Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for March 2016

A New Low: NC Law Legalizes Discrimination Against LGBT Individuals

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Folks, I am really steamed right now.

A few days ago (March 23, 2016, to be exact), the Governor of North Carolina, Republican Pat McCrory, signed into law a bill that’s so widespread in its ability to legally discriminate against LGBT people, it defies belief.

Why?

Here’s what this bill, called HB 2, allows for in North Carolina according to the Huffington Post:

North Carolina’s General Assembly voted Wednesday to block cities and counties from passing protections against LGBT discrimination in a wide-ranging bill that could have enormous implications for the state.

HB 2, which passed in a special session, would set a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” The bill offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard.

The bill also pre-empts local employment ordinances governing wages, benefits, employee protections and leave policies. It would prevent schools from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

OK. So, it’s now legal in North Carolina to discriminate against LGBT people.

Have they all lost their flippin’ minds?

“But Barb,” you say. “This happened over a week ago. Why are you only talking about it now?”

Well, remember my last post? About how I was dealing with an illness in the family, and the whole “temporary lapse of blogging” thing?

“Yeah, I do. So what? Why bring it up now?”

Aside from the fact that this law deeply offends me as a human being, news broke yesterday (March 30, 2016) that there is a sports league that could be potentially affected by this law — and that league is the National Basketball Association. Next year, Charlotte is supposed to host the NBA All-Star Game, and has been looking forward to doing so for quite some time.

But now, because of this terrible new law, the NBA might have to pull their All-Star Game out of Charlotte. That means much revenue could potentially be lost, and some people will probably lose their jobs — all because of the idiots in the NC Legislature who thought it was a good idea to pass the terribly offensive law, HB 2.

You see, the NBA has perhaps been the most proactive league in professional sports on behalf of LGBT rights. They are acutely aware of this for several reasons: Jason Collins came out as gay while still an active NBA player a few years ago (he’s since retired), a referee has recently come out as gay, several teams have made supportive videos on behalf of LGBT youth, and at least one team, the Boston Celtics, has already condemned the actions of the North Carolina Legislature (save for all the Democratic state Senators, who walked out, and most of the Democrats in the NC lower house, who voted against HB 2).

By all accounts, the NBA is taking a good, long, hard look at North Carolina right now, even though Charlotte — the city — had passed anti-discrimination laws that HB 2 wiped off the books. And even though Charlotte is steamed, and North Carolina’s own Attorney General says he’s going to refuse to enforce HB 2 (good for him!), the NBA is not at all happy with what Gov. McCrory has done by refusing to veto this bill.

Because that’s exactly what Gov. McCrory should’ve done — veto this piece of trash. There is no legitimate excuse for discrimination against anyone. Period.

At all. Ever.

And lest you think the Governor of North Carolina was only doing his job, think again: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, also a Republican, vetoed a similar law only two days ago.

And Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia, vetoed an anti-LGBT bill this week as well, calling it “nothing but an attempt to stigmatize” the LGBT community.

So, it is possible for a public servant — which is exactly what a duly-elected Governor of any state is supposed to be — to do the right thing, and stand against discrimination.

So, why didn’t Gov. McCrory do what Gov. Deal did, or Gov. McAuliffe? Simple. Gov. McCrory appears to be pandering to the hard-right. Either that, or he actually believes that allowing transgender women into ladies’ bathrooms is tantamount to allowing pedophilia. (No. Really. This was an argument I heard on CNBC the other day from the state’s Lieutenant Governor, a pipsqueak of a man whose name escapes me.)

Look. I’m a woman. I’ve been one all my life. I have no problems with allowing transgender women into the ladies’ room right along with me. I don’t think they’re going to do anything except use the facilities, touch up their hair, maybe their makeup (if they’re wearing any; maybe they’re like me and don’t care for it much), wash their hands and get out of there.

Or to put it another, more emphatic way: Whether you’re a straight woman, like me, a lesbian woman, or a transgender woman, when you’re in a bathroom, all you want to do is take care of your business and get the Hell out of there.

As I said in my title, this horrible bill, North Carolina’s HB 2, is a new low in American politics. Gov. McCrory should be ashamed of himself for signing this travesty of a bill.

Discrimination should not be tolerated. Ever. Period!

End rant.

——

Edited to add: There already is a lawsuit underway in North Carolina against this bill. I hope HB 2 gets struck down very quickly, and that Charlotte can re-institute its anti-discrimination bill ASAP.

A Temporary Lapse Of Blogging…

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…or something like that.

Seriously, folks, I haven’t written much in the past several weeks. And I am overdue for some sort of rational explanation — I know there are people who do read my blog, and have asked, “What’s the deal, Barb? Don’t you care about blogging any more?”

Yes, I care. But reality has intruded.

