Author Archives: steelewendy

About steelewendy

I'm author, wise woman and goddess, inspiring women to dance and creating magical writing with novels and short stories. To enter the world of Wendy Woo, check out my website www.wendysteele.com.

Name that tingle

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There’s all kinds of happy….happy with family

 

Happy with pets Happy with my books Happy with the work we’ve achieved in Wales  

and happy with my fabulous man

But what’s that tingle called, the one that begins a bout of bliss? I noticed it the other day while cleaning. The wooden shelf was clean and shining with lavender polish and I placed three items on it….and there was the tingle. My shelf looked right and felt right. Calm fell on my shoulders like a familiar cardigan.

I’ve experienced the tingle at the beginning of a dance set, half way through the puja. We dance improvised, so every dance is different but sometimes, the tingle begins. My ears ring, my heartbeat quickens, even if it’s a slow dance. Warmth, calm and contentment envelop me. I don’t remember the rest of the dance; my mind and body take over.

What about the tingle when you’ve been battling with a tricky scene in the novel you’re writing and a picture or word jog your mind in a certain direction, and the perfect scene emerges from your rapidly tapping fingers?

You probably have your own word for the tingle. I call it magic.

 

 

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Are you ready to Save the Cat!?

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I belong to a fabulous group on Facebook called Witch Lit, for readers and magical creators, who enjoy poetry, songs, short stories, novels, in fact all things magical. I was recommended this book by Laura Perry, one of the other admins on the group, which arrived two weeks ago and hasn’t left my side for more than twenty four hours! Here’s my review and then you’ll know why…

The best ever self help book about writing a novel!”

‘Save the cat! Writes a Novel’ is the best self help book about writing I’ve ever read. As soon as you begin to read, there’s a feeling of excitement as this tried and trusted recipe for successful novel writing is explained by Jessica Brody. Originally an idea by the late Blake Snyder, a Hollywood screenwriter, Jessica, one of his pupils who had used and succeeded with the original method, has created a concise, straight forward, easy to use guide to creating a great novel.

With very little pre-amble, the book dives straight in, asking you questions about your book idea or the WIP you’ve started (or completed.) One of the beauties of this book is that it suits plotters or pantsers. If you want to organise and plot with precision, you can use this book from the word go, or if, like me, you’d already written the book, but wanted it to be the best it could be (or wanted to see how close to the perfect book you’ve managed to get yourself), then you can use it at this point to.

Having already studied another novel writing book, I managed to get the majority of the points mentioned in the book, but not necessarily in the right order or to the degree I needed to press the points home. With my newly fashioned ‘Beat Sheet’, I’m working my way through my book, crafting and sculpting to make it flow better and keep the reader hooked with every turn of the page.

This book will not write your story for you. You need a good story to start with, but be assured, if you follow this ‘Beat Sheet’, you’ll have the best possible structure for your book.

The book guides the writer through Beat Sheets and Story Genres, and you think ‘Wow, this is so simple when you read it like this.’ While you’re basking in the sunshine of knowing you’re onto a winner, Ms Brody gives you more! ‘Pitch it to me!’ gives you all the info you need to create fabulous, unforgettable loglines and concise, exciting synopses. …And then there’s even more! ‘Save the Author!’ is all of her FAQs, beautifully answered to give you the most detailed yet manageable ‘big picture’ you’ll ever need.

I paid £11.99 for the paperback of this book, and in only two weeks, I’ve more than had my money’s worth. I recommend anyone writing their first novel to read this book…in fact, every story teller should read it!

You can purchase Save the Cat! here…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Save-Cat-Writes-Novel-Writing/dp/0399579745/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Save-Cat-Writes-Novel-Writing/dp/0399579745/ref

If you’re interested in magical reading or writing, come and join our Witch Lit group for books and more https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

Press the newsletter link on this blog for monthly updates about books, dance, plant based food and all things magical. Bright Blessings xx

 

10 months on – The daily fight

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Ten months on from stopping smoking, I don’t feel any fitter or healthier. My body has been through hell, ridding the nicotine and I never want to have to go through it again. Keeping cheerful has been difficult. We get to the coast as much as we can. This is me with my feet in the North Sea two weeks ago.

