Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘military SF

Why I Wrote “Bringer of Chaos: The Origin of Pietas” — a Guest Blog by Kayelle Allen

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Folks, do I have a treat for you today!

A few months ago, I edited Kayelle Allen’s BRINGER OF CHAOS: The Origin of Pietas, and couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. Pietas is a strong character, someone who starts out dark, forbidding, and almost impossible to like…but somehow, with Kayelle’s insight, Pietas becomes much more than that. BRINGER OF CHAOS is a science fiction novel of cultural clashes, personal growth, friendship, sacrifice, and much, much more. It’s beautifully written, in some spots deeply moving, and a book I hope everyone will check out right away.

Now, on to Kayelle’s excellent guest blog, already in progress…

3d-boc1When I wrote Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas, I was creating the background and origin story for the most notorious villain in my scifi universe. In a series of books based in the Tarthian Empire, I had gone to great lengths to instill a sense of awe and fear in readers regarding the immortal king. Honestly, Pietas scared me, and I created him! I knew the depth of his cruelty because I’d created him to be the baddie all the other baddies feared. In the universe of those stories, he was known by many names: Impaler, Hammer of God, Marauder, Soul Ripper, Destroyer of Worlds, Slayer of Innocents, Hound of Hell, and more famously, the Bringer of Chaos. To reveal the reason he became such a terrifying person, I needed to delve into his head and get to know him better. *Gulp.*

I mentioned to my friend, author Houston Havens, that I didn’t know how to write an emotionless sociopath. First she laughed, then she took me to passages in my own books and showed me the emotions Pietas had displayed. Houston was right. Pietas was far from emotionless. Sociopath was as far from his reality as moonlight is from sunlight. One is cool and pale; the other hot and vibrant. I was trying to write him as a moon. Pietas was a sun.

Houston suggested that we “interview” him. She and I talk almost every day on Skype, so that was easy. I would “be” Pietas and answer on Skype as him. It would be an exercise in free association, and we would record it so I would have reference. Once we got started, it was surprisingly easy to get into his head. She asked him questions that were simple at first. Then she asked about his father, which made me delve into my own past as a child and parent. Mine was innocent and filled with love. My villainous hero, however, had a different bent.

When I was a child, the parent-child bond set my life on a certain path, and I believe no matter how old I get, I will always be the way I was molded to be from childhood. Pietas is immortal, and apparently, so is his love/hate-mostly-hate relationship with his father. Delving into that in detail will take more than one book. In fact, I’ve gone from wondering how I could possibly write a whole book about Pietas to planning another four.

Pietas now fascinates me. Getting to know this character helped me break past an episode of writer’s block that had lasted seven years. I had written, but was producing only non-fiction (Tarthian Empire Companion) and books about the characters (An Immortal’s Guide to Tarth). With Bringer of Chaos out of the way, I’m back where I belong — in the world of the Tarthian Empire. The galaxy of stories beyond that is, as Pietas would say, “ripe for the plucking.”

About Kayelle Allen

Kayelle Allen is a best selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Homeworld/Blog https://kayelleallen.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/kayelleallen
Facebook https://facebook.com/kayelleallen.author

About the Book

Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas
Author: Kayelle Allen
Publisher: Romance Lives Forever Books
Editor: Barb Caffrey
Heat level: PG13
Genre: YA (older young adult), action adventure, science fiction, space opera, military science fiction, space marine, genetic engineering
Wordcount: 52,492
Pages: 186

Two enemy warriors: one human, one immortal. Different in belief, alike in spirit, marooned together on an alien world.

Imprisoned and in isolation over a year without food or water, the immortal Pietas survives. Though broken in body, his intellect and will are intact, thanks to Six, the special ops warrior who captured him, but kept him sane. The warrior had no hand in his deprivation and, like Pietas, was betrayed by his own kind. When Pietas is abandoned on an alien world with nothing but his honor–and Six–he must find and rejoin other immortal exiles. After centuries of war, Pietas detests humans and kills them on sight, but he is too damaged to continue on his own. Though he despises needing help, he allows Six to nurture and restore him to full strength, and then accompany him. As they cross the planet together on foot, the immortal begins to wonder if he has found his first human friend, or if Six is loyal only because Pietas could keep the others from tearing him to shreds. This human will either be his closest living friend, or the one whose betrayal will trigger all-out vengeance by the most powerful immortal ever born.

Immortal. Warrior. Outcasts. Traitors took everything. Except their honor.

