Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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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

See My New Guest Blog for Author Lisabet Sarai…

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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.

portrait in garden

First, here’s the link to the post:

http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2017/03/putting-characters-in-trouble-one-story.html

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!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 11, 2017 at 5:40 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

New Guest Blog is Up…”Love in CHANGING FACES”

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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.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Latest Interview, Health Update…and Baseball?

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Folks, the book promotion efforts continue apace.

So, here’s my question: Have you met me yet?

(No, I’m not just being snarky, here.)

If you haven’t, or if you’d like to know more, and haven’t seen this interview, please go forthwith to Goodreads.

Why?

It might intrigue you. It might keep you motivated.

Or if nothing else, it’ll answer a question I’ve been asked over and over again regarding my newest novel: why did I set the story of CHANGING FACES in Nebraska, of all places?

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.

Want to know more? Please go to the interview and take a look!

Now, as far as the health update goes…I continue to improve. I am a bit low on energy, but I wrote a new guest blog (for author Adriana Kraft and her readership, that will be posted Sunday if all goes well), I even worked a little bit on my fiction, and I’m starting to feel more like my normal self.

(Just in time for Friday, eh?)

I don’t plan on throwing any wild parties any time soon, mind, but I at least can write some again and I’m grateful for it.

Otherwise, I wanted to talk a little bit about baseball, as we’re nearly up to spring. (Hey, don’t correct me. I know it’s a few weeks, yet.)

One thing I noticed, recently, is that major league baseball has changed their way of indicating an intentional walk. Before, a manager had to call for it, but the pitcher had to actually throw the four balls (very wide of the strike zone) before the runner could take first base. This occasionally would result in a wild pitch or passed ball, but most of the time was a fairly routine deal.

Now, MLB is going to do it differently. The manager will somehow indicate that he wants an intentional walk, and the batter will go take first base. The pitcher will not have to throw the four balls, wide of the mark or otherwise.

What do I think of this? I don’t like it at all. I think it’s silly. I think it’s stupid.

And the reason they gave for it? They want to speed the game up.

(I don’t see that as being a particularly speedy thing, mind, but whatever.)

To my mind, the only legitimate basis for this rule-change is to save the pitcher unnecessary wear and tear on his arm. If, over time, this actually works, and a few pitchers here and there won’t hurt themselves, I might actually — someday — begrudgingly, of course, be willing to entertain this.

But for the moment, I think it’s stupid, nonsensical, and wrong.

What do you all think, baseball fans? Does this rule-change make any sense to you? (And if they really want to improve the pace of the game, why don’t they stop guys from getting out of the batter’s box over and over again during the same at-bat? Wouldn’t that be a lot more conducive to getting the speed down than merely eliminating the four pitches from the intentional walk?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 3, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Two New Guest Appearances, Plus Health Update

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Folks, I’m starting to feel a little better. My voice is almost all the way back. And I have a teensy bit more energy than yesterday…I kind of think I might actually be able to write something soon, and I have managed to evaluate something for a friend of mine (read a synopsis and commented), which is all good.

Anyway, there are two guest appearances I need to tell you about today.

First, N.N. Light and her POTL blog featured CHANGING FACES last week, and because of me being sick, I almost missed it. This is a chapter excerpt (from chapter 3, I think) plus longer blurb; I think you will enjoy it.

Second, over at the Mom’s Blogger’s Club, there’s a chapter reveal for the first chapter of CHANGING FACES.

So, the book promotion goes on, and I’m still alive to do it…progress?

Stay well, folks.

Tomorrow, perhaps, I’ll be able to blog about something else — maybe Brewers Spring Training or something. (I want to stay away from politics as much as I can until I’m all the way better, because I really don’t need to raise my blood pressure right now.)

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Flu, Day 5, and Newest Guest Blog

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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.

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 28, 2017 at 5:42 pm