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Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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Ill; Watching Brewers in Post-season

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For the past several days, I’ve been battling some sort of sinus issue, so getting up to watch the Milwaukee Brewers in post-season play was difficult even though it’s a real “happening” here in Wisconsin (partially due to its rarity; this is only the second time the Brewers have made the post-season since 1982).

While I’m not feeling at all up to snuff, I have to wonder what it’s like to play baseball when you aren’t feeling well, especially when it’s post-season time.  For example, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy admitted that he wasn’t feeling particularly well (he was quite hoarse) on the Brewers pre-game show carried by the Brewers Radio Network (I listen on the “flagship” station, WTMJ-AM 620 in Milwaukee), also with some sort of sinus issue.  Lucroy called it a “cold,” but if it’s anything like what I’ve been dealing with for several days, it’s not a minor problem — it causes a great deal of fatigue, it’s hard to breathe, and it has definitely gotten in my way.

Lucroy is catching his first major league baseball post-season game ever; to be ill while doing something so exciting must be intensely frustrating.  But so far, you’d never know he’s ill unless you listened to the Brewers pre-game show as the national announcers certainly haven’t said word one about it.

As for anything else, so far it looks like Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo is on his game; after a problematic first inning (where no runs scored only because Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun threw out an Arizona runner at home plate), he’s settled down and looks as good as I’ve seen him all year.  Which is good, because the Brewers’ bats have thus far been rather quiet; the only rally we’ve had so far was in the second inning due to a walk to Rickie Weeks and an infield hit to Jerry Hairston, Jr., who’s playing in place of the light-hitting Casey McGehee at third (while Weeks is in his customary place at second).

Anything can happen in the post-season . . . heck, anything can happen in baseball, as was shown on Wednesday night with some of the wildest season-ending games in baseball history.  But what I’d like to see are good, solid games that feature the Brewers at their best, with their pitchers and hitters both doing well. 

I know the Brewers’ opponent, the Arizona Diamondbacks, are a tough team with excellent outfield defense and better infield defense than the Brewers have; the D-backs also have quite a few home run hitters (they’re similar to the Brewers in that) and much better than average pitching.  But I believe if the Brewers play their best, they will vanquish Arizona; now, it’s just up to the Brewers to do what they do best, not have any mental let-downs, and play their game.  Providing they do that, I will be content.

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Personal update stuff:

As for me, despite feeling terrible, I managed to get a story off to the Writers of the Future contest yesterday about eight hours before the 9/30/11 11:59 PST deadline (no idea how good or bad the story is, but at least I finished it and sent it off).  I did some editing this week, too, and wrote one review last night; that, and this blog, and a few others on Wednesday (when I was feeling a little better) will probably have to stand for my writerly output this weekend unless something really outrageous, outlandish, or upsetting happens.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean the rest of my life just stops, but it does have to slow down when I feel like this.   (Live to fight another day, and all that.  Or in my case, write another day.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Tired, ill, and reading

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This past week hasn’t been one of my best.

As to what’s wrong?  Well, I hit the six years, six months mark in my grief observance . . . what a passive way to say that I’ve now been without my husband for over six years and six months.  And I hate it, but can’t do anything about it, save remember my beloved husband Michael as he was while he was alive — and know to the bottom of my soul that we will be together again in eternity if at all humanly possible.

Oh, yeah.  And I’ve been sick, too — sinus stuff and flu symptoms, which hasn’t stopped me from looking for work (and wouldn’t have stopped me from accepting a job had one been offered) . . . still no luck on the job front.

Before I go on, I wanted to mention the passing of Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to ever be nominated on a major party ticket for Vice President.  She’s still one of only two women to be nominated (Sarah Palin being the other) . . . Ms. Ferraro was a tough, strong, smart, capable and confident woman who would’ve made an exceptional Vice President and an even better President, had she ever had the opportunity. 

Ms. Ferraro was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton for President, and spoke for me as well as for many others after the 5/31/08 debacle that was the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee that decided the fate of Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic nomination — not at the hands of the voters, but instead at the hands of the DNC itself.  Ms. Ferraro was astonished and disgusted, and her clear, strong voice helped smooth the waters afterward and made our dissent as HRC Dems more forceful, coherent and logical.  I will miss Ms. Ferraro and her tenacity, and I hope “The Good Place (TM)” will appreciate Ms. Ferraro and bring her joy, peace and whatever else she wants as her productive and happy afterlife.

Now, on to less important stuff.

This past week I’ve read at least six books, most of which I’m going to review at Amazon.com and/or Shiny Book Review down the line.  The best of the lot was Louisa Young’s MY DEAR, I WANTED TO TELL YOU, as it’s a horrifically realistic portrait of World War I, but IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson was also very good and very horrifying, the latter book being about Ambassador to Germany William Dodd and his family, who served during 1933-1937 being stationed in Berlin and saw first-hand what was going on with Adolf Hitler, Josef Goebbels, and all the others.  The only book I really couldn’t get behind was Gina Showalter’s UNRAVELED, this being the sequel to INTERTWINED (I liked INTERTWINED, mind you) . . . just didn’t buy most of it, and the reason I didn’t buy it was that the characterization wasn’t as solid as in the previous novel.  (When your main character, Aden, is a guy with a bunch of dead people inside his head, you need to believe in him or the concept doesn’t work.  I bought it in INTERTWINED, didn’t buy it in UNRAVELED.  Would still give Ms. Showalter one more chance to sell me on this universe down the line, though, because of the previous, far-stronger novel.)

I’ve also had a problem recently in focusing my attention on one thing, or even on any ten things . . . I believe this is due to exhaustion, and being ill, and trying to pretend I’m neither one.

Well, the time for pretending is over; I hope by saying out loud, in public, even (as blogging is a public endeavor even if no one reads it but me), that I’m going to take some down-time if I can makes sense.

Other than that, I continue to watch Wisconsin politics.  The Governor’s budget repair bill was stalled in the courts, but the Republicans tried an unusual end-around that I’m not even sure I can describe — they believe by doing this rather odd thing (you have to publish a bill specifically by the Secretary of State’s office in Wisconsin or it’s not legal, and after it’s published it takes ten days to take effect; this hasn’t happened as a Dane County court enjoined that with a temporary restraining order, but a different place in the government has published the bill and the Republicans believe that’s enough and the bill — which stops the state from collectively bargaining with employees in public employee unions — is now law.  I have my doubts on that score but have no doubt — zero — that the original judge who gave the temporary restraining order will have more to say tomorrow and that any legal action will be officially blocked by five PM tomorrow.)  Note that the Wisconsin Republicans did this weird “end-around” thing after 5 PM on a Friday because they wanted to make positive news, such as it is, and mute the negative news a little . . . tomorrow I’m sure all the crap will hit the fan, again.

Oh, yeah.  I nearly forgot to add that one of my friends, whom I respect highly, has told me that he thinks I should not write the Elfyverse (my universe, my concept, my voice) or Michael’s universes (granted, all of those were Michael’s concept and me trying to match Michael’s voice, which is very tough) and instead should think of something else to write and do that.

Well, here’s my thought on that — it’s up to me what I do, and these days I’m glad to get any ideas at all.  If I can get one story consistently talking to me so I can do more with it, I’m going to work with it — whether it’s a new story, an existing story in my Elfyverse or an existing story in Michael’s, it doesn’t matter.  Only the strength of the story matters . . . I just hope I’ll start hearing something after I heal up a little, because right now none of my stories are talking to me, at all.

Note that I appreciate my friend for saying what he did even though I feel he’s flat wrong.  Being able to honestly communicate is important, even if you don’t always agree — probably because you can’t always agree, it’s important to have some real communication going on even if it’s, “I really don’t like what you’re doing, Barb, and wish you’d stop.”  (My response wouldn’t be printable, I’m afraid, but that’s the drawback to free, honest and open communication.)

Oh, and last, Writers of the Future bounced both of my stories out in the last two quarters . . . what else is new?

Writers of the Future bounces 3rd quarter story.

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Folks, some nights are beyond frustrating, and this is one of them.

The story I sent to WotF in the 3rd quarter is a Joey Maverick tale set in my late husband’s universe, with mostly his characters — this is the second tale, and for this one I’d added a great deal of things (more plot layers, a few new characters, deepening of the characters already there, some internal monologue).  And were Michael alive, it would’ve been Michael who’d sent this in (providing he wrote all this in, of course), and I’d have been the one checking the MSS — meaning I’d have caught stuff that apparently got by me this time.

All I was told was that my story (based on Michael’s “Maverick” universe) “didn’t go in double-spaced” (I thought it had; I know they want traditional MSS format, which is what I use constantly) and I noticed on the page they sent back (which indeed wasn’t double-spaced, though I haven’t a clue why at this remove) that it had the wrong header — which I know I fixed.  I was on my Mom’s computer at that point, not mine (Mom has air conditioning, and I don’t), and I know Mom’s computer can do some odd things to formatting.  That’s probably what happened to the headers  (I checked, but probably saw what I wanted to see; this is a failing).  But as for the double-spacing, I haven’t a clue.  Because I do know better.

At any rate, this is probably the best story I have ever sent them, and because of these two things, the story itself wasn’t considered.   I don’t blame them for this, because they get so many stories, they’re going to have to kick stuff out however they can — they once bounced “Trouble with Elfs” because they said the “protagonists’ ages (were) too young,” because they were teens, even though I’ve seen stories about teens in the WotF anthology before and probably will again.  That one frustrated me even more than this one, because it was perfectly formatted; fortunately, the story eventually sold in 2007.  (I sent it to WotF in 2004, long before Michael passed away.)

I sent them something for the September 30th ending quarter, but I have no hopes for that story (which means it’ll probably be the one that finally breaks through, right?) — this was the one I had the hopes for, not that one.

It frustrates me beyond belief to be thought of as someone who didn’t do her homework; I always double-space my manuscripts, from the start, and when I got the print-out off the printer, I looked at it — I’d checked.  It printed out double-spaced fine, for me.   I still have the copy I printed out, for comparison; it is double-spaced throughout.

Mind, I believe I will place “Joey Maverick: On Westmount Station” quickly, so all is not lost. 

But for a writer who’s doing her damndest to be professional in all her dealings, stupid crap like this bugs me.  It truly does.   And the only good thing stuff like this does is to remind me to check the formatting four or five times in short stories, and perhaps wait on the story a day if I have that time; you can call this a hard-won insight if you’d like, though I’m still mad as Hell at myself for not seeing this when I sent it in.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm