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

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 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: 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 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 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

Justice Ginsburg Dies, and the U.S. Goes Crazy…**

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**at least, the internet world. (Are there any others? /sarcasm)

The last few days have been surreal. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazing lawyer and U.S. Supreme Court judge, has passed away at age 87. She was possibly one of the few jurists in the nation most people trusted; they might not like her, or like her viewpoints, but they trusted her to come at them from a judicial/legal standpoint. And her death is a great loss to the nation, much less to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS, for short).

“But Barb, all you’ve explained so far is that Justice Ginsburg has died. What is this part about the United States supposedly going crazy about?”

It’s simple, dear readers. She was needed at this time and place. Despite her advanced age, and her long-time battle with cancer, her clear-headed nature and trustworthiness were a Godsend for the American people. Her death means that the current President of the United States (POTUS, for short), Donald Trump, can now appoint a new Supreme Court Justice even though there’s only forty-five days until the next presidential election.

Which wouldn’t seem that bad, until you consider your recent history.

In 2016, the Republican Party forced then-President Obama to hold a SCOTUS seat vacant until the next election. They did nothing for nine months, at all. And they said it was because they wanted the people to decide.

Now, the Republican Party, which is in power, feels they can replace a judge on the Supreme Court with less than two months to go until the next election. Their reasoning (rather spurious, to my mind) is that last time, the Rs held only the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, not the Presidency. This time, they hold the Senate and the Presidency (but not the House).

If you fail to see why this is acceptable, join the club.

**The only thing that comes to mind when I think about this whole situation is Disturbed’s song “Down with the Sickness.” (Just felt I should throw that in there. Moving along…)

Me, I see it as rank hypocrisy. And here’s why…Mitch McConnell, who was the Senate Majority Leader in 2016 and is still the Senate Majority Leader today, seemingly wants to do this so fast because Trump could lose this election. But if McConnell and the Rs can ram through another judge before Trump leaves office, they can affect laws for decades to come.

And power, after all, comes before consistency. /sarcasm (mine)

Note that it usually takes far more than forty-five days to find a qualified person (usually someone who’s already a judge, but not always), get that person through Senate confirmation (even when your party is in power, this can be an ordeal), and onto SCOTUS. But who the Hell cares about finding the right justice for SCOTUS, when it’s all about the power?

(And yes, this time, I wrote that without any sarcasm at all.)

I can tell you one thing. The people of the United States know what hypocrisy looks like. Tastes like. Smells like. And most, regardless of party, do not want to partake in hypocritical things or use hypocritical means for any reason.

Why? Because most of them have endured this in their own lives. And they know it’s wrong.

Plus, they know that in general, no one party stays in power forever. And if one party — in this case, the Rs — treats the other party (in this case, the Ds) badly, that means it’s justified — or at least justifiable — if the Ds later treat the Rs with as much vitriol and condescension as they’ve just seen themselves.

Because make no mistake about it. Justice Ginsburg died yesterday evening. And today, McConnell has already said he will get President Trump’s nominee a fair hearing. In the next forty-five days.

Yep. “Down with the sickness” is the only thing that keeps going through my head, here. Moving on…

Anyway, I do not believe in hypocrisy. And I do think it should take any party or any person more than forty-five days to put a new judge on SCOTUS as it’s a lifetime appointment.

And in the midst of all this, Justice Ginsburg’s remarkable life is being given short shrift. As is her stated final wish, as dictated by her granddaughter, which was, “Please wait to fill my seat until after the election.”

To say I find that infuriating, much less maddening, much less frustrating, much less despair and anguish-inducing, is an extreme understatement.

So, for those of you trying not to go crazy right now, I want you to think of this. The wishes of the dead usually are respected if they make sense. And in this case, they do.

I also want you to think about this: We, as people, need to stand up and say, “No more of this nonsense, please.” Because if it’s wrong for a Democratic President to fill a SCOTUS seat in an election year (nine months out), it’s just as wrong for a Republican President to fill a SCOTUS seat in an election year (forty-five days out).

