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Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 2012

Just Reviewed Two Romances at SBR

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Folks, it’s Romance Saturday at Shiny Book Review (SBR), and I kept meaning to review two romances all month.

But time kept getting away from me, as it always does . . . then I looked up and realized, “Hey!  It’s nearly the New Year!  I still have these two romances hanging fire here.  What’s to do?”

So I reviewed them both tonight over at SBR.

This was quite a different thing for me, because the two novels, while both were romances in one way or another, were wildly different.   The first romance I reviewed is Sherry Thomas’ Victorian era TEMPTING THE BRIDE, book three in the Fitzhugh trilogy (and yes, I did review the other two books earlier this year, which you know if you’ve been reading my blogs).  I liked this novel far better than I liked either of the first two, mostly because I really liked the characters and felt the emotional resonance between them scanned the same way a real couple would if someone dropped into this same scenario (which is, of all things, the dreaded amnesia plot).

The second romance is Marie Lu’s young adult dystopian near-future LEGEND (say that three times fast).  This is Ms. Lu’s debut novel, and it’s a fast-paced thriller that still gets the emotional resonance right between our two teenage protagonists — June, from the military elite at the top of the economic scale, and Day, a fugitive from the “wrong side of the tracks” who is nevertheless extremely gifted in military matters.   Normally the two would never meet, but June’s brother is killed under highly suspicious circumstances, which throws the two together (mostly because the military elites running the place do their best to make it appear that Day killed June’s brother).

These may be the last reviews I do before the New Year — in fact, it’s highly likely that this is the case — so what better way to end 2012 than with two romances I really enjoyed?

I truly hope you’ll enjoy them, too — or that you’ll at least appreciate my reviews.  So have at, and in case I don’t get a chance to blog between now and then, Happy New Year to all . . . and to all a good night!

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Book reviews

Quick Weekend Update

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As the new year approaches, I’ve been rushing to get some projects taken care of that have been “hanging fire” for a long time.  One of those was an intensive editorial project for a nearly six-hundred page epic fantasy novel, which has now been completed.

However, I still have the final ELFY editing changes to go over as I delayed work on that due to the amount of work required for the other project.

This is one reason why reviews have been few and far between (by my standards, at least).

Otherwise, I’ve had a nagging cough and cold that doesn’t seem to want to go away but also doesn’t seem to be getting any worse.  It’s added to the intensity of some headaches, but otherwise hasn’t done a whole lot other than slow me down.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that aside from editing (both for the in-progress internship and the large editorial project just completed), I haven’t done a whole lot of writing this week, on my blog or off.

One would hope that once the new year commences that I’ll be able to write a few more blogs on the various and sundry subjects I’ve previously discussed — or maybe even some new ones.  (Hey.  It could happen.)

Other than that, I hope to be able to at least review one book tomorrow night, a romance, over at Shiny Book Review.  (That, and the internship hours, and maybe some work on the ELFY changes, are my plan for Saturday.  Obviously, I lead an exciting life.)

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 29, 2012 at 1:24 am

Posted in Editing, Writing

Guest Blog: Jennifer Lunde and “The Next Big Thing” Blog Chain

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Folks, my niece, Jennifer Lunde, has responded to my earlier blog tagging her for the Next Big Thing blog chain.  So without further ado, here’s a guest blog from Jenni which gives her answers as to what she’s working on now . . . and why she believes this is her next, big thing.

*** Jenni’s answers start . . . now. ***

What is the working title of your book?  Arc.

Where did the idea come from for your book?  I get most of my ideas from dreams. This particular idea has been chipping slowly through the walls of my skull for years now (Pulse, my previous big project, was an attempt to capture a piece of this idea). The dream that prompted Arc is unusually surreal in my experience: it was entirely silent and in black and white, and as I stood by, I watched a city of dark stone rise out of an ocean. I looked around for who had done this and found Niela standing a little above the water. She waved.

I dealt with Niela in a minor way in Pulse, but the person I saw in my dream was not a worn-out, vengeful ghost: this was a woman at the height of her powers, reasonably happy and with her whole life in front of her. I saw her before I killed her, and the sight hurt me. In Pulse I identified more with Caderyn (the guy who killed her) more than Niela; she likes power, not responsibility, and she likes to make the people who hurt her (lots of those) suffer. Despite this tendency in her, she was always a problematic villain for me to write. She’s betrayed by her best friend and loses both her life and her child, and that isn’t even the end of her tragedy. In Pulse I both punish her and provide her with some form of resolution, but that story has less resonance unless I explore what happened to her first. That’s part of what Arc is all about.

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Like I said above, I always identified with Caderyn pretty easily, and his family is a wild bunch. I’ve spent entirely too much time writing the exploits of his aunt and uncle—they’re a riot. And the world of Arc is older than Pulse’s, newer, less corrupted and more magical. It’s been fun to build the story from the beginning instead of starting at the end like I usually do.

What genre does your book fall under?  Fantasy (not for children). Pulse is tamer than this project (almost out of necessity).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?  Ack. I don’t typically write with movies or movie actors in mind. Samuli Vauramo (“Sam the Slammer” to you American audiences) might make a decent Caderyn. I like Sophia Miles for Saerys; she has the right kind of combination of sweetness and toughness. Niela is impossible to cast, and given her ability to disrupt reality at any given moment, she might have to be mostly computer-generated. She needs a dark voice: it’s definitely not a typical Hollywood starlet part. John Hurt would be wonderful as Ashan, old as he is. I can’t honestly cast anyone else…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Arc will probably be split in two when it’s done, but here’s the basic idea: A mysterious source of power called the heart of the earth regulates energy (including magic) within the world of Anavila, and when a man manipulates that energy to bring a dead child back from the dead, the consequences—for the man, the child, her family, and the heart of the earth—are devastating. (Pulse deals with some of these consequences, and it’s set three hundred years after Arc.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’m not entirely sure yet. It isn’t done.

How long did it take you to write your book?  Right now, it’s 245,000 words long. (Yikes.) It will eventually be split in two at an appropriate point; I haven’t determined that point quite yet. I’ve written about half of the story so far (some of it is writer’s crutches/filler to remind myself of things), and I started in June. At this rate I’ll be finished with the first draft by May 2013.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?  All fantasy is indebted to Tolkien, but Arc nods toward darker themes covered by authors like Stephen R. Donaldson (Thomas Covenant, The Gap Cycle), Patricia McKillip (The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Ombria in Shadow) and Margaret Atwood (Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride). I can also cite Faulker’s Go Down, Moses as a major influence for some developments in the story, but he doesn’t quite fit in the genre, does he? 🙂

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  My dream prompted me to return to this universe and let me know that my work there was unfinished, but my true inspiration came much earlier. I was a child when I first came up with this idea (exactly where it came from is lost to the rubbish bins of history), and my initial attempts to get it down on paper were clumsy and sometimes humorous. (I still have some of these abortive attempts in my files.) Since then, the basic story—which has always revolved around Niela to some extent—resurfaces at odd times, in my writing or in my own life. When I was in service for Americorps for a year, I ceased writing for a period of six months. I did this deliberately in a fit of despair (how many writers have had those? :P), but at the end of those months I had my dream, and a week after my dream I had 15,000 words. Niela brought me back. She told me that our work wasn’t done. I’ve been doing what she says (with minor alterations) ever since.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

As the synopsis suggests, this story deals with family relationships quite a bit, and none of the relationships are even remotely superficial—though some are very strange. I became aware as I was writing that Arc has all the elements of a psychological drama dropped into the plot of an ancient Icelandic saga: it’s the kind of story where everyone is out to stab everyone else all the time, but after the stabbing’s done everyone left alive feels broken up about it. It’s a heady mix to write, and it isn’t one that I’ve ever read, either. I find it interesting. Maybe someone else will, too. 🙂


And that concludes today’s guest blog from my niece, Jennifer Lunde.  (May the happy dance commence!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 26, 2012 at 12:46 am

Just Reviewed Two Christmas Romances at SBR

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Folks, it’s not every day that I get to review a Christmas-themed romance, much less two of them.  Yet that’s exactly what I just did over at Shiny Book Review (SBR), so go take a gander here.

To give you a bit more information about the two books, the first is ‘TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS by Sabrina Jeffries.  This is a romance set in Regency-era England between two flawed but engaging humans, Pierce, an Earl, and Mrs. Camilla Stuart, a respectable widow with a young son.  The set-up is interesting, the romance convinced, yet some of the ending (which I can’t really talk about much or I’ll spoil your reading pleasure) didn’t quite scan to me.

Even so, it was a diverting read and I’ll gladly read more of Ms. Jeffries in the future.

The second book is WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS by Victoria Alexander.  This is a romance set in Victorian-era England between Camille, Lady Lydingham, and the “man who got away,” Grayson Elliot.  Both are now older, wiser, and available, yet there’s a great many hoops to jump over, not the least of which is Camille’s impending engagement between herself and Prince Nikolai of the Principality of Greater Avalonia.

Ms. Alexander’s book is one that’s difficult for any reviewer to do justice because it’s a flat-out farce.  Yet I did my best because I really enjoyed this book, mostly because it’s extremely funny.

At any rate, please go read my review, then go take a gander at the books.

Happy holidays to all!

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 23, 2012 at 12:13 am

Retired NFL QB Jon Kitna Now a Math Teacher and Football Coach

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With all of the terrible stories in the news lately, especially regarding sports figures (Jovan Belcher, Suzy Favor Hamilton, etc.), I thought it was time to discuss a really good, empowering story of hope and faith instead.

This is the story of Jon Kitna, retired NFL quarterback, as told to Yahoo Sports’ Les CarpenterKitna’s stats in the NFL were quite good — 29,745 yards, 169 touchdowns and 165 interceptions in a sixteen-year pro football year (spending his first year with the Barcelona Dragons in the old World League, later to be renamed NFL Europe) — but he’d never planned a pro career due to coming out of tiny Central Washington University.

Instead, Kitna thought he’d become a math teacher as he’d graduated with a degree in math education.  So he started applying for jobs.

This quote from Carpenter’s story describes how Kitna’s pro career came about:

Football was a miracle for Kitna. Even he never imagined he’d be in the NFL. It took years to become the starting quarterback at Lincoln. Nobody was waiting with a scholarship when he graduated. His parents helped him pull the money together to go to Central Washington, an NAIA school halfway across the state, where he found himself at the bottom of a long list of quarterbacks. Eventually he became the starter. His senior year, Central won the NAIA national championship, which got him mild acclaim in Washington but did nothing to further his career.

Assuming he was done with football, Kitna finished his teaching degree and began pursuing the dream he and Jennifer talked so much about: teaching and coaching. Lincoln was actually looking for a head football coach. He applied but was turned down.

Then a few days later Dennis Erickson showed up on Central’s campus.

The Seahawks coach at the time was there to give a tryout to his nephew, Jamie Christian, who was one of Central’s receivers. The tryout was a family favor, yet what amazed Erickson was the quarterback whose throws looked like rockets zooming into Christian’s hands. The Seahawks offered Kitna a contract and a spot in their 1996 training camp. He made the practice squad and after the season was placed on the roster of the Barcelona Dragons of the World League. Barcelona won the league title on home turf. Kitna was MVP of the championship game and left the field to chants of “Keeetna! Keeetna! Keeetna!” He was anonymous no more.

So just getting to the NFL took a lot of hard work on Kitna’s part, but he also had to be in the right place at the right time in order to get a chance to play. (Shades of Malcolm Gladwell’s OUTLIERS.)

Kitna had his career — a lengthy one by any standard, but most especially for an undrafted QB no one had ever heard of coming out of college — then retired after the 2011 season.  He found a job within a month at his old high school alma mater, that of math teacher and head football coach.

Here’s a description of Lincoln High from this story by Bob Harkins of NBC Sports:

Lincoln is a collection of well-worn, concrete and brick buildings located in a gritty section of Tacoma, about a 45-minute drive down Interstate 5 from Seattle. Like many urban high schools, it’s rich in diversity and light on financing. Seventy-five percent of Lincoln’s students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and most come from single-parent homes. The majority of locals have many priorities to deal with before high school football pops onto their radar.

