Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for June 2012

Interview with Rosemary Edghill is up at SBR

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If you are a writer, a reader, or just love great writing, you owe it to yourself to go read my interview at Shiny Book Review with Rosemary Edghill.  She gave many insights into her career, her writing, and discussed publishing at great length and depth, which I truly appreciated.  Ms. Edghill definitely knows what she’s talking about, as she’s published books in many genres, including science fiction (the acclaimed Hellflower trilogy, as eluki bes shahar), fantasy (her most recent books are DEAD RECKONING, with Mercedes Lackey, and VENGEANCE OF MASKS), mystery (her well-received Bast series, about a Wiccan detective), and romance (including Regency and time-travel specialties).  She’s also written a few X-men tie-ins in the past (as eluki bes shahar), so she knows her superheroes down cold.  And she even discussed one of my favorites of her solo novels, THE WARSLAYER, which as an old-time Baen Barfly (as opposed to merely old) was particularly delightful to discuss.

Please go to Shiny Book Review — yes, go right now! — and read my wide-ranging interview with the ever-talented Edghill, who writes so well that every single one of her books in any genre, solo or collaborative, is a must-read.  You’ll be glad you did.  (Then, go pick up her latest two books, DEAD RECKONING and VENGEANCE OF MASKS.  Hours of great reading await!)

Vinny Rottino Claimed Off Waivers by Cleveland

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Folks, remember what I said yesterday about IF-OF-C Vinny Rottino?  And, for that matter, everything I’ve said about him — his drive, his persistence, and his love for baseball?  And how frustrating it was to see that he’d been placed on waivers?

Well, after the New York Mets designated Rottino for assignment (the so-called “nice” name for being put on waivers), the Cleveland Indians picked Rottino up by claiming Rottino off waivers.  Rottino’s been added to their 40-man roster, but will most likely be sent to AAA ball rather than join the Indians.

Here’s a link to Rottino’s page at Yahoo Sports (the “news and notes” section):;_ylt=Akf2muXHFae0WkWddPyam5.FCLcF

And here’s an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Note that the comments section is particularly brutal with regards to the Rottino claim; the Indians fans are upset because year after year, their team doesn’t seem to do much of anything.  Rottino’s only hitting .182 in the big leagues (though he was hitting .307 at AAA Buffalo, when he was able to play more often), which obviously doesn’t look too impressive to those Indians’ fans.  But they don’t realize that Rottino’s main ability is that he plays many positions well and can reliably hit lefthanders (despite being a righthanded hitter).  Plus, he hustles, doesn’t make mistakes on the base paths, is a smart player . . . really, if these Indians fans just give Rottino a chance (providing the Indians bring him up to the big league club at some point), they might well learn to like him.

But is Rottino an answer to their immediate prayers?  No, he is not . . . which I suppose is why those commentators are being so vicious.  (That does not excuse them, but it does perhaps explain them.)

That being said, it’s very, very good that the Indians see Rottino’s potential (or at least see a need for him) and have claimed him off waivers.  That gives me hope — and it should give Rottino hope, too.

Good luck, Vinny, with the Indians organization.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 28, 2012 at 2:42 am

Vinny Rottino Designated for Assignment by New York Mets

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Baseball can sometimes be a cold, cruel business.  It is performance-based, and because of that, players are often kept around based off one calculation: “What have you done for me lately?”

But when you know a baseball player, or even follow his career like I do with OF-IF-C Vinny Rottino, that calculation takes a flying leap (as it should, because these players are still human beings).  I’ve written extensively about Rottino’s struggle to make the major leagues to stay, and I had truly hoped that with his second stint this year with the Mets that he’d “stick” — but they needed another pitcher, so they called up lefthander Justin Hampson from Buffalo.  Rottino was the odd man out, and ended up getting designated for assignment.

Here’s a link from Amazin’ Avenue discussing the move:

Now it’s up to the rest of major league baseball as to what they want to do, if anything, as Rottino can be claimed off waivers by any team.  If Rottino is not claimed, the Mets may send Rottino back to their AAA affiliate, Buffalo — or they may give him his outright release.

The fact that this fate can happen to anyone (including recent Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Juan Perez, who accepted another stint at AAA Nashville, and former Brewer IF-OF Brooks Conrad, who was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays) doesn’t make it sound, or feel, any better to the particular player in question.  And Rottino’s tried so hard — he’s done everything anyone’s ever asked of him, and he loves baseball so much — that this doesn’t seem fair or right.

Yet baseball is results-oriented, which is why it’s imperative for every baseball fan to realize that these player names mean something — someone’s career.  Someone’s blood, sweat and toil — someone’s persistence.

As always, I’ll keep you posted as to wherever Rottino ends up next.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

Posted in baseball, Vinny Rottino

Just Reviewed “Delirium” and “Pandemonium” at SBR

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Folks, if you love YA dystopian romances, you may well enjoy Lauren Oliver’s work.  She can tell a good story; the main problem I had with both of her novels, DELIRIUM and PANDEMONIUM (both featuring the same character and milieu), is that the back story is not well thought out.  (To be blunt, there’s no way on Earth that the nasty version of the USA Oliver’s conceived of could wipe out every religion except the state-sponsored one in less than seventy years.  It cannot be done.)  I expect more out of my YA dystopian fantasy romances than this.

That said, the romances here mostly work.  And Oliver’s storytelling ability is sound.  So you might like these books a whole lot more than I did.

Anyway, here’s the link:

Have at!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Jerry Sandusky Pedophilia Trial Ends: Guilty on 45 Counts (UPDATED)

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Folks, I’m not sure how I feel about the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Yes, it surely appears that Sandusky was and is a pedophile. Yes, the jury had to listen to extremely difficult and distressing testimony from several young men, all of whom seem to have been badly betrayed by Sandusky. And yes, it appears the jury has done its job thoroughly, convicting Sandusky on 45 of the 48 counts against him.**

However, Sandusky’s lead defense attorney, Joseph Amendola, raised serious questions during the trial.  Amendola contended that the police attempted to make more out of the young men’s stories than was actually present, which is a seriously upsetting charge if true.  Amendola wondered what the financial motivation was of all of these young men’s various lawyers — some of whom were not from the area — which seems like a valid point to make.  And finally, Amendola claimed that Sandusky was wrongly accused — this latter obviously not having been proven in a court of law — and that perhaps Sandusky, due to the high amount of negative publicity in this case, could not get a fair trial no matter what he did.

All of this disturbs me.

But what also disturbs me is the fact that one of Sandusky’s adopted children has come forward with a claim that Sandusky, 68, also abused him.  The prosecution in Sandusky’s case did not bring Sandusky’s son to the stand, perhaps because they felt they had more than enough evidence to convict Sandusky of pedophilia as it was.  (Something that assuredly proved to be the case.)  This makes me wonder if Sandusky’s adopted son had come forward much sooner if any of the other crimes Sandusky is accused of committing — that as of this hour he’s been convicted of actually doing (though my hunch is that Sandusky will appeal) — would ever have happened.

All of that said, the enormity of what Sandusky has now been convicted of doing is so disgusting that it’s hard for me to contemplate.  Due to Sandusky’s own actions — his sickening, shocking, and outright wrong actions — at least ten young men have been grievously harmed.  I feel terrible for these known victims of Sandusky’s sexual abuse and wish they’d never have had to endure any of it.

I also feel terrible for Sandusky’s son.  If he, too, was abused by Sandusky and nothing was done about it, that’s so wrong that it makes my blood boil.

But I also feel terrible, oddly enough, for Sandusky himself, because usually, pedophiles aren’t born.  They are made, often due to the same sexual abuse they later perpetrate against others.

This, of course, does not excuse Sandusky.  He had the option to go for psychological help at any time.  He also could’ve turned himself in to the police if he couldn’t control himself.  And goodness knows, with this sort of problem he never, ever should’ve been around children.

That said, in this scenario, there are no winners.  In addition to the ten known victims, Penn State has lost.  Joe Paterno died in disgrace, something he may well have not deserved as it surely appears he tried hard to get Sandusky off his coaching staff once he realized what was going on.  Sandusky’s wife Dottie, who appeared clueless throughout most of the trial, has surely lost greatly, though it’s puzzling to understand why she didn’t seem to see any problems with regards to her husband.  Sandusky’s children have lost.  And Sandusky himself has also lost.

I wish I had something more profound to say, but words escape me at a time like this. 

I suppose the best lessons of the Jerry Sandusky trial should be these: if someone is sexually abusing you, no matter what his rank and wealth may be, please do your best to get help for yourself.  Then report him (or her) to the authorities after you’ve gotten help.  (And do keep a copy of THE COURAGE TO HEAL workbook nearby.  Read it often.  Learn that it’s not your fault that this happened.  And keep repeating it to yourself, over and over, as it may well help and certainly can’t hurt.)


**Edited to add — please see Dan Wetzel’s story at Yahoo Sports for further details, including how the local people reacted to the verdict, what the courtroom was like as the verdicts were handed down, and how Mrs. Sandusky handled it all.

The fact of the matter is, as Wetzel rightly points out, Sandusky’s victims were heroes for coming forward.  It’s tough to “out” yourself as a victim of sexual abuse, particularly if you’re a young man who’s been abused by an older man in a position of trust.  It’s a good thing these young men stayed the course, even though it seemed to me from the testimony that some of the victims seemed far more credible than others (as defense attorney Amendola said). 

I hope that if I’d have been outside that courtroom, I’d not have cheered for Sandusky going to jail for the rest of his life.  Instead, I hope I’d have prayed for him — unrepentant sinner though he is — because as I said before, pedophiles are usually not born.  They are made.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 22, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Hot Weather Makes Writing More Difficult . . .

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. . . and other truisms.

No, I’m not just being facetious.  (Though you can take it that way if you really want to, as I obviously can’t stop you.)  The hot weather aggravates my asthma; worse yet, the hot, humid weather we’ve been facing in Southeastern Wisconsin over the past several days tends to make my asthma act up worse than just about anything else.

And if you can’t breathe overly well, you can’t concentrate well enough to write anything.  (Not blog posts.  Not poetry.  Certainly not fictional stories, which take more effort and thought.)

That said, the weather should cool off soon.  (I’m praying for this.)  Which will allow me to do more than take my inhaler, lay down where the fans are (as no air conditioner can possibly keep up, having to be used every hour of every day for several days in a row), and try to pretend that I feel up to doing anything at all.

So if you’re looking for witty observations about life, the universe, and everything, forget that — at least for a few days.  But I’ll try to post about things that interest me (such as Ken Kratz’s hearing, today’s “other” blog post) while doing my best to draw a bit more air into my overtired lungs.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Former Calumet County DA Ken Kratz Pleads No Contest, Says He’s a Sex Addict

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For the past three years, I’d believed that the former District Attorney of Calumet County, Ken Kratz, wasn’t going to be charged with anything, even though he’d sent racy text messages to a victim of domestic violence.  After all, the Wisconsin Department of Justice failed to file charges, one of the most disgraceful non-actions I’ve seen out of the DoJ.  After that, Kratz opened up a small law practice in Kimberly, Wisconsin.

Yet late in 2011, the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed an eleven-count complaint against Kratz, seeking a six-month suspension.  That prompted a hearing today that was held in Appleton; Kratz was asked to answer to six counts of professional misconduct due to the scandal over his “sexting” incident (which I wrote about here and here).  Kratz officially pleaded no contest to all six counts.

Please see the following story for details:

And here’s a few words from today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article:

Kratz, 51, began the morning by pleading no contest to six counts of professional misconduct related to texts and comments he made to women in 2009. The incident came to light in the fall of 2010 when The Associated Press re ported Kratz had tried to start a sexual relationship with a 25-year-old woman, the victim in a domestic violence case he was prosecuting.

The case quickly earned national attention, in part because Kratz, the elected district attorney of Calumet County, was also the chairman of the state’s crime victims’ rights board and had played a key role in passage of the state’s victims’ rights law. He also had earned statewide attention for prosecuting Steven Avery in 2007 for the sexual assault and murder of a photographer.

An aside — the Steven Avery case was very big news here, one of the biggest and nastiest cases Wisconsin has seen in the past twenty-five years or more.  The fact that Kratz was the prosecuting attorney speaks to the fact that Kratz was professionally able; that Kratz also was the head of the Wisconsin victims’ rights board also speaks to his ability.

Yet Kratz was a sex addict, something he now knows and isn’t afraid to tell anyone; this, apparently, is the reason he sent those nasty texts to Stephanie Van Groll (then only twenty-five, or about half of Kratz’s age).

Honestly, I don’t know what to say about Kratz’s sex addiction, except that it’s good he’s getting treatment (Kratz said elsewhere in the Journal-Sentinel article that he goes four times weekly to a twelve-step program for people dealing with “compulsive sexuality issues”).  But it still bothers me that a respected DA with so much ability would do any of this, and at least a small part of me cheered the following remarks by a well-known women’s advocate:

Patti Seger, executive director the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Tuesday’s hearing was “a long time coming,” and that it appeared for months as if he would not be held professionally accountable.

“Kratz was sworn to protect the vulnerable,” Seger said in a prepared statement. “Instead, he caused victims in Calumet County and beyond to question their faith in the justice system.”

Absolutely right.

Anyway, I don’t wish to kick anyone, not even Ken Kratz (someone I’ve previously called one of the “world’s worst people”), when he’s down.  So at this point, I’ll just wish the former DA good luck with his treatment for sex addiction — and I’ll also hope that with time, luck, patience, and good health treatment that Kratz will once again be able to use his formidable ability with the law for good.  (Rather than for his own, personal gratification, which is what got him into this mess in the first place.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm