Archive for the ‘Changing Faces’ Category
Folks, over the last month or so, I’ve told you a lot about my new novel, CHANGING FACES. I’ve told you some of what I was about when I wrote it, and about my process in writing it, and about all sorts of other stuff…but as it’s Sunday, I thought I’d tell you the real reason I kept going.
After my husband Michael died in 2004, I was absolutely devastated. (I think everyone who regularly reads my blog knows this.) For a while, I didn’t recognize myself, at all…I was in so much pain, I could not create, could not write, could not play music, and saw no purpose to my life at all.
In the middle of 2005, one of my good friends asked me to come to Kansas City for a convention, ConQuesT. I had another friend offer to pay for my expenses while I was there; she and her family put me up in her house. It was the first time I’d tried to go that far away since Michael died, and because I was worried about the length of the drive, I took the Amtrak train from Chicago.
Little did I know that doing that would change my life. But it did.
I went to the convention, stayed with my friends, talked with my other friend (who was also at the convention), met some writers, all that. I felt a little better, being around people who were more like me; they didn’t see me as inherently flawed, inherently broken, or inherently irredeemable, just because my beloved husband was dead.
But that was not what changed things. (I’m getting to that, trust me.)
On the way back to Chicago, I met a minister and his wife. His name was Reverend Evans, and was an older black gentleman. He told me about his life, and his work, but mostly listened to me as I told him about everything going on — my frustration, pain, anger, rage, all that. And about how I couldn’t write, but had two novels in progress — ELFY, and CHANGING FACES. And that I wondered if there was any reason, any reason at all, I was still alive.
Rev. Evans could’ve easily thrown platitudes my way. But he didn’t.
Instead, he said that God is love, and that I knew that, because I’d seen it. Reflected in the eyes of my husband, for one; and in every word I wrote, and had ever written, for another.
This all made sense to me.
And he talked a great deal about CHANGING FACES. He said he thought I was still here to finish it. Because the world needed to know that we all need love. Regardless of race, creed, sexuality, gender preference, love is what matters.
And finding love, reflecting that love, is what’s most important.
But believing in yourself, and your talents, is also important.
Because that’s how we best enhance the Godhead.
See, our creativity comes from the Higher Power, and as such, when we are creative, we are reflecting that love and faith…and it gives back to the universe, which gives back to us.
I view talking to Reverend Evans as one of the most pivotal moments of my life. He reminded me that I still had things to do. And that even though Michael had been embraced by God/dess, and was no longer here for me to embrace, I could still be a testament to that love, so long as I kept trying.
And I’d like to think that in getting ELFY published (albeit in two parts, as AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE) along with CHANGING FACES, I have done some of what I was put here to do.
There are two guest blogs I’d also like to point you to, before I go. The first is new today, and is up at Kayelle Allen’s blog…it’s about writing bisexual characters. (Or at least a bisexual character.)
Here’s a bit from that:
Now, as to why (Elaine) still couldn’t accept herself as gender-fluid easily? Well, as a society, we’re only beginning to learn about people who don’t always feel male or female. Sometimes they feel one way, sometimes another, maybe a third time they have a mix of both traits. Gender preference is not the same thing as sexuality; not by a mile.
So, Elaine has dated women and men. She sees the worth of a person and is not automatically attracted only to one sex. In a way, Elaine isn’t attracted by anyone, sexually. She’s only attracted mentally and emotionally, and then, much later, sex comes into the picture. But that’s not that strange, considering she’s a scholarly sort. She can see into a person, and evaluate who that person is, in a way most people don’t. She doesn’t even think to do this because how she views people is part of who she is.
Ultimately, love is love. Who you love is far more important than what gender your love happens to be. Seeing a person’s soul, seeing a person’s heart, seeing a person’s worth, is far more important than whether that person is straight, gay, bisexual, or Martian.
Obviously, I believe this. (So did Reverend Evans. So did my late husband, Michael.)
And the second is an interview with Mayra Calvani; here’s a bit from that about my favorite authors (hint, hint — I mention Katharine Kimbriel, Jason Cordova, and Chris Nuttall here, so do tell your friends):
First, Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the best writers working today. She combines humor, scientific expertise, world building, romance, characterization, heart, and much more in a package that is incredibly appealing. She’s considered one of science fiction and fantasy’s modern masters by many, and for good reason.
Second, the work of Katharine Eliska Kimbriel is phenomenal. She has written three hard SF books in her Chronicles of Nuala series, and three alternate history/fantasy books in her Night Calls series. They are all excellent books with great writing, wonderful characterization, world building to spare, humor that arises from the characterization…just can’t say enough about her books. (And that she isn’t as well-known as LMB just vexes me. Writing of this quality should be celebrated far and wide, methinks.)
Third, I’m fond of Linnea Sinclair. She combines romance and SF in a way I find very appealing.
Fourth, my early mentor, Rosemary Edghill, writes exceptionally well in a wide variety of genres, from detective stories to Regency romance to urban fantasy (and beyond). The way she uses language is wonderful, and I always learn from her work, whenever I pick it up. (It’s like meeting an old friend.)
“But Barb,” I hear you protest. “What about the male authors?”
Oh, I have a number of favorites there, too. Robert A. Heinlein, Stephen R. Donaldson, David Weber, Dave Freer, Eric Flint…and don’t discount my friends Chris Nuttall or Jason Cordova, either. (Chris is so prolific, he’s put out at least ten books a year in various genres for five years running. Chris has gotten so good, he just might end up with one of those major awards like the Hugo or Nebula one of these years. And Jason can write anything…just give him time, and he’ll figure out a way to write it and sell a ton of books. That’s just how he is.)
So, there you have it.
Have a good Sunday, folks.
Folks, before I get to my NCAA Tournament thoughts, here’s the links to two more guest appearances…one an interview, one a blog “meet and greet” sort of deal.
The first is for the influential Blogcritics.org…Mayra Calvani interviewed me, and the interview is posted here.
And here’s a bit from that, talking about some of the difficulties I had while writing CHANGING FACES:
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?
Quite a few, actually. First, when I started writing this book over ten years ago, there wasn’t as much known about transgender people in popular culture as there is now. In addition, there was almost nothing about gender fluid people, which is what Elaine actually is…sometimes she feels male, sometimes she feels female, and either way she doesn’t feel particularly comfortable in her body.
Second, because I am not LGBT myself, I wanted to be faithful to the issues LGBT people face. I read a great deal, talked with some friends who are LGBT, and tried to think about Elaine the same way I’d think about a good friend. How can I help her be easier with herself? (As Elaine resolutely likes the female pronoun, even later, after her face is changed, she still goes by “she” in private.) How can I help her accept the love that’s offered, even if it’s not the way she’d ever expected it?
Third, I wanted to make sure that Allen and Elaine were both well-represented. I had Allen’s character down early. But Elaine was far more elusive. She’s prone to making sarcastic cracks, and hides her vulnerability because of problems in her past. And she thinks if she tells Allen who and what she is, he’ll run away…but that’s because she doesn’t trust herself enough to believe that she’s made the right choice in Allen as much as anything else.
There’s much more, mind, including questions regarding how I define success, how I deal with writer’s anxiety, advice for new authors. So please, do, check out the interview at Blogcritics.org, up now.
The second guest appearance is a type of blog meet-and-greet, where folks who haven’t yet seen anything about me are invited to “meet Barb Caffrey.” This post is up at the Book Marketing Network, and here’s a bit from that, again talking mostly about my new novel, CHANGING FACES:
Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: I lived in Nebraska for three years when I went to graduate school. I felt the heat, I saw the vivid colors of the sunsets and sunrises, I felt the scorching cold, and I knew exactly how to describe it.
It’s hard to explain, otherwise, but I’ll do my best.
If you’ve experienced something, that helps you to describe it. And I experienced Nebraska. I even met some LGBT people in Lincoln, when I lived there; there weren’t many, but there were some, and most of them, at the time (this being the late 1990s/early 2000s) did not want to call attention to themselves. The goal at that point was for civil unions to be accepted in various churches, and there were many disagreements about this.
So, it was important to me to set this story in Nebraska. These are two people who could live anywhere. They have talent in music, they are creative, they are honest, they love each other. But one of them is transgender and gender-fluid, and yet their love is like anyone else’s, and their communication problems are like anyone else’s, too.
It’s important that society as a whole comes to realize that people are people, and regardless of gender expression or sexuality, they are deserving of love and happiness and care. Whatever form that love and happiness takes (providing it’s consensual, preferably monogamous, and with people who are adult so they can make their own choices and take their own risks) ultimately does not matter.
Only the love matters. And that’s why I set this story in Nebraska in the first place, because it showcases just how much times have changed…and yet, remained the same.
Anyway, I hope you will check both of those guest appearances out, and enjoy them. But now, it’s time for some NCAA Tourney thoughts…especially as it is that time of year again.
Being from Wisconsin, it’s almost impossible to miss the NCAAs this year, as there will be two rounds held in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center (home of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team). Here are the eight teams that will be playing in Milwaukee:
Middle Tennessee State
Notice something interesting there? Aside from the two Big Ten teams (Minnesota and Purdue), and Iowa State, most of these teams will not be likely to have big contingents of people traveling with them. (From the fan perspective, I mean. All of them will have entourages of coaches, physical therapists, players, players’ families, etc.)
And the only reason the two Big Ten teams plus Iowa State will be likely to have more of a presence from the fan side of it all is because all three of those teams are within fairly easy driving distance. So fans can drive down to Milwaukee, take in the game, stay overnight, and drive back without too much distress.
Basically, Milwaukee did not get the “sexy Regional.” But we may have received some very solid teams that will play good, interesting games…Minnesota, for example, is known for playing a good brand of team basketball that could do well in the NCAAs, if they get past their first-round opponent.
As for the rest of the NCAAs, there are the usual suspects — Duke, Louisville, Kentucky, etc. — along with some intriguing newcomers (like Middle Tennessee State, which just so happens to be in the Milwaukee Regional). I don’t know what to make of this particular bracket, mind, because there are a lot of teams that are either completely unknown to me — I’ve never seen them, not on TV, not in person, not ever — or are ones I know to be evenly matched on paper (such as the Wisconsin-Virginia Tech game on Friday).
Bluntly, I don’t plan to fill out a bracket at all. I never do that well anyway, unless a bunch of upsets do well for a change…which means my (former) brackets look good for a minute, before they crash and burn.
So my plan is to watch good basketball. And root for the underdogs.
What’s your plan? Tell me about it in the comments!
Folks, I’m very happy to let you know about my two newest guest appearances on the Web, as I continue to promote my newest novel, CHANGING FACES. (Still just ninety-nine cents as an e-book, or ninety-nine pence for UK readers; grab it while it’s cheap, eh?)
First, I have an unusual dual character interview up at N.N. Light’s blog POTL (formerly Princess of the Light). I, the author, interviewed Elaine and Allen (in their original bodies), and asked them a number of questions. Here’s a bit from that interview:
“What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?” Then I look at them both, and ask, “Can Elaine answer this first? Allen, you always jump in…”
Allen mumbles something, and motions with his hand to Elaine.
“Ah, I like it when he goes first,” she says playfully. “It gives me more time to consider my answer.” Then she turned serious. “I am often hasty, and while I try to think things through, sometimes I just don’t. This causes trouble, but I can’t seem to break the habit.”
“I like all your habits,” Allen said, giving her a sidelong look. Then, focusing on me, he added, “I am reserved. This makes it harder for me to open up to people, and it takes a long time for me to make new friends. That’s caused me a lot of trouble in my life, especially as musicians are supposed to be gregarious sorts and I’m just not.”
“Who you are is just fine with me, love,” Elaine put in loyally.
I raised an eyebrow, and told them, “I like you both. So stop all this nonsense and just answer the questions, will you?”
“But it’s so much fun to tease you,” Elaine said.
Allen just laughed.
There are a number of other questions Allen and Elaine answered, including who their favorite person is (Hillary Clinton for Elaine, Nelson Mandela for Allen) and who their least-favorite person is (Donald Trump for both – my Hillary Clinton friends should love that, especially as many of them are LGBT and thus might be interested in a LGBT-friendly romance like CHANGING FACES).
So do, please, go take a look at that interview. I think you’ll most likely enjoy it (even if you politically do not agree with me, Allen, or Elaine).
The second guest appearance up today is over at The Story Behind the Book. It’s my reasoning behind why I wrote CHANGING FACES…as some folks have asked me, “Barb, why did you write something as strange as this, especially as you aren’t LGBT yourself?,” well, now you’ll have an answer.
Here’s a bit from that:
Years ago, and far away, I had an idea for a story. I saw, briefly, in a dream, two lovers—a man and a woman, even—arguing. I didn’t know why they were arguing. But I saw them. Then I saw two otherworldly beings above them. The lovers had suffered a car accident, and the beings did something bizarre, first binding the man’s soul into the woman, then the woman’s soul into the man. I wondered what had happened to cause all this, and set down to write what I’d seen even though I didn’t understand it.
That was the germination for my new novel Changing Faces.
