Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just in Time For Halloween, New Poems and Stories at the TTB e-zine!

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OK, sometimes I just have to rhyme…

Folks, do you want some new and absolutely free reading material? Especially from me? (As you’re here at my blog, I’m going to assume the answer is an enthusiastic “yes.”)

Well, look no further. I have a story, “To Exist within Memory,” and a poem, “Break the Dark Lens,” up at the Halloween 2017 edition of the Twilight Times e-zine. (I abbreviated it above as TTB e-zine because it’s part of Twilight Times Books.) In addition, there’s also a chapter reveal for my most recent novel, the LGBT-friendly CHANGING FACES, and there’s an author interview by Mayra Calvani as well — so if you have ever wanted to know more about me or my writing, here you go.

portrait in garden

Mind, if you like what you have read with regards to CHANGING FACES, you can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and pick up an e-book copy for just ninety-nine cents…and I do hope you’ll consider doing just that.

So go check out the TTB e-zine. Read some free stuff. Then go pick up your copy of CHANGING FACES today, and get to getting…who said every treat on Halloween has to be full of calories, hey?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2017 at 8:33 pm


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Folks, I’m very happy to be able to finally report that my second novel — and the second novel in the Elfy duology — A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE has been released. It’s available right now at Amazon and OmniLit…the latter will be most useful if you need an e-pub version of the file.

Edited to add: Barnes and Noble link is now live as well. Now returning you to your regularly scheduled post…

ALittleElfyinBigTrouble_medIf you have never seen anything at all about the Elfyverse — or read book one in the Elfy duology, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE — this little blurb may help you with what’s going on:

Young Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, are in deep trouble. Bruno’s Elfy mentor Roberto the Wise is about to be sacrificed by a Dark Elf, and Sarah’s parents have decided to help the Elf rather than the Elfy. Things look bleak and are getting worse by the minute, but Bruno and Sarah have a number of allies — human, Elfy, and ghosts — that the Dark Elf can’t possibly expect. Can young love, desperation, and great unexpected power win out despite it all?

And here’s a short excerpt — note, it first appeared here, as part of the Marketing for Romance Writers Book Hooks blog hop:

Bruno took Sarah’s hand and led her back outside. He looked with his mage senses, and felt nothing; no Elfy magic, no Human magic, and as far as he could tell, no Elf magic, Dark or Bright.

He put up a light shield that should help conceal their voices, and decided it was safe enough to talk for a bit.

“Tomorrow is Baaltinne, Sarah.” Bruno rubbed his fingers through his hair and tried not to look too hard at Sarah. Goddess, she was beautiful. But he had to stay on topic. “That’s your May Day. Tomorrow.” He shook his head and tried not to frown. “How can we get everything together in time to stop Dennis the Dark Elf?”

“I have faith in you,” she said. Her eyes darkened. Bruno felt as if he were falling, before she gently brushed her lips against his.

————————— End Excerpt ————————————-

If this has intrigued you (and of course I hope it has), but you aren’t sure you will like my book yet, I also have three sample chapters available at Twilight Times Books’ website — here’s the link for that:

A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE continues to make me laugh. I’ve enjoyed writing about Bruno, Sarah, Reverend Samuel and his family, Lady Keisha, even Dennis the Dark Elf…and I hope to write more about them, ’cause I have a hunch their stories are not over.

At any rate, most of you know the labor of love that kept me working on Elfy for years. I’m ecstatic that both halves of my novel have now been published, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Anyway, both novels are available now as e-books. So what are you waiting for? Go grab a copy — or copies — today! (And be sure to tell your friends. ‘Cause, really…how can you go wrong?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 21, 2015 at 7:22 pm

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 over 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 first 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

Do What Is Right

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Folks, whenever I ask myself what I should do next, I hear this: “Do what is right.”

Now, what’s right for me may not be right for you, and vice versa. But what I do know is, if I want to live with myself in any sort of harmony at all, I have to examine whatever I do in the lines of the above.

See, it’s very easy to say, “do what is right.” But doing it? All the time? As best you can? It’s not so easy…but in my case, it’s the only way for me to live with myself.

My view of “do what is right” is quite simple. If it’s ethical; if it’s principled; if it’s honest; if it’s above-board, those are the defining characteristics of that pithy phrase.

