Posts Tagged With: Witch

Book Review: Witches of Lychford


I am charging along on the reading challenge.  As of today, I’m 11 books ahead and pretty proud of myself, though I still have about 7 to read from the list.  I discovered, thanks to Tor, an amazing book called Witches of Lychford, by Paul Cornell.  It is glorious in its absurdity and also heartbreaking at times.

The basic premise is that a big-box store wants to open on the town borders, straddling the line and changing the roads.  Where local crank Judith didn’t care about all of that before the location was announced, she now knows that building the superstore like that will cause the wardings on the town to fail, literally letting in a host of hellish demons.  The company representative seems to be one of them.

Judith has to band together with the faithless priest and the unbelieving magic shop owner to stop the nefarious plot to build the market.  All three of the women are dealing with their own issues around life and death, having to work through them to save the town.

Such a great premise, right?  And it mostly lives up to its promise as a traditional fae/forest/witchcraft fantasy set in untraditional times.  The only issue I had with it was its shortness.  It’s a novella, and it didn’t need to be.  There is meatiness there for a full-length story.

In class, I was taught that novellas typically only had one story line to them, because it was too hard to wrap up multiple story lines in under 50,000 words without the reader feeling cheated.  This book shows the truth of that.  3 different story lines for the 3 different characters, and none but Judith’s felt like it was fully satisfying.  That being said, it was still a fun, quick, romp.  I would heartily recommend. If the worst criticism I have of a book is that I wish there were more of it, it’s doing pretty well.

Plus bonus points because it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.  Happy reading!

Categories: Book Reviews, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lyra Marsh, and Camp


Camp NaNoWriMo?  Over tomorrow.  And I realized again why I never do camp… it just doesn’t feel urgent enough.  Which isn’t to say it wasn’t worth it.  I’ve started all 4 stories and finished 2 of them (one, it turns out, is going to be incalculably long.  The other involves domestic violence and was harder to write than I anticipated).

I have decided to let myself be a “winner” by validating, though, because I wrote well over the 10,000 words I committed to.  I think I may have even gotten 2 things that are publishable out of it, though they will need a lot of work.

The one GREAT thing that came out of all of this is Lyra Marsh.  I’m not sure what kind of a thing she will eventually be, but I might end up setting her up a blog where she can write about her trials and tribulations as an undergrad at Pragnum.  That’s my first thought.  I’m trying to share more of my work on this thing, so I made an inspiration board for her on Pinterest, here.  And below are the first few of her entries as a teaser.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who has ever drawn a witchsona, because you all are inspirational and Lyra is the proof.  J

I’m sort of in love with this girl.  Picky-Picky is also my favorite.

Lyra’s Blog:

Okay, so isn’t the first post on a blog supposed to be about who you are and why you think you want to blog?  That’s what they tell me.  Here goes:

I’m Lyra Marsh, student at Pragnum College, majoring in Warding, with a minor in Charms.  I used to live in the dorms, but my cat, Picky-Picky, couldn’t be there with me.  She’s a tortie; a mostly black cat with a splotch of orange on her eye and chest and little white feet.  Which means we broke the rules, of course, and got thrown out.  Picky-Picky is a non-negotiable subject.

Oh, not thrown out of college.  Just thrown out of the dorms.  I’m not that crazy.

Besides, what else would I do?  Go to a regular college and major in Colonial Salem?  I mean, there’s only so much history can teach you about how it’s better to just shut up about magic.

You would think that Pragnum would be more understanding about familiars, wouldn’t you?  But supposedly I’m “too young” for one, as they “only come to older witches who have reached their majority.” Maddening.  We don’t all work on a schedule, Pragnum.  As someone who knows about protection, I can tell you that familiars come when you need looking after the most, not when you reach some sort of predetermined age.

All that shit about not needing protection now that I’m living in the dorms, where the school will protect me.  Nice try.

I don’t know.  Maybe Picky-Picky has too many cat like qualities to pass muster or something.

Wow.  I really got off subject there.

So, in any case.  Picky-Picky and I are looking for an apartment.  With no roommates.  I just got a job at Brew-tiful, the café down the street, and the owner is willing to work around my school schedule.  With that and the money I’m bringing in from selling charms on Etsy, it’s looking like I can afford something, anyway.  And I’m gonna ask mom to pitch in what she was paying for my dorm room.

Basically, that’s why I’m starting this thing.  I thought people might like to know the exploits of me and Picky-Picky as we adult in the real world.

With tips for living as a magic-user of course.  There aren’t many of us, but we matter too, damn it.


Found an apartment!  It’s super adorable, and I can’t wait to move in.  It’s tiny.  Just one bedroom, and I’d be surprised if it was more than 500 square feet.  But it’s perfect.  There’s a bowed window in the front that didn’t quite show in the photos, where my work desk will fit perfectly.  There’s also a strange, scrolling radiator in the bathroom.  The house is quiet and peaceful, with a lot of light coming in, too.  The bedroom will fit a double, I think, if I push the bed up against the wall on one side.  It’s one of those bungalows built in the 1920s that all look out on a central lawn.  There’s even a little porch.

I didn’t take Picky-Picky with me to the open house, of course, but she liked the pictures on craigslist.  She only stopped purring when she started patting at the rent amount.  Damn cat.

I can afford the rent.  Alright, so I’ll have to sell a few more charms or pick up an extra day at Brew-tiful.  I can make it.  It’s the deposit I’m going to have to ask mom for.  Which she might give me, though I’ll definitely have to sit through a lecture about my rule breaking propensities first. Again. Ugh.

I know what you’re thinking and I DID check out the other tenants before I filled out the credit check form.  Can’t be too careful.  I touched the stoop railings with my hands when I was walking past: in love; cozy and safe; kinda sad; exuberant; and placid, is what I read from all of them.  No red flags here.

And also, I gotta admit that I told the paper to make me look responsible after I filled it out.  Which is cheating.  But I really love this place.  We have to have it, Picky-Picky and me.  Have to.


So, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about magic, and I want to say that it works differently for everyone.  You just sort of have to learn how it goes as you do it.  For me it feels a lot like breathing, I guess.  I mean, I breathe things in and I know about them, or I can breathe words out and tell things how I want them to be.

That’s how I figured out the neighbors.  I breathed in and could sort of taste the ‘in love’ on my tongue, or the ‘sad.’  And that’s how I told the page to make me look responsible.  It’s totally controllable, when I’m using it and when I’m not.  It’s like the difference between saying to yourself “raise your arm,” but leaving your arm at your side, or actually raising your arm up.  I can tell a thing to be something without making the telling magic.

Which is why when I told my last boyfriend to go to hell, he didn’t actually go to an alternate plane of fire, just back to his mom in San Francisco.  Although…

No, I’m kidding.

There’s also like a… how do I say this?  I’m not super strong or anything.  I’m getting a little skill in warding because of all the classes I’ve been taking, but I probably couldn’t have sent Kevin off to hell if I’d legitimately tried.  That’s too big for me.  Keeping pots stirring while I’m on the phone?  Sure.  Telling my favorite shirt to come to the top of the hamper?  Of course.  But I can’t even make the busses in this damn town run on time.

The reason my charms work is because I think really hard at them while I’m putting them together, and they want to make bad guys overlook that TV set you have in the living room.  I mean, as an example.  I’ve coached them into wanting it.

It’s why I’m so good at wards and charms.  They’re subtle, and they last longer and are more potent if they think they want to do what you want them to do.  There are some kids in my class who are that “wham-bam” kind of magic you think of, but that’s not me.  And it’s not most of the folks in my major, either.

So the answer to any magic question is that it varies so much that it’s crazy.  And I happen to be the subtle kind, not the explosion kind.  But maybe you know a little more about me now?

And P. S.  No, I’m not revealing the location of Pragnum.  That’s stupid and could get me in a lot of trouble, since it’s supposed to be secret and all unless you’re a magic user.  No, it’s not like ‘Hogwarts,’ (which doesn’t exist, by the way) and you could go there if you were able to find it.  In fact, it’s pretty easy to find.  Which is why I can’t say anything more about its location.  So there.


Move In Day has officially come and passed.  Whoo hoo!

Except, damn it mom, I don’t need you to send me any more charms.  She’s freaking out about me living alone, even with Picky-Picky around.  And she keeps sending me these stupid amateur charms that just stink of incompetence.  I can make better stuff than that and I’m not even out of college yet.  Geez.  And does she think I don’t have any warding on my place at all?

I’m not stupid, mom.  I’m being careful.  I put the “nothing valuable, nothing magic” ward on my place the night I moved in, and I have charms at every window and door now too.  Ones I made, not that crap you sent me.  Yeah, it’s imperfect because I had to do the inside of the house and not the outside since I share a couple of walls, but that’s what the charms are for.

The place came with a refrigerator and a stove, and nothing else.  The fridge is an old mustard colored thing with a peeling sticker on the handle that’s supposed to make it look like wood.  But it cools, so that’s all I care about.  The pilot lights on the stove always stay lit, too, so I’m going to have to watch Picky-Picky.  She knows better than to bat at that stuff, but if it flickers she wants to eat it.  Too cat-like for her own good. SMH.

Mom doesn’t live around here, but Jules, my old roommate, is from just down the street.  Her parents were awesome and let me raid their garage for furniture.  I have a funky mirror, an end table for the bed I bought, and an old desk with some chairs for a kitchen table.  The desk is this huge sturdy thing that someone painted army green, and there’s one tiny drawer in it.  None of the chairs match, but all of the seats are upholstered in this awful gold brocade.  I started knitting colorful covers for them yesterday.  They’re gonna be like a patchwork rainbow when I’m done.  Granny square for the win.

I bought a mattress at Goodwill (it’s refurbished, not used.  Don’t get grossed out).  I bought my couch at Salvation Army and I LOVE it.  It’s one of those low-backed things from the 60s covered in green velvet.  Who cares if the pillows are too slouchy?  The only room that has curtains is the bedroom, and that’s also the most furnished.  I mostly just moved my dorm stuff in there, and it looks good.  Even if I am sleeping under a twin comforter on a full sized bed.  I’m the only one sleeping in it anyway.

The most important part is my work desk.  That was in my dorm, too.  Can’t go anywhere without it.  I set it in the little bowed window, and I can look out on the big tree in the neighbor’s back yard while I work.  Kinda like living in a forest.  It’s one of those Victorian roll-top desks with a thousand cubbies for all my stones, seeds, pits, feathers, wires and things.

Picky-Picky has already gotten into a spat with the neighbor cat down the street.  I told her it isn’t fair of her because she turns on the super speed and the other cat doesn’t even have a chance.  She doesn’t seem to care.  In fact, she turned her upright tail to me when I was lecturing her and cleaned her face.  I get it, brat.  Now leave the neighbor cats alone.

So basically we’re right at home.

Categories: Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Once upon a time, a hearing king named Joe had twelve deaf daughters, each one more beautiful than the last. They all slept together in one large, splendid room. Their beds stood side by side and every nightwhen they went to bed, the king locked the door and bolted it so he knew his children were safe. Every morning when he unlocked the door, he saw that their shoes were worn out, with holes in the toes and laces broken. The king ordered an investigation, but after, many weeks of trying, no one could find out how the princesses were able to leave the locked and bolted room.
King Joe was very upset that he had to spend so much royal money on new shoes for his daughters, for princesses could not wear shabby shoes. He proclaimed that whoever could discover where his daughters went at night could choose one of them for his wife and be king after his death. If, however, they could not discover where his daughters went after three days and nights, they should be banished from his kingdom forever.
It was not long before a king’s son from the next kingdom came and offered to discover where the princesses danced at night. He was welcomed warmly into the palace with a large feast, and in the evening, was led into a bedroom next the princesses bedroom. He was to watch and discover where the twelve went, so the princess’s bedroom door was left open. Nevertheless, the Prince’s eyelids grew heavy and he fell asleep. When he awoke in the morning all twelve pairs of shoes had holes in them, and he had no idea how. The same thing happened on the second and third nights so he was banished forevermore from King Joe’s kingdom. Many others came after this and undertook the mystery, but none discovered how the shoes got holes in them and all were forever banished from the kingdom.

One day a poor, wounded soldier named Michael found himself on the road to the town where King Joe lived. He met a funny old woman on the road who asked him where he was going

“I really don’t know,” he answered jokingly. “I thought I might discover where the princesses danced holes in their shoes and become king.

That is not so difficult,” said the old woman mysteriously. “The secret is that you must pretend to be sound asleep.”With that, she gave him a little cloak and said, “If you put this on you will be invisible and then you can follow the princesses at night.”

When Michael received this good advice, he decided to try his luck. He went to King Joe and announced that he also wanted to take the challenge. King Joe welcomed the old soldier, and had his servants dress him in royal garments. At the feast that night, the oldest princess stood up and performed an ABC story in sign language for everyone in the hall. Her signing was beautiful and it made Michael want to learn more. It also made him want to succeed more than ever before.
“What is that girl’s name?” Michael whispered to a nobleman sitting next to him.

“Oh, that’s Princess Leah.” The nobleman replied snootily.

Later that evening, Michael was led into a bedroom next to the twelve princesses. He lay down immediately, and after a while began to snore as if in the deepest sleep.

The twelve princesses felt the vibrations of his snoring on his bed and so they got up. They then opened the wardrobes, and brought out pretty dresses and dressed themselves in front of the long mirrors, sprang about and rejoiced at the thought of going to the dance. Because the girls were deaf, they didn’t realize how noisy they were being while getting dressed and dancing about laughing. But the youngest wasn’t feeling joyful and signed to them that she had a bad feeling.

“You’re just being silly, Jessie.” They signed back, and teased her.

When they were all ready to go, they looked carefully at Michael but he had closed his eyes and did not move or stir so they felt themselves quite secure and prepared to leave.

Princess Leah went to her bed and tapped it. It immediately sank into the ground, revealing a secret pathway. The sisters went down through the opening, Leah going first. Michael, who had watched everything, did not wait any longer. He sprang out of bed, put on his invisibility cloak and went down last behind the youngest, Princess Jessie. Halfway down the steps he stepped a little on her dress. She was terrified, and she began waving her arms to get her sisters’ attention.

She signed, “My dress is stuck. Someone is pulling my dress!”

Leah signed back, “Don’t be silly, you caught it on a nail.” They then continued down the stairs.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, they were standing in a wonderful avenue of trees, all the leaves of which were silver shone and glistened. Michael thought, “I must carry a token away with me” and broke off a twig from one of the trees. Jessie thought she saw something but since her sisters made fun of her before, she decided

not to say anything.

As they traveled deeper into the forest, the leaves of the trees turned to gold, and then to diamonds. Again, Michael broke branches from each of the trees, and each time Jessie thought she saw something move but he was too quick for her to be sure.

They went on and came to a great lake where twelve little boats stood, and in each boat sat a handsome deaf prince. Each took one princess with him and the soldier seated himself next to the youngest.

The youngest prince signed to Jessie, “I don’t know why the boat is so much heavier today, and I will have to row with all my strength if I am to get across the lake.”

“What could be the cause,” she signed, “but warm weather? I feel very warm too.”

On the opposite side of the lake stood a splendid, brightly lit castle, perfect light for signing and dancing. The princes rowed over and entered a silver and gold ballroom. Fancy lights hung above their heads, seeming tofloat in the air, and the walls and floor vibrated around them. Each prince danced with the girl he loved most all night long. The dancers could feel the pulsating music and moved with so much joy, but Michael danced with them unseen. They danced until 3o’clock in the morning, and when they were finished all their shoes had holes.

Leah felt the hole in her toe and gasped. She was enjoying being with other deaf people so much that she had not realized how fast the time was passing. Unwillingly, she flashed the lights to signal to her sister that it was time to go home.

The princes rowed them back across the lake and this time the soldier seated himself by Leah, the eldest, so he could get back to bed without suspicion.

On the shore, the girls took leave of their princes and promised to return the following night. As the girls were saying their long goodbyes, Michael ran out in front, and lay down quickly on his bed. When the twelve had come up slowly and wearily from their midnight dance, Michael was already snoring so strong they could feel the vibrations. They felt confident that he had slept the whole time they were away. They took off their beautiful dresses, laid them away, put the worn out shoes under the beds and went to sleep.

The next morning Michael did not tell King Joe what he saw. Instead, he went with the twelve princesses again to their wonderful dance, and again the next night. Everything happened as it had before, and each night the princesses danced until their shoes were worn to pieces.

When it came time for Michael to give his answer to the king, he took the three twigs with him as proof. The sisters stood outside, peeking through the window, trying to read his lips as he spoke to the king. They noticed the three twigs, and wondered, worried, how he got them. Jessie concluded “He must have followed us.” They knew they had been caught.

When the king asked the soldier “Where have my twelve daughters danced their shoes into pieces at night?” Michael answered “in an underground castle with twelve princes,” and explained how he had found out.

The king then had his court guard get his twelve daughters and bring them in. The king yelled at the girls as he always did thinking that if he shouted loud enough, they could hear him. Of course, it was not until the interpreter signed that they understood what their father was saying. He asked if Michael told the truth. When the princesses saw that they were betrayed many of them closed their eyes so they could not see the interpreter signing However, Leah felt obliged to confess all. Hearing this, the king asked Michael which one of his daughters he would have for his wife.

Michael answered, “I am no longer young, so give me the eldest, Princess Leah.” But he was also thinking of how beautifully she had signed the ABC story on his first night in the palace.

The engagement was announced by the Royal Herald and the whole kingdom was invited to the wedding the following month.  The sisters were saddened and upset that their older sister was marying a hearing man, but eventually he won them over.  During that month, Michael gestured and used pen and paper to communicate with Leah, but he was secretly taking Sign Language lessons.  On his wedding day, Michael surprised everyone by signing his vows to Leah  He immersed himself in their culture and accompanied his wife and her sisters to all their social activities.  As Michael’s sign language skills grew, so did the love between him and his princess, and they lived happily ever after.  The End.



Categories: Fairy Tales | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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