Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘personal updates

A Sunday Throwback (and Other Stuff)

with 6 comments

Folks, Facebook has a memories feature, and it reminded me of a blog I wrote in 2015 called “A Writer’s Work is Never Done.” (Link is here.) As lately I’ve been editing far more than I’ve been writing, it was nice to have something positive show up in my Facebook feed (yes, I shared that puppy; what, you expected me to say anything else?)

See, editing can be draining. And the most recent project I’ve been working on was a monster of an edit. (It might be the toughest edit I’ve ever had.) It consumed me, at least when I wasn’t sick and was being consumed by something else.

I am still sick, mind, with an asthma exacerbation and some sort of untreated allergic reaction. (I have an Epi-pen, and I know what to do if/when something bad happens of an allergic nature. Still, I hope I won’t have to use it anytime soon.) The new meds I’ve been put on should do some good, but it’ll take a few weeks for them to ramp up.

Anyway, the point to this Sunday post is this: No matter how awful you’re feeling, something will remind you of better days. (Even if it’s not exactly what you’d thought about, at first.)

Of course, the other memory I had pop up in my feed was that my dog Trouble died on this day two years ago. (Well, two years and a few days ago, now.) Thinking about Trouble is bittersweet, at best, ’cause I loved that little guy so much. He really did see himself as a badass, but he was a sweetheart. (Hey, you can be both, especially if you’re a dog. But I digress.)

I don’t have a picture that’s shareable, or I’d show you one. But Trouble was about fourteen pounds, had a black and white coloring, was mostly Shih Tzu but mixed (the back legs were shorter than the front, which isn’t common for Shih Tzus), and was one of the most interesting and funny dogs I’ve ever been around. Big brown eyes, an expressive face…Trouble had empathy galore, though of course he didn’t bruit it about (as again, he was a badass and don’t you forget it).

Finally, though my Facebook feed didn’t throw this memory up, I remember my good friend Jeff Wilson on this day. He would’ve turned 58 today, had he lived, and it’s been ten long years since he died.

How time flies.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to forgive myself for not being able to go out to Colorado and be with him (as I was still working on financing that at the time of his death). I wish I had made it there, as maybe Jeff’s passing would’ve been a bit easier…and even if not, I would’ve had people to mourn with (rather than mourning alone so many miles — almost half a continent — away).

So, on this day, I remember Jeff. I remember Trouble. I remember that once upon a time, I was excited for my second novel to come out, and was working on my third.

All of these things remind me of my most intrinsic, essential self. And my hope is that as I continue to heal that I will be able to resume my fiction writing, along with being able to play my saxophone and clarinet regularly, along with editing.

Because while I do enjoy editing, doing only that stifles me.

I must be able to create, you see. Or it all builds up to the point I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust (and not in a good way).

At any rate, what are you thinking about this Sunday? Do you ever think about the people (and beloved pets) that have gone before us? Let me know in the comments, if you would. (Still feeling all alone in the void, here.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 21, 2021 at 5:23 am

A Semi-Quick Update…Books, Health, Etc.

with 3 comments

Folks, because I’ll be taking part in a promotion soon — Read an E-Book Week is only a few days away — I wanted to make absolutely sure I came back here and let you know that’s going to happen. I’ll be giving away copies of my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and my third novel, CHANGING FACES, via the Twilight Times Books website. (That’s my publisher.) I’ll give links, so if you don’t already have copies of my books, you can go get them for free — and all I ask is that you please, please read them, comment on them somewhere, and let other people know they exist.

So, more on that in a couple of days.

But I also owed you all some sort of explanation for my untoward silence. If you’ve been following along with my blog for any length of time, you know I’ve been battling some unforeseen health issues. And that so far, the doctors don’t seem to know what to make of them — or me.

(Well, this is my succinct way of putting it.)

I’ve had a number of tests in the past month. Most have given me answers I already knew — such as, I have asthma — while a few have been mixed. The stuff in the middle between “answers I already knew” and “mixed” seems to be coming back with, “Nothing to see here, move along.” (Though I did find out one strange thing, which I’m coping with…at some point, I apparently had a pulmonary embolism, which didn’t kill me outright. That’s a damned good thing, because approximately 20% of the people will die without even know what killed them. And I’ve been put on blood thinners so I won’t have any more.)

So, more stuff gets ruled out than explained. And I continue to battle Ye Olde Mystery Illness, for whatever reason…while doing what I can to edit, live even a shadow semblance of a normal life, and try not to fret myself into oblivion.

The main thing now is to keep trying, keep looking, keep hope alive, and believe that eventually they’re going to find a way to help me.

And the secondary thing is to keep doing whatever I can to make my life better and easier — or at least less difficult and distressing — while I continue to search for answers.

I do hope I’ll find some answers soon, though, because I am tired of the stuff that I haven’t been able to do.

For example, I haven’t been able to play my instruments now in nearly three months due to respiratory distress. I missed the last concert with the Racine Concert Band (which I’ve played in, on and off, for nearly twenty years) and at this point have no idea if I can play the next (in a few months).

And, for yet another example, I haven’t been able to write much fiction in three or four months, either, beyond either prose notes or a thousand words here and there (which isn’t terrible, but it’s not what I hoped for, either; it’s particularly vexing because I’d been making good progress with one book, and had reached the halfway point, only to have my health stall out, and me have to wait until I get my strength back and enough energy to figure the rest of the book out.)

And you all know how spotty my blogs have become. (I would hope you know it’s not for a lack of interest. I always have something to say, or ponder, or want to discuss, but I have to have enough energy with which to do it. And just trying to live halfway well, plus help my friends and family, and then of course edit — I probably should put that first, as I love to do it nearly as much as I love writing or playing music, but I’m typing this stream-of-consciousness — is taking everything I have and then some.)

That said, I am still in the fight. I am doing everything I can to get to a good outcome, one way or another. And I do hope to return to writing, return to playing my music, and most importantly, return to some sort of decent health in the not-so-distant future.

Here’s hoping.


P.S. You may note that I am still editing. This is my livelihood, so I’d damned well better. (And as I said, I love to do it nearly as much as writing or playing music.) And I will honor my commitments as I always do, because that’s the only way to live in my not-so-humble opinion.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 29, 2020 at 7:21 am

The Struggle Goes On

with 3 comments

Folks, I have been battling some health issues. I don’t want to get into the nature of them just yet, partially because I don’t have a complete answer as to what in the Hell is going on.

But as I do try to blog regularly, and I haven’t been able to do so in a few months — not regularly, anyway — I figured I owed my regular readers some sort of explanation. Or at least some acknowledgment that I know I’ve not been holding up my end of the bargain with this blog.

There are many stories I’d like to talk about. Ideas I wish to express. And I keep thinking of interesting blog subjects…but the energy has not been there.

Mind, I’ve at least been able to do my regularly scheduled editing. I’ve also been able to do a bit of writing here and there (blogs, as you’ve seen, along with some fiction that you haven’t). But the fatigue has been very strong for months. And as most creative people know, if you don’t have much in the way of energy, you don’t have much to work with in order to create.

That doesn’t mean you can’t. But it makes it much harder.

And in my case, running back and forth to the doctor, while continuing on with the semblance of life as I’ve known it, has not been easy. I’ve had to use a lot of my energy for that, along with editing, and other aspects of “normal, daily living.”

I continue to do the very best I can while attempting to heal up. Some days have been much harder than others. But that isn’t going to stop me from struggling to create, and to do everything in my power to make a positive difference in this world. (Or at least not make a negative one.)

When I have a complete answer — or as close to complete as I’m likely to get — I’ll let you know more of what has been going on here. But for now, all I can tell you is that I’m going to have to keep resting a lot, and attending a ton of medical appointments — and tests.

For now, all I can tell you is this: I am struggling. But I am trying. And while I am still alive, I will do everything in my power to get back to creating and doing what I love to do.

Nothing less will suffice.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 28, 2020 at 2:57 am

Posted in Informational Stuff

Tagged with

Timing, and Jason Cordova’s DARKLING

with 2 comments

I read Jason Cordova’s hotly awaited new novel, DARKLING, over the course of three weeks. (Normally I would’ve devoured it in one sitting, but the fact that I had a crisis going on with a family member’s health made me put it to the side for a time.) It is absorbing, intelligent, fast-paced, dark, depressing, menacing, and in its way a damned good read — but the timing of my life and reading this book were not fully aligned.


I submitted a review to Amazon, as per usual, but because I am much more scattered/distracted than usual, I didn’t make a copy of it before I left their page. (Edited to add: After waiting for nearly a full day, I gave up and reviewed the book at Goodreads.) Because of that, I can’t quote the review I’ve already written; all I can do is tell you to go read DARKLING, as it’s very good dark military SF with some absorbing political machinations. (Yes, you should read WRAITHKIN, the first book of Jason’s “Kin Wars” series, first. But you’ll easily understand DARKLING whether you do or not, providing you’ve read any military SF or dark SF at all.)

The rest of this blog is going to talk about aspects of the book that were tough for me to handle, due to the timing. If you don’t want your reading spoiled (though I will try to avoid the worst of spoilers), go do something else and return for the next blog, will you? (I won’t be offended. Promise.)

We have three brothers in DARKLING: Gabriel Espinoza, a Darkling soldier and second-class citizen dealing with dehumanizing treatment due to all soldiers of this type being recruited from the Imperfect class (meaning they could develop cancer, or have some other “genetic defect” that’s been rooted out by the galactic civilization they live in); Andrew Espinoza, a spy (a damned good one) who’s acted in many regards as a chameleon mole; Kevin Espinoza, a politician and born diplomat. Gabriel is a brooding hot mess from an emotional standpoint (it’s understandable, though; the love of his life is dead, he had to give up his daughter due to his line of work and because he didn’t want her tainted by the knowledge of his “imperfect” father, and he’s cut off from his family due to various considerations, even though his family wanted nothing of the sort. I can’t explain this fully because of spoilers, and also because much of it is explained at the very end of WRAITHKIN as I have written before, so I hope you can take this as read.) Andrew, as a chameleon mole, has other issues with trying to maintain his inner self, and also has been cut off from his family due to completely other concerns (again, his family certainly doesn’t want this, but with his job, there’s no other way). And finally, Kevin is a good guy, the only brother attuned to his emotions and fighting hard for the Imperfects as he views his society as closed-minded and hypocritical (and rightfully so). But he’s mostly there as a foil, to explain what the other two brothers should’ve been if not for the circumstances that led them to fight a war in their disparate ways…and that’s a conscious author’s decision that I can’t fault Jason for, as he needed that foil desperately due to the darkness of everything else.

Now, as to the circumstances of my life, and how it applies to how I saw DARKLING.

First, I was reading along, and enjoying the book immensely despite its darkness. (I knew what I was getting in for, as I read and enjoyed WRAITHKIN, and I really wanted to see what would happen next to the Espinoza clan.) Then, my family member’s health crisis arose, and suddenly the world stopped meaning much. I had to put DARKLING down, and deal with immediate realities; my blogs dried up for a bit (which I’ve already explained); I went to “work, sleep, go to hospital/rehab center” mode, rinse and repeat.

Finally, I was able to get back to DARKLING and realized two things; one, I hadn’t forgotten anything in the intervening time since I’d last been able to read and concentrate on anything. (This is the sign of a good writing and an absorbing read, that you don’t forget anything even in the midst of a crisis like this.) And two, the fact that these brothers are put through the emotional and physical wringer was all of a sudden more visceral, more immediate, than before, due to the circumstances of what was going on all around me.

See, writers are observers by nature. We have to be, or we can’t explain or show any of the stories we tell with any verisimilitude at all.

So, I was observing everything that happened around me, as per usual, whether I was picking up on that observation consciously or not. And all of that — all — hit me as I restarted my read of DARKLING. The injuries these men suffered were almost overpowering in their intensity, in this context, and it was difficult for me to keep reading despite the quality of the writing. (Jason keeps getting better and better, and tells a damned absorbing story, as I have said before.)

To my mind, DEVASTATOR is more my cup of tea (as I wrote here). I like Tori so much as a character, and her relationship with Dylan (the shy, almost innocent love she has for him) helps to enliven even the darkest of moments.

But DARKLING is quite good. Quite, quite good, in fact.

