a novel in 30 days. To ‘win’, you must write 50,000 words. This is approximately the length of a long novella. My books tend to run between 70,000 and 85,000 words, so this endeavor doesn’t yield a complete novel for me, however, I’ve always made an effort to get to THE END by skipping scenes and lengthy descriptions along the way.

I’ve just completed my second NaNo and I’m happy to report that I met the goal of 50K. But it wasn’t easy. NaNo never is. That’s the point. It pushes a writer to their creative limits and beyond.


To reach 50K in 30 days, a writer must punch out 1667 words per day. Since there’s a U.S. holiday smack-dab in November (Thanksgiving), I set a goal of 2000 words per day. This would give me some cushion and allow me to take a few days off while I had a house filled with family. It also provided a buffer for those days when the words just weren’t flowing, as well as the unexpected event (mid-November my husband and I had to transfer our youngest daughter rather abruptly from boarding school, throwing a stressful wrench into my schedule).


NaNo teaches discipline. For me, writing 2000 words (4 single-spaced, typed pages) often takes several hours. And some days, it was so bleepin’ hard. I knew my story, I knew the main characters (well, kinda), and I knew the pathos I was searching for, but writing them down is always something entirely different. Scenes veer off-course and characters behave differently than imagined, and because of the pace of NaNo there’s no time to breathe. No editing, no languishing in research books searching for ideas to spark my ideas. In some ways, it’s a bulldozer approach. But it is effective.


I now have a beautiful, somewhat messy, first draft. Even better, I know my hero and heroine in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I’ve been in the trenches with them. I’ve found their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Now, I can revise and use these to the advantage of the story. But there’s also a slew of inconsistent plot points, repetition, characters who serve no purpose at all, and what I call ‘pivoting’, when I made a major change mid-story but didn’t go back to fix the earlier parts—I moved forward as if I’d already changed them. If anyone was to read this first draft, they would surely say: What were you thinking? But this process is highly productive, which is why so many writers participate each year, logging into our accounts each day to post our progress, reading motivating messages from big-time authors, and tracking the momentum of our writing buddies. NaNo brings out our competitive nature and that’s not a bad thing. It’s the Ironman event for writers.

The manuscript I produced isn’t my usual stuff. With the conclusion of my Wings of the West series this year, I decided to take a break from historical western romances and write something else I love—women exploring the world. Tentatively titled DEEP BLUE, this first book in a new series is a contemporary romance set against the backdrop of great white shark research. My heroine, Grace, is a marine biologist who likes to get up close and personal with her subjects. The hero, Alec, is hired to film a documentary about her, to aid Grace in her quest to provide conservation measures for the sharks, but he’s also haunted by a previous expedition that went horribly wrong. His growing feelings for Grace leave him conflicted about how far to push the boundaries between humans and the great whites that inhabit the waters around Guadalupe Island in Baja California.


It’s my hope to have a revised manuscript completed in the next several weeks and release it in the spring of 2017, if all goes well. Thanks to NaNo, the most challenging part is complete—the first draft. Facing the unknown abyss of a story can be disconcerting. NaNo forces a writer into those murky depths. It’s true—creative undertakings can be frightening and writers often develop sly little evasion mechanisms to avoid facing a blank page and the daunting task of writing an entire book. But there’s no magic formula—it’s all in the baby steps and steady progress, and NaNo provides that in a very compressed and intense atmosphere.


Are you a writer? Wanna give NaNo a try? Check out their website and finish your book at last.

*********


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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Turkey Trot Blog Hop

By Kristy McCaffrey

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday season here in the U.S., my thoughts always turn to one thing. Okay, yes, it's pumpkin pie but the other thought is how much I look forward to sneaking away from the crowd of family and friends and losing myself in a book.


I did this as a child and I admit the impulse is still there as an adult. Back in my youth, I would clutch my latest Nancy Drew book close, but these days I'm fortunate to have my kindle handy. It's always filled with an exciting adventure, whether it be a romance or a sci-fi yarn or a thrilling young adult dystopian fantasy.


I remember going to my grandmother's house with a book in hand, just in case I found a bit of down time, and I usually did.


So what are you reading this holiday? Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming, so it only makes sense to stock up on some great reads.


Nothing makes it easier to tune out your family than a good book. :-)


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To get you started, check out this blog hop!!
Leave a comment on my blog for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and an autographed copy of
ALICE: Bride of Rhode Island.
(International winners will receive an ebook instead of a paperback.)
You'll also be automatically entered in the Grand Prize giveaway -- a $50 Amazon gift card.
Visit the other blogs for a chance to win more prizes and gain additional entries for the grand prize.
All winners will be chosen on Friday, November 25. Please leave an email in your comment so that you can be contacted in the event that you win.

Find all the Turkey Trot Blog Hop info here.

Visit all the participating blogs:



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ALICE is on sale for only 99 cents!!

Kindle


Alice: Bride of Rhode Island is thirteenth in the unprecedented 50-book American Mail-Order Brides series.

Fleeing her stepfather and an arranged marriage in Newport, Alice Endicott finds work as a seamstress at the Brown Textile Mill near Boston. When a devastating fire destroys the factory, she and all the girls face dire unemployment circumstances. But hope arrives when their manager, Roberta McDaniel, shares the Grooms’ Gazette with them. Each woman will choose a husband and become a mail-order bride. As Alice’s friends—Lottie, Leora, Judith, Beth, Lessie and Josie—embrace the idea, she too becomes caught up in the excitement of a grand new adventure.

When fisherman Frank Martel contacts her, Alice can’t pass up the opportunity to return to Rhode Island despite her stepfather’s presence. Upon arriving at the train station in Tiverton, however, Frank neglects to meet her.

James Martel is shocked to find a woman at the rail depot claiming to be his brother’s fiancée. Even more surprising is her connection to a man who ruined James’ father years before. When Frank confesses that he can no longer wed Alice, James steps forward to fill the role since the beautiful young woman holds the key to avenging the Martel name.

Can Alice convince her new husband that their marriage is worth saving once she discovers his subterfuge? And will James learn that love is more important than revenge?

A sweet romance set in 1890 America.

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