Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘love

New Guest Blog is Up…”Love in CHANGING FACES”

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Folks, I’m happy to let you know that I have a new guest blog up over at Adriana Kraft’s website today. It’s called “Love in CHANGING FACES,” and has a few more anecdotes about my novel’s protagonists Allen and Elaine, not to mention their unusual love story.

Here’s a bit from that, to whet your interest:

When I first started the story that became my new contemporary LGBT-friendly novel, CHANGING FACES, I had no idea what I was getting into. All I knew was one scene: my couple, Allen and Elaine, were in a crisis. She wanted to leave him. And that would’ve been a fatal mistake. So two aliens—or angels, as I wasn’t quite clear yet what they were—decided to help them…the next thing Allen and Elaine knew, they’d been in a car accident, and Allen had woken up in Elaine’s body in the hospital.

Where was Elaine, you ask? That wasn’t so simple. She was…elsewhere, talking with one of the angels. (Yes, I decided they were angels, after a while.) And it was up to Elaine whether or not they were going to be able to go forward, albeit in different bodies than before.

This scene still exists in the current, final, version of CHANGING FACES. But the reason for that scene is not exactly what I thought it was, many years ago when I first started fiddling around with this story. You see, while Allen is a straight man in love with a beautiful woman, Elaine is gender-fluid, bisexual, and would rather be in a male body even though she will always think of herself as female.

No wonder I was confused, hey?

I also answered another question that I get often, that being, “Why did you write something like this?” My answer, also from the new guest blog, is this: “I really don’t know. Sometimes I think the stories pick me rather than the other way around.”

Does any other writer feel this way?

(I figured I’d ask, ’cause I am honestly confused myself as to why I write one story rather than another one. I never have been able to figure that out.)

Anyway, please do check out the latest guest blog. Adriana Kraft and I know each other through the behest of Marketing for Romance Writers — a quite valuable, though utterly free organization to join — and I appreciate her willingness to extend a guest blog invitation very much.

Now, for a few more thoughts about CHANGING FACES, as I seemingly have an inexhaustible supply of same:

Mind, me writing this particular story is — as a good friend of mine put it, wryly — like being a sportswriter at a D&D convention. It’s not expected, it’s not the audience I usually write for, and perhaps because of that, I don’t seem to have yet found my audience overmuch.

Of course, that does leave lots of room for improvement. And my hope is that someone out there will like what I’m doing, and enjoy it, and maybe learn something from it — though the last is optional, I can’t help but hope that down the line, more people will learn how to see souls rather than bodies.

Why is this important to me? I think it’s because I’ve always felt like I don’t really fit. I’m a big, beautiful woman in a society that worships thin women; I’m a younger-than-average widow, so a whole lot of things have happened to me much earlier than most people; I’m a musician, writer, editor, and have composed music (I need to get back to that, honestly), none of which are usual pursuits for 99.9% of the population.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like a misfit that I want other misfits to find love and be happy. (After all, I did. And it was worth it, too, even though my husband has now been dead for twelve long years.)

What I know is, regardless of your sexual identity or gender expression, you deserve the right to be happy with someone you love. I don’t think it should matter a hill of beans if that person is the same sex as you, the opposite sex as you, or some other variation (intersex? gender-fluid?) thereof. What matters is that you love them. Period. And that you treat them well, and try your best for them, and be honest and trustworthy and loyal and caring, because that’s the only way that you can build a good love-relationship with anyone.

So that’s why I wrote CHANGING FACES. I want people to see others for who they are, not what they look like, and certainly not what they appear to be. Find out who they are. Care about who they are. And always, always be honest…that’s the only way to win at the game of love, even though sometimes being honest is a pain in the caboose.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Flu, Day 4, Plus Latest Guest Blog

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Folks, I remain mired in the flu.

Granted, it’s a little bit better than it was yesterday. But my voice remains awful (a friend called last night and was absolutely appalled at how much of a croak it sounds like right now), I’m still coughing more than not, am incredibly congested, and can actually point to each one of my ribs because each individual one hurts like fire.

Mind, it’s not as bad as it could be. So far, I don’t seem to have bronchitis or pneumonia, and as I’ve had both before, I think I’d know. And I am getting a little better; this is the second day in a row I’ve been able to get online and put up some form of a blog — though that’s probably more because of sheer cussedness on my part than anything else.

(Hey, at least I admit it.)

Because I have a new book out, CHANGING FACES, which I’ve talked about a great deal already, I hope I don’t have to give you all the links and all the blurbs and all that today.  (Scroll down and hit the back arrow if you want that, just this once. OK?)

Instead, I’d rather just give you this link, to a guest blog I did at Straight from the Author’s Mouth, and give you a bit of that to whet your interest:

This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

BC: That’s a tough one! (Laughs.) My dogs mostly do get their food on time, but it’s because about an hour before they’re usually fed, they come and put their heads on my lap, and give me the big, huge, puppy-dog eyes. I usually am working away, and I tell them, “It’s too early!” But they keep coming back, and keep nagging me, so they do tend to get fed on time.

This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?

BC: I’ve been nurturing one plant now for several years; it was planted in remembrance of my deceased Cocker spaniel, Blackie. I try to water it every couple of days, and tell it that Blackie would be pleased…I’m sure that plant is quite bemused with me, too! (Yes, I’m weird.)

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

BC: I got annoyed when anything took me out of the creative process, to be honest. It takes me a while to be fully immersed in the worlds I create, and anything that gets in the way of that feels like a full-on assault of the creative process. But after my initial annoyance, I usually apologize, because it’s not the fault of whoever interrupted that I’ve picked this career (or it picked me, rather).

Anyway, please go take a look at the latest guest blog, as there’s a lot more good stuff to read about there. Note that I can’t comment or do much other than let you know about it because Firefox and Google still aren’t playing well together, and no matter what I do to get rid of cookies out of the cache (isn’t that a lovely word, cache?), I just can’t share anything from that page.

So if you can, please do. And also, do let people know that my book is out…maybe some will see it as utter nonsense, but I hope most won’t. Love is love, and who cares about the outer packaging, anyway? (I sure as Hell don’t.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 27, 2017 at 6:05 pm

When Love Disappoints, What is the Point?

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img_8906The title, above, is the main question at the heart of CHANGING FACES, my new fantasy romance set in modern-day Nebraska featuring a bisexual and gender-fluid woman, Elaine Foster, and her heterosexual boyfriend, Allen Bridgeway. These two have overcome much to find each other, fall in love, and now want to get married — but Elaine’s been keeping her gender-fluidity secret, as she’s desperately afraid Allen will not be able to understand it.

The problem is, when you don’t have open communication, love has no way to grow and becomes less sustaining and fulfilling. Ultimately, if you are holding a big secret inside, as Elaine is at the start of CHANGING FACES, it starts to poison your relationship…that secret has to come out, or you end up with the question I posed above: when love disappoints, what is the point?

See, you need to share all of yourself, when you’re in love with someone else. The good stuff, the bad stuff, the in between stuff…it all has to come out, or you aren’t truly joining with someone else. (That “two shall become one” Bible verse is not just about children, after all.) You have to be willing to be vulnerable, to open yourself up to potential ridicule — though someone who truly loves you isn’t going to do that, we are all human and we all worry about such things — and to hope that your love will grow, change, and flourish over time.

In the case of CHANGING FACES, Elaine is worried that Allen can’t possibly understand her gender-fluidity, as she barely understands it herself and she’s lived with it her entire life. She also was a child of the foster homes, as was Allen…while Allen was able to find a loving adoptive home after a while, Elaine never was, and worse, Elaine was raped while resident of her last foster home by five young men. It’s because of this atrocious act that Elaine can only barely accept Allen’s love for her in the first place, and it adds stress to an already stressful situation.

You might be wondering why Allen keeps trying, hey? Well, he truly is in love with Elaine. He sees who she is, even if he doesn’t know about her gender-fluidity (he doesn’t care about her bisexuality at all; he figures he looks at women, she looks at women too, and they only go home with each other so that’s fine), and he loves her indomitable spirit. He sees her, entire, sees her soul, and loves her for who she is.

But of course, when she finally tells him about her gender-fluidity (and how she believes she’d rather live as a man, maybe get the surgery down the line to become a man outwardly, even though she’d always think of herself as a woman — did I mention that Elaine is a feminist scholar? No?), Allen is completely thrown.

Who wouldn’t be?

I mean, you live with someone for seven years, right? You love that person wisely and well, knowing how much she’s been hurt, appreciating that despite it all, she’s willing to turn to you and give you everything she has…and then you find out this secret.

Allen’s a very good man. He wants to be with Elaine so much, even though he doesn’t understand any of this, he prays that she won’t leave him (as she’s confused, hurt, and upset, and is about to do that very thing even though she still loves him every bit as much as before).

And his prayer is answered by two quirky, shapeshifting angels…

Look. My view of love is very simple. Love matters, period. You have to have communication and trust and honesty, or love can’t flourish as it should. (I think it dies, personally, if you don’t have those things, but maybe that’s just me.) The right person at the right time in your life can work wonders — refer back to everything I’ve said about my late husband Michael if you don’t believe me (I have a category for it, even, if you haven’t read anything about Michael before, on the side of the blog) — but you have to be open and vulnerable and real and tell the truth about yourself, or love will be ultimately less than fulfilling and highly disappointing.

Telling the truth and being vulnerable is a big risk. That’s why it’s so hard to do. And it’s even harder when you’re someone like Elaine who’s been badly hurt and who doesn’t really know how to explain who and what she is…she’s not lying to Allen, but she’s not able to tell him everything, either, and thus, a wedge grows between them.

A wedge that can only be fixed by the two quirky angels and their solution of changing Allen and Elaine’s faces (that is, putting Allen in Elaine’s body, and Elaine in Allen’s, so they’re now both, in effect, transgender in every sense).

As I’ve said in the past several days, I believe in love. I believe in honesty. I believe in miracles, faith, optimism, second chances all unlooked for, and I think we need more of it in this world.

I’m proud to have written CHANGING FACES, and I hope you will enjoy it as well. Do let me know what you think…especially about how you, yourself, have transcended the disappointments you’ve found in your own love relationships (as trust me, every single one of us has been disappointed in a love relationship one way or another — it seems to be part of the human condition).

********

Edited to add:

Here are all the places you can find CHANGING FACES…Chris the Story-Reading Ape put it in this format (so thank you again, Chris!):

Barnes & Noble

Amazon:

USA  –   UK  –  CA  –  AUS  –  IN

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 12, 2017 at 12:35 am

More Thoughts on Love

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Folks, one of my friends asked me something just now that I thought I should respond to, so here goes.

I was asked if I believed I could find love again. My answer is yes, I do think so.

At first, I thought it was completely impossible. Love is a once in a lifetime thing, and it’s so rare, its delicacy has to be savored while you have it.

But I’ve had twelve years to think, since my late husband Michael died. And here’s the conclusions I’ve come to…

First, I think every person, every soul, has something to offer that’s unique and distinct and different. So it’s possible to see that, and appreciate that, and try to see if a true connection can be made down the line.

Second, while no one else can be Michael, it’s possible that someone else can be so uniquely himself, so very special and wonderful in his own right, that I’d have to stand up and take notice.

I don’t want to shut down opportunities before they present themselves, mind. But these two thoughts are still quite new. I am trying to figure out what I can bring to the table with anyone else, while still continuing on as myself — the woman who loved Michael B. Caffrey to distraction, and who will always love him.

I hope that down the line, someone special will see what I can give. And what I can receive. And what is possible…maybe is more than I initially thought.

Honestly, I have no idea what will happen next. But I do know this: Michael would kick my butt from here to Kingdom Come if I didn’t try to live my life, enjoy whatever I can wring from it, and do whatever I can to become the best person I can.

So he’d not want me to shut myself off, as I have done. Which is why I’m trying to stay open to possibility, and to choice…even though it’s not easy for me.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 11, 2016 at 11:55 am

Let’s Talk About…Love?

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Folks, Christopher Graham’s blog this evening had a great post called “‘I Love You’…Why Are We So Afraid to Say it?” by guest author Tina Frisco. Ms. Frisco discusses love, and how important it is, and that we shouldn’t be afraid to use the “three little words” as often as we can in the spirit intended (this spirit, of course, mostly being completely in the spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood rather than sexually based). But perhaps you’d rather hear from Ms. Frisco herself?

Here’s a few words from her guest blog tonight:

Among true friends, why are we so afraid to speak our hearts?  Do we think the sentiment might be misconstrued?  Instead of “I love you” we say “much love,” “love you,” “love and hugs,” “sending love,” etc.  We omit the “I” because it’s uncomfortable to speak and just as uncomfortable to watch the receiver’s reaction if our intentions are misinterpreted.  In saying “I” we make a commitment; we own what we say.  That little one-letter word carries huge implications.  It can cause us to hesitate to reach into the depths of our hearts, extract a kernel of authenticity, and share it with another.  It can also cause the door to many receiving hearts to shut.

I’m not sure why we’re sometimes afraid to speak our hearts to our friends. I do know that I, as a widowed woman, am often afraid to use the “l-word” to any of my male friends, but most particularly to those who are married, engaged, or otherwise attached. I don’t want to be misunderstood; I don’t want to make my friends’ partners angry with me; I don’t want to say something that I know, in American society, is often reserved for either the closest of family relations or our spouses. (Period.)

But I’m not as likely to use the “l-word” with female friends, either. The main reason for that has nothing to do with whether or not someone might think I’ve turned bisexual overnight (I haven’t, though if you think that can happen magically without effort, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn). Instead, it’s because I have a hard time saying something like that, because it’s so naked and so revealing…I may as well strip naked and walk down the street without clothes (a la Kim Kardashian West, without anything close to Mrs. West’s body), because it’s so damned difficult to say.

In fact, the only time I can remember saying to my friends — male and female alike — that I loved them was right after my husband Michael died in 2004. I told them that I loved them all. I figured at that point, they’d best understand my love was more on the agape side, with a bit of philios thrown in; I was in no shape to love anyone erotically except Michael, and he wasn’t there any more. (At least, not physically.)

Ms. Frisco goes on to say:

Our time on this earth is short.  Our reason for being here is to learn.  And there is nothing more gratifying than telling someone you love them and having them receive it with delight and reciprocation.  Saying “I love you” shouldn’t be a fearful thing.  It should be a joyous union of two souls helping each other grow.

I agree with her that life is very short, and I also agree that at least one of the reasons we are here is to learn from others.

Still. It’s really hard to say the three little words to anyone other than your spouse and your nearest and dearest friends, at least in the US of A, for the reasons I gave above. And even there, if your friend is of the opposite sex, you’d best use a ton of qualifiers, or he/she could possibly get the wrong idea…

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to say the words, mind. But I still think it’s far, far more important to let your actions carry weight and meaning.

Maybe it’s because I was divorced before I met Michael, but here’s my take on love: It is a wonderful and even awe-inspiring thing, when someone loves you unconditionally. It feels almost like a sacred trust, except there’s so much love, so much laughter, so much joy in it…you’re still you, with all the flaws endemic in being a human being, and yet you feel understood, and worthwhile, and happy.

But just saying “I love you” is nowhere near enough. You need to back up those actions by listening, by caring, by doing what you can to help your loved one(s), and by making a commitment every single day to be the person who is worthy of such love. Then return those things, every single day, to your loved one(s)…that way, whether you are like me and can only rarely say the “three little words,” your spouses and kids and family members and close friends will know that they are deeply blessed to have you in their lives.

At least, I hope so. Because that is what love is all about, to my mind.

And that is indeed at least one reason why we’re here, too…to love others, as we wish to be loved ourselves. (My husband taught me that, and it’s true.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 17, 2016 at 12:16 am