#FolkloreThursday: #storytime by Joanne Harris and the Storytime Band

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If like me you have not been able to catch the live version of Joanne Harris’ #storytime, you’ll be glad to know that this CD captures the experience rather well (I suspect). Music, song and story blend together to create a magical experience with the freshness of a live performance.

Folktale aficionados will find Harris’ stories to be in a familiar vein that we have all imbibed since childhood. Yet her fairytale narratives offer original takes on those tropes that will surprise and delight you. If you follow @JoanneChocolat on Twitter you know her impromtu #storytime threads are always surprising, often timely and generally hook you quickly.

This CD gives me ideas — always a good sign.

Buy the CD direct for just £5 and get it personalised.

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Charcoal Burners, Black Sails & Magic

Uskglass Charcoal Burner

Admittedly I’ve not left the house since I got here, but don’t let my indolence fool you! I am ready to rise to the opportunity and sure enough, I will be. Thanks to Cailleach’s Herbarium mentioning it on Facebook, I got on the waitlist and now have ticket in hand to attend ‘The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland’ this Friday. A workshop at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, it looks to be a fascinating day (see the whole list of speakers here).

So many interests colliding in useful ways! It’s great to have the feeling you’re in the right place at the right time.

And speaking of collisions: the above illustration is of course the lovely Charles Vess. It’s for the last story in Susanna Clarke’s collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu. In my usual way I had hoarded the last few stories last summer, thinking when I read them there would be no more of her writing to read as she has nothing else out at present (yes, that’s how my brain works). I didn’t know the interest I would develop in charcoal burners in the meantime! So it was the first thing I read when I got back here. A delightful tale with saints (including Brigit), Uskglass and of course the titular charcoal burner.

Total collision count: dissertation subjects, two forthcoming conference papers, and the new all-consuming medieval project, Rauf Coilyear. I’m teaching Rauf in the upper division medieval class this fall. I love it when a plan comes together.

Meanwhile I am playing dolls with Miss C and catching up on Black Sails with my sweetie. Life is good.

Ca’ canny an’ flee laigh

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Henry Meynell Rheam: The Sorceress (1898)

The Scots Language Centre posted a photo this week that gave me a new motto:

This windae is in a leebrary in Aigle (‘Edzell’) in Angus. Caw cannie an flee laich is an auld saw that micht be set in Inglis as “Go carefully and don’t take on too much.” Tak tent that the ‘apologetic apostrophe’ kythes in the spellings here. The spelling laigh shuid be soondit as ‘lay-ch’ (wi the ‘ch’ as in loch).

Photie taen bi Steve Murdoch.

The Proverbs of Scotland give a slightly different version:

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And I was struck by a similar note in Jessica Abel’s email today (if you’re not following her posts on making a success of your creative life, you’re missing out) lamenting how easy it is to forget these resolutions:

 I keep telling you that taking on too much is a recipe for things not happening, so why do I think I’m immune? I’m coughing my lungs up; I’m clearly not immune to anything. Life has taught me this lesson over and over again. When will I learn?

I am doing better on the whole at not taking on ever-more stuff. I know that seems ironic given yesterday’s announcement, but the way I’m handling that project is the model for how to do things now: clear timelines (giving myself space to finish what I’m working on  now), careful collaboration with trusted people (knowing you can count on people is half the battle), not doing everything myself (this is opening the doors for others).

But there are always temptations: the more I delve into Medieval Scots literature and culture, the more intrigues I find, like Nicnevin and the Weird Sisters…

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#FolkloreThursday & Freebie

HBW 3 Charms O'erthrownHey, I’m a guest host over at the #FolkloreThursday twitter account today from 5pm-6:30pm UK/noon-1:30pm US eastern time. I’ll be seeking out stories to share with everyone and asking questions about the lore out there. Join us!

Also, today only you can get the third Hecate Sidlaw adventure for FREE! Hard-Boiled Witch: Charms O’erthrown spins a little yarn about alchemy, an ancient artifact and the wonders of your local library (well, the Dundee Library is kind of special).

Check it out what the reviews say & get a copy here.

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And happy birthday to my muse, Peter Cook.

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Story for a Sunday: Fluorescence

Here’s my bit of urban spookiness called “Fluorescence.” This short story appeared in The Harrow back in July 2008 (appearing now thanks to the Way Back Machine). If you like it, you might want to check out the others in Unquiet Dreams.

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#FolkloreThursday Freebie: Hard-Boiled Witch 2


Click the picture: today only, get Hard-Boiled Witch 2: Toil and Trouble for free — then pick up the others for just 99¢/99p each. Celebrate #FolkloreThursday by following the hashtag on Twitter or dropping by their Facebook page.

Hecate Sidlaw finds herself caught between a wannabe witch and one of the oldest hereditary powers in the land. When she and her familiar Henry end up as seconds in a magical duel, will anyone be left standing at the end of the shootout? Enter the dark streets and weird magic of HARD-BOILED WITCH and your life will never be quite the same. This is the second episode in the short story series.

Revisiting Anglo-Saxon Magic: #FolkloreThursday

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The days are just packed! So forgive me if I offer a little repeat: my first two posts for Witches & Pagans as ‘History Witch’ dealt with Anglo-Saxon traditions of magic and healing. Just the thing for the #FolkloreThursday madness.

Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Magic, Part 1

Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Magic, Part 2

Check out all my posts at W&P to find out about magical history. Or you could just buy Rook Chant (click image):