August 2nd was a day to remember for me. I have had many memorable events, including the following: Climbing Mount Rainier and staying overnight on the summit, flying a sailplane to 20,000 feet over the Sierra Nevada mountains on oxygen, taking aerobatic flight lessons, doing loops, rolls and hammerheads, racing sled dogs in Alaska, graduating from medical school with honors at age 42, having a great husband who encouraged me to do what I wanted to do, having a great son & daughter-in-law and living long enough to see my perfect granddaughter reach age 16. Oh, and I survived a plane crash in snowy mountains with multiple fractures, requiring helicopter rescue. I’ve driven formula Fords and driven faster than many people in a Porsche 928 on Seattle International Raceways. I’m a marksman, knitter, painter and writer with too many projects to count, but on August 2nd I did something I never imagined would be possible.
I climbed the winding staircase to the Land of Octogenarians. I can’t believe I’m 80! We celebrated at the Whitefish Lake Golf Course Restaurant, my favorite place to eat. A glass of good wine, lobster and dinner with dear friends. Cheers!
Today I completed formatting and uploaded the finalized Papa Dearest manuscript for my paperback. I soon see if it was acceptable and if so, I will publish it.
Today dawned bright and the few clouds dissipated leaving behind a clear sky. August is my favorite month for watching meteors. Our unobstructed view from northwest to east makes sitting on the deck a comfortable location for stargazing and with little light pollution.
I have so many interests and I don’t have for all of them. I seem to come up with a new project every day and found YouTube is my friend. It is surprising what you can learn from short tutorials – everything from formatting to designing your own book covers. I’ll share some favorite things that stimulate my writing productivity. I have finished ten books in the past ten years, two of them are still in an editing phase and I hope to publish them in 2022. I published #8 today.
The Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11th but I have seen a few already. The shower is active between July 14th and September 1st. At the peak, the estimate is 50-75 meteors per hour but in the past, some of my best viewing times were about 30 per hour between midnight and 0200.
There are always satellites transiting and I have seen a couple of the Starlink Satellite trains. The first one I saw overhead was shocking, a UFO to me until I realized what it was. An ice fisherman friend has seen many of them when gazing at the starry black sky from frozen lakes. Here is a link if you haven’t seen them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1plc-ckppo
Weather in the past week has been hot for us here in the northern mountains, nearing 100 degrees a couple of days. A worrisome forest fire blew up yesterday about fifty miles south of here along Flathead Lake but there is no wind to drive the flames this morning. I’m hoping they have controlled the spread, protecting lives and land. Last year our skies were often obscured by smoke pollution from western fires, so meteor viewing was poor. I hope it is better this year and we are spared a bad fire season.
I am happy to be home and celebrating my 80th birthday with Tom, surrounded by furry friends and things I enjoy. My furry and feathered friends are close by. They keep me company when I ‘m writing. The sunny room on the north side of the house has become a plant nursery, they keep me company, too, making morning rounds in the plant ICU to see how everyone is doing.
I have three avocado trees planted from seeds that have reached the ceiling, though haven’t produced any fruit. However, my lime tree is producing and I recently enjoyed a gin and tonic on a hot day made with a lime I grew. My Hoya plant of Hawaiian vintage is climbing up the walls and produces multiple flowers that are beautiful. A recent venture is to nurture African violets and was delighted to see one newly rooted leaf has given birth and needs no resuscitation!
Siniy, my feral cat rescued a year ago was very wild, but now she lets me brush her every day and has a special friendship with a neighborhood deer I named Lucky. She is a wonderful doe that suffered an open fracture of her hind leg about six years ago. I worried she wouldn’t survive but is resilient. The leg healed, very crooked, but she walks well and brings babies to visit most days, twins last year and a singlet this summer. She grooms the fawn and even grooms the cat.
My dogs bring joy, too. Vaxine is our rescue doggie who helped us get through the COVID social separation period. She is a joyful wonderful German shepherd mix who loves the sprinkler and gets along well with 12-year-old Gracie. We adopted her from a shelter. Vaxine is about two years old and had been abused. She has buckshot in her face and had many broken teeth. She recently had a root canal procedure then a filling in a lower fang, and six other teeth repaired. Now, she has a beautiful but costly smile 🙂
The photos below show some of my furry writing friends and things that make me smile. We also have a flock of wild turkeys. The funny babies are about the size of chickens. I practice photography skills on my children.
I hope this day finds you happy and with a passion, something that makes you smile and have a reason to get up and meet each day. I used to think age 40 was very old, now I have doubled that age and my view has changed. I only feel old when I look in the mirror and see my mother. But she was a positive dynamic role model who believed there was a solution to every problem. I feel very fortunate to have known her.
This morning, I drank my first cup of favorite hazelnut coffee on the deck with the dogs as we watched sunrise to the music of birdsong. Then, I went to work. After a few hours to wait for the safety of bright light to avoid the neighborhood black bear, I took Vaxine for a walk.
August will be a big month for me. I decided to release my eighth book on my 80th birthday! I chose the release date at a milestone in life for me. I was seriously considering remaining seventy-nine because it sounded so much younger, but I decided instead to be happy no matter what the age, look forward to more good times, and enjoy life.
I start most days sitting at my computer desk with a cup of coffee, or on the deck with my two dogs, and watch the sun rise over the Rocky Mountain. Brilliant colors paint the sky and streak light across beautiful terrain to the music of early morning birdsong. When their songs fade and before I get to work, I tune in a background on Spotify, often jazz, Creedence Clearwater Revival or something else that fits my mood or the scene I’m writing.
Despite distractions by the latest political updates interrupting my writing goals and stimulating me to write letters to members of Congress or opinion letters, I just completed Papa Dearest. It is a novel but like my three non-fiction books, I was driven to write this one to address a common serious problem the World Health Organization considers a silent health emergency.
This fictitious story line of generational incest is told through the eyes of a young female victim. Papa Dearest encompasses common character behaviors identified through interviews in addition to extensive literature research. The book was difficult to write because incest is verboten. This German term for forbidden exemplifies the absolute prohibition of sexual acts on a child, abuse so abhorrent even discussion of the topic is often forbidden.
When someone a child trusts, such as a father, grandfather, stepfather, uncle, brother or other family member deemed a protector sexually assaults the young victim, the perpetrator has crossed the forbidden line.
If incest is reported to authorities revealing the actions of the perpetrator on a child, many lives are changed forever. The child is saved from entrapment and continued assaults but requires skilled extended counseling. The perpetrator is removed from the family, shunned, disgraced, fired from work and imprisoned. The family is in crisis and sometimes the child is blamed.
Both boys and girls are victimized. They are often threatened with death should they tell. Because of the high price of telling, most victims of incest hide their pain over a lifetime.
Combined with a verboten incident in my family and knowing numerous victims who trusted me with their personal stories of devastating emotional and physical harm, I decided to write about the topic.
Victims entrusted me with their stories with the hope of helping others end ongoing abuse by learning escape and recovery are possible.
ABOUT THE BOOK
After her mother’s death, twelve-year-old- Anna’s bondage under the control of her religious father in an isolated Montana prairie town turns even worse when she finds herself pregnant.
Papa Dearest is available as an e-book on pre-order at both Smashwords and Amazon.
After release on August 2, it will be distributed through their channels from many sites. If you’d like to pre-order an e-book now, here are the links:
Please write a review at the site of your preferred retailer.
A paperback edition will be available soon and an audio book is in the works.
The Montana Sunrise Blog
Two more books are coming soon. If you’d like to hear about them, about life in Montana, and follow some of my photo odysseys to Yellowstone and elsewhere, please subscribe to my blog at: https://bettykuffel.com
After few blog posts lately, I have recently completed some writing projects and returned to this blog to share some writing tips, photography, art, and some of my writing.
I have just finished my eighth book, Papa Dearest. It will be published soon. The topic has troubled me for decades. Unlike my first book, Eyes of a Pedophile, the true crime story about violent pedophile Nathanael Bar-Jonah I met when working in an ER, Dearest Papa is a novel I hope may help a victim of incest find strength to escape and find help.
The World Health Organization classifies incest as a silent health emergency. The pervasive behavior is so abhorrent victims often carry the pain to their graves. Learning Anna’s story may help other victims gain strength and find help.
Following her mother’s death. a young girl named ANNA tells her story of surviving a hidden life of generational abuse in rural Montana at the hands of her religious father.
Years of work as an ER physician brought me in contact with numerous victims. Stopping abusers is everyone’s responsibility. Key to saving the children is reporting abuse to authorities including child protective services. A safe environment and proper counseling are key to victim recovery for all forms of sexual assault.
The German word verboten describes incest, absolute forbidden sex acts between family members. Stories of incest are so distasteful they are usually told in whispers if shared at all. Most victims carry the secrets of abuse to their deaths, never revealing the forbidden truth of horrendous actions endured at the hands of a person deemed a protector.
Decades ago, I learned incest occurred in my family. My great grandfather, a German immigrant, impregnated his young daughter Anna who bore a child she named Sophia. The little girl was raised in the family as a cousin and never acknowledged as a daughter, ever. My mother knew Anna and Sophia. She whispered the story to my oldest sister, but details remained verboten to discuss.
How do we stop the abuse of children? They are vulnerable and require protection and education to help them learn to defend themselves. Even in the most protective families, children are at risk and may be harmed by people known to the family including relatives and friends. Sexual predators are not typically strangers, they are usually known to the family and the child.
Incest is the ultimate immoral act of the sexual abuse of a child. This behavior often occurs with the knowledge of other family members including mothers who do nothing, leaving the silenced child unprotected, in a state of ongoing crisis and fear.
Papa Dearest is a novel, but is based on extensive research and interviews with survivors of incest. They are friends and relatives who trusted me with their painful stories to share in hopes of helping others escape the entrapment of incest.
Some authors complain about the elusive malady of writer’s block. If you believe you suffer from this illness, prescriptions from educators, book doctors and helpful friends are readily available. Like many disorders, if there is disagreement about its existence, treatment options are variable and may be unreliable.
There are no dark conspiracies like we’ve seen with COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine is not an antidote. But maybe a stemmed glass of Writer’s Block red wine and relaxation beneath a starry sky would stimulate ideas, generate some antibodies and immunize you.
During decades of practicing ER medicine and documenting serious life crises in patients, I did little writing for fun. My writing was primarily documentation in medical records. I accumulated files of novel and scene ideas, lists of anecdotes, funny conversations and quirks for memorable characters. Retirement allowed more time for me to write for fun but I felt compelled to first write books on medical topics of concern.
ER work revealed a marked lack of basic knowledge in people treated for trauma, illnesses and mental health. ERs treat people with many diseases and injuries that are preventable. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in both men and women in spite of the half million people who have died of COVID-19 over the past year. I decided to first write a handbook on heart health because for years I had wanted to provide patients a book to help them understand disease processes and recover sooner.
Heart disease and other pressing medical topics got in my way of writing novels because serious health problems are prevalent but hidden from view. Predators and Sexually transmitted diseases can kill, too.
Child abuse, incest, domestic abuse, rape, and venereal disease are all too common. I have felt compelled to write about each. In the eleven years since retirement, I have written almost daily, publishing three nonfiction books and four medical thrillers.
I am never at a loss for topics to write about, so I may be immune to Writer’s Block. If a story line slows or I need to develop a subplot or improve a character, I will set a novel aside and start another project, working on it for days if not weeks. However, a note to myself is a reminder to remedy the issue in the parked novel. To do this, I use One Note. The program is easily accessible, pinned to my lower menu bar and I write ideas when they come to me.
Four Medical Thrillers
Over the years, I have used many methods to glean ideas for books, names, character ideas and locales. Here are a few of my favorites: watch people, listen to dialogue, note unusual mannerisms, capture scenes in your mind’s eye or take up photography, interview experts, read obituaries and tabloids. Read tombstones for names and sometimes learn unique qualities of the deceased.
This month I completed drafts to two more novels:
Undercurrents of Loon Lake is set in 1960 in a resort area in Northern Minnesota and co-authored with my sister Bev. A friend described this murder mystery as Psycho meets Lake Wobegon.
Blood Ties addresses incest: Anna, age 13, finds herself mired in three generations of sexual abuse and incest at the hands of one man. She can’t save her own mother, but she must find a way to rescue her daughter.
I hope to publish both this year and have four more novels in progress.
Surviving the COVID-19 pandemic is on our minds. With no antiviral agent to stop this coronavirus infection, the real hope is to survive long enough to receive one of the effective vaccines to generate antibodies to block infection. In addition, protective masking, hand washing, and social avoidance are necessary.
However, of grave concern, we have another untreatable always fatal disease spreading epidemically through wildlife around the world and locally. The disease is caused by structurally abnormal proteins and is called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) based on the appearance of the sick animals. Every infected animal dies.
No human is known to have been infected by eating meat from wild game animals infected with CWD, but based on prion science, it could happen.
My interest in prion disease spans decades and prompted me to write a novel about its spread. If it’s spread through zoo animals that consumed infected beef, will it jump species barriers and infect others?
In the UK, numerous exotic zoo ruminants and bison died after eating infected meat and bone meal. Prion disease also killed captive wild cats throughout Europe. In the outbreak of human prion disease in Great Britain, it also killed hundreds of pet cats. Outbreaks in farmed mink have also occurred. All infected animals develop severe behavior changes, restlessness, sometimes aggressiveness or timidity. Infected deer lose their fear of humans. They develop excessive salivation, tremors and staring. Their inability to eat results in muscle wasting and starvation, thus the CWD descriptive term.
In the 1990s, a protein prion form crossed the species barrier from cattle to humans killing hundreds of people who ate the infected beef.
When humans developed the disease from eating infected beef, the incubation period was often years and occurred in younger people. Symptoms ranged from early visual changes, progressing to memory loss, motor disturbances and balance problems, followed by advancing dementia, coma, and death. This human disease is called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). Variant correlates with the form of CJD from diseased beef.
Prions are unlike any other infections, not a viral or bacterial. Prions are highly stable structurally abnormal proteins that transmit the fatal disease through contamination and consumption. This means, if you eat beef from cattle with Mad Cow Disease, you may die. Cooking the meat well done does not inactivate prions. The structure is so stable in tissue it must be incinerated to kill it.
The abnormal proteins can survive on surfaces for long periods. The usual soap and water washing of knives, truck beds or counters where meat is butchered with is not adequate to decontaminate the areas. Research shows 40% Clorox can inactivate prions if soaked for five minutes.
Prion infected carcasses left in the field after removing consumable portions of a game animal contaminates the soil. Depending on soil type, prions may not decompose and could be infectious in the ground for years and can contaminate the watershed. Ideally, the infected game and carcasses should be burned.
Hunting is big business. When purchase of specialized clothing, weapons, vehicles and licensing fees are included, hunting enthusiasts spend billions each year. Devoted sportsmen are unlikely to give up eating game meat or stop hunting in spite of prion risks, but all hunters are encouraged to follow guidelines published by state hunting websites. All big game should be tested for prions before consuming.
Infected game animals appear normal for 1-2 years before showing symptoms, so eating a normal appearing animal without testing places you at risk. Testing tonsil or brain tissue reveals the abnormal structures, but the abnormal prions are found in muscle tissue, too, not just in neurological tissue. Brain pathology shows characteristic microscopic holes.
CJD is a complex of fatal neurological disorders first described by the two physicians whose names they carry. Some of the disorders are inherited.
Hey all, I just published my solution to Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure. Hope you like it!
In 2010, Forrest Fenn hid a treasure chest in the Rocky Mountains. I began investigating this unsolved mystery in 2018 by analyzing maps, books, and online references until I pieced it all together. June 2020, My mom and I geared up and hiked off trail into the wilderness to a hidden location where the treasure appears to have sat undisturbed for nearly ten years. This publication is a synopsis of key discoveries and photos from our trek. Forrest and the finder have yet to confirm the location, and perhaps they never will, so I invite you to consider this analysis a convincing proof verified in person.
Mike Kuffel is a former Enterprise Data Warehouse manager at University of Washington Medicine Information Technology Services, and a graduate of Cornell University. After over 20 years managing and maintaining complex technologies, he left the workforce in 2018 to spend time with his family and began investigating the unsolved mystery of Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure. Years of technical analysis and troubleshooting proved valuable experience for finding anomalies and nuances in the myriad images and other content in Forrest Fenn’s books and online resources. After completing the quest for the chest in June 2020, his sanity has returned to “normal.”
As I scrolled through news feeds while riding the bus to work one day in early 2018, a headline caught my eye about a treasure worth millions hidden in the Rocky Mountains in 2010. I was skeptical, but read about Forrest Fenn hiding a chest full of treasure he had collected over the years that could only be found by solving a poem he wrote. My curiosity grew, so I did a little more digging, and found a few trustworthy sources, such as dalneitzel.com. A vast online world of treasure hunters shared ideas. Many followed their theories into the mountains and a few tragically died trying.
After hundreds of hours analyzing Forrest Fenn’s memoir, The Thrill of The Chase, and other resources, I finally pieced together the location of Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure. In addition to his first memoir, I bought and read many of Forrest’s books, and looked for other publications that included information from Forrest. In addition, I spent much of my time scouring satellite maps for site names and plausible search areas that aligned with the poem.
I started recognizing mountain regions without checking names and landmarks. I read through the The Thrill of The Chase many times, sometimes analyzing every image with a magnifying glass, other times researching references in the book, such as Billy The Kid’s .41 caliber revolver was named “Thunderer” like a mountain in the Lamar Valley. Periodically, I discovered deliberate hints that would narrow the search area and ultimately lead to the final solution.
After diving down many rabbit holes, I eventually used the vague poem as guardrails that could only be clarified by aligning geographic references and GPS coordinates found in Forrest’s books and other content. There may be other ways, and no doubt I missed more hints than I found, but the references below led me and my mom to the end of Forrest’s rainbow (44° 51′ 57″ N, 110° 08′ 48″ W).
Forrest has yet to reveal the location, but I have extensive corroborating evidence that demonstrates the validity of this location, IMHO. I am contemplating the best way to share more detailed information that led me to this location.
Start at Ice Box Canyon, NE corner of Yellowstone National Park
“And take it in the canyon down,”
Drive down highway 212 along Soda Butte Creek
“Not far, but too far to walk.”
Continue driving a few miles
“Put in below the home of Brown.”
Park and cross Soda Butte Creek on foot at the Lamar Bridge
This location was identified via geographic references, not by the meaning of Brown
Home of Brown could refer to the Lamar Valley Ranger station once occupied by Ranger Brown, the Buffalo Ranch, Bison of Lamar, Brown Trout, Brown Bear, Moose, basically anything big and brown in the area.
“From there it’s no place for the meek,”
Hike off trail into the wilderness angling (pun intended) toward the left end of the big cliffs near the bridge
“The end is ever drawing nigh;”
Hike toward a narrow draw between the hills at the left end of the cliffs (the location was determined by analyzing drawings, photos, and paintings)
“There’ll be no paddle up your creek,”
Hike uphill alongside the stream, avoiding steep switchback areas, forging through downed trees, dense forest, and rocky areas
“Just heavy loads and water high.”
Look for the large boulders on the right upstream
“If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, Look quickly down, your quest to cease,”
If you found GPS coordinates (44° 51′ 57″ N, 110° 08′ 48″ W), you will find a small shelf below a boulder with an overhanging ledge where the chest once sat.
“But tarry scant with marvel gaze, Just take the chest and go in peace.”
Don’t stand there marveling, enjoy the thrill of finding the location the chest once occupied, then make a lot of noise before a bear sneaks up on you!
Seriously, do not make this trek without being fully prepared to encounter wildlife.
For anyone who has purchased The Thrill of The Chase, the best example of hints within art is the drawing of a bombing run. Hints include geographic references of the Lamar Valley, including the Soda Butte cone(bottom middle). The hills in the background have an arrow pointing down in a narrow canyon (top middle). Also, findGPS number 51 in the stones in the bombing area on the right. There are numerous 8s and/or 88 (8.8 minutes is 8 minutes 48 seconds). (p.99 The Thrill of the Chase chapter My War for Me)
In October 2019, I believed I had enough evidence to confirm the chest was within this field of boulders. However, we had just returned from Yellowstone that September and snow had arrived. We planned our trip for June 2020, but on June 6th Forrest announced the treasure had been found. We were shocked and in disbelief.
Ah well, we had always been more interested in solving the challenge than collecting the reward, so we kept our plans and continued our adventure to our own thrilling conclusion. Could we find where the chest had been?
We knew confirming the location would be harder without a treasure chest as confirmation. I wanted to correlate satellite shapes in the boulders, but none of them panned out in person. GPS signals drifted, making the task more difficult as well. We searched high and low in the rocks until my mom noticed a small flat shelf beneath an overhanging ledge that formed a triangle. I had seen this shape multiple times in Forrest’s books, including roof lines with extended overhanging roofs and attic doors, particularly a small building among boulders.
We found where Forrest hid the treasure. The chase was over.
My mom and I made five trips to Yellowstone since May 2018, and almost bagged the prize. We enjoyed the “Thrill of the Chase” and crossed the finish line. We had great adventures and will always cherish the memories and photos of our adventures in Yellowstone. Thanks Mom!
Please share the event with friends and write a review. I hope you enjoy the books.
FATAL FEAST A Biological Thriller
Fatal Feast is set in Montana. A prion pandemic threatens the world as brilliant young researcher Dr. Callie Archer vows to find a cure for the aggressive variant of mad cow disease that killed her father. Like unstoppable super-bugs, the deadly prion proteins infect livestock and wild game, threatening world food supplies. Unknowing humans who eat infected meat become paranoid, violent and die horrible deaths.
As the disease spreads in ranching and hunting country, authorities suppress public information to save the country from economic disaster. Callie’s promising treatment may be the only hope to prevent a world-wide pandemic. With forces against her mounting, can she save mankind and herself?
Deadly Pyre – Book One in a medical thriller series is set in Seattle.
Dr. Kelly McKay struggles to complete her ER residency at Seattle’s Harbor Medical Center. Ferocious competition, burnout and an unpredictable lover complicate her life. Besides unexplained deaths of patients under her care jeopardizing her career, a sudden increase in stabbing victims points to a serial killer stalking women near the hospital. Will Kelly be next?
Writing a book is a lot like pregnancy. You think about having a baby for a long time, often years before making the decision. You research many aspects and even take a class or two to help prepare for the beginning nausea and exhaustion as the process starts. Then, the middle with expanding girth and files, till finally the painful labor of weaving words to reach the end. But writing those wonderful words actually mean there is some serious work to be done in the form of final tedious editing and only after that, finally, a book is born.
I just delivered my seventh book, Fatal Feast. Some people say after your first, book or baby, each one that follows is easier. I can speak to experience with birthing multiple books but only one child. I was driven to write my first three medically related science-based nonfiction books. The next four, medical thrillers, were easier. Instead of being totally fact-based and tedious, the novels were much more fun because you just make it up.
My interests in neurology and infectious diseases meshed with the outbreak of mad cow disease in Great Britain thirty years ago and evolved to the bio-thriller concept for Fatal Feast. The strange contagious protein killing cattle spread to hundreds of people who died after eating infected beef. Three decades is a very long gestation, so you can imagine, giving birth felt like a great achievement. With Chronic Wasting Disease, a frightening prion variant of mad cow disease spreading through wildlife and threatening humans, the Fatal Feast delivery is timely.
I am in a recovery phase, getting back in shape, and exercising more after book cover design and intensive weeks of editing to produce the final product. Now, I have more time to read and catch up with non-writing projects. Newborns sleep a lot but need attention and if you are going to show off your new child (or grandchild), marketing must become a prime “postpartum” focus.
Most writers are not skilled speakers, nor do they like to talk about themselves. As for me, I’d rather be writing than spending time showing off my offspring. However, like any project, marketing requires research and possibly stepping outside your comfort zone. One common method to provide books an avenue to expand visibility and generate reviews is to offer E-books free of charge for special events.
So, with this birth announcement I am also announcing a four-day free event for two of my medical thrillers, the new baby, Fatal Feast, set in Montana, and my first ER based medical thriller Deadly Pyre set in Seattle.
The event begins tomorrow January 23rd and extends through January 26th. Please share the event with friends.
My next blog will post with the information and hot links just after midnight tonight.