The Writing Life with Barb Caffrey, Author of 'Changing Faces'

Barb Caffrey is a writer, musician, editor, and composer from the Upper Midwest who holds a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and a Master's in Music from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She's the author of An Elfy on the Loose and A Little Elfy in Big Trouble (two YA urban fantasy/romances), and her short stories have been featured in many places, most recently in Realms of Darkover. Find her at Barb Caffrey's Elfyverse:
What’s inside the mind of a fantasy/romance author?

Too many things. All sorts of story ideas, for one…nearly everything I see, every snippet of a conversation I hear, makes me want to write a story about it. I try to write down as much as I can of what I experience, of course, in one fashion or another – that's just "part of the gig."

What is so great about being an author?

Being able to create something new is a wonderful thing.

When do you hate it?

When my characters aren't talking to me. That gets frustrating.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

My actual writing day starts much later than I'd like, as I have a number of responsibilities beyond writing – so I tend to think about my stories for several hours, and then write in any spare moment I can possibly get. (I also have moved my sleep cycle back as far as I can, so I can get some extra writing time in during the evening.)

So, I'd call it hectic, maybe even harried – but I wouldn't change it for the worlds.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?

Some authors undeniably have big egos. But some people who aren't authors also have big egos, too…hm.

As for me? No, I'd say my ego as a writer is not humongous – mostly because I'm not a household name, but partly because I think we all have a role to play in this life. And my role isn't necessarily any better than yours; it's just different.

How do you handle negative reviews?

As I'm also a book reviewer, I try to remind myself that I haven't liked everything I've ever read. And that I haven't always been one hundred percent positive during every single book review…so it's just par for the course that someone out there is not going to like what I'm doing, either. (Of course it hurts a little, but life is too short to dwell on negative things.)

How do you handle positive reviews?

I usually let people know about them through Twitter, Facebook, and Google-Plus (my social media tools of the moment). I'm happy to receive them, and pointing them out also reminds possible readers that my books are out and available for review – and purchase.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

"Oh, really? You are?" (My answer? "Yes, really. I am.")

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

I don't do well when I have to force myself to write. I don't know why this is, but what tends to happen is that I'll get maybe a little writing, maybe just barely enough to get me to a good part of the manuscript/story in question…and then I block. Hard.

So I've learned that if at all possible – if I'm not on a hard and fast deadline – it's best to take a break for an hour, or maybe even a day.

That seems to help.

Any writing quirks?

There's one group I tend to listen to, when I need to write something emotionally powerful. That group is Stabbing Westward.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

Actually, many of the people I know tend to see it that way, because I haven't made much money with it as of yet. But that doesn't concern me all that much, because the people who matter to me, as well as those who mattered but have passed on – my late husband and my late best friend among them – definitely understand (or understood) why I do what I do.

And if anyone who doesn't understand it wants to tell me what to do, it's not going to harm me any. I'm not about to listen to them, so let them natter on all they want.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Sometimes, yes. I get frustrated when I get stalled out. I tend to block hard, and what helps the most to get me to break it is to talk about what's going on – but the people I talked to the most have already passed from this Earth, and I can only bother my other friends and my editor(s) so many times.

That said, I feel the best when I'm writing well and easily, and when my creative muse is completely attuned with the alpha state (or whatever it is that I attain in order to write). 

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

No. I think it has a great deal more to do with how happy you are about what you're writing. (Though money certainly would help, I think it's only a means to an end.)

What has writing taught you?

I'd say perseverance. Because it took me nearly fourteen years to get my first novel published, you see…

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

The only advice I have for writers is simple: Keep trying. Listen to your editors, your first readers, and your writer-friends…but keep trying, and don't give up.



Genre: transgender fantasy-romance (contemporary)
Author: Barb Caffrey
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Allen and Elaine are graduate students in Nebraska, and love each other very much. Their life should be idyllic, but Elaine’s past includes rape, neglect, and abuse from those who should’ve loved her—but didn’t, because from childhood, Elaine identified as transgender.
When Elaine tells Allen right before Christmas, he doesn’t know what to do. He loves Elaine, loves her soul, has heard about transgender people before, but didn’t think Elaine was one of them—she looks and acts like anyone else. Now, she wants to become a man and is going to leave.
He prays for divine intervention, and says he’ll do anything, just please don’t separate him from Elaine…and gets it.
Now, he’s in Elaine’s body. And she’s in his. They’ll get a second chance at love.
Why? Because once you find your soulmate, the universe will do almost anything to keep you together—even change your faces.

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