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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Questionable Place Names in Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Arizona has its share of place names that might make people cringe today, dating back to a colorful past and regional biases.

Throughout the state there are at least 15 geographic features whose names include "Negro." This was actually an improvement that took place in 1963 when the U.S. Geological Survey updated designations that contained a different n-word. These places include Negro Ben Peak, Negro Ben Spring and Negro Flat. But not every name is linked to racist terminology—Cerro Negro, a summit in Pima County, gets its name from the Spanish words meaning "black hill."

Today, the word "squaw" is considered offensive. A rather prominent site in the Phoenix area, Squaw Peak, was renamed Piestewa Peak in 2003, after the first Native American woman to die in combat in the U.S. military in Iraq. But there are still at least a dozen features in the state with the word "squaw" in the name—two Squaw Buttes, two Squaw Creeks and six other Squaw Peaks.

Piestewa Peak
 The Chinaman Trail, a 2.6-mile hiking trail in the Coronado National Forest, got its name because of the Chinese laborers who constructed it around the turn of the century. There are two China Peaks in Arizona. In Cochise County, Chinese people from California financed a mine in the area; in Graham County, chinaberry trees grew in the vicinity.

China Peak

Skull Valley, near Prescott, got its name after a battle between Yavapai and Maricopa Indians. The dead were never removed. When settlers moved in, they were forced to build on land littered with the remains of human skulls.

Bloody Basin, north of Phoenix, speaks to a deadly skirmish as well, but the name more likely originated when a herd of sheep crossed a bridge that gave way, sending the animals tumbling to the rocks below.

Bloody Basin
The most provocative name, however, is Helen's Dome in southeastern Arizona. Designated for a hill that lies within sight of Fort Bowie—and is shaped like a breast—it was reportedly christened after the well-endowed wife of an officer in residence at the fort. The original name was Helen's Tit, but was later softened to Helen's Dome.

While many place names have been changed, they are so numerous—with many in remote locations—that the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names considers name changes only when a petition is submitted.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Arizona State University

By Kristy McCaffrey

In 1886, the Arizona Territory offered a less-than-ideal educational environment. The Pleasant Valley War between competing cattle rustling gangs was in full swing and wouldn’t end until six years later in a fatal gunfight in the town of Tempe. Despite this, however, Tempe—with the burgeoning towns of Phoenix and Mesa nearby—would become home to the Arizona Territorial Normal School.

The school was opened on February 8, 1886 on a 20-acre cow pasture that belonged to George and Martha Wilson. The institution began with a four-classroom building, a well, and an outhouse to instruct the first 33 students. These young men and women arrived on horseback—some having ridden for miles from Mesa or tiny farming communities even farther away—and, in addition to their studies, would need to rent a room with a local family during their enrollment.

Teddy Roosevelt visits Old Main at Arizona State University
March 20, 1911

The Normal School was charged to provide “instruction of persons, both male and female, in the art of teaching, and in all the various branches that pertain to a good common school education; also, to give instruction in the mechanical arts and in husbandry and agricultural chemistry, in the fundamental law of the United States, and in what regards the rights and duties of citizens.”

Charles Trumbull Hayden
The idea for a school of higher education was spearheaded by two men, Charles T. Hayden and John S. Armstrong. Arizona Territory was struggling to achieve statehood but the national press loved to print stories of the lawlessness present. It was Hayden who sought to civilize the place with education and culture.

Today, Arizona State University is a sprawling multi-campus school with over 71,000 students and covers more than 1,500 acres in metro Phoenix.

Kristy McCaffrey is an alumni of Arizona State, along with her husband, mother, father, and two uncles. Her oldest son currently attends. As a newly-married couple, Kristy and her husband named their dog Sparky after the ASU mascot.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Baseball in the Old West

By Kristy McCaffrey

The earliest known mention of baseball in the United States was in 1791 in Massachusetts. In 1845, the New York Knickerbockers was the first team to play by modern baseball rules, although it was considered an amateur club and far less popular than the game of cricket. But following the Civil War, over 100 clubs were members of the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP). The Chicago White Stockings won the championship in 1870. Today they’re known as the Chicago Cubs and are the oldest team in American organized sports.

