Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Enough is Enough I was Sexually Assaulted at Work

with 21 comments

I am sharing this to boost the frequency. This poor teacher was assaulted by a student, didn’t get any help at all, and many students filmed this. (I said in a comment that I hope this will get her some sort of vindication.)

Teachers have a tough job. When they get assaulted, the police need to get there. (Whether they are upset at the school board for removing the police in the schools or not, what does that have to do with this poor woman?) When they file a report, the report should be filed properly. And when they tell their higher-ups (school principals and vice principals, probably), they should not only be believed, but should be helped so this will never happen again.


Yesterday I texted a fellow union representative to ask how she was doing. I had heard there was a pretty big assault at her building and wanted to lend support. I was stunned when she replied. “I am not ok, I was sexually assaulted.” I told her that I would do anything I could to help her, and offered my blog as a way to share what happened. These are her words. This is her story.

On Friday, October 8, 2021, I was sexually assaulted at work.

After calling 911 repeatedly, reporting in person to the Public Safety Building, and waiting 7 hours to file my police report, I’ve been told that it’s now missing.

I was failed by my workplace and again by my city.

I have nowhere left to turn.

This is my story.

I am a high school English teacher in Rochester, New York.

I work in…

View original post 979 more words

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 21, 2021 at 11:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

On Getting Your Work Noticed (Just an Observation)

with 2 comments

This is an excellent summation of the various things writers think about when they put their work out there. (Especially when they work hard and don’t get noticed. I have to admit a lot of my writing has fallen into this category as well.)

The best point here, IMHO, is that what you do is meaningful not just to you, but to posterity. (No, it’s not vanity if you want to make your mark. Even if your mark gets lost in all the other marks out there.)

Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

The end of an edit / re-write beckons; approximately 11.5% of some 248,000+ words left to ‘listen’ to and ponder over. Word is not happy with the weight I have placed upon it, pretending to lose the Dictionary additions, altering margins and spacing at random intervals, changing the Spellcheck to another language, failure to comprehend any literary constructs apart from business speak; the usual protests against an unprofessional artistic use of its programmes. BUT my trusty memory stick is ever at my side reminiscent of a faithful hound, lest Word pulls its most evil of tricks and crashes the whole work (which it dallied with back in July).

Thus this will conclude a work in three parts which will in total tally up 600,000 + words and has taken somewhere around six years to complete. A time in which edits, proof-reading and re-writes were all done within my own bubble…

View original post 989 more words

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 7, 2021 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Kindness Matters

with 10 comments

Folks, the last week has been often frustrating. The news — particularly the airlifts from Afghanistan after the collapse of their government, and the pullout of American troops — has been depressing in the extreme. And it’s seemed that nothing I can do — or that anyone could do — will matter.

That is an illusion. (Granted, one that’s particularly difficult to fight.)


Well, kindness matters. And one action — one kind thought, word, or deed — can change things for the better.

For example, some of the folks airlifted from Afghanistan are being housed, temporarily, at Fort McCoy up in Sparta, WI. (It’s actually kind of in between Sparta and Tomah. Both are smallish communities.) There are opportunities there to help the Afghani refugees; money is already being collected, I read at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, to help them acclimate to the United States. (I saw $50 increments, perhaps as gift cards to Target or Walmart, being suggested. But I’d imagine smaller amounts of money will also help, and I’m actively looking for ways to put my small amount of money with other people’s small amounts of money…again, I digress.)

These are kind acts for people who’ve lost everything, including their own culture and language.

(Yes, Americans are also being airlifted from Afghanistan, along with at-risk Afghani people such as former translators and others who worked with the U.S. government. But the Americans know how to acclimate. The Afghanis don’t.)

There are other kind things that you, or I, can do today.

“Barb, what are they? Since you won’t get off this subject, I may as well ask,” you say, in resignation.

Well, they start with talking to a friend you don’t often get to spend time with. (I did that last night. My friend and I chatted as I did laundry at the laundromat, by phone. Too bad I couldn’t do laundry by phone. Ah, well. Better get back to the blog…) Or, if you’re in the grocery store, helping someone who is a bit short with buying groceries to get what they need. (Only do this if you, yourself, can afford it.) Or maybe even something as simple as opening up an umbrella, and letting a stranger share with you, in a downpour…the options are endless, providing you keep an open mind and vow to do unto others as they’d do unto you. (Or as the Wiccans say, “An ye harm none, do what thou wilt.” It’s much the same philosophy.)

Ultimately, kindness is one of the strongest forces in the universe. It may not seem that way, with endless bad news happening day after day, from the never-ending pandemic to the Afghanistan mess to various state legislatures contemplating their own navels rather than trying to do anything productive. But without kindness, what would be the point?

After all, love starts with an act of kindness most of the time, doesn’t it? (It would be very, very odd if love started with acts of indifference. Or worse, outright hatred.)

Love is the strongest thing there is. But kindness, charity toward others, and the willingness to care even when all seems lost — as those poor Afghanis still undoubtedly care, up at Fort McCoy, getting used to a place they’d never before envisioned — is a close second.

So, whatever you do today, do it with kindness. Try to help a friend. Or even a stranger. But do it, because it’s the right thing to do.

Further the writer sayeth not.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 23, 2021 at 5:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Computer Change Blues

with one comment

This past week, I had to change computers again.

As one of my Facebook friends said, this is a First World problem. That being said, it is still difficult to deal with, and I am not at my best in the first place due to the summertime exacerbation of my asthma and allergies.

Anyway, I have hopes of blogging about George Phillies’ new novel, STAND AGAINST THE LIGHT, later this week. It’s a very good young adult story about a young girl, Eclipse, who has superhero-type powers, and is the only one who can save two different worlds. (While her world understands superheroes, to the point there are many of them at various strengths and levels, very few have her level of gifts or compassion for the less fortunate.) Eclipse has faced adversity, has survived it, but now faces the toughest test of all. And the question isn’t so much “will she survive it” as “if she doesn’t survive it, will the world last long enough to matter?”

Putting a twelve-year-old girl into a situation like that isn’t easy, but I thought George managed it very well. This is the third book in his series about Eclipse, and I can’t wait to read the fourth. (If I’m very lucky, I hope to edit again for him, too.)

So, that’s all I can tell you. I’m dealing with “computer changeover” woes, to the point I want to tear my hair out and start throwing things (well, not really; I’m more mature than that, I hope), and my own writing remains mostly stalled out. But I can still help a friend or two…and I will continue to do what I can, as I can, for as long as I can.

As always.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 1, 2021 at 3:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Too Warm, Too Humid…

with 4 comments

Folks, the weather in Wisconsin is brutal right now. Way too hot. Way too humid.

I have asthma. (I don’t normally talk much about this.) This weather is particularly bad for me, especially as we’ve had high ozone/poor air quality days recently.

All I know is, when I can’t breathe well, I can’t write or edit. Nor can I play music, compose music, or do much of anything other than endure.

That said, I hope to be able to write something more substantial than “I do not feel well at all” in a few days, as I have managed to get to some air conditioning.

Take care, be safe, and I hope to blog again soon about something inspiring…or at least something different.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 5, 2021 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Fantastic Schools 3 is out…and my newest Elfyverse short story is included

with 4 comments

Sorry about the long title, there, but I couldn’t figure out any other way…ahem.

As the title says, FANTASTIC SCHOOLS 3 is out. This is an anthology about magical schools — things that happen in them, around them, to people who go there, etc.

“But what about your story, Barb?” I can picture some of you asking, plaintively. “You haven’t had any stories, books, or anything come out in the last two years. Why didn’t you tell us sooner you were going to have one come out right now?”

Well, the main reason for that is, I’d hoped to have this story finished in time for the previous book in the series, FANTASTIC SCHOOLS 2. It wasn’t, though…still, I didn’t give up on my idea, as I knew it would work.

“Details, Barb! What idea? What would work?”

My story is called “How Jon Came to Put Chickens on the Ceiling, as Told by Master Magician Roberto the Wise.” Roberto, you may recall, is Bruno’s mentor in the two Elfy books, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE. Roberto obviously knew more than he was letting on about Bruno’s ability, and I’d always wondered why that was. I’d also always wondered just how Bruno (Jon, as he was, then) figured out how to put chickens on the ceiling…and now, I know!

See, I knew Bruno (born as Jon) was stifled, as a child. He was stifled at the magical school he was at — St. Robin Goodfellow’s School for Scions of the Nobility and Other Unfortunates — because most of the teachers, except for Roberto of course, were afraid of Bruno’s potential power.

But how was it that Roberto gave Bruno just enough help to figure out what and who he was? This story will tell you that.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

“You have a gift, Jon. You can do things by instinct that other people can’t no matter how long they study. And what you just did proves that.”

Jon still didn’t seem to understand.

Roberto tried one more time. “I’m betting if I gave you something to transfigure, you could turn it into bird seed, too. Couldn’t you?”

Jon looked at the apple, held it, held some bird seed, closed his eyes…and magically, the apple became more bird seed.

“See? I could not have done that.”

Jon’s eyes were round behind his thick glasses. “I did that?”

“You certainly did. And there’s more where that came from, too.”

I hope you enjoyed that excerpt, and will head on over to Amazon to get the ebook right now. Many hours of reading await, with lots of excellent stories from authors J.F. Posthumus, George Phillies, Emily Martha Sorensen, and more!

Oh, yes…and don’t miss Chris Nuttall’s latest novella from his Schooled in Magic universe, “The Cunning Man’s Tale.” (I keep trying to get him to turn that story into a novel. Maybe he will, one of these years.) That one will surprise you (in a good way), especially if you haven’t been keeping tabs on his blog lately.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 27, 2021 at 11:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Still Alive, Part the Nth

leave a comment »

Folks, I have continued to struggle with my health, so my blogging has been more sporadic than not.

Of course, I’ve also had quite a few edits to work on, too. A few of these books have come out, too, and recently — DRAKE’S DRUM by Chris Nuttall, and RING OF THE DRAGON by Kayelle Allen being just two. (Kayelle has three recent books, and all are excellent. Chris, as is his wont, has at least six recent books, and all are interesting, with different facets of life illuminated.)

So, I’m living life as best I can.

You see, life doesn’t stop after it’s thrown you a curveball. Instead, it watches to see if you can hit the curveball, miss the curveball before it hits you, or adapt to the curveball so you’ll eventually hit it. (Or at least look good while you flail away and miss.)

But I’m still alive. Still in there, fighting. Still doing what I can. And resting when need be, so I can get some writing in along with the editing and other necessary things (like laundry; when someone finally invents self-cleaning clothes, the world should rejoice).

What’s going on with you? (Tell me about it in the comments!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 26, 2021 at 3:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Words of Wisdom from Lee and Miller’s “Trader’s Leap”

with 6 comments

Folks, as you know, I have been battling a mystery illness for quite some time. (Several months, minimum.) So when I read something recently in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s newest Liaden Universe ™ novel TRADER’S LEAP that applied, I knew I had to come here and let you all know about it.

Here’s the quote that resonated so much with me, I’ve read and re-read it several times (along with the entire book, of course) over the past few days:

“You will pursue all necessary tasks tomorrow,” Lute told him. “Nothing will be lost by caring for yourself. Learn some little wisdom while you sleep. You endanger all and everything by ignoring your hurts.”

TRADER’S LEAP, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, p. 124

Now, you might be asking, “Barb, why did that quote resonate with you so much? It’s not just about your health, is it?”

I think it resonated so very much because I’ve been attempting to juggle five different edits for the past several weeks. Every time I finish an edit, it seems like two more pop up. And while this is wonderful from a work perspective — it means my edits are gaining some small notice, and that people are in general happy with my work — it can be challenging to listen to my body and rest when it tells me to, even when I’m not sick.

When I read this anew, several days ago, I’d just been diagnosed with another sinus infection. This one was bad enough that it had set off several wicked migraines (worse than usual), and I was given prednisone along with antibiotics. (Prednisone is a steroid that’s intended to help you breathe easier. It also ups your appetite and allows you to have a bit of energy, as for the moment your illness is muted by its effects.) I needed to read, just in that moment, those words of wisdom from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

See, fiction can still illuminate our present problems, and sometimes offer viable solutions. (Even if, as in this case, the solution is to rest.) We can see ourselves, reflected. And though it is entertainment — how not? — it also can give you heart’s ease, solace, a few good laughs, and divert you from your pain and problems for a few, short hours.

Many people, due to complications from Covid-19 or other illnesses exacerbated by the global pandemic of the last year-plus, are hurting right now. Some of us, myself included, do not want to rest, even when we need it. I know that I, myself, am afraid that if I rest, I’ll make matters even worse. (It’s not logical, no. But it’s very human.)

That’s why reading the page above, and being reminded that resting is essential in order to fully heal up, made me want to stand up and cheer.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 15, 2021 at 8:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Easter! Remember Your Lessons…

with 9 comments

Folks, every year I try to write something around Easter. I believe in forgiveness and love, and I especially want to believe in hope…and Jesus’s resurrection after three days of being dead ticks all three boxes.

How, you may ask?

First, if Jesus hadn’t forgiven those who killed him — nailed him to the cross and let him starve in agony and pain — he’d not have risen. (Or, for my Pagan friends who are more NeoPagan than myself, we’d not have this particular legend/belief system. I think Jesus lived and came to help us figure out how to love one another. But I digress.)

Second, if Jesus hadn’t loved his friends, family, and by extension everyone else, he’d never have let himself be nailed to that cross at all. He could’ve easily avoided that fate from everything we know in the Bible. He chose to do this, and he also chose to raise up after three days, to let his loved ones (friends, family, and again by extension everyone else) know that his soul was alive, well, and at peace.

Third, the three women at Jesus’s gravesite (or cave, if you will), were there out of love for Jesus. They had no idea that he’d rise from the grave. They had absolutely no expectation of that at all. But they were there to honor their friend and loved one, and to pay witness to his life.

Jesus rising from the dead, being resurrected, told them that what they did was the right thing. (They didn’t need to know that, perhaps, but it was still nice to know.) And it gave them hope that no matter what happened in our lives, we could still be redeemed.

There’s more to the hope than that, of course. The three women had hoped Jesus, on the Other Side (however they thought of the afterlife), would not forget them. They also had assuredly hoped that Jesus would be out of pain.

Their hopes — all three of them — were rewarded.

And there’s a lesson in that, which goes like this: sometimes, no matter how bad things look, you have to keep hope alive. You have to believe that what you’re doing matters. And you have to also believe that caring, love, honor, etc., are all worthwhile in and of themselves.

“But Barb,” you protest. “Easter is about much more than that!”

So it is. But this is the best way I have to explain how I think of it.

I am more NeoPagan than not, in case you haven’t figured that out. But I still honor Jesus, because he and his example were necessary for this world. We needed to be led out of darkness. And he is among several others in various faiths and belief systems who has helped over time to give us as a species the belief that we can become kinder, wiser, gentler, and more observant in our faith/belief system.

So, this Easter season, do your best to be kind. Even if you feel those around you don’t deserve it. And if you’re able, forgive your trespassers/debtors, too…because releasing the anger you have at them will free up more positive energy for you to do something with, if nothing else. (Hey, self-centeredness works as a reason if nothing else does. But eventually, I hope you can come to see everyone as a person — no matter what they’ve done — and worthy of redemption and care.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 4, 2021 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Yes, I’m Alive (Really)…

with 11 comments

Folks, the last few weeks haven’t been much fun at Chez Caffrey.

First, I’ve been dealing with some sort of digestive issue, so it’s not easy to eat much or keep it down. No one has any idea what this is about as of yet, though they did find out I have gallstones. (However, the surgeon I consulted said he felt it was an “incidental finding” and the gall bladder should remain inside my body rather than yanked.)

Second, because I haven’t been able to eat as well as I’d like, my energy has been affected. This means the five — yes, five — editing projects on the table have all been slowed. (I haven’t stopped, though. I am still working on them, and two are close to completion, while the others are all in various stages.)

Third, because of all this, my online time has been much less than usual. And that time mostly has gone into reassuring my clients that I’m not dead and am doing the best I can.

I legitimately have felt too awful to even write a short bloglet for you all, to let you know what’s been going on. Everything seems like it’s been a big blur since I was in the ER a week-plus ago, when they found the gallstones.

But that’s only a rationalization. And I think you, my readers, deserve more than that.

When I started this blog nearly eleven years ago, I vowed to myself to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so help me Deity) even when I felt rotten. I wanted others out there to know that they weren’t alone if they were battling physical illnesses; I wanted others to know that I, too, understood.

In that vein, I am openly admitting that my health has been rock-bottom bad for the last three weeks or so. I have no answers for what’s wrong. And it’s been all I can do to get out of the house a few times a week, go see my Mom and her dog as per usual, and carry on.

I am extremely frustrated by this as-yet unknown illness. If I had my druthers, I would wake up tomorrow free of it, with boundless energy, and be able to spend many hours editing, then going over to see my Mom, then come back and do many more hours of editing. I pride myself on getting things done, dammit, and this is no way to get stuff done.

That said, I am alive. And where there’s life, there’s hope.

I hope to be back writing more blogs about books, life, the universe, and everything ASAP. But for now, I’d best go back to rest a bit, so I can edit and get a few of these projects out the door. (My clients depend on me. I’d better step up and get it done, no matter what.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 29, 2021 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized