Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Now Available in E-Book: A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE

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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 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: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/ElfyinBigTrouble_ch1.html

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, and both are priced for the moment at ninety-nine cents 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 at ninety-nine cents?)

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

**Edited to add: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE has also “gone live” at BN.com (Barnes and Noble’s website), as Paul Howard told me in the comments. If you have a Nook and want to read AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, now’s your chance!

Now back to our regularly scheduled post.**

I’m very pleased that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is now out, even though I hadn’t expected it to “go live” on Amazon tonight, of all nights — but as it has, I figured I’d best skedaddle and get a blog post up, pronto.

For those of you who want a sample, please go here and read the first five chapters of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . then, I hope you’ll go to Amazon and get the e-book, as it’s on sale for a limited time at the low price of $3.99.

Because I’m a new author, and because I’m decidedly not well known, it is anyone’s guess as to whether or not AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE will do well enough to warrant an actual “dead tree” edition (that is, a paper edition).

For all I know, this e-book copy is all that we’re likely to get. So I hope you’ll enjoy it in the spirit intended.

In other words, if you want to read my novel because you’ve been intrigued about Bruno the Elfy and Sarah his human companion and want to know all about Sarah’s house (which is an Elfy trap of major proportions), or if you want to figure out why a Dark Elf would go to Northern California, or if you even want to know why Bruno’s mentor Roberto is worth saving despite being more than a bit of an butthead sometimes, now’s your chance.

I also hope that if you read and enjoy AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, you won’t be averse to letting people know my book exists. Because I need all the help I can get . . . and I’m not shy about saying so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 12, 2014 at 12:34 am

About my Husband Michael, the Writer…

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Folks, this is the worst day on the calendar, for me. My husband Michael died on this day, twelve years ago.

Some days, it feels like yesterday. Some days, it feels like forever.

I’ve written a great deal about my husband, about why I feel the need to continue his work as well as my own, about why I feel the need to try to keep his memory alive…about why he still matters to me. And why he will always matter, to me.

Today, I want to talk more about my husband the writer. Because that matters, too.

I wish Michael had broken out, as an author, before he died. He’d have gotten such a kick out of that. We did sell one story — “Bright as Diamonds” in the BEDLAM’S EDGE anthology — before he died, and we told no one. We figured, let people find out when the book was available for pre-order…we even knew what we were going to say.

I remember when we wrote that story together. I can still remember him peering over my shoulder as I wrote the first draft. Then, he’d sit at the computer and work on it in the next draft…we’d converse for the third draft, and I’d write and fix. The fourth draft, he’d sit there, and read it aloud, and he’d write and fix.

In between all that, there were conversations with our editor, Rosemary Edghill, and we made changes accordingly.

I really wish Michael had lived longer, so we could’ve written more stories together.

“But Barb,” you protest. “There are half a dozen stories out there — or have been — with Michael’s name on them. Didn’t he write any of them before he died?”

Yes, and no. You’re right that there have been at least half a dozen stories with his name on them. But every single one of those sales except for the one in BEDLAM’S EDGE came posthumously.

Anyway, back to the subject — my husband, and his writing.

Michael, especially as a writer, was a subtle man. The stories that came out of him were mostly quiet ones, such as Joey Maverick’s adventures, or Columba’s wish to leave her own kingdom and venture out with Cat, also known as the Duc d’Sanchestre.

Michael believed in romance as an element of storytelling, and exercised that element with finesse and style.

Michael spent hours on setting up his story universes. He wanted to know everything about them, in order not to make a mistake.

Then again, if he did make a mistake, he’d say, “Oh, well,” and go back to the drawing board. He didn’t believe in beating himself up. His view was that you should save your energy, fix the problem, and go right on as you were. (More of us should be like this. Including me.)

Perhaps most importantly of all, Michael had a great sense of humor, and could laugh at nearly anything, given the chance. He used all sorts of devices, including puns, witty remarks, and situational humor to exercise his inborn literary gifts — though if I had put it this way when he was alive, he’d have told me I was putting him too high on a pedestal and to knock it off already.

Anyway, that was just a little bit about my husband the writer. I wish he were still here on this plane of existence, writing up a storm, telling me just how Joey Maverick and Belinda Simpson managed to get together, and what, exactly, was missing in “Columba and the Crossing” that I now have to figure out…but I’m glad I got the chance to be with him, and try to complete his work as well as I can.

