An old neighbor of mine once told me that Florida had two seasons: summer and hell. We would be in the “summer” part of the calendar now, but it’s been unseasonably cold. If you can believe it, 60 degrees in the Keys is down jacket weather.
It’s been a busy few months for me. I finished my radiation therapy last week and am hoping the side effects subside in the next few weeks. It hasn’t been to bad though. While I’ve been stuck at home, I finished the first few edits on Wood’s Fury, which is now with the editor. It is available for preorder now, and will be released on March 4th.
I’ve also been busy working on my Writing out Cancer project. The first collection is set and will be released on Amazon (and in KU) for 2.99 sometime in the next few weeks. Murder and Mayhem in Paradise will feature: Dawn McKenna, Wayne Stinnett, Michael Reisig, Don Rich, and myself. I’ve got several other collections in different genres scheduled over the rest of the year.
After my last radiation appointment last week, I high-tailed it down to the Keys. There was work to be done on our vacation rental in Marathon before the busy season, but I wanted to do some research as well.
Key West is a fascinating location and I’ve often used the “alternate” means of transportation in my books. On the island it is often faster to ride a bike than drive. In my Mac Travis Adventures, I’ve featured scooters, golf carts, bicycles, and the ever present iconic pink cabs. Here are some pictures I took last week.
I’ll be in touch soon when the Writing out Cancer collection goes live.
Thanks for all your support for Shifting Sands. The book broke into the top thousand of Amazon on its release which is mostly due to you guys. The next Mac Travis Adventure: Wood’s Fury (release 3/4) is available for preorder now. Without giving away any spoilers, I ended up going back to Shifting Sands for the backstory. If you liked Wood’s Tempest, be sure to check it out.
Many people think the Florida Keys end at Key West. In fact, just the craziness stops on the island. The Dry Tortugas, located seventy miles to the west, are a small cluster of islands that are the real end of island chain. The area is renowned for its crystal clear water, fishing and diving. Some of the key scenes it Wood’s Tempest, Wood’s Fury, and Shifting Sands take place there.
Garden Key is the most famous, hosting the iconic Fort Jefferson. Construction of the fort began in 1846 and continued until 1875 when the project was abandoned. Built from sixteen million bricks shipped from Pensacola, the fort sits in what at the time was a strategically important area separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and the shipping traffic between the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard.
During the Civil War, the Union had Key West and Fort Jefferson as its only strongholds in the south. The fort was instrumental in blockading Southern shipping. It was later used as a prison with its most famous resident being Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who set the broken leg of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
Due to some design flaws the fort has fallen into disrepair and in now a National Park. You can visit by taking a ferry or seaplane from Key West. Last summer we took the plane ride (research is tax deductible!). It was a great day filled with history and snorkeling.
Hope you are all well and looking forward to a great 2019. I really want to thank all of you for the success of Wood’s Tempest. It’s got almost fifty five star reviews and is doing very well in the charts.
Shifting Sands, the fourth book in my historical fiction series is out now. If you want to find out the backstory for Wood’s Tempest, I really think you’ll enjoy this one. The series, though set in the 1820’s, is not heavy with detail and bogged down with nineteenth century fun facts, though there are a few. I like to think of the books as adventures, set back in the day. It’s historical Fiction with a capital F not H.
I’m just about done with the first draft of the next Mac Travis Adventure, Wood’s Fury, which should be released in early March. I’ll be sure to send out the link when it is available on preorder for a discounted price. Up next is Backwater Flats, the seventh book in the Kurt Hunter Mystery series. After that, I plan on heading to Italy with the Storms.
For those of you following my health saga, I’m just over halfway done with my radiation therapy for prostate cancer. So far I’m feeling good and most days I ride my bicycle to the treatment. After that, it’s a wait and see kind of thing for a couple of months.
Writing out Cancer, the non-profit I am setting up, should be live soon. I think it will be a great way to get the word out about the importance of screening in exchange for some great free reads. The support from my fellow authors had been heartwarming, and I’m excited about the first compilation.
I want to thank you all for making the release of Wood’s Tempest such as success. Shifting Sands, the backstory for the treasure, is now available for pre-order, and will be released on January 15th. Right now, I’m about halfway through Wood’s Fury, the ninth Mac Travis Adventure.
Looking back on 2018 it has been a year of change for me. For starters, we moved from California to Florida. I lived in Tampa from 1985-2000 and am glad to be back. We’re really enjoying fishing and paddling the water here as well as the closeness to the Keys.
I’ve had some health issues as well. Normally, I am a very closed person. Coming from a family where most things are on a “need to know basis”—meaning no one needs to know anything, it is hard for me to publicly speak about myself.
In this case, it’s important.
A few years ago, at age 57, one of the legends in Northern California paddling died from cancer. l’m a competitive outrigger canoe paddler as well. We are the same age and I knew him. This and my girlfriends persistence were the reason I got tested. With no symptoms and negative exams, I was diagnosed with and aggressive form of prostate cancer (Gleason 4+4) and had a radical prostatectomy in September 2017. Nothing is currently showing on my PET and bone scans, but my PSA never went away and now has risen enough to warrant radiation.
A simple blood test saved me.
I’d like to utilize you guys, as well as other authors—with or without cancer—to get the word out about how vital cancer screening is. I came up with Writing Out Cancer as a way to get the word out about the importance of cancer screening, and offer a free anthology of books as a reward. I’m working with several other authors right now to make this happen.
Hopefully we can make an impact.
Wishing you all the best for you and your families this holiday season.
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.