I just had a hard time reading it due to what’s been going on. So I tried to say that, without getting into personal details, in the review at Amazon (that still isn’t up as I type this, though if it does go up anytime soon I’ll add a link to the review so you can read it directly).

I do think Jason’s created a new genre, or at least fused a few, in DARKLING. I call this “grim-dark military SF.” (If you read it, you’ll understand why.) There is a palpable sense of menace in even its quieter moments; everyone is on edge, everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop (or axe to fall, depending), and Gabriel in particular seems like a bomb waiting for a place to go off.

The writing is stellar, though, and if you know going in — as you should, providing you’ve read WRAITHKIN — that it’s going to be grim, you should be able to handle DARKLING just fine.

Just don’t read it before going to sleep if you have a weak stomach or are prone to nightmares. As this book will give you more than a few, else.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 13, 2018 at 9:59 am

An Overall Update (Mostly About “Changing Faces”)

with 2 comments

Folks, every so often, I like to give you an update as to what I’m doing and how well (or poorly) I’m doing it.

And as I’ve had numerous questions as to when CHANGING FACES will come out, I figured I’d best get something up to let you know what’s going on there.

As most of you know, CHANGING FACES was put into the Twilight Times Books Summer catalogue, so the assumption is that I will be able to get it out — at least in e-book — before September 20, 2016 (the very tail-end of summer). Progress has been slow, but steady…overall, I think I will get CF out by September 20, providing my publisher likes my final version, but it’s going to continue to take much thought, time, and energy in order to do this.

(Yes, that’s the main reason why I haven’t blogged much, and it’s definitely the major reason as to why I haven’t written a book review for Shiny Book Review in many months. But I digress.)

As for everything else…my living situation is exactly the same. (I call it “limbo.”) I still can’t talk much about it because much of this particular story is not mine to tell…but I’m looking into all options, in order to avoid imminent distress.

(Yes, this same situation has been going on for four solid months. No, it’s not easy for me to deal with. Yes, I wish I had better options than the ones currently on the table, or I’d have found a way out of this mess. But again, I digress.)

And I’ve edited another book this month, which I hope to tell you about in a few weeks.

As for my own, personal projects — I hope to have an independent Elfyverse novella, “Trouble with Elfs,” out in a couple of weeks. (I’ll talk more about that later.) I have been stalled out on the next Joey Maverick novella, tentatively titled “On Bubastis,” for over a year, but it’s still in the pipeline. I have started outlining a prequel novel, THE QUEST FOR COLUMBA, in my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s Columba Chronicles universe, but with everything else on my plate, it may not be ready until December — and that’s only if some of the other issues on the table resolve by then.

So, I continue to do the best I can. That, ultimately, is all I can do.

Anyway, blogs will probably continue to be slow, though I do have a couple of guest writers coming over in September to keep y’all amused. And I do hope to get a few book reviews done soon…but CHANGING FACES remains the priority.

Hope you all are doing well, and would enjoy hearing what you and yours are up to, if you feel like discussing it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 24, 2016 at 6:37 pm

My Patreon Update…and Other Stuff

with 2 comments

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

Catching Up…

with 2 comments

Folks, I realized I haven’t been here to let you know what’s going on for a few days…so I figured I should try to catch up.

What’s going on with me? Mostly, I’m spending my time editing, with a side order of writing…and the Racine Concert Band free summer concert season is about to start, so a little of that, too. (I play alto sax in the band.)

I’m also trying to work my way through a few problems, and it’s like gnawing on a particularly dense bone. It’s hard for me to know what to say, what I can say, what I should say…as I’ve said before, not all of the story is my own, and I don’t want to infringe upon anyone else’s privacy.

That said, my living situation remains in flux. I don’t know from day to day what’s going to happen — how this is any different than any other time, I can’t really tell you. (If you want to be philosophical, none of us knows from day to day what’s going to happen.) Except to say that I’d prefer a bit more stability in my life, that is…I think that would be highly conducive to creativity, at least in the short-term. (Then again, maybe I wouldn’t know what to do with all that serenity if I had it. Though I did well enough with my late husband, who exuded serenity, at least in my estimation…my hope is that I still would know, even after all this time.)

