Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Informational Stuff’ Category

Communication — Not Just for Breakfast Anymore…

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Folks, I keep thinking about communication. What does it mean, and how can we improve it?

Communication, to me at least, means that someone is saying to me, “I am listening. I am paying attention to what you’re saying. What you are talking about matters even if I don’t understand it, but I do want to understand.”

We see a real dearth of communication these days, and not just in our personal lives. (The lack of communication in Washington, DC, these days is startling. Even by non-communicative DC standards.) And yet, no one seems to know how to improve it, to make things any better…and the bad communication (or worse, complete lack of communication whatsoever) just keeps going on and on, dragging down everything it touches.

If you are having communication problems with someone else, try to listen. If you can’t do that because you are swamped with work, at least tell that person you will listen as soon as you can and that you do care. (Yeah, is this a personal message to someone? Maybe. But maybe not. There are a lot of people in my life I’d tell this to, if I could get them to sit down and listen.) And then, make some time and listen. Don’t judge — listen.

Communication isn’t just for breakfast anymore. (Who knew?)

Anyway, the only way to fix bad communication is to actually try. Refuse to be afraid of confrontation; just make sure that you are as respectful and calm as you can be, or if you can’t be either, apologize for your lack of same and then get on with trying to understand each other.

This is harder to do with some than others, granted. But if you are friends, or family, or have common interests, or work together, you have to try to do this even when you don’t want to, or the problems that will result from same will just keep snowballing…

And there is no point to that. At all.

***Note: I am fortunate that nearly everyone I know can and does communicate. But my goodness. I am tired of the non-communication in this world…beyond tired. Thus, this post.

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Writing, Hand Issues, and More Frustration…

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Folks, you probably have noticed that I haven’t written a blog in nearly a week.

There is a reason for that. Three of them, to be exact: Hand issues. Frustration. And lots of editing.

My writing has taken a big-time backseat to all of this.

Now, as for the hand issues? I have tendinitis in both hands and wrists. (Until recently, I was told this was carpal tunnel syndrome, but now, the diagnosis has been revised.) Typing is painful at the moment. Using my arms at all is painful, too. I’m going to hand therapy, using heat, ultrasound, and doing various exercises, all so I can continue to use my hands as best I can.

Why am I so worried about my hands? (This may seem basic, but please bear with me.) Without my hands, I can’t work. As being an editor pays most of my bills, I need to do this despite the pain.

That’s why writing, for the moment, is taking a backseat, even though I don’t like it much. I just can’t concentrate on my stories right now, because everything I’ve got is going either into the hand therapy, my editing, or just living day-to-day life.**

In addition, I have another concert to play in a week and a half with the Racine Concert Band as a saxophonist. My part won’t be very difficult; I will have no solos, I will not have any exposed parts, and I will be someone that most people won’t even realize is playing. Yet the conductor and other members of the band would notice if I didn’t show up, and thus I’m going to go and do my best.

Even though it hurts.

I’ve persisted through a lot in my life. I’ve endured divorces, deaths, health problems, financial distress, floods, earthquakes, and probably a number of other things I’m forgetting right now. So you can assume I’m going to persist through this obstacle, too.

Do I wish things were easier right now? You’d better believe it.

But I’m glad I can still type. I’m glad that I can still play my saxophone, even if it’s not at the level I want, even if I don’t have solos anymore, even if for the most part I’ll probably never again be someone most people in the crowd think about when they go see a concert.

I’m doing what I can. I have to take comfort in that.

No matter how frustrating I find this situation to be, I will not give up.

I just have to pick and choose my spots for a while. That’s all.

——

**Note that I am still thinking about my stories. I have written down some prose notes. I have talked with other writers, and am doing what I can to re-read the works in progress, and keep going as best I can with my thought process overall. I know that my mind never stops working, so maybe being hindered will eventually produce some better, richer, deeper stories…one can only hope, right?

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 11, 2017 at 3:47 am

Introducing…Collaboration with a Purpose

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Folks, I wanted to let you know that tomorrow will be a special day at the Elfyverse. I’m one of ten bloggers who’ve teamed up to post tomorrow on the overall theme of loss. Tajwarr Fatma (of https://lifeaswehaveneverknownit.wordpress.com) asked me to be a part of this a while ago, and I’m pleased to take part.

This special event is called Collaboration with a Purpose.

Here, take a look at the nifty graphic:

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So, as the graphic says, we’ll have ten different stories from ten different bloggers, all talking about different types of loss, all on the same day. The hope is that by sharing our stories, we’ll help someone realize he or she is not alone.

Because we all lose something, in this life. How we deal with that loss can make or break us as a person. Loss often defines us, at least until we figure out another way to define ourselves in spite of it — or maybe because of it.

In addition to my blog tomorrow, here are the other bloggers taking part (aside from Tajwarr, of course):

SADAF SIDDIQUI
https://heartattachsite.wordpress.com
ADDISON D’MARKO
http://addisondmarko.com
AJIBOLA SUNDAY
https://ajibolasunday.wordpress.com
IPUNA BLACK
http://Ipunablack.com
ALTEA ADDISON
https://addisoniswriting.wordpress.com
JOTHISH JOSEPH
https://Jothishjoseph.wordpress.com
JANE LOVE
http://harmoniousjoy.com/
NICOLLE
https://storiesofahsi.wordpress.com

So please, do look in tomorrow, and see what I come up with for Collaboration with a Purpose, won’t you? (You might find it inspirational. Or at least interesting.) And I do hope it’ll help someone out there, at least a little bit.

Because that’s what it’s intended to do.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 18, 2017 at 10:47 pm

New Interview at SheWrites, Plus Updates

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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.)
There’s a lot more there, mind, including my happiest moment as a writer (hint: it has something to do with my late husband, Michael), when I’m most creative, and how picky I can be regarding language…so please do head over there and check the interview out, then check out the sample chapters for CHANGING FACES.
Mind, if you’d rather buy it directly, the links are right here, given in the format Chris the Story-Reading Ape suggested (thank you so much, Chris, for that):

Barnes & Noble

Amazon:

USA  –   UK  –  CA  –  AUS  –  IN

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.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Hope: Just Do It

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It’s Sunday, and I was in need of spiritual sustenance. So I started thinking about hope, and its necessary qualities.

See, when you’re down, it’s hard to believe that anything matters. Life has given you a bunch of lemons, sour ones at that, and your attempts to make lemonade out of them don’t seem to be working…and it’s hard to believe in hope.

But you have to, because that’s when you need hope the most.

There’s a reason that hope was in Pandora’s Box. That one thing can make the difference between success and failure, because it reminds you that it’s all right to fail once in a while, just so long as you get up again.

It’s because of hope that I keep writing.

I realize that hope alone is not enough. But if I believe I have a good story idea, and do my best to flesh it out, I can use that hope and weld it to my will and work ethic to get something done.

I know this works. Because today, finally, after several weeks of illness and frustration, I did what was necessary and finished up my final edits with regards to my novel CHANGING FACES. My publisher has the file now, and aside from proofreading the PDF advance reader copy when it comes out (I’ll keep you posted on that), my work is now complete.

While I was feeling poorly, it was very hard to hope that I would be strong enough to do what was required. But I held on to my hope that I would do it, and I did it.

So that’s why the title above.

You need to believe in hope, because without hope, it’s nearly impossible to believe in yourself.

If you remember only one thing today, believe in this: Hope. Just do it. (For me. Please?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 22, 2017 at 5:53 am

Holidays, Grief, and Disappointment

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Folks, as we all know, the holidays are upon us.

As I have written before (most recently last year, here), this is an awful time of year for anyone who has suffered losses. You can’t help but think about those you miss, especially when you have happy memories of better days when they were alive, well, and completely themselves.

I don’t have the answers for how to deal with this, despite having to deal with it for so long. As time passes, I know I’ll be grieving more and more people, and that’s the way life works — some of us keep going, and remember those who have passed before us, and try to honor their memories as best we’re able.

But that doesn’t make it easy.

In addition, because this is a highly-fraught time of year, any disappointment you receive at this time seems magnified. By a hundred, maybe, or even a thousand…it’s an illusion, mind, borne of the fact that you’re probably already under stress for various reasons, you’re expected to be “happy happy, joy joy” all the time at this time of year, and maybe you’re expending energy you didn’t realize you were using to stay on an even keel.

When I’m disappointed, whether it’s in someone else, myself, the world at large, whatever, I try to take a step back. Will this matter in a week? Will this matter in a month? Will this matter in a year?

If the answers to all of those questions are “no,” it’s a little easier to push past the disappointment.

“But Barb,” you say. “What is it about this time and people getting on each other’s nerves?”

Believe me, I wish I knew.

What I do know is that I try hard not to get upset by what other people do. Sometimes I observe this more in the breach than in its keeping, but I honestly do try.

OK, not everyone is going to be be what you want them to be. (Maybe no one is. Maybe you, yourself, aren’t, either.) Maybe you don’t have the life you want. Maybe nothing went right for you this year. And maybe, just maybe, you are having trouble hoping that tomorrow will be better than today.

That is normal, human, and you have to realize that other people feel the same damned thing.

So, yeah. This time of year is very hard for me. I feel almost as if I’m a chronic observer rather than completely in the mix of life and all its pleasures (and annoyances), and that’s only partly because I’m a writer and my observational skills have been heightened by years of practice.

All I can do, quite frankly, is endure the holidays. Get past them. And hope that 2017 will be a whole lot better than 2016.

Anyway, may we all treat our loved ones, friends, and co-workers gently at this time of year, and throughout the year…and may we all be richly blessed, one way or another.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2016 at 11:32 am

Housing End-Game

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Folks, I really didn’t want to write this blog. But things have gone sour, again…and my blogging is likely to be interrupted for a few days or weeks, so I figured I’d explain why.

As I said months ago, my housing situation went critical. I can’t fully explain this because it’s not my story to tell; all I can tell you is that I knew, at that time, I’d not have much longer where I was.

That was back in April, and I’m still in the same place. It was like being in limbo, and it certainly slowed up my creative efforts. But I have been warm, and safe, and with my dogs.

Now, the housing situation is about to be radically different. I will be put out of my home of the last five years within the next seven to ten days, as something called a “writ of assistance” has been requested. Once that’s executed, I will be put out of this situation, and am not sure what will happen afterward.

For a time, I know I will go to my father’s house. But long-term, that is likely to drive him and I both nuts. I won’t be able to bring the dogs, and that worries me greatly, because I don’t know what will happen to them — and they’re good dogs. They don’t deserve this uncertainty.

And that doesn’t resolve the rest of the situation, that I can’t explain, that I wish I could explain (except it’s not my story to tell, yada yada yada).

Over the past six months, I’ve had various friends ask me why I haven’t left already when things have been so up in the air. It has to do with caring about my family, and wanting to make sure they are safe and happy and well. I’ve also been worried about the dogs. One of my friends told me a long time ago she could take me, but not the dogs; another can take one dog, if need be, but she has cats. A third friend lives in Canada and I’d not be able to bring any of the dogs there, if I could somehow miraculously get to him…this is a big, fat, freakin’, unruly mess. (Insert string of profanity here, if you feel the need. I know I certainly do. I’m just too polite to subject you to it.)

And, if I’m honest, a lot of why I haven’t left has to do with CHANGING FACES. I’m so close to finishing up that novel — the revised and final version, after editing — and I just didn’t want to have to uproot my entire life as moves tend to do if I could somehow hang on until the novel was finished.

I am about three chapters, perhaps less, from the end. But I don’t know if I can finish up what I need under all this stress. I’m having a number of unusual stress reactions already, and I have to be careful, or I’ll land in the hospital and I’ll be even slower to finish things up…dammit all.

Anyway, all I know is that it is likely I will be put out in the next seven to ten days. I can’t get a hard date as to when I will definitely be put out. I have already moved some stuff to my father’s across town, and will be moving more in the upcoming days as I’m able, but I remain worried.

If for some reason you feel the need to help me, I do have a Paypal account. Type Barb and Caffrey together (as all one word, lowercase) AT Yahoo DOT com (take out the at and dot, of course), if you want to help at all with the frustrations and vexations of this move. Because in some ways, this couldn’t happen at a worse time…honestly.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 19, 2016 at 1:14 pm