Archive for the ‘Prescient observations’ Category
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 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’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…?)
Folks, some days I just get so frustrated, I want to scream.
Why? Well, today’s news is that the Trump Administration apparently wants to rescind the Obama Administration directive regarding transgender students and bathrooms. The Obama directive more or less said that transgender students should be able to use the bathroom that suits their own, internalized gender; the Trump directive, which appears to be imminent, would rescind this directive and make trans students use the bathroom their outward gender would dictate instead.
This is incredibly annoying in many ways.
First, a young person who already identifies as being in the wrong body for their psyche is not looking to “convert” anyone. They just want to use a bathroom that makes sense to them.
Second, a young person who feels like he or she is in the wrong body already needs all the help he or she can get to figure out himself/herself. Being able to use the restroom that he or she identifies with is an easy thing to do to help, and preventing that person from using that same restroom just helps isolate that person even further.
So how does rescinding the Obama directive help anything?
The only point the people on the right who are in favor of rescinding Obama’s directive (which, fortunately, are not that many) have seemed to say is, “Well, this way, boys can’t use female restrooms by pretending to be girls!”
My answer? If these overly-concerned people really believe young men, already an angst-filled subset of the population, are going to suddenly identify as female to use female bathrooms, that is just silly.
(A young man who does that deserves what he gets, in other words.)
Anyway, I’m a straight woman. I’ve never dated a woman, never kissed one either, and never plan to do so — I am attracted to men. But that does not mean I don’t understand how stupid this is.
So, compared to that, my latest guest blog, about my route to publication, seems very small. But as I’m the writer of a book about two troubled souls who both end up transgender (and stay very much in love with each other), CHANGING FACES, I figured I’d let you know what I think.
And even though it is a very small thing in context, do, please, take a look at my newest guest blog. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Who knows? Maybe it’ll remind you that trans people are just like anyone else.
Because they are.
Folks, I’m going to take a time-out on my book promotion activities with regards to CHANGING FACES (if you want a copy, just follow the pages backward and you’ll be able to get one) and talk about one of the things that motivates me, it being Monday and all.
So, without further ado…what motivates Barb Caffrey as a writer?
So many things, actually. I want to tell stories with heart, that matter, that feel real, that have empathy, that maybe shed light on the human condition in new ways…of course, all of that sounds quite profound, doesn’t it?
Really, I write for me.
(Picture my big, evil grin here.)
Seriously. I write for me. I’ve done this since I was small, on and off…I wanted to read stories that I didn’t see anywhere, but knew had power and resonance. And the only way to read those stories, under the circumstances, was to find a way to write them myself.
I think a lot of writers are that way, actually. We have a need to read stories that aren’t out there yet. We get a germ of an idea, and we keep going until the idea is finished.
Yeah, it seems to take me longer than some novelists to finish my ideas. (If I had to judge myself against my friend Chris Nuttall, for example, and how fast he can write a novel, I’d quail at ever writing another word.) But I’m not the only one out there who takes a bit of time with a concept to get it right.
For example, I know two writers very well who have had to take long periods of time to finish a novel, albeit for different reasons. In one case, my friend needed to take time out for health concerns, but she had a third novel in her in a series and she wanted to tell it. It took her a number of extra years to do this, but she didn’t let her health concerns defeat her; in the end, her novel was published, to wide acclaim, and now there is hope that she’ll have a fourth book (or at least novelette) in the series available soon.
In the other, my friend tried for years to get his novel to come clear for him, but for whatever reason it didn’t quite feel right. He published several other things, including a couple of acclaimed short stories and several co-written novels along with some other solo works, but he kept coming back to this particular novel because he needed to tell that story and wanted to get it right. And now, that book is out, and he’s got a contract for a couple more in the series, with readers saying, “More, please…” and not understanding he has a day job.
But I digress.
Or am I?
This is Monday Motivation, after all, and me talking about two of my friends and how they’ve persisted in telling the stories they need to tell does matter. They didn’t give up, and they got out books that readers love, that are helping to build their names and careers, and are continuing on with their efforts to write more stories that they absolutely have a burning need to tell.
Good for them.
I know I have tried to do that, too. The Elfy novels took over ten years to find a publisher, but I didn’t give up. CHANGING FACES went through at least five major revisions and a late-round revision and updating I’ve gone into multiple times in the past year before it finally came out earlier this month, over fourteen years after it was started.
See, if you have a story that is inside you, you have to tell it. Or you aren’t being true to yourself.
So write for you. Tell that story. Don’t give up, no matter how long it takes, nor how many revisions you need to go through, nor even whether it seems like it won’t matter ’cause sales aren’t brisk and you aren’t making a dent.
Do it anyway.
Do it for yourself.
Folks, as my new romantic fantasy novel CHANGING FACES is out as an e-book, perhaps this would be a good time to discuss what love is — and what love decidedly isn’t.
First, love is about caring more for the other person than it is about yourself. It means when you get up in the morning, your first coherent thought should be something along the lines of, “How are you, honey?” or doing something nice for your partner if you can.
Love is about many other good things, mind. Sacrifice. Shared goals and dreams. A willingness to share your mind, spirit and heart with another worthy person, and the belief that in so doing, you will become expanded by the experience rather than diminished.
I like to think that Allen and Elaine’s story in CHANGING FACES speaks to all of that, and that it has a moral and message (for those of us who need such)…but is a ripping good romance otherwise (for those of us who just want that). (See, I split the middle that way.)
What is love most decidedly not about? Materialism. Giving someone stuff is not about love; it’s about self-aggrandizement and/or the need for your partner to accumulate stuff.
Granted, a small, well-chosen, thoughtful gift can work wonders…but do you know why that is? It’s because it means you spent enough time, energy, and thought on giving just the right gift.
It’s the time, energy, and thought that you put into it, in other words, that makes that gift work. Not the gift itself.
Now, is that a chicken or the egg sort of question? I don’t know.
But what I do know is, the best gift you can possibly give to someone on Valentine’s Day or any day is the gifts of your time and attention. Giving those gifts is exceptionally meaningful; you make memories that way, good ones, and thus your life becomes enriched in the process.
(Break for naked self-promotion. You can look away if you must; I won’t get angry if you do.)
Anyway, if you want to know my further thoughts about love, and this blog isn’t enough, please do go find a copy of CHANGING FACES and start reading. (It’s only ninety-nine cents for a week or so. And it might make you think, or care, or start wondering how you, too, can find a good person to share your life with…isn’t that a win/win?)
(End naked self-promo, already in progress…)
It’s Friday the 13th, so I thought I’d talk about how to turn bad circumstances into good ones. (Or, at least, into better ones?)
“Why, Barb, did you pick Friday the 13th for this blog?” you ask, wearily.
Well, the answer is simple. On Friday the 13th, everyone worries more about accidents, superstitions, odd events…and what’s odder than turning a bad circumstance into a good one?
Yeah, I realize that’s not how most people think of it. Instead, we think about the negative stuff going on all around us. And it’s very easy to find…we all have stuff in our lives that could be, shall we say, improved.
And it’s hard to think about improving things, when everything seems against you.
I’ve had my back to the wall at least ten times in my life. It’s not pleasant. Every time, I’ve thought whatever was going on would break me. I’ve been through deaths of loved ones (including my beloved husband Michael), divorces before I even found Michael at all, at least five major moves, job losses, and economic hardship, and I haven’t enjoyed any of it.
(If I did, though, wouldn’t you wonder what I was about? I would, in your place. But I digress.)
What you have to do when you’re at a breaking point is to keep going. Remember that you didn’t ask for this to happen. You are just doing the best you can. Maybe you’ve made mistakes, but we all have…the trick is not to give up on yourself and not to give up on your talents, no matter what is stacked against you.
And as bad as dealing with horrific events (like deaths of loved ones in particular) can be, there actually is one positive side to it that I’ve found.
I realized that going through all the negative experiences in my life has actually sensitized me to other people’s suffering. And along the way, I found that being able to help someone else, even if it’s only a little bit, did two great things: It helped the other person realize they were not alone, and it also made me feel better as a human being to reach out and help someone who truly needed it.
Maybe that’s why we have things like “Do unto others as they do unto you” (the Golden Rule). It’s not just that we want to be treated well; it’s that we need to treat others well for our own well-being, and to become our best selves.
Anyway, the point of this blog is, sometimes life just stinks. There are things you have to do sometimes that you never wanted to — that you never even conceived of, when you started out as a young adult — but you have no choice.
When you’re at one of those places, step back, and try to realize that you are not alone. You can come back from whatever it is that you’re facing with time, courage, fortitude, will, and effort. Best of all, you will be able to better understand yourself and others when you do…and I don’t know of any other way to turn a bad circumstance into a good one than that.