I’ve been dealing with an illness in the family, and also was finishing up a few pressing editing projects. I still have more to do — and much, much, much more writing, natch — but I finished the most pressing of those editorial projects, and my family member is feeling much better after antibiotics and rest.

My hope is that after I’ve caught up a bit on my own rest, I’ll be back to blogging with the best of them in no time. Because there’s so much to talk about — the April 5 election in Wisconsin (Presidential primaries, and a very important Wisconsin Supreme Court election also), my preview of the upcoming 2016 baseball season for my favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and more about books, stories, current events, etc.

So, stay tuned for more blogging in the not-so-distant future. And thanks for bearing with me in the interim.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 29, 2016 at 5:08 am

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Reflections on Good Friday

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I wrote this back in 2012, but it still reflects my thoughts on Good Friday, and why Western culture still finds it meaningful. See what you think.

And oh, yes…I know today is Good Friday. (Why d’you think I’m reblogging this, hm?)

Barb Caffrey's Blog

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day Christians observe Jesus’s crucifixion.  It can be a very depressing day, partly because the idea of anyone being crucified for any reason is abhorrent, mostly because Jesus is adjudged one of the best people who’ve ever walked the face of the Earth even by most non-Christians.  (Of course, Jesus is seen as the Son of God by Christians.)  But he died via crucifixion, in agony, despite his goodness/divinity.

Yet for whatever reason, most non-priests would rather speak of Easter than Good Friday.  Granted, Easter is a much easier holiday to speak of as it’s a day of celebration, forgiveness, and hope.  (I wrote about Easter last year.)  It’s a day that should be celebrated.  But we also need to consider the importance of the day that preceded Easter — the day made Easter possible.  That day is Good Friday, one of the worst days in the history of the world . …

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 25, 2016 at 6:38 am

Friday Flash Fiction – The Easter Egg Hunt – Sally Cronin

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Just in time for Easter…check out writer Sally Cronin’s wonderful little Easter story, free…just start reading, click the link, and boom! A great little story awaits.

Happy Easter, everyone! (And if you’re not reading Sally’s blog, Smorgasbord Invitation, regularly, you should. All sorts of good stuff going on over there.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 25, 2016 at 5:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

My Conversational Interview Is Up at Deborah J. Ross’s Blog…

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Folks, I mentioned this a few weeks ago…every week, Deborah J. Ross, the editor of the forthcoming REALMS OF DARKOVER, is posting an interview on Wednesdays. So far, she’s interviewed Rosemary Edghill, Marella Sands, and Shariann Lewitt…and now, it’s my turn.

Because I’m a contrary sort (and I admit it, too), I wrote up my interview in a different way, or as I described it:

When Deborah J. Ross, esteemed editor of Realms Of Darkover, asked me a few interview questions, I asked her a question in return: “Could I write my answers in conversational style instead?” She told me to go for it, thus, here I am.

Realms of Darkover cover FB sizedNow, what is my interview about? It’s about my character Fiona n’ha Gorsali, Darkover’s first female judge, and one of the most powerful judges ever in the history of Darkover. While Darkover’s creator, Marion Zimmer Bradley, introduced Fiona in THE SHATTERED CHAIN many years ago, she never did anything with Fiona n’ha Gorsali…and thus, when asked for a story concept, I decided to figure out how the powerful Courts of Arbitration had been reconciled to accepting a female Renunciate judge as one of its members.

Or, as I said in the conversational interview:

When I sat down to write a story for Stars Of Darkover, I decided early on that I wanted to find out more about Fiona. What had happened to put her on the Courts of Arbitration in the first place? So I wrote “At the Crossroads,” that showed how Fiona was able to forge a consensus with highborn, lowborn, and Terranan included. Surely something that unusual would warrant that remarkable individual being placed on the Courts of Arbitration, Renunciate or no…and so it transpired.

Then, when Gifts Of Darkover came around, I decided to write about Fiona’s parents in “A Problem of Punishment.” I knew her mother’s name was Gorsali, and that she was a Renunciate; I figured that Fiona’s father must’ve been a judge before her. But who was this man, Dominic macAnndra? As he hazily introduced himself, I found a man of courage and conviction—and also a man who fell in love at first sight, during a conflict, with his eventual freemate (wife), Gorsali.

You might be wondering what else was left to write about…well, it’s simple. What about Fiona’s childhood?

So, I talked about my newest story about Fiona, which is called “Fiona, Court Clerk in Training,” and features Fiona at the ripe old age of thirteen, and a bit of her parents and their quite solid marriage, besides.

I had a lot of fun writing about Fiona as a thirteen-year-old, and I hope readers will enjoy my story, too.

So…if I’ve intrigued you (and I surely hope I have), hop on over and check out my entire takeover–er, conversational interview! — at Deborah J. Ross’s blog.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 24, 2016 at 2:12 am

Easter Week Thoughts: Carrying Each Other’s Burdens

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Is it possible for human beings to comprehend that other people have burdens, too?

Sure, we know our own burdens — the problems we carry mile after mile, day after day. They’ve become so much a part of us, it goes without saying…they’re just there, and we keep on shouldering them because we know no other way.

But we don’t always know what burdens the other person is carrying, just as the other person doesn’t know our burdens.

Yes, there’s a way around this problem. You can ask what’s going on. Maybe you can help shoulder the load for a while, if the other person allows it…if the other person lets you reach inside, so you can see them in the same way you see yourself.

Because it’s Easter Week, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I know all sorts of people, and every one of them has problems. Some are more profound than others; some are of more immediate concern than others, too. But every single last one of us has problems.

Buddha recognized that, in his time. So did Jesus Christ. So did other notable religious figures…it’s one of those universal truths that everyone respects, but no one knows how to solve. (Though Buddha’s dispassionate look at suffering is certainly worth a try, to be sure.)

Is it possible for us to carry each other’s burdens? Can pain be halved, if someone else knows of it and cares about you and wants to relieve your burden(s)?

I hope so. I believe so. But I don’t know for certain.

What I do know, for certain, is that if you don’t talk about what’s bothering you — or worse, you can’t talk about what’s bothering you — for most of us, that pressure builds and builds like heating food inside a pressure cooker. Eventually, as in the pressure cooker, that heat is going to escape…and it might escape in all directions.

That’s why discussing your problems, discussing your pain, discussing your burdens, can give comfort and peace even if there’s no ready solution for any of them.

Try not to be upset if you need to unburden yourself. Why?

Two examples:

  • Mother Teresa talked of how depression could overcome her, in her diaries. (In her case, she was definitely unburdening herself to the Higher Power.) She gained comfort and clarity from this, and was able to go back to her work with the poor of Calcutta with a lighter heart.
  • And Jesus Christ, the night before he was taken to be crucified, seems in retrospect to have wanted his friends to know he was aware of his fate and accepted it. (If that doesn’t show just how much comfort can be gained by discussion, I don’t know what will.)

Maybe this is why unburdening yourself to a friend tends to help, even if your friend cannot solve your problem(s) for you. By doing so, you remind yourself that you’re not alone, and that someone else cares about you and the burdens you carry.

That, to my mind, is an important thing to keep in mind. Especially during Easter Week.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 22, 2016 at 4:18 am

A Saturday Request: Give Yourself Time

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Folks, after reading this post from Jason Cushman (also known as the Opinionated Man) about an acquaintance of his who committed suicide years ago, I have some thoughts.

Jason’s post discusses a young man he knew from church camps, Josiah. Josiah was often teased, as Josiah’s name means “the Lord supports, the Lord saves, and the Lord heals.” (Or to put it another way, Josiah is a very tough name to live up to — the kids often teased Josiah because they felt he was meant to be a messiah, if I understood Jason’s post correctly.) Perhaps none of the kids meant badly by it, but Jason quite rightly calls it a form of casual bullying. As Jason put it in his post:

When I reflect on these trips and more importantly Josiah, I feel like he probably dreaded coming to them and that was a shame for someone who obviously valued our faith. I stop myself from thinking that way because I don’t know for sure and it really does no good to burden one’s self with guilt if you aren’t sure you are guilty. I can say that I am somewhat ashamed that a boy going through his own journey of self-realization couldn’t recognize another person who was doing the same. More importantly my own experiences receiving daily bullying from my differing cultural surroundings did not create any sense of understanding at the time of what I was taking part in and that it was wrong. Like I said, we were children and children can be some of the most evil creatures on this planet when it comes to social drama and interaction.

I think the most important line there — or at least the one that resonated the most with me — is this one: “I can say that I am somewhat ashamed that a boy going through his own journey of self-realization couldn’t recognize another person who was doing the same.”

But we’ve all been guilty of that, from time to time. Haven’t we? (If we’re honest, we’re going to say yes.)

Anyway, Jason’s post got me to thinking. Thus today’s request, which is simply this: Please, give yourself time.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to shrug off someone else’s opinion of you, especially when you want them to care or be impressed by what you’re doing. But if you live long enough and give yourself time to understand yourself a little better, eventually you learn that their opinion of you is not what’s important.

What’s important, ultimately, is what you do in this life. How much you learn. How much you grow, and change, and experience…but to do all that, you must first give yourself time to figure yourself out.

Too many kids, whether it’s Jason’s childhood acquaintance Josiah or transgender youth Leelah Alcorn, don’t realize this. They are in so much pain, and they think that pain will be everlasting, unending, and of course they can’t stand it. They get to the point that it seems that no one will understand, or care — and they take themselves out of life before they can learn otherwise.

I understand this feeling quite well. I was often depressed, growing up. For a time, I felt like I was encased in a wall of ice, and I couldn’t reach out…fortunately, my parents found me a good counselor, and I was able to open myself up to him.

You see, I was different than everyone around me. I often was bullied, too, especially in junior high school. (We didn’t call it “middle school,” then.) I got along with many people, yes, but most of them were a great deal older than I was…I thought I was a misfit, doomed to never find a friend, doomed to never be happy with anyone, ever.

Eventually, I learned I was wrong. But it took me time, and a good amount of trial and error, until I figured this out.

So, today, I want you to do one, simple thing: Give yourself time. Time to step back. Time to forgive yourself, if need be. Time to recognize your growth. Time to recognize that you, yourself, are a worthwhile and valuable person.

If you can do that, you are one step ahead of the game. And you’ll be much more mentally healthy, besides.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 19, 2016 at 3:11 am

Storm Lake East and West by @LiviaQuinn: First Book #FREE! #IAN1 #MFRWAuthor #Romance

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Go get your copies of not one, but two free novels today from author Livia Quinn — she’s a fellow member of Marketing for Romance Writers, and my friend, author N.N. Light, featured Livia’s novels today at her blog Princess of the Light.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 17, 2016 at 10:31 pm

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A Quick, Drive-By Bloglet…

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Folks, I’m still here. I’m just absorbed by a number of things right now, including several ongoing edits and trying to devote some brainpower toward fixing another thorny problem in CHANGING FACES. Because of that, I haven’t had a whole lot of energy to devote to blogging.

That said, I wanted to make sure everyone knew about N.N. Light’s news. From her recent blog post:

Planting the Seeds of Love: A Novella has passed the first round of The Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards – Summer 2016. WHOO! This is the first award I’ve entered for this book and I’m super excited.

The next round is called the Nomination Round and this is where I need your help.

Folks, “Planting the Seeds of Love” is my friend N.N. Light’s contemporary romance novella. I read it, I enjoyed it, and I thought it quite interesting. (I keep meaning to review it at SBR right along with PRINCESS OF THE LIGHT, also written by Mrs. Light. And I keep running out of time. Sometime soon, I have to make time to review these books.) And now, Mrs. Light’s novella has been nominated for an award…but she needs fifty nominations between March 14 and March 31, 2016 to move to the next round.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t want to nominate a story you haven’t read. That said, rectifying that problem is very easy…go buy a copy at Amazon right now, or borrow it if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited (as it’ll be free). Then, if you enjoyed “Planting the Seeds of Love” as much as I did, go to this link at the Romance Reviews and nominate it. (If you’re not a member of the Romance Reviews, it’s easy to become one. I did it about twelve hours ago…so can you.)

Thus concludes today’s quick, drive-by bloglet…I hope to be back to blogging, book reviewing, and other such interesting activities Real Soon Now.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 17, 2016 at 1:58 am

Friday Free-For-All (AKA News, Round-up, Etc.)

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Folks, I have a bit of news for you.

ALittleElfyinBigTrouble_medFirst, as you know, I wrote about “the story behind A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE” and it was posted yesterday over at the Opinionated Man’s blog. I tried to discuss, for readers new to me, a little bit about why I do what I do — and why I’ve fought so hard to keep the Elfyverse alive.

But then, I thought a little more. And realized that readers who have been with me every step of the way deserved a better answer. So, after much struggling, here it is.

The main reason I kept trying, with the Elfyverse, was because the stories interested me. In that, I’m no different from any other writer.

But the secondary reason was because it made me laugh, even in the darkest hours…and I figured if it could make me laugh, it could make anyone laugh.

Look, folks. We all have days where we wonder why we’re still here. (I can’t be the only one who’s ever wondered this.) Work doesn’t go well, the traffic on the Interstate is bad, family members get sick, you ran out of money before you ran out of month…the list of things that go wrong is seemingly endless, and there’s almost no relief in sight.

But there are books that make you laugh, or make you think, or maybe take you out of yourself.

This, in a nutshell, is why I started writing in the first place. And it’s why I fought so hard for my Elfy duology, because I hope AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE might be able to do that for you — if it can’t, it’s not for lack of trying.

Anyway, I did say “round-up,” didn’t I?

Realms of Darkover cover FB sizedLast week, I pointed out that REALMS OF DARKOVER will be out in May, and is available for pre-order. Editor Deborah J. Ross has interviewed all the writers, with Shariann Lewitt being the first up last week. But this week, it’s Rosemary Edghill’s turn…and she has some very interesting things to say about Darkover, about writing, and about why she enjoys doing both.

Do go take a look at her interview, will you? (Rosemary Edghill is a fantastic writer. You could learn a lot from her.)

Happy Friday, folks!