Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for July 2021

Chris Nuttall’s Newest Book, STUCK IN MAGIC, Is Out…

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Folks, Chris Nuttall is a good friend of mine, and also an editorial client. I lead with that, because I recently edited his newest novel, STUCK IN MAGIC, for the reinvigorated Henchman Press.

This book is a spinoff of Chris’s popular Schooled in Magic universe (which so far has spawned 23 full novels, at least five novellas, and a few other short stories). Instead of starring Emily, a girl from Kansas in our world who finds out she has magic (and thus can change her new world), it stars Elliot, also an American from our time and place. He is a military man, describes himself as “big, black, and beefy,” and one day he’s driving along the Interstate, very angry at his cheating wife. Before he knows it, his car is wrecked, he’s in the middle of a primeval forest, and a young woman — not Emily — has worked a spell so he can understand the local language.

Mind you, Elliot quickly figures out there has to have been someone from our world who’s shown up there, as books use English letters and numbers use Arabic numerals. There also are “new” inventions — new to the Nameless World, anyway — of muskets, flintlocks, and steam engine-driven trains. (All of these are thanks to Emily, but of course Elliot cannot know that.)

Elliot has no magic at all. What he has are his quick mind, his military knowledge (including knowing a great deal of military history), and how to fight insurgents bent only on his destruction. (No, he’s not faced actual magicians before. But he has faced insurgents galore in “the Sandbox,” i.e., Afghanistan, Iraq, and quite possibly Pakistan as well.)

So, what would you do, if you ended up stuck in magic? How would you deal with the wrenching sense of loss, of losing everything including that of the world of your birth, when you don’t have a major talent (as Emily does)? Would you be able to adapt?

At any rate, the ebook came out at lightspeed, and is out now. (Here’s a link from Amazon, in case you’re interested.) And the cover art is spectacular. You have to see this. (Thank artist Lydia Kurnia for coming up with this great cover.)

So, go forth, and read this! (You’ll be glad you did.)

Congrats to the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks!

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Folks, last night I watched the Milwaukee Bucks play game six in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) finals against the Phoenix Suns. Bucks stars Giannis Antetokounmpo (there’s a reason Bucks announcer Ted Davis calls Giannis “the Alphabet,” folks), Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, along with many other excellent players like P.J. Tucker, Thanasis Antetokounmpo (yes, Giannis’s elder brother), Pat Connaughton, and fan favorite Bobby Portis, helped the team win the first NBA championship for the city of Milwaukee (and for the Bucks franchise) in fifty years.

All I can say is what I’ve said in the title: “Congratulations!”

The Bucks as a team are excellent, but the people who make up the team are even better. Giannis is a good person, known for his philanthropy and down-to-Earth attitude. (Giannis also overcame a huge injury, that of a hyperextended knee, in order to play exceptionally well in the NBA Finals, finishing game six with fifty points. Yes, fifty points on a bad knee! But I digress.) Middleton is a hard-working sharpshooter and a devoted family man. Holiday is married to an Olympic athlete, is planning to play on the US Olympic team this year (along with Middleton), and was quick to integrate himself into the team and helped a great deal with his unselfish attitude and play.

Of course, there’s also coach Mike Budenholzer to thank, as he worked tirelessly to put together a game plan that would give Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday the ability for each of them to do what they do best. Plus, he’s been great at working the bench players into games, and seems to have a sixth sense as to when someone needs a rest.

For that matter, I’d like to thank Bucks General Manager (GM) Jon Horst, as no team succeeds without a great GM.

So, while the state of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee continue to celebrate, and rightfully so, I wanted to say thank you to the entirety of the Bucks organization. Everyone — from the ticket sellers to the beer vendors to all of the assistant coaches and trainers plus the Bucks announcers on TV and radio — played a role in this championship. And every one of them deserves to be proud, not just of the Bucks, but of their own hard work on the Bucks’ organization’s behalf.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 21, 2021 at 8:23 pm

Unsettling Times

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Folks, I wanted to write a blog today about editing, but instead I’m writing this.

Why? Well, in Racine County yesterday morning, a man went up to another man outside a gas station and shot him to death at point-blank range. There appeared to be no connection between them whatsoever.

This definitely made me uneasy.

That the shooter then went to a different gas station, where he in turn was shot to death by a police officer (the shooter shot at the unmarked police car, and at the officer who was in plain clothes at the time), just underscores how random life can sometimes be.

If that shooter had gone somewhere else, the policeman who stopped him wouldn’t have been there. So in that much, I suppose I can see the hand of divine providence. (I’d like to think so, anyway. Surely the police officer saved much more strife by killing the shooter.)

In my area of Southeastern Wisconsin, we’ve had various protests over the past four or five years in Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Racine. Most have been peaceful. Some have been socially distant, as has been needed since the pandemic of Covid-19 broke out. But some, unfortunately, have brought bloodshed and tears.

I don’t know what the answers are for this mindless violence. I don’t know why yesterday was the day the shooter decided — apparently — to flip out and murder someone in cold blood for no damned good reason whatsoever.

So, even though I know — as a good friend told me earlier tonight — that nothing has changed for me, it feels like everything has changed.

To be honest, living my best life during the pandemic has been extremely difficult. Add the summer into the mix, where I observe not one, not two, but three sad anniversaries, and that ups the difficulty factor considerably. I also do not have the consolation of playing music right now, as I took a leave of absence from the Racine Concert Band. (This was necessary, but it’s a necessity I still regret.)

Then, add in the problem of yesterday, with the Kenosha riots of 2020, and the Milwaukee issues in the last five years, and it seems like Southeastern Wisconsin is a hotbed of chaos.

That, I know, is an illusion. But it feels real.

So, what is reality in this situation?

According to a good friend, I may as well try to predict where lightning will strike next as to worry about some random thug somewhere putting a bullet where it doesn’t need to be. So that means that all I can do is the same thing I do every single day.

What’s that, you ask?

Simple. I choose to write. I choose to edit. I choose to write music, and to practice it when able. I choose to help. I choose to keep going. I choose to fight chaos, even if all I can do is fight the despair in my head. I choose to remember better days, and I most of all choose to be the same person my late husband knew and loved so well.

Even on a day like this one — a day after a previously unimaginable tragedy in an extremely rural area with a bunch of farms, cows, haystacks, and not much else — I choose to live.

This is a candle flame against the darkness, but it’s all I’ve got.

Music and Bad Sinuses

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Folks, over the last week, I had to make a difficult decision.

You see, while we were dealing with the pandemic, the band I play in — the Racine Concert Band — was not able to play any concerts. But now that the pandemic is on the way out, the RCB will be playing its entire free summer concert season every Sunday night in July and August.

The thing is, I’ve been battling some health issues. (This should not be a surprise to any regular reader of this blog.) And as of today, I have been diagnosed, again, with an acute sinus infection.

I wasn’t sure, last Thursday, when the RCB had its first rehearsal since 2019, if I could play or not. But that night, I was not able to go to rehearsal as I just felt too ill. As I look forward to playing in the band, this was very disheartening, to say the least.

Anyway, after some thought, I decided that I needed to take a leave of absence from the band for this summer season. This was hard to do for two reasons. One, I love to play. Two, I am — or anyway, have been — a member of the RCB’s board of directors.

So, that’s the upshot. I have a sinus infection, again. And I won’t be playing in the RCB’s summer concert season, though I still urge you to go if you live in Southeastern Wisconsin or Northern Illinois whenever you can. (It’s excellent music, the setting at the Racine Zoo is beautiful, and it’s absolutely free. What more can anyone ask?)