It’s been five years since I released my first book, Wood’s Reef. It was a story I had been carrying around in my head for years and finally got down on paper. Its’s been a great ride since then and today, Wood’s Tempest, the eighth book in the Mac Travis Adventure series is available.
I’ve written books based in other areas: Biscayne Bay and Miami (The Kurt Hunter series), Hawaii (Storm Force), The Virgin Islands (Storm Rising), Mexico (Dorado Duet), and a handful of Caribbean Islands (Tides of Fortune). After writing about all those exotic locations, the Florida Keys and Mac’s world is still my favorite.
The Keys have a certain flavor, that is both accessible and unique. I’ve always said the Keys were a Caribbean paradise that you could drive to (and tow a boat!). From the craziness of Key West, the remoteness of Fort Jefferson, to the backcountry where Wood’s Island lies, there is both history and mystery in the crystal clear waters.
Writing a Mac Travis adventure is both hard and satisfying. Where I think of the Backwater and Tides of Fortune series like a TV show, the Mac Travis books are like movies. It takes a lot to weave these stories together, but it is so rewarding—especially the research!
Wood’s Tempest covers the entire length of the islands, from TJ’s dive shop in Key Largo to the end of the line, the Dry Tortugas—and everything in between. It’s a great mix of action, adventure, mystery, and history with an added dose of treasure. I really hope you enjoy it.
Mac is back in an all new adventure and it’s available to pre order now on Amazon. I really enjoyed researching and writing this book. It actually took three books to tell this story: Backwater Tide, Wood’s Tempest, and an all new Tides of Fortune book called Shifting Sands (to be released in January). Backwater Tide has Kurt and Justine solving the murder of famed treasure hunter Gill Gross, but his years of research were handed over to Mac at the end of the story. Wood’s Tempest takes off from there with Gross’s rival coming after the data, forcing Mac to pursue the treasure to keep it from him. Shifting Sands takes us back to 1824 when Nick and the gang find and then lose the treasure. As always there’s plenty of action and interesting history.
There are some great locations that I was lucky enough to visit including a seaplane ride to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. To complete the back story of where this all started, we just returned from a trip to the Yucatan.
You can see all the locations in Wood’s Tempest by clicking this link to a Google Map.
I want to thank each and every one of you for making 2018 the most rewarding year of my writing career. Releasing the six books to date in the Backwater series, Wood’s Tempest, and Shifting Sands has been challenging, but fun as well. Your input through emails and the new FaceBook group (Steven Beckers First Responders) has been heartwarming.
Coming into 2019 I plan to add several books to the Backwater series, another Mac Travis or two and look for the return of the Storms in Storm Surge.
Wishing all of you a happy and healthy holiday season. Mine is certainly the better for having you behind me.
I’m almost done with the first draft of the next Mac Travis adventure: Wood’s Tempest. It’s been too long since I hung out with Mac and company and I’m really enjoying it. That release should be coming in November. Mac makes an appearance in Backwater Tide and Kurt reciprocates in Wood’s Tempest. The stories are also linked together with Wood’s Tempest taking off where Backwater Tide ends. The back story also comes from the forthcoming Tides of Fortune book that I’m also working on. Writing in three worlds to get this story to work has been harder than I thought, but I think you’ll like the result.
I met John Cunningham, author of the Buck Reilly series with Wayne Stinnett at Smokin’ Tuna in Key West. We only thought it right that since we met, our characters should as well, so I’m working Buck into the new Mac Travis.
Many of you have asked whether I write when I’m in the Keys. The answer is no. I go fishing and diving, soak it all in, make notes, and bring it home with me. This trip the wind was up for most of it, but we got to enjoy some good times in Key West with my daughter (she’s 21 now so it’s all legal). Here’s a sample from my last trip. Stay tuned to see how I work these random ideas into the stories.
I want to thank you guys for all the emails with ideas and comments. Thinking about this, I thought it might be pretty cool to put together a Facebook Group for us. From book titles to character quirks to technical assistance (weapons, medical, legal, boats, etc.) I could use your help. If you have any particular area of expertise or just want to check it out, you can join here:
Treasure has always fascinated me. I think it does for everyone. There is little to match the frustration and excitement of searching for and finding a long lost Spanish Galleon. South Florida and the Keys have their share and are best know as the final resting place of the Atocha, the 1715 fleet on the Treasure Coast and the 1733 fleet off the Keys.
