Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Welcome to the Elfyverse…

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

Why two names? Well, I figured it would be easier for people to find me if they used my name. But I’ve been writing about Elfys, Elfs, Dwarves, and more for the past 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 nearly four 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 at all that I feel like talking about.

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

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

And remember . . . support a real writer.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 9, 2014 at 5:21 am

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

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It’s been a long time in coming, but my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (now with a subtitle of “Book One of the ELFY duology”) is now available at 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

Memorial Day for Sale: NFL Teams Take Money to ‘Honor’ the Military

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Is Memorial Day truly for sale?

It sure seems that way, after finding out that 14 NFL teams have actually taken money to “honor” military veterans — including my own favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.

I found out about this last Friday (May 22, 2015) by watching Keith Olbermann’s ESPN2 show. As quoted from the website PoliticsUSA.com:

In a lengthy monologue on Friday’s broadcast of ESPN2′s Olbermann, host Keith Olbermann took NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to school over the recent revelation that the National Football League has taken millions of dollars from the US military to promote the armed forces of this country. Over the past few years, it has been estimated that the NFL has received $5.4 million since 2011 to ‘honor’ members of the military at games and other events. As Olbermann pointed out, the main issue isn’t that the league took money, but that it pretended that it was honoring the soldiers out of true patriotism rather than love of money.

This disturbs me for more than one reason.

First, veterans of the armed forces deserve to be treated well without teams being paid to do so.

Second, that teams have been pretending they’re doing this out of the goodness of their nonexistent hearts rather than some sort of business-oriented motivation is incredibly hypocritical.

It is especially upsetting because fans are expected to be both patriotic and uncritical of the teams they follow. So when we see teams giving what surely look to be deserving shout-outs to serving military members (or honorable veterans), we think it’s genuine.

We don’t expect these “Hometown Heroes” shout-outs to be merely a matter of public relations.

But they are. And that’s wrong.

Olbermann isn’t the only high-profile person angered by this behavior. Arizona’s two United States Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are also appalled. In an article from the Washington Post, McCain was quoted as saying:

“I think it’s really disgraceful that NFL teams whose profits are at an all-time high had to be paid to honor our veterans,” he said Tuesday (via ESPN)..

Agreed. (To the Nth power.)

Taking money in order to salute these real hometown heroes is wrong. Just ask U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, as quoted in the Washington Post article:

“You go to a game and you see a team honoring ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and you think it’s some sort of public service announcement, that the team is doing it out of the goodness of their heart,” Flake told ESPN on Monday. “Then you find out it’s paid for? That seems a little unseemly.”

This, right here, encapsulates why I’m so steamed.

Look. According to Olbermann (see his YouTube rant here), the Green Bay Packers took $600,000 from the Department of Defense for this practice.

But even if the Packers hadn’t taken any money, I’d still be upset.

As a fan, I’ve always seen military members get shout-outs. They are feted, get tickets to games, often are highlighted on the scoreboard, and the impression is that the teams are doing this because it’s the right thing to do.

Sure, it’s all public relations. We know this, deep down inside.

But we don’t expect that teams would actually be crass enough to require payment.

That these 14 NFL teams have done so is truly shameful. A recent editorial at Jacksonville.com said:

…the Department of Defense and 14 NFL teams deserve boos over revelations that the federal agency paid the clubs $5.4 million over a three-year period to feature military members during games. According to the Defense Department and the 14 teams, the payments were merely part of mutually agreed “sponsorship deals” designed to promote the military in a flattering, high-profile manner. But in truth, the deals were simply “crass” and “disgraceful,” as Sen. John McCain — a military hero who bravely survived captivity during the Vietnam War — so aptly put it.

(Preach it, brothers and sisters.)

Why the Packers ever thought it a good idea to take money to salute the military makes no sense.

NFL teams make money hand-over-fist. They do not need to take money from the Department of Defense or anyone else to salute the hard-working men and women who comprise the United States military.

That they did was absolutely reprehensible.

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P.S. Because it’s come out that 14 NFL teams have taken money to salute soldiers, it makes me wonder…are teams in Major League Baseball also taking money for this practice?

Have the Milwaukee Brewers actually taken money over the years to salute these “Hometown Heroes” in order to put them on the big scoreboard in centerfield?

I sincerely hope the Brewers haven’t.

Milwaukee Brewers Chatter: Will Smith Gets an 8-Game Suspension

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Folks, I’ve been head-down in my final edit for A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, so I am a bit behind-hand in discussing what’s going on with the Milwaukee Brewers lately.

Let’s rectify that.

A few days ago (on Thursday, May 21, 2015), Brewers reliever Will Smith came into a game against the Atlanta Braves and had something shiny on his forearm. This substance was something to help him better grip the ball on a cold and somewhat windy day, and many pitchers use it for exactly that. But they don’t put it openly on their arm; they attempt to conceal it.

Smith, because he did not conceal this substance, got thrown out of the baseball game after Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez complained. And Smith was irate.

After the game, Smith answered some questions from reporters (this was shown on Fox Sports Wisconsin’s postgame show). Smith said he’d put that substance (identified as a mix of sunscreen and rosin) on his arm in the bullpen to help with his grip. He said he wanted to wipe it off, but forgot…and then he got thrown out. Smith pointed out that many pitchers do this, and they do not get thrown out.

On Friday, Smith was suspended by Major League Baseball for eight games for using this illegal substance.

Of course Smith is appealing the suspension, because both Smith and the Brewers management think that eight games is too long, considering the cold weather and the fact that Smith is a relief pitcher. (Why does the last part matter? Well, a starter who’s suspended for 10 games misses two starts. But a reliever who misses eight games misses eight potential opportunities to pitch.)

Smith is allowed to keep pitching until his appeal is heard (probably sometime early next week).

What do I think of all this as a Brewers fan? I think Smith was at best absentminded, at worst incredibly foolish, to have that substance openly on his arm. But I don’t blame him for wanting to get a better grip on the ball considering the conditions, especially as the Brewers have had several players hit in the head this year — most notably Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura.

(Of course, Smith hit a batter anyway. So I don’t know what good that substance actually did him. But I digress.)

Ultimately, I think the suspension is likely to be reduced on appeal. It’s possible MLB could reduce it by a couple of games, maybe even three…which will leave Smith with a five- or six-game suspension rather than the current length of eight games.

Let’s hope that Smith can use his impending time off wisely. (Maybe he’ll study up on just how to properly conceal the same substance so he’ll not get thrown out of the game next time. Or am I being too cynical?)

A Monday Editing Blog (AKA, “What’s the Deal with the Second Half of ELFY, Barb?”)

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Folks, it’s been an interesting week around Chez Caffrey.

As most of you know, I’ve been struggling with my final edit for the second half of the ELFY duology, now titled A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE. (I like this title.) I haven’t discussed why I’ve been struggling so much, but there have been three things getting in my way.

Today seems like the time to discuss these things.

First, I’ve been doing a good amount of occupational therapy for my hands. They haven’t been good since I suffered a bad burn in February; that burn, which was to the left forefinger and left middle finger, set off a bad carpal tunnel flare-up. I went to the doctor, got treatment, and started doing exercises.

After almost two months of exercises, I’m now back to the point where I can type a good four or five hours every night. I still must needs take breaks, and of course I have to keep doing my exercises as well. But things have improved.

The second reason why I have been having trouble is because I wrote the book twelve-plus years ago. Times have changed. Some specific references needed to be updated. And because the book was split, I had to try to make the book appear like it could stand alone…though no matter what I do, it’s going to lean heavily on the first half of the book (AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE), as that’s by design.

(Clear as mud, right?)

My third reason for needing to take time with this? Well, you have to be in the right frame of mind to see what is actually in your own manuscript rather than what you think is there. This is the main reason most authors do not edit themselves; granted, I had an editor do the first pass for me, and I’m following what she said when I agree with it. But the editor didn’t read the first half of the novel, and that means some of what she said has to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

Now, I’m very fortunate in that I have two great mentors in my corner this time around: Stephanie Osborn and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. They both have looked at my revised first chapter and have given me excellent advice. They also have been a strong sounding board, and have listened as I’ve wrestled with this final edit for the past several months.

What I try to do with the Elfyverse is to be consistent. I want to tell the best story I can. I’ve improved my actual writing mechanics a great deal since I originally wrote ELFY in 2002-3, and I want to reflect that…but I don’t want to take all the life out of the story, either.

It’s because I had this twelve-year break in the action that I can edit for myself at all.

And make no mistake about it: This is a full-on edit. It is not editorial changes, which is a much different animal. This is my own take on my own work, yes, but it’s also my older and wiser self editing my younger and more exuberant self, while trying to keep track of all the details — you may feel free to read “keep all the balls in the air” if you wish — at the same time.

So to answer the question I posed in my title…the deal with the second half of ELFY is that I’m working hard on it, and I hope to have it in to my long-suffering publisher very soon.

At that point, I’ll find out what the revised timetable is for publication, and I’ll be glad to trumpet that all over the Internet.

But until then, wish me well as I continue to recover from the worst carpal tunnel flare-up I’ve had in years. As I definitely need all the well-wishing I can get.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 18, 2015 at 7:31 pm

Wendy Van Camp Interviewed Me, and It’s Up at Suvudu…

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Folks, Wendy Van Camp interviewed me a few months ago, and that interview is now up over at Suvudu.com.

(Ignore the misspelling of my last name. It happens.)

I enjoy doing interviews, and try to bring at least something new to the table with each one.

Did I do that this time? Well, that’s up to you to tell me. But I hope you’ll find something interesting here that may whet your interest as I continue my long, hard slog through the final edit of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE (also known as the second half of the ELFY duology).

Here’s a bit from Wendy’s interview of me:

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I’m not sure if I’m a messaging sort of writer. I think mostly I want people to believe in themselves and keep trying, even if all seems lost — that’s my own, personal message, and of course that’s reflected in Bruno’s storyline. But I also think if there is another message in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, it’s that the people you meet can be every bit as important as your family — perhaps even more important, as they understand you better and want to be around you because they like you for yourself.

Anyway, please go read the interview, and see what you think! (Then do come back and let me know. I need some encouragement; my final edit has run long, partly because of my ongoing hand issues…and partly because my backbrain is refusing to tell me something vital.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 15, 2015 at 3:30 am

Whither Writing, or, How to Stop Getting in Your Own Way

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Folks, I keep meaning to write this little bloglet about writing, and time keeps slipping away.

Why? Well, I’m still ensconced in my final edit of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE. Were my hands a bit better — I’ve been dealing with a flare-up of my carpal tunnel syndrome for the past few months — it would’ve been done by now.

So I thought to myself today, “Why am I judging myself by other people’s standards?”

Writing is an individual pursuit. Anyone who writes knows this. We all have different styles of writing, different ways of writing, and different habits away from writing, all of which adds up to one thing: we are individuals, doing individual pursuits.

Before you say it…I know this is obvious. But sometimes, you must point out the obvious.

Especially when you tend to forget about it, as most of us do.

So here’s my thought: We are all individuals, right? So why do we try to judge our writing progress by anyone else’s standards?

I know, I know. There are some standards that seem irrefutable.

But if I try, say, to judge what I’m doing by what my friends are doing, I’m going to lose.

Then again, if they judge themselves by what I’m doing, they might lose, too. Especially as I don’t know what their standards are; only they do.

Look, folks. You have to judge yourself solely by what you do. And you have to allow yourself to be yourself: an individual voice doing individual things in an individual way.

That’s how you stop getting in your own way, as a writer or in life.

Think about it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 9, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Alex Rodriguez Hits HR 661, Passes Willie Mays on All-Time List

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Folks, Alex Rodriguez has returned to his hitting ways with a vengeance.

After sitting out all of the 2014 season with an unprecedented 162-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez has come back to the New York Yankees revitalized. And it’s allowed him to first hit his 660th home run — tying Willie Mays on the all-time HR list — then his 661st last night.

Apparently, being away from baseball and able to heal completely from a number of nagging injuries has allowed Rodriguez (also known as A-Rod) to partially sip from the fountain of youth. And that’s why he’s hitting so much better than he has in years.

OK, OK. I’m being a bit fanciful. (Then again, I am a science fiction and fantasy writer by trade. Can you blame me?)

Truthfully, I don’t know why A-Rod is hitting so much better than he has in years. I do suspect that having to take time off and fully heal up has helped him. He’s also known as a “workout warrior,” much like Kobe Bryant — or before him, Nolan Ryan; sometimes being in such excellent physical condition allows a premiere athlete like A-Rod additional time in the sun.

(Doesn’t that explain such feats as Julio Franco’s extraordinary longevity in baseball? But I digress.)

Rodriguez has also been much different with regards to how he behaves in front of the media and how he behaves with the fans. A-Rod seems to have learned some humility in his year away from baseball, too. (Or perhaps a brilliant public relations person has whispered into his ear, and the message stuck.)

Now, all of a sudden, A-Rod seems to understand that being a baseball player is a privilege. Not a right.

Or at least that while he has enormous gifts for baseball (which should be celebrated), that doesn’t make him the best thing since sliced bread.

Look. I am on record as saying I don’t care about PEDs that much. I don’t think PEDs help you hit a baseball; I don’t think they make you that much better of a fielder; the only thing PEDs are proven to affect, as far as I can tell, are the skinny pitchers who can’t gain weight. (On PEDs, that scrawny guy can gain weight, which will allow him to have a higher MPH fastball, which might get him entrance to the majors. Maybe even keep him there.)

I’ve seen that with the Milwaukee Brewers, my own team, mind. Derrick Turnbow was an excellent closer for the Brewers, for a while. But he apparently was one of the Brewers “outed” by the Mitchell Report…when he had to start passing drug tests, all of a sudden he lost his effectiveness. Then he was out of baseball not too long after that.

I still don’t know for certain if Turnbow actually gained that much with PEDs. But I do know that for an elite athlete, confidence is everything. If he thinks that he’s taking something that’ll help, it will help…psychologically, anyway.

Whether it actually does anything physiologically is another story entirely.

And closers are particularly friable. They lose their confidence for whatever reason, and they aren’t able to regain it sometimes. It may be years, or never, before they regain their top form.

Baseball is funny that way.

At any rate, premiere hitters like Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds do not need PEDs to hit homers. They might need PEDs to stay on the field a few years longer, to somehow help with their physical conditioning.

But they were HR hitters before they took PEDs (if Bonds actually took anything; nothing was ever proven). That doesn’t change after you stop taking PEDs, as A-Rod is showing right now.

All I can say to Rodriguez is this: Good for you, Alex.

I’m glad you came back to the Yankees, and I’m glad you’re hitting homers again. You make baseball a more exciting game to watch.

Thank you for understanding that, and for being willing to work so hard to regain your top hitting form without the use of PEDs.

Deborah J. Ross Interviewed Me About My Story in “Gifts of Darkover”…and It’s Up!

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Folks, I’m absolutely ecstatic that author and editor Deborah J. Ross interviewed me regarding my story, “A Problem of Punishment,” which is included in GIFTS OF DARKOVER. This is my second-ever story in the Darkover universe, and I was very happy to talk about it with Ms. Ross.

Note that my first was in STARS OF DARKOVER, and explains just how and why the first-ever Renunciate judge, Fiona n’ha Gorsali (introduced as a very minor player in THE SHATTERED CHAIN by Darkover series originator Marion Zimmer Bradley), was appointed to the powerful Courts of Arbitration in the first place.

Here’s a bit from my interview with Ms. Ross about my second story:

What inspired my story in Gifts Of Darkover was this: how did Fiona’s parents meet? What was her father Dominic, who I already knew had been a judge before her, really like? And what had made Gorsali fall in love with him, and he with her? A romantic story of a smart man and an accomplished woman against the background of the Hellers appealed to me, especially since they fell in love prior to the Terranan returning to Darkover and didn’t have many role models that would’ve helped them out.

I think you’ll enjoy “A Problem of Punishment” in GIFTS OF DARKOVER. It’s a romantic adventure about a Darkovan judge and the Renunciate he must help rescue. I wrote it because they’re the parents of Fiona n’ha Gorsali, and I wanted to know how they’d fallen in love and created her.

Note that I’m not yet done with Fiona’s life and career. I hope to write another story about her soon, this one about her childhood — because her father, the judge, is why she became a judge…there’s a story there, and I want to tell it!

GIFTS OF DARKOVER is out today…tell your friends, and enjoy the book!

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 5, 2015 at 6:33 am

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