Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 2014

My story “Baseball, Werewolves and Me” Included in Halloween 2014 Edition of Twilight Times E-Zine

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Happy Halloween, folks!

Since it is Halloween, the time of tricks and/or treats, what say you to a little bit of both?

I’m discussing my story,  “Baseball, Werewolves and Me,” of course, as it’s included in the Halloween edition of the Twilight Times e-zine. It’s absolutely free to read, so in that sense it’s definitely a treat. But there’s at least a little bit of trickery in play, partly due to the nature of the story itself.

Arletta James is a psychic, and a good one. She’s also a huge baseball fan. So when “Madame Arletta” is asked to help Hank Rayne, manager of the Brooklyn Knights, some pointers to try to get the Knights out of their twelve-game losing streak, Arletta agrees. (Of course, she is getting paid good money to do this, as Arletta is not a fool.) Once she talks with Hank Rayne, she realizes something else — something much worse — is going on that’s caused the Knights to go into a tailspin. Will Arletta figure this out, or won’t she? And what does her husband Fergus — a werewolf — have to do with it all?

Baseball, Werewolves and Me” is a fun story that readers should enjoy, especially as it’s about a subject that usually does not get covered overmuch in urban fantasy: baseball.

And who doesn’t like a free story? Especially when it’s Halloween?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2014 at 2:11 am

Time for a Halloween #MFRWHooks BlogHop!

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I’ve done the Marketing For Romance Writers Book Hooks Blog Hop once before, but how could I possibly resist doing it again considering we’re nearly up to Halloween? So here we go . . . it’s time for a #MFRWHooks Halloween blog hop!

a0bb9-anelfyontheloose_medHere’s a wee snippet from chapter 2 of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE to whet your interest:

Sarah had stopped and appeared to be weaving on her feet. Bruno jogged the equivalent of three city blocks to get to her, hoping she’d not fall before he made it.

“Bruno, I feel…sick,” she gasped when he was only a few steps away. He sprinted toward her and turned her around; her greenish-white face was alarming.

He tried not to panic, but he had no way to treat her illness, and no way to get her any help. He felt completely useless, as he had no healing magic…

Lost on a sea of too-green grass, with no way out in sight.

* * * * * * End snippet * * * * *

I hope you enjoyed that little snippet. But perhaps you’d rather read a short blurb about what AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is about instead?

Bruno the Elfy believes he’s very young, has no power, and has no enemies.

He’s wrong.

Quickly sent to our Earth (the Human Realm) and told to watch for magic, Bruno must unravel the lies, keep his mentor from being tortured, and—oh, yeah—figure out why he’s so strongly attracted to young, Human Sarah.

Because his life depends on it.

* * * * * End blurb * * * * *

Or maybe you’d just like to read more of the sample chapters? (If so, here they are.)

Or maybe — just maybe — something here intrigued you. If that’s the case, here are my buy links:

Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/1p6xvQj
Amazon (UK): http://goo.gl/dDoBnd
Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/m8o49ad

Now, go be fruitful and multiply — or at least make your way to the next blog in the hop by visiting http://mfrwbookhooks.blogspot.com as that’s the easiest way to discover any number of other interesting books, all featuring at least a small hint of romance.

Enjoy!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm

A Quick Note About My Blog…

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Folks, I’ve been asked this question in the not-so-distant past:

“Barb, why do you talk about school shootings/sports/politics/current events? Why don’t you just talk about publishing, or your stories, or happy stuff?”

While I talk about my stories — and quite often — I feel a need to talk about the things that concern me. As a writer of young adult fiction in particular, school shootings hurt. I think back to my school days, which weren’t the world’s easiest, and wonder how much worse things would’ve been had someone opened fire at my high school.

Or worse yet, at my junior high. Or even at my elementary school.

While I cannot begin to understand what the people who’ve endured school shootings at Sandy Hook or Washington State have gone through, I can at least empathize with them. And I try to do that, while discussing what disturbs me so much about these atrocious, horrific events.

Now, as for why I talk about everything else? Sports — that’s easy. I love sports, always have, and it gives me a commonality with others I wouldn’t be likely to have any other way.

I mean, really. I’m a classically-trained musician with two music degrees, a good amount of performing experience (mostly with classical music, but some in other styles, mostly jazz or backing up a pop vocalist), and I write. These things set me apart from the average run-of-the-mill human being.

Yet I think there’s a lot more that I have in common with other people than not. And sports work as a metaphor for that.

Besides, I love the competition. I enjoy the intellectual struggles of the coaches, the little quirks of fate that change the outcomes of various games, and enjoy seeing players overcome all sorts of obstacles.

“But what about current events, Barb? Or most especially politics? Why must you talk about that? Surely you know that Republicans/Democrats/Independents/Martians buy books, too, and that every post you put up that’s against one of these groups is likely to alienate people?”

I talk about current events because they interest me. I try to pay attention to what happens in this life. I can’t comment on it all, no. But the important stuff, I try to say something if I can. Because being buried in an edit or working out changes in a contracted story just isn’t all that interesting for anyone who’s not actively involved in the process of writing or editing…though, granted, I’ve had various things to say about the writing process or the editing process in the past, and probably will again.

And I talk about politics because I live in the United States of America, a democratic republic. Politics are part of the deal. I may not like what happens with regards to my elected officials; in fact, most of the time I can’t stand it. But it’s up to me to watch what they’re doing in order to make the best possible voting decisions I can.

If that alienates people…well, I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be. (That we’ve reached such a state in our society that people want their writers to share every last belief with them to the last jot and tittle isn’t good, to put it mildly. But we’ll save that discussion for another day.)

“But — but — happy talk, Barb! The world is so dreary and depressing as it is. Why can’t you just talk about fun stuff? Or post pictures of dogs/cats/chickadees/monkeys, etc.?”

I’m a firm believer in being who I am. And that means “happy talk” is out. (If you’re looking for that from me, you’ve really come to the wrong store.)

Now, if there are no more questions from the peanut gallery (ha!), I’d best get back to what I was doing before. (Namely, editing.)

Until soon, folks…

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 28, 2014 at 6:15 am

Washington School Shooting Leaves Many More Qs than As

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Folks, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting very tired of people being shot dead at public schools. It is despicable, it is wasteful, it is nonsensical — but most of all, it is appalling.

And it never, ever seems to end.

In the latest senseless tragedy, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg shot five people at his high school, Marysville Pilchuck High in Washington state, last Friday afternoon. Time magazine is reporting that Fryberg had asked all five to join him at lunch via text message.

Among those Fryberg shot were his cousins, Nate Hatch (14) and Andrew Fryberg (15), and three girls: Shaylee Chuckulnaskit (14), who remains in critical condition, Zoe Galasso (14), who died at the scene, and Gia Soriano (14), who died at a hospital on Sunday night.

As Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said in the Time article, “The question everyone wants is, ‘Why?’…I don’t know that the ‘why’ is something we can provide.”

That’s because the usual answers that come to mind about the personality of a school shooter don’t seem to apply in this case. Jaylen Fryberg wasn’t a loner, and he wasn’t bullied. Instead, he was a football player, a popular kid who’d been named Homecoming King of the freshman class, and obviously was tight with the five people he asked to join him last Friday, or they’d not have shown up at his lunch table.

Then he shot them all, before turning the gun on himself.

There are absolutely no answers that will bring back Soriano or Galasso. There are absolutely no answers that will lessen the injuries of Fryberg’s cousin Andrew, who remains in critical condition. And there aren’t any answers that will allow Hatch to heal any faster, even though Hatch is the only one who appears to be healing at all.

Even if there were answers to be had tomorrow, what then? The two young ladies are still going to be dead. The two young men and the other young lady are still going to be badly injured for no damned good reason. And the guy who did it took his own life, so there can’t even be any punishment on this plane of existence — not that there is any sufficient punishment for doing this, or ever could be.

I’ve written a number of posts in the past about other senseless shootings, and I never have understood any of them. Every time — every single time — I think to myself, “When will the killing end? Why does this keep happening?”

And I come up empty.

