Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Prescient observations’ Category

Right Under the Wire, Barb Does the #SinCBlogHop!

with 5 comments

Folks, lately I’ve been getting tagged — informally or otherwise — by a number of wonderful writers in the hopes that people who otherwise have never heard of me, or my writing, might be interested enough to take a gander at my comic YA urban fantasy/mystery/romance novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

In this case, I was informally tagged by author Dora Machado, author of THE CURSE GIVER (a great fantasy/mystery in its own right). She told me about the Sisters in Crime Blog Hop (which is abbreviated as it’s shown above: #SinCBlogHop, presumably for Twitter purposes), and that she planned to do it if she could find the time . . . but that whether she did it or not, she felt I definitely should.

After our discussion, I went to the Sisters in Crime page that explains the blog hop, and decided for extra grins and giggles that I’d answer all of the questions — not just some.

So ready or not, here we go!

Question One: Which authors have inspired you?

Oh, that’s easy. The ones who have actively helped and inspired my work include Michael B. Caffrey, my late husband, my mentors Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn, and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, and friend and writing buddy Jason Cordova.

Or do you mean the writers I loved to read when I was growing up, who inspired me to tell my own stories? Those include Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Elizabeth Moon, and Lois McMaster Bujold.

Those are just some of the many wonderful writers who’ve inspired me in one form or another along the way.

Question Two: Which male authors write great female characters? Which female authors write great male characters?

The female author question is easier for me to answer, because it contains most of the same people I listed above: Andre Norton. Lois McMaster Bujold. Rosemary Edghill. Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. Stephanie Osborn. And Elizabeth Moon. All of them have written outstanding male characters as well as wonderful female characters.

Male authors writing female characters. Hm. Well, in military science fiction, the biggest example of that is David Weber, who has sold a boatload of books in his Honor Harrington series. (So he must be doing something right.)

However, another of my writer-friends, Christopher Nuttall, is also very, very good at writing female characters. His fantasy novels, in particular, are centered around strong, talented young women with heart and spirit, and are a joy to read. (Check out SCHOOLED IN MAGIC or BOOKWORM if you don’t believe me.)

Finally, Michael Z. Williamson has written a number of novels from a female perspective, and he gets the issues right. (For example, in FREEHOLD, his female character Kendra must find a brassiere with excellent support once she goes to the Freehold of Grainne, as Grainne has higher gravity than Earth and thus poses more of a challenge for a busty woman. Not every male author would think about that, much less understand what the problem was; kudos to “Mad Mike” for getting it right.)

Question Three: If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

Oh, boy.

First, I’d bite back an expletive of some sort. (I’m sure of this.)

Then I’d say, “Wow. You’re really missing out on a lot, then.” And I’d point to Rosemary Edghill’s work (again), this time to her three novels included in the BELL, BOOK, AND MURDER omnibus. Or maybe to her short-story collection FAILURE OF MOONLIGHT.

Or perhaps I’d ask this person if he’s read any of Sarah A. Hoyt’s work, as I’m definitely a SF&F genre writer. Most of her stories have some elements of mystery in there, and there’s a ton of action — guys who love shoot ‘em up thrill-rides should be ecstatic with A FEW GOOD MEN or DARKSHIP THIEVES.

I mean, seriously. There are so many wonderful writers, why must anyone stay with only male authors? Must gender always win out? Can’t we see words for what they are, irrespective of the author’s gender?

Question Four: What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

The best part of the writing process is actually writing. When I have a story and am fully involved in it, the world is a better place — or at least it seems that way while I’m writing.

The most challenging part is coming up with ways to market my writing after the book is done and out. (No, this isn’t part of the writing process, and it’s just as well it’s not. But it’s still so very difficult that I felt I’d mention it anyway. I can see why big-name authors hire publicists.)

Question Five: Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist?

Yes, I listen to music while writing. It helps me attain “alpha state,” or whatever/wherever it is that I go when I’m writing.

What’s on my playlist? Usually a little Alice in Chains, a little Nirvana, a little Soundgarden . . . and a whole lot of Stabbing Westward. (What can I say? I like 1990s rock. A lot.)

Question Six: What books are on your nightstand right now?

(Note that this doesn’t count all the half-finished e-books on the figurative pile, or we’d be here all night.)

Question Seven: If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

I’d tell her that publishing is a very difficult and frustrating business, but not to give up. She needs to believe in herself and what she’s doing, and keep doing it as long as it takes . . . push until it gives, and then some.

Because the name of the game in publishing — and in life itself — is persistence. So do not give up.

Don’t ever give up.

This concludes my first-ever Sisters in Crime Blog Hop! And I do hope you enjoyed it! (Normally, I’d tag someone else — as that’s what a blog hop is all about — but as it’s the 30th already, please go check out some of the work of the fine authors I’ve mentioned above instead!)

 

In Racine Without a Car, 28 Days and Counting…

with 2 comments

Folks, some of you are aware that I had surgery a little over three weeks ago. I kept that to myself until the surgery was over, as I didn’t want to worry anyone — besides, as an independent contractor, I couldn’t afford to drive away any potential writing and/or editing jobs.

And some of you are also aware that I have been without a car now for 28 days. My 2010 Hyundai Accent stopped running on September 1, 2014; the cause appears to be a transmission casing which cracked somehow, damage I could not have possibly caused on my own.

These two things have made for a goodly amount of frustration. Walking everywhere in Racine, Wisconsin, is not easy; yes, we have a bus service, but it only runs every half-hour to an hour at best, and is far from the excellent public transit many cities have — including my late husband Michael’s hometown of San Francisco, California.

So when I’ve needed to go somewhere, I’ve had three choices:

  • Walk,
  • Call for a ride,
  • Or do without.

Now, why haven’t I been trying to use the bus system? It’s mostly because I’ve been extremely tired due to my ongoing surgical recovery. The energy I have must be put into whatever work I can do, as again I’m an independent contractor (so if I don’t work, I don’t make any money; if I don’t make any money, I’m in big trouble).

But it’s also partly because I’ve been fighting with Hyundai over who should pay for my car repair. A cracked transmission casing repair costs $2400. I don’t have it. And I’ve been reluctant to set up a Go Fund Me page for a number of reasons . . . partly because I truly felt Hyundai would do the right thing here.

As it stands, though, I haven’t a clue if they will do the right thing or not. It’s now been 28 days since my car’s transmission casing cracked. It’s been over two weeks since Hyundai itself was alerted. And it’s been about a week since the local Hyundai dealership was alerted — they recently changed hands, and they’re the most likely ones to do a repair if any is to be done.

For those of you asking, “What about the warranty, Barb,” here’s the answer to that: I’m about seven thousand miles over the expiration of my car’s warranty. I bought it used at just over 37,000 miles, and am thus not the original owner. So a six-year, 60,000 mile warranty was all I had.

Of course, if I had been the original owner, this would’ve been repaired and replaced weeks ago. Because Hyundai gives a 100,000 mile warranty on the power train, of which the transmission is a part.

But I bought it in November of 2011 (a few, short days before my best friend Jeff passed away) from a reputable used car dealership in Racine County, Autowerks in Sturtevant (next to the Educator’s Credit Union on Highway 20).

I knew something was wrong at the 52,000 mile mark, mind you. And I called Autowerks at that time. But nothing was done because my own garage, Wild Rides (not a Hyundai place, but I trust them), could not find out what was going on. The problem was intermittent, you see, and the car was still running . . . and no one wants to tear apart a transmission that’s still working.

I also drove into the former Frank Gentile Hyundai dealership at the 52,000 mile mark, but wasn’t given any help. All that happened there was that a young male mechanic drove my car (without paperwork being given to me; a grave oversight, and I should’ve demanded it), didn’t find a problem, and sent me on my way again with a messed-up car.

Mind, one of the reasons nothing was ever done was that Autowerks and Gentile Hyundai had a strained relationship at best. Most attribute that to how Gentile acted — and all I know is how I, personally, was treated. (So I’d tend to believe it was Gentile’s fault.)

Anyway, even though I knew something was wrong, I had no idea the transmission’s casing would crack so it won’t hold fluid in it. And without fluid, the car won’t drive anywhere.

My contention is that this car should’ve been repaired at 52,000 miles by the former Hyundai dealership. But they blew me off, my car died, and I believe it should be covered under warranty because I did my best to do the right thing before the warranty expired.

So here I am. It’s been 28 days since my car last worked. I’ve paid auto insurance the entire month, because I’d hoped the car would be repaired by now — but between my surgical recovery and some unfortunate miscommunication, Racine Hyundai (the new dealership) only got my car to do their assessment (required before they’ll help me, or not) this past Friday.

I remain in limbo.

This wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t recovering from surgery. Or if my Mom’s health were a whole lot better . . . but I am recovering from surgery, and my Mom’s health decidedly isn’t good. Which adds to the stress of not having a car and multiplies it at least a hundredfold.

Tomorrow I’m going to see if I can take care of some pressing business by bus. I shouldn’t be doing it so soon after surgery, especially considering the lengthy wait between bus routes and transferring and my complete unfamiliarity with Racine’s current public transportation, because it will exhaust me.

But I have no choice. Bills have to be paid. My Mom can’t do much. So I have to do it, whether I’m ready or not, and hope my body will stand the strain.

So why have I written all this? Frankly, I’d like some advice. I’m not at all sure this problem is enough for people to respond favorably to a potential Go Fund Me page. Because it’s not life and death — I admit that freely. But it is incredibly annoying and inconvenient, has definitely hurt my health and quality of life, and more to the point is something that should not be happening, as my 2010 Hyundai Accent Blue shouldn’t have given up the ghost this soon, nor in this way.

What would you all do in this situation, other than continue to go after Hyundai and hope they’ll do the right thing?

—————

Note: I’ve had many cars in my lifetime. This is the first time a transmission’s casing has ever done this.

I know I didn’t cause this. And I believe firmly that Hyundai should pay for it. But I can’t guarantee what they’ll do — but I will keep you posted.

All I know is, if they don’t help me, I think people should never buy a Hyundai. Ever. Because they don’t service what they sell.

Jim Valvano and Michael B. Caffrey: Transformational Lives

leave a comment »

On this, the tenth anniversary of my husband Michael B. Caffrey’s passing, I want to discuss something interesting I’ve recently watched. Something I hadn’t expected to have parallels with my husband’s life . . . but actually did.

This, oddly enough, was the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Survive and Advance, about the 1983 NCAA Champion North Carolina State Wolfpack and their charismatic coach, Jim Valvano.

For those who don’t know much about sports, you may not know much about Jim Valvano. He died in 1993 after a yearlong battle with bone cancer at the age of 47. But even though he’s been dead now for 21 years, Valvano’s shadow continues to linger — in a good way.

Valvano was a coach who believed very strongly in his players, in his team, and in dreams. (Yes, I said dreams.) He believed if you couldn’t dream something and believe it would happen, you couldn’t achieve it. And he actually had his team rehearse things like cutting down the basketball net (something done after winning a very important game, like a national championship), because he wanted them to know deep down to the bottom of their souls that they could do anything.

Valvano — affectionately known by his players as “Coach V” — lived a transformational life.

But what goes into making a transformational life, anyway? Was it the charisma, which is still evident in this speech (at the 1993 ESPY Awards, when Valvano was eight short weeks from death)? Was it the sheer tenacity of the man, who gave as his personal philosophy this phrase — “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” — as part of that same speech? Was it because Valvano was one of the best basketball coaches the East Coast ever produced?

It was all of that, but it was also something more. Jim Valvano made people believe they could do it. He was a positive, inspirational force of nature, with the outsized personality of a stand-up comedian but a heart as big as the Atlantic Ocean. And he made people believe in themselves — not just his 1983 Wolfpack team, but the many people who heard his motivational speeches, read his autobiography, and heard his final major speech at the ’93 ESPYs.

Having a talent like that is incredibly rare.

I’ve only known one person who had it in my entire life: my late husband, Michael. Though Michael was not an outsized personality — certainly not like Valvano, at any rate — he had a presence that was beyond anything I’ve ever known.  A certainty, a positivity, and a belief that I could do anything I wanted no matter the obstacle. No matter how many times I might stumble. No matter how many times I might actually fall.

He believed I could do it. More than that: he believed I would do it.