There have been many things that have caught my attention over the past week, including the death of college basketball coach Pat Summitt (one of the true icons in the field, and a pioneer in women’s history, someone who helped put women’s college basketball firmly on the map and gave it the same status as men’s basketball), a horrific bombing in Turkey, Donald Trump bloviating in Scotland about things he knows nothing about (in this case, the British vote to leave the European Union), and a nagging at the back of my mind that I really should write something about the Milwaukee Brewers of 2016.

So, don’t think I have lost interest in the world, or in blogging. It’s more that my focus is sharply directed elsewhere for a time. And because of that, I don’t have much to say…except that I’m glad you’re here, reading my blog, and paying attention to what I’m trying to do.

Have an enjoyable holiday weekend, folks.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 30, 2016 at 4:02 am

A Temporary Lapse Of Blogging…

leave a comment »

…or something like that.

Seriously, folks, I haven’t written much in the past several weeks. And I am overdue for some sort of rational explanation — I know there are people who do read my blog, and have asked, “What’s the deal, Barb? Don’t you care about blogging any more?”

Yes, I care. But reality has intruded.

I’ve been dealing with an illness in the family, and also was finishing up a few pressing editing projects. I still have more to do — and much, much, much more writing, natch — but I finished the most pressing of those editorial projects, and my family member is feeling much better after antibiotics and rest.

My hope is that after I’ve caught up a bit on my own rest, I’ll be back to blogging with the best of them in no time. Because there’s so much to talk about — the April 5 election in Wisconsin (Presidential primaries, and a very important Wisconsin Supreme Court election also), my preview of the upcoming 2016 baseball season for my favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and more about books, stories, current events, etc.

So, stay tuned for more blogging in the not-so-distant future. And thanks for bearing with me in the interim.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 29, 2016 at 5:08 am

Posted in in general, Persistence

Tagged with

In It for the Long Haul

leave a comment »

Folks, over the past few days, I’ve been working on CHANGING FACES (amidst some work on edits). This isn’t easy, as I’d hoped to be done by now…as nearly every regular reader of my blog probably knows.

However, I’m in it for the long haul. Which means I’m going to keep going, keep striving, keep thinking, and keep working, for as long as it takes.

Do I have moments where I wonder what I’m doing? Of course I do.

Do I wonder if all this effort is going to matter in the end? Of course I do.

Still, I have to keep doing it…or I won’t be me.

I’m also reminded of something my late husband Michael told me about his own writing. We were talking about fame, and fortune, and whether or not we’d ever find that as writers–cynics that we were, we figured it probably wasn’t ever going to happen.

Then he said something rather surprising. He told me, “The universe knows what I’ve done. I’m satisfied with that.”

I figured this was the Zen Buddhist in him, at the time. But since his passing, I’ve often wondered about this.

Do we create merely out of ego? Or do we create because we must, or we won’t be ourselves? And does it matter to the universe that we were here, that we did our best, that we tried to create something rather than just take up space to no purpose?

I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that my husband was a wise man. And I want to believe he was right, even though he didn’t get enough time to finish his stories the way he wanted.

So…I’m in it for the long haul. I will persist, and I will keep trying as hard as I can, as long as I can, and work as much as I can to finish CHANGING FACES and make it the book I know it can be.

Because that’s what matters to me, and I hope eventually it may matter to the universe as well.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 4, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Review Delay

leave a comment »

For those of you waiting for my review of Vera Nazarian’s COBWEB FOREST, I’m sorry to say that it’ll be another week before I’m able to review it.


Mostly, I ran out of time . . . partly, it’s because other things have gotten in the way of reviewing and blogging over the past week or so. (As you might’ve noticed from how little I’ve blogged lately.)

I’m hoping to blog tomorrow about a few new books I’ve enjoyed, including my friend Chris Nuttall’s new SCHOOLED IN MAGIC and perhaps discussing in a little more detail Rosemary Edghill’s new short-story collection FAILURE OF MOONLIGHT . . . maybe I’ll throw in a bit of talk about Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s KINDRED RITES in the bargain.

But that’ll have to wait until the morrow . . . until then, keep on keepin’ on. (And for my fellow baseball fans, enjoy Spring Training — the most optimistic time of the year.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm