Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for February 14th, 2014

Story Complete, Sent to Lightspeed’s Special Women Destroy SF Issue

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I’m pleased to report that I was able to finish my military science fiction story to my satisfaction, and sent it off earlier this evening to Lightspeed magazine for their “Women Destroy SF” special issue.

The main reason I’m discussing this, other than the fact I mentioned I was writing the story in the first place and wanting to give y’all an update, is because it’s Valentine’s Day.

I know that sounds like a non sequitur, but it isn’t. (Hear me out, OK?)

This particular story is set in my husband’s universe, the same one used in both Joey Maverick stories (available right now at Amazon, here and here). It does not feature Joey Maverick. Instead, it features a doctor, Amanda Hirschbeck, and the choices she must make during a brutal firefight.

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, partly because I’m hoping that somehow, some way, this story is going to come out and you’ll all be able to read it. But I will say that it deals with loss, redemption, sacrifice, and personal integrity . . . I’m proud to have written it, and I’m even more proud to say this is the first story I’ve written in Michael’s universe that’s entirely mine.

When I started working on Michael’s stories, years ago, I wasn’t sure I could do this. I really didn’t think I’d ever get to the point I could write a decent-to-better story set in a milSF milieu, as that’s not my normal genre — I usually write fantasy, and humorous fantasy at that.

But I’ve had some very good people cheering me on, including the inestimable Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, the incomparable Rosemary Edghill, my first writing mentor (she told me years ago that I needed to make these stories my own, and I wasn’t ready to listen; now, though, I finally am, and I owe it all to her for planting the seed in my mind that I could, indeed, do this), and everyone involved in my writer’s group Barfly_Slush.

Note that the reason I mentioned both Ms. Kimbriel and Ms. Edghill is because they are both outstanding writers and editors. They have many good books out. And as I can’t possibly ever repay either one of them, much less both, for all of their advice and guidance, it seems wise to let you all know about them in the hopes that maybe you’ll go to their respective Amazon Author Pages (Ms. Edghill’s is here, Ms. Kimbriel’s is here) and find a book you like — then buy it.

At any rate, I’m proud that I was able to write a story in my husband’s universe. It’s a good story. I hope it’ll find a home.

But I hope you can excuse me if I think of it as my own, personal Valentine’s Day gift to Michael . . . because without him, and leaving his universe behind for me to play in it as much as I like, this story would not exist.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 14, 2014 at 9:10 pm

In Olympic Long Program, U.S. Figure Skater Jeremy Abbott Silences Critics

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Yesterday’s blog discussed U.S. figure skater Jeremy Abbott, who took a particularly nasty fall, laying stunned on the ice for nearly twenty seconds due to the pain, but got back up and finished his heart-felt short program to finish fifteenth.

Finishing that far back meant it would be nearly impossible for Abbott to pull up into the top ten. And indeed, he didn’t, finishing twelfth.

But what he did today was still quite impressive, as despite being in obvious pain, Abbott skated a clean long program.

After that, Abbott had a message for his critics, according to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports:

Asked what he had to say to those who say he chokes, he first exhaled loudly, put his head back and said, “Ahhhh … I would just love…”

He turned to Barb Reichert of U.S. Figure Skating public relations.

“Sorry Barb, you’re going to kill me,” he said.

“No,” she said. “I’m not. Bring it. Bring it.”

Abbott brought it.

“I would just hold my middle finger in the air and say a big ‘F you’ to everyone who has ever said that to me because they have never stood in my shoes,” he said, the kind of direct language not commonly found in the skating hall.

Now, why did Abbott say this? Well, not every commentator is as polite as I am, not by a mile. Twitter yesterday was particularly unforgiving, and half (if not more) of the commentators never once took a look at what Abbott did after he took that hard fall.

Figure skating is one of the most difficult athletic pursuits around. Even though I can’t do it — I don’t have the balance, the strength, or the stamina, and never have — I understand skating and I understand the skater’s mentality, mostly because I’m a musician and I performed at many music competitions. And having to do your best when your reed isn’t working, or your keys are sticking, or you know you’re competing against someone who’s won the competition several times and you’re a newcomer — well, those nerves are hard to deal with.

That’s why I never faulted Abbott for having nerves, or being willing to acknowledge them. But as a commentator — even an armchair one like myself — I have to be honest about what I see.

Yesterday, I said that Abbott’s story of falling hard but getting up and finishing when he could’ve walked away without fault was inspiring. And it was.

Today, going out there when he knew he had no realistic chance for a medal and giving it his all, then skating a clean program despite being in pain from yesterday’s fall, was even more so.

Life is about how hard you try after you’ve been knocked down. It’s all about how you get up, or don’t. And that’s why I’d rather talk about Jeremy Abbott, who’s competed now in two Olympics, finishing ninth  and twelfth, than talk about 2014 Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who’s only nineteen and has not faced significant adversity on the ice as of yet (off the ice, yes, due to the tsunami a few years ago). And I definitely don’t want to talk about Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan, who apparently felt he deserved the gold medal despite taking three falls, because that young man has way too much publicity already.

For today, this Valentine’s Day, I want you to consider the courage of a young man who’s about to retire from the sport he loves — Jeremy Abbott — at the young age of twenty-eight, because the sport is so difficult, so demanding, requires so much dedication, that his legs and back and body and mind just cannot keep doing it at the high level required to attain the Olympics.

Then consider how difficult it was for him to take that fall — look at the program in context (I’m sure it’s available on YouTube by now, or at, and see what Abbott did to get up again, then skate the rest of his program with vigor and panache.

That’s what we all need to do, in this life.

I have a lot of sympathy for Abbott.  I had it in 2010 at Vancouver, when he finished ninth by skating a brilliant program to pull way up in the standings. And I have it again today.

Because what makes an Olympic champion is not the medals.

It’s the heart.

That’s why Jeremy Abbott will forever be an Olympic champion.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm