Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Sarah A. Hoyt’ Category

Be Yourself, Be a Friend…

leave a comment »

Sometimes, when you’re someone’s friend, it’s not easy.

Maybe that person does something you don’t like, and you don’t know what to say. Or that person has political beliefs that shock you, or least surprise you…or that person insists on going his/her own way, calmly (but not quietly) pointing out the errors in your argument. Or maybe that person, who you thought was so much like yourself, turns out to be his/her own person after all…and while you want that, because who wants to live in an echo chamber, it can be quite disconcerting.

The best thing you can do, when you’re someone’s friend, is to listen. (It’s also the hardest, but it’s necessary.) Try not to pass judgment. Try to step into your friend’s shoes, and see whether or not you can find common ground; even if you can’t, the fact that you took the time to listen and care should matter.

None of us agree all the time. (Even my late husband and I had the rare — OK, extremely rare — disagreement.) So we’re going to have times where all we can do is listen, care, and agree to disagree.

Somehow, some way, we have to learn to be fine with this. And take people as they are, rather than how we’d like them to be.

That way, when you say something to your friend that’s shocking, or surprising, or (in contemporary parlance) a “buzz-kill,” maybe you’ll get the same courtesy.

Ultimately, it all comes down to one thing: Treat others the way you, yourself, want to be treated.

So if you want understanding, dignity, common courtesy, and respect, you’d best give that to your friends — and maybe even your enemies. (Capisce?)


Before I go, I wanted to make sure to ask my readers to say a quick prayer (or think good thoughts, or send positive energy, whatever you do in your own, personal belief system) for SF&F author Sarah A. Hoyt. She’s being kept overnight for observation at a Colorado hospital, and while her family is around her (which you’d expect, knowing Sarah at all), she needs all the good wishes, warm feelings and positive prayers she can get right now.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 3, 2016 at 12:39 am

Right Under the Wire, Barb Does the #SinCBlogHop!

with 5 comments

Folks, lately I’ve been getting tagged — informally or otherwise — by a number of wonderful writers in the hopes that people who otherwise have never heard of me, or my writing, might be interested enough to take a gander at my comic YA urban fantasy/mystery/romance novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

In this case, I was informally tagged by author Dora Machado, author of THE CURSE GIVER (a great fantasy/mystery in its own right). She told me about the Sisters in Crime Blog Hop (which is abbreviated as it’s shown above: #SinCBlogHop, presumably for Twitter purposes), and that she planned to do it if she could find the time . . . but that whether she did it or not, she felt I definitely should.

After our discussion, I went to the Sisters in Crime page that explains the blog hop, and decided for extra grins and giggles that I’d answer all of the questions — not just some.

So ready or not, here we go!

Question One: Which authors have inspired you?

Oh, that’s easy. The ones who have actively helped and inspired my work include Michael B. Caffrey, my late husband, my mentors Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn, and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, and friend and writing buddy Jason Cordova.

Or do you mean the writers I loved to read when I was growing up, who inspired me to tell my own stories? Those include Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Elizabeth Moon, and Lois McMaster Bujold.

Those are just some of the many wonderful writers who’ve inspired me in one form or another along the way.

Question Two: Which male authors write great female characters? Which female authors write great male characters?

The female author question is easier for me to answer, because it contains most of the same people I listed above: Andre Norton. Lois McMaster Bujold. Rosemary Edghill. Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. Stephanie Osborn. And Elizabeth Moon. All of them have written outstanding male characters as well as wonderful female characters.

Male authors writing female characters. Hm. Well, in military science fiction, the biggest example of that is David Weber, who has sold a boatload of books in his Honor Harrington series. (So he must be doing something right.)

However, another of my writer-friends, Christopher Nuttall, is also very, very good at writing female characters. His fantasy novels, in particular, are centered around strong, talented young women with heart and spirit, and are a joy to read. (Check out SCHOOLED IN MAGIC or BOOKWORM if you don’t believe me.)

Finally, Michael Z. Williamson has written a number of novels from a female perspective, and he gets the issues right. (For example, in FREEHOLD, his female character Kendra must find a brassiere with excellent support once she goes to the Freehold of Grainne, as Grainne has higher gravity than Earth and thus poses more of a challenge for a busty woman. Not every male author would think about that, much less understand what the problem was; kudos to “Mad Mike” for getting it right.)

Question Three: If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

Oh, boy.

First, I’d bite back an expletive of some sort. (I’m sure of this.)

Then I’d say, “Wow. You’re really missing out on a lot, then.” And I’d point to Rosemary Edghill’s work (again), this time to her three novels included in the BELL, BOOK, AND MURDER omnibus. Or maybe to her short-story collection FAILURE OF MOONLIGHT.

Or perhaps I’d ask this person if he’s read any of Sarah A. Hoyt’s work, as I’m definitely a SF&F genre writer. Most of her stories have some elements of mystery in there, and there’s a ton of action — guys who love shoot ’em up thrill-rides should be ecstatic with A FEW GOOD MEN or DARKSHIP THIEVES.

I mean, seriously. There are so many wonderful writers, why must anyone stay with only male authors? Must gender always win out? Can’t we see words for what they are, irrespective of the author’s gender?

Question Four: What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

The best part of the writing process is actually writing. When I have a story and am fully involved in it, the world is a better place — or at least it seems that way while I’m writing.

The most challenging part is coming up with ways to market my writing after the book is done and out. (No, this isn’t part of the writing process, and it’s just as well it’s not. But it’s still so very difficult that I felt I’d mention it anyway. I can see why big-name authors hire publicists.)

Question Five: Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist?

Yes, I listen to music while writing. It helps me attain “alpha state,” or whatever/wherever it is that I go when I’m writing.

What’s on my playlist? Usually a little Alice in Chains, a little Nirvana, a little Soundgarden . . . and a whole lot of Stabbing Westward. (What can I say? I like 1990s rock. A lot.)

Question Six: What books are on your nightstand right now?

(Note that this doesn’t count all the half-finished e-books on the figurative pile, or we’d be here all night.)

Question Seven: If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

I’d tell her that publishing is a very difficult and frustrating business, but not to give up. She needs to believe in herself and what she’s doing, and keep doing it as long as it takes . . . push until it gives, and then some.

Because the name of the game in publishing — and in life itself — is persistence. So do not give up.

Don’t ever give up.

This concludes my first-ever Sisters in Crime Blog Hop! And I do hope you enjoyed it! (Normally, I’d tag someone else — as that’s what a blog hop is all about — but as it’s the 30th already, please go check out some of the work of the fine authors I’ve mentioned above instead!)


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

leave a comment »

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!

PJ Media’s “Book Plug Friday” Plugs AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE…and My Editing

leave a comment »

Folks, not long after my book AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE came out, I asked the authors of PJ Media’s “Book Plug Friday” column, Sarah A. Hoyt and Charlie Martin, if my book could be plugged as I need all the help I can get.

You see, they’re known for such things. Mrs. Hoyt, in particular, has been very friendly to indie and small-press writers, and as such, I didn’t feel too uncomfortable approaching them.

But I didn’t get exactly what I asked for.

Nope — I got better than what I asked for instead. And as that was so unexpected, I figured I’d better come and write my own blog post about it right away, just to share the good news.

Yes, Ms. Hoyt and Mr. Martin plugged my book, as I’d asked. But they also plugged my editing, on the basis of Dora Machado’s guest blog that discussed her experiences with me as an editor.

This is completely unprecedented. I’m beyond astonished that both my novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and my editing skills were plugged at the same time.

Here’s the bit from this week’s “Book Plug Friday” column about my editing, as written by Mrs. Hoyt:

Then there is Barb Caffrey who has a testimonial from one of her clients. I’ve never worked with Barb, so I can’t personally recommend her.

Still, Ms. Hoyt told the world I edit, and told the world about Dora Machado’s guest blog — so I am extremely happy about that.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my editing, but do know about my writing, here’s what I do: conceptual editing, continuity reading, copy-editing, and proofreading.

Or, as I put it, “the whole enchilada.”

Prices are variable. I charge a lot more for conceptual editing than I do for a combination copy-edit and continuity read, and I charge a lot less for simple proofreading. I tend to charge “per project” rates, and am known to be quite reasonable as far as fees go . . . as far as my professional competence goes, in addition to Ms. Machado’s testimonial (as Mrs. Hoyt put it), I am currently on the editorial board of Twilight Times Books.

Please take a good look at this week’s “Book Plug Friday” column. They definitely helped me, and in more than one way . . . and as I truly wasn’t expecting the plug for my editing, of all things, I continue to be very, very well pleased.

Be sure to keep PJ Media’s “Book Plug Friday” column in mind if you’re an author, editor, proofreader, or graphic designer, among others.  Mrs. Hoyt and Mr. Martin are very willing to spread the word about whatever you’re doing that’s publishing-related, providing you follow their guidelines.

Just Reviewed Kowal’s Alternate Regencies; Fun Stuff

leave a comment »

Folks, as it’s July 5, 2012, and I’d promised the Shiny Book Review faithful a new review or two, I just reviewed both of Mary Robinette Kowal’s alternate Regencies, SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY and GLAMOUR IN GLASS.  Check out my review of both books here.

Now, what is it about the Regency period that makes for such great fantasy material?  In addition to Kowal’s two novels, I’ve seen several other really fine writers do some interesting things with either the Austen canon (not merely PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, which I viewed as kitsch, but Sarah A. Hoyt and Sofie Skapski’s excellent A TOUCH OF NIGHT, which incorporates Weres — shapechanging into animals — into PRIDE AND PREJUDICE without a hitch) or with the milieu itself (the two books by André Norton and Rosemary Edghill that comprise CAROLUS REX, THE SHADOW OF ALBION and LEOPARD IN EXILE, are both excellent).

I think the main reason novelists in and out of the romance genre have returned to this milieu is because of how unusual it seems to us in modern-day society.  The Regency era was much more formal in its speech than present-day English-speaking society, at least when it comes to middle class people and above.  The fashions people wore were much different.  The way people thought then has diverged just enough from today that it makes for fascinating reading . . . yet it’s not so far in the past that we have no referents whatsoever.

So my guess is, there’s a mixture of familiarity in what we see in the Regency period — comfort, if you will — and unfamiliarity, and that’s what these excellent novelists see in it.  Because if you’re writing fantasy, and you can come up with a great way to incorporate a fantasy element into this interesting, turbulent time, why not do it?

At any rate, if you love Jane Austen, love Austen pastiches, love Austen-inspired works, or simply love the Regency Era with fantasy idea as a whole, you’ll get a kick out of Kowal’s two alternate Regencies as they’re fun, fast, faithful reads that don’t cheat the reader.  But do yourself a favor, please:  read these other great books I’ve referenced, too, even if you have to go to the library to read the Norton-Edghill collaborations.  (You’ll be glad you did.)

Stay Away from Frontier Airlines, Says Sarah A. Hoyt

with 6 comments

Folks, go read this now:

Now that you’re back, here’s my comments.

Frontier tried hard in Sarah A. Hoyt’s experience to “frame the narrative” by blaming a hailstorm for causing massive travel interruptions five days later.  While this may be true to a degree (Frontier’s airline flight “fleet” is smaller than some), not telling travelers anything in advance — before they ever get to the airline — under these circumstances was wrong, stupid, pointless, and unnecessary.  Such an attempted narrative framing didn’t pass muster with a gifted editor and writer like Hoyt; they should’ve known better than to try.

And after reading Hoyt’s narrative, I need to ask this question:  why on Earth would anyone want to fly Frontier Airlines knowing that this had happened?  

You don’t need to be a SF&F fan to understand the problems here.  The level of indifference from Frontier’s employees that Hoyt reported is disgusting and shouldn’t be allowed to continue.  (And please, take it as read that I view Hoyt’s recollection as reliable.  She’s one of the “good ones.”  She’s not the type to stir up trouble just for the sake of it . . . though she won’t take garbage lying down and I don’t blame her at all.)

So, in the spirit of letting people know what has happened, even though I do not know Hoyt well (have reviewed some books of hers — excellent, all of ’em in any genre), I’m passing this along for your enlightenment. 

Considering it further, I can’t help but wonder why it was that these Frontier folks didn’t offer any hypoglycemic or diabetic-friendly snacks.  Not everyone is 15 — and even at that, some 15 year olds have juvenile diabetes, right?  So those people passing out granola bars and other sugary snacks while Hoyt was waiting in a three-hour long line just was stupid all the way around.  (Wouldn’t cheese and crackers have worked better?  Or even peanut butter and crackers?  How about some vegetables or even an apple or two?)

But that’s just one of the many stupidities Hoyt endured during her recent trip back from LibertyCon in Tennessee . . . awful, the whole thing.  Just awful.

The only good thing represented here is the comments section.  Did you notice the outstanding friends Hoyt has?   Kate Paulk.  Amanda Green.  Lin W. — probably a Baen Barfly.  Several other people I know by reputation or inference due to my previous incarnation as a Baen Barfly.

But that won’t make up for what Hoyt endured.  Nothing will, at this point.

At any rate, if I need to fly at all in the near future, I will definitely put Frontier Airlines far, far down the list.  I suggest you do the same.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm