Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

That’s the classic question asked of writers, so classic it’s the subject of numerous jokes. (There’s this mail order house in New Jersey — send ’em 10 bucks and they’ll send you this week’s list of ideas.)

The trick isn’t finding ideas. I had a great one only this morning, while reading one of my Christmas presents, Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side. A novel-length idea, complete with core plot and leading characters. And no, my idea doesn’t involve a thinly fictionalized story of torture and other outrageous actions by the Bush administration; it hares off in a science fictional direction based on one sentence in the book.

I’m not going to tell you about it now; you’ll see it if I’m able to pull it off. Because having a good idea isn’t the trick; people have good ideas all the time. It’s what you do with it that matters.

The idea for the flash fiction I have up on Book View Cafe today, “Alert,” came from the emergency warnings sent out by the Washington, D.C., government on such things as bad weather, water main breaks, nightmare traffic jams, and terrorist threats. Continue reading


Bad Cover Competition

Dreamsnake had the good fortune to be nominated for the Hugo Award; as it had won the Nebula earlier in the year, my publishers thought it had a good chance at the award and sent me to the World SF Convention in Brighton, England.

I thought Anne McCaffrey’s The White Dragon would win, and so did everyone else; when Dreamsnake took the prize I was astonished. The first person to congratulate me and give me a big hug when I came off the stage? Anne McCaffrey, one of the most gracious people I’ve had the good fortune to be acquainted with.

That same weekend, I met the editor who had bought the Dutch rights to the book. I blush to admit I can’t remember his name. This has nothing to do with the following story; I’m famously awful at names and faces.

“I’m delighted to have Dreamsnake being published in Dutch,” I said. “I lived in Wassenaar when I was a kid.”

“I have the cover with me,” he said.


“I’ll show it to you…” he said. “If you promise not to kill me.”

“Um, OK.”

He showed it to me.

I tried to kill him.

You can see why after the jump. Continue reading


A Room of My Own

My Office, Exterior

For years, my Office has been my laptop and my cell phone, and wherever I could perch for a few hours uninterrupted.  On the “uninterrupted” front, the cell phone may have been a mistake–since my kids got their own cell phones, their ability to respect Mom’s work time has been, um, problematical.  And while going to a bookstore or cafe where the coffee is fresh and the noises are not my own worked well for a long time, recently it hadn’t worked quite so well.

When we did some construction on our house this year, all my research books were piled into boxes.  When the construction was over, I made an executive decision and took over the tiny little house that lives in the back yard (the former owner of our house used to groom dogs in there).  Inside the tiny house there’s room for my desk, the big bookcase that holds my standard reference texts, and an ugly storage unit that came with the room.  The carpet is Astroturf.  It’s cold and drafty (although I also put a space heater in the little house which works quite efficiently), but it’s also out of range of the WiFi, which means I cannot fall down the Internet rabbit hole and blow my three hours of writing time in trying to find the right word for “fish” in medieval Italian.  At least not without going into the house.

For the first time in my writing career I have an “office.”  I got along pretty well without one, but I have to say that I’m enjoying having a place all to my self.  Writing-wise, Virginia Woolfe was on to something.  

Where do you write?  Or read, for that matter.



Bead Creatures at The Institute for Figuring

In January 2008, The Institute for Figuring is planning a Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibit. They’ve asked me for some beaded sea creatures. More info to come.

Here’s a preview:

Bead Creature Bead Creature Bead Creature
Bead Creature Bead Creature Bead Creature
Bead Creature Bead Creature Bead Creature

Detailed images can be found at my website

Vonda N. McIntyre is the author of the Nebula-winning novel The Moon and the Sun, which is being offered at Book View Café in electronic form for the first time. “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea,” the faux-encyclopedia article that inspired the novel, written by Vonda N. McIntyre and illustrated by Ursula K. Le Guin, appears as a Book View Café Bonus story.

Other fiction by Vonda N. McIntyre, including cell-phone-friendly formats of The Moon and the Sun, can be found in the fiction section of her website, as can mint copies of her published books. To celebrate the debut of Book View Café, book prices are temporarily lowered.

Books make great gifts!


Macrobiotics #5: Food Research can be fun!

As promised, here are some references for further reading about a macrobiotic lifestyle. Have fun with it!

THE HIP CHICK’S GUIDE TO MACROBIOTICS: A Philosophy for Achieving a Radiant Mind and Fabulous Body, by Jessica Porter. ISBN 1-58333-205-7

COOKING FOODS THE WHOLE FOODS WAY, By Christina Pirello. ISBN 1-55788-262-2

NATURAL HEALING FROM HEAD TO TOE: Traditional Macrobiotic Remedies, By Cornellia Aihara & Herman Aihara. ISBN 0-89529-496-6


MACROBIOTIC KITCHEN, By Cornellia Aihara. ISBN 0-87040-514-4

BASIC MACROBIOTIC COOKING, By Julia Ferré. ISBN 0-918860-47-4

Jessica and Christine make it all fun. The Aiharas and Micho Kushi take you back to the roots of the macrobiotic movement, and Julia Ferre gives you solid basic recipe info so you can add your own flourishes and still get both the health and good flavor of your food.

Online you will learn a great deal and enjoy the learning at Macrobiotics America. David and Cynthia Briscoe have lived and taught the macrobiotic lifestyle for many years. David is the nutritionist I went to see when I realized I had to make a right turn with my health. Their web site will give you a good place to start with macrobiotics.

You might also drop by Denny Waxman’s site. He is an Internationally known speaker and teacher of macrobiotics, and he has a lot of knowledge to share. I haven’t read his book yet, but I’ll get around to it.

Now you know almost as much as I do. Let’s give it a few months and then compare notes. Whether you just enjoyed learning a bit about very special food appreciation, or you’ve found important information for yourself or a loved one, thank you for your interest.


EVERGREEN: On Becoming a Professional Amateur #6: Enter Stage Right

This is part six of a series on being professional about the craft of writing and amateur in the original sense of doing something for love. Today we’re going to look at what it takes to get scenes off the ground. I find that often in the manuscripts I see from beginning writers, the openings of scenes meander, stall, and stumble through awkward moments as the writer tries to get to the Moment that is the true goal of the scene. 

Here’s what I mean…

Sample paragraph: Van entered the house from the back door and set his lunch box down on the kitchen table. He walked across the room and opened the refrigerator where he took out a can of soda. He opened it and took a drink. Then he went into the living room and walked toward the bottom of the staircase. He entered the front hall and realized the front door was wide open. Someone had entered his house.

What is the effect of this cataloguing of every move Van makes before we get to the key Moment he discovers his house has been violated?

Continue reading


Montauk Monster and Other Marvelous Creatures

I missed the first go-round of the “Montauk Monster,” a creature that washed up on the beach in Montauk, NY this summer, and based upon the news picture, originally thought it resembled a turtle out of its shell. I find it very difficult to avoid being fascinated with any good “sea monster” story.

From this picture showing the “monster’s” back, limbs and tail and beaklike head process, it looks like it could be a turtle – except turtles don’t have that type of teeth, and the hindquarters are very mammal-like. Continue reading


Birds of Prey #125: A Very Short Review

I remember feeling pleased when my young teenaged son expressed an interest in BIRDS OF PREY.  My boy, comfortable with powerful women, is prepared for the 21st century!  Then I realized that the superheroines of this title are mostly extremely buff, chesty, and use thong swimwear as their daily attire.  (Well, mothers must take minor victories where they can — my son, the heterosexual!)

Unfortunately like so many other titles all over the publishing world, BIRDS OF PREY is not long for this world, doomed to be discontinued sometime in 2009.  When it began it was a minor milestone — the first all-female action comic that was successful.  Furthermore, the central Bird, Barbara “Oracle” Gordon, is handicapped and confined to a wheelchair — a two-fer!  BIRDS started excellently (I commend the trade paper collections to you) but like all serial titles has had its ups and downs.  The recent appetite for mega crossovers had its usual malign effect; the title is popping along reasonably well and then suddenly all this irrelevant stuff about Final Crisis or Breaking the Bat rolls nonsensically in.

Continue reading


Virtual Book Tour Launched

I guess today is Aqueduct Press day at the Book View Cafe blog. Nancy’s posting about Anne and I’m posting about…me.

I’m announcing my Virtual Book Tour in support of The Textile Planet. Just so happens that my first stop is at Ambling along the Aqueduct, the blog for Aqueduct Press.
Continue reading