Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for January 2016

Thoughts on Bujold’s “Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen”

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Folks, yesterday I reviewed Lois McMaster Bujold’s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always**). I enjoyed Bujold’s newest novel, the latest in her long-running Vorkosigan Saga, and said so over at SBR.

But the longer I pondered Bujold’s excellent book, the more I felt I had to talk about…and some of my thoughts just wouldn’t fit into a well-ordered review no matter how hard I tried. Which is why I decided to come over here instead, to my personal blog, and try to discuss some of the issues Bujold raised.

Because I need to discuss GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN in depth, I’m likely to discuss spoilers. If you haven’t read this book yet, but you intend on doing so, you probably should not read this blog until you have. (On the other hand, if you have no intention of reading Bujold, but just want to read my thoughts about a widow well past fifty finding new love again, all unlooked for, here’s your opportunity to do so.)

One, final caveat: As this isn’t the first time Bujold has discussed the ramifications of death in the Vorkosigan Saga — far from it — long-time readers of my blog may notice certain themes I’ve discussed before with regards to Bujold.

Anyway, here are some of my further thoughts about GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN:

  • Bujold is bang-on the mark when it comes to depicting a widow, Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, who truly loved her husband, and has felt the depths of despair.
  • Again, Bujold is bang-on the mark when it comes to how much widowhood has changed Cordelia. In some senses, Cordelia is much older, mentally, than she was when her beloved husband Aral was alive. This is due to grief, loss, and the frustration of no longer being able to be with her beloved husband. (Even in the far future, death can come suddenly and without warning — and thus it did for Aral.)
  • Bujold continues to get it right while showcasing what a powerful woman does without her powerful husband at her side. Cordelia is too strong a person and too complex, besides, to allow grief to devour her. (But in some ways, it was a near thing.)
  • I enjoyed the mature version of Oliver Jole, a character mostly seen in passing at a much younger age in THE VOR GAME. (At that time, Jole was a Lieutenant attached to Aral Vorkosigan’s staff.) He’s smart, has a similar background to Aral Vorkosigan and indeed knew Aral quite well in more than one sense…and yet, like Cordelia, he’s a man at loose ends. The fact that Jole is fifty and Cordelia is in her mid-seventies doesn’t matter one bit, because the pull between them — once acknowledged — is more than strong enough to deal with the age difference.
  • I even understood why Cordelia, once she felt alive again, wanted to bring more children into the world. (Children, I must note, that are to be fathered by her dead husband Aral’s sperm, and her own long-ago frozen ova.) It’s a subconscious way of declaring that she has more to do…and Cordelia, throughout the Vorkosigan Saga, has always been a maternal figure. (Having only one biological child never did suit Cordelia too well, methinks.)

These were the major things I thought while I read GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN at least seven times prior to reviewing the book.

But you might be wondering why I put a LGBT tag on this book, especially if you haven’t gone to read my review yet. (If not, tsk, tsk!)

It’s simple. Oliver Jole is bisexual. He’s not been attracted to too many women in his life as he seems far more drawn to men. But he’s powerfully attracted to Cordelia, and he’s not sure why.

Some reviewers at Amazon and elsewhere have taken Bujold to task for making Jole bisexual instead of a gay man inexplicably attracted to a straight woman. I don’t see it that way, however, because sexuality is on a continuum. Some men are only attracted to women, while some other men are only attracted to men. And the rest are in the middle somewhere, actually attracted to both in a way that’s going to make itself be heard…that is just the way human biology works.

Or to put it another way that’s closer to home: My husband’s brother, Sam, was a proud gay man. But Michael told me that Sam dated two women that Michael was aware of, and Sam showed every indication of being attracted to these women…Michael told me this in a bemused voice, but said he would’ve been happy if Sam had found anyone he liked, regardless of gender identity or sexual preference. Because love matters more than the outward form.

That’s why I have no problem with Oliver Jole being attracted to Cordelia. It’s quite possible that Cordelia herself is so attractive, it doesn’t matter what the outside shape of her form is. But if Jole is attracted to her body as well as her mind, so what? (Either way, it works.)

I also don’t have a problem with Cordelia taking up with Oliver, either. She’s been widowed for three years when she starts a relationship up with Oliver (as I read this section, I thought, Oh, Cordelia. You think it’s bad after three years, don’t you? Try eleven.), so there’s been plenty of time for her to adjust to her new reality.

Ah, but I can hear you now, readers. “But Barb,” you protest. “It took you at least six years to even begin to deal with your husband’s untimely passing. Why is Cordelia different?”

There are a number of reasons why. First, Cordelia got many more years with her husband than I managed to get with mine. Second, Aral Vorkosigan was over eighty years old when he passed away, and my husband Michael was only forty-six. And third, Aral Vorkosigan had done everything he sought out to do…while my husband was still in the process of making a name for himself as a writer and editor, but didn’t get the chance to see most of his work come to fruition.

Plus, every widow and widower’s grief journey is different. Some people grieve for years, then remarry happily. (I’ve known a couple of younger widowers in this position.) Some grieve for a couple of years, then somehow set most of the worst signs of grief aside but don’t date. And some, like me, take years and years to process it all, then figure out a coping mechanism (mine, obviously, is in finishing up my husband’s writing, because I can’t bear to see it incomplete) so they can get on with life whether they ever date again or not.

Grief is a very individual thing, you see. But one thing is very obvious about grief that many reviewers of GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN are completely overlooking.

You see, grief changes you. It can’t help but do that. You are in so much pain, and you hurt so deeply, that you can’t be exactly the same after someone you dearly loved passes from this plane of existence.

So the comments on Amazon and elsewhere that go along the lines of, “But, but, Cordelia is a shadow of her former self! And that’s not right!” have it all wrong.

Yes, Cordelia, when she starts out Bujold’s newest novel, may be seen to be lesser than she used to be. Her beloved husband is dead, and she’s been without him for three years. That can’t help but to have marked her…now, all she can do is go on (which, I note, is what Aral would want her to do), and try to do the best she can with the time she has left — which in Bujold’s universe could be another forty years, for all Cordelia knows.

Bujold characterized widowhood correctly, folks. You might not like what being a widow has done to Cordelia — mind, if you asked Cordelia prior to the start of GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN, she’d probably tell you she doesn’t like it, either — but Cordelia’s feelings and demeanor are accurate. Much of Cordelia’s fire is now hidden, because the loss of Aral, her husband, is just that profound…and even though she’s quite happy to be with Oliver after a while, Oliver is still not Aral, so not all of Cordelia’s fire comes back.

I understand this, and I hope it’s not just because I, too, am a widow who lost a dearly beloved husband.

Anyway, GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN is an unabashed science fiction/romance hybrid. I loved it, and thought it had depth, passion, wit, warmth, style, and great characterization.

But I can see where some people really would rather not see Cordelia so diminished (at least, before Cordelia decides to live again — and that decision, I might add, comes before she realizes Oliver is interested in her, much less they do anything about that interest). Because pain is hard to bear, even in a book…and Bujold is one of the best in the business at conveying that pain, even indirectly as through the excessively analytical Cordelia.


**– Note: Shiny Book Review is now found at the domain — with an -s after review — as our old domain name was bought by someone else.  If you’re following SBR, please make sure to follow it as shinybookreviews with the -s. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog, already in progress…

Book Promotion, and Other Stuff

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Folks, I haven’t talked too much about book promotion here at my blog, but I thought today might be a good day for that.


Well, I’m trying something new in order to get the word out about A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE. That new thing is called Books Go Social. They have a website, have listed my novel there, will be Tweeting about it for a week (plus, if I did it right, an additional week for free), and have many helpful tips for authors with regards to promotional services.

Note that except for a few small paid promotions here and there, I’ve mostly done free promotions to date. There’s three reasons for that.

  1. One, I’ve been flat broke.
  2. Two, I’ve been fortunate enough to know several book promoters and authors who’ve been willing to tell their readers about me and my writing, Chris the Story-Telling Ape, Sally Cronin, Nicholas Rossis, Charles Yallowitz, and Mrs. N.N. Light among them.
  3. And three, I’ve joined two helpful groups, Marketing for Romance Writers and Exquisite Quills, that have given me support, guidance, and have helped me learn more about promotion.

Most of those places are absolutely free, and they have been enormously helpful to me.

That said, I need to find more readers. I have two reviews of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE to date, and that’s not nearly enough. (It’s been out since late November, so I’m technically in the 90-day “new book window.”) There are many paid promotions I simply cannot do, because I don’t have enough reviews to access them.

But I could do Books Go Social, and signed up for a $59 bronze package. Normally this includes one week of Tweets; I believe because I signed up during a special, I’ll get one free week as well. (We’ll see.)

Why did I do this?

  1. I’m in need of finding more readers,
  2. I’ve heard good things about them, and
  3. It’s a legitimate business expense.

So, here are my stats at Amazon US right now, so we all can compare how well (or poorly) my advertisement with Books Go Social did:


As you can see, I have a long way to go toward cracking any bestseller lists.

The only other thing I can say right now, before the Books Go Social Tweets start, is that I hope anyone who enjoys my writing will review my books and stories. I often hear from friends and fans that they love my work — and the work of my late husband — and when will more stories be available? But they don’t review for whatever reason; they only come and tell me privately.

Well, I can tell you all one thing: While I love getting positive feedback (who doesn’t?), reviews help me keep going, and I deeply appreciate them.

So please, don’t be intimidated by the idea of a book review, OK?

Anyway, Books Go Social will start Tweeting for me later today. We’ll see what happens, but I have a good feeling about it.

Happy Friday, all!


Written by Barb Caffrey

January 29, 2016 at 7:20 am

Two Quiet, Heartwarming Stories in the News

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Folks, over the last few days, there have been two inspirational stories that caught my eye. They are quiet stories of resolution, strength, grit, determination, and nerve, in two very different arenas — but they are both heartwarming in their own way.

First, and most recent — yesterday (January 26, 2016 to be exact), the FBI office in Milwaukee avoided a potential mass shooting. According to various local news reports (including this one from WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee), a twenty-three-year-old man, a United States citizen I will not name, wanted to shoot up the local Masonic Temple. He had apparently bragged that he wanted to kill at least thirty people — and he’d purchased weapons to that effect. All he needed now, he believed, were silencers…

Fortunately, the FBI swooped in as he was buying those (according to the news reports I heard), arrested this individual, and we did not have a mass shooting in Milwaukee.

Thank goodness.

This story makes me wonder just how many other mass shootings or acts of domestic terrorism are being averted by members of the police, the FBI, and other federal and state agencies. It also makes me grateful, because I’m glad that Southeastern Wisconsin didn’t have to deal with yet another shooting of this nature. (The mass shooting in the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek a few years ago was more than bad enough, thanks.)

So, that story covers man’s inhumanity to man (and how just this once, the good guys won). The next story is more a “man against himself” sort of deal, and is much quieter…but still is quite an interesting story in its own right.

You see, over the weekend, figure skater Adam Rippon finally did something he’d been trying to do for years: he won the United States Championships. While I don’t completely understand how Rippon, who’s a beautiful skater but did not fully complete a quad jump**, beat Max Aaron’s technical score, I do understand how Rippon beat Aaron artistically…there’s a style and grace to Rippon’s skating that I’ve long admired, and now that he’s fully matured into his ability, the sky is the limit.

But why do I care, precisely?

Aside from the fact that Adam Rippon is a brilliant skater, he’s also done something historic. He’s only the second man to win the United States national championships after telling the world openly that he is gay. (Rudy Galindo, in 1996, is the only other man to have done this.) Rippon is also only the third openly gay male figure skater to ever win a gold medal at the U.S. nationals — the third being Jeremy Abbott.***

Now, why wasn’t this covered much in the news? It’s simple: our society has changed so much in the past twenty years, it’s not considered major news any longer.

We’ve had twenty years of progress since Rudy Galindo won his U.S. skating championship in 1996. We’ve had many people in many sports come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. And society, while still not approving of it, no longer seems to condemn it, either.

When we’ve had men and women coming out as gay and lesbian in multiple sports, Rippon’s matter-of-fact disclosure (done via Skating magazine, if memory serves) doesn’t warrant more than a blip on the national radar.

That said, it was still an historic event. And as such, I am very pleased to discuss it — though I’m more pleased to discuss just how well Rippon did, and why, and how after all these years as a high-ranking skater, he’s finally reached the pinnacle of winning the U.S. National Championships.