And if this is allowed, don’t come back to me and say, when the next Democratic President takes office, “Oh, he shouldn’t do that! It’s hypocritical!” Because you’ll have ventured all your dignity, ethics, and morals already, and you’ll have no philosophical “leg” to stand on. At all.

The More Things Change…

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…the more they stay the same. (Yes, I’m borrowing from the famous French saying.)

It’s September. It may be 2020, but it’s still September. And September is the month I lost my beloved husband, Michael.

I’ll never forget that day. It is seared into my memory in so many ways, and has shaped who I’ve become. It is a part of me, and I am a part of it…that I tell myself, daily, that Michael would not want me to dwell on the nature of his passing matters not. Because I was there.

I wake up, even now, and reach for him. I wonder what he’d think of this, that, and the other. And I’m glad he’s not lived to see the deep, divisive partisan divide in the United States that’s gotten so bad, we can no longer agree on what the facts are if we’re in different parts of the country. Or in different political parties. (Or worst of all, both.)

Michael believed that you needed to make your argument logically. Factually. With care. With concern. And that if you couldn’t do all those things, it wasn’t much of an argument. (That he’d hold someone like that in contempt is a given.)

That the current President of the United States is a man who can’t do any of those things, or worse, doesn’t even see the point to wanting to make a logical argument about anything (why use logic, when appeals to emotion and unreason will do instead?), would vex Michael as greatly as it’s vexed me.

It’s almost as if we live in Bizarro World. Everything we thought we knew about people, that they could use reason and logic along with compassion and empathy, has turned upside-down.

(Mind, in many ways, I’ve lived in my own, personal Bizarro World since the day Michael died. But that’s just me. Now, back to the blog, already in progress…)

Instead, these days, it’s seemingly all about who can scare everyone else the most.

I don’t understand it. I will never understand it. But I will continue to work against it, for as long as I possibly can.

Michael would expect no less. (And I certainly expect no less out of myself anyway, Michael or no Michael.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 10, 2020 at 12:56 pm

What Kind of Person Do You Want to Be?

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Lately, I’ve been thinking of the above question: What kind of person do you want to be?

Do you want to be helpful? Blaze your own trail, while empathizing with those who can’t? Following your own dream in your own way, while helping others do the same? While knowing there are such things as love, freedom, spiritual sustenance, and the willingness to grow and deepen as a better person throughout?

Or do you want to be harmful? Someone who actively insults others. Someone who thinks everything and everyone is transactional, a business deal; someone who does not believe in love, or empathy, or happiness, or anything except himself/herself.

Bluntly, the choice is yours.

What kind of person do you want to be? And why?

Think about this, please. (And authors, not just for your characters’ motivation.) Because everything you are — everything — relies on your answer to this question.

And refusing to answer this question is, unfortunately, also a choice.

What do you think of this little bloglet? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 5, 2020 at 1:18 pm

Refuse to Spread Vitriol

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Folks, the last few days have sorely tested my resolve to refuse to spread vitriol.

Why? Well, we had an officer-involved shooting less than ten miles from my home; worse yet, the officer shot a man who appeared to be unarmed seven times in the back. (Yes, I live not far from Kenosha, Wisconsin. And the videos of this horrific event are prevalent, so I will not link to them.) And worst of all, three of the unarmed man’s children witnessed this.

I have no words for expressing my frustration, my outrage, and my anger over all of this. I don’t understand it. I definitely don’t like it. And I wish very much that this hadn’t happened.

The only good thing about it is that so far, the man — Jacob Blake — is still alive after surgery. I pray he will have a full recovery, and that truth and justice will prevail in this matter.

Anyway, that’s not the only thing upsetting me (though that would be more than enough in a more “normal” year). But the Curse of 2020 lives on, and thus, we have to keep on going in a time that seems incomprehensible after so many bad things have happened in a short space of time.

Those bad things include:

  1. Covid-19.
  2. Shutdowns.
  3. So many murders of Black men and women, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, for what surely appear to be no justifiable reasons at all. (Black Lives Matter. Which you’d not know after all these shootings. But I digress.)

Then you add in the governmental dishonesty, the ridiculousness you see on television or the internet, and the naked partisanship that has divided friend from friend and hurt the United States as a country and the world at large, too…and it all adds up to a big, fat, smoking mess.

That said, we have to somehow refuse to add to it. Yes, demand justice be done. That is the bare minimum we as reasonably enlightened humans should insist upon. But do it through the rule of law. Peacefully.

For that matter, I want to add the following to the above: Find out the facts. Don’t just pop off and insist you’re right, la-la-la, and hear no evidence to the contrary. Learn, grow, change, develop into a better person, and try not to be an ass.

(Really, these things should be blindingly obvious. But apparently, they are not. So I am writing this blog, again, in the hopes that someone out there will realize things have got to change — for the better — and assumptions must be challenged along the way as I’ve said many times previously on this blog. But going on…)

I’m frustrated, too, by things I’ve seen closer to home.

For example, at the senior citizen housing place my mother lives at, one of the other residents was told to give up her dog — a big, goofy-looking, sweet and loving guy named Ollie. Ollie’s about fifty-five pounds, can be a little mischievous, but loves everyone. And his “crime,” which got him banished after three years of living with his owner, was that he got out one day and ran down the hall. He didn’t bark. He didn’t jump on anyone. He didn’t bite anyone. And he came when he was called by name.

Apparently, they have a “one strike and you’re out” policy at this place. And that worries me.

You see, right now with Covid, senior citizens are being told to stay indoors. Stay away from people. Don’t go out unless it’s essential. That means the love of a pet is even that more important.

Unfortunately, that is not what the apartment complex felt.

Ollie, who is over ten years old (though he doesn’t look or act it), had to be brought by his owner to her nearest relatives in Kentucky. By all accounts, both are miserable.

This happened despite a petition with over 80 names on it (in a complex that maybe holds 200 people) saying Ollie should stay. And despite the doctor’s note for the owner saying Ollie was essential to the owner’s mental health.

Nope. The apartment complex didn’t care. So poor Ollie and his owner are now separated, for what appears to be no reason at all.

This is nonsensical, ridiculous, and hurtful in the extreme to a poor, innocent animal and his poor, innocent owner. I have no words for how angry this makes me.

Otherwise, the heat and humidity and air quality where I live have all been bad again for about a week. This has not helped my mood any, either.

As I said, all of this has tempted my resolve not to spread vitriol.

But I’m still doing my best to avoid being a jackass, and help as many people as I can. I try to listen, learn, educate myself, and do the best I can to make the world a better place.

Some days, though, it seems much harder than others.

Do not give up the fight, though. I promise, I won’t, either. (And do say a prayer or think good thoughts for Ollie and his owner, will you?)

Do the Work, Even if You’re Suffering?

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The title of today’s blog is meant somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Our contemporary society, especially in the United States, says that no matter how bad things are, you should always do your work.

This ethos means that if your area was recently hit by an inland hurricane known as a derecho, and suffered enormously, and you don’t have water, food, or shelter — well, tough noogies, because you still have to do your work.

This area, BTW, that I’m referring to is the state of Iowa. They are in dire straits, and haven’t yet been sent any federal help. People are going through tremendous hardship, and the American government doesn’t seem to care.

Obviously, my tongue-in-cheek blog title makes no sense. (And yes, I did it on purpose. Thanks for asking.) If you don’t have food, if you don’t have water, if you don’t have shelter, if you don’t have any help coming…what in the Hell are you supposed to do?

This is an extreme example, mind. But it fits the message I’m trying to convey.

We all have periods of suffering in our lives. You don’t have to take damage from an unusual event such an an inland hurricane to hurt, and to need succor. Most, if not all, of us will suffer from something in our lives, whether it’s worry, fear, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of income…you name it, we’re likely to have to endure something terrible at some point, because it’s part of being human.

You can’t do the work under such circumstances. You just can’t.

What should you do instead? It’s simple: do the best you can. Remember to go easy on yourself when you’re suffering; treat yourself the way you’d treat others, and don’t expect miracles. (Let’s hope you understand that you’re not supposed to spread vitriol when you’re hurting, or this thought won’t help you much.) And of course you should try to help others with your time, effort, and care whenever possible.

Finally, if you’re in as desperate situation as my fellow Americans in Iowa are now dealing with, raise as much (polite) Hell as you can. We pay taxes for a reason, and disaster relief is part of that reason. These people need help now. And as such, the Congress needs to reconvene in a hurry so they can get some help to these people before they starve.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 16, 2020 at 6:31 am

Sitting, Resting, Loving

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Folks, the above title is kind of odd, but I hope you will bear with me.

Over the past several months, I’ve been battling with some long-running illnesses. They don’t stop me from editing. They do get in the way of writing, whether this blog or any fiction. And I’ve been frustrated by a lot of things because of this.

I’ve had to rest a lot. And that got me to thinking. Did I want to keep living the life I’d been living, where I was lonely all the time, and just frustrated overall? Or did I want to try to see if I could find someone I liked to spend time with, online or off? (As Covid-19 is still around, and is still prevalent most especially in the U.S., online time is more important than ever. And long-distance doesn’t matter if you can’t do any short-distance dating anyway.)

Michael would never have wanted me to feel like he was the be-all, end-all, of my existence. He knew how important he was. He knew how much I loved him (and will continue to love him, come what may). But  he’d have not wanted me to be alone for sixteen long years.

That wasn’t what Michael was about.

Michael was about joy. Shared sacrifice. Enjoyment of each other’s quirks and follies. Appreciation of who we were, good and bad. And so many other things, I can’t possibly list them all.

In short, Michael cast a very, very long shadow. And for years, I didn’t think I had enough room in my heart to share it with anyone else, knowing I would love Michael until the end of time (and then some).

Then came Jeff Wilson, my very good friend. I cared about him a lot, and talked about everything with him. But he died suddenly in 2011, just three short days after he said, plaintively, “Can we please proceed to the dating phase now?”

And I was devastated.

Jeff was a good man, someone I believed Michael would’ve liked. We laughed together, sometimes cried together (or at least I cried; him being a Confucian, he’d not admit to such frailties), enjoyed each other’s online company, and I was making plans to go see him in Colorado when he suddenly died.

I miss him to this day.

Fast forward to 2015.

A few years ago, I met someone I thought might be the guy. (I have talked a little about this, elliptically, over the years.) I was wrong. He wasn’t the right guy. But he did remind me that life is short, and that feeling something good for someone else was not wrong.

It didn’t work out. But it did get me to thinking.

Now, we’re up to 2020. And throughout all this time, one man stood beside me. He was the first person I called after Jeff died. He was the first person I called when I had to go into the hospital for heart issues. (Fortunately, they weren’t serious.) He was the first person I contacted when I was ready to talk about anything, and he was always there. It might take him a day or two to figure out what he was going to say, if I contacted him by e-mail…but he always, always answered.

And he was also there when Michael died. He was worried about me, and despite disliking the phone, called quite often in 2004 and 2005. (I also called him.)

He liked Michael. Respected Michael. And understood why I felt so terribly. He didn’t want to rush me. (He certainly knew about Jeff, too.) And until the past few months, had thought I was too far away on the one hand and not attainable on the other.

But Covid-19 changed everything.

We’ve been friends for twenty years, this man and I. But it still surprised me when, about a month and a half ago now, he said to me, “Can we try a virtual date?” (That is, listen to the same music, talk online, relax, play board games, etc.) And I said, “Sure!”

Our virtual date was a rousing success, so we didn’t stop there. We’ve continued to chat. We’ve even exchanged short video messages, and are trying to figure out what comes next. Because of him, I smile a lot more. I laugh a great deal. And while I am still tired, and still recovering from whatever Ye Olde Mystery Illness is, I feel much more optimistic despite all the vagaries of the outside world, and all the political messes, too.

Because of Covid-19, I can’t go see him anytime soon. But I do plan on finding a way to do just that, now.

What I’ve learned, over time, is this: Love matters. It may take time. It may not show up the same way every time. But when someone declares himself, and you have an honest connection together, it changes your life for the better.

The main difference between the last two people is this: the gentleman from 2015/2016 was more interested in helping himself than helping me. He didn’t see me as a priority and despite knowing me for quite a number of years never tried to visit me. He never told anyone about me, and he never admitted that I was anything other than a good friend if asked. Whereas this man, my 20-year friendship-turned-romance man, is as interested in helping me as he is helping himself. He does see me as a priority. He does want to visit, but Covid-19 won’t allow it. And his health right now is such that I’d be the one who must visit him in any event, though he still would rather come to me if he had his druthers because he knows this is going to be hard on me, finding a way to go to him.

Despite how it sounds, I’m grateful, in a weird way, for the gentleman from 2015/2016. He showed me that I was wrong about whether my heart could handle yet another love-interest. And that prepared me when, all unlooked for (at least by me), my very good friend stepped up and said, “I’m here. I care. Will you try with me?”

So yes. I am going to try. And I believe Michael would be very happy that I’m willing to do just that.

 

 

Why We Need Empathy Now, or, Why You Should Never, Never Punch Down

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Folks, I have been bemused — at best — by a complete and utter lack of empathy among many folks I know. I understand that tempers are frayed; we’ve already endured one lockdown and may have to endure another; the economy sucks; Covid-19 remains rampant in the U.S.; and no matter what we do, we can’t get away from these realities.

That puts a lot of stress on us, no lie.

But getting mad at grocery store clerks for having to enforce a mask mandate is stupid. Getting mad at someone who’s drawing unemployment because the U.S. government gave people under severe distress an extra $600 a week for several months is even more stupid. (Especially if you factor in the huge waits most of these folks had to get benefits they’d paid into. Unemployment insurance is not welfare. You pay into it when you’re working so you can get some help if you lose your job through no fault of your own. Losing your job due to the pandemic certainly qualifies.)

Getting mad at others because you, yourself, are up against it and hurting is very human. Yes, it is. But we are more than our basest impulses (or at least, we should be). And there are better people to be angry at than store clerks or medical personnel (many folks who can’t or won’t wear masks are angry at them, for some weird reason, as if they wanted Covid-19 about any more than the rest of us), and there are far better people to be angry at than the unemployed.

Simply put, if you are angry, you should turn that energy into something positive.

Here’s a few things to do:

Write to your Congressional delegation. Tell them what’s on your mind. Explain what you want them to do. And if you see them doing nothing, make sure you remember that when it comes time to vote.

Write to your doctors’ offices, if you can’t wear a mask due to PTSD or anxiety; explain that you do not want to hurt them or yourself, but you can’t wear a mask. Don’t stand on this pseudo-Libertarian argument that says, “Dammit, I have rights! I don’t want to wear a mask, and you have to see me anyway!” It’s a public health emergency, so no; they don’t. But you can get some help if you admit you have PTSD, severe anxiety or are so damned depressed you can’t handle the mask if you ask for that help, nine times out of ten. (The tenth time, you should write to whoever heads up the medical practice and complain to high Heaven.) Can’t they give you anti-anxiety meds before you are seen, so you can maybe get through the appointment without screaming?

And if you need surgery, and are again someone who can’t wear a mask — not just don’t want to, but can’t (as I don’t think any of us wants to wear masks, quite frankly; I’m asthmatic and I hate the damned things, but if they even give a scrap of protection to someone else I’m going to continue to wear the damned things because I don’t believe in hurting others to save myself) — please see the above.

And for the true Libertarians out there, I want you to consider this. I agree with you that you don’t have to wear masks. But if you don’t wear them, and a store requires it — which is something stores can do — don’t get mad at the clerks. (Yes, I’ve already said this, but it bears repeating.) Those folks don’t want to have enforce the stupid mask mandate any more than you want to be complaining about it.

The real problem, again, is Covid-19.

“But Barb,” you ask. “What’s this about punching down and needing empathy?”

Empathy is required to get through these exceptionally difficult times. We need to be kinder, not worse; we need to turn the other cheek more, not less. We need to remember that we’re all human. We’re all trying our best. We all are coping the best we can without running around and screaming, and need others to be as kind and gentle to us as we are to them.

The whole thing with punching down is, if you are angry with the people on unemployment for receiving extra money that they didn’t ask for but the government gave — why in the Hell are you mad at the people getting the unemployment rather than the government who offered them extra money during this time of unprecedented, multiple crises? (Mostly, again, due to Covid-19.)

These folks are hurting through no fault of their own. (See: Covid-19. Repeat as necessary.) You should not be angry at them. (And needless to say, you are not showing any empathy, are you, if you’re getting mad at people who’ve lost their jobs due to a pandemic drawing unemployment to feed their families and pay their bills?)

Be angry at Covid-19, if you must. (Not that it’ll care; it’s a virus. But still.) Be angry at the government for not preparing better for all of this.

Hell, be angry at the young adults acting like they’re immortal and partying on the seashore without masks and certainly without any social distancing. They’re a big part of why Covid-19 just won’t die in the United States, OK?

But don’t get angry at folks who need help. Don’t get angry with the doctors, even though a lot of what they do and say is frustrating. Don’t get upset at the people just trying to do their jobs without getting sick and perhaps dying, because for some folks, Covid-19 is more deadly than others (and they still don’t know why).

Channel your anger into something productive instead. Or better yet, try to understand why others are hurting, and do something, anything, to alleviate that hurt.

We must rise to the occasion and become better people. That’s the only way we can triumph over adversity that has any meaning and worth at all.

And remember: we need empathy. We need it now. We need it worse than we’ve ever needed it before. So be empathetic, and do your damndest to help others.

In short: Stop punching down. Lift others up, instead.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 2, 2020 at 10:57 pm

The Truth and Covid-19

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Folks, lately there has been an assault on the truth the likes I’ve never seen.

First, there are the Covid-19 deniers. The folks who say there is no such thing.

Those are the worst of all. Because they are denying something because it hasn’t happened to them. (That is what narcissism is all about, to my mind, even though that is not its classical definition.) And because it hasn’t happened to them, goodness knows, it couldn’t have happened to anyone else.

Second, there are the Covid-19 minimizers. These folks say it’s not that bad. That most people will live if they get it. (True enough, though incomplete.) That the worst cases are only happening to people with pre-existing medical conditions or those of us who are overweight/obese (or, forgive me for using this offensive term, morbidly obese). And they say this with a casual disdain, as if these folks deserved to die or be severely impaired for the rest of their lives.

They aren’t much better than the first group. Not really. Because most of them haven’t had any relatives, doctors, or even casual acquaintances come down with it. And because it hasn’t happened to anyone they know, they figure it’s not really happening to anyone.

And third and somehow even more deadly group of people are those of the above two groups I’ve already mentioned who happen to be in the United States government right now. These people are making public policy, and yet they don’t have all the facts. Worse, they don’t seem to want all the facts…because that would interfere with their worldview, and goodness gracious, they can’t have that. (/sarcasm)

I am frustrated with these people. They don’t learn unless it happens to them. And sometimes, even if it does, they learn the wrong lessons.

Granted, we are all free to learn anything we want from our mistakes. But Covid-19 is so deadly to a certain percentage of the population that making too many mistakes will kill millions.

That’s a fact, too, whether anyone in those three groups I mentioned will ever admit it.

The truth about Covid-19 is that it’s awful. It has struck down people from all walks of life. It has struck down people of all ages, including the youngest (not many of them so far, but some). And some who’ve lived through it will be profoundly impaired the rest of their lives.

Now, me saying all that doesn’t mean you should panic. Because panic doesn’t get you anywhere.

What I am saying is that you should not deny reality.

Covid-19 exists. Take reasonable precautions. Do what you can to stay safe.

And if you are someone who cannot wear a mask due to any reason, be extra-cautious. Do what you can to stay in your car if you must leave your house. Let others do your grocery shopping, as much as that galls, as well as any other errands you have.

The final, vital thing I need to mention today is that you must prioritize your own life and health right now. No matter what anyone else says, you must do this.

That way, if you disagree with 100% of this blog, you can argue with me later as to how bad Covid-19 really was…rather than insist now it’s not a terrible thing, and end up finding out the hard way later that you were utterly, utterly wrong.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 29, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Come See the New Video for CHANGING FACES!

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Folks, there is now a video for CHANGING FACES!

51pgonihralIf you’ve read my blog for a while, you know what CHANGING FACES is; it’s my LGBTQ-friendly fantasy novel about two graduate students and clarinetists, Elaine and Allen. Elaine is bisexual and gender-fluid; Allen is a typical, heterosexual male. They love each other very much, but Elaine has kept from Allen her gender-fluid/transgender nature. (He does know she’s bisexual and doesn’t care.)

Now, why did she do that? It wasn’t a conscious choice, exactly…she’d been raped years ago, a gang-rape, while a foster child, and the system failed her. That she could find a way to love truly after all that was remarkable, and Allen knew that part of her. (Before you ask, Elaine uses “she/her” pronouns, that being her preference.) But she was terrified that Allen would not understand, and so kept this from him, until one night it all bubbled up.

And he was floored.

Anyway, this isn’t explaining the video, is it? (Or is it?) Because you could instead be watching it, right now, thanks to my friend and fellow author Kayelle Allen. She put a link to it on her blog, and that link is to her YouTube Channel…but really, I need to show you what she did, shouldn’t I? 😉

 

Isn’t that great?

And in case you missed it, a few years ago I wrote a blog for Kayelle called, “Writing a Bisexual Character.” It talks more about why Elaine is the way she is, and how I did my best to be authentic to her experiences throughout.

Anyway, want some links? (Sure you do. Why not? The e-book’s only ninety-nine cents, after all!)

Publisher Twilight Times Books

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3CQKWJ
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N3CQKWJ
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/changing-faces-barb-caffrey/1125707044
Link to except: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/ChangingFaces_ch1.html

Have at! (Then come back and let me know, OK? Sometimes writing seems like shouting into the void.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 21, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Changing Faces, Informational Stuff, LGBT

Tagged with ,

Heat, Humidity, and Writing

with 2 comments

Folks, I’m still alive. Covid-19 hasn’t gotten me yet, and I hope it never will.

But the heat and humidity here in Southeastern Wisconsin have been brutal for about a week. We also haven’t had the world’s best air quality. And the two things have slowed me something fierce when it comes to writing, though I have managed a little progress here and there despite it all.

I’ve found that high heat, plus humidity, seems to be more difficult to manage than the bitter cold in the winter. I don’t know exactly why this is. It’s not that I enjoy cold so much; far from it. But at least when you go indoors, you can get a respite from the cold and a hot shower will do some major good.

I don’t have air conditioning, so dealing with the heat and humidity is definitely a challenge. It does sap my strength. I am an asthmatic, as I’ve said before, and that means I have to be hyper-vigilant…or at least make my best effort at being prudent. I get annoyed at having to be so “safe,” mind you, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Staying safe is essential, of course, no matter if it’s the heat, humidity, Covid-19, the bubonic plague, or trying to stay away from murder hornets. (I think we all should be able to get behind that. Who wants to get stung by a murder hornet? I don’t even think another murder hornet would, but that’s another story…ahem.)

Still, I’ll move forward, slowly, and keep a positive thought. It beats doing anything else by a mile. And that way, I may accomplish something.

What’s going on in your life? How are you handling the heat and humidity on your end, or if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, how are you handling the winter? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 18, 2020 at 11:20 pm

Posted in in general, Writing

Tagged with , , ,