Salvors have worked the Florida waters for centuries. Originally using Indians and slaves as divers and primitive gear to the current use of state of the art technology and remote operated submarines, billions of dollars in treasure is still sitting on the ocean floor. Therewards are beyond belief when you find them, but It is a near impossible task to research and locate a seventeenth or eighteenth century ship. The wood hull is long gone, eaten by Teredo worms and beaten by storm after storm; the treasure often covered by feet of shifting sands. The only clues left are often a few cannon and munitions and a pile of ballast— hopefully smooth stones from Spanish rivers.
Treasure also changes people, revealing their true and often not so pretty nature. Backwater Tide takes Kurt and Justine right into this world.
Tide is also the first of a three-book project that I’m working on. Kurt originally appeared in Wood’s Betrayal helping Mac stop a group of human smugglers. Mac returns the favor here joining Kurt in the hunt for the murderer—and treasure.
I’m well into the next Mac Travis Adventure that takes off right after Backwater Tide ends which will be released in late November. For all you Mac Travis fans, read this first. There’s also a great back story to the book that will be revealed in the next Tides of Fortune book available in late December. Then it’s off to Italy for the Storm crew
Thank you so much for your support and reviews. 2018 has been a year that I never thought possible when I started writing and it is because of you guys.
Steve and I would like to thank you for the support you’ve shown for our stories. We’ve got another just about to be released called Backwater Pass.
In past posts, I’ve taken you through the land features and some of the history of the park. I thought this would be an opportunity to touch on the other 95%: the water. Containing both inshore and offshore waters, the park extends out to about the 45’ contour line in the Atlantic. The bay is mostly shallow and grassy where the ocean has scattered patch reefs and just offshore hosts the start of the Florida Keys reef system.
One of the main attractions of the park are the artificial Reefs. These have been around as long as man has taken to the seas. First in the form of sunken ships and now created by dumping construction debris. Regardless of their origin, the man-made reefs are natural fish attractors and when prepared properly are natural hosts for coral and marine life.
One of Biscayne National Park biggest draws is the Maritime Heritage trail featuring six wrecks. These popular dive and snorkel spots attract thousands of people every year. The book starts with Kurt, Allie, and Justine diving on one of these wrecks. A major element of the story is the disposal of a bridge to make a reef, although you’ll have to read the story to see how complicated that became.
Steve tells me there is one more story coming up called Backwater Tide which should be released in September. Mac Travis also makes an appearance in the story. Many of you may remember it was in one of Mac’s stories: Wood’s Betrayal where I first met both him and Justine. I owe him a lot and hope to pay it back with something I’ve left for him at the end which will be continue the story in Wood’s Tempest, which Steve tells me is scheduled to be released in November.
I have visited the Big Island of Hawaii twice and spent the night in the town of Volcano on one trip. Before sunrise that morning we went to the caldera by the park headquarters and watched the sun rise beyond the steaming pit. Touring the park and the rest of the island you can see evidence of the previous eruptions of Kiluea and Mauna Loa everywhere. Lava, now cooled, looks like rivers or fields of rock on the barren landscape. Even diving we saw formations created when the red-hot flowing lava was stopped by the sea.
Several years ago, a minor eruption almost erased the town and changed the coastline. The new black sand beach is the result of the wave action on the fres lava. At the end of the road where the flowing lava erased a small town, there is a farmers market held every Wednesday called Uncle Roberts. It’s like a Grateful Dead concert without the Dead and was featured in Storm Force.
The premise for Storm Force was derived from a major eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1790. It had been only ten years since Captain Cook had discovered the island. Known for his accurate charts, finding one of the coast would be the only way to confirm the changes made by the eruption— and what they could have concealed. Without the charts, only second and third hand accounts of the event have survived.
Now, for the first time in years, the volcano has erupted again, in much the same way. Fortunately there are enough early warning systems in place that the only damage to date has been to structures. There have been no serious injuries or fatalities.
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Steve and I have a new story called Backwater Key. He tells me there is going to be one more book in my series and then in October, there will be another Mac Travis Adventure. Backwater Key is a story about how things can go off the rails in the park during a government shutdown.
Biscayne Bay National Park has plenty of history. The island that I live on with Ray, Becky, Jamie, and of course Zero is called Adams Key now, but was originally Cocolobo Key. Developed in 1922, the island was visited by four presidents” Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon as well as then Senator John F. Kennedy. The only thing remaining is the large lawn where the two houses are located. The original club burned down in 1974 and the rest of the structures were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Another cool location from the book is Boca Chita Key. Located on the northern end of the park It is one of the two islands in the park that allows camping. There is a nice harbor, a beach, and a lighthouse. The sixty-five foot ornamental lighthouse was built in the 1930s by the Honeywell family when they developed the island as a family retreat.
There are two ways in and out of the keys by car. Card Sound Road was the original route with a wooden swing-style drawbridge over the bay. After WW II, US 1 was rerouted to its present course. On the approach to the Card Sound Bridge you can find Alabama Jacks. The famous bar has been around for fifty years and is known for its Conch Fritters and bikers (you might find some of them in the story).
If you want to follow along with the locations, I have updated the Google Map – CLICK HERE.
A friend of Steve’s, Wayne Stinnett has released a new book that I am enjoying right now called Enduring Charity. You can check it out by clicking here.
When National Parks Service special agent Kurt Hunter finds a woman washed up on his remote island in Biscayne National Park the case leads him to the world of high rolling boosters and the young players who will do anything to make their mark.
With millions on the line in the world of college football, recruiting the top players is crucial. Money and women are often used to lure the top high school prospects to schools. With big penalties for getting caught, boosters will do anything—even kill—to cover their tracks and keep their alma maters on top.
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Available on Kindle and paperback.
Read the complete Kurt Hunter Mystery series:
I want to thank you all again for making Steve’s books such a success. He ran a promo of Backwater Bay a few weeks ago and it reached #29 in the entire Kindle Store.
It looks like my stories have turned into a series. Steve and I would like to announce the release of the third book: Backwater Cove which will be available on April 3. The fourth book, Backwater Key is available to preorder now and will be released May 21st. I’ve been bugging Steve to write the next Mac Travis Adventure. He says he’s on it and you can look for that release sometime in August.
Backwater Cove has some cool locations. It’s got Adams Key, where I live as well as South Beach and Miami. Some of the main action happens in a place called Stiltsville.
Development of the outer islands in Biscayne Bay started in the 1920s and 1930s. A lot of it fell under the “get rich quick schemes” which South Florida is notorious for. There are deep water canals that go nowhere and cleared areas that may or may not have been built on. The eye of Hurricane Andrew passed over the bay in 1992 erasing a good deal of it.
Stiltsville was started in the 1920s. Located a mile offshore in the shallows of the bay, the purpose of the original structures was to avoid prohibition. After 1933, the area became better know for gambling as it was legal then then if you were one mile from shore. At its peak the community totaled thirty structures. A few of the older clubs were Crawfish Eddies, The Calvert Club, and The Quarterdeck Club. Later on Party Central, The Miami Springs Power Boat Club (which still remains), and The Bikini Club.
“Off Key Biscayne is a renegade village on stilts where weekend residents live by their own laws. Their town hall is a floating Bikini Club that swings both day and night.” – Ward Kennedy from a 1967 article Bikinis on Stilts.
Hurricane Betsy in 1965 was the beginning of the end for Stiltsville. Following the storm fees were charged, permits ceased, and any structure with over 50% damage was to be removed. Over the years the number of buildings have dwindled to seven, which are now in a trust.
If there were a bad neighborhood in the park, Stiltsville would be it and it lives up to its reputation in Backwater Cove. If you want to follow along with the locations, I have updated the Google Map – CLICK HERE.
If you want some more true-life Keys adventure, be sure to check out Michael Reisig’s latest: True Tails of the Road to Key West
I can’t thank you enough for reading the first of my adventures: Backwater Bay. Steve has written another one, called Backwater Channel, that can be pre-ordered today and is released on Feb 15th. This was an interesting case and has some great locations. Biscayne Bay National Park, or what I call my “office” is set just to the south of Miami. With a view of downtown, the chimneys of the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant and its miles of cooling canals to the west, and mangrove lined shores everywhere else, the park is so varied, Steve thought I should give you a tour.
Check out the Google Map I’ve made with some of the landmarks and key locations in the first two stories: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1APBzyefPpzoNrFNBCHzFYb85Coc&usp=sharing. Each location has a picture of the spot to give you a better idea of what I see everyday.
The red dots are some of the landmarks I see or visit in my daily travels: my home at Adams Key, the park service headquarters building, and the offices of the Miami-Dade medical examiner and forensics lab. There are also a few other key landmarks that dominate the landscape and play a part in the stories. Check out the Homestead-Miami Speedway and the cooling canals at the power plant.
The blue dots are from the stories. You can see where Herb and Holly lived, the Miami Marina, and the locations in the backwaters of the park where stuff just seems to happen.
Check out Backwater Channel for the latest on Justine, Sid, Martinez, Susan McLeash, and the rest of your favorites.