Tales from Pan’s Grotto

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wales-2014-058This past year, I’ve been writing and submitting short stories. Having had over a quarter of them published online and in anthologies, I decided to start my own Youtube channel, Phoenix and the Dragon, and read to you the WitchLit stories emerging from my pen right now. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA

I began at Samhain with a slightly longer story, Granny Hickson’s Blessings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjBDk9eogZQ

This week’s story is called Lucky and is perfect for a tea break viewing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNRDQMuBv3U

If you enjoy the stories, please like, share and subscribe to the channel.

Bright Blessings xx

 

Are you prepared to be scared?

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14615772_10155304360273448_1859627475286814130_o Twenty six authors and the fabulous Claire Plaisted herself, have penned a ghostly short story, just for you! Following my short story writing year, where I put myself on my own course, endeavouring to produce a short story each week, you can read ‘Ghost of a chance’ in Plaisted Publishing House’ Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016.

The book is FREE to download from the following: Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iApple, Inkstra, Tolino, scribd, Indigo, Angus & Robertson,Thalia, Smashwords and 24 Symbols.

Here is the Amazon link for your convenience http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghostly-Anthlogy-Plaisted-Publishing-Presents-ebook/dp/B01MPXSNJ0/ref

 

Be sure to check out other work by the authors and Plaisted Publishing House for all the services and support they provide.

Enjoy your book of FREE stories this autumn!

 

 

 

The Veil of Secrets

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Upon the road to Samhein, I’m facing my fears. Working on my root chakra, Muladhara, the fears of the past haunt me less.

1655477_912692688801104_1676088900175960390_oI am no longer a child. Little Wendy met her fears in the safe place in the faery wood. They were part of her once, a constant reminder but now, they are abandoned. She leaves the wood a woman. Little Wendy is still there but she is more than that now. I have followed my dream, to live, write and teach in Wales. This bravery is new. This courage is inspiring.

As the Sacred Wheel turns, Samhein beckons, the time when the veil between the worlds is thin and the future, a step away. What secrets lie beyond the veil?

‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you’, written in 2012, I suggest you take time to declare your intent….

“81: Declare your intent
As we draw towards the end of October, the summer is over and
before us, the long months of winter beckon. This is the time for new
ideas and new plans and, in my experience, choices.
Our ancestors used the coming months to preserve and conserve food
for the winter and organise themselves for the coming spring and we
too can follow this example by conserving the ‘seeds’ of ideas and
plans that proved their worth, burning those that didn’t and beginning
a new seed bank of our own.
A few years ago, two aspects of my life were taking off, writing and
dancing, but I didn’t know which to pursue. I sought advice from a
dear friend, a wise and wonderful lady. Her words have stayed with
me and I use them when making all my life choices.
I gave each of my plans an intent. To writing, I gave ‘to write a novel’
and to dancing ‘to share my love of dance.’ Both ideas developed but
at a different pace. Phoenix Bellydance was born and, in the five
years I taught Egyptian Bellydance, I introduced over 300 women
and girls to the dance. I wrote my first novel over three years while
waiting in the car to collect my children from school.
Write down your ideas for your future on coloured cards and place
them where you can see them (March). You could carry a small
version in your wallet or purse. Decide the intention of each idea and
add that to the card. If you plan to do something to make money, that
is your intent. If you want to help people, that is your intent. My
recent novel was published because my intent was to share the story
with as many people as possible.
Take your time. There’s no rush.
Enjoy this time of new ideas and choices and, by the end of the
winter, be ready to declare your intent.”

The secret beyond the veil is your intention for the coming year.

I work on my land, cutting back brambles and clearing away dead leaves and weeds. I work on my home, rebuilding, lime mortaring and white washing. The fear is gone. I allow my mind to realise my intent. On Samhein, I will release it to the universe.

 

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You can find all my books via my Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

Dance to the music of your soul

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You know the feeling. A song drifts into your ears. Your heart begins to race. Your toes twitch. Shivers fizzle down your spine. A connection is made with the music and your soul. But do you dance?

m_100_1396 As a child, I was surrounded by music. Dad loved to sing. He came from a musical family sat around the piano while Mother played and each child would perform their ‘party piece’. I learned piano from the age of four but was chastised by my teacher (and even during piano exams) for my lack of ability to pitch a note and dancing was out of the question for a ‘fairy elephant’. It didn’t stop me immersing myself in music though and at forty years of age, I joined my first dance class.

I teach dance to inspire women to dance now.

What music inspires you?  I adored Indian music before I started dancing and once I began, discovered Arabic music  for the first time. I’ve always loved a choir and now, in Wales, when I attend book fairs and Christmas fairs, I’m filled to bursting by the luscious lilts and bountiful harmonies of Welsh choral music. Beethoven piano music awakens feelings in me, filling me with a sense of awe and joy while a simple, gentle chant to the goddess can carry me away to the sea.

I encourage my ladies to share music they love and we dance to it together in class.

What about the music of nature? Standing on my hill in the chilly hours of dawn, the birds awaken the day, their song ricocheting between the trees like a greeting echo. The river sings many songs. Sweet, cheerful music tinkles between the stones when she is low but in full flow she bursts like a geyser between the rocks, bellowing her song and her powerful intent as she hurries to the sea.

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Dance anywhere and everywhere! Dance in the rain DSC_0307 dance in the park DSC_0005 dance on the beach 11167955_1610750972516726_7729406917342820848_n dance in your front room, dance on a grassy knoll 13528430_10154418410354739_3392390366723899125_o dance with friends 11053065_1610337169224773_4219450298485072431_nand dance alone 10556448_727027910700917_1801320681454343591_n

Listen to the music…and dance.

 

 

 

 

The road to Samhein

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The Sacred Wheel turns. The leaves turn to russet, drifting to the ground and swirling in eddies like golden dancers. As the end of the pagan year approaches, it’s time to look back, time to mourn, time to celebrate and time to remember. At this time of year, opportunities abound and while I try to decipher the emotions and challenges that battle in my mind, one rises to the surface. Fear.

dsc_0060Where does fear come from? I’ve battled it for years, surprising myself at what I can achieve when I can overcome it but now is the time to go deeper. My fears come from voices of the past…’You’re a fairy elephant! You can’t dance!’…’Ok, you passed nine but you failed one!’…’Where did that notion come from? You’re too stupid to have thought that up yourself!’… ‘If you can’t stand up and speak in a room of future teachers, how do you expect to be a teacher yourself?’…As I type, my throat closes up.

This week, as well as teaching my ladies and editing my first WitchLit novel, I’m healing myself. I’m going back to my roots, deep within the Root Chakra, Muladhara is where I came from and where these voices lurk and where I shall confront my past. I’m sick of fighting, whenever a challenge is put before me.

Healing is magic, bringing together the physical and the unseen, the body and the mind in balance with the Universe.

I want to be the ‘me’ I know I am, without these voices haunting me. This is not the ‘me’ of ego but of self. Time to start believing.

 

The BEAUTYof a Book Fair

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Love books but never been to a book fair? Let me tell you how much fun they are…

B is for books…one of my favourite dreams is finding myself in a room surrounded by books.14441101_928492490589252_1450220905486666353_nTables weighed down with glistening covers and colourful banners fill the hall and all you have to do is browse. It’s a wonderful spectacle and an exciting opportunity to find a book that transports you to another world.

E is for education…because you can talk with the authors, you hear the books synopsis but, more importantly, learn why an author wanted to share their story with you. 14492328_10153797841252327_6965602039928982529_n

We don’t just talk about books either…authors are real people. At Carmarthen Book Fair, I shared about lime mortaring and learned great tips on organic gardening as well as talking about magic. Often, there are talks and workshops where authors share their passion for their work and educate with tips on writing or opportunities to delve deeper into a specific genre.

A is for authors…a book fair is a great place for authors to meet, share and unite. Most of us are introverts by design, creating our stories alone in our own world of words, so book fairs are a great place to feel part of the writing community. 14462752_928492613922573_8779798483905616230_n

U is for universal…at a book fair, there is something for everyone, books spanning all the genres. They are inclusive events, often using the opportunity to raise money for charity. 14440912_928494113922423_5699407015268787620_n At Carmarthen, money was raised for Multiple Sclerosis with a raffle. Prizes were donated by authors and the local community.

