Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘frustration

Dealing with Disappointment, Part the Nth

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Folks, I know I’ve written about dealing with disappointment before. It’s one of those fundamental things that everyone has to face from time to time; we will be disappointed in something, even if it’s something tangential to us like the performance of our favorite sports team. (I’m looking at you, Milwaukee Brewers.)

Right now, I’m feeling discouraged, disappointed, however you want to put it, in nearly every aspect. And it’s hard to create that way; it’s hard to even function.

My energy level is not there, and I’m fighting hard to get it back. (Yes, my doctor knows about this. I get to see her soon.) My drive is not there, either…it’s almost as if I’m having a life crisis (I won’t say “mid-life crisis,” as I have no idea how long anyone will live, much less me).

So, what can I do about it?

Mostly, I remind myself that today may be bad, yesterday may have been bad, too, but tomorrow can still be different.

Yeah, I may never be known as a writer. (I knew that when I got into this field.) All I can do is control what I can, which is to write the books I feel compelled to write, keep working on my craft, and hope I touch at least a few folks with my stories so they’ll maybe remember them past the moment they’re read and consumed.

So, even though today’s one of those days that turning my face to the wall seems like the right action, I’m not going to do it.


Instead, I’m going to keep trying, even if it’s slow; even if I have to rest more; even if I need to take more breaks; even if I have to adjust my diet again and cut out every processed food (I hope I don’t have to go that far, but it may come to that)…and I’m going to try to keep my friends in the loop, ’cause that’s important.

So, I deal with disappointment, roughly, by trying to get through it and remembering we all have days like this.

And so long as I keep trying, I cannot fail…because I refuse to allow myself to fail.

How do you deal with it? What tips and tricks would you like to share?

Tell me in the comments.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 24, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Holidays, Grief, and Disappointment

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Folks, as we all know, the holidays are upon us.

As I have written before (most recently last year, here), this is an awful time of year for anyone who has suffered losses. You can’t help but think about those you miss, especially when you have happy memories of better days when they were alive, well, and completely themselves.

I don’t have the answers for how to deal with this, despite having to deal with it for so long. As time passes, I know I’ll be grieving more and more people, and that’s the way life works — some of us keep going, and remember those who have passed before us, and try to honor their memories as best we’re able.

But that doesn’t make it easy.

In addition, because this is a highly-fraught time of year, any disappointment you receive at this time seems magnified. By a hundred, maybe, or even a thousand…it’s an illusion, mind, borne of the fact that you’re probably already under stress for various reasons, you’re expected to be “happy happy, joy joy” all the time at this time of year, and maybe you’re expending energy you didn’t realize you were using to stay on an even keel.

When I’m disappointed, whether it’s in someone else, myself, the world at large, whatever, I try to take a step back. Will this matter in a week? Will this matter in a month? Will this matter in a year?

If the answers to all of those questions are “no,” it’s a little easier to push past the disappointment.

“But Barb,” you say. “What is it about this time and people getting on each other’s nerves?”

Believe me, I wish I knew.

What I do know is that I try hard not to get upset by what other people do. Sometimes I observe this more in the breach than in its keeping, but I honestly do try.

OK, not everyone is going to be be what you want them to be. (Maybe no one is. Maybe you, yourself, aren’t, either.) Maybe you don’t have the life you want. Maybe nothing went right for you this year. And maybe, just maybe, you are having trouble hoping that tomorrow will be better than today.

That is normal, human, and you have to realize that other people feel the same damned thing.

So, yeah. This time of year is very hard for me. I feel almost as if I’m a chronic observer rather than completely in the mix of life and all its pleasures (and annoyances), and that’s only partly because I’m a writer and my observational skills have been heightened by years of practice.

All I can do, quite frankly, is endure the holidays. Get past them. And hope that 2017 will be a whole lot better than 2016.

Anyway, may we all treat our loved ones, friends, and co-workers gently at this time of year, and throughout the year…and may we all be richly blessed, one way or another.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2016 at 11:32 am

Housing End-Game

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Folks, I really didn’t want to write this blog. But things have gone sour, again…and my blogging is likely to be interrupted for a few days or weeks, so I figured I’d explain why.

As I said months ago, my housing situation went critical. I can’t fully explain this because it’s not my story to tell; all I can tell you is that I knew, at that time, I’d not have much longer where I was.

That was back in April, and I’m still in the same place. It was like being in limbo, and it certainly slowed up my creative efforts. But I have been warm, and safe, and with my dogs.

Now, the housing situation is about to be radically different. I will be put out of my home of the last five years within the next seven to ten days, as something called a “writ of assistance” has been requested. Once that’s executed, I will be put out of this situation, and am not sure what will happen afterward.

For a time, I know I will go to my father’s house. But long-term, that is likely to drive him and I both nuts. I won’t be able to bring the dogs, and that worries me greatly, because I don’t know what will happen to them — and they’re good dogs. They don’t deserve this uncertainty.

And that doesn’t resolve the rest of the situation, that I can’t explain, that I wish I could explain (except it’s not my story to tell, yada yada yada).

Over the past six months, I’ve had various friends ask me why I haven’t left already when things have been so up in the air. It has to do with caring about my family, and wanting to make sure they are safe and happy and well. I’ve also been worried about the dogs. One of my friends told me a long time ago she could take me, but not the dogs; another can take one dog, if need be, but she has cats. A third friend lives in Canada and I’d not be able to bring any of the dogs there, if I could somehow miraculously get to him…this is a big, fat, freakin’, unruly mess. (Insert string of profanity here, if you feel the need. I know I certainly do. I’m just too polite to subject you to it.)

And, if I’m honest, a lot of why I haven’t left has to do with CHANGING FACES. I’m so close to finishing up that novel — the revised and final version, after editing — and I just didn’t want to have to uproot my entire life as moves tend to do if I could somehow hang on until the novel was finished.

I am about three chapters, perhaps less, from the end. But I don’t know if I can finish up what I need under all this stress. I’m having a number of unusual stress reactions already, and I have to be careful, or I’ll land in the hospital and I’ll be even slower to finish things up…dammit all.

Anyway, all I know is that it is likely I will be put out in the next seven to ten days. I can’t get a hard date as to when I will definitely be put out. I have already moved some stuff to my father’s across town, and will be moving more in the upcoming days as I’m able, but I remain worried.

If for some reason you feel the need to help me, I do have a Paypal account. Type Barb and Caffrey together (as all one word, lowercase) AT Yahoo DOT com (take out the at and dot, of course), if you want to help at all with the frustrations and vexations of this move. Because in some ways, this couldn’t happen at a worse time…honestly.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 19, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Finding Motivation After a Difficult Week

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Folks, this past week was extremely difficult.

Why? Well, part of the story — as per usual — is not mine to tell. What I can tell you is that I had a bad allergic reaction and also had to deal with a family health scare…both are resolving well, but at the time they were both major obstacles.

It’s hard to be motivated, after you’ve been run ragged for a week to ten days. (Yes, even for me — “Mrs. Persistence Herself,” one of my friends snickered a few years back — I sometimes run straight on into a brick wall.) Sometimes, all you can do is rest, think about your stories, and prepare to meet your commitments as soon as you can with a whole heart.

“But Barb,” you say. “I thought CHANGING FACES neared completion. Is that what’s getting you down?”

Partly, yes.

I want CHANGING FACES to be done. (I wanted it to be done months ago.) But I also want to put out the best quality book I possibly can, well-edited of course, and readable and interesting. (That the subject matter is a bit controversial — dealing with a male/female couple with both ending up transgender due to a fantasy/spiritual element — only adds a bit of spice to the broth.) I hope people of all sexes, genders, races, political persuasions, etc., will read CHANGING FACES and find some truth in it…because my main, overarching message is that people should see souls. Not bodies.

I want CHANGING FACES to read well as a romance, yes. But I also want it to be something people of all sexes and gender expressions can relate to, because most of us, if we’re honest, feel different. Maybe we’re not as different as Elaine is at the start of CHANGING FACES, as we’re not transgender/gender-fluid. (By the way, language is evolving on this issue. In a year or two, it’s very possible people may just say “gender fluid” for someone like Elaine. I hate to have to point this out, but not everyone reads the time/date stamp on blog posts, and some, when you use “inappropriate” or less than up-to-the-minute terminology, jump to conclusions and assume you’re trying to be disrespectful. But that’s another subject for another day.) But we all do have some difference, something that makes us unique and interesting…something that makes us, at least at times, wonder if we will ever be understood by anyone, loved one or no.

It’s all of this that gives me motivation despite an incredibly difficult and taxing week.

I don’t know if the way my mind works is similar to any other writer’s mind on the planet, of course. But my own mind does work this way, and it’s telling me now to do two things:

  1. Rest, dammit!
  2. After you’ve rested, get up and work on CHANGING FACES.

So, that’s what I intend to do.

Thanks for staying along for the ride, and do let me know what you think in the comments, if you are so inclined.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 3, 2016 at 1:42 am

Tough Day to be a Brewers Fan…Lucroy, Jeffress, Smith Traded

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Some days, it’s harder than others to be a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers.

My team has never, in its forty-six year history, won the World Series. It’s won only one league championship, back in 1982 — when the team was still in the American League. It’s competed only a handful of times in the postseason, including 1981, 1982, and 1983 (banner years, truly), 2008, and 2011.

That’s been about it, for me as a Brewers fan.

So I’m used to futility. I’m used to frustration. And I’m used to the best players I’ve come to know and appreciate ending up on better teams around the league, as only a few players these days play their entire careers in Milwaukee or anywhere else.

Still, today is a worse day than many, because the Brewers have done something teams rarely do — on August 1, 2016, Milwaukee traded their starting catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, their closer, Jeremy Jeffress, and one of their best bullpen arms in Will Smith away to two different teams. Lucroy and Jeffress went to the Texas Rangers, while Smith went to the San Francisco Giants. And what did the Brewers get back? Prospects…with one exception. (And that one exception, former Giant catcher Andrew Susac, has played fewer than 100 games in the major leagues.)

Up until now, the Brewers have been better than expected. While not a world-beating team by any means, they haven’t been embarrassing, either. They’re currently five games over .500 while home at Miller Park, and their overall record is 47-56.

In fact, a few weeks ago, my father asked me, “How many more games do you think the Brewers can win?” My answer was between thirty-five and forty, as they’d been improving lately…providing Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun were not traded. (I would’ve included Jeremy Jeffress in that, but trading a closer at the deadline that’s still extremely productive is almost rarer than trading a starting catcher, so I have to admit it never crossed my mind that this would happen.)

This year has had some good surprises — pitcher Junior Guerra being one of those. So it’s obvious that David Stearns, the Brewers GM, can find talent…but so far, he doesn’t seem cognizant of the fact that fans have to have something on the field to root for.

I expected this to be a bad year, mind. I expected this to be a year where top prospect, shortstop Orlando Arcia, gained time in Triple-A, and where we’d have a shuttle going back and forth from Triple-A affiliate Colorado Springs and Milwaukee — and we have.

I did not expect this to be the year the Brewers traded away two impact players, literally minutes before the trade deadline, and then expect fans to be happy about it.

I’m sorry. I’m not into pain, so of course I’m unhappy with this move.

Do I understand it rationally? Sure.

Do I appreciate it emotionally? Oh, Hell no.

And will I watch games? Yes, but quite frankly, I won’t expect very much…especially with the new closer almost certainly to be Tyler Thornburg. (I like him, but is he closer material?) And with the new starting catcher being defensive whiz Martin Maldonado…

All I can say is this: Dammit. (In lieu of a blue streak of profanity that none of you need to hear, or see, or that I need to say.)

And, of course, I need to add this, specifically to Lucroy, Jeffress, and Smith: Good luck to all three of you. May your teams go to the playoffs, and may you enjoy excellent careers. And someday, remember the fans in Milwaukee, still waiting for our day in the sun…and that we remain in your corner.


My Patreon Update…and Other Stuff

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Folks, I’m glad to have finally written an update…and it’s up at my Patreon page.

What’s Patreon, you ask? It’s a place where you can support writers, artists, musicians, or other creative types…it’s a very old idea done in a very new, 21st Century way.

I know I’ve been very behindhand on explaining what’s going on. There’s a reason for that. If I think too much about the circumstances that surround me — the fact that my living situation is not fully under my control, and that I am unable to affect the outcome very much at all — I can’t create. And that would be lethal, especially as I grow closer to completing CHANGING FACES at long last…I have to get that book done, there’s no two ways about it.

So, I’m going to cut and paste from my own post at Patreon, that I just put up less than fifteen minutes ago:

Unfortunately, since I last posted, very little has changed. My living situation — it’s hard to know what I can say about it, because I’m not the only one affected, but suffice it to say that from day to day I barely know where I’m going to be. This is frustrating and confusing, and it’s not exactly conducive to creativity.

As for how I’m doing/feeling? I fight exhaustion. I fight the feeling of inertia, of nothing changing, of still being in a reasonably unstable situation and being almost completely unable to affect it…and it’s extremely frustrating and disquieting.

I know that I’m doing everything I possibly can to positively affect this outcome. As I said at my long-delayed update over at Patreon, I have edited five books in the last two-plus months, and I’ve written 20,000 words. These are good things, and I’m proud of these accomplishments.

In addition, I played a concert on Sunday night with the Racine Concert Band at the Racine Zoo (though I wasn’t able to play the parade, alas, on Monday as I’d planned). We had an enthusiastic crowd, as we always do — free summer concerts have resumed, and will be held at the Zoo every Sunday night at 7:30 in July, and at 7:00 in August (through August 14, 2016).

I’m not able to play at the same level I could years ago, mind, but I can still play well most of the time. I’d prefer to have some solos now and again, but that rarely happens…still, I’m glad to be able to play, and I think I add something, even when I’m playing the second part and it seems like no one pays attention to me being there besides my stand-partner.

So, I’m trying. I have a temporary situation, and am trying to look on the bright side. (Though sometimes I want to kick whoever started that whole idea squarely in the nether region. Why can’t we admit just for one minute that things are bleak, but we’re going to do our best every day anyway?)

I do know that life can change, sometimes on what seems to be an instant. And it’s very possible that all the hard work I’ve done will lead to something much better…my husband believed that, my best friend Jeff Wilson believed that, too, and my friends now firmly believe that as well.

Who am I to say they’re wrong?

Anyway, if you want to help support me get through this rough patch, you can go to my Patreon page and make a pledge…or, if you wish to support me privately, let me know and I’ll give you my PayPal address. (And thank you very much for even considering this oblique request. It truly is the best I can do right now.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm

How to Keep Writing when the World Seems Against You

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Folks, it’s no secret that the last few weeks for me have been difficult, complex, and frustrating.

In other words, they’ve been a long slog.

How are you supposed to keep writing when the world seems against you? When life circumstances jump up, and impede your work, and derail your progress…how can you keep going anyway?

Today’s blog is about how to get through one of these fallow periods, as a writer. (Or at least what I try to do to keep my head in the game, even when most of the rest of me can’t do much.)

What I try to do, with my writing, is to make prose notes. If nothing else, I usually can write one-sentence ideas, and that allows me to continue making a small amount of progress.

See, every day you have to make a little progress, if you can. It may be tiny. It may even be infinitesimal. But if you make that small amount of progress — even during difficult times — it gives you the confidence to keep trying.

Sometimes, I think creativity is all about confidence. Or at least all about the thought that if you try, if you think hard, if you are able to continue, then you can create with a whole heart.

It’s not easy to find time to write when you’re in the crux of a crisis, mind. But take a few minutes here, a few minutes there — I like using the minutes before going to bed, personally, but my late husband was a morning person; whatever works for you — and keep writing.

In other words…the only way through a long slog is forward.


As for me? I’m still hanging in there…but I still don’t have a clue where I’ll end up. I’ll keep you posted. (If you want to help me, see this post and act accordingly.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 27, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Need Immediate Help Here with Relocation

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Folks, one of the reasons I’ve been cagey for months here at my blog is because I’ve been enduring hardship. I can’t go into that many details as most of them are not mine to tell; all I can tell you is that in seven days, I am going to lose my home. And I need immediate help to relocate, get set back up on my feet, and to continue to create — because my goodness, CHANGING FACES is due shortly.

All of this upheaval is not conducive to creativity, to put it mildly. But I need somehow to get it done anyway.

Of course, I don’t know how I get all this done. Right now, I feel overwhelmed, overmatched, and extremely frustrated. I have tried very hard in my current situation to make everything right, and yet I could not do it.

I’m hamstrung in many ways trying to explain what’s going on right now. It’s a crisis situation. In seven days, the place I’m living will be sold…and I can do nothing whatsoever about it.

That much, I think I can say.

As anyone who regularly reads my blog knows, my health isn’t tiptop. I manage a number of health conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, allergies, and at least six others. I also must bring along with me my thirteen-year-old dog Trouble, as he’s my true friend and I refuse to leave him behind…he’s not always the best-behaved dog (thus his name), but I love him, and he loves me.

Anyway, I’ve set up a Patreon page. I’m asking for $4400 for help in relocating; this is a three-month projection of what I will need. Over time, I figure I’ll need about $1200 a month to live as my needs are small…an internet connection, a safe space to work, write, and edit, a good place for Trouble to take a walk perhaps…some serenity, because I surely don’t have any right now.

At Patreon, people offer things in exchange for support called “rewards” — I assume so we artists, writers, and creators don’t have to feel bad about asking for help. I’ve offered four things: “Trouble with Elfs” for anyone who helps me; if you pledge $5 per month, the reward is Michael’s original versions of “Columba and the Committee;” if you pledge $10 per month, the rewards is Michael’s original version of “Columba and the Crossing;” if you pledge $25 per month, I’ll send you the original version of Michael’s novel MAVERICK, LIEUTENANT…I don’t think he’d mind.

I intend to keep on writing, keep on creating, keep on doing the best I possibly can. But what I’m faced with right now is a disaster…I need to keep mind, body and soul together while I figure out what my next move is.

I implore you, please help me to do just that. Go to my Patreon page. Anything will help.

I’d also appreciate your prayers, good thoughts, warm wishes, and any job leads you think may be beneficial. I am an excellent editor with references; I am a solid writer who tells entertaining stories; I know how to research, to do administrative work, understand most computers to a certain extent…I’m hard-working, dedicated, resourceful, and persistent.

Thank you for reading, and I wish I hadn’t had to write this whatsoever.


Edited to add: I’ll keep you updated on what’s going on as best I can…and I still intend to write about baseball in a few days. (Why not? I need a diversion, too. And I still love baseball.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 19, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Stupid, Wrong, and Completely Unnecessary: Officer Slams Student to the Ground in SC High School

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Folks, over the past twenty-four hours, there has been much talk about an arrest by police officer Ben Fields of a high school student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina. (If you haven’t read anything about it, this article from Reuters via Yahoo News should get you up to speed.)

There’s even been a video released, showing Officer Fields slamming a young, black female student to the ground while still sitting at a desk.

I’m not going to link to this video, because I find it incredibly disturbing. But I will tell you what I think about Officer Fields’ conduct.

It was stupid. It was wrong. And it was completely unnecessary.

Here’s what I know about this incident, courtesy of watching CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC.

The female student, a senior, was sitting at her desk and refused to pay attention. The teacher apparently called a vice principal into the classroom, to try to get this young woman to pay attention. When she ignored the principal, the principal called in Officer Fields.

I already have problems with this, mind, as a former teacher.

What would I have done, as a teacher? First, I’d try to remove the other students — either before I called the vice principal, or with the help of the vice principal. The reason I’d do that, is because the students need to have a good learning experience; being disruptive is not conducive to learning.

(There is almost always someplace you can go. If the weather is clement, you can go outside. If it isn’t, you can go to the school library, the gymnasium, or even the lunch room.)

Second, I’d have asked the principal to call the student’s parent or guardian.

But instead of doing any of that, the teacher stood there while the vice principal called in Officer Fields. And Fields slammed the young woman to the ground, while still in the desk…the teacher did nothing, the vice principal did nothing, and most of the students did nothing while this happened. (One other female student spoke up, and was also arrested, according to various reports.)

At any rate, because the school personnel didn’t know what to do with the student, they called in Officer Fields, which should’ve been a last resort.

Multiple mistakes were made before Officer Fields ever got there, but Officer Fields’ conduct as shown on the video made things worse.

Officer Fields apparently did not use his mind. Instead, he slammed this young student to the ground, while still inside her desk, and arrested her.

Look. This should go without saying — but here goes:

No one — a police officer nor any other — should never, never, never slam a high school student to the ground while she’s sitting in class over a verbal disagreement.

The best solution, again, is to isolate the student. Then wait for the parent or guardian to show up and discuss the behavior.

Then, to try to bring some resolution to this incident, I’d use the principles of restorative justice. I’d find a way to show that student just how disruptive it is to have someone mouthing off during class time — asking other students to act out how this student behaved might help, for example — and then I’d find a way to have that student make it up to the other students in that class.

You see, retributive justice — what we usually see in the United States — did not work, here. The officer surely seems to have used wildly excessive force on this young, female student. This did not help the student realize what she did was wrong; instead, it gave her a consequence — getting slammed to the ground while still inside a desk — that was extremely disproportionate to her action.

Over time, the student here probably will get upset at what happened to her (something that makes perfect sense), rather than realizing she cannot be disruptive in class. Even if she gets expelled, down the line, for her previous disruptive actions, she still may not understand the problems her original behavior caused for the rest of the class.

Anyway, my thought is that restorative justice would’ve helped a great deal, here, along with a dose of good, common sense.

What a shame none of that existed, here…instead, now we’re assuredly looking at a lawsuit by the student and her family, and another police officer who may lose his job.

How does that help anything?

Most of all, how does that help anyone learn?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 27, 2015 at 3:53 pm

A Writing Update (Such as it Is)…

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Folks, I’m at the point in my manuscript where I can see daylight ahead. The journey is starting to come to an end…

But before I can end this particular journey, I have to get through a cloverleaf or two. That have major roadblocks, not to mention setbacks.

When I get this frustrated with any manuscript, I usually try to take a step back and figure out where I’m going. But in this case, I know exactly where I’m going; it’s just that some of the particulars about how I’m going to get there have changed.

So it’s a new and different problem I’m dealing with. It means I have to feel my way through, take my time, figure out what’s going to happen, so I can turn in the best possible manuscript.

I hope this does not mean I’ll miss my publication window for the end of 2015, mind. But the longer I struggle with my manuscript, the less likely it is that I actually will hit that window at all.

Of course, if I weren’t going for e-book publication, there would be no way in the world I could possibly hit the window…but I digress.

What I’m dealing with right now, folks, is where anxiety meets frustration. My strategy has always been to admit that I’m frustrated, and also admit that I’m anxious about being frustrated.

Then I do my best to get on with the job anyway.

This is easier said than done, mind. Because I have to experience the anxiety, experience the frustration, and then tell myself, “OK, Barb, you’ve experienced that. You know how you feel. You’ve acknowledged this. Now set it aside, and see what happens next.”

This is a strategy my late husband Michael told me about. Oft-times, it works — even with impatient, hasty me.

Anyway, when I can’t write, I’m not easy to live with. I get quite cranky, in fact…so I’m sure that everyone around me hopes, as I do, that my solution to fixing my manuscript and hitting my late 2015 window lies just around the corner.

Further updates as I have ’em.


One good bit of information to pass along: As I’ve signed the contract (and it’s been countersigned and I’ve been given permission), I think it can now be told…I’ve sold my third story in the Darkover universe (created by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and continued by Deborah J. Ross), which will be published in REALMS OF DARKOVER during 2016. The story is about my judge, Fiona, as a thirteen-year-old girl, when all she wants to do is become the first-ever female court clerk in the Hellers (a wicked mountain range on Darkover)…and we get to see Fiona’s parents, happily married — Gorsali, a Renunciate (Free Amazon) of Darkover, and Dominic macAnndra, a sitting circuit court judge.

Naturally, it’s called “Fiona, Court Clerk in Training.”

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 14, 2015 at 5:13 am