Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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Flu, Day 4, Plus Latest Guest Blog

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Folks, I remain mired in the flu.

Granted, it’s a little bit better than it was yesterday. But my voice remains awful (a friend called last night and was absolutely appalled at how much of a croak it sounds like right now), I’m still coughing more than not, am incredibly congested, and can actually point to each one of my ribs because each individual one hurts like fire.

Mind, it’s not as bad as it could be. So far, I don’t seem to have bronchitis or pneumonia, and as I’ve had both before, I think I’d know. And I am getting a little better; this is the second day in a row I’ve been able to get online and put up some form of a blog — though that’s probably more because of sheer cussedness on my part than anything else.

(Hey, at least I admit it.)

Because I have a new book out, CHANGING FACES, which I’ve talked about a great deal already, I hope I don’t have to give you all the links and all the blurbs and all that today.  (Scroll down and hit the back arrow if you want that, just this once. OK?)

Instead, I’d rather just give you this link, to a guest blog I did at Straight from the Author’s Mouth, and give you a bit of that to whet your interest:

This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

BC: That’s a tough one! (Laughs.) My dogs mostly do get their food on time, but it’s because about an hour before they’re usually fed, they come and put their heads on my lap, and give me the big, huge, puppy-dog eyes. I usually am working away, and I tell them, “It’s too early!” But they keep coming back, and keep nagging me, so they do tend to get fed on time.

This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?

BC: I’ve been nurturing one plant now for several years; it was planted in remembrance of my deceased Cocker spaniel, Blackie. I try to water it every couple of days, and tell it that Blackie would be pleased…I’m sure that plant is quite bemused with me, too! (Yes, I’m weird.)

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

BC: I got annoyed when anything took me out of the creative process, to be honest. It takes me a while to be fully immersed in the worlds I create, and anything that gets in the way of that feels like a full-on assault of the creative process. But after my initial annoyance, I usually apologize, because it’s not the fault of whoever interrupted that I’ve picked this career (or it picked me, rather).

Anyway, please go take a look at the latest guest blog, as there’s a lot more good stuff to read about there. Note that I can’t comment or do much other than let you know about it because Firefox and Google still aren’t playing well together, and no matter what I do to get rid of cookies out of the cache (isn’t that a lovely word, cache?), I just can’t share anything from that page.

So if you can, please do. And also, do let people know that my book is out…maybe some will see it as utter nonsense, but I hope most won’t. Love is love, and who cares about the outer packaging, anyway? (I sure as Hell don’t.)

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Written by Barb Caffrey

February 27, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa…(a CHANGING FACES Update)

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Folks, before I get into this update, I want to tell you a story.

Years ago and far away — Nebraska, to be exact — I was at a holiday party. I was drinking a little, and as I almost never drink, I wasn’t aware of how dumb I sounded nor how hurtful I was being. Worse yet, because of this one moment of stupidity on my part, I blew an important job interview as the person I was mouthing off to was the interviewer’s sister…and I set back progress in my life by years thereby.

I’m not proud of this.

At the time, I didn’t realize what I was doing. It took me months to figure out that the person I’d talked to was the interviewer’s sister at this party, and I never did apologize to her, or to the interviewer himself, partly because I didn’t know I should.

This time, I know better.

How does that get into the CHANGING FACES update, you ask? Well, it’s simple…recently, on Facebook, someone had asked me what was going on with regards to CHANGING FACES. I turned in my copy — technically a draft, though in actuality an extensive revision that took me over a year to complete — just before Thanksgiving. I had hoped at the time that I could still maybe get CF out by the end of the year, but I knew that because of the amount of time it took me to get this done, the chances weren’t good.

Then I got the news that most likely, CF will be out in February of 2017. Which actually makes sense in a wide number of ways, but at the time — I was sick, though again, that’s no excuse whatsoever — I was thinking, “Oh, my God/dess, I’ve missed the 2016 window completely. Damn it!”

But I didn’t say that on Facebook.

Instead, what I expressed was merely my frustration. Not the cause of it, especially the cause being myself, because I thought folks on my page knew this.

That was my first error, as I’ve known for a long time to never assume anything.

Worse yet, my publisher saw this, and was hurt by this, as she’d done nothing wrong whatsoever. I like my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, and consider her a friend. There’s no way in the world I’d ever want to hurt her feelings, especially considering how patient she was in waiting for me to turn in something that she could work with.

This was my second error.

But unlike my younger self, I take responsibility for the things I do and say that are wrong and hurtful, or at least woefully incomplete.

So, here’s the rest of the story.

Over the past year-plus, as I fought to keep from losing my home, as I fought to help my former house-mate, I struggled with CHANGING FACES. Every time I thought I had an epiphany, I’d get set back the next week or month with some other crises. And every time I made headway, I’d end up having yet another road block.

During this time, Lida was both encouraging and sympathetic. She didn’t have to be either of these things. But she was, which I truly appreciated.

Why did I say little about this at the time, and nothing at all about how encouraging Lida was the entire time? Because I didn’t want to dwell on the major problems I was trying to get past in this forum. I wanted to talk about something encouraging, uplifting, or at least something that was in the news that other people could relate to.

That, too, was an error.

I apologize for all of that. I know I’m better than that.

I’ve been very fortunate in my friends, and that includes my publisher, Lida Quillen. I am sorry to have not explained myself better and even more sorry I popped off during a moment of weakness. (That I further compounded my error by getting a friend of mine, doing his best to give sympathy, in trouble as well only gives me greater pain. And yes, I’ve already apologized to him, too, but that’s yet another story…and I hope that one doesn’t have to be explained in public.)

I can’t take that back now. But I can at least let you all know that Lida helped me enormously over the past difficult, challenging, and often intensely frustrating year.

So, the reason CHANGING FACES will be out in 2017 is because of me. No one else.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging, already in progress…

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 13, 2016 at 11:50 am

Two Articles of Interest to Share…

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Folks, I’ve been reading a number of interesting things lately, and today seems like a good time to share two of the most thought-provoking posts.

First, from the world of publishing, is an interview my friend Chris Nuttall did for the Observer. Chris talks about his career path as an indie writer, and discusses the insights he’s learned along the way — including the importance of cover art.

Do take a look at this interview, will you? (Mind, if you’re an author or editor or have anything to do with publishing, you’ll enjoy it a lot more…but even if you aren’t, you should find something that rivets your attention.)

Next, while I was rooting around the Observer, I found this post about the 2016 United States presidential election cycle, and about how it’s being actively shaped by corporate media interests to drive business interests. It is the author Ryan Holiday’s contention that neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump would be doing anywhere near as well if they weren’t being propped up, de facto, by the media because the media wants drama with a capital D. And the more serious candidates (like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush) just don’t give them “dirty laundry” the way they want and need (to misquote Don Henley’s old song).

Worse, because Clinton and Bush don’t give the media DRAMA, they aren’t getting covered in a substantial/substantive way.

Look. I love reality TV, in its place. But United States elections are not the time for reality TV.

As Mr. Holiday says in his article:

…atypical candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are effectively subsidized by the media in order to provide the story lines those outlets require to create the compelling spectacles they need to keep the cycle going and audiences hooked.

It is in this last area that we see the highest manipulation. In Donald Trump we have a candidate who has received so much  media coverage that he did not need to run his first TV campaign ad until January—some seven months after entering the race and five months after the first televised debate. Has anyone in history gotten as much free media coverage as Donald Trump?

Mr. Holiday’s article is a must-read, especially if you’re wondering just how and why it is that we’re stuck in a poisonous, destructive election cycle with very little focus on issues that matter and way too much focus on style and DRAMA.  (Note that “drama” is Mr. Holiday’s word, but it fits so well, I had to use it, too.)

Then, after you’ve read it, ask yourself this — is this any way to run a democracy?

Trying WattPad

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Folks, it’s no secret that I’m looking for more readers for my series about Bruno the Elfy and his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, Sarah. I’ve tried a number of things to get the word out about my writing, with mixed success…and sometimes, that makes me quite frustrated.

