Posts Tagged ‘Dora Machado’

Introducing Elfie

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

It’s my pleasure to introduce Barb Caffrey, my editor at Twilight Times Books, who has just published her first novel, a comic urban fantasy romance entitled An Elfie on the Loose. We’re doing a “book blast” to encourage folks who might like to buy the book to download it today to help the ratings soar! Here’s what one reviewer is saying about it:

“Barb Caffrey’s
An Elfy on the Loose is a fresh and unexpected take on the urban fantasy genre with a charming and original protagonist. You’ll want to read this one.” – Rosemary Edghill, author of Dead Reckoning, Music To My Sorrow and the Bast Mysteries.

So without further ado, here’s a little bit about this enchanting story.




One Elfy for an entire planet?

He’s supposed to be the Watcher for his people, the representative on Earth from his dimension, but the small being known to his enemies as “Jonny-Wonny” wakes up to big trouble — trapped in a bizarre house in Knightsville, California with humans straight out of reality TV. Jon knows that something has gone dreadfully wrong — he’s starving, lonely and dressed in funny clothes.

Enter the couple’s ten-year-old diminutive daughter, who is “Not Daisy!” but is brilliant, sweet…and using high level magic with ease. She’s also desperately in need of a friend.

Insisting her name is really Sarah, and christening him Bruno, his new friend asks him how they’re going to get out of there.

The only thing that comes to mind is for Bruno to ask his teacher, Roberto the Wise, for help. But Roberto’s attempt at help only enmeshes all three of them further in a web of deceit and treachery. Bruno finds out that, unfortunately, most of what he thought he knew about himself was very wrong…and much of what Sarah knows about herself is also wrong, including her age.

Worst of all, a Dark Elf is on the scene and is intent on corrupting the local Humans, including Sarah’s parents.

New names, new locations, a new mission–Bruno is going to get to the bottom of all the craziness, and Sarah will be there for him every step of the way.

Watch out, universe–an Elfy is on the loose!


Barb Caffrey is a writer, editor, musician, and composer. She holds two degrees, is an inveterate and omnivorous reader, and is the writer of the comic urban fantasy romance AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (book one of the ELFY duology), available now from Twilight Times Books. She follows politics, loves sports, watches far too much reality TV and is mystified by the “Maury” show.  What all this says about her is anyone’s guess.

Preferring Tradition in Tokyo

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Hello everybody,

For all of you who wrote asking for more, here it is, more about our adventures in Japan and our impressions of Tokyo. Lots of pictures too. This post comes as a courtesy from, written by my awesome traveling companion, who is also–very conveniently–a travel blogger.



Preferring Tradition in Tokyo



The chorus of the Cee Lo Green song “Bright Lights Bigger City” was on repeat in my head as our bus carried us into Tokyo for the first time. The city is everything you’d expect from one of the great metropolises of the world – first class food and shopping abound, especially in Ginza, the 5th Avenue-esque district we called home during our stay. Bright neon lights lit the way by night, and by day the streets were packed with cars and the sidewalks crowded with people.

But while Tokyo is home to some interesting modern architecture, I was actually surprised by how normal the city looked. I guess I was expecting Tokyo to be a futuristic mecca pulled straight from the pages of a Jetsons cartoon. And while some individual buildings certainly lived up to that idea, my stereotypical western view of a shiny, ultra-modern city was mostly erased by our first day on the ground.

That’s not to say that Tokyo isn’t shiny – actually, we found every city we visited in Japan to be immaculate. And I was very impressed with the relative ease and efficiency of the public transportation system – even for someone who knows zero Japanese like me.

But Tokyo surprised me. Because it wasn’t its shine I fell in love with, it was its antiquity. Most of the attractions I loved in the city were traditional temples, shrines, and neighborhoods. Call me a sucker for nostalgia, or maybe even a snob for the neon and new (as a former New Yorker, I’m not easily impressed with tall buildings), but I found myself much more drawn to the cultural sights then the polish Tokyo is often known for.

So what were some of my favorite parts of traditional Tokyo?



I have always been a huge theater lover, and seeing a traditional Kabuki performance was high on the list of things I wanted to do in Japan. As it turned out Kabuki-za – the premier place in Tokyo to catch a Kabuki performance – was located just down the street from our hotel in Ginza. But every time we passed the theater seemed to be closed, and with a packed sight-seeing schedule already, we knew some activities had to be cut. I resigned myself to crossing this particular want off my to-do list on another trip. We couldn’t make out what the Japanese signage in front of the building said anyway.

But luck was on our side, and one morning as we headed to the subway we noticed a large crowd of people gathering outside of the theater. We decided to go closer and try and figure out what was going on, and before we knew it, we were buying tickets for the first act of the show – which started in just 15 minutes!


Our ‘seats’ were standing room only, and we stood on a bench at the highest point in the theater. But for only 1,000yen ($9.75 US) and absolutely no planning we couldn’t be more thrilled to be there.

The experience was fascinating. The show took place in many acts over the entire day. From what we understood from our translating ear pieces (only 100yen, or $.98US for a rental), the art of kabuki is less about telling a story and more about framing a picture. Each scene is designed to look like a traditional Japanese woodblock print. Sometimes a theater will actually present acts from different plays over the course of a performance, rather than performing acts from a single play chronologically. All of the parts are played by men, and when the audience likes a particular character, they call out the name of the actor in the middle of the scene.

Our tickets were only for the first act, which turned out to be just the right amount of time to get a feeling for kabuki while managing to stand in the back of a hot and crowded theater without fainting (about 1 hour). While interesting, it was also very abstract, and mom and I still had a lot of things to see.

Hamarikyu Onshi Teien


Once the imperial hunting grounds, this area has since been transformed to a beautiful public garden. Visiting in February, we were lucky to see a few plum blossoms blooming, and I can only imagine what this place looks like in the spring! Located right on the water and surrounded by a moat, the garden features a plum tree grove, a peony patch, and a large field of cosmos.

At the center of a beautifully landscaped lake within the park was a lovely tea house where we sampled matcha (powdered green tea) and red bean paste sweets served in the style of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It turns out there are quite a few rules when it comes to when and how to drink your tea and eat your sweets. But luckily for us foreigners, the smiling ladies who run the tea house presented us with a laminated, English-language instructional guide.

Meiji Jingu


The Meiji shrine is one of the most famous in Tokyo, and is dedicated to the spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. The couple spearheaded Japan’s own industrial revolution, often referred to as the Meiji Restoration, and are some of the most celebrated figures in the country’s history.

The grounds are large and immaculately kept, at the center of which is the main shrine complex. We visited on a weekend and, although it was a bit crowded, this allowed us the treat of witnessing several wedding processions through the shrine.


Aren’t the bride and groom stunning? I was totally entranced by this couple as they passed. The bride in particular looked so beautiful and demure, and kept her eyes bashfully cast down the entire length of the procession. I loved it.

Setsubun Matsuri at Senso-ji


Another stroke of luck brought us to the Setsubun festival at Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Setsubun celebrates the end of winter, and while  Punxsutawney Phil forecasted another 6 weeks of cold weather back in the states, the Japanese were welcoming spring by throwing roasted soybeans to purify and drive away evil spirits. At the temple, VIPs threw the beans into an eager crowd – apparently it is very good luck to catch a sack.

While it was fun to witness this special ceremony, Senso-ji warrants a visit even without the occasion. The grounds include a beautiful central plaza, a massive gate, a five-story pagoda, and a large, gorgeous, hand-painted main hall.

And leading up to the temple you’ll find what turned out to be my favorite market in Japan – Nakamise-dori. This long street featured all sorts of fun goodies – from souvenirs to handmade crafts, to foods of all types. It was here that mom and I faced one of our biggest culinary challenges of the trip – a gooey, slimy, salty ball of octopus and batter.


This is the ‘before’ picture…

Yes Tokyo is known for being modern and trendy, but it was the pockets of tradition that shined brightest to me.

For more about our Japan trip and other travel adventures, visit

Back from Japan

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Hello there,

I’m back from Japan. It was an amazing trip with lots of interesting experiences and tons of learning opportunities. I haven’t had a minute to write a post about it. For the moment, I’ll share with you my traveling companion’s take on the trip  and a few pictures.



The Japan Trip




Well single reader, after three weeks in Japan, I’m back at my home base tucked high in the Colorado Rockies. Japan was everything I thought it would be. At times it was totally beautiful, 100% enchanting, incredibly fascinating, and so, so rewarding. But it was also often very ugly, extremely disorienting, absolutely exhausting, and completely challenging.

Overall I’d say Japan was full of surprises. And if I had to describe the place in one phrase, I’d have to go with sensory overload.

I hope you’ll be patient with me as I organize my thoughts and feelings here on this blog. To be honest I’m struggling a little bit to come to terms with everything Japan is and how I was able to experience it.

Over the course of our journey, we visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Kinosaki, and Hakone. Consider the following photos a preview to the more detailed posts to come.

Until then!








Off to Japan: My Writer’s Packing List

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Dora Machado

Japan Rail Passes

If everything goes as planned, by this time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to Japan. Even though I’ve been to Asia Minor before, this will be my first trip to Asia proper. I’m so excited!

For this trip, I’ve had to make zero planning effort. That’s because I’m teaming up with one of my all-time favorite traveling companions, travel blogger Mariana Marshall of, with whom I walked the last 100 kilometers of the Camino of Santiago de Compostela. She is also my daughter.

The advantages of tagging along with a travel blogger can’t be understated. My traveling companion carefully researched and selected the itinerary and made all of the traveling arrangements, transportation and lodging reservations. I just get to come along for the ride!

We’ll be spending some time in Tokyo and then traveling on to explore Kyoto and its environs. We’ve got a very long list, but I’m looking forward to staying at a traditional Japanese guest house (ryokan), exploring the natural hot springs (onsens), and riding Japan’s fabulous bullet trains.

Packing for Japan in the winter had me asking a lot of questions, but travel bloggers are Girl Scouts at heart, and mine found this awesome packing list from a fellow blogger:

My writer’s packing list must, of course, include my computer, tablet and cell phone. We don’t speak the language, so we’ve uploaded some interesting apps that might help if all else fails. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Technology is a wonderful convenience, but I’ve learned that, when traveling, it isn’t always reliable. So in addition, I’m bringing a good, small, old-fashioned notebook to jot down my thoughts and observations, a few good pens, and my camera, all indispensable tools that will work with or without an Internet connection, and that are suitable to all environments.

But the most important elements for a successful trip are stowed not in my suitcase, but rather in my mind. They include flexibility, openness and imagination. Flexibility is key when traveling, the ability to roll with the punches, accept, adapt and adjust to the changes intrinsic to the traveling experience. From airports to hotels, from technology to people, traveling exposes us to new situations that test our comfort levels and push our boundaries.

An open mind is also vital to the traveling experience. It allows us to see the world for what it is, not for what we think it should be. It also teaches us to value the differences that make each place unique and each culture extraordinary.

And finally, I bring along my number-one writing tool, my imagination, to take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that I’ve never experienced before, to relish the emotions of the journey, to collect the odd, the common and the spectacular, to understand and process the experience of being human. For a gal into world building, the traveling experience is a rich trove indeed.

So, wish me luck.

Sayonara, kids!

Japan bound

Colorado Is For Writers

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Hello Everybody,

I just got back from beautiful Colorado. Here’s a post I wrote about my writing experience in the Rocky Mountains.



Copper Mountain, top of Union Peak, December 26 2013

Colorado has to be one of my favorite places in the world. The views of the Rocky Mountains are breathtaking. The people are friendly, fit and youthful, no matter their age. Nature indulges, facilitating so many of the activities for which the State is known, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, hiking, fly-fishing, rafting and . . .  writing?

Yes, writing.

It’s easy to find inspiration among these mountains. It’s easy to keep the mind focused when surrounded by such stunning vistas. I find myself energized by the folks who tackled the slopes with the same energy and enthusiasm I feel when I tackle a story. It goes against the principles of oxygen deprivation, but I find that the mind flows effortlessly at ten thousand feet, especially after a few hours of skiing or snowshoeing, and a little nap.


We’ve had some epic snow dumps so far this year and the snow has been delicious. Those of us who frequent Copper Mountain, Colorado, on a regular basis, couldn’t be happier. I heard a few people complaining about the cold weather this year, but I’m not one of them. When the going gets tough on the mountain, when the wind picks up and you can’t see the chair lift in front of you, I head indoors. The way I see it, it’s time for some serious writing.

I’ve produced some of my best writing in Colorado. These mountains have inspired thousands of words out of me. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to come out to Colorado and share in the state of mind that makes it such a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts and, yes, for writers too.

Copper Mountain, Dec 26 2013

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

May the New Year bring you lots of peace, health, happiness and joy and may you make the most out of this new blank page.


Happy New Year

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Wishing you health, joy, peace and happiness during the holidays and always.


The Curse Giver at Christmas

Murder By 4 is in the spotlight!

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

I hope you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Remember that I told you a few weeks ago that I was writing for an award-winning blog called Murder By 4? Well, what do you know? Murder By 4 is on a coveted list of Writer’s Digest Online Resources!

Here’s the link for the 2013 Yearbook for NOVEL WRITING:

We are here, in this section!

And look at us, a respectable number 10!

I’m so proud of Aaron Lazar, Kim Smith and all of us at MB4. Congrats guys! If you are a writer, or if you are interested in writing, come over to MB4. I think you’ll find lots of helpful information by writers for writers.

Have a wonderful day!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Thanksgiving always makes me feel lucky. Even if I have a tendency to stress over the stuffing, the seating arrangements and the lumps in the gravy, I love this fantastic holiday. It encompasses all of my favorites: family, friends, food and fun.  Every year, before we sit at the table, our family gives thanks for the blessings in our lives. So I thought we should do the same here, from my writer’s point of view.

In the spirit of the holiday and beginning with the obvious, I’m grateful for:

My family and friends, who support me and my writing with love, patience, grace and enthusiasm. Without them, even writing loses its meaning.

The craft of writing–gift, blessing, curse and obsession.  I’m thankful for every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter; for every story, novel and series; for every idea, image and dream; for the pure joy of writing.

My writer friends, whose flames light my way and brighten my nights.

The editors who help me become a better writer and who care enough to point out the obvious as well as the obscure.

The publishers who invest in our work and the talented teams that bring our books to market, including the cover artists, book designers, proof readers, line editors, support staff and everybody who contributes to the creation of something as unique and special as a book. Thank you for being part of our stories.

Those who help us promote our work: agents, public relations specialists and especially all those fantastic bloggers and reviewers who showcase our books.

Finally, I’m especially thankful for my readers, for their encouragement, enthusiasm and praise. They are the reason why authors like me keep writing.

Have a wonderful holiday!


Thanksgiving turkey

The Curse Giver is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards

Thursday, November 21st, 2013


Great news!

I am delighted to announce that The Curse Giver is now an award-winning finalist in the fantasy category of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. Now in its 11th year, the USA Best Book Awards is one of the largest mainstream book award competitions in the United States.

I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists of the USA Best Book Awards. I’d also like to thank the judges for their hard work sifting through such a talented field and for awarding this distinction to The Curse Giver.  Huge thanks to all the folks who worked on The Curse Giver and especially to Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, for putting together a terrific book.

You all know that writing is an indulgence to me, a selfish, satisfying pursuit. I don’t write to win contests and I’m always amazed when I do, but every once in a while it’s nice to get a pat on the back from folks who know what they’re doing.



Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors

in the 10th Annual USA Best Book Awards

St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!

LOS ANGELES –, the premier online magazine featuring mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE 2013 USA BEST BOOKS AWARDS on November 14, 2013. Over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2012 and 2013.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said this year’s contest yielded over 1500 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.

Keen says of the awards, now in their eleventh year, “The 2013 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of the USA Best Book Awards, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.”

Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, Thomas Dunne Books, Oxford University Press, American Cancer Society and hundreds of independent houses contributed to this year’s outstanding competition.

Keen adds, “Our success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.” is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

The winners and finalist of the Fiction/Fantasy category include:

Collider by Chris Hejmanowski
Fisher Press

The Bane of Yoto by Joshua Viola with Nicholas Karpuk

The Curse Giver by Dora Machado
Twilight Times Books


The Silver Sphere by Michael Dadich
Evolved Publishing

A complete list of the winners and finalists of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards are available online at

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final