Barb Caffrey's Blog

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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.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 18, 2018 at 4:08 am

“Changing Faces,” the Fall Book Fair, and Transgender Men…

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Recently, at the Washington Post, I read an article about how transgender men have seen differences in how they are treated based on their outward appearance. Born in a woman’s body, and then becoming the male they feel themselves to be inside, causes them to see the world in a completely different way than others.

When I read this, it reminded me of my character Elaine Foster from CHANGING FACES.

Why? Well, here’s a quote from that article.

From Zander Keig, a trans man from San Diego:

Prior to my transition, I was an outspoken radical feminist. I spoke up often, loudly and with confidence. I was encouraged to speak up. I was given awards for my efforts, literally — it was like, “Oh, yeah, speak up, speak out.” When I speak up now, I am often given the direct or indirect message that I am “mansplaining,” “taking up too much space” or “asserting my white male heterosexual privilege.” Never mind that I am a first-generation Mexican American, a transsexual man, and married to the same woman I was with prior to my transition.

So, you’re the same person. You have only changed how you look, outwardly. And now, you’re accused of “mansplaining.” Or worse, “asserting (your) white male heterosexual privilege,” even when you aren’t anything of the sort (as Zander isn’t).

And Alex Poon (only 26 to Zander’s 52) says in this same article:

My voice has started cracking and becoming lower. Recently, I’ve been noticing the difference between being perceived as a woman versus being perceived as a man. I’ve been wondering how I can strike the right balance between remembering how it feels to be silenced and talked over with the privileges that come along with being perceived as a man. Now, when I lead meetings, I purposefully create pauses and moments where I try to draw others into the conversation and make space for everyone to contribute and ask questions.

What Alex seems to be doing is trying to strike a happy medium, but admits there are privileges here and that he’s not used to them.

portrait in gardenHow does this relate to my novel CHANGING FACES? Well, Elaine is transgender because she’s always felt wrong in her body. And yet, she’s also gender-fluid, so if she became male, what would happen to her? Would it be easier, harder, or what? And how would you be the same person — as you are the same soul — in a different body?

The way I solved this (and created more problems) was to put Elaine and her heterosexual boyfriend Allen in each other’s bodies due to a car accident. Now they’re both transgender, but as Elaine was deeply damaged due to early abuse and rape before she ever met Allen, she’s in a coma, talking with a higher being who may as well be an angel. (This being, Moe, is neither male nor female, and comes from a long line of Amorphous Masses. So Moe can be anything Moe wants to be…more or less.)

This article in the Post reminded me that the person you are stays, regardless of how you are perceived. But that perception of who you are can change everything for you on the outside…and that can be a gift, or a curse, depending. (One of the other men, who’s African-American, has said it’s much harder to be a man in some ways than a woman, due to how African-American men are treated by the police.)

I had an interesting time with Allen, once he ended up in Elaine’s body. He still wanted to be with Elaine, no matter what body she was in (providing she wakes up from the coma, of course). But being seen as a beautiful woman rather than a geeky heterosexual male was a real problem for him; he’d never had to worry before about half the things he now must, and it all but precipitates a nervous breakdown in the poor man.

My hope in writing CHANGING FACES was that people would maybe understand each other a little better after reading this. But I especially hoped, as a woman, that other women would read about Allen’s struggles and feel his plight…and be able to put themselves in Allen’s shoes. (That I hoped a few would do this for poor Elaine, too, was a given. But don’t forget about Allen, as they come as a set.)

Yesterday, Viviana MacKade’s Fall Book Fair (which I’ve talked about all week) finished up with several young adult and new adult books, including CHANGING FACES (which counts as new adult as we’re dealing with college students). All of them are ninety-nine cent e-books. And at least one of them may tickle your fancy, even if my own quirky take on LGBTQ relationships does not.

(Though I hope it’ll do some good for someone out there. Or I’d not have written it at all.)

So do take in the Fall Book Fair, even though it’s now — technically, at least — over. The post is still there. The books are still there. And there are fifty books from the entirety of the week to choose from, all priced at just ninety-nine cents.

More Books at the Fall Book Fair…

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Folks, as promised, I’m here to let you know about some more books at Viviana MacKade’s Fall Book Fair online event…all of them are e-books priced at ninety-nine cents, and all are interesting reads. (I’ve read all the promos and have read a few of the books, and may be picking up a whole bunch of others. They just look that good.)

Along with my own AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (which was featured today), my friend Kayelle Allen’s THE LAST VHALGENN was also featured. While I’ve often edited for Kayelle, this story predates me knowing her, much less editing for her — so I can tell you without any prejudice whatsoever that it’s a cracking good story.

3d-kl-com-tlvSee, Kayelle’s character Raik is a type of supremely loyal woman we rarely see in any stories these days. She’s not perfect, no, but she’s sexy as Hell, smart, funny in her way, loyal to a fault, and because she is a Vhalgenn — a type of super-courtesan for the highest nobles in the land, and completely unable to have children (so no bastards can be sired upon her, meaning most noble wives would probably not mind her as much as they’d mind other mistresses), she has a unique role to play.

And when she’s placed in an impossible position, what will she choose to do? (Because I want you to go to Viviana’s page, I am going to stop right there with my plot summary.)

When I read THE LAST VHALGENN a few years ago, I sat up and went, “Wow. That’s my type of woman!”

And it’s one reason why, when I had the opportunity to talk about one of my friend Jason Cordova’s books earlier this year, I also talked about one of Kayelle’s — because there’s something there that I’ve seen from both of them that I don’t get in a lot of other places. The military detailing is exceptional, and the characterization is so good, the characters almost jump off the page.  They are both Navy veterans, too, and I think that makes a big difference when it comes to authenticity. (The rest of us, who aren’t, have to work that much harder…but I digress.)

That’s why my hope was that folks who like Jason’s work but had never heard of Kayelle would go take a look at her books, most especially the two novels about Pietas (a man who you shouldn’t like, considering his violent and extremely difficult and sometimes distasteful attributes, but you can’t help but like anyway — and ultimately, come to admire). I saw a lot about BRINGER OF CHAOS: The Origin of Pietas that I thought Jason’s readers, especially those who adored the three Wraithkin books, would appreciate…maybe down the line more folks will make those cross-connections, but at least I have it out there that if you like one of these writers and their military-themed work (and yes, THE LAST VHALGENN has a military element, too, as she’s not just a courtesan; she’s also a fully trained fighter and tactician and military strategist), you will probably like the other.

61i53zmytl-_uy250_In addition to Kayelle’s excellent work, my own AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is also featured today. It is a funny fantasy that Jason (in a quote given to me for promotional purposes) said was “quick and witty” and “straddles the line between absurdity and suspense.” (When he gave me that quote, I said, “Thank you!”) And Viviana MacKade saw that, made up a nifty little graphic with that quote, and credits Jason for it (as she should).

How did she know about this? Probably because she read the quotes I had for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE either at my blog or at my Amazon page, and liked Jason’s the best…and as Jason’s own profile has risen in the last few years, it probably can’t hurt me any that she picked his quote. (I hope it helps. I’d like people to actually read what I’m writing, now and again. Gives me hope that they might want to see some sequels or prequels down the line, as I had a whole lot of ’em plotted out at one time.)

So, if you haven’t read AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE yet, please go take a look at it.

And of course keep an eye on Viviana MacKade’s book fair, as there’s still a few more days to go…lots of great e-books, all priced at just ninety-nine cents! (How can you go wrong?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 6, 2018 at 12:40 am

It’s Fall Book Fair Time…

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Folks, over at Viviana Mackade’s blog this week, she’ll be featuring all sorts of books that are on sale right now (as e-books) for ninety-nine cents.  And the first set of authors are up now — ten books, ten authors — so I figured I’d write a little bloglet and let you know this is going on.

Note that later this week, my booksAN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and CHANGING FACES will be part of the fair…so I will be promoting this book fair, and I hope you will check it out also.

Now, back to your regular programming, already in progress…

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 3, 2018 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Books, Writing

Fighting Disappointment, and Moving On…

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Folks, I’ve written about disappointment before. (Many times, in fact, with my most recent example being here.) But it seems to be a good time to write about it again, and I have a different take on it…so why not?

I have known some other authors besides myself to have intense struggles getting their work before the public. They’ve put their books out there, and gotten no response at all. They’ve slaved over their creations, taken care of the edits, the book covers, tried to get reviewers interested, all that…and still, nothing happened.

Some of success is being in the right place at the right time. I know one author rather well — Loren K. Jones — who put out several novels in late 2009 and early 2010. None of them did much. He was, I believe, extremely frustrated at the time, and thought no one cared about his writing.

Fast-forward to 2018.

Now, Loren has a thriving career as a novelist. He has ten books out, with more on the way. His six books in the “Stavin DragonBlessed” series did exceptionally well, and put him on the map as a fantasy novelist. (Don’t believe me? Go read ALL THAT GLITTERS for yourself; it’s only ninety-nine cents for the e-book version.)

Loren’s not the only one I know who’s had this sort of thing happen, but he’s possibly the best example right now.

So why am I talking about him, when the theme is disappointment? Well, sometimes you have to learn how to roll with the punches, keep your chin up, and keep trying.

That is what Loren did.

It’s what I’m trying to do, too.

Do your best to fight on, no matter what odds you face. Believe in yourself, and your dreams. Work hard, learn much, and keep fighting.

Sometimes, that is literally all you can do. (Because you can’t control the market. You can only control yourself.)

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 2, 2018 at 9:22 pm

August #MFRWhooks, Elfy Style!

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Folks, it’s been a while since I did anything to remind you of my books, so I decided I’d start talking about them again.

So yes, this is a Marketing for Romance Writers BookHooks post, otherwise shortened to #MFRWhooks…and yes, it’s done Elfy style! (What could be better?) As this is a blog-hop, I’ll be posting links to other writers and their work below, and hope you’ll go check them out, too.

33ea3-logobookhooks

The first one I decided to highlight is A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, and what better way to go than to show my hero and heroine’s first kiss?

61orwk-6zl-_uy250_“Tomorrow is Ba’altinne, Sarah.” Bruno rubbed his fingers through his hair and tried not to look too hard at Sarah. Goddess, she was beautiful. But he had to stay on topic. “That’s your May Day. Tomorrow.” He shook his head and tried not to frown. “How can we get everything together in time to stop this nasty Dark Elf?”

“I have faith in you,” she said. Her eyes darkened. Bruno felt as if he were falling, before she gently brushed her lips against his. Before he got a chance to do anything except feel how soft her lips were, she drew back. “I–didn’t intend to do that, Bruno,” she said, sounding shaken. “Why did I?”

“I liked it,” he admitted. “If we had more time, I’d try to start it.” Then, getting his mind ruthlessly back on track, he said, “What are we going to do, though, in only one day?”

“The best we can,” she said.

Be sure to check out Sarah Birch’s bucket list as well, as that was one of my favorite guest blogs, written for Kayelle Allen’s Romance Lives Forever blog.

Read A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE at Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, or if you want to try more before you buy, here’s a link to some sample chapters. Enjoy!

And do remember to check out my BookHooks compatriots; go here to check them out, or follow the list below!


Written by Barb Caffrey

August 1, 2018 at 5:00 am

Women Co-Authors are “Disappeared” by NPR, and the World Shrugs

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Folks, I am really upset right now.

NPR recently interviewed two authors, Silka-Maria Weineck and Stefan Syzmanski, for their radio show “All Things Considered.” The reason? Well, it’s World Cup season (championship soccer, as the US would call it; championship football, as everyone else does), and Weineck and Szymanski wrote a book called It’s Football, Not Soccer (and Vice Versa): On the History, Emotion, and Ideology Behind One of the Internet’s Most Ferocious Debates. The book sounds fascinating, and I would’ve loved to hear what Ms. Weineck had to say…except that NPR host Anders Kelto scrubbed all of her interview, and then compounded his error by attributing their co-written book to Szymanski alone.

That is what prompted the following letter to NPR’s ombudsman.

You see, as a female author myself, I know that if I had written a book with someone, and then only my co-author was named after I’d done an interview also, I’d be going ballistic right now.

Ms. Weineck isn’t too happy, either. (Take a look at this article if you don’t believe me.) And I don’t blame her at all.

Anyway, here you go with my letter to NPR:

I am deeply unhappy that in a recent on-air segment for “All Things Considered” host Anders Kelto did not name both authors of the book IT’S FOOTBALL, NOT SOCCER (AND VICE VERSA), instead only naming the male co-author. Refusing to name the female co-author was wrong and shameful, and further compounding his error by refusing to initially name her in the printed piece on your website (which was later corrected) is extremely disheartening.

I look to NPR for balanced coverage. And if there are two authors of a book, the only way to get balanced coverage is to talk about — and to — both co-authors, unless one is not available. In this case, the female co-author, Ms. Silke-Maria Weineck, was indeed available, and had spoken to the on-air host for thirty minutes by her account (I read it at the Chronicle.com, BTW), and yet none of her quotes were used. So your host, Mr. Kelto, was willing to talk with Ms. Weineck, but apparently not willing to use any of her quotes. Or even properly attribute the book to both her and her co-author, Mr. Szymanski, for that matter.

I am extremely frustrated that Ms. Weineck’s voice was silenced. But I’m even more frustrated, as a female author myself, that another female author was marginalized and “disappeared” in this way.

I believe NPR should rectify this problem immediately by talking with Ms. Weineck and working out some way of compensating her for this egregious error.

And please, please, for the love of little green apples, never make this type of mistake ever again. Because it is sickening.

Now, to the men in the audience:

I know most of you would never behave as Mr. Kelto did. (Most especially, the male authors wouldn’t.) But this behavior still must needs be challenged, as it shows the problem we female authors still run into from time to time. (I can’t believe this is the only time NPR has done something like this, either, and they’re supposedly the “liberal bastion” of radio — or at least, by their own charter, are supposed to promote equality and fairness. And what could be more fair than properly attributing a co-written book to both authors?)

(Mind, if you only think about how much you would hate it, if only the female co-author were named instead of you, maybe you’ll understand…such is my hope.)

The reason I am writing this blog, though, is very simple. You men need to realize that the women in your life, especially the creative women, are often discounted or dismissed. (It’s always wrong, too. A creative person is a creative person is a creative person, whether the person is male, female, trans, queer, intersex, or Martian.)

Without realizing that simple fact, the good men out there cannot work against this type of abhorrent behavior. As I do hope you will do, because it needs doing.

And if you, too, want to write to the ombudsman and complain that the female co-author’s name should not have been “disappeared” from the broadcast? Here’s a link.