Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Eric Flint

Sunday Musings: Why should you help a widow? (Or widower?)

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Folks, my last blog asked you to please help Eric Flint’s wife, Lucille, in her time of need. (I was one of many people asking for people to help.) She received an outpouring of financial support, and the GoFundMe for Eric’s final expenses has been closed.

Thank you all.

That said, there are still other things to be done to help her, or other widows/widowers suffering from the loss of their spouse.

First, though, I wanted to answer this (somewhat obvious) question: Why should you help a widow or widower?

I’ve thought a lot about this question in the intervening years since Michael’s passing. And I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why you should always help a grieving widow or widower — any grieving widow or widower, whether you like them personally or not.

When you’ve been newly widowed, you are exceptionally vulnerable. All of your support, all of the love you had that you had freely shared with your spouse, is suddenly gone. That love has no place to go. And worst of all, you are often misunderstood when you try to express your grief in any way, shape, or form.

It’s incredibly difficult to deal with the world when you’re in deep shock, suffering with the worst wound you’ve ever had. That’s just a fact.

Everything seems unreal. Nothing feels the same. It’s very hard to go on, alone except for memories (and, if you’re like me, the knowledge that the spirit is eternal and that you will eventually be reunited in joy somewhere/somewhen again).

We all grieve differently, but what I just said tends to be in common for nearly any grieving widow/widower if they deeply loved their spouse.

Anyway, I wanted to talk more about Eric’s wife and widow, Lucille, at this point. I do not know Lucille except for that one meeting in 2002 I’ve previously discussed (and there, I asked Eric a question; I should’ve asked her one, too, in retrospect, but I didn’t think of it). But I do know that if I were within a hundred miles of where she is (I’m not), I would try to bring her a cooked meal or two. Or volunteer to run errands.

And if I knew her better, I’d offer to listen to her talk at any time of the day or night.

Lucille is a valuable person in her own right. Yet if she’s anything like me, or the other widows and widowers I’ve known, she’s not going to be able to feel that for quite some time.

She deserves to be helped in as many ways as possible in whatever way she’ll allow on any given day. She should be given all available love, stamina, support, and whatever other good things she can possibly be helped with for as long of a time as she needs.

Her loss should be respected.

People should talk with her about Eric, as soon as she’s able to do that (or wishes to do that). He was her favorite person in this world. It’s unlikely she’ll want to stop talking about him, merely because his Earthly presence is gone.

Give her time, space, if she needs that. (I know this seems contradictory, but much about grief seems contradictory, too.) But help her as much as you possibly can, those of you who know her best. (I will help, too, if I ever get a chance to meet her again, and if she allows.)

In other words, while monetary help is great, it’s not the only way to help a grieving widow or widower.

Now to a bit more personal stuff, about my own feelings regarding being a widow.

Those of you who have met me, in person, or even have known me through my blog or my books, should know how much I value — and will always value — my marriage to the most wonderful man in the world, Michael B. Caffrey. I had some monetary support at the time of his passing, enough to help me buy an obituary for him, and help to pay for his funeral expenses. I appreciated that, too, at the time.

But no one knew how to help me with my grief. (My grief was so bad, a grief-support group sent me away.)

My family understood that Michael’s death was a huge loss. They didn’t have any idea how to help me process that.

I suffered, mostly on my own, with how to come to terms with it. How to see myself as valuable in my own right. How to go on alone (except for memories and the belief, as I said before, that the spirit is eternal). How to keep writing on my own, with little to no support or understanding of why I felt I must write (whether it be poetry, SF/F, or nonfiction/essays).

I had to figure it out one step at a time, stumbling and fumbling in the dark.

I don’t want anyone to have as much trouble as I did, not even the person who believed Michael was better off dead than with me. (I will never forgive that person. Never. But I still don’t wish ill on them. No point.) If and when they lose their spouses, I want them to have help and support.

That, most of all, is why I dearly hope that Lucille will be aided in as many ways and for as long of a time as she needs. And I pray very much that this will be so.

