Most folk magic concerns itself with warding off attacks by witches, which is weird, because there's hardly anything about how to actually cause that harm in the first place.
Better put pentagrams and crescent moons on ALL your common household appliances just in case!
Catholics like(d?) to touch their magical amulets and talismans to holy items - relics, paintings or sculptures of holy people, &c. - in order to imbue them with holiness. Then some sort of religious schism happened and Evangelicals became a thing, and they were like, "Silly Catholics! Everything is equally holy! What superstitious twaddle!" but they didn't actually stop doing this; they just started using pictures of Martin Luther to charge up their magic items instead.
Quoth a man who was asked about a magical talisman he kept in his barn: "I'm not superstitious, but they say it works even if you don't believe in it."
You should definitely keep a dead toad in the room when giving birth.
In other news, there was a tiny snail in my bathtub a few weeks ago. I do not know how it got there.
It's been a hard few months for writing. This summer I participated in one flash fiction challenge after another for something like four months straight, and then midway through the Gauntlet this had pretty much the expected effect, which is that I crashed, hard. There was a lot contributing to this - various personal stressors, writing exhaustion, a serious loss of confidence when I failed to complete the Gauntlet (and even before I gave up on it, played fast and loose with the rules) - and the result is that I haven't written a game for NaNo this year, haven't finished the epic holiday project I had planned for this year, haven't finished the stop-gap measure holiday project I had the idea for just 11 days before I would have needed it, and haven't touched the novel I'm working on (remember that? It's been in the works for a long time now; the roughest draft is done, and I'm now theoretically in revision stages) since I set it down to make way for Flash Fiction Month last June.
It's not all bad news. Despite my own feelings about my work for the Gauntlet, I was actually singled out in the winners announcement:
We have set aside a SPECIAL MENTION for GDeyke as well, because of how their high-quality entries charmed the powers that be enough to outrank even some of the competitors with more entries to their name. Our eyes glaze with longing for what could have happened if more entries had been completed.
Especially given how much I'd been kicking myself for what I thought to be a piss-poor performance, this was unbelievably comforting to hear, and I am truly beyond grateful for it. If you haven't already (I know I'm a bit late to the party on that announcement), you should definitely check out some of the other entrants: some excellent things were written for that challenge!
In even better, incredibly exciting, almost-certainly-curing-me-of-my-writing-listlessness news, I've landed an actual paid writing gig - pretty small in scope, but I am certainly not complaining. While I haven't actually signed an NDA as such, I feel the NDA was implied, so I'm not sharing any more details yet; but be assured I'll tell you all about this in, oh, probably less than a year! Be assured also that it is very exciting.
And finally, I've also had a story accepted into Myths, Monsters, Mutations (edited by the fabulous jes6ica), which leads me to my next point:
It's December: month of gift-giving and holiday shopping! I am nearly certain your loved ones would like some of these books:
Myths, Monsters, Mutations is an anthology of "over 300 pages recounting tales of the dark side of fairy tales, macabre mutations, and the monsters that lurk within us all." As I've said, I have a story in there, and so do several other writers I can recommend! You can find it on Amazon US here, on Amazon UK here, and on any other Amazon by just filling the appropriate suffix into the URL. I'm certainly looking forwards to reading this one.
I myself have written several books, and would like to especially draw your attention to my FFM collections, which, as you may recall, are available in print now. They're fairly cheap, and because of the unabashed variety of stories FFM tends to provoke, your loved ones' personal tastes are pretty much irrelevant: something in there is pretty likely to be to their taste. (If you can only justify getting one of them, my personal recommendation is Changeling - it's the most recent and in my opinion the best of them so far. You can also easily browse them for free online before committing to a shiny new print copy.)
Finally, in book futures, my good internet mongoose DamonWakes has written a book about murder in space and is crowdfunding it through Unbound; and while Ten Little Astronauts certainly won't be out this year, funding is only continuing through December 25th. There's no risk here: the book will be published at this point whether it hits its goal or not, but hitting the goal will make the end product much fancier. It's still at 51%, so every bit counts! And there's more than one way to make a pledge in someone else's name, so even without a physical book in hand it's still a viable gift option. I'm very much looking forwards to reading this book myself: Damon is an excellent writer, and I'm always down for some good space murders. If this sounds at all like something you - or anyone you know - might be interested in, please do give it a look.
LiliWrites' contest needs more entries. It's going through December 31st: Birthday Contest: Helpers
FlashFictionMonth's November/December flash prompt is still good for the rest of the year. It's a good one! Flash Prompt #13 - November 2017
squanpie only managed one story for the Gauntlet, but that one counts for a great deal: "Hard Labour" does wonders with the prompt, and is far more horrifying than your standard zombie tale.
Hard Labour Your crime? A stolen string of onions. A loaf of bread. The cost of your upkeep upon parents who couldn’t even afford their own. What does it matter?
The treadmill creaks and rumbles round, each step weighted down by too many sins to count. A never-ending stairway to heaven, you do your time in purgatory before your strength gives out and you inevitably fall.
Faces grey, drained of life, all colour leached out from your back by the lash to stain the gravel you’ll only have to scrub again tomorrow, and tomorrow becomes a meaningless litany of the same clothes, the same grub, and the same weary toil.
Only Sunday provides a break, when you gather to say your prayers for yourself, for your Queen, and for a country that never wanted you. Then Monday rolls around and once again you tramp across that yard.
You hear of progress in world outside with each new cast-out soul to pass through
"Interossicular Space" by Memnalar is both fascinating and poignant.
Interossicular SpaceIt wasn't that May's parents didn't love her, or wouldn't miss her.
She could no longer go to school, and every tutor and nanny they brought home just couldn't stop chewing or move slowly enough to do the job. And the breathing. May's parents went through training, used circular techniques, never did anything strenuous around May. Diet, house, everything was a cushion. Nothing clicked, knocked, groaned or collided with anything else. May's folks had the act down cold.
But anyone else, no matter the training, always that one time they'd forget and sigh, and May would clamp her hands to ears and make that face. Her silent scream. Then the shot and the pills and the worried faces over sign language. On and on. Years. Eighteen.
It was a blessing, almost, that day the Diplomatic Corps hovercraft arrived. They had contacted May's parents, done advance work. The craft rode in on a gentle cushion of air, and the Corps visitors disembarked wearing booties, gloves and bodysuits. No footsteps. Ta
On the visual arts side, "frozen world" by Ingelore is both beautiful and seasonal (unless you're in or south of the tropics).