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Friday, December 19, 2014

A Brand New Christmas Scene ~ THE WREN

This never-before published Christmas scene features Matt and Molly from my historical western romance THE WREN. Blurb ~ Captured by Comanche as a child, Molly Hart was assumed dead. Ten years later, Texas Ranger Matt Ryan finds a woman with the same blue eyes.

The idea for this came about in a Facebook group - Pioneer Hearts - a collection of readers and writers of old west romances. (If interested, join here.) For the holidays, authors were challenged to write a brand new scene featuring characters from one of our books. We also shared a recipe, which follows the scene.



North Texas
December 24th, 1877

Matt shifted the two gifts to one hand as he opened the door to the bedroom he shared with his wife. Molly sat on the bed, her back against a pile of pillows. Balancing a plate atop her growing belly, she spooned a large bite into her mouth.

"Is that Rosita's caramel cake?" he asked. "I thought it was all gone." Rosita, his folks' cook at the SR Ranch, had baked her delicious concoction for the large family gathering this evening. It was based on a recipe his ma had long used, however Matt was certain the elderly Mexican cook added a few peppers to spice it up.

Molly nodded, unable to speak around the sweet dessert. Her auburn hair, having finally grown longer, tumbled out of the bun from earlier, and she still wore the deep green gown his ma had given her as a gift earlier in the week.

He approached the bed, sat beside her, and reached for a morsel of cake. Molly shifted the plate away from him. He laughed. "I can't have any?"

"It's the last piece." She glared at him. "And I'm eating for two."

Matt knew not to come between his wife and food. Having recently recovered her appetite after a long bout of morning woes, he was glad she could keep something down at long last. And now that her hunger had returned, it was like the force of a bull.

"I wanted to give you these tonight," he said and placed the boxes beside her.

She smiled, quickly consumed the remainder of the cake and set the dish aside. She opened the first gift, and went still.

"Where did you get this?" she whispered.

"My ma had it. After your folks were killed, and your sisters sent away, she went through the Hart homestead and collected whatever mementos she found. I had a new frame sent from Dallas. I thought you might like to have it."

Molly began to cry. Matt reached out to snag a crumb from her cheek. She kissed him, tasting of Rosita's cake, both sweet and spicy.

"We can put it on the mantle of the Rocking Wren when the house is complete," she said against his lips, referring to the ranch he was building just for her. She resumed staring at her gift. "This photo must've been taken before we left Virginia for Texas. I was probably only eight years old."

The portrait featured Molly with her mama and papa, and her sisters, Mary and Emma. Although she'd recently learned that Robert Hart wasn't her real father, he nonetheless remained close in her heart. Matt knew she would cherish a family keepsake such as this.

"I can't wait to show Mary and Emma tomorrow," she said.

Matt knew this was a special Christmas for Molly. After having lived with the Comanche for years, she'd hadn't celebrated the holiday since she was a little girl. And now, both of her sisters were with her—Emma had arrived weeks ago and promptly married his friend, Nathan Blackmore, and Mary, the oldest, had arrived just days ago with her husband and three children. They'd traveled from the Arizona Territory with Cale Walker—Molly's new-found half-brother—and his wife, Tess. Matt's folks had a full house at the moment, including his brother Logan, his wife Claire and her younger brother Jimmy.

He handed Molly the second gift. She swiftly discarded the paper and retrieved the item inside the box. Once again, she froze. Then, she beamed. Holding up the smooth and brand new slingshot, she raised an eyebrow and asked, "Am I allowed to use it in the house?"

"No."

She pulled on the rubber sling. "I'll call it 'Wren the Second'."

As a child, Molly had a knack for getting into trouble with a slingshot she'd labeled 'The Wren', since she imagined the rocks she used in it came from the wrens who laid a pebble-strewn path as a guide to their nests.

"These are very thoughtful gifts, Matt." Molly took his hand and brought it to her belly. He felt the babe move, and he marveled at the good fortune in his life since encountering, many months ago, a woman thought long dead.

"I have a gift for you," she added. "And I know what you're thinking, but that will come later, once the cake settles." She smiled, a bit bashful, and he grinned.

"For now, I have something else to give you." She covered his hand with both of her own. "Emma told me that we're to have a son."

Molly's younger sister had a knack for the 'knowing' of things. Matt never put much stock in such nonsense, but when Nathan—a former Texas Ranger alongside Matt—told him the wild tale of Nathan's adventure with Emma in the Grand Canyon, Matt found it difficult to discount Emma's abilities.

A son.

He leaned his head down and gently kissed the boy through the fabric of Molly's gown.

Matt had everything he wanted.

"If Rosita makes more cake tomorrow," he murmured, "I'll swipe it just for you."

"Promise?"

He sat up and gathered her into his arms. "I promise."


Copyright © 2014 K. McCaffrey LLC



Here's my modern take on Rosita's cake, although there's no caramel or peppers in mine. My sister-in-law shared this recipe with me many years ago, before my first child was born, and I've made it every holiday since. My son, the eldest, can eat an entire cake by himself, so I make this many times during the Christmas season. It's very easy and is a great housewarming gift or quick dessert for those last minute dinners.

REALLY RICH CAKE

1 18-1/2 oz. package yellow cake mix
1 3 oz package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup oil (I replace half of this with applesauce for a lower fat version)
1/2 cup water
1 6 oz. package chocolate chips
1 6 oz. choc. candy bar broken into pieces
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan and bake at 350deg for 50 minutes. Cool and serve.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Creativity ~ Part VIII: Magic

Creativity: An 8-Part Series

By Kristy McCaffrey

Don't miss:
Part I ~ Imagination
Part III ~ Shape-Shifting
Part IV ~ Forbearance
Part VII ~ Synchronicity



Magic is the art of reaching into a deeper reality and bringing gifts from it into the ordinary realm.

We have the power to remake our world—not just in a small and intimate sense, but the world-at-large as well. But it's up to us to take our passion and direct it into creative projects. When writing a story and becoming completely immersed in the project, the very laws of time and space are changed. That is the power of creation, the power of each human being to hone something from nothing. It's magic.

What's your calling? Whatever it is, everything that isn't a part of it must fall away. To fulfill one's life work, there must be focus and follow-through in creating an environment for it to thrive. Everything must be aligned around this foundation—100% devotion is required; half measures won't work. As the inner life becomes more complex, the outer life becomes simpler.

"...our job is to make choices that create the right conditions for [our calling] to flourish. The Gift is indestructible. It is a seed. We are not required to be God. We are not required to create the seed. Only to plant it wisely and well." ~ Stephen Cope


Magic is any mysterious power that produces extraordinary results. Each one of us possesses that power. How will you add magic to the world?

"...we each...have feminine spiritual superpowers, such as touching, knowing, feeling, relating, expressing our true voice(s), visioning, healing..." ~ Sera Beak


Works Cited
Beak, Sera. Red Hot & Holy: A Heretic's Love Story. Sounds True, Inc., 2013.

Beck, Martha. Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life you Want. Free Press, 2012.

Cope, Stephen. The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. Bantam Books, 2012.

Moss, Robert. The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence & Imagination. New World Library, 2007.



Wrap Up
Thank you for traversing the wilds of creativity with me these past four months. I hope something here ignited a spark for youof knowing, of inspiration, of simply having a way to express a longing that won't let you go.



Now, go forth and perform your work. The world needs it, and only you can do it.





Thursday, December 4, 2014

Creativity ~ Part VII: Synchronicity

Creativity: An 8-Part Series

By Kristy McCaffrey

Don't miss:
Part I ~ Imagination
Part III ~ Shape-Shifting
Part IV ~ Forbearance

Image copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey
Synchronicity is a meaningful convergence of inner and outer experiences. Carl Jung coined the word synchronicity to describe the profound significance of coincidence in our lives. Author Sera Beak describes them as 'Divine winks'. Poets and mystics speak of it when they say, "As above, so below." The world is a playground in which to bring forth ideas from the other, known by many names—heaven, inspiration, God, inner self. Creative flow is unlocked when we navigate the world via coincidence.
 
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
The world is alive around you, responding to your thoughts and intentions, with none other than synchronicity. In creative endeavors, this can lead to the right path if you can trust in the process. I've experienced this in my fiction writing. The sooner I can focus my story, the better, because then pertinent information seems to flow toward me from all directions. The key, of course, is to be open to the method. Sometimes, the material isn't what I thought it should be. In resisting, I often come up frustrated and empty-handed.
 
Photo copyright 2014 Hannah McCaffrey
I encountered synchronicity while writing this series on creativity. (Along with a fair number of bird feathers appearing at every turn, a sign I took to mean I was on the right path and the muses were happy with me.) At first, I had an ambitious idea to write about the creative process. I had no idea where to start. I've read so many wonderful books relating to this, but how was I going to compress this into something usable and short? The first step was to take a leap of faith.

Photo copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey
And to practice that faith again, and again, and again. I didn't know all the answers, but as I moved forward with intention, the material came to me, either sprouting directly into my mind (the whispers of angels, as some would say) or through a book I came across, or a conversation with someone, or a link I found on social media. The key is to begin moving. Remaining still slows the process. The avenues for synchronicity are endless. And to those who say they don't happen to them—you're simply not paying attention. They happen everywhere, and everywhen.

Be open. Compartmentalizing life can cut the flow of symbolic relations from finding you. Learning can happen at any time, not when you deem it time.



Works Cited
Beak, Sera. Red Hot & Holy: A Heretic's Love Story. Sounds True, Inc., 2013.

Moss, Robert. The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence & Imagination. New World Library, 2007.


Don’t miss Part VIII in the Creativity series: Magic


Until next time…

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ten Historical Western Novels In Boxed Sets For Only 99cents

By Kristy McCaffrey

I wanted to share a wonderful deal that my publisher has going ~ 2 boxed sets of 5 full-length novels for only 99 cents each. These are available for a limited time for the Kindle, so grab a set today. Or, consider giving as a gift.



A Cowboy's Brand: 5 Western Romance Novels

A COWBOY'S BRAND is a sensational boxed set from Prairie Rose Publications! This collection includes five full-length novels from some of the best western romance writers in today's field, including Livia J. Washburn, Meg Mims, Gail L. Jenner, Kristy McCaffrey and Sarah J. McNeal. This set makes a wonderful gift for someone else, or for yourself, and at only .99 you can't go wrong! Grab A COWBOY'S BRAND and its companion set, A COWBOY'S HEART, and enjoy some fantastic old west tales of romance guaranteed to make you smile!

MENDING FENCES by Livia J. Washburn is a riveting story of the Texas frontier as well as a touching romance between a heroine trying to find her place in the world and a hero whose past may destroy them both.

Meg Mim's Spur Award-winning novel DOUBLE CROSSING is the story of mystery and intrigue as Lily Granville heads west, determined to track down her father's killer. But who can she trust? Will Lily survive the journey and unexpected betrayal?

HARMONICA JOE'S RELUCTANT BRIDE by Sarah J. McNeal is a wonderful time travel story of unexpected love. When Lola Barton inherits a rundown plantation, she believes her life has finally taken a positive turn. But, when she finds a mysterious trunk in the attic, it takes her into the past and to a man with dark secrets--and she's married to him.

In Kristy McCaffrey's story, Kate Kinsella has no choice but to go after Charley Barstow and talk some sense into him. Ethan Barstow is hot on his younger brother's trail, too. All hell breaks loose when they discover Charley--not wishing to be found by anyone! Can Ethan and Kate find their own love and happiness with one another through the deception and hurt? Or will they both return INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS...

This 2002 WILLA AWARD WINNER by Gail L. Jenner is the story of Liza Ralston, a young woman who leaves her settled existence to travel to Montana with her father--a decision she regrets. With her father severely wounded, the Pikuni tribe takes them in. But Liza wants nothing more than to return to St. Louis, despite her growing attraction for Red Eagle, a handsome young Indian warrior. Will Red Eagle and Liza find the love they've been waiting for? Beauty, treachery and danger lie ACROSS THE SWEET GRASS HILLS.



A Cowboy's Heart: 5 Western Romance Novels

Hold on to your Stetson and get ready for some darn fine reading for a price you won't believe! This Prairie Rose Publications boxed set includes five western romance novels with something for everyone. For only .99, hours of reading pleasure can be yours--and this makes a wonderful gift, too. So come on, see what lies within A COWBOY'S HEART!

In Cheryl Pierson's time travel story, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, Romantic Times reviewer Donna M. Brown says, "4.5 stars...Cheryl Pierson's fresh, well-crafted novel pits some unlikely heroes against evil incarnate. The characters are vibrant and tell a story of courage in difficult circumstances."

THE CALLING is an inspirational tale by Sara Barnard about a young man who turns away from God and the woman he loves to follow the outlaw trail. But love holds true and Esau can't forget the past as God pushes him to face his sins and make things right again in a most unusual way!

In CLAIMING HIS HEART by Tanya Hanson, a handsome stranger who arrives in a peaceful California valley bearing a mysterious letter leaves Charmlee no choice but marriage to him. But Charmlee and Tulsa each have plans of their own. Is there a bigger dream for the future ahead that they can't see?

ALL FOR LOVE by Beverly Wells tells a gut-wrenching tale of social injustice in Wyoming of the 1880's. Lorelei Webster, schoolmarm, tries to right the wrongs of the small town she's a part of, and hopes for the help of the town doctor, Seth Taylor. Will her determination spark more than friendship between them as they work together?

Is Leroy Vance a SAINT OR SINNER? Gil McDonald pens a riveting tale of a hard hearted bounty hunter, hot on the heels of a gang of outlaws. Injured and on foot, Vance faces almost certain death. But when he realizes that there is a young woman and her brother who desperately need his help, he risks everything for them. Will this bounty hunter and sinner finally find true love with the wife of another man? Or will any of them get out alive?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Creativity ~ Part VI: The Virgin and the Sacred Prostitute

Creativity: An 8-Part Series

By Kristy McCaffrey

Don't miss:
Part I ~ Imagination
Part III ~ Shape-Shifting

Both of these archetypes create strong images and strong aversions. We all like the virgin, despite the implication of her naïveté. The prostitute? That couldn't possibly apply to us, right? And why include sacred before it? Isn't that a huge misappropriation of the underlying meaning of the word?

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The virgin is best described as pregnant with possibilities. This is a self-contained energy, harboring all that's needed for creation to bloom forth. Virginity was revered because the energies of the body, the mind, and the spirit remain clean, untouched. Within this state, ideas can be nurtured without taint and corruption, much like a virgin forest contains all it requires to sustain itself. The dark side is the condemnation of the sensual side of life via a prudish disgust. To repress this energy is to stop the flow of creativity altogether. Celibate monks and nuns learn to channel their sexual energy rather than repress it.

Photo copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey

The sacred prostitute is a form of psychic energy, related to eros. It's an avenue of generating strong passion, which certainly applies to a sexual nature, but encompasses a broader context, a passion for creative endeavors. This archetype is related to ancient love goddesses such as Aphrodite, Isis, and Ishtar. This is not to be confused with the darker aspects of prostitution—sexual abuse, sexual addictions, rape, or any type of manipulation using sexual energy. The practice of sacred prostitution—the sharing of erotic energy to heal on physical, mental, and spiritual realms—brings transcendence. Many art-forms attempt to achieve this state.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Every woman has an aspect of the sacred prostitute within. For the artist, when truly embodying her work, allows herself to be a conduit from the world of matter to the world of spirit, sharing herself with one and all. Her work lights the way for others.

According to Carolyn Myss, the prostitute archetype "engages lessons in integrity and the sale or negotiation of one's integrity or spirit due to fears of physical and financial survival or for financial gain." This universal archetype is related to selling one's talents and ideas, and in selling-out can trigger a downward spiral of self-esteem and self-respect. Anytime you consider shifting your faith from the Divine in the world to a physical satisfaction, the prostitute can be your greatest ally, keeping you on the path of highest enlightenment.
 
Photo copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey

Works Cited
Beak, Sera. Red Hot & Holy: A Heretic's Love Story. Sounds True, Inc., 2013.

Myss, Carolyn. Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. Harmony Books, 2001.



Don’t miss Part VII in the Creativity series: Synchronicity

Until next time…


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Guest Blog ~ Author Shanna Hatfield

My series on creativity will continue next week, but today I'm pleased to host guest author Shanna Hatfield. She's got some fantastic books to share, along with a worthwhile charity. Please give her a warm welcome!

Shanna-Hatfield-Nov-Blog-Tour

Welcome to the

Cowboys & Christmas

Blog Tour!

A kickoff of two new holiday romances by Shanna Hatfield

and a fundraiser for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

The Magic of Words

Eons ago just after dinosaurs disappeared, my fifth grade music teacher endeavored to hold a Disney-themed extravaganza for our spring performance. Recalling the fiasco, I don’t think we much resembled a talented troupe of performers, but we did all have a grand time singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” That one song opened up a world of strange, unique, and magnificent words that are incredibly satisfactory to say. As a writer, words comprise a huge part of my daily life. Some are plain and a little boring, although they are necessary to make sentences work and paragraphs flow. Other words express anger, joy, fear, love. There are also words that set a tone of excitement or adventure. In my soon-to-be-released sweet Christmas romance, The Christmas Calamity, readers will discover several words that are fun to say like “calamity,” “prestidigitation,” and “imbecile.” Alex's wagon The Victorian holiday tale is about a bank assistant who meets a magician when he comes upon her wagon broken down a few miles out of town. Arlan Guthry is somewhat serious and solemn, although he does have a lighter side he keeps well hidden. Alex Janowski is a gypsy-like traveling magician desperate to be on her way to California despite her immediate attraction to Arlan. Alex’s wagon boasts that she is a “Prestidigator” performing “Phantasmagorical Wonders.” One of the characters in the book, Luke Granger, enjoys saying the word “phantasmagorical” so much, the other characters start to make fun of him. Here are some words I find particularly fabulous:
  • Stupendous
  • Splendiferous
  • Brouhaha
  • Flibbertigibbet
  • Nincompoop
  • Skedaddle
  • Malodorous
  • Sticky-wicket
  • Discombobulate
  • Debauchery
  • Shenanigans
  • Tomfoolery
  • Bugaboo
  • Fusty
  • Befuddle
  • Flapdoodle
  What words roll off your tongue with a bit of fun and excitement?  

Where to Find The Books

Travel back to a different time with the historic Hardman Holiday Series,

christmas bargain coverbeginning with The Christmas Bargain

The Christmas Token Cover lrThe Christmas Token

The Christmas Calamity CoverThe Christmas Calamity

 

Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund®

Now through Dec. 24, I’ll donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from all my book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. JCCF logoThe JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.  

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty The third book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series releases that day! The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here: http://amzn.com/B00OGOO994 In addition, the first book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!

Prize Basket

Enter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller. Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.” She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America. Find Shanna’s books at: Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online: ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Creativity ~ Part V: Maiden/Mother/Crone

Creativity: An 8-Part Series

By Kristy McCaffrey

Don't miss:
Part I ~ Imagination
Part III ~ Shape-Shifting
Part IV ~ Forbearance

The Maiden-Mother-Crone cycle, while an obvious physical manifestation in a woman's lifetime, is also a recurring sequence within the psyche. If the maiden is innocence personified, then it is the good mothering aspect that forces her into the world and into the wild, to toughen and breed stamina. And it is the crone who not only imparts higher wisdom, showing a broader and more spiritual picture, but also a state that the psyche must reach for maturation.

Photo copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey
This cycle is reflected in creativity—the blossoming forth of fresh and untried ideas (maiden), the acquiring of discipline to bring forth the concept into the material plane (mother), and the wisdom to place the work in its proper context (crone).

Photo copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey
In the maiden state, women frequently make a most terrible bargain—we settle. We choose a path that promises riches and fulfillment, only to find that we sacrificed our deepest knowing in the process. We suppress our wilder selves to appease our parents, our teachers, our religion and society at large. We don't make the art that calls to us because it's too crazy, too edgy, too sexual, too anything that offends those that have also made the same bargain, and resent that you would dare step outside these boundaries. Art done in this way is flat, unshaped, and lacking in vitality and life.

Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light. ~ Author Madeleine L'Engle

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
To right this wrong, it is necessary to activate the mother. In its positive form, a mother is the protector of life. It becomes necessary for a woman to nurture her intuitive self, to listen to herself above all others, to love oneself when it's so much easier to condemn. For most women, their own physical mother fills this space within their psyche, and if the mother had a preponderance of positive attributes then this isn't as much a problem than if she displayed shadow aspects. If those are present—the devouring mother, who consumes her children psychologically and emotionally, or the abusive mother, who violates natural law by harming her offspring—then every effort must be made to excise this influence. A woman must learn to mother herself, and in so doing, excavate the terrain of the soul and bring forth the most pressing gifts and talents. Through this loving guidance can instincts and intuition be re-activated.


Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
The crone is a symbol of endurance, of survivorship. To move through the other two stages is to have lost an innocence—more often than not, a painful initiation—but it's also a sign, at least in the inner life, that one never gave up. Amongst those also in the know, this is revered. At this point, the creative life is given the credit it deserves, as necessary to life as air and water. The crone doesn't squander her time, doesn't play in the shallow areas frequented by those who've given away their dreams. She creates, letting that which has always resided deep in her bones bubble up and out. And it screams of authenticity. It is art that pulsates with life, that triggers the same in others, that speaks directly to the heart and makes it sing.

Image copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey
Works Cited
Estés, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With The Wolves. Ballantine Books, 1992.

Myss, Carolyn. Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. Harmony Books, 2001.

Photo copyright 2014 Kristy McCaffrey
Don’t miss Part VI in the Creativity series: The Virgin and the Sacred Prostitute

Until next time…