Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for June 2014

A Friday Free-For-All

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Folks, it’s Friday. So I figured I’d write a quick blog and let you all know what I’m doing, plus give you some quick updates regarding recent blog subjects.

First, the main reason I’ve been so quiet this week is that I’m in the process of working on two stories (for submission on June 30) and also finishing up a major editing project. When I’m close to a deadline for either my editing or writing, I tend not to say much until the project is completed or the story/stories are written.

But there are a number of very odd things going on at the moment, so I figured I’d do my best to catch up.

Ready?

  • What is going on with MH 370? No one has any idea where this plane is, what happened to it, where the crew are, and whether or not any of them will ever be found. It is the strangest story in aviation history because in this day and age, we do have air traffic controllers in nearly every developed country (and most undeveloped countries, too), we have pilots galore and flight simulators and computers and all different sorts of technological advances to help us out . . . yet no one has any idea where this plane is.
  • The young twelve-year-old girl who was nearly killed by the two other girls in the “Slenderman” case has recovered. She recently posted a “thank you” message (with her face carefully not being shown), which was widely covered . . . I’m glad she’s been able to recover, but I still don’t know what’ll happen to the two girls who tried to kill her. Their mental state must be evaluated; if they are mentally ill, they must get treatment. (And if they are sociopathic, my goodness — will treatment help? But I’d still try to treat them, even so, just to see if redemption is possible.)
  • The Milwaukee Brewers, 2014 edition, continue to look like a playoff team. (That is all.)
  • The ending to the TV show DROP DEAD DIVA underwhelmed, I’m sorry to say. The idea that Jane’s Guardian Angel, Paul, would just take over for Grayson (now in Ian’s body) did not work for me. That Grayson/Ian would be content to be a “paralegal” or legal assistant for Jane also didn’t work, though at least it kept him nearby. And while I fully agree that the substance of love matters far more than any outward form (that is, the soul itself matters far more than the body) — it was one of the main themes of DROP DEAD DIVA from the beginning — I would’ve rather seen Grayson and Jane be together as high-powered lawyers. (I still don’t understand why Grayson was killed off and brought back in a different actor’s body as Ian. Though I approved of the second actor’s approach, mind you — he at least made it plausible this unlikely scenario could happen.)
  • Sticking with DROP DEAD DIVA, I still don’t buy that Fred the Angel would somehow lose his status for helping Grayson and Jane. Fred didn’t lose any status when the old Jane (now Brittany) came back, after all . . . that smacked to me of very sloppy writing.
  • And finally, again on the subject of DROP DEAD DIVA, why did Stacey have to give birth and miss her own wedding to Owen? Why not let the poor girl get married, then have her twins?

Anyway, that’s most of what has been going through my mind this week, but because I haven’t had enough time to turn around, I wasn’t able to get to blogging until now. (And to do this, I’m taking time out of my sleep-cycle.)

Figure I’ll try to review a book or two on Saturday over at Shiny Book Review — author Aaron Paul Lazar’s mysteries are next up in the queue — but with everything going on, it may not happen.

And I do owe you all a better Milwaukee Brewers post, plus my thoughts on the Milwaukee Bucks’ draft choices (I was expecting them to trade Ersan Ilyasova, but what do I know?), and goodness knows what else . . . but it’ll have to wait until the stories are done and in on Monday.

12 Years Ago Today…

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. . . I married the love of my life, Michael B. Caffrey, in Waukegan, Illinois.

Had Michael lived, we’d be celebrating twelve happy years together. I have no doubt of this.

I also have no doubt that Michael is the person I was intended to be with all along. I didn’t find him until I was in my mid-thirties, going through a second divorce. But I did find him, we did marry, and we had two wonderfully blessed years together.

I know duration does not equal value. (If it did, my first marriage would be three and a half times more important than my marriage to Michael. Which is flatly absurd.) But I do wish we’d have had more time together.

That said, out of our union came several wonderful things. The Elfyverse, for one . . . I can’t imagine writing the ELFY duology (of which part one is AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE) without knowing Michael, because I wouldn’t have had any idea at all what love truly was about without him.

In 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4-8, the Bible says this about love (quoting the GOD’S WORD® Translation from BibleHub.com):

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. 5It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. 6It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 7Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

8Love never comes to an end.**

Note that this is exactly how Michael was, with me. He was extremely patient. He was unfailingly kind. He certainly wasn’t jealous — he was the farthest possible thing from that. He was a self-effacing man who, when I complimented him, almost always tried to turn it away — and when he did accept it, did so modestly. (Or humorously. Or maybe both.)

And I believe verse 5 — love not being rude, not thinking about itself, not being irritable and not keeping track of wrongs — also applies to Michael. Because he wasn’t rude. (Trust me; with two ex-husbands behind me, I well know what rude can be in a marital context.) And he faced life with a courage and optimism that I’ve never seen out of another living soul . . . something that continues to give me strength, nearly ten years after his body went to dust.

I especially think verse 6 in this particular translation applies to Michael. He hated injustice with a passion. But he loved the truth, even if the truth was difficult to understand and/or frustrating.

(Personally, I think that was the Zen Buddhist in him. But I digress.)

And verse 7, too, sounds much like him. Michael believed with all his being that I would make it. No matter what happened to us — and we suffered through a flood that damaged many of our belongings, not to mention a huge and financially ruinous cross-country move, and many other things — he believed that success was what you made of it.

And because I got up and tried my best every day, whether it was playing my music, composing music, or of course writing and editing (which he went a long way toward teaching me, and I wasn’t the most apt of pupils), he honestly told me I was a success — and meant it.

To him, it wouldn’t matter that I wasn’t world-famous. What mattered to him instead was that I was my best self, and kept being my best self, no matter what other awful things might happen.

And while I intentionally truncated verse 8 (that’s what the two stars are about, in this context), I like this version’s translation — “Love never comes to an end.”

Because that’s how I feel about it, too.

So while this is a “sadiversary” for me, insofar that I’d much rather Michael be alive so we could do the normal things couples do when they’re celebrating the date of their wedding, it’s also an oddly happy day, too.

I got to marry and be with the most wonderful person I’ve ever known. Not many people can say that. And he loved me until the end of his life, with everything he had, and I believe wherever he is now in the positive Afterlife, he continues to love me, too.

And I know I will always, always, always love Michael, too.

That’s more precious to me than any amount of money or fame could ever be.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 24, 2014 at 2:42 am

Racine Journal-Times Interviews Me for their “Our Authors” Segment

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My interview with the Racine Journal-Times went live this morning, so I thought I’d get over here and write a quick blog to point it out.

Now, how did this happen?

Well, a few weeks ago, the Journal-Times sent me a list of interview questions regarding me, my writing, and my book, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. I answered them.

Voila!

(Yes, I’m being intentionally deadpan today. Why did you ask?)

So if you’ve ever wondered just how long it took me to write AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, this interview has the answer. And if you’re wondering just how long the ELFY duology has been in existence, well…

Let’s go to the interview:

How long did it take you to write the book? Thirteen months. But it took 10 years to get a publisher interested.

And if you ever wanted to know why I started writing? The interview has that answer, too:

How did you get interested in writing? I wrote as a child, but mostly poetry. When I went to college, then graduate school, I worked at my schools’ newspapers. I wrote some science fiction and fantasy stories in high school, sent one out and actually got good comments (what is called a “brass-ring rejection” in the trade, meaning I fell just short of publication), but I didn’t know what that meant at the time and put fiction aside for 10 years. Then I went back, and haven’t stopped since.

And that’s not all, as we discuss my book (including why I wrote it in the first place) and just what my connection to Racine is.

The most important part of this interview, though, is probably why I wrote AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE at all. But if you’ve read my blog before, or know anything about me at all, you probably already realize this.

Still, in case you haven’t figured it out, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE came into existence because Michael and I got married, I had a dream about Bruno after reading an anthology about Elves (Bruno said, “It’s not like that!”), and Michael encouraged me to write down whatever was going on.

Because, you know, writer-spouses are like that. They don’t look at you like you’ve grown a second head. Instead, they tell you, “Hey, whatever is going on, you should write it down.”

So I did.

Because I knew the Journal-Times would be pressed for space, I left out the part about Michael’s encouragement in this interview. But I’ve discussed it before, most particularly here at my blog and in this particular guest blog I did for Stephanie Osborn’s Comet Tales.

Anyway, I’m pleased this interview is now up and available. So go forth and read it, OK?

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm

DBacks Throw at Braun “Unintentionally,” But Brewers Win

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Last night’s baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks was notable for two things: a grand-slam homer by Jonathan Lucroy that won the game for the Brewers, and an “unintentional” plunking of Ryan Braun that served to load the bases for Lucroy.

Let me break it down for you.

The Brewers were down, 4-3, in the top of the 7th inning. Two men (Scooter Gennett and Lyle Overbay) were standing on second and third base, and Ryan Braun was at the plate. There were two outs. Braun has been doing better lately, but right now, Lucroy is the better all-around hitter.

Anyway, the DBacks had a number of options. They could’ve intentionally walked Braun. They could’ve pitched to Braun. They could’ve given Braun an “unintentional” intentional walk — where they do try to pitch to Braun, but give him nothing worth having.

Instead, they threw at his backside. Twice.

The first pitch missed. The home plate umpire, Ted Barrett, went out to ask the DBacks pitcher, Evan Marshall, what occurred — Marshall clearly said something like, “It slipped,” so the ump went back behind the plate.

However, when Marshall threw again at Braun’s backside, this time hitting him, Barrett didn’t wait: he threw Marshall out immediately.

Marshall exited to fist-bumps from his own dugout and a standing ovation from many in the crowd. (Note that the Brewers play their Spring Training games in Arizona, so there were a goodly amount of Brewers fans in the audience. They definitely did not stand up; instead, they booed.)

Now, Jonathan Lucroy came to bat. He’d hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, is among the hottest hitters in baseball (currently is hitting .340, good for third in the league), and considering Braun is “only” hitting .284 at the moment (low by Braun’s standards), no one in his right mind would intentionally hit Braun to get to Lucroy.

And Lucroy delivered, just as you’d expect him to do. He hit a grand slam homer. And just like that, the Brewers went from being down, 4-3, to winning, 7-4. And they eventually won the game, 7-5.

All of Marshall’s posturing aside, it was obvious that Marshall intentionally threw at Braun. (The smirking Marshall insisted in the post-game interviews aired by Fox Sports Wisconsin that he’d not intended to hit Braun at all. But that’s just absurd.)

It’s also obvious from all the fist-bumping in the dugout that Kirk Gibson not only knew of Marshall’s plan, but Gibson must’ve approved of it. (How else would a guy who’s just lost the game and not even gotten one single batter out get fist-bumps from his own dugout?)

And finally, DBacks catcher Miguel Montero obviously knew of this plan as well, as both times he set his glove far inside, right behind Braun’s butt.**

Mind, Kyle Lohse did hit two DBacks earlier in the game — Didi Gregorious, and Chris Owings. But Lohse barely grazed Gregorious (in fact, I’m not even sure Lohse hit him, it was that light; he got him on the pant leg), and the pitch to Owings wasn’t anywhere near as blatant as that thrown at Braun — twice.

It’s well-known that Kirk Gibson does not like Ryan Braun, and blames Braun for the DBacks losing the NLCS to the Brewers in 2011. (Gibson seems to think that if Braun hadn’t been taking PEDs then, the DBacks would’ve won. An odd assumption.) So having Braun go to the plate and get hit, and having the unseemly display in the dugout after Marshall quite rightly got ejected from the game, seems like Gibson planned this particular event to the letter.

The only thing that failed was in having to pitch to Lucroy one batter later. Lucroy was fired up, as was everyone in the Brewers dugout. Had Lucroy not hit the grand-slam homer, it’s possible there could’ve been some ugliness between the two teams.

Fortunately, Lucroy hit the grand slam. The DBacks quieted down. The partisans in the crowd quieted also, while the Brewers fans rejoiced. And Milwaukee won the game because of Gibson’s stupidity in loading the bases to pitch to Lucroy, incompetence (enough said) and obvious hatred of Ryan Braun.

As Braun said when asked after the game about all this:

Braun said he was anticipating getting hit at some point, just not at that point.

“We know the way the game works. I wasn’t surprised I got hit,” Braun said. “I was surprised I got hit in that situation, those circumstances — go-ahead run at second base, tying run at third.”

Any speculation that Gibson may have wanted Braun because of the PED issue brings to mind Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster intentionally hitting the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez last August after Rodriguez was suspended 211 games by MLB. Dempster was suspended five games.

Asked if he thought the drug angle figured in Marshall’s pitch, Braun said: “You’d have to ask him (Gibson). I wish him the best, hope he finds peace and happiness in his life.”

Which, really, is all Braun can say.

All I know is this: What the Arizona Diamondbacks did yesterday in deliberately plunking Ryan Braun in the butt, then fist-bumping and high-fiving the pitcher, Evan Marshall, who did it (and promptly got ejected for it), was classless, shoddy, and stupid.

No wonder the DBacks are 30-44. Because acting like that, they’ve obviously proven themselves to be losers of the first water.

———

**Note: Expect suspensions for Marshall, Gibson, and possibly Montero. Because they’ve all earned them.

About to Play a Concert

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In an hour, I’ll be playing a concert with the Racine Concert Band over at Mound Cemetery to commemorate Flag Day.

For those of you who live in the Racine area, please feel free to stop by and give us a listen.

(Yes, this is a mini-blog. And no, I still don’t feel particularly well — but I’m not about to let that stop me. I’ve had tea and toast and am dressed to play. So here goes . . . something?)

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 14, 2014 at 11:09 am

Posted in Music

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Same-Sex Marriages Being Celebrated in WI…and It’s About Time

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Folks, last Friday, United States District Court judge Barbara Crabb overturned Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriages, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution. (Here’s a link to her ruling in full, in case you’re interested.)

Hallelujah!

While Wisconsin’s Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, immediately appealed the ruling to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, for the moment same-sex couples can marry in Wisconsin. And many are doing so, because Judge Crabb has not issued a stay on same-sex marriages pending appeal (as have some other judges); instead, she’s asked for further arguments from Van Hollen that explain why he feels a stay should be granted.

In the interim, every county in Wisconsin is doing something different with regards to same-sex marriage. Some counties are not allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, including my own Racine County; others, like Dane and Milwaukee County and even the reddest Republican county in Wisconsin, Waukesha County, are allowing same-sex couples to marry.

I applaud the county clerks who are allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. But I do understand why the other county clerks are hesitant to marry same-sex couples as there’s a law on Wisconsin’s books that says any county clerk who marries someone illegally can be held liable (to the tune of $10,000 per “illegal marriage”).

Personally, if I were Governor Scott Walker, I’d call off J.B. Van Hollen and concede this issue. (Note that state Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, has already done so.) Walker and Van Hollen can be personally opposed all they like, but the fact of the matter is, same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in the same manner as opposite-sex couples.

However, as they’re unlikely to do that, I will wait for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to come down with a decision. I hope they will not issue a stay, because not every county clerk who’s allowing gay marriages to go forward is waiving the five-day mandatory waiting period (though both Milwaukee and Dane counties are). And that means the paperwork may get started, but the people in those counties may not be able to get married after all if a stay is put in place before the marriage can actually be celebrated.

I’d been hoping that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals would immediately back up the federal court judge on this one, which is the only reason I hadn’t immediately blogged about this back on Friday night. (Over the weekend, Pride Fest was held in Milwaukee, so it was especially apt that the federal judge issued her ruling at that time.) I wanted to be able to say unequivocally that same-sex marriage would be forevermore legal in the state of Wisconsin — as it should be.

And while I cannot say that at this hour, I can at least say that I’m very pleased we’ve taken this step forward, thanks to the federal judge.

Now let’s try to stay there.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 10, 2014 at 8:44 am

Two New Reviews of My Novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE Are Up…

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Folks, Monday was not the world’s best day.

Why? Well, I have a nasty sinus infection. I wasn’t able to concentrate on my editing despite the two exciting projects on my hands right now — both fantasies, but wildly dissimilar.

So if I can’t work on these two books, I know it’s because I’m not feeling well. So I trotted off to the doctor, got some antibiotics, and went home to bed.

(Yeah. It was one of those sorts of days.)

Anyway, I got up after getting some solid rest and found this review by Betsy Lightfoot over at her blog of my novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Here’s some of what she has to say:

(Bruno the Elfy) needs to find a way out of the mess he finds himself in, as well as rescuing his mentor, and a young human woman, trying not to get any further into trouble. Along the way, he learns that nearly everything he has learned about the human world, his own world, and even himself, is a lie.

The book is alternately exciting, scary, and funny, with mysteries to be solved, and great evils to be faced and overcome.

..All in all, a satisfying read, and I’m waiting for the second half of the story to come out.

In addition, I had a lovely review from author Chris Nuttall posted at Amazon on Sunday. A bit of his review says:

An Elfy on the Loose dances from one genre to another without pausing for breath and rockets towards a cliffhanger ending.

So there you have it . . . two new reviews of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and both are positive. I’ve gone from having one review to three reviews in a couple of short days. This is progress.

And I’m quite pleased, because you never know just what people think of your work until they say something. (Yes, this despite the four wonderful authors who have stood in my corner for the past several years; you can view their comments at my “What People Are Saying” page.)

Now, as I toddle back off to nurse my nasty sinus infection, I can feel a little better. And I do appreciate that.

———-

BTW, in case you missed my guest blog about why I used parallel universes in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, it’s up right now over at the inestimable Stephanie Osborn’s blog, Comet Tales.  Feel free to check it out.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 10, 2014 at 6:25 am

Welcome to the Elfyverse…

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Thank you for stopping by my blog, which is called either “Barb Caffrey’s Blog,” or “the Elfyverse.”

Why two names? Well, I figured it would be easier for people to find me if they used my name. But I’ve been writing about Elfys, Elfs, Dwarves, and more for over ten years — thus “the Elfyverse.”

As for what I do here, it’s simple: I talk about anything I like.

I’ve been blogging now for over five years. (Here’s a link to my first blog post, if you don’t believe me.) Over that time, I’ve talked writing, publishing, music, sports, current events, politics . . . anything that I feel like talking about.

So while you’re here, expect the unexpected . . . because you never quite know what I’m about to say.

Please feel free to stop by any time you like. And tell your friends about all my work, including AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Barnes and Noble link is here) and the first two stories of my late husband Michael’s, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station,” all available at Amazon.

And remember . . . support a real writer.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 9, 2014 at 5:21 am

New Guest Blog about Parallel Universes and the Elfyverse is Up

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Folks, I have a new guest blog up at Stephanie Osborn’s blog, Comet Tales. It’s about parallel universes, and why I used this particular theory in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

“But Barb,” I can hear you saying. “Why did you write this particular guest blog? Haven’t parallel universes been done to death in SF&F literature? What could you possibly say that’s new about that hoary old subject?”

Well, parallel universes have been used many times in science fiction. But they’ve only rarely been used in straight fantasy. And definitely not like this.

Here’s a bit from my guest blog that explains why I used parallel universes in this particular way:

I figured it’s much easier to have one world that’s split via the parallel universe theory than it is to send someone somewhere else where nothing is familiar whatsoever. I liked the idea that the supposedly familiar could also be intensely strange – as the Elfys, at first, know very little about us, the Humans, and we definitely know even less about them. And I really liked the idea that a magical being like a Dark Elf – that is, a being committed to violence and darkness and death for its own sake – would “pass” as Human because we’ve forgotten that Dark Elfs exist.

Please do take a gander at my guest blog over at Stephanie’s site, as I think you might find it interesting. Because really, very few fantasy novelists have used the parallel universe theory straight-up . . . and perhaps me using it gives you an idea just how unique AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is compared to other fantasy novels.

(Plus, it’s funny. Have I mentioned that yet?)

Anyway, this guest blog explains why I decided to use the parallel universe theory — something you rarely see in fantasy — to good effect in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. I truly hope you will enjoy it.

Two New Book Reviews up at SBR

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Folks, it’s been a busy weekend for me over at Shiny Book Review (SBR, as always).

On Friday night, I reviewed the tenth and final volume of Stephen R. Donaldson’s long-running series starring Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, THE LAST DARK.

And a few, short hours ago, I reviewed Veronica Roth’s ALLEGIANT, which is of course the final volume of her Divergent trilogy.

I hope you’ll enjoy the reviews, and let me know what you think, as per usual.

This week, I’ll be reviewing Cedar Sanderson’s TRICKSTER NOIR and Aaron Paul Lazar’s mysteries SPIRIT ME AWAY and LADY BLUES, the latter as a 2-for-1 special.

As for an ETA for these reviews, my normal reviewing days over at SBR are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (though sometimes, as today, I bleed over into Sunday. Bad me.) So do stay tuned…

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 8, 2014 at 5:06 am