Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for November 2015

Friday Fun: Cover Reveal Plus Lineup, REALMS OF DARKOVER

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Folks, it’s Friday. It’s been a long, hard week for many of us, especially due to the terrible acts of terrorists all over the world.

My heart goes out to the people in Mali, in Paris, in Lebanon, and elsewhere. There is so much strife, so many problems, and so much distress in this world…sometimes it can be hard to see anything good.

But good things still exist. I don’t know if they can be enough to outweigh all the terrible things or not. Still, we can but try — and a little diversion from the world’s problems can’t do any harm, right?

That said, I do have some good news to share. And I want to share it right now, as it seems appropriate.

My third story in the long-running Darkover universe (begun by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and continued by Deborah J. Ross), “Fiona, Court Clerk in Training,” has been accepted by Ms. Ross in her role as editor for REALMS OF DARKOVER (due in June of 2016). This is my third story about my character Fiona n’ha Gorsali and/or her family, who becomes Darkover’s first Renunciate judge and a prominent legal authority down the line. But this story is about Fiona’s first steps toward that goal — before she becomes a judge, she must first become a court clerk. And she decides to do this at the tender age of thirteen…

At any rate, I’m very pleased to have sold this story to REALMS OF DARKOVER.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the table of contents for REALMS OF DARKOVER:

Introduction, by Deborah J. Ross

Tainted Meat, by Shariann Lewitt

Snow Dancing, by Jane M. H. Bigelow

Impossible Tasks by Marella Sands

The Snowflake Fallacy, by Michael Spence

Old Purity, by Leslie Fish

A Walk In The Mountains, by Margaret L. Carter and Leslie Roy Carter

The Fifth Moon, by Ty Nolan

Sudden Tempest, by Deborah Millitello

Housebound, by Diana L. Paxson

Sea of Dreams, by Robin Wayne Bailey

Stormcrow, by Rosemary Edghill and Rebecca Fox

Fiona, Court Clerk in Training, by Barb Caffrey

(See? I’m restraining a happy dance, mostly because I’d probably pull a muscle if I did. But rest assured, I’m quite pleased about this.)

And all authors have been given the ability to let people know about this anthology — which is why tonight’s cover reveal.

So, without further ado, here is the cover for REALMS OF DARKOVER — enjoy!

Realms of Darkover cover FB sized

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 20, 2015 at 8:04 pm

A Writer’s Work Is Never Done…

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It’s Friday, folks. And as such, I figured I’d give you all an update as to what, exactly, I’ve been doing this past week.

Most of the week was taken up with a major editing project, but I also found time to check over the ARC of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, do some work on CHANGING FACES, and of course write my blog complaining about the Milwaukee Brewers trade of Francisco Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers for a single-A infield prospect.

I managed to get a great deal of work done, this past week. But of course there’s still more to be done — A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE should be out next week, just before Thanksgiving, and I have to read over the file one, final time just to make sure I have dotted my i’s and crossed all my t’s…or at least made sure I didn’t misspell Bruno’s name.

When I get this busy, sometimes it’s hard to remember which end is up. I’ve been juggling three major projects — the edit for someone else, A LITTLE ELFY ON BIG TROUBLE, and CHANGING FACES. While I’m good at prioritizing, and I am reasonably good at remembering just where I’ve left off at any given project, I only can do so much.

That said, during the past week I also worked a little bit on two other projects — because three major projects obviously aren’t enough, right? (Must. Have. More.)

Anyway, the major edit has been turned in. A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE is wrapping up, and will be out — thankfully, as I know many people have been waiting for it and have asked repeatedly why it’s not out yet. (Patience, my young friends. And old ones, too — ’cause I don’t want to leave anyone out.) And I get closer to finishing my final edit/rewrite of CHANGING FACES every time I work on it…the hope there is, I should be done in time for a Valentine’s Day launch.

Finally, two of my paranormal romance stories are included in the forthcoming Exquisite Quills Holiday Anthology, this time to be offered via Amazon (and priced at ninety-nine cents USD). I’ll try to get you links when the anthology goes live…and I hope you will enjoy them.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 20, 2015 at 11:37 am

Brewers Trade K-Rod for Prospect — and I’m Not Happy About It

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Folks, when I read about the Milwaukee Brewers latest trade of closing pitcher Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers for single-A prospect Javier Betancourt — the first trade under new General Manager David Stearns’ tenure — I was not happy.

Why?

Well, one of the few bright spots I had as a Brewers fan, last year, was to watch K-Rod come out to save games. He was one of the few players to remain positive despite Milwaukee’s dismal season, and he had one of his best seasons, to boot.

As Tom Haudricourt wrote at JSOnline.com (aka the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):

“K-Rod” had a tremendous season for the Brewers in 2015, converting 38 of 40 save opportunities with a 2.21 earned run average in 60 appearances. But the club is in the midst of a significant rebuilding program, and Stearns decided it made more sense to acquire young talent rather than keep an aging closer.

And K-Rod is still only 33 years old, plus was signed at a low price for an elite athlete, too…less than $10 million, including a 2017 contract buyout.

What did the Brewers actually get? Haudricourt has that covered, too:

Betancourt, 20, is primarily a second baseman but has seen limited action at shortstop and third base. Rated the No. 11 prospect in Detroit’s system, he played in 2015 at high Class A Lakeland of the Florida State League, batting .263 with a .304 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage, with 17 doubles, five triples, three home runs and 48 RBI.

Betancourt had 29 walks and 44 strikeouts in 531 plate appearances. He played all 116 games in the field at second base, a position manned mostly by Scooter Gennett for the Brewers over the last two years.

In other words, Betancourt is a step under Double-A ball. He’s a prospect, and somewhat unproven; he is known, apparently, as a good and solid defender, but has no power potential whatsoever.

Granted, the Brewers are full of free-swingers right now. Only Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, among the regulars, seem to know how to take a walk now and again.

That said, it’s extremely frustrating to me, as a long-time Brewers fan, that our new GM has traded one of the achingly few bright spots on the team for someone like Javier Betancourt. And, quite possibly, a player to be named later — though this trade, also according to Haudricourt, also has a player to be named later on Detroit’s side, too!

(How is it possible for Detroit to get another player, considering they’ve just garnered one of the best closers in the game in K-Rod? Your guess is as good as mine. But I digress.)

At any rate, I know the Brewers are in a major rebuilding mode. I accept that; I’ve seen it before.

What I don’t accept, as a fan, is the contention that anyone else could do as well as K-Rod on the 2016 roster. Nor that it’s not a salary-dump of some sort — despite Stearns’ assertion to the contrary. (Why Stearns would think any real fan who’s ever followed this team would believe that kind of baloney is beyond me. But again, I digress.)

Look, folks: What I want, as a fan, is for the Brewers to put an entertaining team on the field that at least tries to win every night. Having players who are happy to play in Milwaukee, despite the fact that they’re not likely to get one whiff of the playoffs for another three or four years, minimum, is a huge part of how the Brewers, as a team, can get there.

I fail to see how trading K-Rod away will promote team victories in 2016. Especially as the two most likely choices on the current roster to become closer — Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress — have zero closing experience. (Smith is a brilliant set-up man until July; after July, he’s competent or worse. And Jeffress, while I like him a lot, does not seem to be closing material, either.)

Maybe K-Rod will enjoy being in Detroit, because Detroit, on paper at least, is a better team than Milwaukee. (But as I’m also aware that K-Rod took less money last year to re-sign with Milwaukee because he liked it so much despite all the nonsense, I have to wonder about that assertion, too.)

Bottom line: The Brewers did not get nearly enough for K-Rod. And unless Javier Betancourt turns out to be the steal of the century, those folks in Detroit have to be laughing their butts off at the hicks in Milwaukee over this one.

Saturday Smile: Finally, the Cover Reveal for “A Little Elfy in Big Trouble” Is Here!

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Folks, the last twenty-four hours has seen a great deal of heartache. The attacks in Paris, in Lebanon, and the earthquake in Japan all hit roughly at the same time…and it’s hard to see anything good, when so much is going badly.

That said, sometimes one little tiny candle can bring a little light into the darkest hour.

My little tiny candle, today, is my long-delayed cover reveal for the second novel in my Elfyverse, A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE. I hope it will bring at least a few of you a Saturday smile.

Take a look!

ALittleElfyinBigTrouble_medIf you’ve been paying attention to date, you know that’s Bruno and Sarah…and behind them is a scary representation of Dennis, the Dark Elf.

But if you have never seen anything at all about the Elfyverse — or read book one in the Elfy duology, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE — this little blurb may help you understand part of what’s going on:

Young Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, are in deep trouble. Bruno’s Elfy mentor Roberto the Wise is about to be sacrificed by a Dark Elf, and Sarah’s parents have decided to help the Elf rather than the Elfy. Things look bleak and are getting worse by the minute, but Bruno and Sarah have a number of allies — human, Elfy, and ghosts — that the Dark Elf can’t possibly expect. Can young love, desperation, and great unexpected power win out despite it all?

And here’s a short excerpt — note, it first appeared here, as part of the Marketing for Romance Writers Book Hooks blog hop:

Bruno took Sarah’s hand and led her back outside. He looked with his mage senses, and felt nothing; no Elfy magic, no Human magic, and as far as he could tell, no Elf magic, Dark or Bright.

He put up a light shield that should help conceal their voices, and decided it was safe enough to talk for a bit.

“Tomorrow is Baaltinne, Sarah.” Bruno rubbed his fingers through his hair and tried not to look too hard at Sarah. Goddess, she was beautiful. But he had to stay on topic. “That’s your May Day. Tomorrow.” He shook his head and tried not to frown. “How can we get everything together in time to stop Dennis the Dark Elf?”

“I have faith in you,” she said. Her eyes darkened. Bruno felt as if he were falling, before she gently brushed her lips against his.

————————— End Excerpt ————————————-

A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE should be out by the end of November from Twilight Times Books as an e-book, perhaps in time for Thanksgiving weekend.

I know I enjoyed writing it, and it continues to make me laugh. I hope you’ll enjoy it as well.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 14, 2015 at 10:23 pm

A First Look at A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE for #MFRWHooks on #MFRWAuthor RT Day!

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Folks, today is a heavy reTweet day for Marketing for Romance Writers. And as such, what better time to show a first look at my forthcoming young adult comic urban fantasy/romance, A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE?

Note I still do not have links or cover art to share. But I can share several sentences, which is why I’m taking part in the Book Hooks promotion today for Marketing for Romance Writers.

First, here’s a short blurb to explain what A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE is all about:

Young Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, are in deep trouble. Bruno’s Elfy mentor Roberto the Wise is about to be sacrificed by a Dark Elf, and Sarah’s parents have decided to help the Elf rather than the Elfy. Things look bleak and are getting worse by the minute, but Bruno and Sarah have a number of allies — human, Elfy, and ghosts — that the Dark Elf can’t possibly expect. Can young love, desperation, and great unexpected power win out despite it all?

And now, here’s a few lines from A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE:

Bruno took Sarah’s hand and led her back outside. He looked with his mage senses, and felt nothing; no Elfy magic, no Human magic, and as far as he could tell, no Elf magic, Dark or Bright.

He put up a light shield that should help conceal their voices, and decided it was safe enough to talk for a bit.

“Tomorrow is Baaltinne, Sarah.” Bruno rubbed his fingers through his hair and tried not to look too hard at Sarah. Goddess, she was beautiful. But he had to stay on topic. “That’s your May Day. Tomorrow.” He shook his head and tried not to frown. “How can we get everything together in time to stop Dennis the Dark Elf?”

“I have faith in you,” she said. Her eyes darkened. Bruno felt as if he were falling, before she gently brushed her lips against his.

—————————– End Excerpt ——————————-

I hope that little excerpt has “hooked’ you, so you’ll be back later this month and get your copy of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE as soon as it comes out.

Before I go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that there’s still time for you to read the first novel in my Elfyverse, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. It’s available for ninety-nine cents right now as an e-book at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Now, please, “hop” to the next participant in the Marketing for Romance Writers Book Hooks blog hop!

Or, take a look at this list, and wade in!


Written by Barb Caffrey

November 11, 2015 at 5:00 am

Guest Author Stephanie Osborn: Why I Like Writing Sherlock Holmes

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Folks, it is my great privilege today to welcome back author Stephanie Osborn to the Elfyverse.

Stephanie and I have known each other for several years, and she’s been a strong supporter of my writing from the get-go. But that’s not the main reason why I’m so happy to have her back today.

Nope.

Instead, it’s because she has a great new novel out called SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MUMMY’S CURSE. (Yes, when Shiny Book Review gets back up and running, I definitely plan to review her novel soonest.) And I asked her if she wanted to stop by and discuss her novel, and anything else she felt like talking about…thus this post, about why she adores writing about one of the world’s most beloved characters, Sherlock Holmes himself.

Take it away, Stephanie! (And do go buy her book.)

——————————————————————————————————————-

Why I Like Writing Sherlock Holmes

By Stephanie Osborn

I like Sherlock Holmes. Pretty much have, from the time I was a kid – though my first encounter with him was nearly my last.

See, someone gave me a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles for my birthday, when I was all of maybe 8 years old. I loved Holmes, but think about it: An 8-year-old kid with a vivid imagination, who dreams in color, and who has what would later be diagnosed as anxiety disorder, reading about a spectral cu sidhe that goes around killing members of an aristocratic family? Yeaaaaaah, no. It was years before I FINISHED the book, let alone picked up another Sherlock Holmes story.

But when I did, I kinda went nuts. I discovered that big ol’ compendium – you know the one, with the mustard and rust colored dust jacket – in my high school library, and I checked it out and kept it until I read the whole thing, cover to cover. Twice. And then I wrote my first ever pastiche.

It was a short story. I don’t even remember now what it was about; this was well before the days of personal computers, and I had to get Mom to type it up on the electric typewriter. (Yeah, so I’m old. Sue me.) And I submitted it to the school literary magazine…

…Which threw it out. First ever rejection notice and I wasn’t even out of high school. And it was a HIGH SCHOOL PUBLICATION. Problem was, the submissions were blind-judged – nobody knew who’d written anything – and the English Lit teacher, in her “superior knowledge,” decreed it was a direct, word-for-word plagiarism of one of Doyle’s actual stories. (No, she didn’t even try to check that big ol’ mustard-and-rust compendium.) At the end of the year, she discovered that I was the one who wrote it and she knew, straight-laced kid that I was, that I would never have plagiarized it. She also knew that I had the ability to write something like that.

I don’t think the story was that great, to be honest. I didn’t at the time. In fact, today I don’t remember the name of the story, or even the plot. See, I was still learning how to put stuff like that together, and I knew there were some plot holes when I wrote it, though I disguised ‘em well. But it was still pretty good for a kid that age, if I do say so. I think the whole episode might say more about the teacher than about my story, but hey.

And I watched the various and sundry films. I would have liked the Rathbone films better, I think, if Nigel Bruce hadn’t played Watson as a bumbling oaf; I simply couldn’t stomach that characterization, and it spoiled the films for me. Some years later, I discovered Jeremy Brett’s Holmes…and Holmes came to life for me. But I never tried my hand at another Holmes story.

Until I was already in the whole writing/publishing milieu. I picked up an anthology of Holmes science fiction and loved it. I thought it was something I’d probably adore writing. But it was all Victorian, and I tended (at that time) to feel a bit limited by Victorian science. It’s pre-relativity, pre-quantum mechanics, pre-everything that makes modern science and science fiction so very…out there. And after all, I AM a scientist.

Long story short, I worked out a way to bring a version of Holmes to the modern day from an alternate reality’s Victorian era, and The Displaced Detective series was born.

Enter this guy named Tommy Hancock. Tommy happens to be the co-publisher and editor in chief of Pro Se Press, one of the movers and shakers in the New Pulp movement. Turns out he’s a fan of the Displaced Detective. So he approached me at a science fiction convention, and asked me to write Holmes for him – only he wanted a more traditional, Holmes and Watson in Victorian Britain, kind of story. So we sat down and talked. We decided what we’d do would be to create a prequel series to the Displaced Detective, so that alternate-reality version of Holmes would have chronicles of his past, with “his” Watson in his original continuum. And so the Gentleman Aegis series was born.

Mummys curse 300Book 1 of that series was just released: Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse. So what is it about?

Holmes and Watson. Two names forever linked by mystery and danger from the beginning.

Within the first year of their friendship and while both are young men, Holmes and Watson are still finding their way in the world, with all the troubles that such young men usually have: Financial straits, troubles of the female persuasion, hazings, misunderstandings between friends, and more. Watson’s Afghan wounds are still tender, his health not yet fully recovered, and there can be no consideration of his beginning a new practice as yet. Holmes, in his turn, is still struggling to found the new profession of consulting detective. Not yet truly established in London, let alone with the reputations they will one day possess, they are between cases and at loose ends when Holmes’ old professor of archaeology contacts him.

Professor Willingham Whitesell makes an appeal to Holmes’ unusual skill set and a request. Holmes is to bring Watson to serve as the dig team’s physician and come to Egypt at once to translate hieroglyphics for his prestigious archaeological dig. There in the wilds of the Egyptian desert, plagued by heat, dust, drought and cobras, the team hopes to find the very first Pharaoh. Instead, they find something very different…

I do hope you like it. I certainly had a great time writing it.

~~~

Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a 20+-year space program veteran, with degrees in astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, “fluent” in others, including geology and anatomy. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to some two dozen books, including celebrated Burnout and the Displaced Detective and Gentleman Aegis series.

~~~

Purchase links for Mummy’s Curse:

Amazon print: http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Mummys-Curse-Gentleman/dp/1518883125/ref=sr_1_3_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446569718&sr=8-3&keywords=sherlock+holmes+and+the+mummy%27s+curse

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Mummys-Stephanie-Osborn-ebook/dp/B017IX33NW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446593931&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=sherlock+holmes+and+the+mummy%27s+curse%C2%94+stephanie+osborn

Smashwords electronic (epub/mobi/pdf): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/590130

Pro Se Press: http://prose-press.com/blog/2015/11/3/author-stephanie-osborn-debuts-new-holmes-series-sherlock-holmes-and-the-mummys-curse-debuts

~~~

Displaced Detective book 1: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Arrival/dp/1606191896/

Displaced Detective Omnibus: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Omnibus-ebook/dp/B00FOR5LJ4/

Displaced Detective book 5: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Spontaneous-Combustion-Displaced-Detective-ebook/dp/B00K98AI6Y/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51RvnSdsIVL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR104%2C160_&refRID=1AB9HXZQEH5DP0H06Z7W

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 9, 2015 at 3:29 am

Where Have You Gone, Judith A. Lansdowne?

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Folks, it is no secret that I’m partial to romance novels.

As such, I’ve been asked often what I like about them. Because these are often the oldest stories in the world — boy meets girl, boy either takes to girl right away or can’t stand her (or vice versa), and in the end the couple walks off into the sunset.

This is the case in ninety percent of traditional romances, whether set in a historical period like England’s Regency, or in the current day.

But some romance authors add more. They add wit, charm, style, a certain zing — it’s hard to quantify, but it’s very easy to spot.

Judith A. Lansdowne has this extra ability. From her very first novel, AMELIA’S INTRIGUE (which I recently read via Inter-Library Loan) to her latest, JUST IMPOSSIBLE, Ms. Lansdowne found a way to weave in suspense, intrigue, humor, genuine pathos, and anything else anyone could ever want in a story.

Ms. Lansdowne hasn’t been active as a novelist since 2004. I’ve heard rumors that her husband was not well, or that there was some sort of family health crisis that took her away from her writing.

I have to assume that this is the only reason why her books haven’t re-emerged as e-books in the intervening eleven years. Because these are truly excellent books; they make you laugh, they make you think, they make you wish that every romance had this much charm.

In my own case, I often look at these romances between difficult women — too intelligent, maybe, or too forthright (as they used to put it in the Regency Era, “not quite in the common way”) — and prickly, dangerous, or a bit off-center men and find bits of myself and my late husband in there.

Even in the more “tame” romances, such as MUTINY AT ALMACK’S or JUST IN TIME, there’s always something different, something intriguing, to hold my interest.

Anyway, I don’t know where Ms. Lansdowne is. I’ve never met her. I do know that she, like myself, is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. (She was class of ’75, while I was class of ’94.) And because I know that at least some of my readership consists of Parkside graduates, my hope is that this little blog post will find her.

Because she may be thinking, at this late date, that no one wants to read her writing. And that’s just not true.

Or that her writing didn’t matter, which isn’t true, either.

One, final thought: Over this past week, when I had many disappointments — including the realization that I must push back the release of CHANGING FACES as despite my efforts, it is far from complete — Ms. Lansdowne’s words have given me hope, and have reminded me of what’s important in life.

My husband Michael believed in me, and believed in my writing. Just because I have a lot on my plate right now, that doesn’t at all mean I can’t get it done…I just have to believe in myself, and keep going.

And for the moment, Ms. Lansdowne’s work is helping me stay focused and centered.

So, wherever you are, Ms. Lansdowne, know that you’ve got a new fan in me…eleven years after your latest book came out.