Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for July 2016

A Flattering, Appreciative Comment Can Do Wonders, Sometimes…

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…whether it’s about you, personally, or, as in this case, about you as an editor.

(What, you thought I’d be talking about something else? For shame…the summer romance bug hasn’t bitten me in a long, long time. Though I suppose it’s still possible…but I digress. Back to the blog.)

Folks, I’m very happy to pass along the following link from an interview author Kayelle Allen did with authorsinterviews (a WordPress site). Kayelle kindly mentioned me, and especially my editing. She didn’t have to do that. The interview was all about her, and about her excellent book, BRINGER OF CHAOS: THE ORIGIN OF PIETAS.

In response to the interviewer’s question about “one entity who supported you outside of family members,” Kayelle discussed her friend, writer Houston Havens, and then said this:

And Barb Caffrey, my editor. She’s a brilliant writer in her own right, but she sees details that I would have missed. She suggests slight changes that make all the difference in a scene. Often, simply the change of structure in a sentence can put an all new slant on a scene. I recommend her as both author and editor.

Thank you, Kayelle!

As I have said before, if you haven’t read Kayelle’s book yet, you should. It’s a military SF/action-adventure/bromance like no other. I said once to Kayelle that Pietas starts out almost like the ultimate bad guy, but he’s not; he’s complex, multifaceted, multi-layered, and in some ways, very human despite his genetic engineering and overall socialization/conditioning. That he makes common cause with Six, a guy who amounts to a Special Forces operative in the far future — reanimated, ’cause hey, it’s SF and you can get away with that (and why not?) — and has to learn that at least one human being is worthy of his friendship is…startling. That Pietas can be friends and admit to vulnerability and loss and frustration like anyone else despite all of his abilities at regeneration and immortality is, in an odd way, extremely moving. Pietas wants no pity. But he does want, ultimately, your understanding…hoping there may be one other human out there like Six who’s worth one iota of his time.

Why his people, the Ultras, feel this way toward non-altered humans is for you to read. But I think you will want to read it, if you enjoy milSF/action-adventure.

Now, as to what I did for Kayelle as an editor? She’s a very accomplished writer who turned in a sparkling-clean manuscript. A copy-edit, in her case, was more, “How can I help you make this section over here stand out a little more?” or “Did you ever consider X instead of Y” in a different place. I tried to give her a few options, and did my best to smooth out the (very few) rough spots.

My whole editorial philosophy, in a nutshell, is to help my client strengthen his/her authentic voice. If I make every book I edit sound like my style, that is doing my clients a disservice. And if I make every book I edit look and sound like something I’ve already seen — even if it’s from a widely acknowledged SF/F master writer like Stephen R. Donaldson or Lois McMaster Bujold — that, too, is doing my clients a disservice.

The trick in editing is to figure out what your client’s voice is, then strengthen it. That’s what works best.

Yes, fix all the typos and the grammar and punctuation, address all the stylistic concerns**, all that. But make the book better. Don’t just put in the hours…figure out what that book’s story actually is, and enhance it.

Otherwise, what are you doing?

Now, considering I am an independent editor, I can only suggest the changes rather than require them. But I’m reasonably persuasive in my arguments, and usually can point to various books or stories of my own or others and say, “What I’d like you to consider is X. What you did is Y. Maybe you don’t want to do X, but can you do Z instead?”

Anyway. I appreciate what Kayelle said. She’s the third editorial client I’ve had who’s publicly said she appreciates my editing. (The others, by the way, are Chris Nuttall and Dora Machado.) Most of the time, editors are treated more like furniture than an essential part of what goes into a book, so I’ve appreciated it immensely when someone recommends me as an editor…it means more than I can possibly say.

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**Sample stylistic concern: “You give Doctor Evil ‘s title as ‘Doctor’ in one section, but ‘Dr.’ in another. I don’t care which one you pick, but for ease of reading, it’s usually better to pick only one.” (This seems picayune, but can make all the difference to a self-published novel in looking professional — or looking like you just fell off the turnip truck.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 27, 2016 at 9:14 am

Go Check Out My Latest Guest Blog…

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…now up at the Opinionated Man’s very busy blog site!

Now, why did I write a guest blog? Mostly, it’s because of the Christmas in July event tomorrow at Facebook…and partly, it’s to give people the idea that I’m very happy about my books, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, because I am.

