Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Wilson

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 ( 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.

Jeff Wilson: An Elegiac Portrait

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I’ve been asked to describe my good friend, Jeff Wilson, to those who never got a chance to meet him.  Here’s my best take, which I know will be inadequate.

Jeff was a very kind, compassionate person.  He deplored the evils of this world, most particularly selfishness, greed and stupidity, but refrained from passing judgment on anyone.  (More people should be like this.)

Jeff loved animals, and kept several cats (or maybe they kept him; I’m not sure).  His cats were extremely important to him, and he treated them with respect and dignity — but don’t take that to mean he didn’t enjoy them, because he did.  They often made him laugh, and he viewed this as an unalloyed blessing (which indeed, it was).

Jeff was an excellent friend.  He was always there whenever he was needed, and he’d do whatever he could to help.  He was an excellent listener; more to the point, he understood what he heard, which was a rare and special quality.

Jeff had very strong principles and an intrinsic sense of balance.  Perhaps this was due to his appreciation of Eastern religious thought, most particularly the words of Confucius and Gautama Buddha; maybe it was just something about him that would’ve been there even without that, though studying those tenets certainly helped refine these excellent qualities.

Jeff searched for excellence in all things.  He rarely found it, but when he did, he was as delighted as a child unwrapping just the toy he or she had wanted at Christmas. 

Jeff appreciated classical music because it brought him closer to the Divine.  His favorite composer was probably Ludwig van Beethoven; his favorite piece was Gustav Holst’s The Planets.

Jeff read everything, but he had a particular love for two different and disparate styles of writing: science fiction and fantasy on the one hand, and the highly structured and mannered novels of Jane Austen and her imitators on the other.  He loved the former because they opened up new worlds and ways of thought to him; he loved the latter because they proved that even in a highly mannered world (now lost), people often acted rashly, badly, and without forethought — but how they got out of trouble in the end and found worthy pursuits was very similar to our own time.  (In other words, Jeff found the commonality of human experience to be worthy, regardless of genre.)

Jeff was a nonmaterialist, a nonconformist, was an autodidact (meaning he taught himself many things he’d never learned in school and could absorb almost anything), a writer, an artist, dabbled with poetry but was rarely satisfied with his efforts (which to my mind, would make him a poet; not to his, though).  He loved life, talking with people about anything and everything, and wanted to know all that was knowable.

I will miss him profoundly.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm

More on my friend, Jeff Wilson . . . and a bit about the recalls

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Folks, these two topics aren’t as far removed as they seem.  My best friend’s name was Jeff Wilson; he lived in Fort Collins, Colorado, and as I said earlier today, he died on Sunday morning at the age of 47.

Jeff was a political watcher, just as I am, and was keenly interested in the recall of Governor Scott Walker and also in the recall of my own sitting State Senator, Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).   Jeff believed, as I do, that Walker and Wanggaard overreached drastically back in February due to SB10 — that being the budget bill that stripped public employee union members of their rights to collectively bargain.  So me continuing to pursue the recalls, even though I really feel terrible about Jeff’s passing, is the right thing to do.  It’s what he’d want me to do.

The recalls of both Walker and Wanggaard will start at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday morning — that is, about two hours from now.  Some people are going in their pajamas to get the recall papers; some are going straight from football parties (as the Packers are playing tonight; currently they’re up 31-7 in the third quarter).  I won’t be doing that; I’ll be lighting a candle, again, in my good friend’s memory.  But tomorrow afternoon, I will be going if at all possible to the recall office and will not only sign to get Walker and Wanggaard out, but will take the training so I can perhaps train others to do the same thing.

As I said before, Jeff was a deeply principled and ethical man.  He had a very strong moral compass.  He knew what he believed was right and he did that; nothing else need apply, and that was one of his best qualities to my mind (I suppose it matched my stubbornness rather well).  That’s why he supported, very strongly, the recall of these two men; he even mentioned it on Friday during our last conversation.

It’s very hard right now to concentrate on anything because I feel so terribly about Jeff’s untimely passing.  He was getting better.  Everything looked good.  I believed I could get out there to see him, and would’ve found a way as I was looking really hard; I also know that Jeff looked forward to my telephone calls, and that my encouragement and support meant a great deal to him — as me talking to him, knowing he was alive and fighting as hard as he could, meant a great deal to me because I knew he’d have done the same thing if I’d have been in his place.

So while I still want to recall Walker and Wanggaard and try to restore some balance to my state (all three branches of government right now are controlled by radical, hard-right Rs), it’s muted even though I’ve been looking forward to this day for months.  I hope you can understand why.