That said, I’ve heard some great things about WattPad, especially for urban fantasy authors. And after checking out the site, I decided to upload my first chapter of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE there, in the hopes it might garner a few reads, comments, and maybe even some reviews or sales down the road.

Now, why did I pick this novel rather than AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE to start with? I figured it might be an easier “get,” if that makes sense, because it’s obvious from the start that Bruno and Sarah are young, they are in love, and they are in a huge amount of trouble. For a young adult urban fantasy reader, that’s most of what they either want or need to see (along with the magical component, which both Bruno and Sarah have in spades).

Note that I discussed various methods of promotion with my publisher, Lida Quillen, months ago, and Lida assured me that anything I did was fine with her.

That’s why I posted the first chapter of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE at WattPad today. (Go take a look if you don’t believe me.)

So, for the next three weeks, I’m going to post my sample chapters. They are already up at the Twilight Times Books website, so if you’ve come to my blog looking for more of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, please go there forthwith and read the rest right now…and if that intrigues you, please go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or OmniLit and get yourself a copy of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE today.

Happy weekend, folks!

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

Guest Author Stephanie Osborn: Why I Like Writing Sherlock Holmes

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Folks, it is my great privilege today to welcome back author Stephanie Osborn to the Elfyverse.

Stephanie and I have known each other for several years, and she’s been a strong supporter of my writing from the get-go. But that’s not the main reason why I’m so happy to have her back today.

Nope.

Instead, it’s because she has a great new novel out called SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MUMMY’S CURSE. (Yes, when Shiny Book Review gets back up and running, I definitely plan to review her novel soonest.) And I asked her if she wanted to stop by and discuss her novel, and anything else she felt like talking about…thus this post, about why she adores writing about one of the world’s most beloved characters, Sherlock Holmes himself.

Take it away, Stephanie! (And do go buy her book.)

——————————————————————————————————————-

Why I Like Writing Sherlock Holmes

By Stephanie Osborn

I like Sherlock Holmes. Pretty much have, from the time I was a kid – though my first encounter with him was nearly my last.

See, someone gave me a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles for my birthday, when I was all of maybe 8 years old. I loved Holmes, but think about it: An 8-year-old kid with a vivid imagination, who dreams in color, and who has what would later be diagnosed as anxiety disorder, reading about a spectral cu sidhe that goes around killing members of an aristocratic family? Yeaaaaaah, no. It was years before I FINISHED the book, let alone picked up another Sherlock Holmes story.

But when I did, I kinda went nuts. I discovered that big ol’ compendium – you know the one, with the mustard and rust colored dust jacket – in my high school library, and I checked it out and kept it until I read the whole thing, cover to cover. Twice. And then I wrote my first ever pastiche.

It was a short story. I don’t even remember now what it was about; this was well before the days of personal computers, and I had to get Mom to type it up on the electric typewriter. (Yeah, so I’m old. Sue me.) And I submitted it to the school literary magazine…

…Which threw it out. First ever rejection notice and I wasn’t even out of high school. And it was a HIGH SCHOOL PUBLICATION. Problem was, the submissions were blind-judged – nobody knew who’d written anything – and the English Lit teacher, in her “superior knowledge,” decreed it was a direct, word-for-word plagiarism of one of Doyle’s actual stories. (No, she didn’t even try to check that big ol’ mustard-and-rust compendium.) At the end of the year, she discovered that I was the one who wrote it and she knew, straight-laced kid that I was, that I would never have plagiarized it. She also knew that I had the ability to write something like that.

I don’t think the story was that great, to be honest. I didn’t at the time. In fact, today I don’t remember the name of the story, or even the plot. See, I was still learning how to put stuff like that together, and I knew there were some plot holes when I wrote it, though I disguised ‘em well. But it was still pretty good for a kid that age, if I do say so. I think the whole episode might say more about the teacher than about my story, but hey.

And I watched the various and sundry films. I would have liked the Rathbone films better, I think, if Nigel Bruce hadn’t played Watson as a bumbling oaf; I simply couldn’t stomach that characterization, and it spoiled the films for me. Some years later, I discovered Jeremy Brett’s Holmes…and Holmes came to life for me. But I never tried my hand at another Holmes story.

Until I was already in the whole writing/publishing milieu. I picked up an anthology of Holmes science fiction and loved it. I thought it was something I’d probably adore writing. But it was all Victorian, and I tended (at that time) to feel a bit limited by Victorian science. It’s pre-relativity, pre-quantum mechanics, pre-everything that makes modern science and science fiction so very…out there. And after all, I AM a scientist.

Long story short, I worked out a way to bring a version of Holmes to the modern day from an alternate reality’s Victorian era, and The Displaced Detective series was born.

Enter this guy named Tommy Hancock. Tommy happens to be the co-publisher and editor in chief of Pro Se Press, one of the movers and shakers in the New Pulp movement. Turns out he’s a fan of the Displaced Detective. So he approached me at a science fiction convention, and asked me to write Holmes for him – only he wanted a more traditional, Holmes and Watson in Victorian Britain, kind of story. So we sat down and talked. We decided what we’d do would be to create a prequel series to the Displaced Detective, so that alternate-reality version of Holmes would have chronicles of his past, with “his” Watson in his original continuum. And so the Gentleman Aegis series was born.

Mummys curse 300Book 1 of that series was just released: Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse. So what is it about?

Holmes and Watson. Two names forever linked by mystery and danger from the beginning.

Within the first year of their friendship and while both are young men, Holmes and Watson are still finding their way in the world, with all the troubles that such young men usually have: Financial straits, troubles of the female persuasion, hazings, misunderstandings between friends, and more. Watson’s Afghan wounds are still tender, his health not yet fully recovered, and there can be no consideration of his beginning a new practice as yet. Holmes, in his turn, is still struggling to found the new profession of consulting detective. Not yet truly established in London, let alone with the reputations they will one day possess, they are between cases and at loose ends when Holmes’ old professor of archaeology contacts him.

Professor Willingham Whitesell makes an appeal to Holmes’ unusual skill set and a request. Holmes is to bring Watson to serve as the dig team’s physician and come to Egypt at once to translate hieroglyphics for his prestigious archaeological dig. There in the wilds of the Egyptian desert, plagued by heat, dust, drought and cobras, the team hopes to find the very first Pharaoh. Instead, they find something very different…

I do hope you like it. I certainly had a great time writing it.

~~~

Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a 20+-year space program veteran, with degrees in astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, “fluent” in others, including geology and anatomy. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to some two dozen books, including celebrated Burnout and the Displaced Detective and Gentleman Aegis series.

~~~

Purchase links for Mummy’s Curse:

Amazon print: http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Mummys-Curse-Gentleman/dp/1518883125/ref=sr_1_3_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446569718&sr=8-3&keywords=sherlock+holmes+and+the+mummy%27s+curse

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Mummys-Stephanie-Osborn-ebook/dp/B017IX33NW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446593931&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=sherlock+holmes+and+the+mummy%27s+curse%C2%94+stephanie+osborn

Smashwords electronic (epub/mobi/pdf): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/590130

Pro Se Press: http://prose-press.com/blog/2015/11/3/author-stephanie-osborn-debuts-new-holmes-series-sherlock-holmes-and-the-mummys-curse-debuts

~~~

Displaced Detective book 1: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Arrival/dp/1606191896/

Displaced Detective Omnibus: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Omnibus-ebook/dp/B00FOR5LJ4/

Displaced Detective book 5: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Spontaneous-Combustion-Displaced-Detective-ebook/dp/B00K98AI6Y/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51RvnSdsIVL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR104%2C160_&refRID=1AB9HXZQEH5DP0H06Z7W

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 9, 2015 at 3:29 am

Odds and Ends, October 2014 Edition

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Today’s post is mostly one of odds and ends, with a bunch of minor updates and some other stuff that may be of interest only to me . . . so let’s get to it!

First, Dora Machado (author of the epic fantasy romance The Curse Giver) has now posted her blog post for the Sisters in Crime Blog Hop, and it’s available here. So please do go to her blog to see her answers for three questions, as they’re quite enlightening.

Second, in my blog post for the Sisters in Crime Blog Hop, I inadvertently left off another male writer who writes female characters extremely well. That author is Jeffrey Getzin, and my favorite novella of his is Shara and the Haunted Village. But his work in A Lesson for the Cyclops and the full-length, action-filled novel Prince of Bryanae (starring the very female Willow the Elf, no one’s plaything) is tremendous, and his newest novel, King of Bryanae, also stars Willow (read an excerpt from Jeff’s latest novel here).

Third, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals, winners of the National League and American League Wild Card games, respectively. Best of luck to them throughout the playoffs!

(Before I forget, my end-of-the-season wrap-up post regarding my favorite baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, will be up on Sunday.)

Fourth, I’ve been writing and editing a great deal this week, as much as I can considering my ongoing surgical recovery. (It supposedly takes six weeks to be back to normal. We’ll see.) And I sent another story to the Writers of the Future Contest; may it do well!

Fifth, my car is at the local Hyundai dealership and the diagnosis of transmission failure due to a cracked transmission casing has been confirmed. Now it’s up to Hyundai as to whether or not they will cover the cost of the repair, considering the fact that I did try hard to get it taken care of when it was still under warranty (it’s just that the previous dealership didn’t want to be bothered, that’s all).

Let us hope I will get my car back, fully repaired, and soon!

Sixth and last, I hope to get a review up over at Shiny Book Review this weekend. It still may not be Michael Z. Williamson’s FREEHOLD, as I have a lot to say about that book and want to make sure everything is set in my head before I begin. (Mind, I would be astonished if any fans of “Mad Mike” or his novel will be upset by what I have to say. But I want to make sure I am well enough to make sense when I say it.)

So that’s about it. (Any questions?)

Labor Day Book Sale (Not Mine)…and Other Stuff

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Folks, Saturday was one of those days around Chez Caffrey.

Why? Well, Saturday was the day my car decided to stop running. And this looks to be a major repair, something I had not been expecting as I bought the car in late 2011 used with just under 40K miles on it from a reputable local auto dealer, am now up to 67K miles or thereabouts, and it was under warranty for the first 60K miles.

So my car is a piddly seven thousand miles over the extended warranty. And it’s now facing a major repair, cost as yet unknown as it’s a holiday weekend and there’s no way I can get an estimate until the garage I frequent opens on Tuesday morning.

This was obviously not in my plans, to put it mildly.

And because of this unexpected, unanticipated problem, the review I’d hoped to write over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short) had to be postponed yet again. (Now I hope to write something next Wednesday evening, as that’s the best available day for me to write a book review next week.)

Anyway, I’d much rather talk about books — and most particularly, sales on those same books — than car repairs any day. So let’s get to it!

Writer Amanda S. Green has listed a number of writers — quite a healthy number, in fact — who have priced their novels, novellas, and stories at $2.99 or less for the entirety of Labor Day weekend. This is called the Labor Day Weekend Promotional Sale (or as I put it, the 2014 Labor Day book sale, for short), and features many authors whose work I’ve either reviewed over at SBR or who I’ve known for years, one way or another, including:

And, of course, Ms. Green herself (among many, many others — way too many to list).**

Now, just in case you’re wondering what kinds of stories are available, here’s just a few of the categories available:

  • Urban Fantasy (what, you thought I was going to list anything else in the first position, being an urban fantasist myself? For shame.)
  • Romance of all sorts (including paranormal)
  • Alternate History
  • Horror
  • hard SF
  • military SF
  • fantasy (dark and bright)
  • nonfiction

. . . and much, much more!

And did I mention that all of these stories are available for $2.99 or less? (Yes? Well, I’m excited about that, so it’s not surprising.)

Please go and check out Amanda Green’s page listing all of the books taking part in the 2014 Labor Day book sale. Because who knows? You may just find yourself a new, favorite author, all because of your love of cheap books. (Who said being cheap can’t pay off?)

———-

** I like book sales, whether I’m a part of them or not. Hope you do, too!