Friday, December 13, 2013

A Brand New Historical Western Romance!!

By Kristy McCaffrey

I'm happy to share my new release, now available in print and digital. Into The Land Of Shadows is a historical western romance with a brooding hero and a spunky heroine.

Ethan Barstow has come to Arizona Territory to search for his younger brother, Charley. It’s been five years since a woman came between them and it’s high time they buried the hatchet. He soon learns that his brother has broken more than one heart in town, has mysteriously and abruptly disappeared, and that an indignant fiancée is hot on his trail.

Kate Kinsella pursues Charley Barstow when he skips out of town without a second thought. Not only has he left Agnes McPherson alone and pregnant, but everyone still believes that he and Kate are engaged, a sham from the beginning. An ill-timed encounter with a group of ruffians has her suddenly in the company of Ethan Barstow, Charley’s brother and a man of questionable repute. As they move deeper into the shadows of the Arizona desert, family tensions and past tragedies threaten to destroy a relationship neither of them expects.



If you decide to read it, would you consider leaving a review at any of the above sites? It greatly helps in spreading the word. :-) Thanks a bunch!!

As a thank you to my wonderful readers, I'm running a contest at my website this month. Please stop over and let me know your favorite book(s).

Kristy's website

And if you're looking for that perfect gift for the booklover in your life, I've got a special offer going for my Wings of the West trilogy.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!!

And now, an excerpt from Into The Land Of Shadows.

Kate hid in the shadows at the far end of the hallway hoping neither of the men would see her. They opened the door to Harry’s room and went inside. She would have little if no time to escape before they realized she was gone.
Rufus didn’t completely close the door behind him. Kate tiptoed as fast as she could past the room she had just occupied for the last several hours and moved quickly down the stairs, her legs still aching from misuse.
“Where’d she go?” Clive roared as Kate ran out into the street.
She looked right then left. The road was dark, windy, and deserted. The sound of loud thumps on the stairs told her Clive and Rufus were right behind her. She darted around the building and then ran behind another. She hustled toward the end of the street.
“Spread out! We’ll git her!” Clive yelled.
Kate moved around a trading post. Sensing a presence from behind, she jerked her head around and stared. A four-legged creature ran past, disappearing. With a hand on her chest she struggled to calm her breathing. It was just a dog.
She peeked around the building and saw Clive walking down the street carrying his gun. Rufus wasn’t in sight. She needed to find a place to hide but most establishments looked closed. Movement to the left caught her eye. Joe Tohonnie? Maybe she hadn’t dreamt him after all.
The shadow moved across the street and disappeared behind a blacksmith building. Kate ran to the other side of the street, hunching over in an effort to hide herself. Once she made it to the blacksmith she glanced around.
“Joe?” she whispered. “Mister Tohonnie? Is that you?”
No answer but the wind. Kate began backing up toward the rear of the building, dread gripping her stomach. She swallowed hard, feeling uncertain.
Staying close to the structure, her heart wouldn’t stop pounding and her hands were clammy from fear. She swallowed hard again then turned to run but was caught short, letting out an involuntary gasp when the four-legged creature cut her off with a growl. The animal’s yellow eyes glowed by the light of the moon and he watched her with rapt attention, his body poised for attack.
A wolf.
Another low growl emanated from deep in the animal’s throat and Kate fought the urge to flee. The wolf’s head easily came to her chest; he would have no trouble chasing her down and ripping her to pieces. The gash on her face would pale in comparison to what he would do to her.
A sudden commotion from behind startled her. Someone grabbed her. In a frenzy Kate fought back, kicking and straining against the iron grip the man exerted around her waist. His hold loosened and Kate fell to the ground.
She grabbed a loose board, and screamed as she swung it around, hitting the man’s leg. But he didn’t go down. She scooted backward and scrambled to her feet. The man grabbed her this time, facing her. Thinking it was Clive or Rufus, she continued to struggle.
“Katie! Katie! It’s me. It’s Ethan.”
He held her tight against the building. A sob escaped from deep inside her throat, a sudden maelstrom that matched the wind roaring in her ears, and then Ethan’s mouth was on hers. Hot, insistent, devouring. She molded into him, her lips and tongue hungry for the sudden and consuming contact. She pushed her body against his, clinging to his broad shoulders, desperate to be closer still. He didn’t abandon me. His mouth crushed hers and she felt on fire, head to toe.
“Rufus, you find her?” Clive yelled in the distance.
Ethan broke the kiss, and Kate reeled back against the building.
“Let’s go,” he said and grabbed her hand, pulling her behind the blacksmith building.
“Wait.” She tugged his hand to stop him. “There’s a wolf.” Her voice shook—either from the men chasing her, the wolf challenging her, or the man who had just devastated her defenses with one kiss. She could take her pick. She’d had a busy day.
“He’s with me,” Ethan said quietly. “He won’t hurt you.”
The wolf suddenly appeared. “Bart!” Ethan cocked his head. “Come.”
“Get back here,” Clive yelled.
Kate looked over her shoulder and saw him in pursuit. He began shooting. Ethan ducked down and pushed her in front of him.
“Dammit, Clive!” Ethan yelled. “Give it a rest!”
“Bring her back,” Clive said. “We need her!”
“I need her more. Run, Kate.”

Copyright © 2013  K. McCaffrey LLC

Monday, December 2, 2013

My First Half-Marathon (or Hanging Out With Wild Woman)

By Kristy McCaffrey

“Bone by bone, hair by hair, Wild Woman comes back. Through night dreams, through events half understood and half remembered…”
~ Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
                                                by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

There is a girl, and she’s curious. She likes to explore and wander, outside as well as inside herself. Maybe you’ve met her. Maybe you spend a lot of time with her, or maybe you cross paths with her only occasionally. She is Wild Woman; she is you. 

The only antidote for fear is Wild Woman. She will look beyond any smallness and strive toward a connection of empowerment. I found her recently, again, while reaching for the goal of completing my first half-marathon. I’d never run this far before, I never imagined I could run this far. Although I’ve jogged off and on most of my life, I would be hard-pressed to ever admit that I’m a runner. I shuffle along at a very slow pace, one that had me, many years ago, accompanied by a police officer riding the end-of-the-race motorcycle for a 5K competition. I was mortified. I continued to participate in 5K’s, but they frequently left me dejected and depressed. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d somehow failed because I wasn’t fast. Wild Woman was nowhere to be found.

But growing older has brought new priorities, as well as a low tolerance for belief systems that drain rather than enhance life. Wild Woman whispered in my ear, enticing me with places like the Himalaya, Mongolia, and Alaska. Don’t you want to hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain or summit Mt. Kilimanjaro? she asked. Yes, to all of the above. Knowing that I needed a strong baseline of fitness to accomplish these journeys, I decided to train for a half-marathon. This motivation was far better than worrying if I would be fast enough not to embarrass myself.
The pain of Mile 12.

The lesson is this—sometimes you just don’t know yourself.

On race day, I ran the first mile in 9 minutes. This was way too fast for me since I had trained at 12-minute miles. But it felt surprisingly good, so off I went. I kept a pace of 9- to 11-minute miles for seven miles. Wow. I was stunned. But Wild Woman wasn’t; she was simply giddy with joy. She didn’t care about pace, she ran because the rhythm felt right. She mentally embraced every woman she passed, or who passed her, because nothing is grander than others pushing and reaching past their own limits, whatever those limits might be. 

It was a great day. And although the end wasn’t pretty (big deeds are not achieved without discipline and maybe just a dash of agony), I crossed the finish line immensely proud of my accomplishment. I ran faster than I ever imagined, and while I still came in well in the back of the pack, it mattered little to me. I’d spent the day with Wild Woman. I highly recommend it.

The end. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

An Italian Holiday

By Kristy McCaffrey

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

My mother, my sister and I went on an Italian holiday in October, just the three of us, women alone navigating a foreign country. I’ve traveled quite a bit, my mother also, my sister into the wilderness but never out of the country, and despite this there was an underlying element of fear. Travel can be unsettling, and in a different country, disorienting. Add to that the absence of the men in our lives, that subtle reliance I have on my husband to, well, fix things, to problem-solve, to pick up the phone and speak to someone in a language likely not to be English.

My mom at the Colosseum.
We landed in Rome after fifteen plus hours of travel and immediately toured the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. I would highly recommend booking a tour in advance if only to bypass the long entrance lines. We did the same at the end of the week for the Vatican. The magnificence of the Sistine Chapel left me in tears, or maybe it was the claustrophobia of seeing it with 10,000 other people. Our savvy tour guide—a young Italian woman—gave us wise advice, “Get out while you can. Save yourself.”

Michelangelo's Pieta.
Truly magnificent.
Piazza Navona, Rome.
My mom and I in St. Peter's
Basilica, Vatican City.

Soriano nel Cimino.
The bulk of our holiday was spent on a Culture Discovery Vacation Tour in the small town of Soriano nel Cimino, a two-hour drive north of Rome. Soriano is a medieval village situated upon a hill, very quaint and picturesque; it was like stepping back in time. But several excursions into the countryside later, we learned that picturesque medieval hilltop towns are everywhere in Italy. Italians are so lucky. We arrived during Soriano’s annual Chestnut Festival, which meant a steady stream of sword-fighting displays, drumming through the evening, jousting and archery tournaments, and flag-throwing competitions. Not only were we immersed in Italian culture, we were now steeped in historic Italian culture. It was difficult not to skip down the narrow cobblestone street each morning to the local café for a pastry and cappuccino, so idyllic our existence became. My sister and I settled into a cute two-bedroom apartment while my mom had her own accommodations, a one-bedroom retreat. We soon began our week of eating cheese and pasta and cheese, and drinking wine, wine, and more wine.

My Italian apartment in Soriano.
The cobblestone streets of Soriano.
My sister, myself and my mom.
The castle of Soriano is behind us.

Culture Discovery offers trips that encompass hands-on cooking classes with tours of surrounding towns. Interaction with local families lend a friendly atmosphere not normally found on trips abroad. It’s an immersive experience and an exhausting one. Still, my appreciation for Italy has only deepened.

I’m a middle-of-the-road cook; my mother hardly cooks at all; my sister loves it. The cooking classes offered something for everyone. We made Pappardelle pasta from scratch, along with Bolognese sauce. There was Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Potatoes and homemade Tiramisu, a Brasato al Barolo Roast (soaked overnight in an entire bottle of Barolo red wine) and a light, creamy Panna Cotta for dessert. We learned the art of making Pecorino cheese, heating the sheep’s milk in a huge pot and scraping the sides by hand to scoop the cheese, then upon reheating, skimming the curdles from the top for Ricotta (a re-cooked cheese). In learning to make Panzanella I came to appreciate the ingenuity of Italian women. Panzanella is a salad with old bread soaked in water as its base. Italian women always make use of leftovers. Throughout the week it became clear that many Italian dishes are deceptively simple. We were urged to experiment upon our return home. Olive oil, fresh garlic and lemon can work wonders with almost any ingredients. I learned a new appreciation for my Italian mother-in-law, surrounded as I was by men and women who reminded me of her boisterous family that had emigrated to Pennsylvania.

Brasato al Barolo Roast.
Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Potatoes.
Making ricotta cheese.
The finished product.

We toured the town of Assisi, resting place of St. Francis and St. Clare, as well as the papal city of Viterbo. We saw Montepulciano, home of the world-renowned Vino Nobile wine and the most beautiful wine cellar in the world. For Twilight fans, New Moon was filmed here. We visited Civita di Bagnoreggio, known as the Dying City because it’s literally crumbling away, but unfortunately were unable to see the Italian Grand Canyon due to heavy cloud cover. We drove through Tuscany and it’s truly as beautiful as any photograph. We witnessed the magnificent gothic cathedral in Orvieto.

Wine cellar in Montepulciano.
The Dying City.
Gothic cathedral in Orvieto.
This big guy lived across the street from the cooking villa.

And of course we shopped—leather boots, wallets, purses, cheese, olive oil, and boar sausage. We shipped many cases of wine home because in the slightly inebriated state reached while at wine tastings we became convinced we’d never find a wine as good as this one back in the U.S.

The trip wasn’t without mishaps—flight delays both leaving and returning, a missed train stop in Rome causing us to drag our luggage up and down flights of stairs as we struggled to find our way, a cancelled hotel that put me on a Portuguese pay phone on our layover home hoping to find someone who spoke English. I imagined what my husband would do…and then I did that. I forged ahead, feeling unsure and nervous, but determined to solve our dilemmas. Sometimes my sister solved them. And sometimes my mother did. To travel is to explore, to learn, to journey, but it’s also to shift those gears that get little use in the safety of home.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Odd, The Strange And The Macabre

By Kristy McCaffrey

In honor of Halloween...

There are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells, according to Carolyn Bohach, a microbiologist at the University of Idaho. Despite vast numbers, bacteria don't take up much space because they are far smaller than human cells.

Drinking too much water can kill you.
Hyponatremia, or dilution of the blood caused by drinking too much water, can lead to water intoxication, an illness whose symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, mental disorientation, and in some cases, death.

Insect wings are made of the same material as human fingernail cuticles.

Survival in space unprotected is possible...briefly.
A 1965 study by researchers at the Brooks Air Force Base in Texas showed that dogs exposed to near vacuum--one three-hundred-eightieth of atmospheric pressure at sea level--for up to 90 seconds always survived. During their exposure, they were unconscious and paralyzed. Gas expelled from their bowels and stomachs caused simultaneous defecation, projectile vomiting and urination. They suffered massive seizures. Their tongues were often coated in ice and the dogs swelled to resemble "an inflated goatskin bag," the authors wrote. But after slight repressurization the dogs shrank back down, began to breathe, and after 10 to 15 minutes at sea level pressure, they managed to walk, though it took a few more minutes for their apparent blindness to wear off.

A hemispherectomy--where half the brain is removed--is usually perfomed on patients who suffer dozens of seizures every day that resist all medication. Amazingly memory and personality are unaffected.

Beginning in 1800 and continuing until the 1960's, the isolated Fugate family living near Troublesome Creek, Kentucky were so incestuous they developed a blood condition called methemoglobinemia, which turned their skin blue.

In 1994, on the Greek island of Lesbos, near the city of Mytilene, archaeologists investigating an old Turkish cemetery found a medieval skeleton buried in a crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall. This was not an unusual discovery; however, the post-mortem treatment of this body was very much unexpected. The corpse had been literally nailed down in its grave, with heavy iron spikes driven through the neck, pelvis and ankle. The use of iron and the practice of staking down a corpse are both well-attested in vampire folklore. The body was almost certainly that of a Muslim, believed to be the first time a corpse of a person other than a Christian had been found treated in this fashion.

Virginia Macdonald lived in New York City and became ill, died, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn in 1851. After the burial, her mother declared her belief that her daughter wasn't dead so the body was exhumed. To everyone's horror, the body was discovered lying on its side, the hands badly bitten, and every indication of a premature burial.

Interesting Fact: When the Les Innocents Cemetery in Paris, France was moved from the center of the city to the suburbs the number of skeletons found face down convinced many people and several doctors that premature burial was very common.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Adventures With Scorpions

By Kristy McCaffrey

I live in the Arizona desert north of Phoenix and we have an abundance of scorpions. I liken them to roaches—they’re everywhere, impervious to environment changes, and plain creepy to witness.

Bark Scorpion
There are many types in the area but the most common is the Bark Scorpion, which is poisonous but luckily the sting only causes great discomfort. They inhabit our garage and at times our house, and come in all sizes, from as small as a fingernail to 4-5 inches long. Two effective means of attempting to control the population are the pest guy and sticky pads placed in strategic locations (door thresholds and along walls). Still, we encounter them, with high volume in the hot summer months. 

A sticky pad inside our house.
One afternoon I retrieved the mail and sat again in my car when a scorpion scurried from the letters and onto my lap. Much screaming and hyperventilating ensued, resulting in a squished scorpion. One ran between my feet while I stood in the laundry room in an attempt to escape my chocolate labs. I found a big one in my daughter’s hamper (which she never used again). One got his tail stuck on a sticky pad under my son’s dresser and was slowly making his way into the room, dragging the sticky pad behind him. One morning I entered the laundry room to discover a sticky pad that had migrated to the center of the floor. Two creatures were immobile upon it—a scorpion and the bull snake that was obviously chasing it. Clearly the steel wool we’d stuffed into cabinet crevices wasn’t doing its job to deter critters from entering the house. But probably the most shocking incident was the scorpion that went on vacation with us to California. He wasn’t discovered until we returned home, hanging out in the middle of our suitcase full of clothes. We speculate he’d hitched a ride on a pair of my husband’s shoes, which sat in a grocery bag inside the luggage during our two-day visit to Monterey.

Scorpions can have many young
and will carry them on their back.
I’ve never been stung but suspect my husband (and possibly one of our dogs) has, as evidenced by a strange sore on his hand (and near the dog’s eye) that oozed pus for several days. He eventually recovered, as did the dog.

A giant desert hairy scorpion I saw while hiking near
my house. He was dead when I found him. They
aren't very poisonous.

I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten used to them, but I’ve certainly learned to live with the creatures.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Facts About Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Some interesting facts about my native Arizona.

Arizona is the 6th largest state in the U.S.
Arizona has more mountainous country than Switzerland.
Arizona has more sunshine than Florida.
Arizona’s No. 1 tourist attraction is the Grand Canyon.
Arizona has the largest Native American population in the U.S with the largest percentage of Indian land set aside among all states.
Arizona has the nation’s southernmost ski resort—Mt. Lemmon near Tucson.
Arizona has the largest stand of Ponderosa pine in the world.
Arizona produces more copper than the rest of the nation combined.
The Four Corners region of northeast Arizona is the only place in the nation where 4 states have a common meeting point.
Arizona has more cacti than any place in the world.
The name Arizona is derived from Papago Indian words “Aleh Zon,” which means “small Spring,” and describes the site of a fabulous silver strike near Nogales in 1736.
The highest point in Arizona is Mt. Humphrey in the San Francisco Peaks (near Flagstaff) at 12,637 feet. The lowest point is near Yuma (138 feet above sea level).
Arizona became a separate territory in 1863 and a state in 1912.
The state flower is the saguaro cactus bloom.
The state tree is the Palo Verde, which blooms a brilliant yellow-gold in April or May.
The state bird is the cactus wren.
Oraibi, on the Hopi Mesas, is reputed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in America.
The best preserved meteor crater in the world is located near Winslow, Arizona. The impact was about 22,000 years ago.
Meteor Crater

Phoenix originated in 1866 as a hay camp to supply Camp McDowell.

The Phoenix area rapidly expanded in growth after World War II, due in part to the invention of air conditioning.

A person from Arizona is called an Arizonan.
Grand Canyon

Arizona’s nickname is “the Grand Canyon State.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why Starbucks Is So Successful

By Kristy McCaffrey

This statement is, of course, redundant—people love coffee and Starbucks does it right. I’m certain I can’t give any insight that many of you don’t already know. But a recent conversation with my husband made me realize the deep, abiding relationship my family has with this establishment.

One afternoon he decided to pull out the calculator and estimate how much money we spend annually at Starbucks. It came out to a whopping $9,000. I nervously laughed and rolled my eyes. Surely he was overstating. Ironically, I don’t even like coffee. I never have. But I do love a daily cup of their chai tea latte. That doesn’t even cost that much. And my husband has reduced his intake to plain, regular coffee, easily paid for with pocket change. But our daily pilgrimages have rubbed off on our two teenage daughters. So, his estimate of spending $25 a day might not be so far off. The girls love big frappucinos along with a sandwich or those cute protein trays. He seems to think I can’t say no to them. But consider that during these times life is calm and wonderful between a mom and two teenage daughters, a rare occurrence to be savored and certainly not slapped with a pricetag.

But $9,000? I don’t go to Starbucks every day. In fact, I strictly adhere to a rule of not going to Starbucks more than once a day when I do patronize. I’m very proud of myself for that practice, although I’ll admit it has more to do with calorie intake than cost. So I think his estimate could be downgraded to, say, $7,000. However, that’s a lot of money. We sure could take a nice vacation with it. But isn’t that what going to Starbucks is all about? A little mini-break in the middle (or morning) of your day. It’s delicious, it’s fun, it’s relaxing.

I really must blame my husband. His love of technology caused him to enthusiastically put the Starbucks gift card app on my smartphone. All I have to do is whip it out and like magic my order is paid for. It’s just too easy.

My husband and I were thrilled when we
found a Starbucks in Cusco, Peru
last April.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

College-Bound Children and Hiking

By Kristy McCaffrey

When my two boys were young, they frequently used the word “pathway” to describe a direction they wanted to go. It was an unusual description for them to utter since my husband and I never used it. You’ll note that my blog is called Pathways, which is a direct reference to my children. Pathways lead to all sorts of places: a sidewalk in front of a house, a stream in the woods, a new direction in life.

Sam and I at
UC Boulder
I recently dropped my oldest at college. Samuel is 19 years old and beyond ready to begin his life. That readiness took some of the sting from watching him exit our world. When he was a toddler, I’d delayed his start to kindergarten, something I realized a few years later was unnecessary. First child, many mistakes. However, I had one extra year of him chomping at the bit to gain his independence. We parents will take whatever we can get. 

Sam’s destination was the University of Colorado at Boulder, a really lovely campus in a really beautiful location. My husband and I met his roommate, we bought him a bike, I organized his clothes because like most moms I worry he won’t do it correctly. Mostly, I just worry he won’t do it all. As I’ve said many times to my children, life is much easier if you’re organized. But when a mom speaks, kid’s ears automatically close. Really, it’s a thing.

The Columbine Trail in
North Cheyenne Canyon,
Colorado Springs
The following day my husband had a business meeting in Colorado Springs, so I accompanied him to Colorado Springs. With an afternoon to myself I spent 6 hours hiking my sadness away. I found an easy-to-follow yet rigorous trail in North Cheyenne Canyon. The Columbine Trail was eight miles roundtrip. Just what I needed. And being alone was welcome. When Sam was born, he was 8 weeks premature. I remember then that I didn’t want to make idle chitchat with others—I simply didn’t have the energy, anxiously visiting him every day at the neonatal intensive care unit at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. And now, I didn’t want to talk either. It was as if conversing would spill too much from me. I wanted to keep it all close—my memories of him, my joy from having him in my life, my happiness as he embarks on a wonderful new phase, my heartache from simply missing him.

View from the Columbine Trail ~ Colorado
Springs is in the distance

Samuel at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh

Three days later I hiked again, this time an attempt at the summit of Mt. Humphrey in Flagstaff, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet. The 4-mile trail, beginning at the Snow Bowl Ski Resort, is strenuous and hard-to-follow in places, with a 3200 foot elevation gain. I attempted it earlier in the summer with my husband but heavy cloud cover had left us confused and we lost the trail, so we never made it to the top. This time I went with my dad, who knew the area. When I told him our stories of Sam and college and concerns and woes, he just laughed. I finally knew exactly how he and my mom had felt when I left for college all those years ago, me being his eldest. I could now appreciate not only their restraint in showing their grief, but also the financial support without probing my every monetary move. (I think of my year in the sorority that cost my dad a fortune—he never berated me when I decided to quit.) I can only hope to be as supportive with my own children. My husband and I still have three more to go.

But back to my attempt for the Humphrey summit—I didn’t make it again. At around 12,000 feet I knew I needed to turn back. After 4 hours of hiking in the rain, I was drenched and in the early stages of hypothermia. It’s a really strange phenomena when your fingers stop functioning and it’s not from frostbite. I made several mistakes with my clothing (I should have donned a rain poncho from the start and not worn layers of cotton clothing, which don’t dry quickly), but I also learned two things: push your boundaries but know when to heed that inner voice. My dad never tried to sway me either way. Perhaps that is the best parenting of all—buoy your children to step outside their comfort zone but at the same time let them think for themselves. Entering young adulthood isn’t unlike a long hike: there will be ups and downs, there will be good stretches along with exhausting slogs through the mud, and there will always be the unknowable aspect of the journey.

You can choose to stay where you are, or instead follow the pathway.

Sam—your father and I are here for you, but I promise to keep my weeping to myself.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Find Your Path, Find Your Purpose

By Kristy McCaffrey

“The job of the wayfinder, whether an ancient oracle or a modern scientific theorist, is to reach beyond current human knowledge into the realm of the unimagined and bring back something true and useful.” ~ Martha Beck

Do you have a strong sense of having a specific mission or purpose in life? Do you have a compulsion to master certain skills, to become proficient in a certain profession? Do you have a high sense of empathy? Do you feel a strong desire to lessen the suffering for people or animals? Do you feel as if you don’t quite fit into normal society?

Martha Beck addresses these questions in her rich and layered book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want. Hers isn’t the first treatise on the subject of life purpose, but her approach is more in line with ancient shamanic teachings rather than modern-day psychology. In an engaging manner she outlines the basic tenets of the Team. The Team, you see, is here to change the world, and many of us are on this Team whether we realize it or not. She points out that in today’s world, knowledge is common place; the real need is human attention. And not just any attention, but a focus based on authenticity, inventiveness, humor, empathy, and meaning. 

Team members are wayfinders, and wayfinders have been around for millennia, utilizing ancient technologies. Beck calls these the Technologies of Magic: Wordlessness, Oneness, Imagination, and Forming.

Wordlessness shifts the mind from the verbal center to the more creative and intuitive side of the brain. Oneness allows you to feel the connections we all have to one another and the world around us. With wordlessness and oneness activated, using Imagination will help you achieve a level of problem solving that won’t feel like work. And finally, Forming will bring what you’ve imagined into the physical world. The first two are states of consciousness, not something society places a high value upon, but without them not much of consequence will be accomplished. People are more acquainted with the last two skills; they are more active states, more doing states. However, it’s important not to skip the first two because without them what you form in this world will have no real significance or impact on those around you.

To achieve Wordlessness, any activity that dissolves verbal attention will do, such as singing, painting, poetry, literature, dancing, or any type of repetitive exercise like running, swimming or cycling. One well known path to Wordlessness is yoga.

If Wordlessness is becoming present in the magical realm then Oneness is connecting and communicating through it. In Oneness there is no separation between yourself and anything else in the universe. Ancient teachers say that we communicate with everything and everything is communicating with us. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, “I am the light that is over all things…Split a piece of wood and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”

One way to master Oneness is through deep practice, an intense way of learning a new skill that requires persistence. It’s not a matter of repetition but rather fully embracing the new skill, integrating it into your neural pathways, and then branching out in new and innovative ways.

Beck states, “To master Wordlessness, heal your true nature, and become a wayfinder, you must unlearn almost everything you were taught in school about what it means to be intelligent.” 

Wordlessness and Oneness can seem challenging for a person of western culture to master. “One South American shaman who was trained by a tribe deep in the forest…has to work to step out of Oneness so that he can understand the fear and neuroses of his First World patients.”

Using an analogy of a computer, mastering all four facets of the Technologies of Magic can be thought of in this way: log on to the energetic Internet using Wordlessness, communicate by sending energetic messages via Oneness, write code to create things online using Imagination, and finally, print out the creation—Forming—bringing it into the physical realm.

The time is now. The world needs what you have to offer. Don’t wait. Perhaps you want to rescue animals, perhaps you want to bring safe drinking water to a third world country, or maybe you simply feel called to help an elderly neighbor down the street get groceries. We all play a part, big and small. Nature can heal itself and Team members are willing to leave their gilded cage and embrace the change needed in today’s world.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wings of the West Series by Kristy McCaffrey ~ Historical Western Romance

Post by Kristy McCaffrey

I apologize for a less-than-original post, but school started today for my daughters and, along with all the running around of getting one son ready for boarding school and sending the other off to college, I seem to have experienced blog burnout. So, I’ll take this chance to shamelessly plug my books. If you’ve read them and liked them maybe you’d consider posting a review on Amazon or goodreads. I’ve heard this can help an author. J (However, if you didn’t like my books then please skip that part.)

Feel free to share this post with anyone you know who enjoys historical western romances. I’d be most appreciative.


Wings of the West Series: Book One 

Ten years have passed since her ranch was attacked, her folks murdered and Molly Hart was abducted.  Now, at nineteen, she’s finally returning home to north Texas after spending the remainder of her childhood with a tribe of Kwahadi Comanche.  What she finds is a deserted home coated with dust and the passage of time, the chilling discovery of her own gravesite, and the presence of a man she thought never to see again.

Matt Ryan is pushed by a restless wind to the broken-down remains of the Hart ranch.  Recently recovering from an imprisonment that nearly ended his life, the drive for truth and fairness has all but abandoned him.  For ten years he faithfully served the U.S. Army and the Texas Rangers, seeking justice for the brutal murder of a little girl, only to find closure and healing beyond his grasp.  Returning to the place where it all began, he’s surprised to stumble across a woman with the same blue eyes as the child he can’t put out of his mind. 

            Review The Wren at goodreads


Wings of the West Series: Book Two

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.


Wings of the West Series: Book Three

In 1877 Emma Hart comes to Grand Canyon, a wild, rugged, and until recently undiscovered area. Plagued by visions and gifted with a second sight, she searches for answers—about the tragedy of her past, the betrayal of her present, and an elusive future that echoes through her very soul. Joined by her power animal Sparrow, she ventures into the depths of Hopi folklore, forced to confront an evil that has lived through the ages.

            Texas Ranger Nathan Blackmore tracks Emma Hart to the Colorado River, stunned by her determination to ride a wooden dory along its course. But in a place where the ripples of time run deep, he’ll be faced with a choice. He must accept the unseen realm, the world beside this world, that he’d turned away from years ago or risk losing the woman he has come to love more than life itself.

            Review The Sparrow at goodreads