Eric Flint dies at 75, and his wife Lucille needs help

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Folks, Eric Flint passed away yesterday due to a long illness. He was a brilliant writer, an interesting soul, and a kind-hearted man — the last needs to be pointed out at great length, as most people focus on the other two.

I only met Eric Flint and his wife Lucille once. It was in 2002, not long after I married Michael. At that point, Michael and I were both trying to figure out how to write together, as our writing styles were about as opposite as can be imagined.

Anyway, it was a Barfly gathering, in Chicago. Many others were there. Some knew we’d just gotten married. (I don’t know if Eric did, but at least a few of ’em did.) We weren’t saying much (observers R us, or at least we both were), but were taking in as much information as we could.

I somehow got enough energy and gumption to ask Eric how he wrote so well with disparate people. (At that time, he’d worked with David Weber, Dave Freer, Mercedes Lackey, K.D. Wentworth, and I think he was in the process of working with Ryk Spoor. This was not long after his landmark novel 1632 was published.) I told him that my writing process was far different from my husband’s, yet we wanted to write together. How could we do that?

I figured Eric had the answer, and he did.

Eric said that the way to collaborate with someone is to play to their strengths. If someone writes fast — such as Dave Freer — work with that and add what you can. If someone needs more time and thought — as did Michael — let him add what he could. Otherwise, try not to step on each other’s toes, and remember to have fun…I’m pretty sure he said all that, and if not, he probably meant to say all that (so I’ll attribute it to him anyway).

This made a huge difference to us. We knew we could do it, you see, but we needed the right words from an expert to let us know it was OK to fail. (This may seem counterproductive, but bear with me.) If one of us could write faster than the other (believe it or not, that person was me), the other could take his time and add what he wanted. If the other needed to write things in longhand before transcribing them to the computer, that was fine…if he wanted my help, I could slow down just a little, and help him out.

This was very, very important to know. And it grew more important after Michael died, because I now was looking at a bunch of stories that Michael left in progress, wondering how I could possibly finish them and do justice by them. (I’m still working on that part.)

Anyway, I mention all of this because Lucille, Eric’s wife, needs help now. Eric was ill the last year or so, and while he plateaued out for a while, he wasn’t able to do much writing. (He did encourage people right up until the end, though. That counts more than anyone can possibly know.) Without being able to write, the income stream narrows…without being able to write, the writer is in danger of people forgetting all about them (though I find it hard to believe anyone could forget about Eric Flint, maybe he worried about that as he was human and it’s a justifiable worry). And without being able to write, the writer gets frustrated, stymied, wondering what in the Hell has gone wrong — just because health has intruded, why does that mean we can’t write?

(That’s how I see it, anyway. I can’t ask Eric anymore to know if that’s how he did.)

At any rate, Eric Flint was a very generous soul who cared about others and nurtured many fine writers along the way. He also was a very good husband to Lucille, and as I understand how it feels to be suddenly widowed and in need of help, I wanted to make damned sure I passed along this link so you could go help her out.

This is the link: https://gofund.me/6b66d7f6

If you can’t donate now, share the link as far and wide as you can.

And please, please, stand with the widows and widowers in your life, most especially right after they’ve been widowed. They need much care and love and concern, most particularly because they are unable to care or love or take any concern about themselves due to their bereavement.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 18, 2022 at 4:13 pm

New, Wide-Ranging Author Interview (Mine) is Up at the MFRW Authors’ Blog!

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Folks, I’m very pleased to report that I have a new interview up over at MFRW Authors’ busy and well-read blog that was posted earlier today.

I hope you will all check out this interview, as it’s the most wide-ranging one I’ve done to date . . . some of the questions asked were about why I wrote AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Barnes and Noble link is here), whether or not I think love scenes in romances are a good idea (I definitely do, but when you write young adult novels, you have to be careful and I said so), and much, much more.