 

At the beginning, the constant gnawing and craving preoccupied me, but as my hormones began to party without the nicotine hanging on for a ride, my weight gain has become my focus.

That’s me in the purple and black in October 2017, and here’s me in March 2018

If one more slim, yogatastic, enlightened 30 something tells me to embrace this new part of being a woman and be excited about my crone phase, I’ll punch them in the face…not really, but you can hear my frustration. I didn’t ask for this. I thought stopping smoking would make me feel better…I’ve never felt so depressed and anxious.

Smoking held back some, but not all my menopausal symptoms. Everything has been heightened since stopping putting nicotine into my body, so my IBS has been chronic too. I feel like my body is returning to factory reset, shaking everything up along the way, but rather than settling, everything feels off kilter.

I had to stop running, my knees couldn’t cope, partly because I’m running on the road and there isn’t a single flat section anywhere near me, and probably because I already have knee damage and I’m heavier than I should be.

I am not alone. Thousands of women are waking up one morning to find their once taut bodies have softened. I haven’t been this fleshy since I was pregnant and the irony of that is like a stab to the heart…you’re no longer capable of conceiving a child, but your body looks like you’re carrying one. Wicked.

It isn’t all bad news… I’ve stuck to my walking every morning as soon as I get up, and my new morning best is 5.2k steps. I always do at least 2k, and often do 4k. Having said that, I do walk some lunchtimes too, but now the evenings are dark, I’m not walking in the evening. I’m guessing I put on two stone at the beginning of the year with eating a bit more and the change in hormones and have now lost one of those, but I still can’t get my clothes on. In fact, last week I bought bigger jeans. Gutting.

I am a fighter. Every morning when I walk, Dr Dain’s affirmation rings in my ears ‘All of life comes to me with ease and joy and glory’. Life is amazing. I have a wonderful partner. My friends and family are dear to me. I live in an amazing house in a fabulous part of the world, with a roof over my head. I’ve started doing a little yoga after my walk, just a few balances and stretches…the plan is to build up to more, making sure my thighs don’t get too bulky with all the extra walking. Loki likes to be carried around on my walks…He is a fidget though

There is other good news. I’ve gone back on my original HRT. I now sleep through most nights. I sweat less during those nights. The day time sweats are occasional.

But every day is a battle, making my steps count and attempting to balance my body. As you may know, my diet is already plant based and I cook most meals from scratch, so how I lose this lump orbiting my middle, I’m not sure. Food and I have battled for most of my life and I’m gutted I’m being forced to re-evaluate again, when I thought I was doing the right thing becoming plant based.

Women need to stand up and say, ‘This isn’t just hormones! Have you any idea how life changing their fluctuation can be?’

I’m re-inventing myself. I may have had to buy bigger jeans but I also bought the cutest pinafore dress, and I’ve booked in for a new tattoo. Support the women around you while they deal with this life changing transformation. No more jokes about menopausal women being grumpy!

 

Day out for Diwali

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On Sunday we visited St Fagans National Museum of History, where the event for the day was Diwali Mela. Hundreds of families from Cardiff came together to share their special day, the dances they had practised and the food they had cooked.

We were greeted in the foyer of the museum by music, colour, dance and laughter. Music and dance from all over India was showcased from Indian Classical dance to Bollywood, dances from the Punjab and from Indonesia. Foot tapping tunes were followed by exquisite, complicated slow dances where the dancers used every part of their bodies, including their eyes, to tell the story of their dance. Some styles I recognised, others were new, but no less delightful to watch.

After an hour of so, we set off around the museum. Most of the buildings at St Fagans have been dismantled from their original location, and rebuilt in this beautiful area, surrounded by woodland. It’s billed as ‘A walk around Wales – from Celtic times to the present day’, and that’s exactly what the museum is about, preserving the history of the past for all of us today. They almost took our house to be part of the museum, so we were fascinated to discover all we could about the houses they had taken.

From simple miners’ cottages to highly decorated Tudor halls, we walked in and out of the exhibits in glorious sunshine. The houses of stone and clom, similar to ours, were of special interest, and the woven thatch was stunning, completely opposite to our straight, raggedy thatch.

Furnishing the houses brings them to life and I especially loved the row of cottages, Rhyd-y-car Iron Terrace from Merthyr Tydfil, set up to show the typical life of those living in the small community from 1805 to 1985.

The iron age roundhouse is special too. A long walk through glorious golden woodland leads you to the roundhouse. I danced in one in Essex, and felt the urge again here!

There’s a castle with the most stunning grounds and gardens, all of which we didn’t get around. There’s access to the kitchen, always fascinating and luxurious panelled drawing rooms and study.

Oakdale Workmen’s Institute is another fascinating building. Opened in its original location near Caerphilly in 1917, this library and institute served as a focus for social and cultural life within this mining community in south east Wales, financed by a substantial loan from the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, which was repaid in 1945. This was a place to learn to read and write, as well as come together, and the building was reopened in St Fagans in 1995.

Back in the foyer of the museum, we ate biryani and onion bhajis, while enjoying more music and dance.

I enjoyed my day of history and culture, and though I can’t promise indian dancers for your visit, you can be assured of a warm welcome at St Fagans.

There are a number of cafes and restaurants, and the toilet facilities were adequate. You can take dogs into the museum.

You pay £5 to park your car, but entrance to the museum is free, though a donation is requested. For more about what’s on at St Fagans, visit their website. https://museum.wales/stfagans/

 

 

Book Review: Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

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Chatting with Carol Lovekin on my blog in September, I discovered her first novel ‘Ghostbird’, downloaded it and added it to my TBR list. I finished the book on Saturday!

You can read our interview here https://wendysteele.com/2018/09/17/carol-lovekin-author-feminist-and-flaneuse/

Carol is published by Honno Press in Aberystwyth, a women’s press showcasing women’s writing in Wales.

Ghostbird

The story is set in a Welsh village. Fourteen year old Cadi and her mother, Violet, live next door to Violet’s sister-in-law, Lili, Lilwen Hopkins. The Hopkins family have a long history in the village, while Violet is, and always has been, an outsider.

Secrets and lies haunt the lives of the three women. Cadi wants the truth about her father’s death and the loss of her sister, Dora, but neither Lili nor her mother will tell her.

When Owen Pendry arrives in the village, Violet is shaken. Old memories awaken to haunt her. Lili asks him to leave, but he wants to speak to Violet.

All the while, Cadi is visited by the ghost of her four year old sister who is confused and scared. Cadi is frustrated by the secrets being kept from her.

Let’s get my gripes out of the way first…the middle of the book lacked pace for me and I found myself skimming to get to the action, but I’m an impatient reader, and that’s why some of the repeated references led me to more skimming. My only other niggle was the speed of Violet’s change of heart. It was a bit sudden for me.

However, the characters are well formed and their background unfolds throughout the story. The story is an interesting one, inviting the reader into the small, intense world of a village community. The characters grow throughout the book, believable and rounded, enabling the reader to have opinions and form attachments or dislikes to them.

But the best bit is, Ghostbird resounds with whispers of ghosts and tales of the past, mixed with Welsh myth and set against the backdrop of the Welsh countryside, so how could it be anything but magical?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghostbird-Carol-Lovekin-ebook/dp/B01AOMVP2U/ref

and for our friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Ghostbird-Carol-Lovekin-ebook/dp/B01AOMVP2U/ref

 

 

 

Pagan Pages – Perception of Reality

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Last month I interviewed the fabulous author and herbalist, Mabh Savage. You can read it here https://wendysteele.com/2018/10/17/meet-mabh-savage-pagan-author-and-herbalist/

Here’s the other half of our blog swap, posted in Pagan Pages this week, where Mabh asks the questions. Find out more about the genre Witchlit that’s increasing in popularity by the day and one of my most magical experiences. Enjoy! http://paganpages.org/content/2018/11/interview-with-wendy-steele-perception-of-reality/

 

Plant based recipe of the week – week 11 – Two Potato Vindaloo

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My good friend Cate loaned me her Yotam Ottolenghi cook book and I found this recipe. I’ve cooked it half a dozen times now because it’s delicious! Do not be afraid that it is a vindaloo – it’s full of tasty spice but not too hot. I rewrote the recipe in a way I could use it more easily than the way it is printed in the book, and I’ve given you the options I used when I didn’t have exactly what the recipe called for. Once you’ve made it a few times I’m sure it will become one of your ‘go to’ favourites….in our house it’s now  affectionately known as 2PV.

Two Potato Vindaloo

8 cardomon pods        )

1 tbsp cumin seeds     ) a) dry roast these and add to… * in a pestle and mortar and grind.

1 tbsp coriander seeds)

1/2 tsp cloves*

1/4 tsp turmeric*

1 tsp paprika*

1 tsp cinnamon*

 

b) cook the following on a medium low heat for 8 minutes or until shallots are brown

2 tbsp vegetable oil

12 shallots 300g (I used 4 small onions)

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (I used 1 tsp panch puran)

Stir a) into b) and add c)

c) 25 curry leaves (I left out once and dish was still fab!)

2 tbsp fresh grated ginger

1 red chilli, finely chopped

Cook for 3 minutes and then add d)

d) 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used 1 tin tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tbsp ketchup)

50ml cider vinegar

400ml water

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt to taste

Bring all to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, then add e)

e) 400g potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

2 small red peppers (I used 1 red and 1 green)

Cook for another 20 minutes then add…

400g sweet potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces.

Uncover pan for 10 minutes to thicken

I did all the prep first, leaving the skins on the potatoes. This dish tastes good immediately, but fabulous the next day and it freezes well.

Do pop back for more plant based recipes, book reviews, interviews, dance and magical musings. Bright blessings xx

Zoe Murphy – author and poet

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I met the fabulous Zoe Murphy at the first Llandysul Book Fair, organised by Cheryl Beer of Parlour Press Publishing. A new poetry anthology was being released during the day, and we, authors and public, were treated to poets reading their work.  As another Welsh writer I didn’t know well, I invited her to have a chat, and tell us more about herself…

1 How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as

you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

I am a complete Pantser. I always have a rough idea of plot and characters, but I very much make it up as I go along which isn’t always productive if I’m honest. The book I am writing now has evolved and changed in so many ways and that’s because I am interested in too many things! But, I have finally set my cap with what I am doing, and I’ve adopted a more methodical approach by planning my characterisation and chapters. While I like to feel like I’m free when writing, I have had to concede and have some kind of organised chaos.

2 Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

 I think I am quite eclectic when it comes to my writing time and rituals and I don’t have a set ritual really. However, one thing I always do, is listen to music. I have specific playlists which get me in the zone and are almost a soundtrack to my book. Music has been my saviour and it really helps and inspires my writing process.

 

3 Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

  1. I am also a performance poet and I was part of a TV programme called ‘Ugly Lovely: Poet on the Estate’ in 2014. Poetry wasn’t a great love of mine but it is now.
  2. I used to be a Street Dance teacher and absolutely love Hip Hop and 90’s R ‘n’ B.
  3. 80’s movies particularly Brat Pack films- Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Teen Witch!
  4. I avidly watch trashy reality TV such as TOWIE, Love Island…(guilty pleasure.)
  5. Gin (especially ones that have flavours or pretty colours.)

 

4 If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you

want with you?

  1. Pen
  2. Paper
  3. Picture of my children
  4. Mascara
  5. Kindle

5 On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

 

This is a hard one!

  1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden- I could read this book over and over and over. Evocative and rich in detail. Beautiful story.
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- The fact that the majority of the book is from a female perspective and it was a bit of a different approach to the dystopian genre.
  3. Lucky by Jackie Collins- Pure escapism.
  4. The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson- This introduced a really cool magical power and an original take on fantasy fiction. Could read it over and over.
  5. My Grimoire

 

6 Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

 

Anjelica Houston- Incredible actress and I’d like to ask about her Dad too as he has directed some of my favourite films.

 

7 Your current writing projects?

 

I am currently on the second book of a fantasy series I am writing set in Wales and involving witches and Welsh/Norse mythology. The first in the series is called Promise: Unearthed and I am to launch the first two instalments in February 2019.

I am also writing a Creative Education book as I am a lecturer and I have a passion for creative teaching techniques and would like to provide some inspiration for fellow teachers.

 

8 Other published work and links….

 

https://zoetryweb.wordpress.com/ My blog

 

https://www.facebook.com/ZoeMAuthor/ FB page for links and news

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1404242866503911/ Poets on the Hill FB page.

 

Promise Novels:

 

Promise Unearthed

Seven

Released Feb 2019

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to come and share, Zoe. It’s been lovely having you.

For more author interviews, book reviews, writerly musings, dance, plant based recipes and magic, visit again. Bright blessings xx

Book Review – Pushing Madness by Hart St Martin

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I’ve been reading this series for the past three years, following Lisen and her family, eagerly anticipating the next book. Here’s my review of the final book…

A fitting finale

This is the final book in the Lisen of Solsta series, and what a finale!

Once again, Lisen and Korin are separated, duty coming before their personal relationship, as they endeavour to prevent Garla and Thristas going to war. Sixteen years previously, a young, naive eighteen year old Lisen fought her first battle in these lands and she now prepares for another, though she hopes she can prevent it from ever happening.

The lives and fortunes of the main characters over the past sixteen years are recalled, tying up loose ends for the reader, while the story moves on to its ending. There’s suspense right from the beginning, though I have to confess to skipping a little in my eagerness to reach the climax of the story of the House of Ilazer.

The final chapters resonate with magic, power and courage. No spoilers, but a memorable and visually dramatic conclusion is a fitting finale for this enjoyable series.

 

The Lisen of Solsta series is imaginative, exciting fantasy fiction. Here’s my review from 2015, of the first book Fractured, to give you a taster…

From a Californian beach, Lisen Holt is transported to a different world, one she knows but does not yet remember. In the haven of Solsta, with the help of Hermit Eloise, the facts of her birth and childhood are drizzled into her consciousness. Her Destiny is laid before her, requiring her acceptance and this is the underlying theme running through Fractured. This is the beginning of Lisen’s journey from carefree Californian teenager, living with Mom and Dad to talented hermit and necropath and the heir to the throne of Garla.

I really enjoyed this book! Once into her writing, St Martin writes a great story. In a very short time I cared about Lisen and was interested to see how the story would unfold. With the story beginning from Lisen’s point of view, I was caught out and had to back track a couple of times when the point of view changed, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment and read easily from then on.

I loved the characters of Ariel and Lorain and can’t wait to find out how their relationship progresses! There are instances when the same story is told twice from two different points of view which, for my taste, was not necessary and one would have sufficed. I started to skim a bit where Lisen visited the same thoughts, as I was eager for the story to continue so maybe there was a little too much repetition of similar ideas.

This book is about a real young women, faced with a real situation. I felt for her as she battled with weapons training on the journey to Halorin and loved Jozan for supporting her. Her reticence using gifts she has not thoroughly explored is genuine as is her determination to help others, not considering the cost to herself. The final scenes of the book are testament to the mental and physical pressures she has been under as she attempts to come to terms with a new, strange life.

I have no hesitation awarding 4* and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

 

You can find both books via the author’s pages here https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.-Hart-St.-Martin/e/B0099S9GWW/ref

and https://www.amazon.com/D.-Hart-St.-Martin/e/B0099S9GWW/ref

 

To pop back for more reviews, interviews, writerly musings, dance, plant based recipes and magic. Bright blessings xx