Watching Survive and Advance was both inspirational and heartbreaking for two reasons. One, Valvano died at age 47; Michael died at 46. And two, there were so many things in there that “Coach V” said that reminded me of my husband . . . it’s hard to explain, because Michael’s manner was nothing like Jim Valvano at all.

But the message — the powerful, motivational message — was exactly the same.

The words that rang truest of all were these, again from Valvano’s ’93 ESPY speech:

“”Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”

My husband did not have cancer. He instead died of several heart attacks in one day, without warning, to the point his ventricle failed him. But he once told me that no matter what happened to him — as he believed his own health wasn’t all that wonderful — he believed his heart, his mind, and his soul would endure. And he’d never stop loving me. He’d never stop caring about me. And he’d never, ever stop believing in me.

He told me that about a year before he died, when I was about to go in for a needed surgery that I was fearful of, and I have never forgotten it.

I know that Jimmy V’s life was lived in the public eye. Michael’s certainly wasn’t. Michael’s life didn’t touch nearly as many people — how could it?

But Michael is remembered by many. He helped many writers, including the late Ric Locke, with his editing. He helped many people believe they could indeed do exactly what they put their mind to doing . . . and that’s what makes a transformational life.

You come into contact with someone like that, and your whole life changes. It gets better, because you can do more. Even through the mourning, you can still do more. And you get up every day and you try your level best, because you want to be worthy of that belief.

My husband would be astonished that I’d mention him in this particular context, especially as he was also a sports fan. He’d probably see absolutely no parallels between himself and the famous “Coach V.”

But he’d be wrong.

It’s because Michael lived, and was with me, that I continue to do what I do. His loss was so painful that I continue to struggle with it, ten years later . . . but it’s because I knew him, was married to him, and got to see how he overcame his own obstacles that I have refused to give up.

If that’s not the epitome of what a transformational life is all about, I don’t know what is.

————

Note: If you want to read Michael’s writing — and I hope at least some of you do — please take a look at the two stories I’ve been able to put up as independent e-books over at Amazon: “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “Joey Maverick: On Westmount Station.” These are both stories of military science fiction, though the first is while Ensign Joey Maverick is on leave and participating in a “low-tech” sailing regatta (meaning approximately 20th Century tech) and the second is when newly-minted Lieutenant Maverick is about to ship out for the first time. In essence, the first story is a search-and-rescue story with some romance, and the second story is that of a young officer stopping an unexpected saboteur at a very early hour in a completely unexpected place.

A third story has been started (a bridge story, written by me with some details from Michael’s notes), and I’ve also written two stories in Michael’s universe from a different perspective entirely that are currently making the rounds (if all rounds end up exhausted, they, too, will end up as e-books).

So at least some of Michael’s words continue to live, which is what I vowed when Michael died suddenly. And if I have anything to say about it — if I get enough time on this Earth — all of them will.

Learning from the Fiction Masters, Part 1: C.S. Forester

leave a comment »

Folks, I’m often asked, “Barb, who have you learned from, as a writer?”

The answer usually goes like this: “My husband, Rosemary Edghill, Katherine Eliska Kimbriel, Stephanie Osborn, Jason Cordova . . .

And I get an exasperated shake of the head. “No, Barb. Who have you read that has helped you?”

In addition to all of the above — do check out their work, please, as soon as you can! — there are writers anyone can find in the public library that will help them write rip-roaring yarns of action-adventure, or perhaps some gentler, humorous stories of far-off places, or maybe just evoke England between the World Wars in such a humorous way that you can’t stop laughing.

Who are these writers? Why, C.S. Forester — he who wrote the Horatio Hornblower series of military, ship-going fiction, L. Frank Baum — famous for the his stories of the fabled (and fabulous) land of Oz, and P.G. Wodehouse, of course.

In the next three blogs of this series (to come out every week on Friday), I intend to discuss one of these seminal writers at a time — and today, Forester is up.

Forester is the most obvious choice for anyone to read who’s writing military science fiction, if you haven’t already. (BTW, here’s a handy link to blog of the C.S. Forester Society, a going concern 115 years after his birth. All authors should do so well!)

Why should you read Forester? Well, he logically lays out exactly how an English ship of the line from the late 1700s/early 1800s actually ran. How the officers interrelated, how the ship worked, what sort of jobs people had on the ship, and does all that by showing how his main character, Horatio Hornblower, ascends the ladder in rank and has to deal with more and more challenges.

Granted, Forester wrote his books out-of-order, somewhat in the same fashion as contemporary military SF master Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s a good strategy, too, because it allows you to fill in the background of your hero or heroine as you see fit.

Why do you want to read Forester, though, if you aren’t planning to write any military SF at all? Well, he knew how to spin an action-adventure yarn, that’s for sure, so that’s one reason. Another is to observe how he authentically evokes the English Navy of Hornblower’s era, and does so in a way that is relatively unobtrusive — it’s there, it’s sensible, and Hornblower relies on it implicitly (as a real-life seaman of that time would’ve done).

This last is something that many contemporary writers do not seem to do nearly as well (with the exception of Bujold and the writers listed above). Many other writers, some quite celebrated (and with much greater sales figures than mine), use a technique called “infodumping” in such a way that it’s not just obvious, it’s so obvious that any reasonably assuming reader who already knows the writer and the universe in question is likely to skip it entirely.

Remember — you want to seduce the reader, if at all possible. You do not want to hit the reader over the head (unless you are writing humorous fantasy; that’s different). And you want the reader to enjoy what you’ve written, every single word, rather than skip hundreds or thousands because you’ve been too heavy with your infodumping.

Besides, Forester wrote more than just Hornblower. He wrote movies, plays, children’s stories, horror, mysteries . . . all sorts of stuff. So if one thing doesn’t work for you — even if it’s the genius of the Hornblower stuff — try another.

Anyway, if you haven’t read any of C.S. Forester’s work yet, here’s a few books to get you started — and best of all, they should be available in any good public library. (A good, free book is a win-win for all concerned in this down economy.)

  • BEAT TO QUARTERS — the first, and possibly the best, Hornblower novel.
  • THE AFRICAN QUEEN — an interesting sea-faring novel made into a movie. (You’ve probably seen the movie, so why not read the book?)
  • POO-POO AND THE DRAGONS — a children’s story, complete with illustrations by Robert Lawson.
  • PAYMENT DEFERRED — a horror/murder mystery, where the guy about to be executed for a crime is truly innocent, but cannot exonerate himself. If he does, he’ll prove he’s a murderer — but of someone else.

Enjoy!

Depression and Robin Williams — A Remembrance

with 3 comments

Folks, over the past day or so, I’ve seen many, many tributes to the late comedian/actor Robin Williams (1951-2014). Some were funny; some were touching; some were things that should’ve been said to Williams before he died.

One thing that’s been said, over and over, is that Williams suffered from severe and unremitting depression. This is alleged to be the main reason as to why he’d turned to substance abuse in the past (he was a recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict), but it’s also possible that the depression got much worse due to the heart issues Williams suffered in recent years (he had an aortic valve transplant in 2009).

The mind and the body are linked. We all know this. So when your body is not doing well, that feeling of illness can be reflected in your mind also.

And it’s just that much worse if you’re someone who fights depression and anxiety . . . I know this due to the struggles of my family and friends, past and present.

I’ve written about depression before (see this post about the late Mike Flanagan if you don’t believe me). It’s a difficult subject to discuss, because so many of us don’t want to talk about it. There is a stigma attached to depression, as if the person who’s feeling depressed actually wants to feel so bad . . . and treating a depressed person is so difficult, so challenging, that even if a patient fully cooperates in trying to get better, some of them just don’t.

Thus Robin Williams.

Ultimately, Williams will be remembered for his comedy, for his acting, and for his personal generosity. He was a brilliant, caring, kind-hearted, and generous soul who brought happiness to many despite his own struggles against depression and addiction.

But what I will remember most about Williams is how open he was about everything. His struggles. His joys. His failures. Williams was an American original, yes, and a genius, too. But he mostly was himself, and he owned up to his failures as easily as he talked about the much more fun stuff — his numerous successes.

Williams’ wife and family have asked that people do their best to remember Williams as the creative, funny and brilliant man he truly was. But I can’t do that — mostly because I think that leaves far too much of who Williams was on the table, unaddressed.

Instead, I’ll remember him as a complex, interesting, mercurial, honest, and compassionate creative artist, who lost his long battle with a pernicious disease — chronic, severe depression — after a valiant fight.

I hope that now that Williams is in the Afterlife, he’s getting caught up with his great friends, Christopher and Dana Reeve, and so many others who preceded him in death . . . and that he has found the peace he’d sought all his life at long last.

Keeping Hope Alive . . .

with 10 comments

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing my best to keep hope alive. Life has been difficult and frustrating; it’s almost inconceivable to me, sometimes, that I’m still alive and my husband Michael has been dead for nearly ten years.

And I’m all that remains of what we’d hoped and dreamed for. I’m the only one who can finish his work, as well as my own. And as it’s difficult for me to figure out just what Michael had intended to do — writer Ursula Jones called this phenomenon “breaking into” someone else’s thinking (she was discussing finishing up her sister Diana Wynne Jones’ novel THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA in the end-notes) — sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing in carrying on Michael’s work.

Then again, I loved Michael, and I loved his stories, too. It makes me feel closer to him to do whatever I can to keep things going, even if what I write isn’t exactly the same as what he’d have written. Even if it’s taking me ten times as long to figure out this new novella set on Bubastis as it undoubtedly would’ve taken him, at least I’m trying to do it.

And that, in and of itself, is worthwhile. Michael would tell me so, if he were here . . . though of course, if he were, I’d not be doing this.

Mind you, I’m not the only writer who has ever wondered whether or not what I’m doing makes any sense. This blog from writersrelief.com about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and writing explains why writing and hope are so inextricably mixed:

As human beings and creative writers, we sometimes have a tumultuous relationship with hope. Hope keeps us going. We hope someone will understand what we’re trying to say with our writing. We hope the world will be a better place for our children. But when times get tough, hope can also feel like cold comfort.

Why have hope? we ask ourselves. What good will it do me if I know I can’t succeed? Sometimes when the task ahead seems truly impossible, hope seems futile.

But few people understand what it means to be hopeful as deeply as the man we honor every year at this time: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a pioneer of the civil rights movement. King’s dream was simple, but achieving it meant overcoming countless barriers and complexities. In many ways, hope was the driving force behind his remarkable achievements.

I missed this blog when it was first put up in January of 2014, but I find its words to be especially meaningful right now. (After all, studying the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., is never a bad thing.) I cannot imagine the odds against Dr. King when he first started agitating for civil rights and fair pay for laborers and equal rights for women and any number of other positive things — and he must’ve felt discouraged from time to time, too.

He didn’t show it very often, because Dr. King knew that people needed to believe that their lives, however meaningless they seemed, could indeed make a difference. So on bad days, he must’ve said, “I’m going to go out there and do the best I can,” and given whatever speech he had planned with whatever energy he had. And in so doing, he helped to lift people up with his words.

Words matter. Whether you’re an orator or a writer (or somewhere in between).

When I write a story, I want to make you think about something beyond yourself. Pondering something else can give you hope, because it means you can still think, still feel, still understand.

And I know that was Michael’s motivation for writing, also. He wanted to divert people, get them outside of themselves, and give them a few hours of entertainment that might actually make ‘em smile . . . maybe that’s why I’ve pushed so hard with my own novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, because as a comic fantasy, what else can it do but make people smile?

Before I go, let me share one quote (also cited in the Writer’s Relief article) I found especially meaningful from Dr. King: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

That, in a nutshell, is why I keep writing. Because I believe in hope. And that hope has to come from my own, hard work and effort — otherwise, why would it be worth anything?

“Drop Dead Diva,” Season Six — What is Grayson’s Afterlife?

leave a comment »

Folks, a few years ago I wrote a blog about the TV show DROP DEAD DIVA. It was the end of season three, and I found the ending flatly unbelievable…and said so.

Ever since, I’ve had multiple hits on that post daily. It may be the most popular single blog post I’ve ever had. And I’ve had many people ask me over the years, “Barb, when will you talk about DROP DEAD DIVA again, hm?”

Well, today’s the day. But first, a brief explanation as to why I didn’t say anything for a while.

You see, I didn’t watch season four because I was taking a full year away from TV, in the hopes it would rejuvenate my creative impulses. (It did.) But I have watched seasons five and six.

Until now, while there have been some good episodes and some “what the Hell?” episodes, I hadn’t felt moved to blog.

What changed?

Well, a few weeks ago on DROP DEAD DIVA, Jane Bingum’s long-term love-interest, Grayson Kent, died. It was not an expected death by any means, though he had been shot…anyway, Grayson died, and last week’s episode showed him in Heaven, talking to Fred the Guardian Angel from seasons 1-3 (and a few guest appearances since), who of course Grayson doesn’t really remember.

(It’s a tenet of the show that when a Guardian Angel is replaced on Earth, no one remembers him or her except for the person the Guardian Angel was looking after in the first place. In this case, that would be Jane.)

The very end of the episode showed Grayson waking up on Earth in someone else’s body, just as Jane did at the beginning of season one, episode one. But unlike Jane (formerly Deb Dobkins, a vapid blonde model; waking up in the body of a plus-sized lawyer was mostly a big step up for her), Grayson woke up in the body of a convict.

When Jane still thought of herself as Deb Dobkins, she was prevented from telling Grayson who she was by Fred. But Grayson doesn’t seem to have a Guardian Angel at all from the previews…he just woke up, and called Jane, and told her he’s back and in the body of this convict in cell block D — presumably in Los Angeles, California as that’s the official setting for DROP DEAD DIVA, last I checked.

I know from watching season five that every dead person who returns to Earth, whether in an expected fashion or not, has a Guardian Angel. (Britney, who before her death was the real Jane Bingum, came back and definitely had a Guardian Angel.) Yet Grayson does not seem to have one, and doesn’t realize the lack of one, either, even though Fred admitted he was Jane’s Guardian Angel years ago.

(Granted, I’m not sure how time passes in Heaven. But I digress.)

Fred told Grayson that Jane went back by “hitting the return button” on Fred’s computer. And that now, Heaven has removed all the return buttons, so no one can do it any longer. And Fred said at first that Grayson had to pick an afterlife.

But later, Fred said that he’d found a keyboard with a return button, and that Grayson should press it. Fred seemed both resigned and rueful over this, mind you. But unlike with our Jane (née Deb) or Britney (née Jane), who pressed those keys on their own without knowing what they’d do, Fred actually encouraged Grayson to press that return button, but of course warned Grayson that Grayson could wind up anywhere.

The oddest part was when Fred told Grayson that Fred will gladly suffer the consequences — because Fred suffered none when the real Jane went back to Earth a year ago and became Britney.

Anyway, Grayson presses the return button. And winds up inside that convict.

All of this is what I’ve seen on the last few episodes of DDD during season six. The remainder is pure speculation.

But hear me out anyway.

Sunday evening, Lifetime will be airing the latest DDD episode, “Afterlife.” That title seems quite wrong if Grayson really is alive again, albeit in the body of a convict.

So that got me to thinking . . . what if what we’re seeing happens to be Grayson’s afterlife?

Because really, Grayson wants to be with Jane. He is deeply in love with her, and was going to propose. (He was also in love with Deb, mind you, and it was real, too. But he loves Jane/Deb for other reasons; she’s much more of a mental equal.) His afterlife, if he had a choice, was to be with Jane forever — he told Fred that.

So what better way could there be for Grayson in the afterlife to be with Jane in this way?

I’m sure that the convict version of Grayson is in jail unnecessarily. Jane, as an exceptionally good lawyer, will find a way to get him out. And then, he and Jane will live happily ever after…seemingly in the real world.

But as DDD still has two or three episodes remaining, that does not feel right to me. It would wrap up the Jane/Grayson storyline too soon.

And considering that Fred the Angel had a relationship way back when with Stacey (Jane’s best friend), and Grayson told Fred that Stacey was getting married, could it be possible that Fred will show back up on Earth in order to court Stacey?

This would be an incredibly popular move, if so. Because Fred was well-loved among DDD fans, and was a major reason that DDD worked so well. (Brooke Elliot as Jane/Deb is wonderful. But without Fred, viewers might not have believed as much in Jane’s transformation.)

Anyway, I will be most interested to see what DDD actually does during the “Afterlife” episode. How about you?

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 8, 2014 at 3:43 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,406 other followers