Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 2018

Sick at the Holidays…

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Folks, I have meant to write a blog or at least drop in a little bit of something for the past week-plus. But I have been quite ill.

I’ve been to the doctor twice and a third visit is in the offing. All I know is, I have had two ear infections (one in both ears, or a double ear infection), a bad sinus infection, an upper respiratory infection, and all of this happened more or less at the same time. As I have asthma, too, and other health issues already, none of this has helped me feel productive or like I have a place in the world.

Being ill is hard enough, but being sick at the holidays is even worse. I don’t know why that is, but it seems to add insult to injury somehow…and adds a bunch of stress to an already stressful situation.

I have so much stuff to do. Stuff to write. Stuff to edit. Stuff to read, even…and I can do none of it right now. I can’t even help my family members when they need help, as I usually do. Because I can’t get out to do anything for them right now. And that adds to my feelings of stress, not to mention that “do I have a place in the world?” thing I discussed above.

All I know is, I have to somehow heal up. That means another trip to the doctor, to figure out what happened this time, and how to fix it. Maybe I didn’t respond to the last bit of antibiotics? Maybe I caught something else on top of all the other stuff? Maybe something else is going on and I haven’t a clue what?

This is what’s running through my mind, as I write this.

So, folks: Don’t get this, whatever it is. And if you do somehow get something like it, get your rest as fast as you can, and don’t insist — as I unfortunately did — on trying to do any of your normal activities. As bad as it is to feel useless, it’s even worse to feel useless and sick…so pick the best of your available bad options, and rest/heal as best you can.

Oh, and try to laugh, too. That does help.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 31, 2018 at 1:46 am

Free Books!

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I’m glad to share the news, and I hope all the folks I know who don’t already have these books will pick them up forthwith! (They’re free for Xmas!)

The Chrishanger

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 25, 2018 at 6:28 pm

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Announcing…”Citadel of Fear”

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Folks, a few months ago, I teased you all about a short story I’d sold. I couldn’t tell you much about it at the time, but I promised to come back and let you know when I could…then time got away from me. Work intervened. Real life (TM) got in the way of me talking about one of my few triumphs in 2018.

But now, I can discuss it, and actually have the time to do so. (What a luxury time can be. But I digress.)

The story “Citadel of Fear” was written for the latest Darkover anthology, itself titled CITADELS OF DARKOVER. The citadel in question could be metaphorical, could be literal; we just had to have our characters overcoming something major, something that could be a citadel of some sort. The editor, Deborah J. Ross, gave us wide latitude in what we chose as a citadel, and that helped me out enormously.

In “Citadel of Fear, my character, Miralys n’ha Camilla, is a Renunciate trail and mountain guide. (Think “Free Amazon,” and you’re not far wrong.) She is loyal to her Renunciate sisters, to her clients, and has built a life for herself doing what she enjoys the most: being in the outdoors, guiding clients up and down the perilous Darkovan mountains in all sorts of weather.

When the story opens, she’s guiding yet another client, a young woman, Jenella. It seems like any other day to her. She’s happy, she’s focused, she’s doing what she loves…

And then an avalanche drops on her. Literally.

How she overcomes her fear and takes up her job again is the focus of the story. Because it’s for the Darkover universe, I was able to use a weak psi-talent (called laran) to help her out a bit. But mostly, Miralys can only overcome her citadel of fear by using her mind, heart, and spirit; if she refuses to give in, she can keep going, and reclaim herself as best she can.

It took me somewhere between six or eight drafts to write this 4500-word story. Miralys was a tough nut to crack. She was incredibly closed at the start of this story (well, once the avalanche dropped on her, at any rate). She was not in a good place. And she didn’t have any idea what she was going to do next, or how she was going to do it.

She takes up the mantle of living again because she has to guide five young women down the mountain, as the price for her extensive healing. (Yes, she’d normally do it anyway, but without having to do it under these circumstances, she’d have balked.) She isn’t well. But she has to help, and so she does her best, until a very bad situation–one somewhat reminiscent of what she’s lived through in certain respects–arises.

Because I want you to read this story, I can’t tell you more than that. But I can say this: if you like stories with heroes or heroines who realistically overcome their fears, you will enjoy “The Citadel of Fear.” Guaranteed.

So, because I’m very proud of writing this story, I’m going to give you the table of contents for CITADELS OF DARKOVER now…and hope that in a few months, when it comes out, you’ll remember to look for it. (Of course, I will be talking about it then, too, but there’s nothing wrong with “priming the pump” now, is there?)

Table of Contents

DANCING LESSONS

By Evey Brett

SACRIFICE

By Steven Harper

BANSHEE CRY

By Marella Sands

THE KATANA MATRIX

By Lillian Csernica

SIEGE

By Diana L. Paxson

SEA-CASTLE

By Leslie Fish

FIRE STORM

By Jane M. H. Bigelow

THE DRAGON HUNTER

By Robin Rowland

FISH NOR FOWL

By Rebecca Fox

DARK AS DAWN

By Robin Wayne Bailey

CITADEL OF FEAR

By Barb Caffrey

THE JUDGMENT OF WIDOWS

By Shariann Lewitt

***

So, there you have it! And I do hope you’ll enjoy the story, and the rest of the anthology, when it comes out next year.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 18, 2018 at 4:08 am

Holidays Are Hard, AKA Christmas Ramblings

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So, the holidays are coming. And they’re tough to take.

You see all the folks rushing here, rushing there (sometimes literally; today I saw a horrific car accident on the Interstate, and was very spooked by it), and you wonder what all that rushing is all about.

Then, there are the Christmas movies. The Christmas music, everywhere you go. (Even at the casino/hotel last night, where I was enjoying a rare night of R&R, I heard all Xmas music, all the time. I actually would’ve rather heard the 149th rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which is not exactly my favorite song in the world, than that…because at least Britney is being honest.) The Christmas sales. The Pajamagrams. The Vermont Teddy Bears. And all the other ads you see, most especially for jewelry…

Everything is about conspicuous consumption. (Gag.)

Or about the assumption that every family is perfect (news flash: they aren’t), and that Christmas can make miracles happen out of even the most dysfunctional situation (and dysfunctional people). And while I want to believe that’s true (I know miracles can and do happen, for example), I don’t think it’s as easy as the movies make it out to be.

Look. Call me a curmudgeon. (Please.) But as I’ve said before, holidays are not about presents. They’re about presence.

As in, showing up, paying attention, making memories. Those are the only things that matter. Not how much you spend.

So, this may be an obvious take, but holidays are hard. We’re confronted with all we’re not, and we’re told we must aspire to be things other than what we are.

When you see stuff like that, or hear stuff like that, or think things like that, step back and take a breath. Then, realize that all you can do is take it moment by moment, give yourself permission to have human feelings (and human failings), and keep trying to do whatever good you can, wherever you can.

That’s what I’m going to try to do this year.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 8, 2018 at 12:53 am