Adam Rippon is a great figure skater, and is also a proud gay man. And all I can say is, “Good for you, Adam!” (Now go get ’em at Worlds.)

I think that’s wonderful.

Anyway, these were the two stories that riveted my attention, albeit not for the same reasons. But they both were heartwarming in their own way, which is why I wanted to discuss their impact.

I also wanted to remind everyone that just because a story seems quieter, that makes it no less important.

So, two unrelated things. Both great news of the quieter sort.

And I couldn’t be happier about them.


**Quick note: I do know Rippon attempted the quadruple Lutz. That’s the hardest quad jump there is. And he wasn’t far from landing it; I have the sense that he will land it, and soon, in a major championship event.

***Originally I had forgotten to mention Jeremy Abbott, which is ridiculous on my part as I’m a huge fan of his. (I blame the flu I’ve had the past few days for this glaring omission.) Abbott has acknowledged openly that he is gay, and basically said it should be no big deal.

I agree. But it’s still history in the making — and as such, I want to applaud him. (It’s not easy to be an openly LGBT athlete.)

Here’s A Snippet from “Changing Faces”

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Happy Sunday, everyone!

Folks, I put up a snippet of CHANGING FACES over at the Exquisite Quills blog this morning for their “Sunday Peek” promotion. But then, I had a thought that went something like this…Why not post it here at my own blog, too?

So I decided to do just that.


Anyway, here’s a snippet from CHANGING FACES, coming soon from Twilight Times Books as an e-book:

Allen started to play Ave Maria. Before he got four measures in, I saw people dabbing at their eyes.

Of course, Jolene and Paula both looked beautiful, Jolene tall and buxom in blue, Paula petite and dainty in grey and white. So that might’ve been it…but I still think Allen’s playing had a great deal to do with it, too.

I went to Allen, unnoticed in the crowd, and squeezed his shoulder. He put his clarinet down, and grabbed my hand; as I had been about to hold his hand, I had no problem with that at all.

We could barely see Paula’s blonde head back here, due to the crowd, but it didn’t matter. We were ready to play again long before Paula and Jolene shared their first kiss as a married couple, and before the audience had finished applauding, we were playing recessional music—Mendelssohn, I thought—that Allen had arranged for two clarinets.

After a while, everyone had gone toward the refreshment table but us. But before we could go get something, Jolene came up to us and insisted that we get our pictures taken. I hate having my picture taken, as my outer self doesn’t always match my inner self…and even on a day like today, where I felt more feminine than not, I still hated having the flower in my hair memorialized for all time.

Still, Allen’s kiss on the cheek was nice, and my smile at him was genuine. He was truly a good man, the best person I’ve ever known…someday soon, I’d have to tell him the truth about me.

And if he still wanted to marry me then, I’d let him.

I hope you all enjoyed that…now, keep your eyes peeled for more snippets, coming soon to a blog near you.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 24, 2016 at 8:29 am

Posted in Changing Faces, romance, Writing

Tagged with ,

Formatting, Writing, and Other Stuff

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Folks, it’s Friday. And as such, I wanted to talk about a great many things…so, let’s get to it!

First off, I am going to get “A Dark and Stormy Night,” “On Westmount Station,” “Columba and the Cat” and “To Survive the Maelstrom” formatted for Barnes and Noble and Smashwords as well as Kindle. This means I will soon be taking all four stories out of the Kindle Unlimited program, so if you still want to read them for free but haven’t yet done so, this is your one and only warning.

When I have the new formats, I’ll be uploading them to Barnes and Noble and Smashwords (and, of course, be putting a cleaner and better-formatted copy on Amazon as well).

I’m excited about this, because it gives me the chance to tap into a wider audience…and besides, these four stories have not exactly burned the house down with regards to sales figures at Amazon alone. Those who’ve read them enjoy them, and many have told me so privately. But they’ve been but lightly reviewed, and mostly haven’t found their audience yet.

Next, I’m still working away at CHANGING FACES. The story continues to evolve. That’s a good thing, in one respect, because it means I’m writing a deeper and richer story; on the not-so-good side is the fact that the more the story continues to evolve, I haven’t any idea how much longer it’s going to take to finish it.

Finally — and this is not about writing, sorry — what in the world is going on in Flint, Michigan? Why did a Governor Rick Snyder-appointed emergency manager allow Flint’s water to become poisoned by lead? And why isn’t Gov. Snyder taking much in the way of responsibility for this?

The people of Flint deserve better from their Governor than this. And make no mistake about it — this problem was created solely by Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Michigan), because Snyder is the one who appointed the emergency manager. And the emergency manager, rather than anyone actually voted for by the citizens of Flint, is the one who made the atrocious decision to change where Flint gets its water from, and then not do anything about how corrosive that new water source was…much less test it for lead levels, or anything else.

This is a problem that should’ve been prevented.

It should never have happened, because the people who lived in Flint, including the Mayor of Flint and other elected leaders from that area, all knew that the river water (the new source) needed to be properly treated before sent to Flint. Because that water was not treated, it caused massive problems.

Until Rachel Maddow of MSNBC started talking about Flint’s plight nightly, Gov. Snyder didn’t do anything. He insisted there was no problem for over a year and  a half.

Finally, he allowed for the National Guard to go into Flint and give out water, along with water filters and other helpful items. But much damage has already been done, all because that emergency manager (appointed by Snyder, remember) insisted on saving a few nickels by using the river water instead of the water from Detroit (that was properly treated and much safer to use) and didn’t either know that the water had to be chemically treated before human use or just didn’t care.

Here’s just a few of the problems the people of Flint, Michigan are facing right now:

  • All 8,000 children in Flint have been exposed to toxic levels of lead. And all of them now have the potential for many medical problems, including cognitive difficulties (and at worst, mental retardation).
  • Because of the lead in the water, no one in Flint can sell his/her home. That lead, and other chemicals besides, have corroded the pipes.
  • This has drastically hurt Flint’s image, and has pushed away businesses who might’ve wanted to relocate there.

Now, why haven’t the people of Michigan risen up as of yet and demanded satisfaction from their Governor over this debacle? I don’t know.

What I do know is that this problem should not be occurring in the United States of America. We are not a Third-World country.

But there is a solution for Michigan, folks, and it’s simple: Recall Governor Snyder.

Why? Because Michigan’s elected representatives have thus far failed to impeach or otherwise hold Governor Snyder accountable for this debacle. And when the duly elected officials refuse to do their job, it’s time for the people themselves to step in and do it for them.

The buck stops with him, and Gov. Snyder has failed in his responsibilities.

So it’s time for him to go. Period.

#BookReview ~ A Little Elfy in Big Trouble by @BarbCaffrey #ASMSG #TuesdayBookBlog #SFF

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Check out my first major review for A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, written by author and book reviewer Mrs. N.N. Light! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 19, 2016 at 2:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Getting Stuff Done, or, a Semi-regular “Changing Faces” Update

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Folks, I’m happy to report that I actually managed to get some solid writing in this evening…which especially pleases me due to the fact that CHANGING FACES (abbreviated as CF, for short) was stalled for several weeks as I tried to plot my way around a thorny problem. (No, I won’t tell you what it was, but I will tell you this much: Elaine Foster, my heroine, is a very elusive character to write. Whereas Allen Bridgeway, my hero, is much easier to write.)

CHANGING FACES coverSo, I’ve managed to write twenty-five hundred new words into this story. Time is short, as I want CF to go to market soon–within a month if possible. (If I wasn’t talking about an e-book publication, this would not be practical, but the e-book revolution has changed everything. Besides, I already have cover art, and my publisher does excellent layout…if not for that, there would be no chance at all to get this out so quickly.) But the story is still evolving, still growing, still telling me more things.

You might be asking yourself, “So, Barb. If that’s the case, why are you so worried about getting it out soon?”

I don’t have a great answer for this, except that CF has been in development a long, long time. (Over fifteen years, easily. And through at least four revisions.) And I think Allen and Elaine’s romance, fraught with peril though it may be, is a story that needs to be told…partly because of the transgender aspects, partly because of the spiritual aspects, and partly because these two individuals love each other so much, it’s hard for me as an author to keep them apart this long in order to best explain their story in a way that I hope will resonate with others.

How far away am I from completion? It’s hard to say, because most of the story from Elaine’s perspective is all new. And what the aliens/angels say to Elaine is also mostly new…as it wouldn’t be a fantasy without something different, and this story couldn’t even happen if not for these fantasy characters, I’d best listen to what they have to say if I’m going to tell the story at all.

“What do you mean, ‘listen to what they have to say,’ Barb?” you ask. (I can clearly hear the annoyance in your tone, by the way.) “You’re the author. Can’t you just tell them what to do and be done with it?”

While that works for some authors, that doesn’t seem to be the way my own stories get told. I have to think about them, and then they come out, sometimes in ways I didn’t totally expect — which is what seems to be happening with CF right now.

All I can tell you is this: In between edits, day-to-day life stuff, and everything else on my plate at the moment, I’m going to keep writing as much as I can, as long as I can, until this story finally resolves itself in a way that feels right to me.

Until I get there, I can’t bring CF to market. But once I’m there, I firmly believe I’ll have a story that’s interesting, relevant, and maybe even helps someone…or at least diverts the person for a few hours. And once I’m finally there, I’ll be extremely and extraordinarily happy to get CHANGING FACES out the door.

So, that’s my semi-regular CF update, already in progress…hope your own writing, editing, and lives are going as well as humanly possible.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 18, 2016 at 4:49 am

Whither Creation, or, “Why Must You Write, Barb?”

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Over the past week or two, I’ve been pondering one single thought.

“Why must you keep writing, Barb?”

I write because I have stories to tell. (I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.) And I write because I have to — what’s in me is to create something meaningful through words (and, sometimes, music) and bring a little happiness or illumination or at least something of value to the world at large.

I know. That’s a pretty gaudy statement, isn’t it? But it’s the main reason I get up in the morning.

I have things to do. Stories to tell. Edits to handle, for myself, and for others…music to play, and I hope some more music to write. (That has eluded me mostly since the day of Michael’s death eleven-plus years ago, because since then I’ve had one and only one major musical idea going through my head. Michael’s elegy. And as many times as I write it down, it just comes back in a new key or in a slightly different meter or in such a way that I start to think I’ll have to do something akin to Charles Ives’ “Variations on America” to it, in order to finally get it out of me once and for all. But as always, I digress…)

I have been a creative person for as long as I can remember. I don’t know why I’m this way; I just know that I can either work with it, and become the best creative writer, the best creative musician, the best creative editor, that I can possibly become — or I can leave my talents to wither on the vine.

And, quite frankly, I’m not exactly the vine-withering type.

So, my choice has been to keep working on my crafts. I write, I edit, I play music, I compose when I can (if I can ever get Michael’s elegy down in all its permutations, perhaps another melody will start to show up — I can live in hope, right?), and in this way I do my best to stamp my life as mine.

You are probably thinking, “Really, Barb? Ego? Is that all you’ve got?”

No, it isn’t. But I can’t quite seem to get at exactly why I do anything at all…except that I must do it, or I’d not be myself.

Or I’d not be my best self, at any rate. And as I firmly believe that if I’m going to be alive, I’d best do my best in all things, I’d better be my best self.

Or what’s the point?

So, yes, I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep playing music. I’m going to hope that one of these years, I’ll have another musical idea worthy of my time and effort…and of course I’m going to keep editing.

Because that’s what makes the most sense to me.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 17, 2016 at 6:10 am

Thoughts on David Bowie

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I woke to the news that musician and composer David Bowie passed away yesterday, on January 10, 2016. He was sixty-nine.

You might be asking, “So, Barb. Why does this concern you? Sure, you listened to Bowie’s recordings…but really, what was David Bowie to you, beyond a popular musician?”

Well, Bowie was a composer, an arranger, an actor, a husband, a father…and that’s only part of what he was.

But I’d rather talk about his music, if you don’t mind, because that’s what I understand the most.

Like most musicians, I was aware of David Bowie’s life and career.  His songs were different, in a way that’s hard to describe but easy to understand.

Somehow, in every song David Bowie ever wrote, he transmitted depth. He had it. And he could express it, in a way that seemed to get to the heart of the matter — a way that few other musicians, no matter how gifted, could do.

Those are rare qualities, even in a creative person. And other creative people tend to celebrate that, whenever we find it, even if the person in question is doing something that’s quite a bit different than themselves.

Much has been said about David Bowie’s image, which was reinvented every few years. Much has been said about Bowie’s gift of self-promotion — though, granted, most of that was said long before he passed away.

(Mind, being able to promote yourself isn’t a bad thing. It actually is a very good thing, especially in today’s day and age where the media has fractured and it’s hard to get anyone to pay attention to anything you’re doing. But I digress.)

Little is being said about David Bowie’s true gift, which was depth of feeling. Or of his secondary gift, which was of perspective.

And I wish more was, because that would be much truer to David Bowie’s life and career.

But depth is hard to talk about. Perspective is even harder.

It’s much easier to talk about David Bowie, the artist. Or David Bowie, the self-promoter and showman. Or David Bowie, the philanthropist — though, granted, this last is also getting very short shrift at the moment.

What I want to discuss is elusive, but is at the heart of what art actually is.

The way you see something, the way you express something, is deeply personal. Very few of us can express something in a way nearly everyone can understand at the same time — though in different ways.

David Bowie had that gift of universality, along with depth and perspective. And it’s those three things that are being overlooked in the mountain of tributes that David Bowie’s family is rightfully receiving at the moment.

I mourn that David Bowie has passed from this Earth. But I’m glad he was here, and shared his art with us.


Written by Barb Caffrey

January 11, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Periodic State of the Elfyverse, January 2016 Edition

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Folks, I haven’t done this in a while, but I figured I’d give you a “state of the Elfyverse,” which has grown to encompass all my writing and editing in addition to the ELFY saga.

Perhaps I’d best start there, though, as that makes sense.

The next book in the Elfyverse is actually going to be three books. For years, I’ve called it AN ELFY ABROAD, because it’s a pun (Bruno’s the Elfy, and Sarah’s the “broad”) as well as being absolutely true. Bruno is a stranger in a strange land, and he’s going to visit the Troll Realm, he’s going back to the Elfy Realm as a power (however uneasy he may be over it), and he and Sarah have many more adventures in the Human Realm (our Earth).

That much, I am positive about.

Everything else, however, is up for debate, as the book/trilogy is in the midst of a revision. But it is in progress, and I hope it’ll be along in due course.

As for other stories in progress…

  • There will be a fourth story in the Darkover universe if I have anything to say about it, featuring my judge character Fiona n’ha Gorsali as a young woman just taking up her judicial duties for the first time.
  • I’m plotting out Cat’s journey in “The Quest for Columba,” a novella set in my husband’s alternate history/fantasy universe from Cat the shapeshifter’s perspective. (I figured Cat has a great deal to tell me, and he’s probably been saving up the story for a long time. Why should his wife, Columba, get all the fun?)
  • There is an Elfyverse prequel in the works called KEISHA’S VOW, which is about one-third completed. I hope to take that up after I’m done with “The Quest for Columba.”
  • There is a sequel in the works to my short story “Baseball, Werewolves, and Me,” featuring my worldly-wise psychic Arletta James and her werewolf husband, Fergus.
  • And, finally…I’m getting closer to turning CHANGING FACES in to my publisher, but that’s still a few weeks away.

Now, why is all of this in development at roughly the same time?

Partly, it’s because two of the stories were ongoing at the time of Michael’s death in 2004 and I have refused to give them up.

Partly, it’s because I knew there was more to Cat’s story when trying to add touches to Michael’s second Columba story, “Columba and the Crossing,” and that turned into a much more lengthy endeavor. (Right now, that story will be published after I finish “The Quest for Columba.”)

And partly, it’s because I have more stories than even this — but those are the ones people know about, so I wanted to give some sort of update publicly even if publication for any or all of them is a while yet (except for CHANGING FACES, which will be out this year for sure).

So, in between finishing up an extensive edit and working on a few other edits besides, I’m working on my stories, little by little.

Well, that, and planning some book reviews, and writing a few blogs now and again, and trying to help my fellow writers and editors…

And playing my instruments, and writing a piece every great once in a while…

and talking with my friends and family, grabbing a bite to eat and some showers here and there, and sleep, glorious sleep…

You get the idea.

What are you up to, and how is your New Year going thus far?

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 9, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Posted in Editing, Elfy, Elfyverse, Writing

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