While Heaven, or the positive afterlife (“the Good Place (TM)”), whatever you want to call it, has gained an angel, I feel absolutely devastated.  Jeff and I were friends for a long time — six years, maybe a bit more — and he was my best friend, the person who understood me the best, and the person I understood the best also.  Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I would much rather Jeff be here, and be upset at not being home where he wanted to be (a completely understandable reaction, to my mind), and me be able to talk with him directly and him with me, directly, than Heaven gaining him as an angel.

Because when one good person dies, the whole world loses, whether the world knew this person or not.  In Jeff’s case, as he was a very, very good person, the world’s loss is nearly incalculable.  And my own — well, I have no words to describe it, except to say that I wish with everything I have that this hadn’t happened. 

I wanted to be there, to hold his hand, and to be able to give him a hug.  I thought him seeing me, seeing my caring and concern, would make a difference.  I wasn’t able to get there but was working hard to do so; obviously, I didn’t get that chance.

And while I don’t know if me getting there would’ve made a difference to him, it assuredly would’ve for me — being able to see him and touch him and hold his hand would’ve helped a lot right now.

I’m doing my best to remember the good times and positive memories of the excellent conversations Jeff and I had about all sorts of wide-ranging subjects.  That’s the only way to deal with grief, really; you can’t forget, and you can’t “move on,” but you can go on with your memories and never, ever forget the wonderful people who have graced your life.

I’ve had two, now.  My wonderful, amazing, extremely intelligent and talented husband, Michael.  And my astonishingly smart, gifted, and remarkably talented friend, Jeff.  So I’ve been doubly blessed, and I know that, even though I really wish both of them were here on this plane of existence rather than the positive afterlife I’m sure they’re enjoying right now because I miss them both more than words could ever say.


** Note:  As I’ve said before, there’s no question in my mind Michael would want me to pursue the recall efforts also.  Michael was deeply principled also, and believed hypocrisy was among the worst sins known to mankind — Van Wanggaard has been guilty of that, in spades — while pitting brother against brother, sister against sister, the way Scott Walker did, is right down there, too.  So with my extremely heavy heart, I will do my best to oust these two politicians and send them home to pursue a different course of employment . . . and hope whoever takes their places will be much better public servants than either of these two, or even both of them put together.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Brewers Losing Game 5, but I Don’t Care

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My Milwaukee Brewers are currently losing to the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-1 in the eighth inning . . . but I don’t care.

You might be wondering why this is so.   Have I lost my love for the Brewers?  (Um, no.)  Have I decided that baseball isn’t that important?  (Well, no . . . it’s still what it’s always been.)

Or is it that baseball isn’t as important as someone else’s life?  (You’re on to something if you picked this option.)

Look.  One of my best friends is in the hospital in Colorado, and I don’t have the financial wherewithal to go visit him.  He has bacteria in his spine, brain and heart; I was contacted by a different friend who let me know what was going on.

I talked with my friend, very briefly, earlier this evening, and he sounds very ill.  He’s been in the hospital for a week and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be getting out any time too soon, either.

Whatever’s gone so wrong for his health that he picked up a major bacterial infection and has landed in the hospital is such a terrible thing that it’s driving out much of anything else.  I don’t have many details, not that they’d probably help if I did; I just know he’s ill, he’s too far away for me to visit, and I can’t do anything to help besides pray.  (Which I am.)

Anyway, the Brewers still have Game 6 in Milwaukee, and can maybe win that.  My brother has a ticket for Game 6 and I really do hope the Brewers will win and tie the series back up at 3-3.

But for now — just for this one game — I’m a lot more worried about my good friend than I am about the Brewers’ World Series hopes.  Because the Brewers can always try again next year for the World Series if they miss it now (it’ll be tough to get there without Prince Fielder, who is assuredly going elsewhere as the Brewers cannot afford the huge contract Fielder wants, but at least it’ll be possible); my friend’s life, on the other hand, is in a real life and death struggle and I’m far more concentrated on that than I am about any sports team, no matter how much I appreciate them or the game of baseball in particular.


Edited to add:  I have added a tag with my friend’s name, Jeff Wilson, for those who knew him.  I’ve had a number of people ask me what Jeff’s illness was; this is the main post where I discussed it.

I really wish I hadn’t felt the need to add the tag, though; it really stinks that Jeff is no longer alive to talk writing, politics, and the world at large with as he was a most excellent conversationalist.  (And my best friend.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm