A Classic Appalachian Story for Halloween

This is one of my favorites, the old Appalachian tale of the Tailypo. Spellings and tellings of this story vary from one storyteller to the next, but the gist of the tale remains the same.

Listen, then tell it to someone this Halloween season!

Ghost Stories Season!

This will be a busy week for storytelling!

I have some private events, but these are open to the public. I hope to see you at one of them!

Wednesday, October 11, Jackson's Mill, Weston WV. 7:00pm, in the Assembly Hall. Storytellers Granny Sue, Adam Booth, Marc Harshman and Ilene Evans.

Thursday, October 12: Philippi Library, Philippi, WV, 4:00pm. West Virginia Ghost Stories with Granny Sue.

Friday and Saturday, 6:30 and 8:00pm each night: Believe It or Not Ghost Walk, downtown Ripley, WV. Meet at the Court Street side of the Courthouse. Ghost, murders, hangings, graveyard and more!

Summer 2017 Schedule

Here's where Granny Sue will be this summer! I hope you will be one of the people I see as I travel to many places to share stories.

June 15: Craigsville Public Library, Craigsville, WV 1:00pm. Stories for a Better World. Summer Reading Program

June 20: Sharpe Hospital, private event.

June 21: Wardensville (WV) 4-H 
June 21: Lost River (WV) Senior Center

June 23: Paden City (WV) Library, Summer Reading program, 12 noon, Paden City, WV

June 24: Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library, Clarksburg, WV: Stories for a Better World, 12 noon. Public program.

June 24: Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, WV. Campfire stories, 7:00pm at the park. Open to the park guests and the general public.

June 25: Family reunion presentation at Helvetia, WV. Private event.

June 26: Tyler County Public Library, Middlebourne, WV, 1:00pm. Stories for a Better World. Public program.

June 26: Ohio County Public Library, Wheeling WV 6:30pm. Stories for a Better World. Public program.

June 27: Philippi Public Library storytelling, 10:00 am, Philippi, WV public performance.

June 30-July 5: Vendor at the big annual flea market, Fairplain WV!

July 11:  Louis Bennett Public Library, Weston, WV, 10:30 am: Stories for a Better World. Public program.

July 12: Shady Spring (WV) Library, Summer Reading presentation, 10:00 am. Public welcome!

July 13: Ripley (WV) Public Library 10:00am. Stories for a Better World Summer Reading Program. Public performance.

August 5-6: Inland Waterways Festival, Marietta, OH. Free festival promotes the inland waterway. Storytelling, music, history, science! I will be there telling stories both days.

Summer Reading 2017: Stories for a Better World

Summer seems like a long way off in these dreary days of February. But for a storyteller, summer is just around the corner, and this is the time to be busy planning and practicing for summer shows.

My summers are usually filled with library summer reading programs, and it's something I look forward to every year. This year I am focusing once again on the national theme for the libraries, Build A Better World. It's fantastic for a storyteller because most stories are meant to do exactly that--stories teach, inspire, and encourage us, not through outright "do this" statements, but through words that make us understand what is right and good, how we should behave and how goodness can be rewarded. Folktales were, after all, the original media.

Several performances are already scheduled. I hope your local library will consider having me come!

Christmas! Lore, Recipes, Stories, and More

I have compiled a list of posts from my other blog that have ideas, stories, crafts, folklore, traditions and more about this holiday season.

From Yule and Solstice to Old Christmas to elves and paper stars and simple gifts to make, there is a bit of something for everyone in the list below.


Mincemeat and the mincemeat tarts recipe

Here We Come A-Caroling!

Here We Come A-Caroling!

 My mind has been filled with carols these past few weeks as I practice and research for the upcoming Here We Come A-Caroling! program. I present this show with my friend, folk musician Jeff Seager, and each year we add new stories and songs to our performance. This year's new songs include:
  • Nova! Nova!, a medieval carol with an interesting construction
  • Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, a carol written in an Appalachian cow barn
  • Welcome Yule!, a hearty welcome to the coming of Solstice
There will be stories that tell the history and lore behind each of these carols as well as all of the other carols included in our program. Some favorites, such as The Huron Carol and Don in Yon Forest are also on the agenda. Recently I learned of a family connection to the Christmas Truce of 1914, and that story will be included in our rendition of Silent Night.

From last year's fun: attendees playing parts with masks for an old
Appalachian song.
There is so much more--there is such a wealth of carols! And there is fascinating lore too--the traditions, superstititions, prohibitions, etc. connected with our celebrations of the holidays. Holly, ivy, the bringing in of greenery, the food customs, ways to assure good luck and fortune, finding a mate, the Yule log...it's not what to include, it's how much we can manage in the time we will have.

Here is the schedule of our performances so far. Call or email me for more information. I hope to see you at one of these events!


Ghostly Wanderings: The Storytelling Trail

Ghost stories season is beginning to wind down but it's been a busy time the past week for this tale teller.

Last weekend I presented two ghost walks in Ripley, WV, a mile-long stroll through stories of "mystery and history," as the director of the local Convention and Visitors Bureau called it. The walks are sponsored by the CVB and have become a popular annual tradition. Each year I research new stories to add and new tidbits from history to enhance the walk because many people return for the walk each year.

Over 100 people came out Saturday night for the ghost walk

The ghost walk was followed by a drive across West Virginia to the eastern county of Grant, where I told stories at the Grant County Library in Petersburg. A crowd of 50 turned out for the Monday night event. The audience included everyone from small children to senior citizens, so I had stories for all ages in my program.

While in Grant county, we took time to visit the Dolly Sods Wilderness area, one of West Virginia's most beautiful scenic areas. It was a very windy day and we had to be careful as we ventured onto the rocks to be sure we weren't blown over the edge! 

I remember when we camped on Dolly Sods about 15 years ago. An elderly gentleman camped nearby told us that he was one of the Dolly family for whom the rocks are named. Dolly Sods is known for its abundance of wild blueberries and huckleberries, which attract both humans and bears in the summer months. 

This gentleman said that when he was a boy they often spent days on the mountain picking berries, and that every 4 years or so someone would set fire to the mountain. Why? I asked. Well, he said, the brush would get to growing and crowding out the berry patches, so they'd burn it off to let the berry plants grow. That practice had to stop once the government took over management of the land. This reminded me of stories about the Native Americans burning off land so that the blackberries would come back in thicker and better.

We left to drive to central West Virginia for storytelling at a school in a small community that was a victim of the terrible June "thousand-year" flood. I had a great time telling tales at Birch River Elementary. I think the best--and most touching--part of the day was being interviewed by two 5th grade students. One of their first questions was, "Were you presonally affected by the floods?" They went on to describe some of the damage in their area. I did not suffer any damage to my home from the flood, but in this state we're all family, and what hurts one hurts us all. Thank you, boys, for reminding me of that.

In the few days remaining in this month I'll be storytelling at three more schools: for eighth grade students in Kanawha county, high school students in Putnam county, and elementary students in the northern panhandle town of Follansbee. I finish up with an evening of ghost stories at the south Parkersburg library. 

It's been a good month telling my favorite kind of story! Check out my upcoming performances here, and maybe I will see you at an event in the near future.