Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Prescient observations’ Category

Why Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY Award Speech Matters

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Even though I’m a sports fan, I rarely watch the ESPY Awards. But I made a point of it this evening, as I knew Caitlyn Jenner would receive an award for courage (the Arthur Ashe Award, to be exact).

Some have given Jenner a very hard time since she came out as transgender months ago. This mostly is because of two things: One, the former Bruce Jenner has been a high-profile athlete and media personality since he won the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon in 1976. And two, Jenner was married to Kris Jenner — matriarch of the Kardashian clan — for quite some time. (They are now apparently on the road to divorce and seem to be living separate lives.)

I said months ago when then-Bruce Jenner admitted that he saw himself as “she” that many people were missing the point. Whether Jenner is outwardly male or female, the soul inside is still the same. And we need to start understanding that people are a diverse bunch, and stop condemning people for being different.

I know, I know. Most people don’t condemn people. (Thank goodness.) It’s only a vocal minority that does. But as Jenner said tonight at her ESPY Award speech (my best paraphrase), she can handle criticism. But the young transgender children out there cannot…they are being bullied, shunned, and treated worse than their peers for the simple fact that they carry more of their differences on the outside.

I wrote about Leelah Alcorn a while back, too. She was a young girl who had a family that totally did not understand her, and parents who were so rigid, they only would refer to her by her birth name of Joshua. Not by the name she knew herself as, Leelah.

The Alcorns did everything they could after their child’s suicide to show that “Joshua” was a normal boy in interviews. They also said they “didn’t believe in that” when any reporter tried talking to them about their biological son’s transgender identity. And they made the funeral service private, kept away Leelah’s closest friends, and took down Leelah’s final note asking for acceptance and tolerance for others (as they had that right, ’cause Leelah was underage).

So I am certain that Caitlyn Jenner understands what’s at stake for transgender youth.

I’m also certain that Jenner understands just how important it is for the entire LGBT community to have positive role models.

Much is made of what Jenner wears nowadays — the hair, the clothes, the shoes, the makeup, etc. And I understand why. The Kardashian clan is widely followed; they are famous for being famous, the lot of them, and the paparazzi cannot help themselves whenever any of them are around. (Why that is, I haven’t the foggiest. But it is undeniably true.)

But I would rather there was more focus on what Caitlyn Jenner is saying rather than what she wears, who she goes out with, whether her divorce is in train or whether or not her family agrees with her decision to be open about her new life as a woman.

What Jenner said tonight about acceptance, about trangender people needing to be respected, was vital. So if you haven’t seen her ESPY speech yet, you really should seek it out. (If you need a quick read, check out this one from Yahoo Celebrity.)

I’m very glad that someone has finally said what needed to be said, though if you’d have asked me a year ago, the last person I thought would ever say it would be Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner.

Please read these words, ponder them, and then ask yourself this question:

What can I do today to be more tolerant, more accepting, and more nurturing?

Mrs. N.N. Light Takes Over the Elfyverse…(AKA “Time for a Guest Blog”)

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Folks, I’m very pleased to have Mrs. N.N. Light back for a second guest appearance. She and I are doing a blog-exchange today — that is, I’m guesting at her blog, and she’s guesting at mine on the very same day.

(Yes, we thought we were being clever. So?)

POTL printed coverNow, how do I know Mrs. N.? She and I became friends on Twitter, mostly because we’re both big baseball fans (she loves the Minnesota Twins, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Chicago Cubs; I’m a Milwaukee Brewers fan and also follow the San Francisco Giants, as they were my late husband Michael’s favorite team). Then we started talking writing and editing, as writers and editors tend to do when we’re alone in order to avoid scuffing up the furniture…but I digress.

In this interview (which I didn’t conduct, but enjoyed reading very much), Mrs. N. talks about many things, including her love for author C.S. Lewis. (Yet another thing we have in common!)

So, take it away, Mrs. N.!

potlbanner2

When did you begin writing?

I began writing stories and poems when I was ten years old. I had such an active imagination when I was young and was very shy so writing stories was an outlet for me. I loved creating new worlds and travelling using my imagination. As I grew older, I discovered I had a God-given talent for writing. I could inspire people with my words and that is a blessing.

What/Who is your biggest influence in writing?

C.S. Lewis has been one of the biggest influences on my writing. I first discovered him through reading The Chronicles of Narnia. I had the whole series and I read them repeatedly growing up. He brought Narnia to life for me and I would peek in my closet hoping for a secret entrance into Narnia. In my teens, I read The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce and The Four Loves. His writing style drew me in and I started to dream about becoming a writer. The more I delved deeper into C.S. Lewis’ writing, the more I wanted to inspire people with my own writing. C. S. Lewis doesn’t hit you over the head with his message but is subtle. I have tried to do the same thing with my writing.

What is your favorite topic to write on?

Than POTLI love writing inspirational/self help thoughts. I have been blessed with the gift of encouragement and I try to help others. I started my blog as an outlet for not only talking about my book, Princess of the Light, but also encouraging others. Whether it was about kindness, school, work, believing in your dreams or helping others I wanted to share my message.

What are your biggest challenges as a writer?

One of the biggest challenges for me as a writer is getting down all the ideas that pop into my head so I don’t lose them. I walk twenty miles a week and usually my best ideas come to me when I am out walking. They appear almost like a You-Tube video and I have to try to convert it to a text message so I can write it later. If I wait until I get home, I may lose the idea.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

I am an author, editor, book promoter, book reviewer and a social media marketer for the largest coin dealer in Canada. I spend my day tweeting about new products and services. It’s a great way to hone my writing as I only have 140 characters including a link.

Where are you from? Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Minnesota, spent a decade in Southern California before meeting my beloved husband, MR N. I left the Pacific Ocean for chilly Ontario and have never regretted it. I am blissfully happy being married to my soul mate and living life to the fullest. In my free time, I love all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports and baking.

Do you prefer fiction work or nonfiction?

I am a fiction girl all the way. Sure, I read a lot of non-fiction but I have a soft spot for fiction. I love reading books that take me on an adventure and captivate me.

What is your favorite book and why?

I get asked this a lot and to be honest, it is so hard to decide. It’s like asking a woman to pick just one pair of shoes as her favorite. *laughs* One of my favorite books of all time is The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. It’s totally fiction but at the same time made me wonder what would happen if it was true. I love books that make me think. I have read this book at least twenty times and each time I read it, I discover something new. It blends mystery, intrigue, religion, art, adventure and family.

What inspired you to write your book?

I knew from the time I was little, the gift of writing and encouragement was given to me by God. I wasn’t sure what He wanted me to write but I knew He would reveal it to me when the time arrived. Three years ago, I was out for my morning walk and I saw a homeless man sitting in front of a gas station. I looked at him; head uplifted to the sun, and wondered what his story was. I had seen him before but he was different from other homeless people. He didn’t ask for money or hold up a sign. He walked the length of our town and avoided contact.

A voice entered my head, “What if you could help him? Would you? What if you were chosen by me to help him?”

I stopped walking and searched my heart. After a moment, I replied aloud, “Yes, I would.”

The voice echoed in my heart, “This is what you were called to do.”

I went home that day and started writing Princess of the Light. Every day I would see the Walking Man and as Miriam would help her Walking Man, I would help mine. I started small by smiling at him and saying “Good morning”. I soon got my husband involved and we started leaving food, clothing and blankets for him.

I promised myself that when my book got published, a part of the proceeds would go to helping people like the Walking Man find food, clothing and shelter. Spread the Light is my mantra and together we can inspire others to spread the Light.

princessTitle: Princess of the Light

Author: N. N. Light

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Christian Fantasy, Inspirational Fiction

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Tagline:

Inspiring spiritual growth one person at a time

Blurb:

Gabriel, the Archangel and Messenger of God – yeah, that Gabriel – visits Mary Miller. He tells her, as the key, she is destined to spread the Light and vanquish the Darkness. Her first assignment is to restore the soul of the Walking Man. Sounds simple enough — until she’s thrown into the face of evil. And then, Joe Deacons enters her heart. This battle just got a lot more complicated. She must complete her mission without losing all she loves.

Excerpt:

“Can I help you with something, sir?” The woman’s voice quivered slightly and she leaned a little, as if she suddenly needed the wall for support.

Whoa, I couldn’t help but think. I frankly felt like a moth to the flame. All I wanted to do was have a reason to get closer to her. The fact that her eyes seemed to shine with an actual light didn’t help matters. I had never felt such an automatic attraction before, and I wanted to lean closer and see what was going on with her eyes.

She was either looking at me like I was the only man in the world—and quite possibly the sexiest one—or else my open gawking had freaked her out. Either way, I couldn’t have told her which it was, because my mouth felt like a cotton ball container.

“Yes,” I managed to rasp to her. “Where is your Architecture section?”

“Are you looking for anything in particular?” Yes. You, I wanted to say. “I could look to see if it is in stock.” Oh. Are there more of you somewhere?

The sound of her voice was starting to make my heart pound.

She had an earthly beauty about her. There was nothing extraordinary in her features, yet something about her just seemed to glow.

I felt my breath quicken. Joe, what’s the matter with you? Get a grip. You’ve seen girls before.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts without worrying what I looked like and said, “Please forgive my manners, but what is your name?”

“Mary.” That just became my favorite name.

“I’m very pleased to meet you,” I said as I extended my hand to her. “I’m Joseph. Please call me Joe.”

She hesitated for a moment before she shook my hand. Electricity bolted up my arm that I wasn’t prepared for. I wondered if she could hear my heart beating. Pretty sure these emotions weren’t winning me any bro-code points.

Her face was flushed and her eyes brightened with interest. Let go of her hand, Joe, I tried to coach myself. If I didn’t let go of it soon, I might never be able to.

So I quickly let go of her hand but immediately regretted it. The whole room suddenly seemed cold and empty.

She probably thinks you’re some kind of wacko. Stop staring. You’re a logical guy… Be reasonable here. Besides, she’s probably married. I ran my fingers through my hair and tried to remember what we were just talking about. I looked up to see her glance towards the entrance. If she asked me to leave, I wouldn’t blame her.

I tried to act composed, while I glanced down at her left hand. I didn’t see a ring, so I cleared my throat and tried to act like a reasonable man again.

“Well, it was a pleasure to meet you, Mary.” Even to me, my voice sounded unnaturally thick and hoarse. I cleared my throat and looked back at her.

“Yes, it’s great to meet you, Joe. Let me show you where the section is.” She turned and simply pointed to the far left corner of the store.

Just when I thought she was through with me completely, she motioned for me to follow her.

As she led me to the back of the store, I tried to switch off my desire and concentrate on the task at hand. Focus, Joe! Decorum! The inner jokes weren’t helping. They just wanted to make me giggle like a schoolboy, and I doubted that would help matters much.

I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment while I tried to remember the books I came for.

She was driving me crazy! I shook my head like a wet dog for what seemed like the twentieth time and asked God for some help.

Suddenly she sidestepped and tripped. I reached out and caught her. As soon as my fingertips touched her, my whole being seemed to be on fire. You’ve gone completely insane, Joe. Maybe, I really had been working too hard lately.

Mary blushed and stammered, “I’m so, so s-s-sorry about that. There was, um, a stroller blocking the aisle.”

“Yes, I saw that.”

I knew I had to let go of her. When I did, she whirled around, stammering more of an apology. It took every ounce of my willpower not to bend down and kiss her. I should have taken that nap.

To keep from kissing her, I made a joke. “And here I thought you just wanted me to catch you in my arms to break the ice.” I hesitated and then added, “It worked.” Her light-hearted laugh made me wish I knew more jokes.

She cleared her throat, and turned back to where they were heading.

Once in front of the architecture books, Mary said, “If you need any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask.” Then she stepped back and smiled politely.

“Thank you for your help,” I said, and wished I could think of something else to say to stall her.

As she walked away, I thought, I could watch you all day. I didn’t realize I was grinning until my cheeks suddenly felt sore.

Buy Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/469480

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/princess-of-the-light-nn-light/1120170709?ean=9781502438454

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Light-N/dp/1502438453

Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/Princess-Light-N-ebook/dp/B00N19FDKO

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Princess-Light-N-ebook/dp/B00N19FDKO

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/princess-of-the-light-1

Indigo: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/princess-of-the-light/9781310880230-item.html?ikwid=princess+of+the+light&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

iTunes/ iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/princess-of-the-light/id913013798?mt=11

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/5008419

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23009005-princess-of-the-light

Newsletter:

If you would like to sign up to be an exclusive member of #TeamPOTL, send me an email:

info [at] princessofthelight [dot] com

You’ll get a free short story and you’ll get sneak peeks into what I’m working on. Plus, every Friday, you’ll get a special shout-out on Twitter. :)

Author Bio: N.N. Light has been creating stories ever since she was little. Her grandfather remembers when she was two years old, she would stand at the top of the stairs and tell him a story filled with emotion (and in a language foreign to him) with her hands on her hips. Let’s just say she was a born storyteller.

