Beware the Wood Sprite

I had thought to wait a bit before describing any of the humanlike magickal creatures one might find in traveling the Wide World.  But the Wood or River Sprite is a creature that is best learned about early in one’s magickal education.  A child, perhaps, might take this creature for a wholesome playmate.

But woe to such child, for the Wood Sprite is fickle, and mayhap, such child might venture forth into the wild woods and never be seen again.

It is said that, like pixies, the Wood Sprites are curious creatures, although their capacity for memory is such that, should they learn one thing one day, it is forgotten by the next.  And most of all, such Sprites are fascinated by children and their doings.  That is the reason why their childish playmates may never return home, for as the Sprite plays each day with the child, during the night, such play is forgotten — and each new dawn, the Sprite believes she or he has found this child in the woods for the very first time.

It must be said that, although the sadness caused by Sprite kidnappings is deep, with many a mother and father mourning for years, the Sprite does not wish for such sadness.  It is just that in their Sprite-like imaginings, each day begins anew, and therefore, time does not mean the same for a Sprite as it does for you and me. 

Do not, whatever you do, make to bargain with such a creature.  With memories such as the Sprite’s a bargain made one day is quickly forgotten.  And you might find yourself turned to a tree stump, or a toad.  Best, if you see one, to make quickly for the forest’s edge.  The Wood Sprite will not pass into open fields or cross a road, so find ye either of those two things, and the danger will soon pass.


Nancy Is the Professional Guest at Long Ridge Writer’s Group This Week

I’m the Professional Connection guest this week — December 8-13 — on the Long Ridge Writer’s Group Post-a-Note page. I’ll be answering questions about Book View Cafe and the future of publishing (my guess is as good as anyone else’s), as well as giving writers some career advice (such as don’t do what I did).

Check out the site. If you register, you can even ask me some questions.


Novel Writing for Dummies


Starting your first novel?  Great!   Here are a number of do’s and don’ts for your very first opus.  I began this list as a handout for the writing class I teach at the Writers Center in Bethesda, MD.  I was inspired by the horrific and annoying errors that infest so many newbie manuscripts.  If people could just avoid a few of them, what a savation in time and stomach lining could be achieved!

What’s that?  You say that every single one of these points has been magnificently violated, time and again, by writers who are now literary immortals?  Indeed this is true – but I assure you they didn’t do it in their first novel.  If this is your first time swimming, you do not have to begin against Michael Phelps with the 100-meter breast stroke at the Olympics.  It is okay to begin at your local pool.  Here it is, the shallow end.  I will hold your hand.  Hop in.

  Continue reading


Stomp, Scratch, and Snack, or, The McIntyre Sisters Encounter a Bear

Stomp, Scratch, and Snack,
The McIntyre Sisters Encounter a Bear

By Vonda N. McIntyre

A Bear in Glacier National Park; Photo by Carolyn McIntyre

Photo by Carolyn McIntyre

When you go to a national park, you’re likely to get a lot of information about staying out of the way of the wildlife. This is generally a good idea; humans are in the critters’ territory and we ought to respect it. All too often, we don’t, and while the result may sometimes be unfortunate for a human, if a person gets hurt the result is fatal for the critter.

Rangers despair of people who believe they have a mystical connection with animals and can safely pet the bear cubs while mama bear looks on in flattered contentment. While it may be true that some people have a mystical connection with wildlife (I doubt it, but anything is possible in our quantum mechanical world), that isn’t the point. The point is that a wild animal who becomes acclimated to human beings is likely to become involved in a situation in which the human being gets hurt.

At which point the critter will be caught and killed. Continue reading


The History Behind “St. George and the Dragon (Revised)”

As I point out in the introduction, my story featured on Book View Cafe today — “St. George and the Dragon (Revised)” — was originally written as a gift for my fellow students in a self defense course.

The course — then called Model Mugging, now called Impact — uses an intensive process to teach students successful responses to attack. Not only do participants learn some practical fighting skills, including fighting from the ground, but they learn them in a way that incorporates them into body memory. Plus they learn various appropriate non-fighting techniques, from paying attention to yelling “No” instead of “Help” if you’re attacked.

Although some of the programs affiliated with Impact nationwide offer some classes for men, most of the students are women. The chief instructors are also women, but men participate by acting as “muggers” — donning huge padded protective costumes so that the students can actually kick them in the groin or gouge their eyes. The idea behind the class is not just to teach women to fight, but to show them they can fight successfully. Continue reading


So What Happened to Mundane SF?

It created a flap, a few people signed on, most everybody missed the point, so now what? First off let me say that I’m not sure science fiction needs another sub-genre. It’s getting a little ridiculous with such labels as steampunk, new weird, chickpunk, slipstream, or the silliest of all: military sf. (Isn’t it all military sf, or almost all?) So in the end, I’m not sure that I care that the mundane sf movement never got any traction. How do I know it didn’t get any traction? Well, the mundane sf blog hasn’t been updated since June. Since half a year in Internet terms is way dead, apparently the very promoters of the movement don’t care about it anymore. I’m guessing that no one else does either.

I have to say, though, that I do care. Continue reading


Macrobiotics #2: Tea is the staff of life! (And, when prepared properly, so are grains – and I don’t mean beer.)

Access to nutrients. That is a big part of eating in a macrobiotic manner. Roasting, toasting, soaking, and in some cases boiling all allow the food to be digested swiftly, gently, in its best form. If your gut hurts right now, raw food is probably the opposite of what you should give it. I may say “Macrobiotic Diet” but what you should hear is, changing your eating habits so you are nourishing body and soul in celebrating what you eat.

Kukicha tea and Roasted Barley tea are constants in the day of someone living a macrobiotic life.

Westerners enjoy drinking Kukicha and Roasted Barley on ice in hot weather, while Asian cultures prefer drinking it as hot tea (which is not drunk at boiling temps at all, by the way). The Japanese now often enjoy these teas in tea bag form – so convenient – while other countries lean toward preparing them in large quantities, like I’m currently doing. Bulk preparation is much cheaper for Kukicha tea. Since I am doing this not only to change my relationship to food, but to heal myself of disease, I drink almost no water – I drink these two teas, made with filtered water. They nourish, they help with toxins, and they will satisfy a lot of western cravings. Continue reading