Circa 1873

One of the first games played in the Arizona Territory was a Christmas Day match at Camp Grant near Tucson in January 1873. A Prescott paper, the Arizona Miner, reported, “In the afternoon, an exciting game of base ball took place. This occupied the attention, [of] both of the combatants, until one o’clock, when the welcome call to dinner was wafted to our ears, and readily responded to.”

Baseball became a holiday fixture (Fourth of July and Christmas Day) for many young communities in the Arizona Territory in the 1870’s and early 1880’s. Matches tended to be played in the winter or early spring, with Christmas an especially favorite day for the sport.

On April 10, 1887, the Phoenix baseball club, with a number of its players from Ft. McDowell, played Fort Lowell from Tucson at the territorial fairgrounds with an audience of around 200 people (back then, fans were nicknamed ‘kranks’). A severe wind and sand storm delayed the match for half an hour and blowing sand remained a problem during the first few innings. The Phoenicians, outfitted with “considerable good material here in ball tossers” defeated the “boys in blue” 14-7. At one point in the eighth inning, the crowd surrounding the field made so much noise that the local players couldn’t hear their coaches’ directions and instead of scoring a possible three runs, only marked a single tally.

By 1900, amateur football had become popular and replaced baseball as the traditional game played on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fun Facts About Kristy McCaffrey’s Wings of the West Series

By Kristy McCaffrey

Here's a few fun facts about my Wings of the West series.

The characters in THE WREN came to me when I was 15 years old. I saw a girl and two brothers. This grew into the characters of Molly Hart and Matt Ryan (and his brother Logan).

When I was 23, I moved across the country to attend graduate school in Pennsylvania. I drove with my mom and sister, and during a rest stop in Amarillo, Texas, I looked out over the flat rolling plains and ‘saw’ a young Molly running among the tall grass.

Although it felt like Molly was stalking me to tell her story, I didn’t publish THE WREN until I was 37 years old. I wrote it while I had four kids under the age of 5 underfoot. Despite that I’d been compelled to write since I was a young girl, it took me that long to finally do something about it.

The character of Molly was named after my paternal great-grandmother—Mary Agnes “Molly” O’Rourke Kearney, who emigrated from Ireland. ‘Hart’ is a family name on my mother’s side.

While writing THE DOVE, I traveled to Las Vegas, New Mexico, and was able to find local research books that helped immensely in the layout of the town in 1877. If you’re a writer, do this. Often, local research isn’t available on the internet or Amazon.

THE SPARROW took the longest for me to write—about 6 years. While I took a lengthy break to focus on raising my children, I also became stuck in the story at the halfway point. This book employed my most intuitive writing, guiding me toward shamanism, a discipline I knew nothing about. I spent over two years attempting to understand the skills and techniques utilized in this ancient healing modality.

THE SPARROW is my most mixed-reviewed book. Readers either love it or hate it. For me, personally, it was a labor of love, albeit a painful labor at times. While I’ve considered cutting portions of the story to make it more marketable, it encompasses an interior emotional journey that has spoken to similar kindred souls. When a writer is pushed by some unknown force toward a work that makes little sense to her, sometimes the best thing to do is to step out of the way and let it be what it needs to be.

Although I now live in Arizona (outside Phoenix), I wrote THE BLACKBIRD without ever visiting southern Arizona (the location of the story). Clearly this goes against my earlier advice of visiting the setting of a book; however, I’m a very detail-oriented person (probably why I studied engineering in college) and I always immerse myself in intensive research whenever I write a book. I did my homework.

While writing THE BLUEBIRD, I lost the file twice. The first time, the manuscript was two-thirds complete and I had no backup. It was a rude awakening about my lazy computer habits. I quickly cleaned up my act, but it took me a week before I could bring myself to sit down and write the book again. And then, near the end, I lost the file again. Thankfully, this time, I did have a backup. But my disillusionment with technology runs fairly deep now and I no longer trust ANY source completely, whether it be a computer hard drive, an external hard drive, a flashdrive, or Dropbox. These days, I backup in four places every day.

The entire series, including the short novella ECHO OF THE PLAINS, is now available at the following platforms:

and digital copies of THE WREN are currently FREE until March 15!!

Over the years, I've taken a bit of teasing about my bird books from fellow authors, friends, and family. So, I offer this little known series for your enjoyment that I've kept secret until now.

Connect with Kristy

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reading Recommendations

All Reviews by Kristy McCaffrey

(Note: I've included an Amazon link for each book, but they may also be available on other platforms such as Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play, as well as print.)

Hugh Howey

In this epic dystopian novel, we’re introduced to a world in which mankind is now living underground in a silo. Memories of why or how it came to be are lost, and life in Silo 18 is rigorously controlled by the threat of ‘cleaning’, a punishment for those who break the rules. When a member of society commits a crime, they are sent outside, to an earth filled with poisonous air and unlivable conditions. Despite being outfitted in a protective suit, cleaners ultimately die, but not before they’re expected to clean the viewfinders with a strip of wool, to ensure that those inside can still see the world outside. While the novel follows many characters, at the center is Juliette, a woman who works as a mechanic deep in the bowels of the silo. This is her story, of her rise to the upper levels as the new sheriff, and the realization that there is much more than just the confined world in which they all reside. A well-written and complex tale of fear and the suppression of ideas, brainwashing, and, ultimately, the will to live. I was enthralled.


Fire Eyes
Cheryl Pierson

Marshal Kaed Turner is left at Jessica’s doorstep near death. As she nurses him back to health, they soon fall hard for one another. But the renegade band of men perpetrating heinous crimes must be stopped, and soon Kaed and a band of marshals must hunt them down, leaving Jessica and a child not her own exposed. Ms. Pierson has crafted a deeply romantic tale with one of the most vile villains I’ve ever come across. Andrew Fallon is crazy, and you’ll keep reading to the end—despite the requisite happy-ending of a romance novel—to know exactly how he gets his just rewards, as well as be assured of Kaed and Jessica’s future. Great historical details and a steamy love story will have you reading into the night. A wonderful read!


Come Back
Melissa Maygrove

Rebecca Garvey is on a wagon train bound for California when she is inadvertently left behind in the wilderness of New Mexico Territory. She mistakenly believes that no one searched for her and, as days turn into months, she remains in the wilderness and fends for herself rather than attempting to make her way to a town. When she comes across an injured man, she’s compelled to help him, but in doing so she can no longer hide from the pain of her presumed abandonment.

Seth Emerson is battling demons of his own, but he becomes determined to reunite Rebecca with her family, along with the man to whom she’s betrothed. During the journey, affection turns to love between Seth and Rebecca, and they must both grapple with doing the right thing.

This is a quiet book with a slow-building romance. Both Seth and Rebecca are stubborn in their misguided decisions regarding the course of their lives, and Ms. Maygrove beautifully handles their blossoming maturity. Grab a cup of tea and a blanket and settle in for a romance filled with grit, sweetness, and passion. You won’t be disappointed.


Miles From Nowhere
Barbara Savage

In the late 1970’s, Barbara and her husband bicycled around the world. This book is still readable today and offers amazing insights into the cultures of other countries (Egypt was especially dangerous and jaw-dropping in their treatment of the couple) as well as the U.S. This journey was, in some ways, beyond comprehension. They rode a total of 23,000 miles over the course of two years through places such as the U.K., India, and Tibet. Barbara is a wonderful writer. A bittersweet endnote was her death in a cycling accident near her home in California just before the publication of the book. Hers is a voice lost much too soon.


An Anthology of Novellas
S.K. McClafferty, Marcy Waldenville, Jamie Denton, Kathleen Shoop, and J.D. Wylde

This wonderful collection of stories will keep you captivated from the start. Each centers around Bliss, a sprawling plantation home located in North Carolina.

In S.K. McClafferty’s A Long Road Home, Livie Harrington must confront her husband, a northerner who left her to fight in the Civil War and now wants her back.

Marcy Waldenville’s The Healing Garden brings together newly pregnant Jane Harrington, widowed in the sinking of the Titanic, and Irishman Brennan Brown, on the run from aiding his brothers escape their crimes.

Jamie Denton’s Spellbound tells the steamy, romantic story of Colin Harrington, injured in World War II, and Mary Elizabeth Callahan, also Irish. She becomes housekeeper at Bliss, tending both the house and the reclusive Colin himself.

Kathleen Shoop’s Home Again finds April Harrington on the run from a ditched wedding. At Bliss, her family home, she encounters childhood friend Hale Abercrombie, suffering PTSD from Vietnam and haunted by the death of April’s brother.

And J.D. Wylde’s Beyond the Checkered Flag brings the action to modern day and Nascar-driver Bobby Wayne. This story doesn’t feature a Harrington, but Wayne buys the house for his beloved wife Lauren, whom he’s trying to win back after an estrangement. Their reunion at Bliss sends sparks flying as they hash out their differences and grievances. The rating for this one is definitely hot.

Each story is vivid in historical and modern details and will have you wanting to visit Bliss yourself. The characters come to life, making you fall in love with each and every couple, rooting for them to make it. A wonderful collection by five talented authors.

Yellowstone Heart Song
Peggy L. Henderson

Aimee Donovan is a modern-day nurse transported to 1810 Yellowstone. Once there, she meets trapper Daniel Osborne. Aimee’s curiosity and delight in experiencing the past is soon overshadowed by the harsh realities of the land and the people in it. The growing relationship between her and Daniel fills the first half of the story, while the second half deals with the dilemma of Aimee returning to her own time after developing strong feelings for the rugged mountain man. This is a romance novel in the truest sense, so a happily-ever-after is guaranteed, but I was nevertheless spellbound until the end. These characters will grab a hold of you. This is a fresh take on time-travel romance, and Ms. Henderson’s descriptions of a historical Yellowstone will make you yearn to see it for yourself. A heartfelt and engrossing journey of a romance for the ages.


The Atlantis Gene
A.G. Riddle

In this fast-paced thriller, Dr. Kate Warner is seeking a cure for autism when she is attacked and two of her young patients—just children—are abducted. She soon finds herself immersed in circumstances both dangerous and unbelievable. David Vale is a covert operative who has uncovered clues to the evolution of mankind and a current threat that could wipe out the human race. Kate’s research holds the key. This story is a blend of action-adventure and science fiction wrapped around historical facts from World War I and II. There’s an alien race, hidden artifacts, evil henchmen, and romance. It won't disappoint.


Round The Bend
Rain Trueax

In 1851, childhood friends Amy Stevens and Matthew Kane travel with their families in a large wagon train bound for Oregon. Matt has long known he loves Amy, but she’s only ever harbored brotherly feelings for him. As the massive trek begins, Matt makes his intentions known, but Amy rebuffs him. However, once the seeds of awareness are planted, Amy discovers that her attachment to Matt gradually begins to change. When Matt’s vengeful brother starts trouble, Amy is forced to hide the budding relationship because Matt insists on protecting her reputation. With compelling and likeable main characters, colorful and well-drawn secondary characters, and immersive descriptions of the Oregon Trail, Ms.Trueax has crafted an epic novel that will pull you in, slowly but surely. You won’t soon forget Matt and Amy, or their bumpy path to a happily-ever-after.

Round The Bend (Oregon Historical Romance Book 1)


Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits
Kit DesLauriers

Ms. DesLauriers is the first person to ski the highest summit on each continent, also known as the Seven Summits. In this revealing and compelling memoir, she shares her journey from inception to completion. The summits include Denali, Elbrus, Vinson Massif, Kosciuszko, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro and Everest. Each presented unique challenges and skill sets, and yet she managed to finish within a two-year period. This is a wonderful read, offering insights into the mind of a woman who engages in dangerous pursuits while also detailing the risk minimization that she practices diligently. Still, the Everest portion will leave you dangling on the edge of your seat. I especially enjoyed the side-stories about her wolf dog. Well-written and fascinating, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.


James Nestor

This nonfiction book explores how humans interact with the ocean and the creatures within, and Nestor reveals some amazing insights. For instance, the human body is uniquely equipped to function underwater, with adaptations that can be triggered with proper training. He explores the world of freediving, both competitive (and the high rate of fatalities and mishaps) as well as people who use it to relate to the ocean and the creatures within in a more intimate way. The deeper he goes, the more we learn about renegade scientists who are trying to decipher cetacean language and the multitude of life at depths that never see any light. He also touches on deep sea heating vents and a very promising theory that life on earth began in these high-pressure, super-heated locations. Well-researched and highly personal, Deep will open your eyes to a world more vast than the one we currently know.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

FREEBIES and a giveaway!!

By Kristy McCaffrey

February is the month of love and that usually means a lot of promotions from romance authors LOL. I've got a few more to share with you.

My publisher has priced the following books FREE until February 17. Grab a digital copy from Amazon today.

Includes my short novella THE CROW AND THE COYOTE, a steamy historical western romance.

In Arizona Territory, Hannah Dobbin travels through Cañon de Chelly, home to the Navajo, in search of a sorcerer who murdered her pa. Bounty hunter Jack Boggs is on the trail of a vile Mexican bandito, but with the shadows of Hallowtide descending, more dark magic is at hand than either of them know.


Includes my short novella A CURRENT SO SWIFT, a sweet young adult contemporary romance.

On a river trip with the popular crowd, Amy Whittaker can no longer maintain her usual, low profile. When an accident strands them, she and Sawyer—her secret crush—must survive a current so swift.

As an added bonus, I'm giving away 2 print copies of THE DOVE over at Goodreads.
ENTER to win.

Disappointment hits ex-deputy Logan Ryan hard when he finds Claire Waters in the midst of a bustling Santa Fe Trail town. The woman he remembers is gone—in her place is a working girl with enticing curves and a load of trouble. As a web of deceit entangles them with men both desperate and dangerous, Logan tries to protect Claire, unaware his own past poses the greatest threat.

Plagued by shame all her life, Claire is stunned when Logan catches her on the doorstep of The White Dove Saloon dressed as a prostitute. She lets him believe the worst, but with her mama missing and the fancy girls deserting the place, she's hard-pressed to refuse his offer of help. As she embarks on a journey that will unravel the fabric of her life, one thing becomes clear—opening her heart may be the most dangerous proposition of all.

A steamy historical western romance set in 1877 New Mexico Territory.

“Ms. McCaffrey writes from the heart…a definite must read.” ~ The Romance Studio

“The storyline is fresh and holds several surprises.” ~ Romance Junkies

"The Wings of the West series is a fresh take on women in the Old West and the men they love. I'm addicted to Kristy McCaffrey's sexy westerns and adventurous heroines!"
—Ann Charles, USA Today Bestselling Author of the Award-winning Deadwood Mystery Series

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Enter to win 50+ Historical Western Romances

Today, I have a fun surprise I'd like to share with you.

I've teamed up with 50 fantastic historical western romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

You can win my novel THE WREN, plus books from authors like Jacquie Rogers, Debra Holland, Peggy L. Henderson and Linda Broday.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here

Good luck, and enjoy!