So it was obvious Kitna was going to have his work cut out for him just being a football coach.  This team didn’t have good equipment, uniforms, or many parents who cared overmuch.

But then, Kitna also wanted to teach math.  So he did something unprecedented at Lincoln High. He asked for the worst students, those who other teachers couldn’t stand or couldn’t motivate, for his three math classes.  The other teachers, according to Carpenter’s article, wished Kitna luck.

But here’s what Carpenter said happened:

Only something happened in those three algebra classes, something no one could have imagined. The students who didn’t listen suddenly did. Those who never did work turned in assignments. And when the results of the math assessments came in, Kitna’s students were second best in the school. It wasn’t because their teacher was an NFL quarterback. Many of them didn’t have televisions at home. They had little idea who Jon Kitna was. No, this was something else. Something bigger. Something one of those two principals, Pat Erwin, considers in his office one recent day and finally calls: “The Kitna effect.”

Over the past year, Kitna’s improved many students’ lives.  He’s brought them meaning and purpose whether they’re football players or not. He’s helped to improve their lives, and has taught them that their lives do matter no matter what anyone else has ever said about them.

Oh, yes.  Because Kitna is still a football player and coach, he also bought a whole new weight room for Lincoln High and dedicated it to former NFL All-Pro safety Lawyer Milloy, another Lincoln High alum.

Not to be outdone, many of his friends around the NFL have donated to the school such things as new industrial strength washers (Carson Palmer, a teammate of Kitna’s in Cincinnati), new uniforms (Tony Romo, a teammate of Kitna’s in Dallas) and new football equipment (courtesy of Calvin Johnson and DeMarcus Ware, both of the Cowboys).  The Cowboys as a whole gave Lincoln High their used cleats, and the Seahawks donated used game pants for $1 a pair so Lincoln’s players would have  practice uniforms.

As this article from Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times put it:

(Kitna’s) career is proof of the potential that is contained within these halls, something he points out. There are about 2,000 players in the NFL at any given time, and every year as many as 400 rookies come looking to take someone’s place at the table. Two years ago, Kitna went and looked up how many players from his rookie class remained in the league.

He counted six, and two of them attended Lincoln: Kitna and safety Lawyer Milloy, his high-school teammate and the best athlete to ever come out of Lincoln. That reality provides the backbone of the rallying cry.

“His message is, ‘There’s greatness in these halls,’ ” said (Lincoln High Principal Pat) Erwin. “That’s the exciting thing about having Jon here. Do I want to win football games? Sure. But I want him to be able to convey to kids his story and the greatness that is here in this school so that kids start to live up to their potential as opposed to live down to some of the expectations others might have.”

Kitna’s expectations are high. He has visions of an alumni association whose donating members number in the thousands, and Jennifer has turned the school’s booster club into a registered charity.

It’s obvious that Kitna’s a man of vision.  Dedication.  Honor.  Integrity.

Which is why he refuses to give up on these inner-city kids.

Kitna’s also an avowed Christian, something he believes turned his life around when he was in his early twenties and as his wife Jennifer put it in at least one of the above articles, “immature.”  But unlike some avowed Christian pro football players, whose faith seems ready-made for the camera but otherwise insubstantial, Kitna lives his faith.

That’s why he’s helping these kids at Lincoln High attain better lives.

And that’s why I decided to write about Kitna, because it’s great to realize that not every sports star is a spoiled brat who’s unaware of how difficult things are in the real world.

Much less wants to make a positive difference — and is doing so.


In case anyone’s wondering, Kitna’s Lincoln High football team went 5-5 in 2012.  Kitna’s son, Jordan, had to sit out the entire year due to arcane rules dealing with Washington state football eligibility and school transfers. (Jordan Kitna expects to play next year.  Like his father, Jordan is a quarterback.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 21, 2012 at 5:29 am

Suzy Favor Hamilton Outed as Vegas Call Girl

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This afternoon (December 20, 2012 to be exact), news broke that Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton — one of the biggest female sports stars to ever come out of Wisconsin — has admitted to working as a high-priced call girl for a shady Las Vegas outfit called Haley Heston’s Private Collection.

Here’s a link to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s story and a relevant quote:

Suzy Favor Hamilton, a three-time Olympian who capitalized on her wholesome image as an elite runner, mother and wife to land lucrative endorsement deals and motivational speaking engagements, has admitted to leading a double life for the last year as a high-priced call girl.

In a stunning confessional via her Twitter account, following a story published on, Favor Hamilton wrote that she was drawn to escorting “in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life.”

The 44-year-old Favor Hamilton, a Stevens Point native and former University of Wisconsin track star, admitted to working as “Kelly Lundy” with Haley Heston’s Private Collection, one of Las Vegas’ premier escort services, in the story.

“I do not expect people to understand,” she wrote on her Twitter account. “But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.

“I have been seeking the help of a psychologist for the past few weeks and will continue to do so after I have put things together.”

What troubles me here is not just that Favor Hamilton is a married woman with a seven-year-old child, though that’s bad enough.

Nope.  What bugs me is that Favor Hamilton is quoted as admitting that her husband “tried to get (her) to stop” and that he “wasn’t supportive of (her) need to do this at all.”

Which, mind you, is the way most husbands are likely to behave when it comes to thinking about their spouse being a paid escort who gave away the “full girlfriend experience” and was rated quite highly by The Erotic Review, which is called by the Smoking Gun article that the Journal-Sentinel references as “the Zagat guide of the escort business.”

So it seems that Suzy Favor Hamilton has more than a few problems here — she’s been working as an escort when she’s not destitute (her husband is employed, she owns a realty firm and they live in a $600,000 home), she’s been fighting depression for the past year or more and if her marriage isn’t in trouble because of all this, she must have the most supportive husband in the history of the universe.

While I have never understood the need for men or women to go outside their marriages, I do know that not everyone is meant to be monogamous.  So for those people who have admitted open marriages and the like, I made up my mind a long time ago not to judge them even though I freely admit that I don’t get it.

So the sex part of the equation isn’t what is so very troublesome, even though I don’t really understand what would drive a high-powered woman like Favor Hamilton to go outside her marriage and have a number of risky sexual encounters for money.

It’s the lack of trust issue that bothers me more.

Favor Hamilton is someone who’s had a squeaky clean image.  She’s had endorsement deals with Disney, various running firms, has been a model in more ways than one and has been someone female runners have looked up to for the past twenty years or more in Wisconsin and much of the Midwest.

So apparently, in order for her to somehow feel better about herself, she had to throw this all away and construct an alter ego of “Kelly” the escort.  Who was willing to do just about anything if the price was right because she still had the body and panache and knew how to speak the high-powered language of well-heeled men in order to better separate them from their money.

Why this intelligent, beautiful woman couldn’t find herself in some other way, I just don’t know.  Why would she would risk her career for this, much less her marriage?  Why would she ever entertain such a thing, considering that it’s well-known that women who become prostitutes (the not-so-nice name for “call girls”) rarely retain custody of their children?

And what about the IRS audit that has to be on the horizon?  Because it would be ridiculous to assume that she’s declared all of the money she’s made as a $600-per-hour escort on her tax forms.

All of this happened because Favor Hamilton apparently enjoys risky sex in extremely expensive hotel rooms with men she doesn’t really know.

This seems so off-the-wall, so uncharacteristic, and so utterly absurd that I feel like I’ve fallen into a parallel universe.

Yet it’s the truth.

Suzy Favor Hamilton, runner and Olympian, mother and realty owner, is also a call girl.

What a terribly sad thing to have happen . . . and she did it to herself.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Bad Weather Plus Migraine Equals . . . Not Much

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Many of you have heard that most of Wisconsin is under a blizzard warning.  Southeastern Wisconsin hasn’t been hit that hard thus far, but we’ve had a great deal of rain in the past sixteen to eighteen hours . . . and now, it’s turned to snow.

Before the weather turned bad, I was able to get a great deal of editing done for a very big project I’ve been working on for a few months.  I’m now over 3/4 of the way through it, and it looks likely that I’ll be able to turn it in soon.

The weather shouldn’t affect me providing the power stays on, of course.  But one of the problems I have with huge weather systems is that they tend to set off a very bad headache, and that’s what I’m dealing with right now.

So everything that I’d hoped to do today — save my visit to the Asthma Clinic, which was accomplished — is likely to go by the boards, at least until I’ve had some decent rest.

I should be fine tomorrow (when I have internship hours scheduled), providing I’m sensible tonight and rest.

So I’m going to be sensible, stay home out of the nasty weather, and just do the best I can.

As for anyone else in Wisconsin, I hope they’ll be sensible, too — or at least be smart.

See you all tomorrow, when I should be able to get at least one book review up over at SBR.  (I had hopes to get three up this weekend; now that looks most unlikely.  Boo, hiss to that!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Editing

Tagged with , ,

Sandy Hook Massacre: Why did this happen?

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Ever since the news broke last Friday morning about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I’ve been struggling to find the words to describe how upset I am, and I just haven’t been able to find them.

I want to say something, anything, that might give some comfort to the victims’ families . . . but I have drawn a complete blank.

Because how can anything — anything at all — comfort the parents of the twenty innocent youngsters who lost their lives?

And how can anything comfort the loved ones of the six courageous and heroic adults — including the school’s principal, the school’s psychologist, and several teachers — who gave their lives so the lives of innocent children may be spared?

This is the third time in the past six months that we in the United States of America have had to confront a mass shooting.  First, there was the shooting in Aurora, Colorado in July.  Next, there was the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August.

And now, this past Friday on December 14, we had in some senses the worst killing of all — the killing of extremely young children (none older than seven).  Along with six of the adults who were there to teach, protect, guide and nurture them.  And the shooter’s mother.

Here’s a link that will take you to a list of most of the victims, and give a bit of biographical information about them:

After reading that, the only question I had left is this: when will the killing end?

Because it just does not seem right to have incident after incident where nothing gets done.  It just does not seem right, or ethical, or just, or anything that anyone with any brains and sense should ever want to see.

Some have already politicized this latest event.  These who’ve done so basically fall into two camps.  One camp is screaming at the top of their voices, “Hands off our guns!”  Which does not seem sensible, especially as the shooter’s mother had guns in the house (at least four) and regularly took her troubled young son to the shooting range with her.

The other camp wants gun control now, thank you, and has seized on this terrible thing as a way to get what they want in a way to perhaps bring about a good thing from such a monstrously awful event.

I have sympathy for the latter position, and almost none for the former (not in this context, assuredly).  Yet I think the answer lies in better mental health treatment, for one . . . and getting rid of guns won’t solve that part of the problem one bit.

Plus, some of the pro-gun lobby’s arguments are correct.

If someone wants to kill and can’t get a gun, he will use a knife.  (As did a man recently in China, wounding twenty-three.)  Or a bow and arrow.  (As did a young man on November 30 in Casper, Wyoming; he killed his father’s girlfriend, then went to his father’s place of business — a local community college — and killed his father, then killed himself.)  Or bombs in a rental truck, as did Timothy McVeigh . . . or God/dess alone knows what.

But that doesn’t mean we should tamely sit by and do nothing, not after we’ve just seen twenty-seven people killed for no good reason.

Most especially when twenty of them were seven years of age or less.

I do not wish to play politics with such a tragic thing as twenty-six innocent people dying in, of all places, an elementary school.  Just because they were there to either teach children, nurture children, or learn something should not have been enough to sign their death warrants.

But something absolutely must be done.  Because we cannot allow innocent children to be killed for no reason whatsoever.

I normally have sympathy for the mentally ill, even severely mentally ill types like it sounds like the latest shooter, Adam Lanza, probably was.  (And I’m decidedly not talking about his Asperger’s Syndrome; I’m talking about the behavioral issues he’d have likely had whether he had AS or not.)  But in this case, I can find no mercy in my heart for him — far less mercy than one of the parents of the victims, Robbie Parker, who’s already expressed sympathy for the surviving family members of Adam Lanza.

Mr. Parker is a far better person than I.

My focus is elsewhere, because I just do not understand why any responsible parent, such as Nancy Lanza has been described, would ever allow a troubled young man like her son to get a hand on any of her guns.

Much less teach him to shoot them herself, as it appears she did.

As it stands, Adam Lanza should never have had access to his mother’s guns.  He should never have been able to stockpile so much ammunition, either.  And I absolutely cannot comprehend why on Earth he’d wish to take the lives of twenty children who’d never done anything to him — could never have done anything to him — nor the lives of six innocent adults plus the life of his mother, either.

But he did have access.  And he did do these horrible things, though it’s possible that the six adults kept him from killing even more innocents — I’d like to think so, anyway.

We must do something to prevent the Adam Lanzas of the world from doing these horrific things, which is we must start with mental health treatment.  We won’t be able to prevent all of the possible violence, no.

But we may be able to prevent some.

And we assuredly will change the lives of at least some people for the better if we make sure that health care spending — particularly on mental health — becomes a priority in this country.

I’m tired of doing nothing to stop these random killings.  And I’m incensed that it’s now led to this — twenty-six people dying, in of all places, an elementary school.

So, when will the killings end?

I don’t know.

But I do know we must try to put a stop to them.  Because this is intolerable.


Edited to change title (so more people can find this blog post), and to add a link to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough’s stirring soliloquy about the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and why we must have at least some better control over our guns in order to protect the most vulnerable among us — our children.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 17, 2012 at 8:16 am

And the Next Big Thing Chain Continues with Jason Cordova

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Folks, yesterday Chris Nuttall responded to the “Next Big Thing” blog chain, which I referred to in yesterday’s really brief blog post.

Today, I found out that Jason Cordova also responded and has posted his responses for the “Next Big Thing” here.

In brief, Chris discussed his new book SCHOOLED IN MAGIC, which I edited, while Jason discussed his work-in-progress WRAITHKIN.  Both of these books should interest anyone who enjoys SF&F, albeit in different ways.

Chris’s book is a young adult coming of age story and also a bit of a “fish out of water” epic as it’s about Emily, a teenager from our world who ends up in a wholly other place and finds out she can do magic.  (The main twist Chris has is that Emily is definitely not coming back, so she has to come to some sort of accommodations with her new culture, her new abilities, and new life as quickly as is humanly possible.)  Emily is appalled by the way most people live in this new world as the main society seems to be a type of medieval feudalism, and does her best to implement as many modern advances as possible.  This helps to keep the reader both interested and engaged, as most of the time, a character’s frustrations with a new world just doesn’t get any airplay at all.  (Many characters immediately “go native” instead.)  And of course Emily makes a few quite understandable mistakes along the way, too . . . .

At any rate, SCHOOLED IN MAGIC is a fun book with some unexpected depth and a great main character.  I enjoyed reading — and editing — it immensely.

Jason’s WRAITHKIN is a much darker story that deals with the whole issue of genetics and he freely admits it was inspired by the movie Gattaca.  However, Jason’s book also has aliens, a parliamentary monarchy and a civil war in the making and is described as both military science fiction (milSF) and a love story.

I don’t know as much about Jason’s story as I do about Chris’s for two reasons: one, Jason hasn’t finished it yet.  And two, I haven’t edited it.

But I do know Jason’s writing and at least a bit about how he tends to come up with plots.  (In effect, it’s the Lois McMaster Bujold method, which roughly stated amounts to, “Find out what’s the worst possible thing you can do to this guy.  Then do it.”)  Which is why I’ve told him I can’t wait to read WRAITHKIN, just to see what he’s come up with this time.

Neither of these books are available right now for two different reasons.  Chris wants to see if he can interest a publisher in his newest novel, while Jason is still in the process of finishing his newest novel up.

But both Jason and Chris have other books and stories available for your reading pleasure, so do go to Jason’s site and Chris’s blog and check out what they have to offer.  You might just be pleasantly surprised.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 15, 2012 at 12:32 am

The Next Big Thing Continues With Chris Nuttall

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Folks, Chris Nuttall has kindly followed up with the Next Big Thing blog chain; his post is available here.

As I said before, Chris has a number of novels available right now through that range from military science fiction to any variety of fantasy.  His most recent fantasy novel is THE ROYAL SORCERESS, which I discussed a few days ago in my own “Next Big Thing” post.

So do, please, read his post over at his blog.  Then go check out his work over at Amazon, OK?

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm