Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for August 2012

Finished Short Story and Sent it off to UFO Anthology

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Folks, the “UFO Anthology” referenced above is actually UNIDENTIFIED FUNNY OBJECTS — an anthology that accepts either science fiction or fantasy short stories, providing they are funny.  I sent in a funny urban fantasy story that’s about baseball; I don’t know what they’ll think about it, but I do know that it at least has the virtue of being original.  (Not many urban fantasies written about baseball these days, for reasons that elude me.)

Now, this was more difficult than I’d expected, considering that my main claim to fame (such as it is) is due to being a funny fantasist.  (ELFY, if you can say nothing else about it, is funny.  It’s meant to be.  I did that on purpose, even.)

Why was this, you ask?  (Maybe you didn’t ask.  But I’ll answer anyway.)  Simple — I came down with a sinus infection several weeks ago.  I was finally diagnosed last week, and got some antibiotics; only after taking antibiotics for several days was I able to finish up my latest urban fantasy story.

The good news is that I was able to complete my story on time; the bad news, as always, is that I wasn’t invited to submit to this anthology.  (I don’t have anywhere near the name recognition for that, nor the story sales to back me up, nor anything except sheer cussedness and a dab hand for urban fantasy to recommend me.)  And thus far, over 700 people in addition to those invited into the anthology have submitted stories; only a handful of stories have been accepted, at most, with another handful being debated among the editors for possible inclusion.

** Edited to add:  The official stats, from Alex S.’s blog post of 8/22/12, are these:  745 stories had been read.  18 stories were accepted totaling 55,600 words in length; 19 stories were held in round 3 (meaning they’re still being debated among the editors), totaling 35,000 words.  Now back to our regularly scheduled post.

How do I know this, you ask?  Well, Alex Shvartsman, through his blog, has given excellent updates throughout the process as to what he’s taking, why he’s taking it, and what he really doesn’t want to see any more of if he can help it.  (Fortunately for me, baseball stories were not among his “thou-shalt-nots.)

If you’re like me, though, and finished your story up the day before the anthology closed, then sent it in before the anthology was officially declared closed (as it says quite clearly that the “anthology window” is between July 1 and August 31, 2012), you can still get your story in if you hustle.  Go to the link provided above (click on UNIDENTIFIED FUNNY OBJECTS), follow the directions, and submit your story.

Otherwise, wish my little baseball-oriented urban fantasy well, will you?

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 31, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Twilight Times Books Welcomes Me, “Elfy” with Press Release

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Well, now it’s official — the contracts have been signed and are in hand.  Which is why I can now announce where my novel, ELFY, has been placed — at Twilight Times Books, a reputable small press located in Tennessee.  The tentative date of publication in e-book format is October of 2013.

Here’s a link to the welcoming announcement:

And here it is, in its entirety:

Barb Caffrey has placed her urban fantasy, Elfy, with Twilight Times Books. Barb is a writer, editor, musician, and composer. She holds two degrees and is an inveterate and omnivorous reader. Elfy: Bruno (né Jon) arrives in California from a parallel universe and is immediately confronted with problems galore. How can he rescue his mentor? What is a Dark Elf doing on Earth? Why is his new friend’s house haunted? Ultimately, Bruno learns that no matter how screwed up things are, life and love are worth fighting for, while becoming yourself is the most powerful gift of all.

And here’s a link to my author bio as it stands right now:

May the happy dance commence!

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Just Reviewed Dave Freer’s “Dog and Dragon” at SBR

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Folks, if you enjoy Dave Freer’s lighter efforts, you will enjoy DOG AND DRAGON, which I just reviewed at Shiny Book Review (SBR)  It’s a fine and funny sequel to DRAGON’S RING that’s charming in its way but isn’t up to the standard of DRAGON’S RING, mostly because one of the characters seems to have things happen way too easily for her — and partly because most sequels have difficulty living up to the previous book in the same universe/multiverse.

The main reason to read DOG AND DRAGON, though, is the humor.  Fionn the black, shapechanging dragon, and Dileas, a sheepdog, have some rather interesting adventures that amused me and kept me laughing at the oddest of moments.  (Mind, that’s just not possible for Meb, the other main character; she’s doing her best to save the benighted land of Lyonesse, and that’s just not something with much humorous potential.)

