Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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Just in Time For Halloween, New Poems and Stories at the TTB e-zine!

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OK, sometimes I just have to rhyme…

Folks, do you want some new and absolutely free reading material? Especially from me? (As you’re here at my blog, I’m going to assume the answer is an enthusiastic “yes.”)

Well, look no further. I have a story, “To Exist within Memory,” and a poem, “Break the Dark Lens,” up at the Halloween 2017 edition of the Twilight Times e-zine. (I abbreviated it above as TTB e-zine because it’s part of Twilight Times Books.) In addition, there’s also a chapter reveal for my most recent novel, the LGBT-friendly CHANGING FACES, and there’s an author interview by Mayra Calvani as well — so if you have ever wanted to know more about me or my writing, here you go.

portrait in garden

Mind, if you like what you have read with regards to CHANGING FACES, you can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and pick up an e-book copy for just ninety-nine cents…and I do hope you’ll consider doing just that.

So go check out the TTB e-zine. Read some free stuff. Then go pick up your copy of CHANGING FACES today, and get to getting…who said every treat on Halloween has to be full of calories, hey?

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Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Book Hooks: Time for “Changing Faces”

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Folks, I haven’t done Marketing for Romance Writers’ BookHooks Blog Hop in a while, and I’m not sure why that is. I know that my life has been busy and stress-filled lately, but I am proud of my latest novel, CHANGING FACES, and it’s perfect for my friends in Marketing for Romance Writers. (Or, really, anyone at all who likes good romances with an unusual premise…but I’ll get to that.)

First, a quick blurb about my LGBT-friendly fantasy/romance, CHANGING FACES:

Allen and Elaine are graduate students in Nebraska, and love each other very much. Their life should be idyllic, but Elaine’s past includes rape, neglect, and abuse from those who should’ve loved her—but didn’t, because from childhood, Elaine identified as transgender.

When Elaine tells Allen right before Christmas, he doesn’t know what to do. He loves Elaine, loves her soul, has heard about transgender people before, but didn’t think Elaine was one of them—she looks and acts like anyone else. Now, she wants to become a man and is going to leave.

He prays for divine intervention, and says he’ll do anything, just please don’t separate him from Elaine…and gets it.

Now, he’s in Elaine’s body. And she’s in his. They’ll get a second chance at love.

Why? Because once you find your soulmate, the universe will do almost anything to keep you together—even change your faces.

And now, a few lines:

CHANGING FACES cover“Dammit, Elaine! I love you. Can’t you see that? Why else would I be out on a night like this, if I didn’t?”

“I love you, too, but this isn’t going to work.” The set of her jaw bothered me; she’d obviously made up her mind.

“It won’t work only if you decide it won’t,” I told her, trying to keep the edge out of my voice. “Why won’t you listen to me?” I snuck a peek at Elaine. The beauty of her oval face, her liquid brown eyes, her pointed, determined chin…how anyone that beautiful could want to become a man, I didn’t know.

“Let’s not argue, Allen,” she said wearily. “I can’t bear it.”

“Okay, then.” But while I’d stopped talking, I hadn’t stopped thinking. Why does Elaine want to become a man? Why? What have I done wrong, that she should want this? I must have done something wrong, something terrible, for her to want this…

Inwardly, I prayed, hoping that God existed and would hear me despite my usual disbelief. Oh God, if you’re listening . . .please don’t take my beautiful Elaine away from me. I’ll do anything, absolutely anything…

My reverie was broken when the car went into a skid. “Hang on!” I yelled, while I turned into the skid. That should’ve gotten us safely off the road, albeit into a ditch…but it didn’t work.

Instead, something big, something solid, was in the way.

Something that shouldn’t have been there.

“Oh my God!” Elaine screamed.

I tried to reach out to her, to reassure her, but I couldn’t. My body just wouldn’t respond.

Before I could worry about that, the world went black.

(end excerpt)

Now, if that intrigued you — and I sincerely hope it did, or I’d not have decided to do this — please hop on over to Amazon, and pick yourself up a copy today. (It’s only ninety-nine cents, too…how can you go wrong?) Here’s the link:

 

And do check out my fellow Marketing for Romance Writers blog hoppers (those doing the BookHooks hop today) at http://mfrwbookhooks.blogspot.com/ — tell ’em Barb sent you.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 2, 2017 at 2:58 am

A Note about PrideFest…and CHANGING FACES

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Folks, it’s been a while since I wrote anything about my most troublesome, yet rewarding book to write — that being the LGBT fantasy/romance, CHANGING FACES. (Fantasy only in that it has angels, really. But whatever.)

As PrideFest is going on in Milwaukee this weekend, I thought now was a good time to remind people that CHANGING FACES is available. What better time is there to celebrate romance regardless of form than PrideFest? Especially when one of the couple is of non-standard sexuality?

(Yeah, I’m going to use it as a tie-in. Sorry. But I hope you can forgive me anyway.)

CHANGING FACES cover

While I’m not LGBT, I’ve always supported my friends and colleagues who are. I hope I was faithful to the struggles a gender-fluid person who always used the female pronoun might have, and about the unusual situation two angels put her and her boyfriend into. All because their love refused to be denied.

So, there’s romance, there are angels, there’s lots of other good and interesting stuff going on…and it’s only ninety-nine cents as an e-book.

(Yeah. Ninety-nine cents.)

Please go check it out, will you? And if you think you’d like it, please buy it, read it, and most definitely review it, as I need all the help I can get.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 10, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Winners of #AuthorsinBloom BlogHop Announced, Plus New (and Great) Review for CF…

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Folks, this is a fun Friday blog, as I get to do two things I really like.

First, I have three winners to announce from the Authors in Bloom blog-hop. (I picked a third because I felt two wasn’t enough, mind.) These winners are Catherine Chant, Sharon (aka Catwoman) and Laura McGee. They won various stories and novels from me, and I do hope they will enjoy the reads.

Congratulations!

Second, in case you didn’t see my re-blog of Mrs. N.N. Light’s wonderful new review of CHANGING FACES, here is a link for you:

https://princessofthelight.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/changing-faces-by-barbcaffrey-moved-me-to-tears-bookreview-lgbt-fridayreads

And as Mrs. N said, she was “moved to tears” by Elaine and Allen’s situation, their enduring love despite a tremendously trying situation, and how they managed to forge through the mess (with the help of two very quirky shapeshifting angels).

A little bit from Mrs. N’s review seems in order, so here it is:

In this ground-breaking novel, Caffrey explores gender fluidity, love and coming to grips with self-identity. I was emotionally attached to both characters from the beginning and watching their love for each other grow through the most trying circumstances changed me…the idea of gender fluidity portrayed accurately in this novel with honesty and heart stayed with me love after I finished reading. Being a romantic at heart, I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Here’s all the links to buy an e-copy (it’s still ninety-nine cents, but it won’t be that price forever…go grab it now, will you?):

Amazon (US): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3CQKWJ

Amazon (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Changing-Faces-Barb-Caffrey-ebook/dp/B01N3CQKWJ

Amazon (CA): https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01N3CQKWJ

Amazon (AUS): https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01N3CQKWJ

Amazon (IN): https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01N3CQKWJ

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/changing-faces-barb-caffrey/1125707044?ean=2940157587512

Happy Friday, everyone!

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 7, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Sunday Reflection…about CHANGING FACES?

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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.

Why?

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.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 19, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Two New Guest Appearances, Plus NCAA Tourney Thoughts

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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:

Winthrop

Middle Tennessee State

Butler

Minnesota

Purdue

Iowa State

Vermont

Nevada

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!

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 15, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Two New Guest Appearances Highlighting my new #LGBT-friendly Novel, CHANGING FACES…

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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?)

portrait in garden

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:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon:

USA  –   UK  –  CA  –  AUS  –  IN

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm