Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for January 2014

Sent the baseball story to F&SF

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Folks, I’m glad that editor C.C. Finlay said in his post announcing his guest editorship for the July/August issue of the greatly respected Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF for short) that he wanted to see some humor, because that’s what I do best.  And after first readying the other story for F&SF (all I can tell you is that it’s science fiction, as that one’s off to the Writers of the Future contest, as I said before), I wasn’t sure what I could polish up in time to send, under the circumstances.

Then I remembered the baseball story.

I wrote the baseball story a couple of years ago for a humor anthology. It didn’t work for the editor of that anthology, possibly because it was shorter than I’d envisioned and cut it down to fit the anthology requirements. But once I’d fleshed it out, I sent it to a few of my writer-friends . . . and they laughed.

Mission accomplished, right?

Well, partially. You still have to make sure you send in a clean manuscript, which is why the “dusting and polishing” phase is mandatory, and you have to make sure you conform to whatever the formatting is the editor in question wants.

Here, that was not onerous; the editor wanted more-or-less standard formatting (double-spaced, Times New Roman or another font that’s unobtrusive, identifying marks as appropriate in case the story is printed out and the pages get separated, etc.). But sometimes it can be really interesting to get to that last phase — for example, if an editor wants a single-spaced manuscript with underlines around italics (yes, I’ve seen this, and as it’s actually how I tend to write e-mail because I’ve been writing e-mail since the Internet was first popularized — don’t tell anyone I’m actually that old, will you?), you have to give the editor what he wants or you have zero shot to sell a story to him.

(Or her.)

Anyway, the baseball story is off — and in case you’re wondering, it’s because of working on not one but two stories this past week that I wasn’t able to review anything over at Shiny Book Review. So do look for a book review (or maybe two, if I’m feeling ambitious) late next week . . . just in time for the deep freeze gripping much of the United States (and most definitely my home state of Wisconsin) to ease up a trifle.

So if you live anywhere in the frigid zone, do what I plan to do: Stay home, put up your feet, watch the Green Bay Packers game later today, then read several good books. That’s by far your safest option . . .

. . . but if you must go out, be sensible and have an emergency kit along for the ride (at bare minimum, the kit should include a blanket, some water, and some food in case of emergencies; if you have a candle, bring that along as well).

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Chris Kluwe, Aaron Rodgers, LGBT Advocacy and the NFL

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This was an odd week in the National Football League, wasn’t it?

First we had Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers come out and state emphatically for the record, “I really, really like women” in response to some Internet rumors regarding Rodgers’ sexuality.  This was completely unprecedented, especially considering the fact his team is preparing for a huge playoff game this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers — a team that beat the Packers, 34-28, earlier this season in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated.

Usually, when teams prepare for big games, the last thing any player wants to do is talk about anything except the upcoming game.  Even major stars like Rodgers generally try to sublimate their own concerns during football season, most especially during the playoffs.

So Rodgers doing this was strange, to put it mildly, and created a minor furor.

But that was nothing compared to the furor that occurred once former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s story at Deadspin about how he believes was fired from the Vikings partially because they didn’t like his advocacy for gay rights was published.

Here’s a bit from Kluwe’s first person account if you don’t believe me:

Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things.

Kluwe’s indictment is incendiary, but rings true from my perspective as a long-term fan of the NFL. But it’s a sad commentary on our life and times, isn’t it?

What irks me so much about both these stories is this: It doesn’t have to be this way. Not even in the NFL.

Seriously, Rodgers’ sexual orientation is no one else’s business. If he’s gay, bisexual, straight, Martian — who cares? He’s a football player and is paid to win games.

As for what Kluwe says, and how outspoken he’s been about saying it, again, who cares?  He always was careful, as he points out in his article for Deadspin, to speak only for himself — not for the Vikings.  And his own former team owner, Zygi Wilf, actually complimented Kluwe on Kluwe’s stance — so if the coaches had a problem with it, especially if Kluwe continued to perform well on the field, why?

Then, contrast the two above stories with this story about the 1993 Houston Oilers, which apparently had two openly gay players on the roster. No one cared, because they played good football. They were excellent teammates. And their sexual orientation was no one else’s business but theirs.

For all the progress we’ve made in the 21st Century regarding LGBT rights, it seems ridiculous that someone like Kluwe would be fired for his advocacy of same when in 1993, no one on the Oilers cared two figs about anyone’s sexual orientation.

If the 1993 Oilers could get it right, why can’t the 2013 Vikings?

And why, oh why, would any player (much less Rodgers) believe it’s more important to talk about his rumored sexual orientation than the job he’s being paid to do, preparing for this week’s football game?

Are these two stories part of a counter-reaction to the progress that’s been made regarding LGBT rights? Significantly, is it a backlash against Jason Collins, who came out as gay last year? Is it a backlash against soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers, who’ve also come out as gay?

Is the NFL so afraid that one of its current players may come out as gay or bisexual that it’s imperative for Rodgers to interrupt his training regimen to insist that he “really likes women?”

And why couldn’t Kluwe find a job in the NFL as a punter despite being one of the better punters in the NFL for years?  The NFL’s supposed to be a results-driven league, right?

Anyway, the crux of all three stories is this:

The 1993 Oilers were right. The 2013 Vikings were wrong. And Rodgers shouldn’t need to say anything about his sexual orientation, ’cause no one should care two flying figs providing he’s doing the job on the field.

Why the NFL doesn’t seem to understand this is beyond me.

Heard from the WotF Contest . . .

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Folks, I didn’t expect that I’d still be able to send off my story — the one I told you about a few days ago that I carefully did not identify — to the Writers of the Future contest (WotF for short).  (Please see my last post for further details; just hit the “back” button.)  But I heard from the Contest Administrator, Joni, who said that under the circumstances, she’d accept my entry.

(Perhaps I wasn’t the only person who had this problem?)

At any rate, the story is away.  We’ll see what happens . . . it’s possible that sending it today (as I just received the e-mail today) is too late to be entered into the WotF contest for last quarter.

If so, I’ll send it to Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF), as previously planned.

But if they do accept it, I hope this will be the entry that finally gets noticed.  It truly was my final attempt after eleven long years of trying.  And as it’s based off an unfinished story of my late husband Michael’s — though I did much rearranging to suit myself, and wrote over two-thirds of it in the process — it has even more meaning.

Speaking of stories of my late husband’s, I’d appreciate it if you’d go to Amazon and check out Michael’s Adventures of Joey Maverick series.  (Please go here and here for further details.)  They’re both tales of military science fiction, one set on a low-tech sailing vessel, the other at a space station.  I edited these stories and completed them to the best of my ability . . . if you want to support my and Michael’s writing, this is the best way to do so.

But there are two other ways if you would rather read something else . . . my story “On the Making of Veffen” is included in HOW BEER SAVED THE WORLD, while my co-written story with Michael, “Bright as Diamonds,” is included in BEDLAM’S EDGE.  (Even though I have been led to believe that the latter anthology never earned out, it’s possible it may someday, and if so, I’d perhaps get some more money out of it.  But  even if it never does, I’m proud of our story and I want people to read it.)

If you’re waiting for ELFY, though, I guess I can understand that . . . though really, I’d prefer it if you’d buy everything I ever wrote, just because it makes it a little easier to keep going in this crazy business.

Anyway, the story is off and I’ve done what I can . . . now to figure out what else I can send to F&SF.

Finished a New Story . . .

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Now that I’ve gotten the good wishes out of the way, it’s time to talk turkey. I haven’t blogged much over the past ten days because of the holidays. I had to take some time off, because the pace of the last year, post-bronchitis anyway, was almost too hectic to be borne.

But for whatever reason, idle time and me just do not seem to go together. So I had the idea for a new story — well, new to me, anyway, as it’s based on an unfinished story of my late husband Michael — about a week ago.  I adapted Michael’s story and used about 3,000 words of it, then wrote 6,000-plus words around it to make it all fit.

Note I’m not giving you too many details of this story. There’s a reason for that — I was attempting to send it to the Writers of the Future (WotF) contest in order to make one, final try.

Those of you who’ve read my blog for a while know full well I’ve been entering that contest for eleven solid years.  I haven’t sent in a submission every single quarter, no.  But every year, I’ve sent in at least one story.

And every time, my entry sunk like a stone.

This year, my story was ready at 11:50 p.m. on New Year’s Eve PST, which is the time zone of the WotF website.  (Note that it was 1:55 a.m. New Year’s Day CST, in my own time zone.)  So I went to the WotF website, and attempted to upload my file.

. . . but nothing happened.

Why? Well, the site had inexplicably decided to stop accepting submissions early.  Usually, they will accept up until 11:59:59 p.m. PST (that is, eleven fifty-nine and fifty-nine seconds), but not this time.

So after all that work,  my lovely 8600-word story (I pruned 1000 words on the advice of my long-suffering friend and first reader) didn’t end up getting sent.

Talk about frustration.

I did, of course, let WotF know that their site did something hinky and I wasn’t able to get my submission in through no fault of mine. But it’s like spitting in the wind. They’re most likely going to say that I can send the story in for the next quarter (once it opens; the site is still not up as of this hour, though normally it would be as the new quarter has started and submissions usually start right away at the stroke of 12:00:00 a.m. PST), so I should just do that.

But as the first half of ELFY should be out in early April (meaning it could be out by the end of March, as publication dates can be flexible on either end), I most likely will be ineligible.

So this was my last try . . . in more ways than one.

For those of you who’ve never submitted anything to WotF, you might be wondering why this is.  I’m still a writer who most people don’t know about, I haven’t made many Science Fiction Writers of America-eligible sales (two, now, though the first was shared with Michael so it technically counted as half a sale), and I certainly could use the exposure and help that winning any prize in the WotF contest could bring.

But once you’ve published a novel — whether it’s self-publishing or traditional publishing — you are ineligible.

That’s why my niece, Jennifer Lunde, is ineligible; she self-published her novel PULSE through Lulu back in 2010.  That’s one reason my friend Jason Cordova is ineligible, though he’s actually eligible to apply for the SFWA as he has at least six qualifying sales to his credit by my count, as Twilight Times Books — which is as reputable a small press as they come, and is now my professional home as well — published his novel CORRUPTOR in 2010.

But maybe there’s a silver lining in the fact I couldn’t get my story into the WotF contest.

The venerable magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF) has announced they’re going to have a guest editor, C.C. Finlay, for it’s July/August 2014 issue (details can be found here). Better still, Finlay will be accepting electronic submissions — a first for F&SF — between January 1 and January 14 of this month.

Mind you, F&SF has never been interested in anything I’ve sent them, just as WotF has never been interested, either.  But it’s a New Year, I’m an optimist, and I believe my time is now.

So what are my plans at this point for my poor, beleaguered story? If WotF won’t accept it, I will send it to Mr. Finlay in the next few days.

Wish me luck?

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 1, 2014 at 4:55 am