As I wrote, I realized the man, Allen Bridgeway, had been a foster child, adopted late by a childless couple. And the woman, Elaine Foster, had also been a foster child, but she hadn’t been nearly as fortunate as Allen; instead, she’d been raped by five teenage boys while supposedly safe in her final foster home. Due to that awful event, she became an Emancipated Minor, graduated high school early, and went to college at the age of sixteen…where she met Allen and became friends with him.
Note that Allen knew from the start that Elaine was bisexual, and mostly dated women. So while he was attracted to her early, he never made a move…not until years had gone by, and he’d considered Elaine to be his best friend in the world.
The problems started when he asked her to marry him.
So, if you still haven’t bought a copy of CHANGING FACES as an e-book, but want to do so — and of course, it being my blog and all, I do hope you want to do so — here’s all the links I have, so you can go buy one right now:
Folks, it’s Romance Saturday. And as such, I am extremely grateful that author Lisabet Sarai offered me a guest blogging slot today. I called it, “Putting Characters in Trouble, One Story at a Time,” and illustrated my account of same by using what I did in CHANGING FACES to explain it.
First, here’s the link to the post:
And here’s an excerpt from that:
In my new contemporary romantic fantasy novel Changing Faces, I put my characters Allen and Elaine through the emotional wringer. They are deeply in love, but Elaine’s hiding a big secret from her fiancé; she is gender-fluid, and thinks she’d be better off in the body of a man. Granted, he does know that she’s bisexual, but that’s not the same thing at all as gender-fluidity, much less wanting to change outward sexes, and when he finds out, he is floored.
As most heterosexual men would be, no doubt.
Allen is a very good man, so he wants to help Elaine. He might not understand everything about her, but he wants to, and he’s willing to try anything—absolutely anything—so she’ll stay in his life.
How does that relate? Well, two angels hear him when he prays, and decide to grant his wish. But they do so in a way that is not expected, as Allen wakes up after a nasty car accident in the hospital in the wrong body. While Elaine, after the accident, is in a coma, talking to one of the two angels in the Place of Dreams and Nightmares.
Allen can’t tell anyone who he is. And Elaine can’t talk with Allen and try to apologize, much less talk with anyone except the one angel. They both blame themselves for the accident, and only Elaine knows why this happened, albeit after the fact. Allen battles all sorts of feelings that he never expected to have, while Elaine must confront her deepest terrors in order to win back to Allen and continue on with their lives—but definitely not in the same way as before.
You can see where I took the maxim “putting character in trouble, one story at a time” and used it with regards to Changing Faces, can’t you? These two are in serious trouble. They love each other, and they want to be with one another, but they don’t know how to do it. And the two quirky angels, in trying to help them, may have caused worse problems…at least in the short run.
There’s a lot more there, mind, including an excerpt from CHANGING FACES to whet your interest. So I do hope you will go check out the latest guest blog — particularly appropriate, as it is Romance Saturday — and let me know what you think. (And thanks again, Lisabet, for having me!)
Folks, I’m happy to let you all know about my latest guest appearance/interview, which is up today at the Writer’s Life eMagazine.
This, of course, is in support of my novel, CHANGING FACES. I’m doing as much as I possibly can to help get the word out about my book, and I would appreciate as much support with sharing across Twitter, Facebook, and other such social media sites as possible as I need all the help I can get. (No fooling, that.)
The Writer’s Life talks more about the writing process than not, so if you’re a fellow writer — no matter at what stage you may happen to be, from beginner to expert — you should enjoy today’s interview.
Here’s a bit from that:
What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?
I don’t do well when I have to force myself to write. I don’t know why this is, but what tends to happen is that I’ll get maybe a little writing, maybe just barely enough to get me to a good part of the manuscript/story in question…and then I block. Hard.
So I’ve learned that if at all possible – if I’m not on a hard and fast deadline – it’s best to take a break for an hour, or maybe even a day.
That seems to help.
Any writing quirks?
There’s one group I tend to listen to, when I need to write something emotionally powerful. That group is Stabbing Westward.
What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?
Actually, many of the people I know tend to see it that way, because I haven’t made much money with it as of yet. But that doesn’t concern me all that much, because the people who matter to me, as well as those who mattered but have passed on – my late husband and my late best friend among them – definitely understand (or understood) why I do what I do.
And if anyone who doesn’t understand it wants to tell me what to do, it’s not going to harm me any. I’m not about to listen to them, so let them natter on all they want.
There’s lots more there, so please do go take a look at this interview, and share it far and wide.
Now, as to the “plus” part of this post? Well, tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and I plan to write a blog tomorrow that will talk about various women writers who’ve influenced me. (Yes, I will mention CHANGING FACES and the guest appearance of the day. I have to. It’s part of proudly promoting my book. But I want to remind you all that I have more to offer, too…)
The plan right now is, I hope to about four or five other female writers I know, and give links to their books and blogs. I figure that way, I’m helping to pay some of the help I’ve received forward a little.
So, do take a peek at that tomorrow, OK?
Otherwise, I hope to talk more about baseball, maybe a little about politics (as I remain incredibly frustrated by many of the actions of the Trump Administration, but as I am still recovering from that nasty case of the flu, and have some lingering bronchitis to deal with, I have decided to de-emphasize it in many respects until I am completely well), and any current events that may strike my fancy, too.
In other words, business as usual. (Insert big, evil grin here.)
Otherwise, what’s on your mind? What would you like me to talk about next? Give me a yell in the comments, would you?
Folks, before I get into today’s updates, I need to direct your attention to the latest interview I did, which is now up at SheWrites.com. There’s lots of good stuff there that you probably haven’t seen before, including this bit right here:
M.C.: What themes do you explore in Changing Faces?Barb Caffrey: The power of love, mostly. Love can transcend everything, if you give it time; it doesn’t matter what you look like, providing who you are matches up with who the other person is. Your gender, even, doesn’t matter that much, providing both of you can look past that and see what’s important: Do you love each other? Do you understand each other? Do you want what’s best for one another? Do you care enough to live with this one person for the rest of your life, forsaking all others?Allen and Elaine learn more about each other and Allen in particular learns a great deal about LGBT issues he never thought of before his face gets changed. But the love they have for each other never wavers; that much is set in stone, even if they’re not sure how they can go on from here.That’s what life is about, you know. You overcome all sorts of obstacles. You have no idea what most of them are going to be when you start off on your life’s journey. Some will be absolutely unprecedented, but you have to trust that with faith and will and understanding and love, you can and will overcome everything, with the right person.Of course, the trick is in finding that right person…one nice thing about Changing Faces is, there’s no doubt Allen and Elaine are meant for one another, even if Elaine doesn’t always feel worthy of it or if Allen doesn’t immediately “get” that Elaine is both trans and gender-fluid (sometimes feeling male, sometimes feeling female, but always, always using “she” as the default pronoun).M.C.: Why do you write?Barb Caffrey: The quick and flippant answer would be that the stories just do not let me alone until I tell them. But the longer answer is because I have to; if I don’t, I feel like I’ve wasted my time and potential on this Earth. And I can’t abide that, so I continue to do my best at telling the stories I need to tell…and hope that someone else, along the way, may also find some meaning from them, too. (Or happiness, or understanding, or at least a few hours’ worth of diversion from their troubles. If I’ve done any of that, I’ve done my job.)
Now, as for updates? I have a few.
First, regarding my Elfyverse short story, “Trouble with Elfs.” I’ve been asked when this will be put back out as a short story for e-book. I hope to have this back up later this year; I’ve decided to add a second Elfyverse short story, to sweeten the pot a little (and keep long-time readers motivated), but that’s just getting started.
Figure a few months, minimum, for that. (Maybe something out by July?)
As far as Michael’s Columba stories go, I am stalled. (I admit it.) I have also been busy with CHANGING FACES, plus editing, plus more editing, plus even more editing…not to mention getting over the bad case of the flu. (Let’s put it this way. I’m glad to be in demand as an editor. But getting sick did not help.) But I hope to get back to this soon. (Maybe I’ll have something ready to go by the end of the year?)
And I’m about to restart working on the Elfyverse prequel set in 1954, KEISHA’S VOW. That’s closer to dark fantasy, and it may slot better into some genre than any of my previous work has to date…when you write the way I do, with all the cross-genre stuff, it’s harder to find readers because they don’t necessarily know you exist. So my hope is that one of my books will break out, and then people will like what I’m doing so much, they’ll go read everything else…(Hey, it could happen. And it beats yelling at the sky and shaking my fist, doesn’t it?)
So, there you have it.
Mind, before I forget, if you wish to support my writing, BTW, I do have a Patreon page. I haven’t written much there. I do have five patrons (Goddess bless them forever), and I have reward levels starting at just a dollar a month. So if that’s something you’d like to do, I would appreciate your support…anything you can do, whether it’s buying my books, writing reviews, supporting me at Patreon, or anything else, is extremely beneficial right now.