She was born in Minnesota, lived in Southern California only to move to chilly Ontario, Canada to marry her beloved husband MR N. She is blissfully happy and loves all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports and baking. Her mantra is to spread the Light.

Most of the time you can find her on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest. She is a proud member of ASMSG, Independent Author Network and Marketing for Romance Writers.

Part of the proceeds of Princess of the Light will go directly to food banks in order to feed the hungry and help those in need. With only 7,500 books sold, N. N. Light will be able to set up a monthly endowment for the local food bank.

In addition to being an author, she’s also a book promoter/reviewer and social media marketer. She loves books, has ever since she was young. Matching up books and readers is something that gives her great pleasure.

She’d love to connect with you either via email or via these various social media sites:

Website: http://princessofthelight.com

Blog: http://princessofthelight.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/nnlight

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NNP_W_Light

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nnlight

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/n-n-light/90/1a7/902

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118060034268079734144/posts

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/nnlight

Independent Author Network: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/n-n-light.html

iAuthor: http://www.iauthor.uk.com/princess-of-the-light:10294

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Thoughts After Watching the Glen Campbell Documentary “I’ll Be Me”

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Folks, I just watched the documentary on Glen Campbell’s life, I’ll Be Me. And I need to talk about this, because what Glen Campbell is going through is important.

You see, Campbell has Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed in 2011 at the age of 75.

But rather than quietly go into a nursing home, he, his family, and his doctors agreed that Campbell’s music was still with him. So they decided on one, final tour…with I’ll Be Me recording every step of that tour, along with the decline in Campbell’s memories and mentation.

Bluntly, to do something like this with what remains of your mind and talent is extraordinary. It shows fearlessness, a bit of humility, and maybe even compassion for the self, while it also showcases glimpses of still-brilliant musicianship and excellent vocal control.

Campbell in some senses was very fortunate, you see. He didn’t lose his vocal quality in his age — at least, he didn’t lose much. (Some smoothness, maybe. But it’s recognizably the same voice and he still has much the same range in I’ll Be Me.) He was always an excellent musician, and knew exactly how to sing his songs…and that’s still there, up until his final song, “I’m Not Going to Miss You.”

As a musician myself, I don’t know if I could do what Campbell did. I don’t think I could’ve walked on stage and not known if I could play my clarinet or my saxophone as well as I wanted. (Much less what the clarinet or saxophone even was until I started playing.) I don’t think I could’ve risked going on stage and not knowing what the songs were, or losing track of the music as I went…I think it would’ve been too difficult to even contemplate.

Yet Campbell could still play his guitar at times with a fire and passion that was astonishing.

The last thing that went for him was his music. It was imprinted on his brain and soul in such a way that while he started to lose language, he could still sing — and sing with feeling.

His youngest three children joined him on that tour, as did his wife. They all did their best to support their father, and helped to create some magical memories for not only themselves and their family, but for the concertgoers as well.

I’ll Be Me is both a heartwarming story of courage and redemption along with extraordinary musicianship, and a heartbreaking story as Campbell starts to fumble and lose control of his final gift.

I was very moved by I’ll Be Me. And I hope that this movie, now that it’s been shown on CNN, will somehow help to spur research into Alzheimer’s disease.

Because not everyone will be as lucky as Glen Campbell, and still be able to make beautiful music into the twilight of his life, nor will they be as fortunate to have an understanding and empathetic family around them.

We need to find a cure for this terrible disease. So our musicians, like Glen Campbell, can keep doing what they love until the day they die — rather than be placed in an extended-care memory facility (as Campbell apparently now is, no doubt because that’s where he needs to be).

Blog Exchange with N.N. Light on Monday…and Bristol Palin News?

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Monday, June 29, 2015, will be a very interesting day, folks.

Why?

Well, N.N. Light will be “exchanging” her blog for mine, meaning she’ll be here tomorrow and I’ll be over at her place (the Princess of the Light blog) instead. (Mrs. N., I’ll try not to disturb the furnishings. Promise.)

Why are we doing this? Well, we did this once before, and we enjoyed it so much we thought we’d try it again.

Besides, Mrs. N. always has very interesting things to say.

So do look for that tomorrow, will you?

Now onto the Bristol Palin news.

Late last week, Ms. Palin announced her new pregnancy on her blog over at Patheos. And by the way she announced it, she must be expecting a firestorm of controversy.

Here’s a bit from her blog regarding her pregnancy:

I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you.

But please respect Tripp’s and my privacy during this time. I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy.

As I said to my Mom once I heard this, “Well, she’s not leaving a whole lot of room there, is she?”

Look. Ms. Palin is a full-fledged adult now at age 24. She is no longer the innocent child most of us got to know during her mother Sarah Palin’s run for the Vice Presidency in 2008.

She has a right to make her own decisions, her own choices, and to do whatever she wants with her life.

To my mind, becoming pregnant again at age 24 is not a terrible thing. (Yes, she’s unmarried. Yes, this will be her second out-of-wedlock pregnancy. But so what?)

I don’t know Bristol Palin, obviously. She’s made one hard choice already in keeping her first child, Tripp; now, she’s made another hard choice.

Ms. Palin has already said she wants neither lectures nor sympathy. But I hope she’ll accept something from me anyway.

My respect.

And my wish that she’ll realize just how strong she is, inside, to be able to make this choice. (Because if she realizes her own strength, nothing the rest of the world says will ever be able to harm her.)

History in the Making — LGBT Couples Finally Able to Marry in All 50 States

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Folks, I’m a very proud American today.

The United States Supreme Court said today that same-sex (LGBT) couples can legally marry anywhere in the United States. And that their marriages should be recognized — wait for it — in all 50 states (and the various U.S. possessions, like Guam and Puerto Rico).

Hallelujah!

This is a win for marriage equality advocates everywhere, yes. But to be honest, it’s also a win for honest fairness.

Look. I got married in Illinois, years ago. But when I moved to California, then to Iowa, no one cared where my marriage had been performed because my husband and I were not a LGBT couple.

Yet if a same-sex couple had married in California, and then moved to Michigan, say, that same-sex couple’s marriage wouldn’t have been recognized in Michigan. Until today.

And you know that’s not right.

Personally, I’m glad that Anthony Kennedy sided with the four liberal justices of the Supreme Court on this one. Because what was going on just wasn’t fair; it was discriminatory toward LGBT couples, and there was no excuse for it.

If you can excuse an anecdote here — my late husband Michael and I wondered, not long before he died, when the United States would recognize that LGBT weddings were just like any other weddings. We both thought, back in 2004, that it would probably take at least fifty years for the country to understand that LGBT people are just like anyone else, and deserve the same rights and privileges afforded to us as a more “traditional” male-female marriage.

And now, finally, that day has come.

(Boy, am I glad to be wrong on this one!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 26, 2015 at 9:37 am

Free Novella Promo Ongoing, and Other Stuff

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Folks, today is my thirteenth wedding anniversary.

On this day in 2002, Michael B. Caffrey and I married, in front of a small group of family and friends. At the time, we didn’t know we could write together, and the Elfyverse wasn’t even on the horizon. (I was, however, writing CHANGING FACES, in earlier draft form.)

It’s because of the deep love I shared with Michael that I’ve continued to keep our writing alive, as best I can. Whether he started it or not, it’s all come down to me…and I keep my promises.

Especially to my husband.

This is why I decided last week, when I knew I’d be able to get the two stories up (“To Survive the Maelstrom,” and “Columba and the Cat,” both novellas), that I’d put our co-written novella “On Westmount Station” up as a free e-book in honor of that love. (It will be free until the end of June 27, 2015. So do go grab it, while you still can get it for nothing.)

Note that I added subplots here. Wrote a good half of it, in fact. But I wouldn’t have done this without what Michael left behind…and I think Michael might just like what I’ve done, even though had he lived, I would never have touched his stuff unless he’d asked.

Now I need to talk about something else…something that has worried me for quite some time. Especially as it was something near and dear to Michael’s heart as well.

You see, as a science fiction and fantasy writer, I’ve watched for months — nay, years — as our community continues to eviscerate each other. Some of this is over the Hugo Awards (who should nominate, and why); some of it is much deeper and far more worrisome.

I have friends in the Sad Puppies community, those who believe the Hugo Awards should be nominated on by all SF&F fans willing to pay the WorldCon membership fee.

And I have friends in the traditional publishing community, those who mostly believe the Hugo Awards have been tainted because the Sad Puppies (and Vox Day’s unrelated group, the Rabid Puppies) decided to get into the mix.

I have continued to stand in the middle of this mess, as I am convinced that Michael would’ve also done the same thing.

That being said, I have more sympathies with the Sad Puppies than not. I think if you have read SF&F stories, and you’ve grounded yourself thoroughly in what’s available (including the newest releases from all the various publishers, including small presses and indies), you have a right to nominate if you want to pay the WorldCon membership.

I also want to point out that neither the Sad Puppies nor even the Rabid Puppies have said anything bad to me at all. They seem to respect my principled stance. And I appreciate that.

Whereas I’ve lost at least one good friend from the traditional publishing community, all because I had the temerity to support my friend Jason Cordova as he’s been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award.

I can’t do anything about that, though I hope down the line my friend will realize I’m the same person I’ve always been.

Look. I, personally, would’ve tried to get Katharine Eliska Kimbriel nominated, if I had my druthers. I think her book SPIRAL PATH is outstanding; by far the best YA book I read in 2014, and by far the best book I read in any genre in 2014. Period.

But she gained no traction, partly because her book was put out by the author’s consortium Book View Café.

I think this is a travesty.

I also would’ve tried to get Emily St. John Mandel’s book STATION ELEVEN on the ballot. It is an excellent post-apocalyptic novel that actually is inspirational in spots, and contains some dark but welcome humor amidst the gloom.

Note that Mandel was an indie author for a time, and only now is breaking through to traditional publishing.

Both of these books deserved to be on the Hugo Award ballot.

There are other authors I support, and support strongly, including Stephanie Osborn and Jason Cordova. (I like his short stories in particular. But MURDER WORLD is also good, though very violent as you’d expect due to it being a Kaiju novel.) My friends at Twilight Times Books, including Chris Nuttall, Dora Machado, Scott Eder, Dina von Lowenkraft, Heather McClaren, and Aaron Lazar are interesting writers who give full value for the money spent on their books.

And that’s just a start of the authors I support. Because I’ve maintained an avid interest in Kate Paulk, Sarah A. Hoyt, Amanda S. Green, Mrs. N.N.P. Light, E. Ayers, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Julia London…the list goes on and on.

Why is enjoying all of these disparate authors’ work a bad thing?

Folks, there are some very good books out there being published by both indie and small press authors. (For the purposes of this conversation, Book View Café will be viewed as a small press.) These books should not be overlooked.

“Yay,” my friends in the Sad Puppies are saying.

And just because the Big Five publishing houses seem to be putting out more derivative stuff than ever, that doesn’t mean everything they put out has no value. (Witness Mary Robinette Kowal’s excellent Glamourist history series, which combines Regency Era historicity with excellent fantasy underpinnings along with a very fine and believable romance.)

“Yay,” my friends in the traditional publishing community are saying.

Why can’t we all get along? At least in part?

Because supporting each other, even as we all do slightly different things, is the best way to go.

I don’t blame my friends in the Sad Puppies for being upset. They’ve been vilified. Sometimes unfairly so. And they’re tired of it.

I also don’t blame my friends in the traditional publishing community. Some of them have been vilified. Sometimes unfairly. And they, too, are tired of it.

But a rapprochement does not seem possible between these groups.

Which truly saddens me. And would’ve deeply upset my husband.

I keep hoping that the SF&F community will remember that we do have more in common with each other than not. And that what we’re writing matters, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

Anyway, my anniversary message for you all is a plea that somehow, the SF&F community will start pulling together again.

I believe that’s what my late husband would want. And I know it’s what I want, too.

What Michael Jordan’s Baseball Odyssey Reveals About Hope and Faith

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We mere mortals often misunderstand sports stars.

We can’t help it. Their lives of money and fame seem glamorous in the extreme. They can fly anywhere they want in the off-season, and seemingly don’t bat an eye. They can drop hundreds of thousands of dollars in Las Vegas in a night, and walk away unscathed.

No mere mortal can understand that.

Yet there’s a more human side to these stars. They have hopes and dreams just like anyone else. They want to please their parents, just as most people do…and they want to do something special, something no one else expects them to do, just like everyone else.

In 1993, basketball star Michael Jordan seemingly had the world at his feet. His Chicago Bulls team had just won three NBA titles in a row. He was the best player in the NBA. And he’d just celebrated his enormous success with his teammates and his father, James Jordan.

Then his father James was murdered.

This threw Michael Jordan into a tailspin. He loved his father. Loved him without reservation. And without his father, life did not seem to have much savor.

All of this was chronicled at the time, mind. Michael Jordan’s relationship with his father was very well-known. And Michael Jordan’s grief was open and palpable — a wound that would not heal.

Then Michael Jordan did something completely unprecedented. In his prime, he walked away from the NBA — and became, of all things, a minor league baseball player. The Chicago White Sox organization signed Jordan, and assigned him to play in Double-A for the Birmingham Barons.

The conventional narrative was that Michael Jordan had completely lost his head. Why would anyone want to walk away from fame and glory, and put up with the indignity of striking out several times a night, much less having to ride a bus everywhere he needed to go rather than taking short plane rides on luxury jetliners?

The ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Jordan Rides the Bus discusses this time in Jordan’s life. It makes the case that Jordan’s odyssey in the minor leagues has been completely and totally misunderstood.

You see, at the time, sportswriters tended to believe that it was either all about Michael Jordan’s ego — the best basketball player in the world believing he could be just as good at baseball despite not playing it since high school — or that maybe Jordan had such a big gambling problem, then-NBA commissioner David Stern had unofficially given Jordan an ultimatum to stay away from the game for a year.

But neither of those things was true.

Jordan was grieving. He loved his father. And his father had asked him, apparently more than once, if he’d go play baseball again. His father must’ve remembered games Jordan played in high school, and believed that as an athlete, Jordan could compete at the highest level in any sport Jordan wanted to play.

But baseball is a game of timing. Repetition. Day after grinding day of hard work will lead to results, yes…but you have to be willing to put in that hard work.

The conventional wisdom was that Michael Jordan would not do that. He was a mega-star. So why should he?

Yet Jordan Rides the Bus disproves that theory, too. Michael Jordan actually worked hard every day, and improved so much that in the fall of 1994, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League — where the most talented prospects get sent — in order to keep working on his swing.

I also learned several other things about Michael Jordan from Jordan Rides the Bus that I’d sensed, but had never before been explained.

You see, even before James Jordan died, Michael Jordan had become burned out by the game of basketball. This may seem very strange to us mere mortals, but ask yourself this: Have you ever been burned out by something you love?

Then ask yourself this question: What would you do if you’d just lost the person you loved most in the world?

What Michael Jordan did is a testament to hope and faith. He somehow believed, deep inside, that trying something new was necessary, perhaps in order to help himself heal from the deep wounds inflicted by his father’s murder. He had to know that he’d not succeed immediately, and that perhaps he’d not succeed at all.

But he did it anyway.

He put up with the jeers from the sportswriters, who didn’t understand. He put up with the multitude of fans, some of whom assuredly asked him, “Why don’t you go back and play with the Bulls? You’re so good…why do this?” (And some, I’m sure, were not nearly that polite about it.) He put up with the difficulties of the minor leagues — the lousy hotels, the bad food, the long bus rides, the poor lighting of the ballparks.

And he did so with class and grace.

This was possibly the worst time in Michael Jordan’s life. So to embrace change, and turn it into something hopeful and optimistic, is a story worth telling.

Ultimately, Jordan did not become a major league baseball player. Instead, he went back to the Chicago Bulls and led them to three more championships. He resumed his place as the best player in the NBA.

But his coach, Phil Jackson, said that Jordan’s odyssey in baseball’s minor leagues made him “a better teammate,” and also quite possibly a better person. It reminded Jordan of how hard it was to become a professional athlete — something Jordan hadn’t thought about in a long time — and how much he’d taken for granted.

Hope. And faith.

Those two things can take you very far indeed, albeit not perhaps everywhere you want to go.

Even if you’re Michael Jordan.

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