Archive for the ‘guest blogs’ 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, 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 know that I have a new guest blog up over at Adriana Kraft’s website today. It’s called “Love in CHANGING FACES,” and has a few more anecdotes about my novel’s protagonists Allen and Elaine, not to mention their unusual love story.
Here’s a bit from that, to whet your interest:
When I first started the story that became my new contemporary LGBT-friendly novel, CHANGING FACES, I had no idea what I was getting into. All I knew was one scene: my couple, Allen and Elaine, were in a crisis. She wanted to leave him. And that would’ve been a fatal mistake. So two aliens—or angels, as I wasn’t quite clear yet what they were—decided to help them…the next thing Allen and Elaine knew, they’d been in a car accident, and Allen had woken up in Elaine’s body in the hospital.
Where was Elaine, you ask? That wasn’t so simple. She was…elsewhere, talking with one of the angels. (Yes, I decided they were angels, after a while.) And it was up to Elaine whether or not they were going to be able to go forward, albeit in different bodies than before.
This scene still exists in the current, final, version of CHANGING FACES. But the reason for that scene is not exactly what I thought it was, many years ago when I first started fiddling around with this story. You see, while Allen is a straight man in love with a beautiful woman, Elaine is gender-fluid, bisexual, and would rather be in a male body even though she will always think of herself as female.
No wonder I was confused, hey?
I also answered another question that I get often, that being, “Why did you write something like this?” My answer, also from the new guest blog, is this: “I really don’t know. Sometimes I think the stories pick me rather than the other way around.”
Does any other writer feel this way?
(I figured I’d ask, ’cause I am honestly confused myself as to why I write one story rather than another one. I never have been able to figure that out.)
Anyway, please do check out the latest guest blog. Adriana Kraft and I know each other through the behest of Marketing for Romance Writers — a quite valuable, though utterly free organization to join — and I appreciate her willingness to extend a guest blog invitation very much.
Now, for a few more thoughts about CHANGING FACES, as I seemingly have an inexhaustible supply of same:
Mind, me writing this particular story is — as a good friend of mine put it, wryly — like being a sportswriter at a D&D convention. It’s not expected, it’s not the audience I usually write for, and perhaps because of that, I don’t seem to have yet found my audience overmuch.
Of course, that does leave lots of room for improvement. And my hope is that someone out there will like what I’m doing, and enjoy it, and maybe learn something from it — though the last is optional, I can’t help but hope that down the line, more people will learn how to see souls rather than bodies.
Why is this important to me? I think it’s because I’ve always felt like I don’t really fit. I’m a big, beautiful woman in a society that worships thin women; I’m a younger-than-average widow, so a whole lot of things have happened to me much earlier than most people; I’m a musician, writer, editor, and have composed music (I need to get back to that, honestly), none of which are usual pursuits for 99.9% of the population.
Maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like a misfit that I want other misfits to find love and be happy. (After all, I did. And it was worth it, too, even though my husband has now been dead for twelve long years.)
What I know is, regardless of your sexual identity or gender expression, you deserve the right to be happy with someone you love. I don’t think it should matter a hill of beans if that person is the same sex as you, the opposite sex as you, or some other variation (intersex? gender-fluid?) thereof. What matters is that you love them. Period. And that you treat them well, and try your best for them, and be honest and trustworthy and loyal and caring, because that’s the only way that you can build a good love-relationship with anyone.
So that’s why I wrote CHANGING FACES. I want people to see others for who they are, not what they look like, and certainly not what they appear to be. Find out who they are. Care about who they are. And always, always be honest…that’s the only way to win at the game of love, even though sometimes being honest is a pain in the caboose.
Folks, I start to slowly improve.
My voice is better. I have a teensy smidgen of energy. My temperature is down and stays down, providing I don’t do very much…still can’t write much, still can’t edit, and thinking is slow, but I’m a whole lot better than I was over the weekend and am grateful for that.
Anyway, I have another guest blog up today at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic…doesn’t that seem like a good place for me to be appearing? (Hey, eccentric is one of the nicer things I’ve been called in my life. Something about being a SF&F writer makes most people say, “What?” and sidle away, slowly…)
This, of course, is in support of CHANGING FACES, my newest novel, a LGBT-friendly contemporary fantasy/romance.
Here’s a bit from that guest blog:
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Changing Faces, and what compelled you to write it.
Barb Caffrey: Changing Faces is all about the power of love regardless of outward form. I wrote it because I saw two people in love—Allen Bridgeway, a heterosexual man of thirty, and Elaine Foster, a bisexual and transgender woman of twenty-eight—who were about to make a major mistake. Elaine felt that Allen could not understand her being transgender, you see, as she has just told Allen and he’s floored. (She uses “she” as the default pronoun, is a feminist scholar, and there’s absolutely no way he could’ve known this.) Allen wants to marry Elaine, but doesn’t know what to make of these revelations; Elaine is so upset that despite a nasty winter storm, she demands to be taken to a hotel. So Allen drives her, inwardly praying that they not be separated.
And his prayer is answered.
They will get a second chance at love, but with conditions. He’s now in her body. And she is inside his, but in a coma, speaking with an alien/angel known as an Amorphous Mass (a type of shapeshifter). He can tell no one he’s Allen; she cannot speak with anyone except the alien/angel. Both still want to be with each other, but how can they get past this?
Thus, Changing Faces.
M.C.: What is your book about?
Barb Caffrey: The power of love, and the realization that LGBT people are just like anyone else. They want love, and happiness, and understanding, and to be desired for themselves. And that if someone can see inside you—see your soul, rather than the outward form of your body—that’s what true love is all about.
Allen truly loves Elaine. The outward form doesn’t matter that much to him, even though at first he is absolutely thrown when she tells him, at long last, that she is transgender. She feels she’d be better off in a male body, but she’d still want to use “she” as her pronoun, and that is just deeply confusing to him. He loves her, and wants her, and desires only her…even when he’s confused, and doesn’t understand what she’s telling him, he does know that much.
Which is why he prays, and is answered…
In case you think this is giving short shrift to Elaine and Elaine’s wishes, though, don’t. Elaine, too, actually wanted the same thing. (These aliens/angels do not exist in our linear time, exactly. So one of them knows that Elaine, on her deathbed, after becoming outwardly male, wanted another chance with Allen and felt she’d made a bad mistake in refusing to stay with him.)
That’s why the aliens/angels do this. They believe in love. And they want love to have its day, even if it means both Allen and Elaine must change their faces so they can have another chance.
As I’ve been saying, I think CHANGING FACES is an important story for our current political climate, especially considering the Trump Administration’s recent reversal of the previous Obama directive regarding transgender students and bathrooms. (I wish we didn’t need a federal policy on this; my friend Kamas Kirian commented a few days ago about this, in fact. But there are some states that are less forward-looking than others, and it’s in those states in particular that the LGBTQ community needs its rights protected.) Reminding people that folks who aren’t straight are the same as everyone else and want love, compassion, personal satisfaction, and happiness is important right now.
Did I write this as a message novel? No, I didn’t. I wrote it as a romance, period. But if you want to see a message there, beyond the fact that I think souls are a whole Hell of a lot more important than bodies could ever be, I’m not going to stop you from seeing it.
Beyond that, if you’ve already read CHANGING FACES, please go and leave a few words about it. I have no reviews, currently, and am having trouble finding anyone to review it at all…to spend nearly fifteen years on a book without any reviews (and not the sales I was hoping for, though the year is young and all that) is very difficult.
Granted, I’m still dealing with the flu, so maybe it seems worse than it is. Still, I urge you to please read my sample chapters at Twilight Times Books if you haven’t yet checked out CHANGING FACES, then go pick up a copy as an e-book as it’s still just ninety-nine cents.
Now, I’d best get back to resting, so I can kick the remainder of this flu.
Folks, I remain mired in the flu.
Granted, it’s a little bit better than it was yesterday. But my voice remains awful (a friend called last night and was absolutely appalled at how much of a croak it sounds like right now), I’m still coughing more than not, am incredibly congested, and can actually point to each one of my ribs because each individual one hurts like fire.
Mind, it’s not as bad as it could be. So far, I don’t seem to have bronchitis or pneumonia, and as I’ve had both before, I think I’d know. And I am getting a little better; this is the second day in a row I’ve been able to get online and put up some form of a blog — though that’s probably more because of sheer cussedness on my part than anything else.
(Hey, at least I admit it.)
Because I have a new book out, CHANGING FACES, which I’ve talked about a great deal already, I hope I don’t have to give you all the links and all the blurbs and all that today. (Scroll down and hit the back arrow if you want that, just this once. OK?)
Instead, I’d rather just give you this link, to a guest blog I did at Straight from the Author’s Mouth, and give you a bit of that to whet your interest:
This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
BC: That’s a tough one! (Laughs.) My dogs mostly do get their food on time, but it’s because about an hour before they’re usually fed, they come and put their heads on my lap, and give me the big, huge, puppy-dog eyes. I usually am working away, and I tell them, “It’s too early!” But they keep coming back, and keep nagging me, so they do tend to get fed on time.
This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?
BC: I’ve been nurturing one plant now for several years; it was planted in remembrance of my deceased Cocker spaniel, Blackie. I try to water it every couple of days, and tell it that Blackie would be pleased…I’m sure that plant is quite bemused with me, too! (Yes, I’m weird.)
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
BC: I got annoyed when anything took me out of the creative process, to be honest. It takes me a while to be fully immersed in the worlds I create, and anything that gets in the way of that feels like a full-on assault of the creative process. But after my initial annoyance, I usually apologize, because it’s not the fault of whoever interrupted that I’ve picked this career (or it picked me, rather).
Anyway, please go take a look at the latest guest blog, as there’s a lot more good stuff to read about there. Note that I can’t comment or do much other than let you know about it because Firefox and Google still aren’t playing well together, and no matter what I do to get rid of cookies out of the cache (isn’t that a lovely word, cache?), I just can’t share anything from that page.
So if you can, please do. And also, do let people know that my book is out…maybe some will see it as utter nonsense, but I hope most won’t. Love is love, and who cares about the outer packaging, anyway? (I sure as Hell don’t.)
Folks, I’ve just spent the last seventy-two hours in Hell.
(Or at least it seems like it.)
Why? I have the flu. I got it because one of the other musicians had it in the band when we played our concert last week…no one else appears to have gotten it but me, but my symptoms are the same ones my bandmate had down to the letter.
Flu means fevers. I rarely get them. So that means I can’t think well when I have them. (I can get around some illnesses or ailments because I’m used to them, but not this, in other words.) And I’ve spent much of the last seventy-two hours with a fever over 102 F.
So what am I doing now? I’m trying to let you know that CHANGING FACES is still out there. I think my book is important, especially now; love is love, and it doesn’t matter much what your outer shell is, providing your soul calls to someone else’s.
I’m fortunate in that I am heterosexual and all of my loved ones have been men. Society understands this, for the most part, and I’m grateful for it.
I wish society would get with the program and realize that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender-fluid, queer, and any other flavor you might want to come up with all have the right to find someone they love, too, providing it’s consensual, preferably monogamous, and always, always life-affirming.
That is one of the main reasons I stuck with CHANGING FACES, and why I am glad it’s available to be read right now.
Folks, here are the guest blogs that I didn’t get a chance to tell you about, due to being sick:
This is the first chapter of CHANGING FACES. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a good, quick, free place for you to do so.
And here’s another link that also gives you access to the first chapter (hey, if one doesn’t work, another should, though I tested both links and found them good):
And then, there was the one about my route to publication, which you may find interesting…here’s that link:
And here’s a bit from that:
Q: What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Barb: Keep writing. Work hard. Network with other writers. Find out about writing groups that might be able to help you, such as Critters.org, the Forward Motion Writers Community (fmwriters.com), or join other groups focused on marketing like Marketing for Romance Writers (you do not have to be a romance writer to join, mind) or Exquisite Quills, and learn all you can about the business as a whole.
I’d also advise you to read as many different blogs as you can about the business and craft of writing. The blogs I recommend the most include KrisWrites.com (this is the blog of Kristin Kathryn Rusch, a long-time SF&F writer and editor), the Passive Voice, the Mad Genius Club, Amanda Green’s writing blog, and a whole host of others of various political persuasions. Try not to get too hung up about whether this one’s a Libertarian or this one over here is a liberal Democrat; instead, figure out if this person understands the craft of writing (or the craft of self-editing) and keep following along. Maybe you’ll find one thing of interest in a year—but that one thing can change your perspective and help you.
And best of all, these websites are all free! (How great is that?)
So, there you have it. Please go look at these blogs, and then go get yourself a copy of CHANGING FACES…it’s still only ninety-nine cents as an e-book, and it’s available in a number of places. (Ready? Set? Um, go…?)