Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Welcome to the Elfyverse…

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Thank you for stopping by my blog, which is called either “Barb Caffrey’s Blog,” or “the Elfyverse.”

Why two names? Well, I figured it would be easier for people to find me if they used my name. But I’ve been writing about Elfys, Elfs, Dwarves, and more for over ten years — thus “the Elfyverse.”

As for what I do here, it’s simple: I talk about anything I like.

I’ve been blogging now for almost five years. (Here’s a link to my first blog post, if you don’t believe me.) Over that time, I’ve talked writing, publishing, music, sports, current events, politics . . . anything that I feel like talking about.

So while you’re here, expect the unexpected . . . because you never quite know what I’m about to say.

Please feel free to stop by any time you like. And tell your friends about all my work, including AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Barnes and Noble link is here) and the two stories of my late husband Michael’s, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station,” all available at Amazon.

And remember . . . support a real writer.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 9, 2014 at 5:21 am

My novel, “An Elfy on the Loose,” Is Now Available

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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 and will be available soon at all major e-book retailers.

**Edited to add: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE has also “gone live” at (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.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 12, 2014 at 12:34 am

#MFRWHooks Wednesday — A First Look at CHANGING FACES!

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Folks, every Wednesday, the Marketing for Romance Writers Organization does a blog-hop called “MFRWHooks” (with the addition of a hashtag for Twitter). This gives readers a chance sample the work of authors they may or may not know, in order to build interest for books that are either already out, or are coming out soon.

As I am a proud member of, and as my novel CHANGING FACES will be coming out soon, I thought it was about time I put something up to build interest.

What the #MFRWHooks Wednesday blog-hop needs is a cover (fortunately, I have an excellent one, courtesy of artist Tamian Wood), an introductory blurb, and a few lines from the novel itself. (I do not yet have a buy link, so I can’t add that just yet.)

So, here we go!

CHANGING FACES coverThe blurb:

Allen and Elaine are graduate students in Nebraska, and love each other very much. Their life should be idyllic, but Elaine’s past includes rape, neglect, and abuse from those who should’ve loved her—but didn’t, because from childhood, Elaine identified as transgender.

When Elaine tells Allen right before Christmas, he doesn’t know what to do. He loves Elaine, loves her soul, has heard about transgender people before, but didn’t think Elaine was one of them—she looks and acts like anyone else. Now, she wants to become a man and is going to leave.

He prays for divine intervention, and says he’ll do anything, just please don’t separate him from Elaine…and gets it.

Now, he’s in Elaine’s body. And she’s in his. They’ll get a second chance at love.

Why? Because once you find your soulmate, the universe will do almost anything to keep you together—even change your faces.

And here’s a few lines from CHANGING FACES; note, this is Allen’s perspective:

Why does Elaine want to become a man? Why? What have I done wrong, that she should want this? I must have done something wrong, something terrible, for her to want this…

Inwardly, I prayed, hoping that God existed and would hear me despite my usual disbelief. Oh God, if you’re listening . . .please don’t take my beautiful Elaine away from me. I’ll do anything, absolutely anything…

My reverie was broken when the car went into a skid. “Hang on!” I yelled, while I turned into the skid. That should’ve gotten us safely off the road, albeit into a ditch…but it didn’t work.

Instead, something big, something solid, was in the way.

Something that shouldn’t have been there.

“Oh my God!” Elaine screamed.

I tried to reach out to her, to reassure her, but I couldn’t. My body just wouldn’t respond.

Before I could worry about that, the world went black.


I hope this has intrigued you.

Keep your eyes peeled for further excerpts from CHANGING FACES…but for now, go take a look at the other authors taking part in this week’s #MFRWHooks Blog Hop!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 7, 2015 at 6:00 am

Encouragement: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore? #InspirationalStuff

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As a writer, sometimes I need encouragement. Advice. Support.

And, like most of you, I don’t always get it.

So what can I do on days when I don’t feel encouraged?

Usually, I just put my mind to the task and do it anyway. But lately, I’ve been wondering this question: What if I tried to encourage myself, rather than tear myself down?

Why is it that we feel like there’s something wrong with self-encouragement? Why can’t we treat ourselves as gently as we’d treat our friends? Why can’t we give ourselves the encouragement we need, when no one else is doing it?

Interesting concept, no?

But how do you go about all that, when you don’t even know where to start?

Like I said, my tendency is to realize I’m not going to be encouraged, and just go and do it anyway. So what I do is look over what I have of my work-in-progress. Sometimes I add a little here, take a little out there… Then I get an idea, and I’m off to the races.

Even so, wouldn’t it be easier if, just for today, I told myself what I’d tell my friends?

So here’s what I want to tell you, if you’re feeling discouraged today:

  • Keep trying. You have a good idea. You just have to trust yourself.
  • Don’t give up. You’ve worked too hard for too long on this project to let a moment of discouragement derail you.
  • Believe in yourself. You can do anything you put your mind to, if you just keep going.

And if you still feel discouraged — if the above does not help you, because you’re ill or feeling tired or have physical limitations (all things I completely sympathize with) — I want to tell you this:

I, too, have days where, due to my physical limitations and other health issues, I must rest.

I hate those days, but they are necessary. They recharge my batteries, so I can come back stronger and better, more able to take on the challenges in my current work-in-progress, more willing to keep fighting.

Also, inability is not at all the same thing as unwillingness. It’s one thing to be unable to do something today. It’s another thing to be unwilling to do it.

That’s why I am a big advocate for listening to your body. If it says, “No,” go rest. If it says, “Maybe,” give it a try. You might just surprise yourself.

So, when you need encouragement, refer back to this blog. And remember to treat yourself gently, the way you would a friend.

It might just help you.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Mass Shootings in the United States: Will They Ever End?

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Folks, I’ve written many blogs on the subject of mass shootings. Most of them have been in or around schools, including the latest tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. And every single time, I’ve asked this question: Why?

And inside, I’ve gotten more and more angry along with more and more frustrated. There is a mass-shooting incident seemingly every month, or at most, every two months. Many innocents are killed, we invariably find out that the shooter was mentally deranged or had a grudge against someone that made him lash out…and nothing gets done.

When will these mass shootings end?

Every single time, after a mass-casualty event, we hear the same things from the same politicians. Most of them demand that gun rights be respected, a singularly odd reaction unless you realize how much indebtedness these politicians have to the National Rifle Association. Some of them say the solution is more guns; that if there were more armed people at these schools, or at the theater, or at the church in Charleston, that would’ve actually prevented these mass killings.

It’s hard to believe that some people think the only answer to a mass-casualty event is to make sure that people carry guns in schools, churches, and movie theatres. But that’s where we are in the United States of America in 2015.

Isn’t that abhorrent? Isn’t that something we should not have to say? Isn’t that something we should rise up and change?

Maybe the problem is that most people in the U.S. think that change is impossible. We have gridlock in Washington, DC, we have gridlock in most state legislatures (unless they’re run by one party, in which case we have one agenda being stuffed down the other party’s throat), and we have nothing getting done of any substance whatsoever.

Instead, we have the U.S. Congress trying to symbolically repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) over fifty times, when they know it won’t do any good. They do this because they want to inflame their base of support, and get more donations. And keep themselves enriched, so they can continue to do nothing in Congress — because it’s that nothing that keeps them in office.

You see, changing the narrative takes work. Takes people who are willing to stand up and be counted. Takes people who are willing to take a stand and perhaps get voted out, because they know they’re doing the right thing.

We have a paucity of those types of people in Washington, DC. right now.

Change is possible, you know. In Australia, people took to the streets to demand an answer after the Port Arthur massacre back in 1996. And they got new gun laws, which have decreased the amount of shootings since that time. Significantly, according to CNN.

Last night, President Barack Obama said that these mass-casualty shootings have become “routine.” He said that we have to have change; that sending “thoughts and prayers” are not enough; that the United States has to demand that the Congress take action.

I’ve never been a fan of the President, not since the 2008 Democratic National Committee meeting where Hillary Clinton voters were told Obama would be the nominee and to sit down and shut up. But I agree with him on this issue. It’s wrong that we can’t even get universal background checks — something most policemen believe would be useful — much less try to identify people with serious mental illnesses who have guns, like James Holmes.

Mind, I believe very strongly that someone who is treating his or her mental illness is no more of a threat than anyone else. If Holmes had gone to get treatment, it’s possible he would’ve owned guns and done nothing objectionable at all.

But a James Holmes who has refused to get treatment and has legally obtained guns is a problem.

Now, can the U.S. catch everyone? Of course not. But we can at least catch some.

Saying we can’t catch everyone, so we shouldn’t try to catch anyone, is not a good answer!

I am beyond frustrated at these repeated mass-casualty shootings. As an American citizen, I demand action. We have to try to get this under control, and whatever we have to do, we need to get it done.

No one wants to take away the gun rights of hunters, or a person’s right to self-defense, but my goodness. When the only solution offered by the NRA is for everyone in the U.S. to have a gun, that’s when you know we live in Bizzaro World.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 2, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Advice for the New Writer

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Folks, the other day I met a new writer in an unexpected place. He told me he feels overwhelmed; he doesn’t know where to go for any support, and he doesn’t know how to get any help for his writing. He’s in the very early stages; he’s trying to organize his thoughts, and needs to have confidence that these thoughts will be able to be organized eventually.

While I cannot give anyone confidence — sometimes I can’t even give myself that! — I was at least able to point him in the right direction, as far as a few helpful writing groups are concerned.

But this got me thinking. What about the other new writers out there, who don’t know very much, and are overwhelmed? Do they even know which sites to start with? And are they aware that free advice is there for the taking, if they can just find out where they need to go?

Because I’m not sure of that, I figured I’d give some advice myself.

First, before you go anywhere, you need to trust in yourself and your story. If something is telling you to write it down, you should do that.

Second, try not to censor yourself. Accept whatever comes out in a first draft as best you can. (You can always fix it later.)

Third, try to write at least five times a week, for at least a half an hour to an hour a day. If you can get 750 to 1000 words each time, you’ll have a solid short story within a week or two. And you could have a short novel (something in the neighborhood of 60K words) in twelve weeks.

Fourth, try not to let this all feel overwhelming. I know it’s new to you. But every writer has been there; we all didn’t know what we were hearing, at first, and we didn’t necessarily trust ourselves all that much, either.

And fifth and last? Check out some of the sites I’m about to talk about, to see if any of them appeal to you. Because every single last one of them has helpful advice, for the novice writer all the way up to the professional.

Now, let’s get to these sites!

  • I’ve talked before of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s site, which used to be called The Business Rusch. There’s all sorts of helpful advice over there, especially for the practical-minded writer. If you have a business-related question about writing, Ms. Rusch has probably already answered it — or if she hasn’t, will know how to point you in the right direction so you can find your answer.
  • In addition, the Forward Motion Writers Group (otherwise known as is extremely beneficial. I’ve been a member for years, though I’ve been more inactive than not. Still, whenever I drop in over there, I’ve found support, friendship, advice, and more. The folks at FMWriters are knowledgeable and helpful, and all they want to do is help “pay it forward” a little with other writers.
  • If you are looking to see if a publisher or agent is reliable, check out Preditors and Editors. They have the most up-to-date information anywhere.
  • Another good place to go is Writer Beware. There’s all sorts of helpful information there about contracts, what’s good, what’s bad, and what should never be accepted under any circumstances. Also, pay close attention to the publishers Writer Beware does not recommend (along with the agents). Those are places that have significant complaints/complainants, and you want to avoid like the plague. (Note you can cross-reference with Preditors and Editors if you need more information, or the publisher in question is not listed.)
  • As far as marketing your work goes — which is essential for small press and indie writers in particular — please check out Marketing for Romance Writers, whether you write romance or not. I am a member of this fine group (our hashtag on Twitter is #MFRWAuthor), and have obtained all sorts of good advice from the people there.
  • Finally, check out author blogs. (Start with some of the fine authors I’ve listed on the side of this blog. These are reputable people who often talk about writing, publishing, and other interesting things.)

So, in conclusion, remember that you do not need to feel intimidated by NaNoWriMo (National November Write a Novel Month) or anything else. All you have to do is keep faith with yourself, keep writing, and do not give up.

That’s the only way to go.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Milwaukee Brewers Shut Down Ryan Braun for the Rest of 2015

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Folks, this is how you know the Milwaukee Brewers have had a horrible year.

Ryan Braun has a back injury that he’s been playing through for most of the year. Recently, when he spent seven games without playing whatsoever, the team admitted that Braun will have surgery in the off-season to repair a herniated disc. So the assumption was that Braun would not play any more during 2015.

Then Braun played last night in St. Louis.

Now, the Brewers have returned to their original script with Braun. He’s been shut down for the remainder of the year, mostly because there’s no point to playing as the Brewers cannot affect the outcome of the regular season at all. Every playoff team in the National League is now set; three of them, the Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, come from the NL Central Division. And the only thing that could change between now and the end of the season is whether the Cardinals hold on to their NL Central lead, or if the Pirates manage to best them.

Everything else is set in stone, barring a major losing streak for the Pirates and a major winning streak for the Cubs — and all that will change is which team hosts the Wild Card game.

Look. I understand why the Brewers have shut Braun down. There is nothing for him to prove, and very little for him to gain. Braun could worsen his back if he plays, though that wasn’t a concern last night for some reason…and if Braun worsens his back injury, that may put part or all of 2016 in jeopardy.

I get all that.

But as a Brewers fan, I’m disheartened. There are very few stars on the Milwaukee baseball club right now. The team that started 2015 has been almost completely dismantled; Braun is out, Carlos Gomez got traded to the Astros (and has been in a hitting funk ever since, from what I can tell), Gerardo Parra got traded to the Orioles, Aramis Ramirez got traded to the Pirates (at least he’s going to the playoffs), Mike Fiers — possibly the Brewers most consistent starter during 2015 — got traded to the Astros and promptly threw a no-hitter.

As for those who remained?

  • Jean Segura had a nice bounce-back year on both offense and defense. He narrowly avoided a major injury a few weeks ago (more on that in a bit). But he’s not playing much right now, as the 2015 season is lost.
  • Jonathan Lucroy was out for nearly ten days with a concussion, though he’s back now (and limited to first base).
  • Jimmy Nelson got hit in the head by a batted ball and was shut down for the year with a concussion.
  • Wily Peralta was generally ineffective during 2015 and has been shut down, reason unknown or untold.
  • Matt Garza also was ineffective, and has been shut down since mid-September.
  • And poor Elian Herrera — he ran into Shane Peterson while trying to field a ball in “no man’s land” (behind third in shallow left field shading toward the foul line), and has been on crutches ever since with what’s been called a “thigh contusion.” Herrera was one of the few guys who’d stepped up after all the trades, and performed consistently both on offense and defense; his steady presence in the infield has been missed since he got injured. (As for Peterson, he’s pinch-hit a few times; he came away from that collision injured, but lightly so, compared to Herrera…who, of course, has also been shut down for the year.)

So who’s left?

Well, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez has done well as the closer, and he’s still here. (He gets maybe two attempts a week to close a game, but that’s not his fault.) Lucroy is able to play a little at first base. Adam Lind’s back has been a little balky lately, but he’s played more games with the Brewers than he managed with the Blue Jays last year (at least, that’s what they keep saying) and he’s done better defensively at first base than I’d expected.

And then there are all the rookies. Only three have impressed me thus far: Zach Davies, who the Brewers got in the Parra trade, has shown some good flashes since getting the call to come to the big leagues. Catcher Nevin Ashley spent ten years in the minors, and reminds me a great deal of Vinny Rottino (my favorite player, also overlooked to my mind). And Domingo Santana has shown unusually good plate discipline and some real power, even though he’s been forced to play out of position most of the time in center field (he’s a corner outfielder).

The rest…meh.

For weeks, watching games has been like watching Spring Training, except these games count. Most of the guys seem eager, young, and want to make a good impression. But for me, as a fan, I feel fatigued; there have been 11 guys making their major league debut this year, with a twelfth coming today. I have a hard time keeping up with all these people, and while I’m glad all these young guys have managed to get call-ups (most especially Ashley), it’s hard to figure out what I’m watching.

Truly, these teams are like seeing a Triple-A version of the Brewers with a few stars sprinkled in. And that’s not what I’d expected for the 2015 season, even though I do think retiring General Manager Doug Melvin did the best he could with what he had (and received several strong players in return for our previously established stars).

So here we are: Braun won’t play again this year. The young, eager, Triple-A-like Brewers will continue to do their best to make some sort of impression.

And while I’ll continue to watch, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that this depleted Brewers club will win many more games.

Friday Evening Roundup: CHANGING FACES and Other Stuff

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Folks, this last week at Chez Caffrey has been full of angst.

Why? Well, I’ve been working on CHANGING FACES all week long. I have to turn this manuscript in a few, short weeks from now or I’ll completely miss my e-book publishing window for 2015 — and I don’t want to do that. (My publisher would be extremely displeased, to put it mildly.)

I’m happy to report that I have approximately 10,000 words reworked. I am confident of most of the next 25,000 to 30,000, but I have a rough transition right now to get to that point.

Basically, I’m halfway through my final revision, in short — but that rough transition continues to frustrate me. And until I can get that straightened out, I can’t go forward.

Now, I’d really like it if I could. But my writing process seems to work only one way. I have to first know where I’m going, then I have to work out the details as to how to get there. Right now, because of the additional material I’ve added to the beginning and the changes I’ve made there also, even though I know exactly where I’m going, the details I had before aren’t quite right.

This is why I haven’t blogged since earlier this week.

That said, much has happened this week. Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker, bowed out of the Presidential race for 2016; Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner is set to retire at the end of October; my favorite baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, continues to play poorly — not least of which because the few remaining stars, Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy among them, have been held out of many games due to injury. (Lucroy has been cleared to play after a nasty concussion, but he will not catch and probably will play sparingly the rest of the year. And Braun has a back injury — a herniated disc, I believe — that will require surgery in the off-season.)

My quick takes on these last three things?

  • I’m glad that Scott Walker is out of the Presidential race. He isn’t ready to be President; truly, he isn’t a very good Governor, and he’s divided the state of Wisconsin in a way I’ve never seen in my entire life. This divisiveness has nothing to do with him being a Republican, mind; it has everything to do with his personality. The only good thing I can say about Scott Walker is this: When he bowed out of the Presidential race, he was classy and brief.
  • I actually felt sorry for Speaker Boehner today. He’s had a very difficult job, riding herd on the Republicans in the House. (40 of them are actually members of the Tea Party, meaning they are to the right of Boehner; the rest are a hodge-podge of beliefs and political persuasions.) And his decision to retire, effective in late October of 2015, actually drew cheers from some Republican voters — something I never thought I’d see or hear in a million years. Good luck in retirement, Speaker Boehner.
  • The only good thing about the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers season is this: it’s almost over. (Wait ’til next year, and hope it’s not as bad as this one.)

Anyway, if you don’t see me blog much next week, you’ll know where I’ll be — tearing my hair out over CHANGING FACES.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 25, 2015 at 8:55 pm

Monday Morning Musings: The 11th Anniversary of Michael’s Death…and a Request

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Over the years since my husband Michael’s death, I’ve commemorated his passing a number of ways.

I’ve written about how important he was, the positive difference he made in my life, and about how much I loved him. (Still love him. I don’t think love goes anywhere. But I digress.)

The one thing I perhaps haven’t written about is what Michael liked to do.

51vgoDYH2cL._UY250_While Michael wasn’t one of those “hail fellow, well met” types (and just as well), he enjoyed being around people. (Then he enjoyed going home and being away from people. A balanced life, as it were.)

Michael also loved to write. And if he could write something touched someone–or better yet, tickled someone’s funny bone– he counted that as a good day.

(Well, every day was a good day, so long as he was alive. But again, I digress.)

Because today is the 11th anniversary of my husband’s way-too-early death, I figured I’d ask a favor of you.

First, if you knew Michael, please come here and tell me what you remember most.

Second, if you ever read any of Michael’s work, let me know.

Columba and the Cat coverThird, I’d like it if you’d pick up a copy of one of five things: “A Dark and Stormy Night,” “On Westmount Station,” “Columba and the Cat,” “To Survive the Maelstrom,” and of course AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. All of ’em are e-books, which Michael loved (he jumped onto the e-book bandwagon long before most people); all of ’em have some shred of something Michael told me in there, or better yet, some of Michael’s own words there.

Then come back and let me know.

Why do I ask these things? Well, it’s simple. I often feel alone, as if I’m the only one who’s grieving my husband’s death. And while I probably am grieving the hardest (especially after eleven years), there are others who do remember my husband. And remember him with fondness.

While I’ve contributed to all of the above things–and while I wrote AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE–I have discussed Michael’s importance at the end of every book or story I’ve written. (Or story that I’ve finished for him, in the case of “On Westmount Station” or “A Dark and Stormy Night.” Though “finished” is a bit much for the latter; I added a few touches, that’s all, to make it a legal collaboration in that case.)

I don’t know how many people read the very end of the book, but in every case, I’ve talked about my husband. Because he was incredibly important to me, and without his influence, I wouldn’t still be trying to make it in the crazy business of publishing.

So if you want to know why I still remember my husband, buy one–or more–of these stories. Then come back and let me know.

Now, I’d best get back to revising CHANGING FACES, as if all goes well, it’ll be released sometime in late October or early November as an e-book.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 21, 2015 at 4:13 am


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