Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘YA fantasy

Two More Guest Blogs Up Promoting My Writing and “An Elfy on the Loose”

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Folks, I’m pleased to report that two more new guest blogs are up and available for reading.**

First, Aaron Lazar over at Murder By Four accepted a guest blog from me called “Changing Voices and Heroes,” which is about the differences between writing military science fiction and comic fantasy on the one hand, and the differences between two very good heroes — space Navy Lieutenant Joey Maverick, who was my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s character, and my hero Bruno the magically talented Elfy.

Here’s a bit from that:

Now, how did I tailor my own writing to fit these two wildly disparate genres?

When I’m writing milSF, I try to get right to the point. And I write a more action-oriented story, too – because the action often makes or breaks the story.

But when I’m writing comic fantasy, I allow my stories to spin out any way that works. There’s more time to fine-tune characterization; there’s more time to do some nifty things with word choices and puns . . . even limericks, if the story calls for it. And fully setting up my characters also allows me to better get at the humor of whatever is going on.

Clear as mud, no?

Anyway, today’s second guest blog is up over at Stephanie Osborn’s blog site Comet Tales. This discusses exactly how I came to write my novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . and exactly what my late husband Michael did to help me along the way.

Here’s a bit from that guest blog:

When a character appears, fully formed, it’s best to listen to what he has to say. But all I knew, when I started writing, were three things: Bruno liked to wear black – when his race, the Elfys, mostly loved bright colors. He was the equivalent of a teenager. And he did not like to rhyme, even if all the other Elfys did.

Even so, that was enough for me to start writing what I then called “The Elfy Story.” I wrote the first six parts or so – less than chapters, about a thousand words per part – alone. Michael took a hand when I got to the seventh part because I had some sort of problem I couldn’t immediately solve, and he got intrigued. Then he figured this story had legs, and he wanted to help me figure out where it went.

. . .

With this huge, complex plot, I could’ve easily gotten lost. Fortunately for me, Michael was there every step of the way. He told me when I’d get frustrated, “Don’t worry. The story will come.” Or he’d tell me jokes in a similar way Bruno tries to do with Sarah from time to time in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (where do you think I got that from, hm?). Or he’d help me draw diagrams when I tried to figure out why the Elfy High Council did anything at all…plus, he edited what I wrote, gave me excellent advice, and heavily edited nearly all of Dennis the Dark Elf’s dialogue to make it even nastier and more hissable.

What more could anyone ever ask from her spouse than that?

Granted, if you’ve read my blog from its inception — or even in the past year or two — you’ve probably gathered that my husband Michael was the biggest influence on my writing. I’d simply not be the same writer without his help and guidance; there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

And really, with AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE finally available for purchase, I want people to know how much he did.

I’m very pleased that Stephanie Osborn was willing to share my story of how the Elfyverse came to be on her blog.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy these guest blogs. Please let me know what you think in the comments . . . and do, please, let people know about AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE as well as the Joey Maverick stories.

Because I need all the help I can get right now in order to let people know these stories exist — much less are fun stories that people should actually enjoy if they just give ’em a chance to work their magic.

———-

**

Mind, you might be wondering why I have three, count ’em, three guest blogs up in two days. This is because my fellow writer-friends are trying to help me raise my visibility, so perhaps I might be able to sell a few more books.

Besides, writing three different blogs — one about the virtues of quiet heroism, the next about the differences between the quiet Joey Maverick and the exuberant Bruno the Elfy, and the third about how I came to write AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE at all — was an intellectual challenge.

So how could I refuse?

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Just Reviewed Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s “Night Calls” at SBR

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Folks, today’s review of Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s NIGHT CALLS is up over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short) and it’s something special.

You might be wondering why that is.  Well, today is the ninth anniversary of my beloved husband Michael’s death.  It’s not easy for me to do much of anything on days like this, so if I feel strong enough and competent enough and capable enough to review a book, right there — in and of itself — you should realize I feel very strongly about it.

But more to the point, NIGHT CALLS is a heartwarming book that should delight all lovers of fantasy.  It features a strong, capable young woman in Alfreda Sorensson who’s no one’s plaything; unlike the meek and mild female characters in Stephanie Meyer’s conception, Alfreda does for herself, thank you.  And in taking on responsibility slowly, we can see how Alfreda grows and changes and learns . . . all good, all life-affirming, all an excellent message if you need one, but done in such a way that it’s subordinate to the story itself.

To write a novel that’s more than the sum of its parts is very difficult.  Now, I’ve reviewed four of Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s novels, and all four have been able to do this to one degree or another, in two different genres, no less — an outstanding record that I’ve rarely seen out of anyone not named Rosemary Edghill.  And best of all, to my mind, is this — NIGHT CALLS is a comfort book in that there’s so much good in it, so much meaning in it, that it’s something that I can see myself turning back to read and re-read many times over the years — just as I’ve done with Rosemary’s TWO OF A KIND and MET BY MOONLIGHT and all her shared work with Mercedes Lackey, not to mention Rosemary’s excellent “Hellflower” series (written as eluki bes shahar) and her three novels in the “Twelve Treasures” series.

That’s the highest praise I can possibly give.

Now, why would I want to write all this on one of the most difficult days of the year?  Well, it’s simple.  Michael and I both loved to read young adult novels.  We found them to be interesting, in the main, because seeing a coming of age story done well is, in and of itself, life-affirming.  If you can do it with some humor and heart — as Patricia C. Wrede did in CALLING ON DRAGONS, say, or as Diana Wynne Jones did in her “Chrestomanci series” — so much the better.

And trust me, Ms. Kimbriel did exactly that in NIGHT CALLS.

It was reading books like Ms. Kimbriel’s that inspired me to start writing ELFY in the first place.  Which is why I’m very glad to be able to read and review her work, even though until this last year I hadn’t a clue it was available.  The good part about that is that I’ve read four of her excellent books this year, and all four of them — the three in her “Chronicles of Nuala” series and NIGHT CALLS — are likely to be on my “best books of 2013” list.

This makes me wonder how many other excellent writers are out there that I don’t yet know about.  (“More writers left to explore?” I say.  “Whee!”)

And it also gives me some hope that my own writing career is not yet dead, even though my health this year has been terrible and I’ve been slow off the mark to get things done despite all the good will in the world due to that.

Anyway, that’s why I reviewed Ms. Kimbriel’s excellent NIGHT CALLS today.  For hope.  For inspiration.  For the belief that despite bad things happening, good people can still win out.

And I think that if you give Ms. Kimbriel’s work a try, you, too, will be favorably impressed.