Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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Facing the Pressure of Illness

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Folks, I’ve been under the weather for quite a while now. But I think I’m recovering, albeit slowly.

Now, as to what this is? I don’t know. But I have to treat it as an ongoing illness, and work around it.

I am tired of being sick, but apparently sick isn’t tired of me; because of that, I have to do whatever I can to get past the illness.

Mind, I put a lot of pressure on myself when I’m sick. I want to be well, so badly, and yet it takes time to get better. I go back to work just as soon as I possibly can, and I almost certainly do too much too soon because I worry about all the stuff I wasn’t able to do while at my most ill.

In that way, I try to make strides forward. It can be difficult. And the additional pressure probably doesn’t do me any favors.

Today, I’ve managed to write 700 words of fiction, done a little editing (as I just finished up a major project, I have to take it slowly for a few days to gear up for the next major project’s completion as I have more than one in train), talked with the doctor’s office, talked with the medical supply company, and have gotten all my laundry together. After that, my plan is to do some food shopping, then my laundry, and perhaps edit more tonight providing I have any energy left after that.

In other words, I tend to have two speeds. Full throttle, or all-in. (And the last is not good, because if I’m “all-in,” that means I’m tired out of my mind and have nothing left to give, in case you’re not familiar with that Midwestern idiom.)

Still, I’m working at things, slowly. I’m doing what I can.

Now, onto other things, very briefly:

This ongoing pandemic is not fun by any means. I am worried about my friends, far and near. I am especially worried about estranged friends, people who won’t talk to me but I still care about; I can do nothing for any of them, but I still worry, and I still want to help. (It is a particular quirk of mine, I guess.)

I hope you will all stay as safe as you can.

And I’d wanted to write something bracing about the Nova Scotia shootings, but I still have no words. Everything seems hollow to say, and yet, those folks have to feel like no one cares about them whatsoever due to the ongoing coverage of Covid-19 and almost nothing else.

If you have a spare moment today, say a prayer, think good thoughts, send positive energy, or do whatever your particular spirituality or religion advises when trying to comfort distant friends and allies. And aim that squarely at Nova Scotia, if you can, or at least at the broader target of Canada. Those folks are hurting, scared, and need to know they haven’t been forgotten.

Finally, I hope we’ll all remember that we’re human. We have good in us, even though it doesn’t always show; we can help others, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Try to do something to help someone else today, even if they don’t know it. The universe will thank you.

 

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 24, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Elfy, Elfyverse, Writing

A Post About Hope for #MFRWHooks

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Hope. It’s in short supply right now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet we need it, or we’re going to have an even harder time digging our way out of the mess we’re now collectively in.

I’ve said before, here at my blog, that I wonder how Bruno and Sarah, my characters in the Elfy duology (comprised of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE), would do in this situation. And I’m writing a story now about exactly that, so eventually I hope I’ll know.

But what came to me, tonight, is that I actually do have a bit of an answer already.

In A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, my hero Bruno and my heroine Sarah are trying to save Bruno’s teacher and mentor, Roberto the Wise. Roberto’s been taken and tortured by a Dark Elf, Dennis; worse yet, he’s being tortured in public as a sort of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 exercise as most of the people in the crowd are under the influence of psychedelic incense, poisoned ground, or worse.

So, Dennis is doing what he is — an evil act, or even worse, a series of evil acts — in plain sight.

Sarah is a strong empath. Eventually, she hopes to be a doctor (in Bruno’s parlance, a Healer), like her grandmother was years ago. She can’t help but feel what’s going on with Roberto; Roberto is dying, and may not even live to be sacrificed, as far as she knows. And while Bruno knows this, and can feel some of it, too, it doesn’t hit him directly as hard. Not anywhere as hard as it’s hit Sarah, anyway.

But watching Sarah suffer hurts him.

So, without further ado, here’s that scene from A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE:

He turned to Sarah and took her wrist, feeling her pulse bounding against his too-cool hand. “Are you all right, my love?” he asked softly. “Are you sure you don’t want to get out of here? Someone could be spared to take you away from all this…”

“No, Bruno,” Sarah said. She looked like she wanted to say more, but instead started coughing as if her throat was as dry as any of Bruno’s old textbooks. She continued to look pale, waxen, and ill; only her dark eyes showed any trace of her usual force of spirit. “I have to stay here. I’m Roberto’s only hope.”

“Well, he has other hopes, dear,” Bruno replied, contradicting her last statement almost as a reflex, “but yes, you’re his best hope.”

See, Sarah, despite being gravely ill now (an illness of a spiritual nature), is there because she is needed. Just as our doctors, our nurses, our pharmacists, our grocery workers, our police/fire/EMT emergency responders, and our postal workers — among others — are there now despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah believes in hope. So does Bruno. Because at this point, neither of them knows how they’re going to rescue Roberto. The situation is bad. While they do have allies, their allies can’t do all that much to help…or worse, their allies can only help in certain ways. And every one of their allies is also at risk from the Dark Elf, who’s as evil a creature as has ever lived in the multiverse. (At least, as far as Bruno and Sarah understand.)

I think we all need to believe in hope right now, too.

We don’t know the end of the story, right now, with COVID-19. We don’t know much, except that it can be deadly and that we don’t have any cure for it. We don’t have a vaccine, either. And all we can do is our best to stay home; when we’re not at home, or doing essential things like getting food (rarely) or medicine or exercising, we must be careful and cautious if at all possible. (Don’t get me started about what the Supreme Court of the United States did yesterday in saying that people who didn’t get their absentee ballots for today’s Wisconsin election in time to get them in the mail today must go to vote in person despite this pandemic, or I will be so furious I can’t even type.)

Anyway. We have to hope. We have to believe we will come out the other side of this and recognize ourselves. We have to hope against all odds that we will get past the COVID-19 pandemic; we have to hope that we’ll be able to live through it, and somehow find a way to make better public policy in the future so other pandemics don’t catch the United States flat-footed as we were this time.

Just as Bruno and Sarah somehow found hope in a horrible situation, we must, too.

That’s why I wrote this BookHooks post, on behalf of my fellow Marketing for Romance Writers authors and anyone else who needed to read it. And I do hope it helps you.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 7, 2020 at 8:25 pm

It’s Read an E-Book Week, and I Have Giveaways…

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Folks, as promised, I am returning today to let you know about Read an E-Book Week (2020 version).

Schooled in Magic; Read an eBook Week 2020

My publisher, Twilight Times Books, is offering a good number of free e-books — two of mine (in the first two days of the promotion, no less), plus a few from my friends Chris Nuttall and Loren Jones. Not to mention other TTB authors I’ve worked with, like Ken Lizzi and Christine Amsden…really, you can’t go wrong with any of these e-books.

And best of all, they’re free.

All you have to do is go to this website, and pick what type of file you want. (That’s it!)

Note that they are only available at the Twilight Times Books website’s freebies page, not at Amazon, not at Barnes and Noble; you must go to this link to get your free books. (Now back to our regularly scheduled post, already in progress…)

So, today’s offerings include my own AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. You can get it as a Kindle/mobi file, as a PDF, or as an e-Pub version. And to get it, all you have to do is go here, scroll down the page, and find my book’s name (and the versions you can get for free).

Do check this out, will you? Because there are so many good offerings there, all for free…and I’d hate for you to miss it.

Until tomorrow…(insert evil chuckle here).

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 1, 2020 at 5:45 am

Thoughts for Valentine’s Day: What Love Is…and Is Not

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I keep meaning to write this, every single Valentine’s Day. And then I never do. So I guess today’s the day…enjoy?

In my writing, I’ve tried to show what I believe love is.

In the Elfyverse (so far comprised of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE; more to come), it’s care, compassion, support, loyalty, friendship, and many other things that lead to intense romantic feelings for the young Bruno and Sarah. Bruno had a good marriage modeled for him by his late parents; Sarah’s parents did not give her good models, but her grandmother at least gave her someone to love who was worth the time.

Mind, even with that, love is a work-in-progress for the two of them. And I think that’s something we all deal with, as we go. It’s not like being in love waves a magic wand over you and says, “Now, everything will be wonderful.”

Instead, what love does is to make any problems that befall you far more bearable to deal with. Because you’re not alone anymore. You are supported. You are appreciated. And you are understood. (Or it’s not the love you’ve been looking for…but more on that, anon.)

Problems come to everyone, you see. And it’s how you communicate that helps you deal with them. Or not.

Bruno and Sarah, despite their tender ages, both know that. And they’ve made the commitment to stand by each other, to love one another, to appreciate each other’s differences as well as each other’s things in common…they’ve done what they need to do, in order to forge a strong bond between them.

But that’s not my only take when it comes to love. Far, far from it.

In CHANGING FACES, my stand-alone LGBTQ-friendly fantasy romance, Allen and Elaine’s plight is different. They know they love each other, and they can communicate well…except for one issue, that being Elaine’s gender-fluid nature. Allen knows Elaine considers herself bisexual (and monogamous! She’s not about to sleep with anyone but Allen, regardless of what her outer self looks like.) But he doesn’t know that Elaine considers her gender to be fluid, especially as Elaine likes the pronoun “she” and is a feminist scholar. And when he finally finds out, both he and Elaine don’t know how to handle it. But eventually, they find a way. (I hope that’s not too much of a spoiler for you, but if you are a long-time reader of romances, you know most of ’em go for happily-ever-afters. So why can’t mine?)

What I was trying to get at, in CHANGING FACES, was that love can conquer anything. But that you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to tell your partner, “Hey, I’m like this. Can you deal with it?” And if you’re really ambitious, you can be even more vulnerable and admit, “I’m not so sure I can always deal with it. But I appreciate that you have my back while I try.”

These are hard things to do. They’re very adult things.

So, while Bruno and Sarah are young adults and are finding their way — fortunately! — through a meaningful and deep love, Allen and Elaine are older and yet still have some of the same issues going on. I did that on purpose, because I think no matter what your age is, you’re going to have issues. And it’s how you deal with them that matters.

Either way, though, they show what love is. Commitment. Shared sacrifice. Honesty. Communication. Vulnerability. Loyalty. The willingness to laugh at yourself when needed, or with your partner as needed. The ability to say to yourself, “I don’t have to be perfect every day,” and of course that your partner doesn’t have to be perfect either, in order to be loved for who you are. To keep trying to communicate, even when it’s hard. To keep doing whatever you can, as long as you can, as often as you can, to let your partner know that you care, you appreciate them, you want them in your life, and you are going to do whatever you can to facilitate that so long as they feel the same way.

As I’ve heard it said, a romantic commitment takes 110% from each partner. I think that makes sense. (Though if you are a mathematician and are pointing out that it can’t be more than 100%, that’s OK, too. Just so long as you give your all, and your partner gives his/her all, that’s what matters. Not the number we put to it.)

Before I go, I want to talk about what love decidedly is not.

It’s not about gifts. It’s not about wealth, or fancy cars, or how big the bouquet of flowers is on any given day. It’s not about fancy restaurants (though I’m all for them, when possible); it’s not about what you can get from your partner.

Instead, it’s about what you give.

I hope most of you realize by this point that love is a two-way street, one you both want to be on at the same time and in the same place. And that anything else is not worth the price.

But if you’re doing all the giving in your relationship, and your partner is doing all the taking, that is not a love-relationship I’d want to have.

Anyway, I hope this has helped you figure out what’s worth it in a relationship, and what isn’t. And why I still think love matters more than anything…even though aside from the love of friends and family (predominantly agape love), I haven’t had it in over fifteen years.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 14, 2020 at 10:33 pm

Dennis the Dark Elf does #WickedWednesday at Brenda Whiteside’s blog…

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I know that’s a long title. But hey…sometimes  you just need long titles.

Author Brenda Whiteside offered me a guest shot during her Wicked Wednesday promotion, and I chose to talk about Dennis the Dark Elf as he’s wicked enough for any three others. Here’s a bit from that:

Sometimes, we all like to be wicked.

Really. We do.

The thing is, we don’t necessarily like to admit to it. Not when we’re out paying bills, or being responsible, or making sure the kids in our lives get their teeth brushed.

When my late husband and I worked on the Elfy duology together (at that time one book; now, it’s AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE), we knew that everyone loved a villain. But we weren’t sure at first what to do in order to get that villain across.

Enter Dennis the Dark Elf Priest. (Soon shortened to Dennis, the Dark Elf, as writing “Dark Elf Priest” all the time became too much for us to bear.) Dennis was a nasty cuss who hated anyone who wasn’t a Dark Elf, but was masquerading as a human priest in order to stir up as much trouble as he could. (If you’re thinking, “That Dennis really is a menace,” you’re right. I even said so at one point in the book!) He planned on sacrificing at least one Elfy (a race of short magicians, none above four feet two inches tall) at Beltaine, otherwise known as May Day, because he wanted power. And he didn’t care about any repercussions – for example, the fact that most humans know nothing about magic, and would be upset to find out about it, after he’d killed someone in cold blood in front of them at a major church festival, didn’t even enter his mind.

Of course, if you’ve been at my blog before, you know that Bruno the Elfy is my hero, he’s the equivalent of a teenager, and the love of his life, Sarah, is in danger because of Dennis and his perfidious ways.

(I’ve always wanted to use the word perfidious. I guess today’s the day. Moving on…)

I also picked an excerpt showing Dennis at his worst, and Sarah at his mercy, with Bruno trying to figure out how to get her the Hells out of there. (As the Elfys believe there must be more than one Hell, it is “Hells” with an -s in their worldview.)

I do hope you’ll stop by Brenda’s blog and check out my offering. I was glad to do the guest shot, glad to talk about Dennis, and I definitely was glad to talk about something other than being sick for a change. (I am beyond tired of that. But still working on it, alas.)

And do give Brenda’s blog a look-see every so often, OK? She features many writers. (I hope to have her over here myself one of these days.) She is a generous person with her time, and I truly appreciated her letting me share her space today.

Want to Read Some of My Books, Free? (Here’s How…)

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Schooled in Magic; Read an eBook Week 2019Folks, we’re almost into Read an E-Book Week, which is held from March 3 to March 9, 2019. Two of my books will be given away by Twilight Times Books if you go to their site here, one on the third (tomorrow!), one on the fifth.  So, if you have ever wanted to read something by me but have not had the money to do it, now is the chance to check out what I’m doing.

For nothing.

(Nada. Zero. Zilch. You get the point.)

At the Twilight Times Books freebie site (again, the link is here), AnElfyontheLoose_medyou can download my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, on March 3. (Again, that’s tomorrow, though you may be able to get it now if you’re reading late on Saturday night as the links appear to be open and active.) You will have your choice of a PDF file, a .mobi file (that’s for Kindle), or an e-pub file (that’s for just about everything that’s not Kindle). I’ve talked a good deal about AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE here at my blog, so I’ll only say this about it: It’s funny fantasy with two young kids who aren’t what they seem, and there are layers and layers to it. You may meet a few ghosts, too…

Anyway. There are other folks also giving things away that you should know about.

For example, you also can download my friend Loren K. Jones’ first book in his story about Stavin DragonBlessed, ALL THAT GLITTERS, on March 3. I edited Loren’s book, and it is a lot of fun. If you give it a chance, you’ll enjoy it, especially if you like military realism with your fantasy.

And that’s not all. Loren is giving away his book STORIES OF THE CONFEDERATED STAR SYSTEMS as well, and not just on March 3…but all week long.

And as if that weren’t enough, you also can download my friend Chris Nuttall’s first novel in his Schooled in Magic series, also titled SCHOOLED IN MAGIC, all week long. I also edited this book, and am happy to point people to it as I believe it’s one of Chris’s best books to date. (Though I am also partial to several others, this is the one that started it all.)

“But Barb,” you say. “What about your second book? The one you’re giving away on March 5…what book is that?”

That book is CHANGING FACES. It is a contemporary fantasy/CHANGING FACES coverromance between a straight male clarinetist in graduate school, his bisexual (and, secretly, gender-fluid) girlfriend, also a clarinetist and in graduate school, and two meddling, but mostly good-hearted angels. They mix in because the female half of the pair (and yes, despite being gender-fluid, she uses female pronouns to describe herself all the time) is afraid to tell her boyfriend that she is gender-fluid and wants to explore a more masculine self-image. This isn’t what he signed up for, and while he loves her desperately, he doesn’t know if he can handle her presenting as male, or possibly even going as far as having surgery later to confirm her believe in her masculine side. (She is more than a little confused, herself, about all this, at least how to describe it. She knows how it feels to be who she is, but living her truth is not easy.) So, she’s going to leave her boyfriend, even though she loves him, and he prays that he will do anything, absolutely anything, so long as he gets another chance with her.

That “anything” ends up with him in her body, now a straight man in a woman’s body (definitely transgender), and her in his body in a coma is also not what he expected. And he can’t tell anyone what happened…while she’s forced to deal with herself and her demons, as only that way can she wake again and try with her boyfriend, this time with the outward masculine identity she felt she needed (even though she’s always going to be who she is).

The angels are funny. The music is inspired. And the two main characters, Allen and Elaine, are deeply in love, but aren’t too good at communicating with each other…and yet, they both want to try. So the angels give ’em this chance…can they realize that even though their faces have changed, their love remains?

I hope you will remember to go to the TTB Freebies site often this week, and download as many books as you want. Every day, new books will be given away, to let people know we’re here, we have good books to offer, and we hope folks will give us a chance.

There’s also a general site (not run by TTB) for Read an E-Book Week on Facebook here. More publishers will be giving things away there…lots of stuff to choose from, so maybe you can mix and match?

Enjoy!

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 3, 2019 at 12:01 am

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