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.

Everyone loves a pixie coat!

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Everyone loves a pixie coat! Even Rosie rabbit has one, made from the hood of one of mine, when the bottom (literally) fell out.

From Friday 29th November to Friday 6th December, you can purchase a short coat for just £25 or a long coat for £35, and as an extra gift from me, I’ll send your parcel, in the UK, for FREE.

Email me from this blog to buy a coat, or if you have a query, or if you need me to measure for you.

If you’re looking for unusual gifts for your friends and family, why not consider a magical story, written by The Riverbank Witch. You can find of all of my books on their pages. Signed books are available directly from me, and like the pixie coats, as an extra gift, if you request a signed one, I’ll post to the UK for free.

Thanks so much for dropping in and I do hope I shall be hearing from you.

Writing News

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Apologies for being totally useless at getting my newsletter organised this year, where I’d be sharing with you all the news about my writing as it happens, but I seem to have started infinite plate spinning early on in the year, and am only just taking a few down so I can manage the rest.

It’s been brilliant having the first three books in the Lizzie Martin Witch Lit series to share! The Naked Witch has 25 reviews, the others, 9 and 10 respectively, and I’m hoping to double all those totals in 2020.

If you’re new to Witch Lit, I often get asked what it is, and why I decided to write it…

I believe the best description is borrowed from Chick Lit. Stories with a heroine-centred narrative focus on the trials and tribulations of their individual protagonists. These women live in a modern world, coping with work and home life. The books are peppered with a smattering of light heartedness and humour. All you have to do is substitute ‘witch’ for ‘chick’.

Witch Lit is contemporary, magical realism, where the magical and the mundane co-exist. The stories are gritty and believable while magic is sprinkled through the stories, offering the reader a new perspective on reality.

In response to why I write it, why wouldn’t I want to write about a woman who can hold down a full time job, single parent a fourteen year old daughter, raise money for the local children’s hospice and knock three coconuts off a shy…on a bad day? Why not write stories about passionate, earthy women, living real lives and embarking on wild, wonderful and outrageous adventures?

Characters with an underlying sense of their own spirituality are fascinating to read about and even more compelling to write about. Stories emerge from a different perspective but are set in the familiar world the reader inhabits.

Unlike Chick Lit, Witch Lit women do away with the sweet, sickly or fluffy. Their passion, determination and creativity shine through the stories, though none are averse to a well-rounded buttock or a chiselled jaw. Witch Lit isn’t anti-men but Witch Lit women’s lives don’t revolve wholly around their presence or absence.

The Witch Lit anthology came out this year too, a cornucopia of delightful stories, poems and essays, including my short story ‘The Butterfly Door’. All profits from this anthology go to Books for Africa.

This year I’ve completed the fourth book in the Lizzie Martin Witch Lit Series, The Eloquent Witch, and am on the verge of completing the fifth aswell, The Able Witch. Once book five is complete, I shall write book six and then publish all three books in close succession.

I’ve had two stories published by Zimbell House Publishing in their anthologies ‘Unleashing the Gods’ and ‘1969’

I wrote ‘The Crocodile Brooch’ for the steampunk story, and ‘Sister Moon’ for the story set in the sixties.

I’ve a short story ‘Charlotte’s Ghost’ in this year’s Ghostly Rites 2019, published by Plaisted Publishing House. These stories are scary!

I’m working on two new short stories at the moment, as well as finishing my novel, and I’ll keep you updated on their progress.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the catch up on my writing and publication progress. Do let me know if you’d like me to update you on other aspects of my writing, inspiration, writing process and characters. You can find all the books listed above on my Amazon Author page here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06

or for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06

Ghostly Rites is not yet linked to my page as it’s a new release, but you can find it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07ZQV2Y4Q

or here https://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07ZQV2Y4Q

Thank you for your patience. Happy reading! Bright blessings xx

 

Plant based recipe of the week – week 12 – Gluten Free Bread

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I know it’s been a long time coming, but I’ve found, tried and tested a whole food, gluten free bread recipe that’s really tasty….and it works!

The original recipe is from Lilykoi Hawaii on YouTube, a vlogger who I follow and have learned an awful lot from, especially about nutrition and the workings of the gut. You can find her and her videos here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7ZkWBYAAMKgcl1eMjCt3jQ

This bread recipe was originally for a bread maker, but this method works, and cooks the loaf right through.

Gluten Free Bread

 1 cup brown rice

1 cup groats

1 cup rolled oats (I used porridge oats)

½ cup millet

½ cup buckwheat (I used gluten free plain flour blend)

Blend all the above and place in a large bowl.

Grind 4 tablespoons whole flax seeds and add to the bowl. (Makes approx. 5 tablespoons of ground seeds)

3 tablespoons of psyllium husk powder

½ tspn salt

2 tablespoons sweetener (I used coconut sugar)

 

Mix all together.

 

Add 1 tablespoon instant yeast

3 cups of water, all in together

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (optional)

 

Mix well with a spoon and don’t stop!

 

Into 11/2 pound loaf tin (I used a silicon one)

Place in warm oven in the middle for 30 minutes.

Turn the heat up for a further hour, approx. 350 – 375 degrees.

A few tips….

If you’re using a metal tin, grease it lightly first.

Leave loaf in tin to cool before turning out.

If using the silicon loaf ‘tin’ and you don’t want your loaf to bulge like mine did, you can put a couple of tins in the oven on either side of the loaf, to stop it spreading out so much.

My loaf needed the full half an hour in a warm oven, and a full hour baking. On one trial, I was worried it was burning because I could smell it (I think it’s the molasses making it smell!) and I took it out ten minutes early and it was a bit damp in the middle.

Find someone to share this loaf with, because it doesn’t freeze well, or you can do as I do which is to enjoy the loaf for three or four days, and then use what’s left for breadcrumbs to make five minute mushroom burgers. Here’s the recipe https://wendysteele.com/2017/11/27/plant-based-recipe-of-the-week-week-1/

I love the flavour of this bread! It works well as toast too. I’m going to experiment over the next couple of weeks, using half the mixture to make a loaf and the other half to make a pizza base….I’ll let you know how I get on.

Do pop back for more recipes, healthy eating tips and ideas, updates on our house renovation and all the news about my writing and books. Be sure to share this website to anyone else who might be interested in the world of Wendy Woo. Bright blessings to you all xx

 

Living in the country – Needing to react 2

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We have five stone built buildings on our land, plus a couple of sheds, as well as a range of wood and tin barns. Our original plan when moving to Wales in the summer of 2013, was to focus on the main house first, and once that was done, we’d work on sorting out our field and building a shower and toilet block to offer a camping retreat, and a retirement income for us. But in February 2015, the front of the byre attached to the house came down in a storm and the tin roof blew away, exposing the delicate, fragile roof timbers.

 Our plans had to change, we threw all our time and money into saving the byre. Once the builders had left, it was down to us to lime mortar the walls, inside and out, and then begin applying the layers of lime wash that keep the building watertight.

After last week’s flooding, and water coming up into our lounge, we’ve backed off from our plans to complete our growing room, to grow vegetables throughout the year, and switched our focus to finishing lime washing the byre, and lime mortaring and repairing the kitchen and lean to at the back of the house, ready for the winter. This later extension wasn’t built as well as the main house, so we’re going to need to dismantle the stones above the kitchen window and rebuild it, but this weekend, we made a start.

There was a lot of rain in Wales over the weekend, so I didn’t manage as much as I’d hoped. The front of the byre has another coat of lime wash. Lime mortaring the end kitchen wall is underway. I’ll need a dry day to lime mortar the back wall, as dripping off the tin roof makes it impossible.

While the rain poured down, I weeded and cleared the last remnants from our raised beds and covered with cardboard, weighed down with stones. My partner, Mike, has some of the framework up on the inside of the lean to, ready to take the new roof panels, but we can’t take the old roof of until we can see two dry days in the forecast…we might have to wait a while.

It’s been a busy weekend, but a frustrating one in so many respects, as the rain and the daylight leaving so early have thwarted much of what we hoped to achieve. Join me again for more updates, as we renovate and repurpose our land, here on our little hillside in mid Wales.

Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019 – meet the author Marjorie Mallon

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Ghostly Rites Anthology is here!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07ZQV2Y4Q

And for my friends across the pond…

https://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07ZQV2Y4Q

Today, I’m welcoming Marjorie Mallon onto my blog to chat writing and to find out a little more about the author of dark and scary stories…

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 don’t tend to plot much at all. Instead, I rely on my crazy imagination to create and form the story. The only problem with this approach is a fair amount of editing is required.

But it’s exciting though! I love allowing my characters to tell the story for me.

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

Not really, but, I sometimes get ideas when I’m out walking.  For instance, on my usual route to work I’ll notice an unusual passersby with a striking aspect to their personality, or a distinctive dress sense that catches my eye. Also, I might wake up with a Eureka moment, when I know instinctively what to write. When that happens it is very exciting!

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

  • I’m fascinated by the Zodiac and Chinese Zodiac, crystals, myths and magic.
  • I love trees, (I believe they have a wonderful magical energy,) and my favourite flower is an orchid. I write about various topics: crystals, magic, the wonder of trees and nature, the paranormal, on our collaborative blog The Sisters of The Fey: To find out more follow the link: https://sistersofthefey.com/
  • I have qualifications in Reflexology/Aromatherapy but now devote all my spare time to blogging and writing. But, alternative therapies continue to intrigue me – I collect crystals and write stories infused with crystal magic.
  • My father is a Scotsman with a heart that longs to travel and my mother is a Malaysian lady who’s grown to love Scotland! Due to my mixed heritage I grew up with a very varied diet and open cultural outlook.
  • I like chilled out activities such as tai chi and yoga but recently I’ve been going to the gym to try to tone up!

Fascinating insights, thanks so much for sharing.

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

  • Lots of crystals
  • My favourite lipstick
  • Jewellery, I can’t be without my special pieces, especially my earrings and crystal bracelets.
  • Pen and paper, notebooks, or means to write or doodle.
  • A fire to keep me warm – I hate to be cold and a book to read, see no. 5 below!

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

My favourite fantasy author: Jay Kristoff, The Nevernight Chronicles. Crime:  Any of Clare Macintosh’s novels, Something heart-warming: The Italian Chapel by Philip Paris. This one I loved: The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. I’d have to bring my own debut book. I’ve only written one – The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone and it is very dear to me!

Of course you should take your own book! Great choices!

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

 Oh, probably a musician – in spirit or alive… so David Bowie, Prince, Jon Bon Jovi, or Joe Bonamassa. ­

 7 Your current writing projects?

I’m currently working on Book Two in my YA fantasy/paranormal series: The Curse of Time Book 2 Golden Healer. I hope to be published in several anthologies this year:  Ghostly Writes 2019 (Plaisted Publishing House,) and also Nightmareland (a horror anthology,) via best-selling author Dan Alatorre.

8 Share with us your published work and links to where we can find you…

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curse-Time-Book-Bloodstone-ebook/dp/B074CDJPY9

The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone.

Lovely chatting to you, Marje! Don’t forget, Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019 is out now! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07ZQV2Y4Q

https://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07ZQV2Y4Q

 

Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019 – meet the author Lynn Mullican

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The Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019 (and the name has changed!) is almost here! I’ve invited one of the authors, Lynn Mullican, to share a little of her writing life and inspiration on my blog, and I’m looking forward to finding out how another writer writes! Welcome Lynn…

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 do not outline my stories. I have a plot and story line but as my story progresses, my characters tell me and show me what they are going to say and do. I do, however, have a set ending for every story, otherwise, my story would just continue to grow.

Other writers often ask, are you a planner or a panster, so it’s great to meet another author who is half and half!

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

I usually start out with a cup of coffee in my skull mug. I keep my office fairly dim when I write, that way I can create a slightly darker atmosphere, since my most of my writing is on the darker side.

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

Hmm, I’m a bit OCD, nothing to the extreme but there are a few things I’m particular about, double checking locks on doors, putting my remote controls together in a particular way, and I’m sure there’s more. 😉 My due date was on October 31st, Halloween but I was born two days later on the Day of the Dead, November 2nd. My day job and my writing are both a bit on the darker side. I have to research and investigate fatalities. I enjoy archery and the outdoors. I studied martial arts with my family. I was studying for my brown belt in Kenpo when I had to step out of it due to a couple of reasons, primarily because of a knee injury I sustained several years prior. I was born with a disability and had to wear braces on my legs because of it.

I wonder how much your birth date has influenced your writing? Fascinating stuff. Gutting you’ve had to give up martial arts but archery, especially outdoors, sounds like fun!

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

My bow and arrows, pen and paper, and a boat. 😉

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

  1. The Green Mile by Stephen King, as a reminder that even through the difficult times, you can always find a friend, even if it is a mouse.
  2. Boys Life by Robert McCammon because it’s always good to remember where you came from and to persevere.
  3. Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Collection because I don’t think I read the entire book. Plus, there are some great stories in there.
  4. The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice because I haven’t read the series and I was told they are good books.
  5. Lightning by Dean Koontz. I’ve read this book three times and it will continue to be a favorite of mine.

Interesting choices. Thanks, Lynn.

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

 Anthony Hopkins

Fabulous actor, and I bet he has great tales to tell about Hollywood and the stars.

 7 Your current writing projects?

I’m currently working on many projects, one of which I feel is way overdue, my novel The Shadow of Evil. I’m also working on the fourth book in the Bad Elements series, Rise of the Underground. I have also started a spinoff of the Bad Elements series, Immortal Blessings.

 I have several short stories in the works, The Awakening III, Raven’s Hill III, and a few others.

Wow! You are a busy lady!

 8 Feel free to share with us your published work and links, so we can find them…

 

My short story, Where the Streets Have No Name, will be coming out in the Ghostly Rites 2019 Anthology. I also have two more short stories, From the Pen to the Grave and From the Dance to the Grave, which will be coming out soon. These two short stories will only be available in E-Book format.

Some of my other books include; the Bad Elements series, Crystal Dragon, Blood for Blood, and The Hybrid Unleashed.

My short stories series include; Raven’s Hill and Raven’s Hill’s: The Ritual, The Awakening, and The Awakening II: Nexus. My Raven’s Hill stories can also be found in The Ghostly Writes Valentine’s Anthology 2017 and the Ghostly Writes 2017 Anthology.

 Other short stories include; Sacrificial Blood and Zero Sixx.

 https://www.facebook.com/Author.LynnMullican/?fref=ts

http://lynnmullican.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/lynnmullican

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4842137.Lynn_Mullican?from_search=true

https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Mullican/e/B0055WRN3U?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1572037482&sr=1-1

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/lynn+mullican?_requestid=2596149

https://books.apple.com/us/author/lynn-mullican/id1302690845?ign-mpt=uo%253D4&mt=11#see-all/books

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=lynn+mullican

https://www.24symbols.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search=lynn+mullican&commit=

https://www.scribd.com/search?content_type=books&page=1&query=lynn%20mullican&language=1

https://play.playster.com/search?text=lynn%20mullican&filters=books%26audiobooks

https://www.bookbub.com/search?search=lynn+mullican

Thank you so much, Lynn for joining me on the blog. It’s really lovely to meet you.

Don’t forget, the Ghostly Rites Anthology is nearly here! Look out for more blog posts in the next few days!

Here’s the first link to the anthology https://books2read.com/b/mv2Vvz?fbclid=IwAR26KQhAcEmRWTNWSzJ-Bz9dLYGf2KwNxYKj9g2H9fRxIMnbMXrY3NRYRZc

 

Living in the country – needing to react

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There are so many benefits to living in the country, but also potential problems. While we planned to move to Wales, we made sure we took into account the location of any property to a river that might flood. We chose and bought a house on a hill, with a riverbank a long way below it. Last year, at the beginning of October 2018, our river burst its banks and our riverbank was flooded for the first time in over thirty years.

We hoped it was a ‘one off’, but this October it has rained and rained, and every morning on my walks, I’ve watched the river rising and surging. Last week the rain was torrential, with strong winds gusting on our hill. On Friday morning, the river was three feet from flooding, and by four o’clock in the afternoon, just one foot away.

This weekend we were planning a tidy up of the land, a final clear around and clear out of barns, and last bramble and nettle hack back, plus internal lime mortaring. Instead, we found ourselves having to react to another crisis.

The river didn’t burst its banks, and the fields around our neighbour in the mill house didn’t flood, so she was safe in her home from flood water but….we hadn’t realised that the water had gathered behind our house. The back of the house has always been an issue, the kitchen having been added on in inferior slate and the ‘lean to’, has little footings, a broken plastic roof and neither have any guttering. Our builder performed the necessary work to stop the stone built extension moving, and we’ve insulated and whitewashed inside to make it ‘useable’, but we always knew we’d have to put serious work into repairing this part of the house…we didn’t realise it would have to be so soon. But on Saturday, it was all about reacting, saving our possessions and trying to use the minimum effort to work temporary repairs, as the water behind our house seeped beneath it.

We’d already cut part of the carpet away due to the actions of a naughty cat (!), and stacks of towels was our best bet keeping the flood water contained. And then we began to dig. We didn’t want to dig too close to the house, but the drip water was settling close, so I began by cutting a small trench a few feet from the house, and then digging smaller ones from the drip water to help it drain away. These photos do not do justice to the hard work it was! I thought I was going to be peeling off turf, but the ground is stony.

We dug round the front too, pulled out all the grass and leaves from the concrete ditch around the house, and dug across the driveway so the water could drain into our overflow pond. The ditch used to protect some of the house when it only had a tin roof, but the thatch pushes the ‘dripline’ out further, so one job we have to schedule is digging and concreting in a new ditch around the house.

But we stopped the water rising further, and when the rain stopped on Sunday, the trenches began to dry out, as did our lounge.

We’re now behind with our clearing up and indoor lime mortaring, but mattocking and digging for so much of Saturday, I was exhausted on Sunday, and chose to rest up a little. I did make food though, so do pop back for whole food plant based recipes that you will love!

 

 

Author Interview – Karen J Mossman – Ghostly Writes Anthology 2019

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There are a whole host of authors in the Ghostly Writes Anthology 2019, available to download from 31st October! Today, I welcome Karen Mossman onto my blog, to have a chat and find out more about her and her writing. We met on the Ghostly Writes Anthology group, so all I know is that she lives in North Wales!

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 tend to get an idea, then play around with it in my head for a while, which could be weeks sometimes. Once I have a sense of it, I’ll start writing. Sometimes I just write scenes and then put them all together at the end. So definitely not planned to perfection!

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

 No, absolutely nothing. As long as I have my lap top, I can let my fingers do the walking. Although on occasions I like to sit down with an empty page and just write and see what magic appears out of my pen.

I love a pen too!

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

  1. I love to craft, I go through craft like genres of writing. At the moment I am crocheting.
  2. I’ve started giving talks to clubs and groups, one about books and the other about growing up with parents who fostered.
  3. I lived all my life in a big city, and now I live in a rural area by the sea.
  4. I’m always on a diet, and if I’m not, I should be!
  5. I once ordered Sir Alex Ferguson out of a lift in anger, then realised who it was. He was very gracious. (Ex manager of Manchester United.)

 Great answers!

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

  1. My kindle with unlimited battery, or some books.
  2. A pen and paper.
  3. My dogs for company.
  4. A swimming costume
  5. Knickers!

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

Any books that I haven’t read before as I’m not a fan of re-reading a book unless it is acceptable. So I have at least five on my Kindle and they are:

  1. The Anglesey Murders: Visit from the Devil by Connor Jones.
  2. Just Rose by L. T. Marshall
  3. Silent Night by Sahara Foley
  4. Falling for Kate by J. M. Rally
  5. Unveiled by J. M. Northup

 

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

 I’ve never been a fan of meeting famous people. I would be far too intimiated and they would have better things to do than bother with the likes of me! So I would choose my mum and dad to have dinner with, simply because they have been gone for nine years now, and in that time questions have arisen that I will never have answers too.

 

7 Your current writing projects?

I have two on the go. I am rewriting my novel The Secret from first person point of view to third, as suggested by my publisher.

The other is called Crossing Serbia, it was a short story that I’m expanding into a novella. It is about a Tanya an aid worker during the time of the break up of Yugoslavia. While she is working with people trapped by war, she gets kidnapped by insurgents. A group of British soldiers are sent into rescue them and its about their journey across a war torn country. So, a politcal romance.

 

They both sound fascinating. Finishing up, please share with us your published work…

I have just entered my story to the halloween edition of Ghostly Writes, which is where I met you. In previous editions, I have entered stories I already have. This time I’ve used a story that I wrote some time ago but never did anything with after the first draft. It’s based on a true story, the haunting of a house where someone I know lives. I must say, I’m thrilled with how it turned out and can’t wait to see it in print.

I have four novels and nine novellas as well as stories in anthologies. They can all be seen on my website (https://karenmossman.weebly.com/)

 I’m also a lover of stories, so maintain the Magic of Stories website (https://magicofstories.net/) where I share my own stories and those of others, including many true stories. Apart from that, I review every book I read on Karen’s Book Buzz Blog.  (https://karensbookbuzz.wordpress.com/)

Thanks so much for joining me, Karen. You can also find Karen’s work on Amazon via her Author Page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Karen-J-Mossman/e/B00JJY69OO

and for our friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Karen-J-Mossman/e/B00JJY69OO

Don’t forget to look out for more author interviews, showcasing the talented authors contributing to the Ghostly Writes Anthology 2019!

 

 

 

I never wanted to be a leader

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My Dad never liked being the one in charge. That’s why he married my Mum. She loved being the leader, and he was happy to be her most loyal supporter. He didn’t ‘lead’ at work either, remaining Assistant Manager of a Horne Brothers Men’s Outfitters branch for over fifty years, only taking the lead for a few weeks each year when the Manager was on holiday. I must take after my Dad because…

I never wanted to be a leader. Leaders are there to be shot down. Leaders take all the criticism, complaints and problems. Leading is lonely.

I remember in the lower sixth form at school, taking on the role of actor, director and producer of the Oak house play, to be performed before the whole school and a panel of judges from the community; journalists, head teachers and clergy. No one else wanted to do it. I adapted and shortened Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, every copy of the script produced by me on an old Gestetner machine. We rehearsed for weeks, and costumed the play and built the props ourselves. The judges loved it, but the school hated it. Collecting our trophy, I was booed off the stage. I never wanted to be a leader.

When I became a mother, I made decisions for my children when they were small. I did my best to lead by example, making every choice and decision in their best interests. There were days I felt alone, isolated and afraid, but I stuck at it. Supporting them through their schooling and University, I’m so proud of the strong, capable adults they’ve become…but I’m glad they make decisions about their own lives now! I never wanted to be a leader.

At the age of forty I discovered the magic of bellydance, empowering me when I needed it most. I discovered how supportive and wonderful it is for women’s bodies and minds. I never wanted to be a teacher, but I couldn’t keep this power to myself. I knew how important it was. For me, it was never just about the dancing. There’s a special bond between people who dance together. So I put my fears aside and went to college to learn to be a teacher. I began with Phoenix Bellydance, teaching Egyptian bellydance workshops, courses and classes, to girls and women of all ages and abilities. I worked hard to be the best teacher I could, training with Hossam and Serena Ramzy, Katie Holland, Kay Taylor, Charlotte Desorgher and many more.

I discovered ATS Bellydance and Tribal Fusion and attended workshops and classes, happy not to lead, and then my ATS Bellydance teacher asked me to lead a tribe in Wales. For five and a half years, I worked hard to be the best teacher I could be, and to create a safe space for women to be themselves and dance, always respecting the needs, wishes and sensibilites, of all tribe members. I never wanted to be a leader.

I never wanted to be a leader. The move to Wales, the logistics of moving two adults and three cats, and fifteen years of possessions to Wales to live in a tent in a field, took some doing, and all the while, Mum’s healthcare needed to be monitored, fortnightly visits made from Wales to Essex being the outcome, strategies put in place so she’d be visited by friends every week. Meetings and difficulties with scaffolders, thatchers, heating engineers, CADW, planning permissions, councils….I lead the way to get our renovations started, so we could live our life in Wales.

And now I’m done. I’ve spent my life working hard for the good of my school, my children, my dancers, my parents and my partner. I’ve agonised over decisions to try to please everybody. I’ve taken so much flack my protection bubble has dents in it!

We’re nearing Samhain, the end of my year. It is a time to remember those we have lost. I miss my Mum and Dad. It is also the time for reflection of the past year, it’s highs and lows, successes and failures. It is time to decide what to carry forward to the new year and what to leave behind. It is time for new plans and new ideas.

I never wanted to be a leader.

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life #16 -Sleep is your super power

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Deep down, I’ve always known how important sleep is for happiness and health, but over the years, I’ve made a lot of excuses.

During my teenage years, I could stay up late and snooze anywhere, determined not to miss a thing.

As a mother, sleep was a luxury for a number of years, especially when child no3 decided to sleep no more than two hours, day or night, for the first two years of her life, bless her. And then there was the Christmas Eve I didn’t sleep at all when same child decided she was putting up a stocking for Big Ted and Magic Ted, so I sat up all night knitting them scarves!

When I was poorly, I grabbed as much sleep as I could, especially when I was recovering. At this time in my life, in my mid thirties, I discovered the beauty of a power nap, and used it whenever I could. I took a lot of hurtful banter in the school playground, where other mother’s were critical of my need to have a break in the middle of the day, but if I was up at 6.30am and often didn’t finish teaching dance until after 9pm, I needed 40 minutes rest to keep going.

My family grew up, and I needed my sleep to pack in as many things into my day as I could manage – dancing, cooking, writing and looking after elderly parents, to name a few

And then we moved to Wales, and embarked on a new adventure! I’ve never needed good sleep more in my whole life! But you don’t have to believe me – believe the science! Watch this video in your tea break (just 20 minutes) and you’ll soon realise why I do my utmost to get 8 hours of sleep EVERY night! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MuIMqhT8DM&t=1035s

Matthew Walker is an English scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the impact of sleep on human health and disease.Enjoy….and good night!