The few times I’ve gone against my nature and have tried to compromise my principles (more or less, “go along to get along”), it hasn’t ended well. I have to live an authentic life as well as I’m able, as I’ve discussed many times at my blog already. Doing all of this seems to help me, especially with regards to my creativity. It also helps me to stay grounded.

So, when I see that Millennials and Gen Z are talking about the same things I am, but as if they’re new ideas, I get a bit frustrated.

Why? Well, it seems to me that every generation seems to want to reinvent the wheel. Because of this, knowledge that folks who’ve come before them — either people they meet, or books they read — seems to be lost in the translation.

Hell, what I’m talking about is not new. Marcus Aurelius was the first person known to ever write an autobiography of sorts, called Meditations. He discussed Stoic principles along with various things he saw in his life, and believed the best way to live was in authentic harmony with yourself, as that was the easiest way to coexist with nature and the natural world.

Of course, there are various beliefs about whether Marcus Aurelius wanted this book to be published. He was a Roman Emperor, and as such, everything he did and said and wrote was kept, scrutinized, and analyzed. He knew this, too. But he didn’t let that stop him, insofar as coming up with a way he believed helped him live a good life.

In other words, we’re lucky we have Aurelius’s Meditations, and for more than one reason.

Anyway, think about what the phrase “do what is right” means to you. Is it too simplistic of a philosophy to be useful? Is it perhaps too difficult of a philosophy to wish to aspire to?

Personally, I don’t think it’s difficult at all. Especially if you think about it as the predecessor of the Golden Rule, also known as “do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.”

Our world has many religious philosophies, and many different ways of seeing the world. One thing we all seem to agree upon, though, is that honest, ethical, above-board people are far easier to deal with than dishonest, unethical, unprincipled people.

My hope is that over time, we can find ways to find more common ground rather than less.

I also wish that, as people, we start looking for ways to communicate rather than ways to throw up roadblocks because someone’s a different race, ethnicity, sex, gender, etc.

If you need to see someone who could’ve been a right bastard (excuse my language), but instead chose to behave in as wise a manner as he could — that person being Marcus Aurelius, of course — to understand that life in all its variety should be appreciated rather than besmirched, take a second look at old Marcus’s writing.

After all, at one time, all roads led to Rome.

A Late-ish May Check-in

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Folks, I’m alive and doing the best I can.

It’s been a tough year so far around Chez Caffrey. Some years are like this; I am aware. But lately, I’ve had many thoughts of my friend, the late writer Ric Locke. His last blog post was called “This Ain’t Workin'” and sometimes I wonder what was going through his mind as he wrote that.

See, he knew his body wasn’t responding to the medications he and his doctor had tried to improve his health. He was tired of fighting, and who can blame him? He’d been through a lot, and deserved his rest…yet he was writing a sequel to his excellent novel, TEMPORARY DUTY. I’m sure he didn’t want to leave that unfinished. But there’s a time when you know there’s not much left, and it gets harder and harder to push that knowledge away.

That’s my best guess as to what Ric thought, as he wrote his final blog.

Mind, if it’s up to me, this is NOT my final blog. I have many, many things that remain to be done, and many stories to finish up, too. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, but as the doctors seemingly have no idea at all what’s going on with me, I just don’t know anymore. What they do know is this: exhaustion.

Yep. That’s all they know.

As the US doesn’t have a policy like most of Europe, where everyone gets a certain amount of paid time off — mind, even if we did, as an independent writer/editor I wouldn’t, but still — the best I can do to fortify myself is to read books that make me laugh while doing whatever I am able to do of a work-related and family-related nature. Observe nature in its fullness, which includes (as I live in Racine, WI) great views of Lake Michigan. Talk to people and be kind — because rudeness just doesn’t cut it with me — and hope that the exhaustion will recede, bit by bit.

So, while I’d love a vacation (fruity drinks by the seashore optional), as that doesn’t seem in the cards, I will instead continue to do the best I can.

If you’d like to drop a line below, telling me what’s going on in your life, I’d love to hear it. (I get tired, sometimes, of shouting into the void and hoping somehow that the void shouts back. Yes, a small joke, there…)

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 24, 2023 at 3:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Good News, (Redacted Not-So-Good) News

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Folks, there has been a ton of things happening in Chez Caffrey the last few weeks. Most of them, I can’t talk about yet…and I have to say I wish I could, because they’re very frustrating and worrying things. Because of my late Uncle Ralph’s passing, I’ve been reminded of mortality more than usual — and I’m already more aware of mortality than most due to my late husband Michael’s way-too-early death.

That said, I do have a piece of good news to share that kind of got lost in the shuffle with the news of my uncle’s passing.

“C’mon, Barb,” you say. “Spill it, already.”

Well, I think — I hope, anyway! — that I remembered to tell folks here at my blog that my story “A Cold, Bleak Day in the Hellers” had been accepted into the latest Darkover anthology, this being JEWELS OF DARKOVER. Well, the anthology is now out, and that means you can read my story.

“What’s your story about?”

My story’s about two people who would seem to be the most mismatched on Darkover put into a situation where they must make an alliance marriage and make the best of it. That said, they have some unusual strengths, partly because the man is a scholar and the woman is a swordswoman of the Sisterhood of the Swords. Both are literate. Both are strong, settled personalities. So, they might not have expected to fall in love, and maybe even were worried about “falling in like,” but things shake out in such a way that both can play to each other’s strengths.

I’m very proud of this story. I hope you will enjoy it.

“Who else is in this antho, Barb?” you ask.

From the back cover:

Evey Brett + Barb Caffrey + Margaret L. Carter and Leslie Roy Carter + Lillian Csernica + India and Rosemary Edghill + Leslie Fish + Shariann Lewitt + Marella Sands + Deborah Millitello + Diana L. Paxson + Rhondi Salsitz

(OK, I listed myself in there.)

Now for the not-so-good (redacted) news.

I can’t tell you about this yet. I wish I wouldn’t have to tell you about this at all. But as my extended family is already grieving, I am trying to keep a lid on this news (it’s not about my health, though mine is no better, in case you’re wondering).

I don’t like doing this. I feel as if a gag and a blindfold were put on me, and not for any good purpose, either.

That said, until (redacted) happens — if it does — I can’t say anything publicly, especially as I hope (redacted) will get better.

Even saying this much possibly may cause trouble around Chez Caffrey. So be it.

Otherwise, all I can tell you on this Mother’s Day is to do two things:

If your mother is still alive, do whatever you can to show that you love her. Things are far less important than actions. Do what you can, as you can, because life is way too damned short sometimes.

If your mother isn’t, or if you are grieving (as my extended family is right now), think about those you love, and have loved. Do whatever you can to honor their memories. Do what Disturbed’s song “Hold on to Memories” says to do:

“Go do the best things in life. Take a bite of this world while you can. Make the most of the rest of your life. Make a ride of this world while you can.”

So, in that spirit, I will keep doing whatever I can to remind myself that I am a creative person with many different, disparate abilities. That I can’t do much to help with (redacted) is not my fault.

I can only do my best, and if that’s not enough…well, then it isn’t.

I do wish I had better news to share than this on a personal level. But I will continue to do the best that I can, for as long as I can, to the depth and breadth of my soul.

What Do You Deserve from Your Employer, Or, Meditations on Mike Budenholzer’s Firing from the Milwaukee Bucks

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This past week, the Milwaukee Bucks parted ways with their head coach, Mike Budenholzer. The Bucks had the best record in the NBA this past season at 58-24, and had the #1 seed throughout the playoffs. However, this only lasted for one series, as the Bucks were eliminated by the #8 seed, the Miami Heat. It’s because of this disastrous (for pro sports) outcome that Budenholzer was fired.

“Ah, but Barb,” you say. “Your blog’s title is ‘What do you deserve from your employer.’ What does that have to do with the Bucks/Budenholzer situation?'”

My answer: Plenty.

You see, for the second year in a row, the Bucks went out early in the playoffs, though last year the Bucks at least got through the first round and past the #8 seed. (Early, in this context is, “Did not ascend to the NBA Finals.”) The Bucks feature possibly the best player in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s in his prime right now at age 28, and the Bucks have been built around him for five-plus years now.

I say “five-plus” because Budenholzer was the coach for the past five years. Budenholzer’s record in the regular season was stellar at 271-120, which means the Bucks won almost seventy percent of their games.

Yep. No misprint. That’s how many wins Budenholzer had as the head coach of the Bucks: 271.

Not only that, Budenholzer coached the Bucks to the 2021 NBA Championship. The Bucks hadn’t won a championship in the NBA in fifty years, but they won with “Coach Bud.”

