Honey, I Broke the Kids


Let’s say you have a child, and if you’re lucky enough that she arrives with all the correct bits and pieces–spleen and fingernails and skeletal system–you feel a little like you’ve won a lottery. Maybe it turns out that the kid needs glasses, or inherited your easily-sunburned skin, but by and large, if you are lucky, your relationship with that child is predicated on the notion you have provided the correct genetic material to create a decent “container” for the person who is learning and growing before your eyes.

Almost immediately this notion can start to fray. Continue reading


Toe nails and finger nails

When my kids were little, cutting finger nails and toe nails were quite an event. You had to be oh so careful and of course they couldn’t do it themselves. But eventually they could do their own.

Now I’m trimming dog nails. Well, been doing that for a really long time, actually. I’m actually going to see about getting a Dremel and a diamond filer. But for now, it’s got to be a clipper. My older dog used to be okay with nail trimming. That ended when his brother died last year (they were litter mates). Now he growls and struggles and it’s hard to clip them without hurting him.

The puppies are problems of their own. The corgi puppy one jerked and fought in such a way once that I cut him to the quick. It was terrible and I had the vet do the trimming for awhile after that. But that’s expensive. Merlin, the heeler, is more willing to let us cut his toenails, but we use a soft muzzle on him just in case he decides to snap. What make him tough is that his nails are black and it’s impossible to see the quick (the corgis’ nails are white).

Tonight we trimmed the corgi puppy and he was for more willing to let us than he has been. Course he’d been chewing at his feet, so that may have had something to do with it. He still wiggled and fought, despite getting lots of treats for the ordeal. But we got through it. Tomorrow will be the next two. One fight at a time.

When I was in Montana, someone told me the story of a guy she knew who kept all his toenail clippings. He put them in jars and I believe he displayed them. At one point he tried to sell them, but strangely no takers. What on earth would anybody want to buy toe nail clippings for?


The Reluctant Traveler: London

London eye

I just got back from London. That is a pretty cool place, if for no other reason than it’s really old and there are lots of people. This was my second trip, the other having been too long ago to comment on, having done the Westminster power touring bout of Tower, Cathedral, Parliament, British Museum. I wasn’t in London for any other reason than as a stopover on the way to Johannesburg for another meeting of HIV vaccine researchers.

The layover was segmented into an afternoon and a morning. Determined to not spend hours in a Heathrow hotel—how dumb is that—I took the Heathrow Express. It’s a ridiculously expensive 15 minute train ride but that’s what you are paying for: 15 minutes and you are in Paddington Station, as Heathrow lies 15 miles outside the city. A mile a minute. And with the current exchange rate, that’s 3 dollars a mile.

Continue reading


The Rambling Writer Explores More Greek Islands, Part 16: the Healing Island of Kos

Join Thor and me as we discover the magic of Kos, home of Hippocrates, “the father of modern medicine.”

NOTE: Since our recent trip to Greece to research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, Thor and I knew we had to return to this magical region. My first entry in this new blog series posted here on Saturday, 10/20/2018. It gives an overview of our rambles from Athens to seven islands in the Dodecanese and Cyclades groups, ending our ferry-hopping pilgrimage on the anciently sacred island of Delos.

After a lovely sunset ferry ride from Rhodes, Thor and I disembarked on Kos, where I was eager to research the ancient healing center that plays a part in my novel-in-progress. We were also ready for some relaxation at our “splurge” hotel, arriving to discover that they were giving us a free upgrade to a truly luxury suite with its own infinity pool overlooking a stunning view. Thank you, White Rock of Kos! Continue reading


New Worlds: Trash

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” may be a new phrase, but it isn’t a new idea. Before the advent of mechanized manufacturing, the vast majority of people had a lot less stuff, because the labor requirements made things much more expensive — there’s your reduction. Similarly, you didn’t throw things out the moment they got worn down or stained; you re-used them, as we saw with last year’s discussion of clothing and hand-me-downs or secondhand sales.

But recycling?

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Not an English Major

On Twitter the other day some writers complained about being forced to take courses in Shakespeare for their English degrees.

I like Shakespeare myself. I was introduced to the plays when I was about ten by my father, which enabled me to continue to enjoy the work despite boring teachers in high school and an abysmal one in college. It also helps that I’ve seen a number of productions of the plays, some of them very good. Shakespeare is way better on stage or film than on the page.

I’ve even stolen from Shakespeare — my BVC novella Ardent Forest is a retelling of As You Like It set in a post-apocalyptic Texas. I changed the ending. There’s a lot of material to work with in those plays, especially since he stole a lot of his ideas from other stories and plays.

But I sympathize with the complaints. I avoided being an English major in college because the University of Texas forced you to take classes in a number of eras that bored me at the time. I did not want to read 19th Century American literature or 18th Century British literature, and I wasn’t at all sure about Chaucer. (I’ve changed my mind about 19th Century American lit and Chaucer, but I still see no reason to read Samuel Johnson.) Continue reading


The Name of the Prose, Part 1: What’s in a Name?

Vampire_SmileyHere’s a question for you, Dear Reader. What publisher would have taken Bram Stoker seriously if his villain had swept onto the page and said, in sepulchral tones, “I am Count Humperdink. I want to drink your blood”?

I am tempted to think that the Count’s intended victim might have died of extreme mirth, thereby depriving the big bat of a square meal. The same name, though, seems strangely appropriate for the arch villain of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. 

Names are an important element in fiction. From the title of the story, to the characters’ names, to place names to object handles—these tricky nouns help create the environment in which the reader lives while reading the story. Continue reading


Grimdark Fantasy and Hope for the Numinous

At first I thought the current fashion of dark, gritty fantasy – fantasy noir – is just that, a recent shift in popularity, like the explosion of angsty teenage vampire stories. If we take the long view, it’s an established variation in a much larger genre. Historically, fantasy’s appeal was as tales of wonder, from Homer’s Odyssey (a “tall tales” story if there ever was one) to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Scary things certainly do happen in these stories and much is at risk, but the tone is elevated and the sensibilities are distinctly romantic. I suspect that one reason movie-goers who loved Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and found the novels unengaging was the somewhat old-fashioned “epic” level of prose, very much in line with the mythic tradition Tolkien is so much a part of and yet foreign-sounding and artificial when placed in the context of contemporary “realistic” literature. In this, Tolkien’s work has much more in common with Beowulf than with The Dresden Files.

Spooky stories like the early Gothic novels such as Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk (1796), the works of Edgar Allen Poe or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) approached the fantastical as other-worldly, making no pretense of portraying the seedier side of everyday reality. In Germany, Gothic fiction was called Schauerroman (“shudder novel”), in the sense of a delicious fascination with the macabre. Black magic, occult rites, vampires and ghosts, haunted castles, “the sins of the fathers,” Byronic heroes, ancient curses and the like pervaded these works. Continue reading


BVC Announces Azure Secrets by Patricia Rice

Azure Secrets by Patricia Rice
Azure Secrets
Crystal Magic 5
by Patricia Rice

After a childhood of being tossed from foster homes for claiming she can detect liars by their scent, Fiona Malcolm McDonald does her best to conceal her secret these days. But when she sniffs a wrongdoer and drives him off with jalapeno cheesecake, she loses still another cooking job and is homeless again. She places her last hope on her mentor in Hillvale, a town as weird as she is.

Continue reading


BVC Book Blast EXTENDED!!!

Because of the great response of our fantastic readers to the BVC Book Blast, the sale has been extended through Sunday, March 24. Every book in the bookstore remains 20 percent off.

You don’t have to do anything to get the discount; it will happen automatically at checkout. So use this time to browse through the authors on the bookstore page and try something new. Or pick up one of our anthologies and read work by a bunch of BVC writers.

Take advantage of this deal and fill up your e-readers!

And thank all of you for being loyal followers of Book View Cafe.