Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Writing Updates

Writing in Spite of Difficulties

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Folks, I just wanted to check in to let you know I’m working hard again on a novel. I don’t want to talk too much about it before I get to the three-quarters mark, but I can at least tell you I am working on it.

This is a big deal to me, because after my last novel failed to make a dent in the marketplace, I had to think seriously about what I’d do next. I wasn’t about to stop writing, but…did I want to be like the musical composer Charles Ives, where his work wasn’t truly played until after his death? Did I want to be like composer Nadia Boulanger, whose most important work wasn’t her own compositions (fine as they were) but championing her sister Lily’s, not to mention working with American composers Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson (among others)? Or could I keep going in the uncertain marketplace, and have faith, and continue on the path I’d already set for myself?

It took me over two years to figure this out, but I am continuing on my original path.

The important thing to remember here is, you have to write for yourself as much as anyone else. Yes, you hope your work will find its audience (how not?), but you have to write for yourself.

Nadia Boulanger did that, even though later she put her work aside. So did Charles Ives, who continued to write interesting music though his day job was in something else. (Insurance, I think.)

I hope I’ve learned that lesson now, and that I won’t have to learn it again.

Anyway, I’m back to working on my writing. And I do hope to have a novel done by the end of the year, along with a few short stories and maybe even finish that novella in my late husband Michael’s Atlantean Union universe…stay tuned.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 9, 2020 at 3:48 pm

New Interview at SheWrites, Plus Updates

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Folks, before I get into today’s updates, I need to direct your attention to the latest interview I did, which is now up at There’s lots of good stuff there that you probably haven’t seen before, including this bit right here:

M.C.:  What themes do you explore in Changing Faces?
Barb Caffrey: The power of love, mostly. Love can transcend everything, if you give it time; it doesn’t matter what you look like, providing who you are matches up with who the other person is. Your gender, even, doesn’t matter that much, providing both of you can look past that and see what’s important: Do you love each other? Do you understand each other? Do you want what’s best for one another? Do you care enough to live with this one person for the rest of your life, forsaking all others?
Allen and Elaine learn more about each other and Allen in particular learns a great deal about LGBT issues he never thought of before his face gets changed. But the love they have for each other never wavers; that much is set in stone, even if they’re not sure how they can go on from here.
That’s what life is about, you know. You overcome all sorts of obstacles. You have no idea what most of them are going to be when you start off on your life’s journey. Some will be absolutely unprecedented, but you have to trust that with faith and will and understanding and love, you can and will overcome everything, with the right person.
Of course, the trick is in finding that right person…one nice thing about Changing Faces is, there’s no doubt Allen and Elaine are meant for one another, even if Elaine doesn’t always feel worthy of it or if Allen doesn’t immediately “get” that Elaine is both trans and gender-fluid (sometimes feeling male, sometimes feeling female, but always, always using “she” as the default pronoun).
M.C.:  Why do you write?
Barb Caffrey: The quick and flippant answer would be that the stories just do not let me alone until I tell them. But the longer answer is because I have to; if I don’t, I feel like I’ve wasted my time and potential on this Earth. And I can’t abide that, so I continue to do my best at telling the stories I need to tell…and hope that someone else, along the way, may also find some meaning from them, too. (Or happiness, or understanding, or at least a few hours’ worth of diversion from their troubles. If I’ve done any of that, I’ve done my job.)
There’s a lot more there, mind, including my happiest moment as a writer (hint: it has something to do with my late husband, Michael), when I’m most creative, and how picky I can be regarding language…so please do head over there and check the interview out, then check out the sample chapters for CHANGING FACES.
Mind, if you’d rather buy it directly, the links are right here, given in the format Chris the Story-Reading Ape suggested (thank you so much, Chris, for that):

Barnes & Noble


USA  –   UK  –  CA  –  AUS  –  IN

Now, as for updates? I have a few.

First, regarding my Elfyverse short story, “Trouble with Elfs.” I’ve been asked when this will be put back out as a short story for e-book. I hope to have this back up later this year; I’ve decided to add a second Elfyverse short story, to sweeten the pot a little (and keep long-time readers motivated), but that’s just getting started.

Figure a few months, minimum, for that. (Maybe something out by July?)

As far as Michael’s Columba stories go, I am stalled. (I admit it.) I have also been busy with CHANGING FACES, plus editing, plus more editing, plus even more editing…not to mention getting over the bad case of the flu. (Let’s put it this way. I’m glad to be in demand as an editor. But getting sick did not help.) But I hope to get back to this soon. (Maybe I’ll have something ready to go by the end of the year?)

And I’m about to restart working on the Elfyverse prequel set in 1954, KEISHA’S VOW. That’s closer to dark fantasy, and it may slot better into some genre than any of my previous work has to date…when you write the way I do, with all the cross-genre stuff, it’s harder to find readers because they don’t necessarily know you exist. So my hope is that one of my books will break out, and then people will like what I’m doing so much, they’ll go read everything else…(Hey, it could happen. And it beats yelling at the sky and shaking my fist, doesn’t it?)

So, there you have it.

Mind, before I forget, if you wish to support my writing, BTW, I do have a Patreon page. I haven’t written much there. I do have five patrons (Goddess bless them forever), and I have reward levels starting at just a dollar a month. So if that’s something you’d like to do, I would appreciate your support…anything you can do, whether it’s buying my books, writing reviews, supporting me at Patreon, or anything else, is extremely beneficial right now.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Writing During Stressful Times

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Folks, I’m glad I can post something a little happier today.

During all this upheaval, I’ve continued to work on CHANGING FACES, and occasionally, other stories as I’ve had them. (CF is obviously the priority, though.) Sometimes, it’s slow-going. Other times, it flows out like water, and makes so much sense, I look at it and go, “Did I really write that?”

I think we all feel that way, as creative people. Whether you’re a writer, or a musician, or a cake-baker, or any other creative pursuit, there are times when creation is difficult. And there are times when it seemingly comes as easy as breathing.

Right now, I’m dealing with a lot of stress. Yet I must write, and I must finish CF as fast as I can, but also as well as I can. A hasty effort after all this time and energy put in would waste what I’ve done already.

I know what I need to do, you see. These stressful times may slow me up, but damn it, they’re not going to stop me.

So, last night I worked on chapters 46 and 47. And I’m proud of that, as it’s not easy to believe in something better right now…but I did it, and I’m glad.

As for how others get through stressful times in their lives but still write, I don’t know. In the past, I’ve written prose notes (what I think is going on with the story, without dialogue) if I have nothing else, just to make progress; I’ve also looked at the work-in-progress and meditated on what I’ve already done, to remind me that I don’t have to give in to the fear that the stress will keep me from completing my work in a timely fashion.

And sometimes, I go back and read other things I’ve written, just to remind myself I have a long baseline. I’ve created before and will create again, and just because I have an off night or a series of off nights, that does not at all mean I’m done and can’t do anything else, ever. (That is melodrama, and I need to stop that, cold.)

If anyone else has any tips for writing while under great stress, though, I’d love to hear ’em!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2016 at 1:10 pm

The Revenge of C.diff — and Other Stuff

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Folks, I’ve been dealing with a nasty intestinal illness for the past several weeks. It’s called C.diff, and it came on suddenly after I’d finished a course of antibiotics for a sinus infection.

Because of this, I haven’t blogged, I haven’t written much, and I haven’t been able to do as much editing as I wanted, including the final touches to my novel A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, the sequel (or continuation) to AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. (Or, as I put it to myself — and for long-time readers — the second half of ELFY.)

I’ve been put on a very strong medicine to combat this C.diff, and while it seems to be working, it has left me weak and tired.

That said, I will persist…as I said a while back, I may be slowed, but I haven’t stopped.

And I won’t stop.

Admittedly, I am frustrated. I want to be doing so much more than this. (“Outrunning time,” as Lois McMaster Bujold put it in A CIVIL CAMPAIGN.) Being sick for weeks or months on end is certainly not my idea of an endgame, and I hope I will somehow be able to regain my health soon.

That said, I continue to work on my final edit of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE. I hope to have it to my publisher within a few weeks’ time, and then start work on my final edit of CHANGING FACES. I also hope to finish up a few short stories and attempt the Writers of the Future contest again this quarter if at all possible — though with the quarter end rapidly approaching, that might not be doable.

As for an update with regards to the Joey Maverick series started by my late husband Michael, I remain stalled there also. I am working on a novelette or possibly a novella in that universe, but it’s going extremely slowly — possibly because of how little energy I’ve had to work with due to the present nasty illness, already in progress.

Now, why am I telling you all of this, when I’d rather be discussing anything else? Partly because I believe in being honest. Partly because I think we need to talk more about what troubles us. And partly because I know there are people who follow my life and career — God/dess help them — and have asked me what the status is with regards to my writing and my health.

My weekend plans are to do some editing, both for myself and for a client who’s been patiently waiting, and to see if I can get any writing done. I also plan to finally review Dick Button’s interesting book on figure skating, PUSH DICK’S BUTTON, over at Shiny Book Review later today for Nonfiction Friday. (Edited to add: review is up.)

So I’ll continue to do what I can, and hope that things will pick up from here. (I can’t remember now if the phrase is “We live in hope” or “We live and hope,” but either way, that’s what I’m doing right now.)

And thanks, as always, for coming to my blog. I do appreciate it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 27, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Two Stories Written, and Away…

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Folks, it wasn’t easy, but I managed to complete a brand-new story in the course of a week (it fought me hard, too, let me tell you), and I sent it off to one market earlier this evening.

I also revised an existing story, pulling out two thousand words, then somehow adding in two thousand different words to bring the story to exactly where it was in the beginning, word-count wise (though not, perhaps, in content). And sent it off to a different market.

Both are places where I cannot guarantee a sale, as they’re both for contests. As such, I can’t tell you much about either story, except that one is fantasy, and the other is military science fiction. (If I tell you anything more, I risk immediate disqualification. After working so hard on these stories, that won’t do.)

Other than that, I’ve watched baseball (Sunday’s game was a stinker between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Colorado Rockies, but the rest of the week was all right), I’ve edited up a storm, and I’ve desultorily read a Edwardian romance that I may talk about over at Shiny Book Review one of these years.

As for plans for this week? Well, after I catch up on my sleep, I’ll go back to the editing (you have to expect that, knowing me), I’ll try to figure out if one of the two stories I just finished has anything more to say (it feels like a novel, truly) and maybe work a tad on that, I’ll keep an eye on the Brewers (they’re playing the Blue Jays in a short, two-day day baseball series — and they’re going to celebrate independence today, as it’s Canada Day!) and I sincerely hope to be able to review Aaron Lazar’s mystery SPIRIT ME AWAY later this week. (Possibly his LADY BLUES as well. But don’t quote me.)

Oh, I also have a rehearsal for the Racine Concert Band, will be playing the Fourth of July Parade as per usual, and a concert on Sunday as we start our summer series out at the Racine Zoo. (Please come; it’s free.) Show starts at 7:30 p.m., if you’re interested.

I also will be partaking in another blog hop, this time at the behest of Dina von Lowenkraft (author of DRAGON FIRE), on Thursday. It’s called the “meet my character” blog hop (look here to see what she made of it; it’s about her main character, Rakan), so my take on this will obviously be all about Bruno the Elfy, star of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

So watch this space…

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 1, 2014 at 3:50 am

Posted in Writing

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Friday Free-for-All

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Folks, it’s been a long week. And as you’ve seen, I haven’t exactly blogged . . . but as always, there’s a reason for that.

You see, I’ve been editing. I’ve also been writing, as I’m working on a new story I hope to submit it to Lightspeed Magazine for their “Women Destroy SF” issue. It’s not ready yet, but I have fourteen days to get it in . . . and I will.

(Again, like the F&SF submission earlier this year, I cannot guarantee anything. But I know I have to try.)

And I sent out a submission of a literary fantasy short story to the online magazine Wisdom Crieth Without, which is heavier on poetry than fiction. But they do take some short stories, and as my poetry is too far afield of what they want (their preference is for traditional rhyme and meter; there’s nothing wrong with that, but that usually isn’t what I write, and my few attempts at such have been miserable failures), I thought I’d try a story instead.

And, as if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve been keeping the first half of ELFY on the front burner also, as I’m about to send it to my publisher (later today, in fact, after I’ve done one last read-through to make sure I haven’t missed anything). I’ll let you all know if and when the first half of ELFY gets retitled; one of my good friends suggested AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, which sounds at least as good as the only title that’s come to mind whenever I’ve thought about it — AN ELFY ALONE. And the benefits of the former title would be that people would know right away that my book is a comic urban fantasy, so maybe my publisher will go for it?

(I know that AN ELFY ALONE sounds more formal than I intend. And yes, authors do think about things at just this micro-level, sometimes . . . why do you ask?)

Everything else I’ve wanted to blog about, including a nice article by Peter Jackel of the Racine Journal-Times about Vinny Rottino’s continued progress in baseball (giving far more information about just what happened to Rottino last year in Japan, though it oddly didn’t discuss the injury Rottino suffered that required surgery on his shoulder — the last is the best I could figure out, mind you, as the Japanese Web sites’ translations can be really dicey), the interesting story about Northwestern University’s football players wanting to unionize as they’re beyond tired of losing scholarships after getting injured — something that is one of the great shames of college sports, I might add — and also want to have some long-term medical help available due to concussions suffered during on-field performance, as well as goodly number of others things, has gone completely by the boards.

In addition, I’m awaiting word on when a second guest blog, based off my December 18, 2013 post about writing and cross-promotion, will be published over at the prestigious writing Web site Murder By Four.  This could be as soon as later today, or it could be sometime next week . . . all I know is, whenever it goes up I’ll be coming here to let y’all know all about it.

For those of you wondering if I’m going to review any books this week, I hope to review at least one book, possibly two. The book I know I can review is L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s THE ONE-EYED MAN, a far-future political science fiction thriller. There is some romance involved, so it could even go on Saturday . . . but probably, if I can get everything I need to done by this evening, I’ll write the review then. The second book is a straight-up Regency romance by talented newcomer Giselle Marks; it’s a bit more period in its descriptions than most Regencies written in the past forty-five to fifty years, which can be startling at times, and I’m still trying to figure out how to render all that.

At any rate, the weather remains cold, there’s way too much snow on the ground, Milwaukee Brewers announcer Bob Uecker has said he plans to cut back on some of his announcing this year, pitchers and catchers report for the Brewers in a few weeks, the Milwaukee Bucks are still awful, I don’t particularly care about the Super Bowl but probably will watch it anyway . . . hope I covered all the bases.

Stay warm, folks.