Read the first chapter https://kayelleallen.com/chaos-origin/
Amazon http://amzn.to/1R8DAbb
Amazon print http://amzn.to/1SSmueB
CreateSpace http://bit.ly/boc-origin-csp

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So, now that you’ve read all this, what are you waiting for? Go get Kayelle’s excellent novel right now. You will not regret it.

Now Available in E-Book: Loren K. Jones’s “Inadvertent Adventures”

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Folks, it’s been a while since I was able to announce something fun for one of my friends, but I’m happy to do so tonight.

As some of you might know, Loren K. Jones has been a friend of mine for many years now; he knew my husband Michael well, though by long-distance, and Michael edited for Loren. (I have also edited books and stories for Loren since Michael’s passing.)

Now, Loren’s first novel for Twilight Times Books, INADVERTENT ADVENTURES — a funny military SF adventure — is now available for purchase at Amazon. And for a week or so as an introductory deal, it’ll be available for only ninety-nine cents. (Yes, I grabbed a copy right away. I have no shame.) It will also be available via OmniLit and Barnes and Noble within a day or so.

Loren’s a fine writer, and I’m glad to let you all know his latest novel is available…especially as many of his other works are currently out of print. (Don’t worry; I asked him about this recently, and he told me he’s working on bringing them back. And if INADVERTENT ADVENTURES does as well as I’m hoping, maybe that’ll be sooner rather than later.)

This is a big deal for Loren, and I’m very happy to support him and his efforts.

So, please do take a gander at Loren’s novel — hey, it’s only ninety-nine cents right now, so how could you go wrong? — and then come back and let me know what you think.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 5, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Marketing for Romance Writers’ Blog Features “To Survive the Maelstrom” as part of #Thursday13

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Folks, I’d asked to be part of the meme known as #Thursday13 at Marketing for Romance Writers’ busy blog a while ago. I thought letting some folks know about “To Survive the Maelstrom” would be interesting. And all they wanted was for me to post up to thirteen lines of the manuscript…so what could be simpler?

Maelstrom3So if you’ve not read any of “To Survive the Maelstrom” yet, please go over there and read a bit about Command Sergeant-Major Peter Welmsley of the Atlantean Union. Peter was once my late husband Michael’s character, and I found his story so compelling, I wanted to know more.

That’s why I decided to write the story of how Peter meets his empathic companion, a sentient, sapient being known as a weremouse. I knew that someone who’d been so damaged as to need a complete epidermal regeneration must have a story to tell. And fortunately, I was able to figure out what, exactly, that story was.

Peter’s dilemma, you see, is one of many soldiers who come home, realizing the world around them has changed. Or at least the way they perceive the world around them has changed. They are ill in spirit, even if they might’ve been healed in body, and most of them aren’t fortunate enough to find something as accepting, loving and nurturing as a weremouse.

In fact, Peter’s struggles with his own family are alluded to, because they truly don’t seem to understand just how bad he feels. He’s lost nearly everyone he worked with; he lost his fiancée; he lost his best friend. And underneath it all, he feels guilty for surviving — and yet, if he didn’t survive, who would remember his friends? Who would remember Hunin? Who would remember to tell their stories as well as his own?

As a widow, I felt powerfully driven to write this story — not just to complete my late husband Michael’s work (which admittedly is a compelling motivation all on its own), but because I empathized with Peter.

No, I don’t have post-traumatic stress disorder, as Peter almost certainly does. No, I’ve never served in the military (though I was a military wife at one time, and they make enormous sacrifices that mostly go unnoticed). No, if Michael had lived, I probably wouldn’t have done more than edit for my husband, and talk with him about the possibilities here.

But as my life has changed profoundly due to being widowed too young, I understood where Peter was coming from. He’s a full adult. He had his life all planned out. He knew what he wanted, and he knew how to get it.

Then, in one day, everything changed. And he had to pick up the pieces.

Fortunately for Peter, a weremouse is about to change his life for the better. But that does not at all mean Peter doesn’t still have scars — many in places that do not show.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy my story. (If you’re really sharp, you might even figure out what parts Michael wrote, and what parts I did. Though they’re not obvious…at least, I hope not.)

It’s available now at Amazon, and I hope in a few months’ time to have it up also at Smashwords and BN.com. Do let me know what you think of it.

Some Good News, Some Bad News…

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Folks, I have the proverbial “good news, bad news” update to foist upon you today.

First, the good news. A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE will definitely be out in mid-September of 2015 — meaning a month from now — and a small blurb has been put up at the Twilight Times Books site reflecting what A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE is all about:

http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/News.html#publishing_notes

As the blurb says:

Young Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, are in deep trouble. Bruno’s Elfy mentor Roberto the Wise is about to be sacrificed by Dennis the Dark Elf, with Sarah’s parents’ help. Things look bleak, but Bruno and Sarah have a few allies no one could possibly expect – human, Elfy, and ghosts. Can young love and desperation win out despite it all?

And before you ask — no, I still don’t have cover art.

The bad news? Well, my second quarter story at the Writers of the Future contest, despite being out longer than any other story I’ve ever had, didn’t do anything. It came up with a flat rejection after 137 days.

This particular story is close to my heart in many ways; it is post-apocalyptic military SF with romance.

Now, there is a bit of interesting byplay here, in that I’m reasonably convinced I will be able to sell this elsewhere. (If not as a novella, as a novel.) So my efforts with this story haven’t been wasted…but of course I’m not happy that I’ve come up with yet another rejection at the WotF Contest.

Look. I’ve been trying submissions there for fourteen years now. (Does this mean I don’t know when to quit? I don’t know. It’s just how I am.) I’ve tried just about everything. I’ve tried magical realism. I’ve tried straight SF. I’ve tried fantasy. I’ve tried fantasy/romance. I’ve tried military SF — which is where my two honorable mentions come from — and now I’ve tried this one.

Which got me nowhere.

I do have a submission in already for Quarter 3. I can’t tell you what it is. I can tell you I’d be utterly astonished if this story does anything…not that it’s not a good story, because I think it is, but I don’t think it’s right for the market.

“So, Barb, why did you send it there, then?” you might be asking.

Because I like to submit something to the WotF Contest, just on the off-chance that lightning strikes. I need the boost to my career that the WotF Contest often provides. It seems to provide instant name recognition, which as a small press/indie author I need very badly…and it also gets your name in front of agents and bigger publishers. (Though even so, you still have to be very careful about whatever contracts you might sign. The reputable publishers will tell you that, but in case you’re not sure of the difference between a reputable pub and a disreputable pub, try either Writer Beware or Preditors and Editors. They’ll set you straight.)

Other than that, I wanted to mention that the Racine Concert Band’s free summer concert series at the Racine Zoo is coming to an end later tonight. Show starts at 7 p.m., and soloists this week are Greg and Kathy Berg (vocalists) and Nancy Quist, trumpet.

Hope to see you there!

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 16, 2015 at 2:19 am

Time for a July #MFRWhooks Blog Hop, Atlantean Union-Style!

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OK, OK…WordPress did something weird here, and posted this a full day earlier than I scheduled it.

I’m still very happy to do the #MFRWhooks Blog Hop for this novella, set in my late husband’s Atlantean Union milieu.

Now, back to my original post.

Folks, I am a proud member of the Marketing for Romance Writers organization. They do a lot of good for authors, most particularly small press and indies…and they’ve given me many tips that I’ve found quite useful.

One of the other things they do is on every Wednesday, they open up something called “BookHooks.” It’s an opportunity to “hook” new readers, something no writer can do without.

As I have two new releases out — and as I’ve already done a paranormal blog hop or two in previous weeks for Michael’s “Columba and the Cat” novella — I figured I’d rather take part this week with my new military science fiction novella, “To Survive the Maelstrom.” (My late husband is credited, because I wouldn’t have written this story at all without the two thousand words he left behind.)

Maelstrom3Here’s the blurb:

Command Sergeant-Major Sir Peter Welmsley of the Atlantean Union has lost everything he holds dear. He wonders why he lived, when so many others died at Hunin — including his fiancée, Lydia, and his best friend Chet.

Into his life comes Grasshunter’s Cub, an empathic, sentient creature known to those on Heligoland as a “weremouse.”

Weremice are known for their ability to help their bond-mates. But how can this young weremouse find a way to bring Peter back from the brink of despair and start living again?

And now, a few sentences from “To Survive the Maelstrom” that explain exactly what Peter’s emotional state is before he meets up with his destined weremouse:

How long had it been since he’d smiled? Three months, perhaps? Surely the six months he’d spent in a medically induced coma while his skin regrew didn’t count . . . did it?

Even the pleasant heat of the spring couldn’t keep him away from his thoughts any longer. Why hadn’t the damned pirates left Hunin the Hell alone? Nine times out of ten, they ran; the tenth time, like Hunin, they stood and fought. And this time, they’d landed a lucky shot on HMS Niobe, where Peter had served as a platoon sergeant. Peter had quickly assumed command in the emergency as the senior NCO, considering all of the officers were dead or incapacitated.

But it hadn’t been enough.

Why was he alive, when so many good people were dead?

Now, in case you were intrigued by this sample, go to Amazon forthwith and get yourself a copy. (Right now, Amazon is the only place that has it, though in 90 days I hope to get “To Survive the Maelstrom” up at Barnes and Noble and Smashwords as well.)

And do check out the other participants in this week’s blog hop, will you? They’re all wonderful authors, and you might just find yourself a new favorite if you only give ’em half a chance.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

Commentary on Charleston, plus cover reveal for “To Survive the Maelstrom”

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Folks, I’d planned to do this cover reveal today for my forthcoming short story, “To Survive the Maelstrom,” before the events in Charleston last night.

Because this story deals with loss, grief, and a soldier with PTSD finding a way to continue on with his life, I decided to go through with it anyway. I plan to release this story sometime next week in time for my thirteenth wedding anniversary.

But before I do that, I’d like to comment a little on the Charleston shooting.

My heart is heavy. I don’t understand why anyone would sit through an hour’s worth of Bible study, then calmly and coldly shoot nine people to death.

I know that the man who’s been ID’ed as the shooter is a self-proclaimed racist. I know that he wanted to “kill black people,” and left one person alive to explain just why he did this. I also know the shooter is only twenty-one years old…because I don’t like talking about someone so evil, so twisted, and so bizarre, I’m not going to give this perpetrator the dignity of having a name. (I think he lost that when he took those nine people’s lives in cold blood.)

Anyway, while I cannot understand the shooting in Charleston at all — a church, of all places, should be safe, even in times like these — I do understand how it feels to live after grief. And overpowering grief is very difficult to bear.

This is why I wrote “To Survive the Maelstrom.”

Note that Michael, my late husband, is credited for two reasons. One, I’m playing in his Atlantean Union universe. And two, I found the story of how Peter, my hero, met his weremouse (an empathic, sentient creature), to be uplifting and inspiring — and Michael had the bare bones of it in one of his unfinished manuscripts.

The blurb for “To Survive the Maelstrom” will go something like this:

Maelstrom3Command Sergeant-Major Sir Peter Welmsley has lost everything he holds dear and now suffers from PTSD. He wonders why he lived, when so many others died at Hunin — including his fiancée, Lydia, and his best friend Chet.

Into his life comes Grasshunter’s Cub, an empathic, sentient creature known to those on Heligoland as a “weremouse.” Grasshunter’s Cub is nearly adult, and knows he doesn’t fit in with the rest of the weremice in his tribe.

Weremice are known for their ability to help their bond-mates. But how can this young weremouse find a way to bring Peter back from the brink of despair and start living again?

Ultimately, “To Survive the Maelstrom” is a story of hope and faith, told in an unusual way. I hope readers of military science fiction will enjoy it.

I also hope that showing someone who’s lost everything and found a way to claw his way back will be inspirational, maybe even heartwarming.

Because we need stories like this right now.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm

A Guest Blog, a Book Trailer…Friday Fun Awaits!

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Folks, I have a few pieces of information to share with you, and they’re both rather exciting.

First, the Exquisite Quills Holiday anthology (in which my fantasy/romance short story “Marja’s Victory” is included) now has its own YouTube trailer, thanks to the fabulous work of author Kaye Spencer. Please take a look, and let me know what you think. (Personally, I loved the picture chosen for my story — Marja’s cloak is absolutely right!)

Second, Stephanie Osborn posted my guest blog “Ghosts in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE” over at her well-read blog Comet Tales a few, short days ago. (If not for my blasted sinus infection, I’d have seen it sooner. But all is well.) So if you didn’t read it over at Murder By 4, please go to Stephanie’s blog and read it now.

(Heck, go read it anyway, even if it’s for the second time. You’ll enjoy it.)

Finally, I dropped the price to both of my late husband Michael’s military science fiction stories back to ninety-nine cents for the remainder of the holidays. So if you’ve wanted to read “A Dark and Stormy Night” or “On Westmount Station,” but didn’t want to pay $1.99 apiece for them, now the two of them combined cost only $1.98.

Happy Friday, everyone!