All I know is this: If you have children, tell them you love them. Treat them with kindness and respect. Give them guidance, nurturing, and care. Let them know that even if they feel like their world is ending over a girl (as was apparently the case with Jaylen Fryberg), this will pass — and even if it doesn’t, it’s not a justification for taking the lives of others.

Because there is no justification for what Jaylen Fryberg did, and never will be.

Three New Reviews Up at SBR

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Folks, I’ve been busy reviewing books over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).

On Friday, I reviewed Robert W. McChesney’s DIGITAL DISCONNECT and Alena Graedon’s THE WORD EXCHANGE. And just now, I reviewed Michael Z. Williamson’s FREEHOLD.

These reviews weren’t easy to write, which is one reason I delayed writing them until now.

Still, I hope you will enjoy them in the spirit intended.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 26, 2014 at 2:37 am

Canadian Shooting Leaves Me Furious, Puzzled

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It’s been three days since a misguided, delusional man shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a reservist in the Canadian Army, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa. This same man then hijacked a car, ran into the nearby Parliament building and attempted to kill some more innocent people before he finally, mercifully was shot dead.

And in all of that time, I’ve been wrestling with my feelings over this.

I have many Canadian friends, but even if I didn’t have a single one, I would still be furious. How dare someone attack an unarmed soldier like Cpl. Cirillo for doing his duty? How dare someone attack the seat of the Canadian government?

I’m not going to name the attacker because I feel he’s already had too much publicity. Instead, I’d like to say a few things about Cpl. Cirillo, these garnered from one of the very few United States publications to accurately report what was going on in Ottawa on Tuesday, the New York Times.

Cpl. Cirillo was a 25-year-old man who loved to work out, play with his two dogs, and was the proud father of a young son. He had an Instagram account, posting pictures of himself in ceremonial uniform (complete with kilt and Glengarry bonnet) along with pics of his dogs. He worked part-time as a bouncer at a nightclub, occasionally worked as a personal trainer at a gym, and apparently enjoyed his life and everything in it.

Cpl. Cirillo did not deserve to be shot dead while guarding the National War Memorial. In fact, he didn’t deserve to be shot dead at all. He was just a normal young man, doing his military duty, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as so many have done before him.

Cpl. Cirillo’s normalcy is exactly why I’m so furious. He deserved more time on this Earth, and his life was brutally ripped away by a thug.

Fortunately for everyone’s peace of mind — in Canada and out — once the armed thug was inside the Parliament building, Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers  was able to shoot and kill the intruder. Vickers, 58, was later commended for his actions, but deflected it.

But it never should’ve happened. And it puzzles me that this attack actually did come off.

You see, unlike in the United States, where ceremonial guards carry weapons with live ammunition, Cpl. Cirillo carried an unloaded gun. Had it been loaded, it’s possible that the Corporal would still be alive today.

If this were the United States, hand-wringing would ensue. Congresscritters of all sorts would be condemning the gunman, condemning the state of affairs in the country, blaming the President and goodness alone what else, and basically dithering.

Because it happened in Canada, the U.S. politicos have mostly been silent. President Obama condemned the attack and sent his condolences, as you’d expect, and a very few other politicians mentioned it . . . but as our Congress is out on recess, not much else happened.

And because the state of the media in the United States is so distressingly bad, very little additional information has come out regarding why, exactly, this occurred, why anyone in the Canadian government thought it was OK for a soldier in the performance of his duty to carry an unloaded weapon, or even much about the bravery of Sergeant-At-Arms Vickers.

There are many good sources about all of this, of course, including the CBC, the UK media, and a very few newspapers and magazines in the US. But for whatever reason, that’s not what comes up first in web searches; instead, what comes up is information about the gunman, information about what the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is doing about all of this, and whether or not the Parliament building will now have much greater security than it did before.

Decent coverage, but it’s not what interests me most.

Instead, I want to hear more about Cpl. Cirillo. More about the brave woman, Barbara Winters, who attempted to save Cpl. Cirillo’s life. And more about what average Canadians think of this terrible tragedy, for that matter.

Those are the real stories, and they have been profoundly overlooked in the United States, possibly because of the lamentable state of contemporary journalism.

And that’s so sad, it’s heartbreaking.

Car Is Repaired After 52 Days — Thank Goodness!

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Folks, I’m very happy to report that my 2010 Hyundai Accent has finally been repaired after 52 days. The folks at Racine Hyundai did a very good job in putting a new transmission into the car, and I am pleased with their efforts. (Hyundai USA, not so much, as I’ve said before. Several times.)

I’m grateful to the people who helped through GoFundMe and also privately, so I could repair this car; it was an enormous expense, and I needed all of the help I could find.

Anyway, the car is back. I am extremely happy to be mobile again!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts, already in progress…

Language, and the Writers Who Use It

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Over the past week or so, I’ve been struck by the changes in language over the past ten years or so…namely, the uptick in allowable profanity on the one hand, and the uptick in allowable “gross slang” on the other.

For example, I doubt that ten years ago I’d have heard the word “pissed” on television, much less on a show like Divorce Court that features a real judge with real people trying to solve difficult relationship problems. Yet I heard it this past week from Judge Lynn Toler, a retired municipal court justice — and no one batted an eye.

Ten years ago, the word wouldn’t have been “pissed” at all. It would’ve been “ticked” (as in, ticked off) or “perturbed” or “displeased” or even “upset.” But not “pissed,” as it was considered vulgar and uncouth.

Another word that’s attained much more acceptance is the word “farted.” Ten years ago, most who now use this word wouldn’t have chosen this particular expression; instead, it would’ve been “passed gas,” “broke wind,” or if you were highfalutin’ (or like me and just liked the sound of the word), you’d say “flatulent” instead.

Finally, ten years ago it was considered at least slightly impolite to say “Hell” or “Damn” while discussing business matters. (Note it wasn’t at all considered impolite while talking with your friends, those who knew you best.) But now, it happens all the time.

What does that mean? Mostly, it means that language changes. And writers need to keep on top of that.

That doesn’t mean your own speaking habits need to change. But it does mean you need to be aware of what your characters are saying, and more to the point, how they’re saying it.

So when you’re writing dialogue, be aware of your setting, your characters, their particular temperaments…and, of course, keep an ear out for slang. Because that way lies verisimilitude (or at least a better reading experience).

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2014 at 5:18 am

Review: An Elfy on the Loose

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I received a wonderful review from Jonathan Lightfoot over at Be Swift, Be Precise, for my novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Go see what he has to say about it, then please do go and pick up a copy for yourself today.

Here are the links:

Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/1p6xvQj
Amazon (UK): http://goo.gl/dDoBnd
Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/m8o49ad

And thanks much!

Be Swift, Be Precise

Books shouldn’t be allowed to end with cliff-hangers like that.

An Elfy on the Loose by Barb Caffrey is part of the Elfy Duology, and as the first of a two-parter, ends at a point where you are building for a big confrontation, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Of course, you wouldn’t care about what happens, if she hadn’t drawn you in. But she did draw me in.

The world, or should I say worlds, that Caffrey built are a good setting for the story she places in it, of which I think only a small part is actually displayed in this first part of the duology. I kept reading to find out what happened.

Which doesn’t mean that I always found the reading easy going. I tried to figure why I sometimes felt labored at reading, and yet driven to continue. I think it had something to do with…

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Written by Barb Caffrey

October 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

My Novel, “Changing Faces,” Is Complete…

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Folks, I’m happy to report two things.

I finished my long-delayed novel, CHANGING FACES, today. As this took over fourteen years of hard work and multiple drafts, I’m ecstatic that my novel is finally complete.

(Yes, I said fourteen years. My late husband Michael liked this book; he compared it to C.S. Lewis. And my late best friend Jeff Wilson also enjoyed this novel immensely. But I digress.)

Upon completion of my final edit, I sent it to my publisher, Lida Quillen at Twilight Times Books. I’d asked her a while back if she might be interested in my transgendered fantasy/romance (with aliens who may as well be angels). She said she was, so I told her when I finished it I’d gladly send it to her forthwith for her appraisal.

And now, I have.

May the happy dance commence!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 15, 2014 at 6:05 am