That’s why I say if you like Freer’s lighter books, you’ll really enjoy this.  But if you’re expecting a weightier read similar to this book’s prequel, DRAGON’S RING, you may end up feeling like me — glad you read the book, yes.  But a bit disappointed that DOG AND DRAGON, fine and funny though it is, wasn’t up to the previous book’s standard.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 29, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Milwaukee Brewers Place Shaun Marcum on Waivers

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Folks, I really don’t understand the Milwaukee Brewers front office moves these days.  Case in point, today’s move — placing right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.19 ERA) on waivers.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s story by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

The Milwaukee Brewers placed right-hander Shaun Marcum on trade waivers Tuesday, thinking strategically as the deadline for setting postseason rosters looms at midnight Friday ET.

Skipping down a few paragraphs, Rosenthal says:

If Marcum is claimed, the Brewers will have nearly 36 hours to negotiate a trade with the claiming team. If he clears, they will have the same amount of time to discuss Marcum with multiple clubs, possibly enabling them to get a stronger return.

Now, as to why I think this move is inexplicable?  Marcum is only thirty years old — thirty.   Up until the  2011 postseason, Marcum pitched very well for the Brewers (13-7, 3.54 ERA).  A strong case could be made that without Marcum, the Brewers wouldn’t have made the postseason at all, as Marcum was one of the cornerstones of the vaunted Brewers pitching staff.

So here’s a proven veteran who isn’t considered “too old” by most baseball people, who likely will snap back next year after significant arm problems in 2012 — and who pitched quite credibly a few days ago on August 26, when he gave up zero earned runs in a 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh.  (In fact, the Boston Herald called Marcum’s return “solid” in their story.)

And the Brewers waive him?  Why?**

Apparently it’s because the Brewers front office has decided not to offer Marcum a contract for next year, and rather than keep Marcum around, they’d rather he catch on elsewhere so maybe the Brewers won’t have to pay him so much.

Typical Brewers penny-pinching nonsense, which I thought owner Mark Attanasio was going to do away with . . . yet he hasn’t.  (Strange, that.)

This is the second move in the past week that I haven’t totally understood (after the release of left-hander Randy Wolf).  And because it’s being bruited about that the Brewers front office is being “smart” about waiving (and/or releasing) pitchers that obviously aren’t in their plans, I figured I’d mention the human side — which really does matter, even in major league baseball.

To wit: after seeing the Brewers front office cold-heartedly cut Wolf on his thirty-sixth birthday, then waive Marcum a few short days after Marcum did all he could to help the Brewers win a ballgame (not Marcum’s fault he got an undeserved loss there, as he pitched well but the Brewers defense let him down), why would any pitcher want to sign here?  For any money?

Look.  The Brewers have a “player’s manager,” Ron Roenicke; I have my differences with him, but one thing I will say for him is that he treats people with respect.  And that’s a good thing.

But the Brewers do not have a “player’s front office.”  And everyone in the league knows it.

As I’ve been saying all season long, if I’d have been Randy Wolf — who pitched far better than his record or ERA shows (Wolf was ahead in eight games when he left, then the Brewers bullpen blew the win, or he’d be 11-10 right now) — I’d never have come back here.  And if I were Shaun Marcum, even before this nonsense, I’d not want to come back here, either, for the same reasons (Marcum, like every pitcher on the staff, has been victimized either by poor defense or blown saves from the bullpen).

Now, the Brewers front office has given every pitcher in the league yet another reason to think twice.  And even for a league that’s far more concerned with performance on the field than they are with high character, highly-motivated people, the Brewers front office has shown itself to have very little class, and even less respect for starting pitchers, than most of the rest of the league.

And while it’s understandable that on-the-field performance would be the determining factor, some things need to be taken into account (such as the Brewers often-poor defense and the real problems in the bullpen this year, that I and every other commentator in “Brewers Nation” have noted).  These things were not taken into account in Wolf’s case, and they certainly haven’t been taken into account in Marcum’s, either.

So my point remains: if you were a free agent starting pitcher, why on Earth would you want to come to Milwaukee?  Because sooner or later, the Brewers front office will treat you this way, too — and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no amount of money that will make up for bad treatment.


** Unless Marcum wants to be waived, this move is inexplicable.  My assessment of the cold-bloodedness of the front office staff with regards to these two moves stands.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Changes Coming to the Elfyverse

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Folks, changes are coming to the Elfyverse.  The first is a very positive one: I now have a publisher for my novel, Elfy.  However, as the publisher has not yet made this information public, I am going to hold off on announcing exactly where Elfy is going, for now . . . I promise that as soon as I am able to discuss where Elfy has been placed, I will do so. 

Second, as long-time readers of this blog will undoubtedly note, I’ve taken down my links to e-Quill Publishing.  There’s a reason for that; as of yesterday, I asked that my stories — and my late husband Michael’s stories, also — be removed from e-Quill Publishing’s offerings.  I did this not from any feelings of ill will toward e-Quill Publishing or its publisher, Lawrence T., but because I now have a publisher for Elfy.  The new publisher is willing to look at my late husband’s writing, and if this publisher indeed is interested in the two “Maverick” novellas (set in Michael’s Atlantean Union universe) or the three “Columba” stories (romantic fantasies, which I hope to show the new publisher down the line, too), it would be a big step up for me to place them with the new publisher.

That’s why, for the moment, I don’t have a Gravatar listing here at my blog, and it’s also why I no longer have stories offered at e-Quill Publishing.

Lawrence T. and I remain on good terms, which I think is a very good thing; he’s the first person in a long time who enjoyed my writing, and Michael’s writing, and wanted to showcase it at his small publishing company in Australia.  Lawrence T., being a classy gentleman of the old school, wished me well in my new publishing endeavors, too — and told me that if the new publisher wasn’t interested in Michael’s work, or in anything else of mine save Elfy, he’d be glad to publish my work (and Michael’s work, too) any time, any place, anywhere.

At any rate, the projected publication date for Elfy is late in 2013 — that much I can share with you, thus far — and aside from that, I continue to work on An Elfy Abroad (the sequel to Elfy) and Keisha’s Vow (the prequel to Elfy, set in 1954) along with my non-Elfyverse urban fantasy/spiritual transgendered romance, Changing Faces.

Everything else remains on course, which just goes to show you that regardless of how it may seem sometimes, persistence does pay off.  (And maybe the good woman wins in the end, too.  Here’s hoping.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 26, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Posted in Elfy, Elfyverse, Persistence, Publishing, Writing

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Neil Armstrong Dies at 82

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Tonight, raise your glass to commemorate the life of Neil Armstrong, a remarkable man who made history, yet remained humble afterward.  He died today at 82.

Now, most of us know that Armstrong was one of the United States of America’s first astronauts and the first man on the moon.  But did you know that Armstrong was also an engineer, a businessman, a farmer, and the role Armstrong seems to have relished the most, that of a  “quiet old retired guy?”  (I hadn’t, and didn’t, before I read so much today about Armstrong’s life after the moon landing.)

Please see this link for more information about Armstrong’s remarkable life and career; a brief excerpt follows:

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century’s scientific expeditions. His first words after setting foot on the surface are etched in history books and the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.

“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said.

In those first few moments on the moon, during the climax of heated space race with the then-Soviet Union, Armstrong stopped in what he called “a tender moment” and left a patch commemorate NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action.

“It was special and memorable but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do,” Armstrong told an Australian television interviewer this year.

Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the lunar surface, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.

“The sights were simply magnificent, beyond any visual experience that I had ever been exposed to,” Armstrong once said.

The rest of the Yahoo article points out the historical significance of Armstrong’s moonwalk, puts Armstrong’s life in context, and discusses Armstrong’s private life (which was very, very private indeed).

Armstrong leaves behind his wife of thirteen years, Carol, and two grown sons from a previous marriage — and, of course, the many people around the world who remember his remarkable achievements, and will forever more.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Lance Armstrong: Victim of Anti-doping Turf War?

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Folks, I’m unhappy that seven-time Tour de France winner and noted cyclist Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his titles by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA for short).  There are many stories about this right now; here’s one about a federal judge tossing Lance Armstrong’s suit against the USADA, and here’s another regarding what the USADA did after the lawsuit was tossed.

In addition, the USADA has banned Armstrong, who is a retired American cyclist, for life from all cycling events under its jurisdiction.

However, there’s a bit of a turf war going on.  The International Cycling Union says that it’s the organization that has jurisdiction, not the USADA.  And the ICU wants to know why, exactly, Armstrong should give up his seven Tour de France titles; apparently the USADA has not made its case to them.

My take on this is simple: Armstrong may well have used blood transfusions, but he was and is a cancer survivor.  This may have been a part of his treatment; if so, the USADA should’ve left this alone.  As for the whole notion of Armstrong using EPO, a banned substance, I think it’s been sixteen years since Armstrong first won a title.  He’s a retired competitor.  The USADA should’ve left this alone, too.

See, right now, sports seems to want to tear down its heroes.  Whether it’s Ryan Braun in baseball or Lance Armstrong in cycling, the various anti-doping agencies seem to be on a crusade.  This isn’t necessary.  Worse yet, it causes immense damage that is incredibly hard to fight, even if you’ve made millions upon millions of dollars like Armstrong, had an exceptionally good and lengthy career like Armstrong, and even if you’re able to hire the best lawyers possible.

This is why Armstrong ended up ending his fight against the USADA — it’s incredibly difficult to prove that you are innocent, especially sixteen years after the fact.  Then when you add in the fact that the ICU doesn’t believe the USADA has the proper jurisdiction anyway, it’s obvious why Armstrong decided to end his fight.

To me, the fact that Armstrong has stopped arguing with the USADA does not prove that he used banned substances.  All it proves is that the USADA is on a witch hunt.  And by besmirching Armstrong and his legacy, it apparently feels like it’s doing the right thing — even though 99 out of 100 people would’ve told the USADA to back off years ago, especially considering the fact that Armstrong is a symbol to millions and that Armstrong has retired from competitive cycling.

This is what should be at the bottom of every serious story about Armstrong — the fact that there’s an anti-doping turf war going on — yet because this fact hasn’t been brought up nearly as much as it should, we’re getting all sorts of stories on the Internet about how Armstrong’s legacy has been completely ruined.


Once again — the only ruination that’s occurred here is to those fanatics at the USADA, who really should’ve butted out of this one.  Even if they’re right about what Armstrong did (something I find very hard to believe), they’re wrong about how they did it.  And that wrongness is something that needs to end, here and now, before it ends up hurting another competitor who has far less money, energy, or time to fight than Armstrong did — ’cause as bad as these things are for Armstrong, at least he did fight and that shows that he believes himself to be innocent.

All the hand-wringing from well-known sports columnists aside, the fact of the matter is that the ICU thus far has refused to strip Armstrong of his titles just because the USADA threw what amounts to a huge hissy fit.  People need to know this and realize that the way the media has slanted this story has got to end.  (In other words, the narrative framing here is biased against Armstrong and is prejudiced instead in favor of the USADA.)

And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m far more concerned with what a sports star does on the field — or on the track, as in the case of Armstrong — than whatever little turf war the USADA wants to win at the moment.  (Aren’t you?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

Just Reviewed Books 6 and 7 of “The Mageworlds” Series at SBR

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Folks, if you haven’t read Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald’s writing yet, you really should.  These two writers have written interesting, relevant novels for the past twenty-five to thirty years; their signature series, “the Mageworlds,” ran to seven books, is intricate, rousing, and extremely moving.  (Not bad for a series initially dismissed by some as a Star Wars knockoff.)

Anyway, here’s a link to my review of books 6 and 7 — these books are THE STARS ASUNDER and A WORKING OF STARS, respectively:

Go read my review, then go read these books!

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm

August 2012 Quick Hits, Part Three

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Folks, once again I have very little time and way too many subjects to write about, so here’s some more “quick hits:”

First, I was saddened to see that the Milwaukee Brewers released lefthanded pitcher Randy Wolf today; worse yet, today was Wolf’s thirty-sixth birthday, which seems a bit cold even for the Brewers front office staff.  The Brewers made this move because Wolf has a 3-10 record and an ERA over 5.00; that the Brewers are out of playoff contention also undoubtedly had something to do with Wolf’s early dismissal.

Second, the Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs today, 3-2, to sweep the Cubs.  Today’s game was notable as it’s the second game in a row Brewers manager Ron Roenicke actually pulled relievers when they were doing poorly; by getting those relievers out quickly, rather than letting them stay in for a whole inning and give up several runs, the Brewers actually won yesterday and today’s games.  (Maybe Roenicke is finally learning, eh?  Either that, or pitching coach Rick Kranitz is shouting louder into Roenicke’s ear.)

Third, I spent a lot of time today — for me, anyway — signing various petitions to overturn Citizens United in the only way we can: by the United States Congress passing an amendment to the Constitution that would disallow exorbitant amounts of corporate money that are now flowing into every election in the country.  We saw huge sums of money in Wisconsin during our past recall elections in 2011 and 2012, but those sums will be dwarfed by the various Congressional and Senatorial races, not to mention the 2012 Presidential race.

So much money in politics is very bad news for the average, run-of-the-mill citizen.  This should go without saying, but as it isn’t, it’s time for a Constitutional amendment.

If you, too, want to sign the various petitions out there, I suggest you go to Sherrod Brown’s Web site first, then Google “overturn Citizens United petition” and go from there.  ( has a good one that I signed, too; it’s sponsored by CREDO Action.  Even the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — the DSCC for short — has gotten into the act, and yes, I signed that one also.)

Finally, Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin (R) has not withdrawn his name from consideration.  Akin seems to believe that he will be able to beat embattled Senator Claire McCaskill (D) despite his awful statement about “legitimate rape” and how if someone has been “legitimately raped” that she will supposedly not get pregnant.  (I wrote about this a few days ago; follow the back arrow to see that post.)

Even though I’m not a Republican, I believe we need good candidates for every office in the land regardless of party affiliation.  That’s why Akin should’ve stepped down; whether he wins or not (though my money is on him losing, and losing big, partly due to his new insistence that he only used one “bad” or “wrong” word — that word being “legitimate” — and that “(his) heart” shouldn’t be judged), he’s shown himself incompetent to hold the high and important office of United States Senator.

And if I were a voter in Missouri — I’m not, thankfully — I’d be hopping mad that this man refused to step down when a better candidate could’ve still been appointed.  Because really, if Akin doesn’t think rape victims can get pregnant if a rape is “legitimate,” why should his appalling display of ignorance win him any votes at all?  (Doesn’t he realize that women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and yes, even party affiliations, have been raped in the past?  And that some of them have indeed gotten pregnant from “legitimate” rapes?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 22, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

US Senate Candidate Todd Akin of MO Believes “Legitimate Rape Victims” Won’t Get Pregnant

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Folks, I’ve seen some bad politicians in my lifetime.  And I’ve seen some stupid ones, too.  But rarely have I seen such utter stupidity — not to mention total ignorance of biology — on display by a bad politician as with the comments of United States Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), currently running for the US Senate against incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).  Akin believes that victims of “legitimate rape” are not likely to get pregnant because apparently the female body “will shut (stuff like that) right down.”  Here’s his full comment, in context, from a recent post at Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.

Obviously, Akin is plain, flat wrong.  (Not to mention unlettered, ignorant, and in need of a basic health refresher course.)  Pregnancy can occur with any unprotected sex between two people, and while rape is much different than “unprotected sex,” rapists don’t usually wear condoms, nor do they worry about birth control. 

You’d think all of this goes without saying, but apparently to someone like Akin, it doesn’t.

Look.  As President Obama said today, “rape is rape.”  Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, too, has condemned Akin’s statement, calling it “insulting” and “inexcusable.”  Good for them.

Indeed, many in the GOP has condemned Akin, yet the main problem the GOP has right now is that Akin, along with GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan, himself a US Rep. from Janesville, WI, tried to get a law through the House of Reps. that used a similar term — “forcible rape” — to limit government aid for abortions.

Here’s a link to one of the best articles I’ve managed to find yet regarding why Akin’s shocking remark may torpedo the GOP’s chances in Missouri and elsewhere; the upshot is that Akin knows Ryan well, and because of what amounts to secondhand contamination — and well-known, long-held similar views with regards to rape — this may hurt the GOP Presidential ticket in the fall.

Conservative commentator John Podhoretz, writing in Commentary Magazine (here’s the link), describes Akin’s remarks thusly:

The moral, intellectual, and spiritual ignoramus who spoke those words is Todd Akin. He won the Missouri primary two weeks ago in a three-way race against two other conservatives, taking 36 percent of the vote—his two major rivals together won about 60 percent.

The PJ Tatler bluntly says this about Akin’s remarks:

This isn’t a gaffe. It’s a nuclear bomb.

Exactly so.

My advice to Akin is this: withdraw from the US Senate race while the getting’s good.  (As I understand it, Akin has about a day to withdraw, then the Missouri GOP can field another candidate.  Anyone would have to be better than this guy.)  Then figure out a new line of work, hope your Congressional pension will be good enough for you to while away your golden years, and do your best to stay away from microphones for the good of all concerned.

I’d also suggest taking that refresher course on basic human biology, too, as that might keep you from making any more small-minded and uninformed comments.  But that’s only something you should do if you wish to rejoin the rest of the human race as an informed, thinking, and feeling human being . . . no pressure.