“Barb, you still haven’t gotten to the bit about what the coach deserves from his employer. I assume that’s where you’re going with this?”

Why, yes, dear reader. That is exactly — exactly — what I’m going for, and I’ll tell you why, too.

First, though, I want to explain something else to y’all, some of you who probably don’t know much about professional basketball. When you have the best team in the league, you are expected to win all the time, no matter what.

Including when one of your brothers dies in a car accident, which no one knew about until after the Bucks had lost in five games to the Heat.

See, Coach Bud didn’t want to make the playoffs about him, so he said nothing. But he was grieving. He found out just before game four that his brother had died. And it was in games four and five that some of the coach’s decisions seemed rather odd. But he is the youngest of seven kids. One of his elder brothers died, Budenholzer was being private as is his right about his brother’s passing, but I don’t think the coach understood just how strange grief can be when it comes to anything else. Most particularly the time sense, as when you grieve for someone you loved, nothing seems real for a while. And certainly time seems sometimes like it’s running away, and other times, it seems like it’s stopped.

I don’t know about you, but I think if someone who’s very good at their job, like Coach Bud, has a bad series or makes questionable decisions after his brother dies, I think you should give him a pass. He’s grieving, dammit! His brother’s life was more important than basketball, and yet because he is a professional, and because he’d been with his team all year, he stayed to do his best and coach his team.

I admire that impulse, but it may not have the right one.

That said, the Bucks did way wrong here. They should not have fired Coach Bud, not under these circumstances. Instead, they should’ve hired a top-flight assistant head coach perhaps to work on the defense (as the Bucks’ defense got torched by Heat superstar Jimmy “Buckets” Butler and were completely unable to stop him) and let the coach grieve his brother.

Why? Well, look again at the coach’s record. Think about the fact that two years ago, the Bucks won the NBA Championship for the first time in 50 years with this coach at the helm.

In most cases, employers realize if they have a great employee — and in any case, Coach Bud was just that — but the employee is a bit off due to grief or grieving, even if the employee maybe doesn’t even realize it (it’s possible the coach didn’t), you are supposed to let your employee take time off to deal with his grief.

In other words, you don’t fire the best coach in the NBA because he was off a bit for two games after his brother died. That’s dumb, to put it mildly, and more to the point, it’s an overreaction.

So, what does your employer owe you when you have something awful happen like a death in the family? They owe you time to grieve. They should give you time off from work, with pay, to go bury your sibling in a case like this.

You don’t deserve to be fired.

I don’t know Coach Budenholzer at all. But I do know this. What the Bucks did was classless, not to mention truly horrible behavior under the circumstances. They should not have done this. And as a Bucks fan, I am incensed.

A Brief Bloglet, May Edition

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Folks, I have been editing up a storm for the past week or so. Almost no writing has taken place, so I had no news to discuss…then my Uncle Ralph died yesterday, and everything seemed to hit the fan at once.

Mind, my uncle had lived a good, long life, been married for decades, had children and grandchildren and even a few great-grandchildren. But he was a kind-hearted gentleman of the old school, and I’ll miss him.

It’s good when someone passes away in the fullness of age, especially compared to when someone dies too soon, too young, or too suddenly. But it’s also hard, because no one wants to see their loved ones pass on.

In my uncle’s case, he was dealing with several health problems that had significantly limited his life. But when he felt well enough, he and my aunt (who has survived him) still were able to laugh and talk and love one another. There was a wealth of memories there to discuss, and I’m sure more will surface over time, as the whole phrase about “may his memory be a blessing” definitely seems to apply.

Anyway, it’s time for rest, then more editing awaits.

Oh, and as it’s May now, the only song that comes to mind is “It Might As Well Be Spring.” So here’s a YouTube video that may amuse you from Doris Day, someone I usually don’t reference even though she was a fine singer with an excellent range. She gets a lot of the feelings across that I have right now, including hope, frustration and wistfulness, which seems the perfect way to end this bloglet.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 2, 2023 at 7:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Star Trek: Picard Ends in Two Days…and Other Stuff

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Folks, over the past few months, I’ve been flummoxed by something that’s happened here at my blog. Namely, my posts about the TV show Drop Dead Diva have had hundreds of page views, despite being several years old — and despite Drop Dead Diva going off the air in 2014.

Look. I’m glad folks are finding any of my writing. Truly, I am. But these are folks who, in general, come to read those two posts, and then take off again.

I hope that something else here at my blog interests my long-time readers. I do try to talk about a wide variety of things, from TV/film, to sports, to politics (though I’ve been doing less of that lately, as there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to say except to double-down on previous stances), to current events (I’m so sickened by all of the shootings, and have no more words to say than that).

So, today I thought I’d talk about other TV shows that I’ve enjoyed besides Drop Dead Diva (which I loved, and still miss to this day). Ready?

I’m a huge Star Trek fan. Always have been. (It’s one reason why I found it too difficult to write about the pioneering Nichelle Nichols’ death. I also found it exceptionally difficult, in a different way, to write about Rene Auberjonois’s death.) A good friend recommended Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which is a prequel to the original Star Trek series starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and the rest. It is excellent, and I can’t wait for season two to start this summer.

In fact, I loved that show so much, I went back to look at the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, which shows the previously unknown foster sister of Spock, Michael Burnham, as she rises in the ranks after a huge personal tragedy, because I wanted to know more about Anson Mount’s portrayal of Christopher Pike, plus see more of Ethan Peck’s version of Spock. I was pleasantly surprised with season two of Discovery, though I didn’t like season one all that much except for Michelle Yeoh’s performance as Mirror Universe Emperor Philippa Georgiou. (Goodness, she’s amazing. Best actress alive, anywhere. hands-down. There’s nothing she can’t do, and she somehow nails the essence of every character she plays within seconds. I am riveted by her.)

Paramount Plus has all sorts of stuff to watch, but so far I’ve been concentrating on the Star Trek shows. The original Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager…and the show that ends tomorrow, Star Trek: Picard. (You may be asking, “What about Star Trek: Prodigy and Star Trek: Lower Decks?” I like both, but I kind of think I’m not the target audience for the first, while wanting the second to move faster…don’t ask me why, because that show moves with a rapidity as it stands.)

I’m someone who adored season two of Picard. I thought it was amazing. The depth of Patrick Stewart’s acting was truly stellar. I loved Allison Pill as Agnes Jurati (and eventually the Jurati/Borg hybrid). I enjoyed all of the characters so much, and did I point out yet that Michelle Hurd’s Raffi and Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine were phenomenal? (Please, Paramount, give those two their own series!)

But season three is even better. Picard is now much frailer; he’s retired completely, and at the beginning of the show, he’s preparing to leave Earth and move to another planet with his love, Laris. However, the universe needs him again, and off he goes…(I hope we see Laris again, as I loved Orla Brady. I keep saying that, too, but all of these characters are so good, and the acting so stellar, it’s hard not to gush about them all.)

I’ve been waiting for a few weeks now for the end of Star Trek: Picard. I hope to see Allison Pill again (surely the Paramount execs won’t be so rude as to refuse us to see her one, last time?), as there’s a huge evil Borg plot going on (and as the Borg of season two, once Agnes Jurati got a hold of them, had become much kinder/gentler, it would seem that as the crew of the Enterprise-D needs allies, Allison Pill’s “Borgrati” would show up as part of the cavalry. Hey, everyone needs allies! Really, they do. No one can do it alone, either, no matter how phenomenal you may be — that has to be the message, if you need one, of Star Trek: Picard, at least with regards to seasons two and three.)

Anyway, that’s what I felt like writing today, hoping that someone out there who’s a new reader will actually, you know, stick around a bit and figure out I write other things, too. (If you are exceptionally diligent, new readers, you can go to the About Barb page and find links to my three novels. That’s the best way to support me, you know; read my books! End shameless plug.)

Persistence is Key, Part the Nth

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This morning, I woke up and tried to do something pressing. I figured I’d start with the easiest thing on my agenda, which was calling to figure out exactly what is needed to keep my medical benefits (which I think most of us would agree is the most necessary thing to do in this world, ’cause if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything). And while I called, I wasn’t able to get anywhere, mostly because the office I need to speak with is only open limited hours on Friday.

I blame myself for not knowing things like this, even though it’s something I’ve never needed to know about before.

OK, I’ll admit it: I want to do everything right, the first time. And no one’s capable of doing that in this world. We have to try, try, try again, and maybe on the fourth or fifth try we’ll finally get it right. Then on to the next thing, and the next, where we still have to make every effort to do whatever we can to get everything right, no matter how long it takes.

There’s an old saying that applies here, that goes like this: “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.”

Now, how does this apply? Simple. We want to be perfect, which is impossible. But we can be good — nay, excellent, even — though it may take is multiple attempts and we may get a whole lot wrong along the way.

My goal for years now has been to finish every piece of music, every bit of writing, and everything else I can as best I can, which includes my late husband Michael’s universes. I don’t write in the same way he did, so I’ve found coming up with my own characters and plots is a whole lot easier than grafting on to already established characters…though of course I’m also trying to finish what he started, in the few minutes here and there I can take from an already overcrowded life.

I said once that if all you have is two hours in a month to write, make the most of it. I still believe that. (It’s the whole point of “don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good,” after all.) But if you only have two hours, it’s easier by far to work on stories in the universe that you alone created. (Or, in the case of the Elfyverse, that Michael and I created together.)

Over time, I’ve started the same stories, stopped them due to “life interference” (other things that must be done to help myself and others), started again, stopped again, ad nauseum, until I got so frustrated that I wanted to give up. Mind you, I don’t give up; I merely wait for a better opportunity in most cases.

How does this go back to health, you ask? (Well, maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) It’s because of recent ill-health that I had to put a lot of my writing on the back burner. I also had to put finding cover art for a novella that is finished on the back burner, too. This latter thing has really bothered me, because it’s hard enough to finish a story. Why must it be even harder not to have decent cover art to attract new readers (something I desperately need), so the story can’t be put out there?

The goal right now is to slowly, haltingly, sometimes painfully regain my health so I can figure out what cover art I need and get it so that novella — called “All the News That’s Fit…” — can be released into the wilds of the Internet. “All the News” is a dystopian look at what happens to the US after a catastrophic event that’s left the US so divided it’s split up into multiple countries. How people survive in worst-case scenarios, and how they find love despite it all, is possibly the major theme of my writing, and it’s the main point of “All the News” because the two who fall in love with each other never would’ve been likely to meet in a different, better world.

Then the next goal is to finish up the other stories I have in progress, including a novella called “In Harm’s Way” about a young woman, Ryann Creston, who was just off to go to space academy but got taken by space pirates to a deserted space station and told to work for her supper by raising hydroponic food. She’s only fourteen. Was an early entrant to the academy due to her brilliance, even…and it’s all up to her to figure out how to get herself and all the other kids (most in their late teens and early twenties) off that space station. No one knows where they were taken, and she only has one ally she can trust: the space station’s doctor, who also was shanghaied and wants out. This story is set in Michael’s Atlantean Union universe, and is about a character I inserted into the finished novella “To Survive the Maelstrom,” which used some of Michael’s completed writing.

In case you’ve read “To Survive,” Michael wrote all the stuff about the weremice and the direkittens, plus the scene of how his hero Peter Welmsley finds his own weremouse companion — or, rather, how the weremouse finds him. The stuff about Peter losing his first love, and about how the ship he’s on gets heavily damaged so he must fight, much less why he’s even on the same planet as the weremice and direkittens at all (which is due to needing convalescence after all of that), was all me. One of the officers presumed lost due to the encounter was an older Ryann Creston…but after writing so much about her, I now think she found a way to get off that ship before it (nearly) died and is working her way toward rescue even as we speak. (Backbrains are funny that way.)

Anyway, the phrase “it takes as long as it takes” seems to apply in this case. I believe in these stories. I want them to succeed. It’s taken me much longer than I believe it should’ve to get these completed (or in the case of “In Harm’s Way,” nearly completed). But because I do believe in them, and in my talents, I’m going to keep doing whatever I can to make them the best they can possibly be.

So, I’ll keep doing whatever I can on multiple fronts: the health front, the creativity front, the “life” front. That’s all I know how to do.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 14, 2023 at 2:09 pm

Welcome, April Readers! (Or Something…)

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It’s April. The temperatures are rising, slowly but surely. The ground is starting to thaw. There are more birds chirping; there are more critters coming out of hibernation; there are more people getting out and about, perhaps for the first time in three years, to remind themselves that spring has sprung and the world has been made anew.

(At least, the world turns on its axis, and we only have one April per year. But I digress.)

So, welcome to you, April readers! What are you reading, and why? What are you planning to read, and why? What are you looking forward to the most, in a book or out of it?

Plus, I have the usual questions of, “What’s going on with you? What are you concerned about, this fine day?”

As for me, I continue to recover from the nasty facial bacterial infection (say that three times fast; I dare you). It’s a slow but steady climb. I’m able to do a bit more, week by week, though I would prefer to be able to do a great deal more as that would be much easier than this incremental progress.

Still, life does not work that way. We do things slowly, sometimes, or we don’t do them at all.

Same thing for my writing. I’ve been able to get a bit done, here and there, which beats nothing by a mile. But it’s not what I had hoped for at the start of this year; no, it’s not.

Still. I move, but slowly, and yet I move. (Didn’t Galileo say that? Maybe he should’ve, if not. Going on…)

As for other news, I still haven’t settled on a cover concept for the novella I told you all about several months ago (that I hoped to get out by the end of last year). I am working on it, mind you; I at least know what type of book it is, and I’m paying attention to other books that seem somewhat close in category to post-apocalyptic romantic suspense. (It actually is closer to post-apocalyptic military/romantic suspense as one of the two major characters is an Army Sergeant First Class. I hope to do justice to the military men and women I’ve met along the way, too. But I suppose that would’ve gone without saying…never mind.) I also need to finish two more Elfyverse stories so I can have five or six of them and put them in a collection; that’s on the backburner, but it’s one I return to now and again, parsing out various things, making prose notes, and then going back to my editing (already in progress) or writing the other things that are demanding to be written right now, thank you.

At any rate, I continue on. It’s slow. Sometimes I feel stuck in reverse. But I make whatever progress I can, as I can, and will continue doing so as long as I am able.

May it be true for yourself as well.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 4, 2023 at 5:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Striving for More…

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There are some days (weeks, months, years) that are better than others. And then, there are the days, etc., that I’ve been putting up with the past few months.

This is why the bloglet for today is entitled “Striving for More.” Because that’s literally what I’ve been doing for the past six weeks, along with “working to tolerance” and “resting whenever needed.”

The trouble with all of these things is, I can clearly see what I want and need to be doing. The energy’s not there yet, but my vision of what should be has returned. I know from past experiences, health-wise, that this particular facility shows up when I’ve almost completely recovered. It does so because there’s now enough energy to realize how sick I was, and how much I need to do now to make up for the time I couldn’t help but lose to illness.

In other words, I can parse things out far better. I can compare and contrast far better, too.

So, when I get a half-formed idea for a musical composition, and then can’t seem to get it set down in a manner that makes sense, I have been reminding myself that it’s all a process. Perhaps the reason I can’t quite get the music down has to do with something about the structure of the music I’m grasping for, if that makes any sense.

The important thing is to keep after it as best I can. I know I’ll figure out how to structure this musical composition I have in mind, if I am patient and let it crawl all the way out of my backbrain.

I also know, from past experience, that writing music tends to be easier for me after an illness than writing words can be. If I can handle one, I can handle the other, as music in some ways is my first and best language. (Words are a poor second place in some ways, because music can transport you far easier than words, sometimes.)

For the moment, what I have to do is guard my health, first. Then, keep thinking about the structure of this musical composition that’s been rattling around in my head for a few weeks. Finally, get down some prose notes for the various stories in progress, in the hopes that my recovery from this point will be swift, sure, and to the point.

(Or at least not protracted anymore than it already has been…but I digress, as is always my wont.)

So, what do you do when you’re recovering from illness? What tips and tricks do you have that may help someone else along their journey?

And what books are you reading to help distract yourself, or possibly edify yourself, along the way? (Tell me about ’em in the comments, please.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 24, 2023 at 6:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

A Quick March Bloglet

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Folks, I continue to recover from last month’s illness, so I haven’t had much to say lately.

Now, do I have opinions? Yes. Do I want to discuss some things with you all? Again, yes.

But my mind feels a bit off, and I’m using almost all of my energy to help others (there’s no alternative but me, most of the time anyway). I have edits to finish, stories to finish, poems to finish, and music to finish composing.

I don’t know about you, though…sometimes, I look at all that, and I feel completely daunted.

Then again, there is the way I generally go about taking care of these things, which is very simple: One step at a time.

So, I’ll keep taking small steps, and hope it’ll lead me somewhere wonderful.

Back to the blog in a week or so, I hope.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 13, 2023 at 3:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized