Folks, I’m pleased to report that two more new guest blogs are up and available for reading.**
First, Aaron Lazar over at Murder By Four accepted a guest blog from me called “Changing Voices and Heroes,” which is about the differences between writing military science fiction and comic fantasy on the one hand, and the differences between two very good heroes — space Navy Lieutenant Joey Maverick, who was my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s character, and my hero Bruno the magically talented Elfy.
Here’s a bit from that:
Now, how did I tailor my own writing to fit these two wildly disparate genres?
When I’m writing milSF, I try to get right to the point. And I write a more action-oriented story, too – because the action often makes or breaks the story.
But when I’m writing comic fantasy, I allow my stories to spin out any way that works. There’s more time to fine-tune characterization; there’s more time to do some nifty things with word choices and puns . . . even limericks, if the story calls for it. And fully setting up my characters also allows me to better get at the humor of whatever is going on.
Clear as mud, no?
Anyway, today’s second guest blog is up over at Stephanie Osborn’s blog site Comet Tales. This discusses exactly how I came to write my novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . and exactly what my late husband Michael did to help me along the way.
Here’s a bit from that guest blog:
When a character appears, fully formed, it’s best to listen to what he has to say. But all I knew, when I started writing, were three things: Bruno liked to wear black – when his race, the Elfys, mostly loved bright colors. He was the equivalent of a teenager. And he did not like to rhyme, even if all the other Elfys did.
Even so, that was enough for me to start writing what I then called “The Elfy Story.” I wrote the first six parts or so – less than chapters, about a thousand words per part – alone. Michael took a hand when I got to the seventh part because I had some sort of problem I couldn’t immediately solve, and he got intrigued. Then he figured this story had legs, and he wanted to help me figure out where it went.
. . .
With this huge, complex plot, I could’ve easily gotten lost. Fortunately for me, Michael was there every step of the way. He told me when I’d get frustrated, “Don’t worry. The story will come.” Or he’d tell me jokes in a similar way Bruno tries to do with Sarah from time to time in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (where do you think I got that from, hm?). Or he’d help me draw diagrams when I tried to figure out why the Elfy High Council did anything at all…plus, he edited what I wrote, gave me excellent advice, and heavily edited nearly all of Dennis the Dark Elf’s dialogue to make it even nastier and more hissable.
What more could anyone ever ask from her spouse than that?
Granted, if you’ve read my blog from its inception — or even in the past year or two — you’ve probably gathered that my husband Michael was the biggest influence on my writing. I’d simply not be the same writer without his help and guidance; there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
And really, with AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE finally available for purchase, I want people to know how much he did.
I’m very pleased that Stephanie Osborn was willing to share my story of how the Elfyverse came to be on her blog.
Anyway, I hope you will enjoy these guest blogs. Please let me know what you think in the comments . . . and do, please, let people know about AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE as well as the Joey Maverick stories.
Because I need all the help I can get right now in order to let people know these stories exist — much less are fun stories that people should actually enjoy if they just give ‘em a chance to work their magic.
Mind, you might be wondering why I have three, count ‘em, three guest blogs up in two days. This is because my fellow writer-friends are trying to help me raise my visibility, so perhaps I might be able to sell a few more books.
Besides, writing three different blogs — one about the virtues of quiet heroism, the next about the differences between the quiet Joey Maverick and the exuberant Bruno the Elfy, and the third about how I came to write AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE at all — was an intellectual challenge.
So how could I refuse?
All good things must come to an end . . . something every baseball fan knows, most particularly a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers like yours truly.
You see, over the past two weeks, the Brewers had won nine games straight up until last night’s contest against the St. Louis Cardinals (which the Brewers lost by a score of 4-0). After my blog post bemoaning the Brewers’ lack of hitting in their opening series against the Atlanta Braves, the Brewers started to hit.
Better yet, Brewers pitchers kept pitching at the same high level as they had during that opening series.
And every baseball fan knows that when a single team has both good pitching and good hitting, that particular team is likely to win more games than it loses.
But a nine-game winning streak takes more than just good pitching and good hitting, welcome though those are. It also takes good defense — which, to the Brewers credit, they’ve mostly had — and a goodly bit of luck, besides. Without all of that, you don’t win nine games in a row.
So what will happen next to the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers, now that their first winning streak is over?
Well, there’s an old truism that states you’re never as good as you think you are (with the corollary, of course, that you’re also never as bad as you think you are, either). This is the main reason I don’t expect the Brewers to win ten out of every twelve games for the rest of the season — well, that, and the fact that the best team of the modern era, winning-percentage wise, won approximately seven games out of ten (that team, of course, being the 1954 Cleveland Indians and their gaudy 111-43 record in a 154-game season).
And in the past twenty years, only two teams have approached the level of the Indians’ past success — those two teams being the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46), and the 1998 New York Yankees (114-48).
So no, I don’t think the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers are likely to reach such dizzying heights.
But I do think they are likely to make the playoffs, providing Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez stay healthy.
Anyway, it’s been fun watching them play so well . . . and for the record, the main reason I didn’t talk too much about the Brewers during their nine-game winning streak was because as a true-blue diehard baseball fan, I really didn’t want to jinx my favorite team.
Realistically, I know that nothing I say matters. The Brewers are going to go out there and play the same way regardless. But I still didn’t want to jinx them . . . make of that what you will.
Folks, when writer Chris Nuttall agreed to allow me to write a guest blog for him on the virtues of quiet heroism, I was extremely happy.
You see, my late husband Michael’s character Joey Maverick is a quiet hero. He’s a military man who sees what needs to be done, and does it. (As I put it in the blog, “No muss, no fuss.”) And it seems to me that people don’t get to read nearly enough about characters like Joey, which is why I have done my best to keep Michael’s writing alive.
The third story about Joey Maverick (currently in progress, and as yet untitled) is set on the planet Bubastis. There’s a famine going on, caused by a terrible drought, and the people of that planet — which are both human and Kiral, a feline-derived race — are suffering. The rural Kiral, in particular, are in desperate shape because they will not use food synthesizers under any circumstances, and yet most of the relief supplies aren’t getting to them. People will die unless Joey and his team can put an end to it . . . but there’s a lot going on underneath the surface. I still have to rough out some characters among the rural Kiral, and have I mentioned the complexity of the black market that’s cropped up on Bubastis yet?
But I’m getting there. Truly. And it’s wonderful to know that Chris enjoyed Joey’s first two adventures (available here and here), because sometimes it just seems like I’m shouting into a wind tunnel for all the good my writing’s doing. (Maybe all writers feel this way?)
At any rate, I hope you’ll enjoy my take on “The Virtues of Quiet Heroism,” which includes more of the story about Michael’s premise behind the Joey Maverick stories and why I cannot let Michael’s work or universe die out.
And do, please, stop by Chris’s blog “The Chrishanger” often. He talks about his writing, world events, politics, has contests . . . it’s a fun site, and he always does his best to keep it lively. And goodness knows, with all of his books (the most recent being SCHOOLED IN MAGIC from Twilight Times Books and THE NELSON TOUCH, book two of the Ark Royal series, which was put out independently), there’s always something new for Chris to discuss.
Folks, even though my novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is just out, that doesn’t stop me from reading and reviewing other people’s books.
Though if the legions of fans who loved Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT but hated book two of her trilogy, INSURGENT, happen upon my review of both books — which I posted not ten minutes ago over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always) — they may wish I’d refrained.
Why? Because, oddly enough, I truly enjoyed INSURGENT, but I just could not get past the initial implausibility of DIVERGENT. Ms. Roth’s setup of the five factions which rule near-future Chicago, much less the whole idea that someone who doesn’t truly fit into any of the five factions would be shunned or excluded from society, was too hard for me to get past. But I firmly bought into the five factions’ system coming apart, which is why I enjoyed INSURGENT so much.
This is not the prevailing wisdom on “the Internets.” To put it mildly.
For those of you going, “But Barb! DIVERGENT had some really good writing! Why didn’t you like it?,” the answer is simple: The plotline made little sense. And that was too hard for me to get past.
Yes, the writing in both books was good. I liked Ms. Roth’s heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior and believed in her characterization, I also liked her boyfriend Four/Tobias, and I believed in what she was going through in both books — but only to a point.
And because it was far easier for me to believe that a near-future Chicago that had somehow been ruled by five and only five factions for some lengthy period of time was now starting to come apart at the seams because five factions just couldn’t do the job any more — and because I believed that when a society breaks down, there’s lots of mayhem, carnage, and graphic violence — it was far easier for me to buy into INSURGENT than DIVERGENT, most particularly because the stuff I liked about DIVERGENT was at the very end of the book.
Which was exactly the stuff I couldn’t discuss in my review without spoilers.
Anyway, there’s one other really good thing about the Divergent trilogy (of which I’ve now reviewed the first two books) — there was no unnecessary love triangle!
YAY! YAY! YAY! (I’d keep cheering, but I’m sure you get the point.)
At any rate, I plan to review ALLEGIANT, the concluding book of Ms. Roth’s trilogy about Tris Prior, in the next few weeks over at SBR. So if you can’t wait for the movies (must. have. movies!), please be sure to check out my forthcoming review . . . ’cause I never know exactly what I’m going to say next. (And that’s the beauty of it. Right?)
It’s been a long time in coming, but my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (now with a subtitle of “Book One of the ELFY duology”) is now available at Amazon.com and will be available soon at all major e-book retailers.
**Edited to add: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE has also “gone live” at BN.com (Barnes and Noble’s website), as Paul Howard told me in the comments. If you have a Nook and want to read AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, now’s your chance!
Now back to our regularly scheduled post.**
I’m very pleased that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is now out, even though I hadn’t expected it to “go live” on Amazon tonight, of all nights — but as it has, I figured I’d best skedaddle and get a blog post up, pronto.
For those of you who want a sample, please go here and read the first five chapters of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . then, I hope you’ll go to Amazon and get the e-book, as it’s on sale for a limited time at the low price of $3.99.
Because I’m a new author, and because I’m decidedly not well known, it is anyone’s guess as to whether or not AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE will do well enough to warrant an actual “dead tree” edition (that is, a paper edition).
For all I know, this e-book copy is all that we’re likely to get. So I hope you’ll enjoy it in the spirit intended.
In other words, if you want to read my novel because you’ve been intrigued about Bruno the Elfy and Sarah his human companion and want to know all about Sarah’s house (which is an Elfy trap of major proportions), or if you want to figure out why a Dark Elf would go to Northern California, or if you even want to know why Bruno’s mentor Roberto is worth saving despite being more than a bit of an butthead sometimes, now’s your chance.
I also hope that if you read and enjoy AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, you won’t be averse to letting people know my book exists. Because I need all the help I can get . . . and I’m not shy about saying so.
Folks, I’m pleased to tell you about today’s guest blog over at Stephanie Osborn’s blogsite, Comet Tales. The subject I wrote on is the Elements of Romance in Modern Storytelling, which is part of an ongoing series that has featured writers Osborn, Aaron Paul Lazar, and Christine Amsden before me; other authors planning to write blogs for this series include Katharine Eliska Kimbriel and Dina von Lowenkraft, so there’s plenty more to read in this series if you are so inclined.
Because we were allowed to talk about anything regarding romance and what it means to us as storytellers, I decided to talk about it from a historical perspective. Here’s a brief sample of that:
So how did romance as a thing actually come to be? Well, feelings and hormones aside, the lot of women from early on was probably none too good in most societies. Being bartered in marriage was by far the least of these ancient women’s worries. But as our world matured and societies became more stable, there was more leisure time available – especially in the upper classes – and people started to think.
Why couldn’t marriages be made where both people respected and liked each other? Why, if everything else was equal, couldn’t a suitor actually romantically care about his proposed wife? Wouldn’t that be beneficial to all concerned?
Later in the guest blog, I talked a little bit about some of my favorite contemporary authors (including Osborn, Kimbriel, and Rosemary Edghill), and how they use romance — or don’t — in their writing.
So do go take a look at it . . . I promise you, it’s not like any other guest blog you’ve ever read, at least not on this subject.
Well, folks, as usual, I’ve been so busy the past week that I have barely had enough time to turn around.
Whenever I get this busy, I don’t blog much, I don’t do much other than what must be done first — editing, in this case, and glad to have the work — and everything else basically takes a backseat.
This is why I didn’t review anything last week at Shiny Book Review (SBR).
This is why I didn’t write a follow-up blog regarding the two elections that the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity group threw a lot of money into . . . and it’s also why, despite the Milwaukee Brewers’ impressive sweep of the Boston Red Sox, I didn’t get back here to write about that, either.
That being said, here’s a few quick hits regarding the odds and ends I left open last week:
- The elections in Iron County, WI, and in Kenosha County for the Kenosha Unified School Board seemed to be largely unaffected by the huge amount of money Americans for Prosperity threw into the races. The folks in Iron County basically said in a number of televised interviews that they disliked interference from people who didn’t live in Iron County — so the money that AFP threw into the election seems to have gone by the boards. And the people in Kenosha County didn’t change their minds regarding their candidates, either . . . so it does appear, as my late friend Jeff Wilson once put it, that there is a monetary ceiling to an election where a group (or groups) can spend whatever they like, but after a certain point, people just tune out.
- The Brewers going into Boston and sweeping the Red Sox was completely unanticipated, at least by me. After only scoring four runs in three games and losing two out of three at home in the Brewers’ own opening series, it was particularly impressive that the Brewers could go into Boston, win all three games (including an 11th inning thriller), and actually have some clutch hits in games that mattered.
- What a shame that Wisconsin lost to Kentucky in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I’m glad the Badgers did so well and got to the Final Four — that’s the one thing I got right in my NCAA bracket — but I wish they’d have had just one more game in them. (C’est la vie.)
- Normally after turning in a really big edit — as I did on Saturday morning — I’d take a few days off. Right now, I can’t, because I’m looking over my master file for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. There is a reason for that: The e-book will be up on Amazon and most other major dealers on April 15 — so if you’ve ever wanted to find out what the deal is with regards to my Elfyverse or my character Bruno the Elfy, now’s your chance to set your clocks.
Later in the week, I should have at least a bit of time to get a review or two in over at SBR, and I hope to be able to talk more about baseball, or politics, or maybe even the recent decision by the NLRB arbitrator in Chicago who ruled that Northwestern University’s football players should be able to form a union, as they are employees like any other (as that last really intrigues me, but I haven’t had enough time to do justice to the subject as of yet).
But for now, all I can do is please ask you to let people know that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is coming soon . . . and if you think anyone will be interested (or even if they aren’t), tell them that my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s two stories of military science fiction about his excellent character Joey Maverick, a quiet and responsible man who is nonetheless every bit a hero, are available now at Amazon (here and here).
Even with my own novel coming out, it still matters a great deal to me that Michael’s stories find their audience, especially as, years ago, Michael had hundreds of people who said they wanted to buy them as soon as he was willing to put them out. (I don’t know where these people went, mind you. But maybe at least a few of them are still alive, and if so, perhaps they’ll discover the stories one of these years. Hope springs eternal, and all that.)