Because Michael mattered. And his stories matter, too.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 21, 2016 at 4:52 am

Monday Motivation: Write Your Story — and No One Else’s

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Sometimes, when you write, you worry about all sorts of stuff.

Will anyone ever like what I’m doing?

Will what I’m writing make any sense?

And, sometimes, this poisonous, midnight thought creeps in: What if what I write is too much like someone else’s work?

I call that a poisonous midnight thought because it saps your creativity something fierce. It makes you think that what you’re doing isn’t special, or vital, or interesting. And it makes you want to give up.

Want my advice?

Here it is: Don’t.

Refuse to give up. Keep writing, as long as it takes.

Never give up on your stories.

Now, as to why I say this? The simple fact is, you can give ten different writers one story prompt, and end up with ten wildly different stories. They might be in different genres; they might be in different voices; they might be in different time periods, even. So that one story-prompt, which you’d think would lead to a bunch of very similar stories, often leads to anything but.

Why is this?

It’s simple. Every person writes differently. Our minds are all different. Our stories are all different, too. And the way we tell the stories, much less how we tell the stories, is also all different.

That’s why you should not be afraid to write your story. No matter if everyone else has done vampires to death, if your story has a vampire heroine (or villain), go ahead and write it — ’cause it’s still your story, and it’ll be unique because of you.

Or if it’s military science fiction, say…there are a ton of great milSF writers out there, and maybe they’ve written a story very similar to the one you want to write already. But your characters are different, and you are different, too…you have to trust that your story will be different, and that you will not commit unintentional plagiarism.

Now, if you’re truly worried about unintentional plagiarism while you’re writing, just don’t read books in the same genre as the story you’re working on.

I realize this is a hardship, mind. Most of the time, you wouldn’t be writing in the genres you’ve picked unless you truly loved the work of other authors. (Cutting yourself off from these authors is quite difficult, but it’s not forever — it’s just until your own book is done and put to bed.) That helps protect you, and your writing, and may give you some peace of mind.

But if you can’t do that, you need to trust that your story will be different, because it has you at the heart of it rather than Other Writer.

So, please. Do yourself a favor, and set that worry aside. You don’t need it.

All you need is you, your belief in yourself, and enough time to work on your stories. Because they are important, as are you…but you won’t know that until you work through your fears, and just keep going. (Damn the torpedoes, eh?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 19, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Let’s Talk About…Love?

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Folks, Christopher Graham’s blog this evening had a great post called “‘I Love You’…Why Are We So Afraid to Say it?” by guest author Tina Frisco. Ms. Frisco discusses love, and how important it is, and that we shouldn’t be afraid to use the “three little words” as often as we can in the spirit intended (this spirit, of course, mostly being completely in the spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood rather than sexually based). But perhaps you’d rather hear from Ms. Frisco herself?

Here’s a few words from her guest blog tonight:

Among true friends, why are we so afraid to speak our hearts?  Do we think the sentiment might be misconstrued?  Instead of “I love you” we say “much love,” “love you,” “love and hugs,” “sending love,” etc.  We omit the “I” because it’s uncomfortable to speak and just as uncomfortable to watch the receiver’s reaction if our intentions are misinterpreted.  In saying “I” we make a commitment; we own what we say.  That little one-letter word carries huge implications.  It can cause us to hesitate to reach into the depths of our hearts, extract a kernel of authenticity, and share it with another.  It can also cause the door to many receiving hearts to shut.

I’m not sure why we’re sometimes afraid to speak our hearts to our friends. I do know that I, as a widowed woman, am often afraid to use the “l-word” to any of my male friends, but most particularly to those who are married, engaged, or otherwise attached. I don’t want to be misunderstood; I don’t want to make my friends’ partners angry with me; I don’t want to say something that I know, in American society, is often reserved for either the closest of family relations or our spouses. (Period.)

But I’m not as likely to use the “l-word” with female friends, either. The main reason for that has nothing to do with whether or not someone might think I’ve turned bisexual overnight (I haven’t, though if you think that can happen magically without effort, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn). Instead, it’s because I have a hard time saying something like that, because it’s so naked and so revealing…I may as well strip naked and walk down the street without clothes (a la Kim Kardashian West, without anything close to Mrs. West’s body), because it’s so damned difficult to say.

In fact, the only time I can remember saying to my friends — male and female alike — that I loved them was right after my husband Michael died in 2004. I told them that I loved them all. I figured at that point, they’d best understand my love was more on the agape side, with a bit of philios thrown in; I was in no shape to love anyone erotically except Michael, and he wasn’t there any more. (At least, not physically.)

Ms. Frisco goes on to say:

Our time on this earth is short.  Our reason for being here is to learn.  And there is nothing more gratifying than telling someone you love them and having them receive it with delight and reciprocation.  Saying “I love you” shouldn’t be a fearful thing.  It should be a joyous union of two souls helping each other grow.

I agree with her that life is very short, and I also agree that at least one of the reasons we are here is to learn from others.

Still. It’s really hard to say the three little words to anyone other than your spouse and your nearest and dearest friends, at least in the US of A, for the reasons I gave above. And even there, if your friend is of the opposite sex, you’d best use a ton of qualifiers, or he/she could possibly get the wrong idea…

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to say the words, mind. But I still think it’s far, far more important to let your actions carry weight and meaning.

Maybe it’s because I was divorced before I met Michael, but here’s my take on love: It is a wonderful and even awe-inspiring thing, when someone loves you unconditionally. It feels almost like a sacred trust, except there’s so much love, so much laughter, so much joy in it…you’re still you, with all the flaws endemic in being a human being, and yet you feel understood, and worthwhile, and happy.

But just saying “I love you” is nowhere near enough. You need to back up those actions by listening, by caring, by doing what you can to help your loved one(s), and by making a commitment every single day to be the person who is worthy of such love. Then return those things, every single day, to your loved one(s)…that way, whether you are like me and can only rarely say the “three little words,” your spouses and kids and family members and close friends will know that they are deeply blessed to have you in their lives.

At least, I hope so. Because that is what love is all about, to my mind.

And that is indeed at least one reason why we’re here, too…to love others, as we wish to be loved ourselves. (My husband taught me that, and it’s true.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 17, 2016 at 12:16 am

Author N.N. Light Takes Over the Elfyverse…

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…and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Folks, married author duo N.N. Light’s fantasy/romance novel PRINCESS OF THE LIGHT is on sale right now for just ninety-nine cents. (It’s an “anniversary sale,” as the book has been out for two years now.) In support of this novel, and in support of their writing, the female half of the pair, Mrs. N., asked if she could do a guest spot here at the Elfyverse.

And of course, I said yes.

So, without further ado, take it away, Mrs. N!

During the month of September, Princess of the Light is on sale for the super-low price of $.99 USD. 100% of the proceeds during this time will go directly to our local food bank to help feed children and families in need. This is the first time Princess of the Light has ever been this low  in price…and who knows when it will be this low again?

potl-2nd-anniversary

First, let’s whet your interest. Here’s the blurb:

Mary Miller receives a startling visitation from Gabriel, the Messenger of God. The Archangel reveals an astounding truth–Mary is the Princess of the Light and even more amazing, her destiny is to battle Lucifer’s army of demons and restore the balance of good and evil on Earth. It’s getting harder to fulfill her new role and keep her identity secret while juggling her personal life, and when Than, Lucifer’s second in command, amps up the attacks on her, she knows she needs help.

Joe Deacons is everything she’s ever wanted in a man. And as providence would have it, in a moment of great need, he’s the Warrior of Light–the one who can help her defeat the forces of darkness.

Not so simple when they confront Lisbeth, a demon hell-bent on usurping Than and Lucifer himself. When Lisbeth wages war and several innocent people die, Mary must form an alliance with her enemy in order to destroy her. But will this be a grave error or the choice that saves their world?

Second, to give you an idea of what PRINCESS OF THE LIGHT is about, here’s an excerpt:

Marie furrowed her brow and softly interrupted, “André is the Walking Man?”

I looked at Marie and asked, “You’ve heard of him?”

Marie nodded. “Of course. He is a staple of the Downtown area. There are a few groups I’m affiliated with that hand out food and clothing to those in need. He never comes to these events so I leave them by the area where he sleeps.” She paused, thoughtfully. “I just can’t believe that it is André.”

Joe cleared his throat and looked at his father. “What happened to André?”

Alfred sighed and after a moment said, “It really was the fault of that witch he was married to. She and her family treated him horribly. She was a gold digger and all she cared about was money and the prestige.”

Marie interrupted Alfred by saying, “I remember her. She was so mean to André and all she cared about was looking rich. Wealth is a gift—she just wanted it for a toy. She treated André so badly… and his mother-in-law was the worst. She would put him down all the time. In front of other people, no less.”

Alfred continued, “André was a good man and worked hard. He was working on a big project for the city. He worked night and day on the project and told me it was going to put Golden Lake on the map.

“He absolutely adored his daughter, too. I remember that clearly. She was his everything.” Alfred paused, apparently lost in his thoughts. With a sigh he said, “There was a scandal with the project, though, and André got fired. Soon after, Dara left him, took Katherine with her and André fell apart. He started drinking heavily and, without his daughter, his life fell apart.”

Joe looked at me and I fought to keep from throwing my hand over my mouth. There was purple fire in his eyes and I felt his anger. I already knew the story of André and I tried to smile at him.

I smelled burning flesh. Joe flashed in full armor fighting demons with a golden sword.

I gasped at the vision and brought my hand to my chest in shock feeling the key necklace, before I could stop the physical reaction. The necklace weighed heavily as did my heart. He would be fighting at my side soon.

Marie asked, “Are you okay, dear?”

Joe turned to look at his mother. He nodded and only said, “I never knew any of this.”

Alfred continued, “I am sorry, son, but you asked for the truth. This is what I know. André was sleeping at the office and drinking all the time. He was supposed to give a presentation to a client and was drunk. He got into a scuffle with his boss and rumor has it, André punched him.”

I feigned shock and said, “Oh my!”

Than is to blame. I don’t know how I know or what happened but I vow to the Lord that I will make Than pay, thought Joe.

I choked and almost spit out my drink. I just heard Joe’s thoughts! I had to set him straight and right away.

I cleared my throat and said awkwardly, “Joe, I think I left something in the car.”

Joe looked at me with eyebrows raised. “Excuse me, we’ll be right back,” I said with a smile.

I walked outside and knew that Joe was right behind me. When I reached the car, I whirled and said in a stern tone, “Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

Joe stopped mid-step and said, “What are you talking about, Mary?”

I ran into his arms and whispered, “You cannot take on Than by yourself! I heard your thoughts in there. Now, I don’t know how you know that it was Than who drove André to punching his boss but please promise me that you will not get revenge.”

I paused to catch my breath and remembered what Gabriel told me. “Joe, in order to defeat the darkness and not become dark ourselves, we need to have a pure heart. We are filled with the Light and our motives must always be to speak the Truth and spread the Light.”

Joe took several deep breaths while he held me. He stroked my hair and whispered, “I’m sorry, my angel. I didn’t mean to frighten you and you are right. It was just a momentary thought.”

I lifted my head and locked eyes with Joe. Tears filled my eyes but I was determined. I bit at my top lip and then whispered, “Promise me you won’t put yourself in harm’s way.” Hot tears spilled down my cheeks.

Joe wiped at them and said in a deep, reassuring tone, “I promise, Mary. I promise I won’t be a hothead and I won’t be rash.” Then, he laid his forehead on mine and whispered, “Please don’t cry, darling. Please.”

I nodded and whispered, “I would die if I lost you. Than will use you to try to get to me. You are my love, my everything.” My voice cracked. “I would die if I lost you,” I repeated.

Joe shook my shoulders a little and looked deep into my eyes. “Listen to me, Mary, you will never lose me! Do you hear me? I am by your side now and forever.”

Overcome with emotion, Joe kissed me.

Buy Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/469480

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/princess-of-the-light-nn-light/1120170709?ean=9781502438454

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Light-N/dp/1502438453

Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/Princess-Light-N-ebook/dp/B00N19FDKO

Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Princess-Light-N-ebook/dp/B00N19FDKO

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/princess-of-the-light-1

Indigo: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/princess-of-the-light/9781310880230-item.html?ikwid=princess+of+the+light&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

iTunes/ iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/princess-of-the-light/id913013798?mt=11

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/5008419

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23009005-princess-of-the-light

It’s me again, your usual host. I realized just now that an author pic needed to be added; fortunately, Mrs. N supplied one…it’s both interesting and not the usual run of author pic, but you’ll see that below.

n-n-light-author-pic-social-media

So, there you have it! Mr. and Mrs. N.N. Light’s book is a fantasy/romance with spirituality and heart, and the book’s proceeds will be given to their local food bank. What better reason could you possibly have to buy a book for ninety-nine cents this month?

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

Musings on September and Mortality, Part 2

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Folks, last year I wrote this post about September and mortality. My husband Michael died in September of 2004, and I miss him even worse during September than all of the other months put together — though that seems almost impossible, considering how much I miss him all the time.

Anyway, that blog is still a good read, but I wanted to update it a little. Maybe talk more about what I loved about my husband — how he lived, and what he enjoyed doing, and what he thought life was about — as those memories are among the best I have. And for some reason, I realized I’d never put them together quite in this way…thus, this blog.

So, here’s a few of the many wonderful things I remember about my husband, in no particular order:

Michael believed that if you were going to do something, do it with all your heart and soul. He committed to things, in his own quiet, wry way, but did so in such a fashion that you had to know him very well to realize just how passionate he was about the things that mattered to him.

He was self-deprecating to a fault, loved puns, loved how words went together, and helped many writers codify their thoughts.

Michael believed in a Higher Power — he called it “Goddess,” but said if someone else wanted to call it “God,” “Deity,” or “Hey, You, Big Guy in the Sky,” it didn’t matter to him. He wasn’t sure what the Goddess was doing all the time, but he firmly believed that living the best life he could had led him to me…and me to him, in turn.

Michael believed in blessings, and in miracles. (He thought our marriage was both.)

Michael pretended he didn’t care much about professional sports, but he actually did. He loved baseball, football, and could tolerate basketball (mostly because he admired both the athleticism and erudition of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). He’d been into running, as a kid, and if he hadn’t developed arthritis in both knees early in adulthood, he’d probably have continued to run until the end of his life. (As it was, he enjoyed brisk walks, using his wooden shillelagh on days he felt he needed additional support.)

Michael loved music. All forms of music. His favorite group was Kitaro, which plays a type of Classical fusion music infused with Japanese and Asian themes. He also enjoyed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Cher, musical theatre, and Barbra Streisand.

Being married to an instrumental musician who couldn’t sing a lick was new to him, mind. But he loved to hear me play. I played my five-piece suite for alto saxophone (alone), Creation, for him, and also the Paul Creston Sonata and some of the Ibert Concertino di Camera…but he probably liked the Alexander Glazunov Concerto the best.

Of course, Michael also heard me play the clarinet many times, too. There, I think he probably liked the Mozart Concerto the best, along with Saint-Saens and Poulenc and a number of other pieces. Mozart was his favorite, though, because of the clear and distinct melodic line.

And Michael adored writing. He spent much time on his stories, getting the universes  right, thinking about all the different permutations of this, that, and the other…he could be astonishingly meticulous on one hand, and then say, “What the Hell?” on the other and laugh.

Michael did love to laugh. Nearly everything could be funny, and, given time, he’d find a way to make even the worst situation seem much less bleak.

So, even though it’s September, and even though this is a very difficult and frustrating month for me in many senses (especially as CHANGING FACES is still not done, and that vexes me no end), I am doing my best to remember my husband Michael as he was. He was a living, breathing, thinking man who inspired me, encouraged me, and gave me a tremendous amount of love and support.

When I can see him, smiling, or maybe leaning over my shoulder saying, “Did you mean to say that? OK…,” I feel better. Because so long as I continue to live, at least part of him lives on…it might not be the part he expected, or I did, either, but it’s still here. I remember him, and remember his goodness and his worth and his humanity and the allness of him.

In short, Michael’s life mattered. And I will never, ever forget it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Thoughts After Watching”The Life of Donnovan Hill”

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As most of you who read my blog know, I am a regular watcher of ESPN’s Outside the Lines program (henceforth shortened to OTL). Recently, OTL featured a story about a young man, Donnovan Hill, who’d become paralyzed as a result of being incorrectly taught how to tackle by a Pop Warner football coach. Donnovan Hill went from an active, athletic, and energetic young teen to a quadriplegic, and no one took responsibility.

Granted, some might see what happened to Donnovan Hill as “an act of God.” Many others on his team were also taught this inaccurate technique, and they did not become injured (much less paralyzed for life).

But what I saw–and what I internalized–was a young man who’d loved to play football, and had been bright, gifted, and doing everything he wanted to do.

Then, one day, it was all gone.

His friends mostly melted away, being unable to conceive of Donnovan’s life as a paraplegic (much less deal with it). His coaches tried to help, at least until they realized Donnovan’s mother was going to sue them; then, they also faded away.

So it was just Donnovan and his mother, living a life without any sort of help for either. Donnovan could not brush his teeth, and had to work very hard to regain enough feeling in one hand so he could put on his own pair of glasses. While his mother had to do everything for him — feed him, get him to the toilet, brush his teeth, carry him to and from the car (as they didn’t have a motorized wheelchair or handicapped accessible van, this was a huge problem for both).

It was obvious that both were heartsick, exhausted, and extremely unhappy with what had become of Donnovan’s life. But there were compensations.

First, the bond between Donnovan and his mother was extremely close. The love was palpable in the story between them, even though no words were spoken.

Second, Donnovan turned to poetry and music to express his inner thoughts and feelings. And he had a gift…one that, had he lived longer, might’ve brought him fame of another sort…the sort a young man wants to have, that of accomplishment against the odds.

Third, after the original OTL story aired, many people stepped forward with offers of help. Two handicap-accessible vans were donated. A better, disabled-friendly apartment was offered. A motorized wheelchair was given to Donnovan…so life got better for them both, due to them being willing to discuss publicly what had happened to him after getting hurt so badly.

And finally, former Pro Bowl OT Kyle Turley reached out to Donnovan as well. The two became friends, and that friendship had worth and value.

Donnovan Hill died at age 18, just after his mother had settled the lawsuit with the Pop Warner organization. Kyle Turley sang a song he and Donnovan had written together, using one of Donnovan’s poems…the church was full, and at least one of Donnovan’s former coaches did attend the service.

So, after watching “The Life of Donnovan Hill,” I am left with a deep and overarching sadness. This was a young man with great potential and a gift for poetry that was truly inspirational. I wish he’d lived longer…but the fact he lived, and kept trying so hard after being paralyzed in a Pop Warner football game, was meaningful.

Finding Motivation After a Difficult Week

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Folks, this past week was extremely difficult.

Why? Well, part of the story — as per usual — is not mine to tell. What I can tell you is that I had a bad allergic reaction and also had to deal with a family health scare…both are resolving well, but at the time they were both major obstacles.

It’s hard to be motivated, after you’ve been run ragged for a week to ten days. (Yes, even for me — “Mrs. Persistence Herself,” one of my friends snickered a few years back — I sometimes run straight on into a brick wall.) Sometimes, all you can do is rest, think about your stories, and prepare to meet your commitments as soon as you can with a whole heart.

“But Barb,” you say. “I thought CHANGING FACES neared completion. Is that what’s getting you down?”

Partly, yes.

I want CHANGING FACES to be done. (I wanted it to be done months ago.) But I also want to put out the best quality book I possibly can, well-edited of course, and readable and interesting. (That the subject matter is a bit controversial — dealing with a male/female couple with both ending up transgender due to a fantasy/spiritual element — only adds a bit of spice to the broth.) I hope people of all sexes, genders, races, political persuasions, etc., will read CHANGING FACES and find some truth in it…because my main, overarching message is that people should see souls. Not bodies.

I want CHANGING FACES to read well as a romance, yes. But I also want it to be something people of all sexes and gender expressions can relate to, because most of us, if we’re honest, feel different. Maybe we’re not as different as Elaine is at the start of CHANGING FACES, as we’re not transgender/gender-fluid. (By the way, language is evolving on this issue. In a year or two, it’s very possible people may just say “gender fluid” for someone like Elaine. I hate to have to point this out, but not everyone reads the time/date stamp on blog posts, and some, when you use “inappropriate” or less than up-to-the-minute terminology, jump to conclusions and assume you’re trying to be disrespectful. But that’s another subject for another day.) But we all do have some difference, something that makes us unique and interesting…something that makes us, at least at times, wonder if we will ever be understood by anyone, loved one or no.

It’s all of this that gives me motivation despite an incredibly difficult and taxing week.

I don’t know if the way my mind works is similar to any other writer’s mind on the planet, of course. But my own mind does work this way, and it’s telling me now to do two things:

  1. Rest, dammit!
  2. After you’ve rested, get up and work on CHANGING FACES.

So, that’s what I intend to do.

Thanks for staying along for the ride, and do let me know what you think in the comments, if you are so inclined.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 3, 2016 at 1:42 am