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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?