The Garden View

A few months ago, I did the writer-thing and set a short story about universes next door in my own backyard. The big fan palm in the corner was a prominent presence in that.

Fan Palm

Now, while the northern hemisphere slides into winter, Australia is heading toward spring. Or, more accurately, where I live in North Queensland, north of Capricorn, we are reaching the end of the Dry, and looking thirstily for the pre-Christmas storms that, in a good year, will open the Wet. In September-October, not merely my backyard but my whole garden is in the throes of “spring.” Looking at the photo below taken a few weeks ago, lots of dry leaves are falling. I can say that these garden hose are great when it comes to durability; we can water the plants without hassle.

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A Holiday Offering, part the third

An Armory of SwordsIn honor of the holidays, and of Fred Saberhagen who first bought the story, my fantasy novella “Glad Yule” is appearing on Book View Cafe in three parts. Parts 1 and 2 are on my bookshelf, and part 3 is available today at Book View Cafe.

I have two small gifts for readers today: a recipe, and a free calendar.

For those who would like to get in the medieval mood, here’s my recipe for mulled wine:

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Macrobiotics #3: Healing inside: The miracle of Ku(d)zu

Let’s talk about one of my cornerstones of healing – Vega Morning Tea. The basics of this come from a medicinal tea created by Herman and Cornelia Aihara, the great teachers and cheerleaders of the American Macrobiotic movement. They designed it for cancer patients, but I think that anyone suffering from a chronic illness, or anyone who feels drained, exhausted, stressed and unable to comfortably digest food, can benefit from this drink.

Macrobiotic counselors will tell you to drink this tea first thing in the morning, so it can pass without interference from the stomach into the small intestine. In fact, they’d prefer that this be breakfast. Using this tea continues the “fast” you began when you went to sleep the night before. The longer you can wait, the more time your digestive system has to rest and recover from its hard work – and from whatever health or diet problem has damaged your ability to take nutrients from food. It also has toxin-cleansing properties. You can do anything from substituting it for your usual breakfast to having it before roasted whole grains cereal and veggies. If you want more than tea for breakfast (and I do, even though I can run well on this for hours) Wait a minimum of 20 minutes, and longer if you can, before eating anything.

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Book View Cafe at Biology in Science Fiction

BVC is mentioned at Biology in Science Fiction today — right below an article on my favorite movie when I was a little kid, The Creature of the Black Lagoon. Hardly anybody had heard of SCUBA gear in the early 1950s, so when I saw a SCUBA diver splash out of the water on the beach of Nahant, Massachusetts, where my family lived when I was a kid, I thought it was the Creature and I ran home.

A couple of days later there he was on our front porch showing my dad SCUBA gear.

It took my mom a while to get over being annoyed at my dad for taking me to see Creature of the Black Lagoon. It was pretty scary for a six-year-old.

— Vonda


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.

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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