My books are very different than many out there, as they’re funny YA urban fantasies–you don’t see a whole lot of those, these days. I keep hoping that down the line, people will find my novels and that they’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them…anyway, it’s good to think about springtime, and young love, and fights against nearly impossible odds when it’s really hot and kind of nasty-humid outside. Best in such weather to curl up inside with a good book, where you can laugh and cry and cheer…

Anyway, do go read my guest blog, will you? You’ll enjoy it.

And then, make sure you stop by the Christmas in July Party on Facebook between eleven a.m. and noon Central Daylight Time and give me a yell. (C’mon, it’ll be fun!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 24, 2016 at 11:26 pm

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Reintroducing: Loren Jones’s ALL THAT GLITTERS

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Folks, back in 2010, I wrote a blog about Loren Jones’s novel ALL THAT GLITTERS. In it, I described the adventures of Stavin, soon to be DragonBlessed, as:

All that Glitters is a fantasy novel/coming of age story about Stavin kel’Aniston, once the smallest and least-regarded of all the warrior-candidates in his village.  Because of this, he feels he has nothing to lose in attempting to beard a dragon in its den, and ends up with …dragonscale armor, something no one else in his village has — or has ever had.

But this is just the start of Stavin’s problems; he still must learn how to work within the system in order to show his worth.   If he can do so, fame and fortune will be his, but more importantly, he’ll be able to marry the woman of his dreams (a slightly older, and nearly blind, scholar).

All that Glitters is just under 100K words, and is an excellent read.  I urge everyone who loves fantasy, coming of age tales, or simply something fun to read to check out Loren K. Jones’s fine novel.  And better yet, it is the first in a series . . . more reading pleasure awaits, if you only will accept the challenge of buying — and reading — the first book in Stavin’s journey. (Changes by BC to original post, mostly for emphasis)

When E-Quill Publishing closed, for a time Loren’s work was out of print. However, publisher Lida Quillen enjoyed first Loren’s INADVERTENT ADVENTURES and published it, then put out Loren’s short story collection STORIES OF THE CONFEDERATED STAR SYSTEMS, and now has put out ALL THAT GLITTERS as well. Stavin’s story is up to seven volumes, last I checked, and with luck and book sales, we will be fortunate enough to read them all, in time.

And now, it has a spiffy new cover, too! (Ta-da!)

All that Glitters

I’m very pleased that Loren’s ALL THAT GLITTERS is back out and available. It’s a book that continues to make me smile, because Stavin’s adventures move quickly but somehow seem to foreshadow something…more. He’s young, and he enjoys being a warrior (no matter how short), but his true passions are for books and stories…maybe that’s why I like Stavin so much, even though I’m about the farthest thing from a warrior the world has ever seen.

(Oh, yes…before I forget, Loren did put a very interesting Tuckerization of my late husband in there, which you will have to be quick to spot…I know I enjoyed that, too!)

So, do go get a copy while it’s still ninety-nine cents, will you?

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 23, 2016 at 3:45 am

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It’s Christmas…in July?

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Folks, I needed to make sure to let you all know that I’m taking part in the forthcoming Christmas in July event, held on Monday, July 25, 2016, on Facebook. (Go to this page and sign up, if you’d like, though I will be reminding people of this Sunday night as well if at all possible.)

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Here’s the full list of the invitees to the Xmas in July Party:

10am -11am – Author Barbara Ehrentreu
11am – 12pm – Author Uvi Poznansky
12pm – 1pm – Author Barb Caffrey
1pm – 2pm – Author Dellani Oakes
2pm – 3pm – Author Rebecca Vickers
3pm – 4pm – Author Viv Drewa
4pm – 5pm – Author K.L. Nappier
5pm – 6pm – Author Christine Amsden
6pm – 7pm – Author Cris Pasqueralle
7pm – 8pm – Author Maria DeVivo

Now, if you are a fan of Twilight Times Books, you are probably aware that both Maria DeVivo and Christine Amsden are TTB authors. Maria’s most recent book is THE RISE OF STURD, a fantasy with both dark and comedic elements set in her Coal Elf series; Christine’s most recent book is KAITLIN’S TALE. They’re both fine authors and I’m proud to say that I’ve helped to edit their books in the past — Maria with THE COAL ELF, and Christine with KAITLIN’S TALE.

I’ve “met” authors Uvi Poznansky and Dellani Oakes to a degree online; they’re both very warm-hearted people with some interesting books and stories. Everyone else, I’ll be meeting for the first time along with you…but we all intend to give you a fun-filled day filled with contests, prizes, and much more.

Now, as to what I, personally, will do? You need to show up to the online party to figure that out, but I will give you a couple of hints…the year 2002 may factor into the discussion. (Just sayin’.) Perhaps my favorite authors will be discussed…and, finally, I may discuss the environs of Northern California just a tad, if I feel the need.

(Or not. This is a work in progress!)

In case you want to get into the Xmas in July spirit and buy one of my books now, here are the links to both of my novels at Amazon; each are e-books.

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AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is here. (Still just ninety-nine cents in United States dollars…how can you beat that?)

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…and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE is here.

That’s both halves of the Elfy duology, right there, available for less than what you’d pay for a meal at McDonald’s…lots of great reading for a teensy price, and you’ll get to meet the funniest young adult couple in fantasy in the bargain. (So how could you go wrong?)

Oh, you want to try before you buy? I guess I can understand that…here’s the link to TTB’s sample chapters for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and here is the link to the sample chapters for A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE.

Now, let’s get ready to rumble…er, read!

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 23, 2016 at 3:26 am

On Reading, Writing, and Blogging

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Folks, as you know, I’m celebrating the International Authors’ Day Blog Hop, started by writer/blogger Debdatta Desgupta Sahay of b00k r3vi3ws.in and celebrated by a wide variety of writers and bloggers worldwide (including yours truly). But because time was short when I joined the blog-hop initially, I didn’t talk about something Ms. Sahay and many other bloggers in this particular hop have…and that’s about why they love books.

Now, it’s time to change that.

So, why do I love books so much? Is it because they offer different ways of thinking than my own? Is it because of the stories they provide? Or is it simply that I love to see the different ways writers put words together?

Maybe it’s all of that. Or maybe it’s all of that plus more

Early in my life, I realized that I loved to read. Maybe this is because my grandmother read to me often as a youngster, as did my parents…I remember that by age four or so, I could read books that most kids didn’t pick up until third or fourth grade. By the time I was eight, I was reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries; by age ten, I’d graduated to Sherlock Holmes and baseball biographies (including of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays, among others). By age twelve or so, I was reading about the civil rights struggles, and various histories…by age fourteen, I was reading Robert A. Heinlein’s TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE and had read through all of the Andre Norton books I could find, including her Witch World books, the three books set on Warlock, the Time Traders saga, and more.

And with every book I read, the more things I learned. I tried not to stop myself from reading anything I felt I needed to, which sometimes got me into a bit of a pickle (when I was in my early teens, and a boy I liked saw me reading OUR BODIES, OUR SELVES, I remember flushing bright red). But mostly, it taught me that every book, every genre, every author has something to say — and that every book, in its own way, is precious.

Now, there are books that, once read, I have never picked up again. (LORD OF THE FLIES was one of those. Ugh!) I’m human, and I have things I’m partial to…which, considering I grew up to be a science fiction, fantasy, and romance writer, tends to be a little more eclectic than most.

Still. I urge people to broaden their horizons. We writers need to read all sorts of things in order to formulate our stories. And sometimes, we write characters who are nothing whatsoever like us — yet we must do so with conviction, or the reader will tune out. How do we do that unless we’re willing to listen to others who don’t sound like us? Or at least read books that challenge our assumptions, and make us think about the choices we make, and why we make them?

But even if you’re not a writer, I still urge you to read outside your comfort zone. (Writer/blogger Susan Toy has a great set of memes generated from a recent insightful blog post of hers; the memes were created by Chris Graham, of TSRA PROMO GRAPHICS & VISUALS — otherwise known as Chris the Story-Reading Ape.** Chris runs a great blog, and offers many services to indie authors free of charge; if you haven’t been to his blog yet, you really should hightail it over there.)

In fact, here is a great visual put together by Chris G. on behalf of Susan Toy, using her words:

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As the author of some very different-than-usual books (including AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE), I have to hope that more people will start doing just that. And soon.

Anyway, I love reading. I also love to write, especially when the words are flowing and the story’s making sense…and as a blogger, I’ve enjoyed getting a chance to meet people from all over the world.

That is the main reason why I signed up for the International Authors’ Day blog-hop, and it’s why I hope you’ll continue to enjoy reading my blog if it’s the first time you’ve ever stopped by.

Happy Sunday, folks! Keep hopping along…and remember, if you haven’t done so yet, you can get my military SF story “To Survive the Maelstrom” for free as an e-book from Amazon for another day or so, give or take a few.

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**I hate to admit this, but half the time, I write “Chris the Story-Telling Ape,” even though Chris Graham uses TSRA — or “The Story-Reading Ape” — as part of his own company name! Fortunately for me, Chris does not seem to mind this…one of these days, Chris, I’ll get it right. (Starting today, I hope.)

“What is Military Science Fiction, Anyway?” – Guest Post…

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Folks, rather than talk too much about why I wrote this, head on over to Chris the Story-Telling Ape’s busy blog, and dive in. I think if you like milSF, or if you like Chris Nuttall’s work — even if for some reason you don’t like mine too much and read my blog ’cause you enjoy me or my fantasy or whatever — you will like this post.

So, here is “What is Military Science Fiction, Anyway?” Enjoy it.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

When you think of the words “military science fiction,” what comes to mind?

Is it spaceships, maybe? Or at least space suits…or perhaps far-future events, on a space station, or on another planet entirely, but with future warriors?

There are so many different things that the words “military science fiction” (henceforth shortened to milSF) bring to mind, aren’t there? So my thought was, what usual conventions do writers use when they’re dealing with milSF?

Perhaps looking at the works of a few current writers will give an idea of what is meant, here.

For example, David Weber has a far-flung interstellar empire in his many-book saga about Honor Harrington (also called the “Honorverse”). In addition to war, the Honorverse includes political drama, various different styles of government and ways of living—but without the backbone of Honor Harrington’s military service (not to mention the war and its aftermath, and the war…

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Written by Barb Caffrey

July 16, 2016 at 8:14 pm

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Agnes Mae Graham

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For some reason, when Chris the Story-Telling Ape put out the announcement that his mother’s book of poetry was now available, I didn’t see it…thankfully, Susan Toy did and recommended it. Now, I’m going to do the same thing.

Reading Recommendations

Christopher Graham, aka Chris The Story Reading Ape*, has done a wonderful thing! He’s gathered together poetry written by his late mother, Mae Graham, and published it as an eBook, available worldwide! Here’s “Mae” to tell us about “her” new book!

Mum B&WAgnes Mae Graham (Mae)

What is your latest release and what genre is it?My Vibrating Vertabrae: and other poems

Quick description: We all have dreams, loves and hopes; but what if you are a girl growing up in 20th century Northern Ireland before, during and after the ‘Troubles’?

From the poetic thoughts of our Mother, we get a sense of what it was like, ranging from humour, sadness, wistful thinking and sometimes just downright nonsensical, these are the words of one such girl.

Each poem tells a story.

MMVV eBook PNG SMALLBrief biography:
I was born into a poor-in-money, rich-in-spirit-and-determination, proud, hard-working family on 2nd July, 1926.

Both my parents…

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Written by Barb Caffrey

July 15, 2016 at 7:27 pm

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It’s International Authors’ Day! (Time for a Blog-Hop?)

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Folks, it’s International Authors’ Day. So that means it’s time for a blog-hop…and one of the conditions of this particular hop is that you have to give something away.

Well, I was going to do that anyway…(shh! Don’t tell anyone!)

So…ta-da!

To Survive the Maelstrom

My novella “To Survive the Maelstrom” is free — yes, you read that right: FREE, F.R.E.E., #FREE, however you want to spell it or tag it — from July 14 (right now) to July 18, 2016.

If you know nothing whatsoever about “To Survive the Maelstrom,” here is the blurb to perhaps whet your interest (though if you’re not interested in a good, free novella, I have to wonder about you):

A Marketing for Romance Writers Goodreads Pick of the Week for June 21, 2016!

Command Sergeant-Major Sir Peter Welmsley of the Atlantean Union has lost everything he holds dear. He wonders why he lived, when so many others died at Hunin — including his fiancée, Lydia, and his best friend Chet.

Into his life comes Grasshunter’s Cub, an empathic, sentient creature known to those on Heligoland as a “weremouse.”

Weremice are known for their ability to help their bond-mates. But how can this young weremouse find a way to bring Peter back from the brink of despair and start living again?

And that’s not all…if you are among the first three people who can prove you’ve downloaded “To Survive the Maelstrom” because of this freebie event (meant to celebrate the sixth anniversary of this blog along with International Authors’ Day), I’ll send you copies of any two of my other books and/stories…you pick ’em, but if you’re a milSF fan, you probably are going to be most interested in “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station.” (Go to my Amazon page, or my late husband Michael’s Amazon page, for further details.)

For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome…and don’t be discommoded that these particular stories say either “Barb Caffrey and Michael B. Caffrey” or “Michael B. Caffrey and Barb Caffrey.” All three of these particular stories I’ve mentioned are works my husband either started and wasn’t able to complete, or are things I saw, and wanted to complete in a different way in my own right. (I figured he’d not mind.) I am proud of my work on these stories, and even prouder still that I am helping to keep my husband Michael’s work alive in some small way…

Anyway. For those of you who’ve been here many times before, thanks for returning. I’m always glad to see you, and hope you’ll tell me what you think of “To Survive the Maelstrom” and my other work, ’cause no writer enjoys a vacuum. (Or, as I like to put it, shouting into a wind tunnel. It does no good and makes you wonder if anyone out there is paying any attention–or even should.) I always enjoy hearing from readers, and hope to see some new reviews ’cause of this free event. (Or at least some comments. ‘Cause you can’t do any better than free, yes?)

So…you have a free novella to go get, hm? And then, you need to go check out the other participants in this particular blog-hop…have a great International Authors’ Day, folks! (And don’t say I never got you anything, ’cause it’s not true.)

Today Is My Sixth Blog-i-versary…

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Folks, I didn’t want this day to go by without commenting, ’cause today is my sixth blog-i-versary — or sixth year since starting my blog on 7/10/2010.

How time flies when you’re having fun, hm?

I started my blog partly because I wanted people to know that I’m out here — that I exist, that I write, that I comment, that I edit, and that I was doing my best to affect the outcome in those areas.

Along the way, I’ve managed to do a few important things. So, in no particular order, here they are:

First, I regained the full use of my hands due to several rounds of occupational therapy, and started playing in concert bands again as a saxophonist and clarinetist.

Second, I rejoined the Racine Concert Band in 2012.

Third, I finally saw the publication of the Elfy duology as AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (2014) and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE (2015).

Fourth, CHANGING FACES nears completion and will be out hopefully by the end of the summer.

Fifth, I’ve made new friends, encouraged old ones, and have managed to get several of Michael’s stories back out and available (including “Columba and the Cat” and the two Joey Maverick stories, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station”)…plus, I wrote a story around a 2,000 word fragment of my husband’s that I called “To Survive the Maelstrom.”

(BTW, that fifth one is something you should keep an eye on, as I’m going to have a promotion later this week about it. In honor of my sixth blog-i-versary, “To Survive the Maelstrom” will be free on Amazon for five days, from July 14 to July 18, 2016.)

I’ve also edited many books, have joined Marketing for Romance Writers, Exquisite Quills, and ASMSG, have met many interesting people in and out of the book world…and have sustained some lasting losses, too, including the death of my best friend Jeff Wilson in 2011.

The song that comes to mind, right now, is Genesis’s “Home by the Sea.” Some of the lyrics speak to me at times like this, such as “images of sorrow, pictures of delight. Things that go to make up a life…”

That’s where I am, on my sixth blog-i-versary.

Thanks for sharing the ride, and do stay tuned…you never know what might happen here at the Elfyverse. (Could “Trouble with Elfs” be on the way as an e-book? One can only hope…)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Flights of Fancy short story anthology – Flights of Fancy by Sally Cronin

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This is a very cute short story by my friend Sally Cronin…go enjoy it, and let it take your consciousness away for a short time. Enjoy the weekend, friends, no matter how many awful things happened this week…OK?

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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FLIGHTS OF FANCY

My head was bent over the crowded library counter as I concentrated on checking in a batch of new books, when a polite voice interrupted my chain of thought.

“Hello, it’s Helen isn’t it?”

I looked up into a face that I thought I would never see again. Robert Brown, the heart throb of the upper fifth at school. I blinked. I could not believe that he had remembered my name, let alone recognised me after all these years. I stared blankly at him.

“You don’t remember me do you?” he said, “Robert Brown, we were at school together.”

As if I would ever forget.

“It’s a long time I know, over ten years,” he paused and looked around him at the crowded library. “I can’t believe that you are working in the library, last time I saw you after our exams, you said you were headed…

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Written by Barb Caffrey

July 8, 2016 at 7:59 pm

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