My most important part of the interview, though, touched on the people who have been the most important and influential in my life. My late husband, Michael, who died nearly ten years ago, but whose presence is still felt. (I’d go much more into this, but the anniversary of Michael’s passing is in two days and I have a special blog post planned for that occasion.) My late best friend, Jeff Wilson, who died nearly three years ago, but again . . . I remember what he said, and why, and it helps. And my three living writing mentors — Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn, and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel — who are all wonderful writers and editors, and I’ve learned so very much from them . . . any mistakes I continue to make are, of course, my own.

But I could’ve listed even more people. For example:

  • I’ve written book reviews for Jason Cordova over at Shiny Book Review since 2010. Jason gave me some good advice back then to keep sending my novel out; he liked it, he gave me a quote for the novel then known as ELFY, and I appreciated that. His career is starting to take off due to a series of popular Kaiju novels, and it couldn’t happen to a better person.
  • Early on, Kate Paulk was invaluable in discussing the art and craft of writing (besides, her impressions on the oddities of contemporary American life were not to be missed).
  • Author Dave Freer, a wonderful funny fantasist, had some good advice for me back in the day, too.
  • Ditto for Eric Flint, who gave a talk Michael and I attended back in Chicago of 2002 (a Baen Barfly gathering) that helped Michael and I figure out how to write together. (Without the two of us hearing that talk, my career would’ve turned out to be rather short-lived, methinks.)
  • And I had numerous friends and allies over at Ye Olde Baen’s Bar website (which still exists, but I’m mostly absent due to other concerns), such as the late author Ric Locke and author Loren K. Jones — of course, I’m still in sporadic communication with Loren, though Real Life (TM) has interfered in many ways.
  • And, of course, there’s my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, and my fellow authors at TTB who’ve been so supportive and helpful — Aaron Lazar, Maria DeVivo, Dina von Lowenkraft, Scott Eder and Heather McLaren among them . . .
  • And the very kind folks at Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW.org on Twitter, for short), who have in a very short time impressed upon me the need for two things in the writing business: patience and persistence. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who has written a romance or has any romance whatsoever in their books should check out Marketing For Romance Writers post-haste.

Anyway, it does take a village to make an author. But it also takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and energy on the part of said author in order to write, re-write, listen to your mentors, write some more, listen some more, listen to your editor(s), re-write, etc.

Without my husband Michael’s expertise and encouragement, without the pair of us hearing Eric Flint early on, and without Rosemary Edghill’s support, I wouldn’t have dared to finish the novel I then knew as ELFY, much less continued to keep after it after Michael died. Without Jeff Wilson’s faith in me, I don’t think I’d have been as likely to keep going. And without Stephanie Osborn reading and loving ELFY back in 2012, I’d not have finally found Lida Quillen at Twilight Times Books . . . without Katharine Kimbriel and all that she’s taught me about writing and editing (much less life in general), I doubt I’d be quite as sanguine about the whole Writer’s Life (TM) thing.

Because make no mistake about it: I am not well-known. My book has not yet found its audience.

But I believe that it will.

And because I believe that it will, I will keep doing whatever I can to get the word out that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE exists. And that the people who believed in me most — Michael, Jeff, Rosemary, Stephanie, and Katharine — were and are right to believe in me.

Just reviewed “Threshold” at SBR

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Folks, if you haven’t read Eric Flint and Ryk Spoor’s books by now, you really should.  THRESHOLD is the second in a series about paleontologist Helen Sutter, her much younger husband, A.J. Baker, ex-Homeland Security operative Madeline Fathom, and Fathom’s husband, Joe Buckley.  (Yes, that Joe Buckley — the guy who frequently gets red-shirted in books, especially ones with Baen on the label.) 

This is a very fine space opera that gets everything right . . . all I know is, I want to read the sequel (right now, dammit!) because Flint and Spoor left their heroes in one Hell of a spot.

Here’s the link:

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/spoor-and-flints-threshold-good-solid-space-opera/

Enjoy!

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm