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Friday, July 28, 2017

Death Masks

By Kristy McCaffrey

A death mask is a likeness of a deceased person’s face following death. Typically constructed of wax or plaster, the impression is made directly from the corpse.

Death Mask of King Tut
In many cultures, a death mask was used during the funeral and was usually buried with the body. The Egyptians made them as part of the mummification process, the most famous being King Tut’s golden mask. They believed the death mask allowed the deceased person’s spirit to find its body in the afterlife.

Some African tribes believed a death mask imbued a wearer with the power of the dead. But in the Middle Ages, the practice became less of a spiritual link and more a way of preserving the dead. Death masks weren’t buried with the deceased but instead were used in funeral ceremonies and later kept in libraries, museums, and universities.

Famous death masks include Ludwig van Beethoven, Napoleon Bonaparte, Frederic Chopin, Oliver Cromwell, John Keats, Nikola Tesla, Mary Queen of Scots, and John Dillinger.


Death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Alleged  death mask of Shakespeare.

In Kristy’s story, BLUE SAGE, a death mask plays an important role.


AMAZON | Also available in Kindle Unlimited

Catch a cowboy … Keep a cowboy …

THE LEGEND OF BAD MOON RISING by Carra Copelin
Sheriff Ben Hammond is finally over the woman who shattered his heart, but when Dinah Horne suddenly returns, can he ignore the passion still burning bright between them?

CITY BOY, COUNTRY HEART by Andrea Downing
Trading horses for subways for two years seemed like a good idea to cowboy Chay Ridgway, but can city girl K.C. Daniels keep a rein on his country heart?

BLUE SAGE by Kristy McCaffrey
Archaeologist Audrey Driggs rolls off a mountain and lands at the feet of rugged cowboy Braden Delaney. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.

THE DRIFTER’S KISS by Devon McKay
Determined to take back what belongs to her, Addison Reed will do anything. Even trust a complete stranger.

HER MAN by Hildie McQueen
Deputy Mark Hunter falls for Eliza Brock during a murder investigation. Is it fate or bad luck, especially when she may be involved?

BORDER ROMANCE by Hebby Roman
Widow Leticia Villarreal wants to establish a horse-racing stable and an old acquaintance John Clay Laidlaw offers to help. But can she trust him with her business and her heart?

PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews
After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?



Blue Sage Excerpt
Braden sat across from Audrey, a fire flaming between them, holding the darkness at bay. They’d found a flat patch of land not far from the spot where they’d discovered Blue and had set up a small tent and supplies. Braden planned to sleep outside, and if Blue’s affectionate attentions were any indication, he’d have plenty of warmth from the mutt. Not that snuggling against Audrey didn’t have its merits, but he wondered if it was too soon to make a move.

She’d seen him cry like a baby after all. So much for giving an impression of strength and confidence. Damned if he hadn’t spilled his emotions out like a broken water pump. But in some ways losing his dad had broken him.

The horses and Stevie were picketed nearby munching on oats and grass, and Audrey had prepared peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. After the days’ events, Braden had eaten four.

“What did you want to tell me?” he prompted, running a hand along Blue’s back as the dog lay curled up against him.

Audrey crossed her legs and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. Bundled in her brightly-colored fleece, the garment seemed to heighten the flush of her cheeks to a rosy glow. Although her hair was still pulled back from her face, strands had escaped and framed the soft contours of her cheeks, her eyes a deep blue-green in the flickering firelight.

Her only makeup was a sunburned nose and faint smudges of dirt, and he watched her like a lovesick puppy.

When had it happened? When had he fallen for her?

He hoped she wasn’t about to tell him she had a boyfriend.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been here,” she said. “When I was nine, my dad took my sister and me for a weekend in the wilderness. I’m fairly certain this is where we were. When you mentioned seeing a family here years ago—I think it was us.”

That caught his attention. He laughed as he scratched behind Blue’s ear, the dog in canine bliss. “I remember you. It was early in the morning, and I was scouting around alone when I saw a dark-haired girl talking to herself.” He grinned. “Then she did a dance.”

Audrey twisted her mouth, appearing self-conscious. She took a deep breath. “Yeah, that was me. First, let me apologize for the fact that we were on Delaney land. I’m sure my dad didn’t realize we’d crossed the boundary between public and private lands.”

“You’re forgiven.”

She chewed on her lower lip. “So, you should know that as a young child I was very sick.”


Copyright © 2017 K. McCaffrey LLC

Author Bio
Kristy McCaffrey writes historical western romances set in the American southwest. She and her husband dwell in the Arizona desert with two chocolate labs named Ranger and Lily, and whichever of their four children that are in residence. Kristy believes life should be lived with curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, and one should never be far from the enthusiasm of a dog. She also likes sleeping-in, eating Mexican food, and doing yoga at home in her pajamas.

Connect with Kristy



Thursday, July 6, 2017

See The Grand Canyon

By Kristy McCaffrey

View from the Bright Angel Trail at the South Rim of
the Grand Canyon. Photo Kristy McCaffrey.
“All the descriptions written over the decades land with a dull thud next to the real thing. It’s because the Canyon is overwhelming. It is so personal, yet a beauty beyond us—a far world, unknown, and unknowable.” ~ Arizona author Leo W. Banks

Arizona’s number one tourist attraction is the Grand Canyon, and it should come as no surprise that the state’s nickname is “the Grand Canyon State.”

Grand Canyon National Park is known for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. Over time, the elements have scoured and carved the dramatically splendid Grand Canyon, known as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. The distance from the South Rim to the North Rim varies from half a mile to eighteen miles, and the canyon has a maximum depth of 6,000 feet. This great range in elevation allows for a variety of climate, flora, and fauna; of the seven life zones on the North American continent, four can be experienced within Grand Canyon.

View from Grandview Trail at the South Rim of the Grand
Canyon. Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

The most prominent feature in the Grand Canyon, besides the deep gorges exposing millions of years of rock layers, lies at the bottom—the Colorado River. Named in 1776 by a Spanish missionary, Padre Francisco Tomás Garcés, it means “red” in Spanish, which is how the river would have appeared back then. Due to the construction of Glen Canyon Dam in northeastern Arizona in 1964, the river is now clear, clean, and cold.


The Colorado River as seen from the
Desert Watchtower at the South Rim
of the Grand Canyon.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

The first documented expedition of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon was accomplished by Major John Wesley Powell in 1869. Powell, a Civil War veteran with only one arm, and nine companions became the first men to journey 1,000 miles on the river, part of it through Grand Canyon. They braved rapids, heat, plummeting morale, and the loss of three men. Powell’s account of this expedition, Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries, made him a national hero as well as brought the canyon to the attention of the country. The Paiutes called the plateau that the canyon cuts through ”Kaibab” or “Mountain Lying Down,” but it was Powell who first consistently used and published the name “Grand Canyon” in the 1870’s.


Inside Desert Watchtower.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

My daughters inside Desert Watchtower.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

There are many options when visiting the Grand Canyon. The most popular location is the South Rim with many lodging choices, including campsites. These are booked one year in advance, so plan accordingly. (However, if you’re flexible you can sometimes find last-minute cancellations.) My favorite place is the El Tovar hotel, built in 1905. Be sure to grab lunch in the dining room (my favorite dish is the Traditional Navajo Taco). Learn more about where to stay here.

My daughters and a friend.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

Activities while at the South Rim include hiking (the famed Bright Angel Trail begins here—if you’re in good physical condition then consider a day-hike to Indian Gardens, a halfway point to the bottom of the Canyon; overnighting inside the Canyon requires a permit), bike rides, and many lookout points (Desert Watchtower and Hermit’s Rest are my favorites). People often ask about the Skywalk, a 10-foot wide, horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet over the rim of the Canyon. It’s not accessible from the South Rim, but lies farther west and is more easily reached from Las Vegas. A bit of trivia: the walkway is actually built over a side canyon and not Grand Canyon, although the view is still spectacular.

My daughter Kate taking a photo on the Bright Angel Trail.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

My daughters at the start of the Bright Angel Trail. We
didn't get far before they were distracted with photo ops.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

My husband and daughter on Bright Angel Trail.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

You can also visit the North Rim during the summer months (the roads are closed during the winter). It’s more remote and more difficult to reach, but there are also less crowds. And the different views of the Canyon make it worthwhile (the North Rim is at a higher elevation than the South Rim). The Grand Canyon Lodge offers a perfect place to stay, but remember to book 12 months in advance. You can find more info here.

Me and my girls.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.

Kate and Hannah commemorating their visit with a selfie.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey

We saw this magnificent bull elk grazing by the side of
the road as we were leaving the park.
Photo Kristy McCaffrey.