T is for time…as an author, it’s time to be yourself and time to share the writing you love. The atmosphere buzzes with excitement yet there’s no rush…time to relax and share with our readers. 14449818_10210590035252262_8255655491257185578_n

Y is for you…we wouldn’t be there without you! Book Fairs give authors the opportunity to be there for you, answer your questions and inspire you to immerse yourself in the world of story.14463312_10153797841292327_4601279399998354486_n

Look out for local book fairs in the press and on social media. If you’re in Wales, I look forward to meeting you at Llandeilo in December.

Happy reading!

Summer of magic

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The day of the Summer Solstice dawned…and it rained all day…didn’t stop us having a fire and dancing though! Sometime you just have to dance in the rain! DSC_0298DSC_0301DSC_0307

I also had a rather damp day, foraging through the Long Wood with an expert forager, Jade, looking for herbs and plants to eat and make vinegars and pickles. DSC_0279DSC_0280I have a notebook with notes in and I walk along looking at the ground now saying, ‘Ooo there’s plantain’ or ‘Ooo that’s self heal’ but have yet to put any ideas into practise. I’d love to go on another walk in the autumn.

On the new moon, I helped one of my neighbours with a small ritual, keeping him positive and looking for work after the misery of redundancy. He’s had a lot more interviews since and if not successful, is being told why, rather than just the fact he didn’t get the job.

I’ve begun writing a Witch Lit novel, a light hearted look at the life of a hedgewitch, juggling work and parenting as well as her own emotional well being. I’ve a week off this week so I’m well on the way to finishing it.

We created our own magic at the Lampeter Food Festival, filling the grounds of the university with music and dancing. 13701245_10153561592555672_7997562574212675563_o

It is almost Lughnasagh, a day to give thanks for the abundance of the fields and the plentiful food we eat. The fields glimmer in the sunlight, golden grain swaying in the breeze. As we light our fires and shine the light, it’s time to think of others who have less than us and share the love…5% of my shopping trolley goes in the local Food Bank box and at this time, I try to give more.

I hope you’re enjoying a magical summer. Blessed Be xx

Summer of writing

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In June, I joined a new group on Facebook, asking for short stories for an anthology. As you may know, I put myself on a one year course from September last year, to explore short stories again and after attending a great workshop by Rosie Dub of Honno Press, I had my first one accepted for publication in an anthology. I’ve had a lot more since then and have enjoyed honing the skill of writing a cracking short story so, I was intrigued by this new ‘shout out’ as the genre was Witch Lit. New to you? I’m a writer and I hadn’t heard of it so I had a think and came up with a definition of my own and wrote my first Witch Lit short story called Last Chance for Love.

A publisher had shown interest in putting an anthology of Witchlit stories together in lieu of publishing Witchlit novels. We shared our stories on the group offering help and advice and so, with this support behind me, I decided to write a Witchlit novel.

My first attempt was not good. I tried to change my writing style so it was a clunky, clumsy read and the storyline was too vague. 10k words in, I gave up…and broke my toe. This was it, I had no excuse not to write and with a big pad of paper and my trust fountain pen, I scribbled ideas and drew circles, linking ideas together until one jumped out at me and I began to write.

Today, I’ve written two thirds of the book and with a week off next week, I’m looking forward to completing it.

So what did I choose as my definition of Witchlit?

Chick Lit is a genre of fiction which consists of heroine-centred narratives that focus on the trials and tribulations of their individual protagonists. These women live in a modern world, coping with work and home life and the genre often uses lightheartedness and humour.

My Witchlit novel’s protagonist is Lizzie Martin, who lives in Romford with her thirteen year old daughter Rowan, works as a receptionist and typist. She clothes herself from the charity shops in vibrant, joyful colours with matching headbands she makes herself, attempting to hold at bay the emotional angst of an ex-husband whose girlfriend is barely out of her teens, a mother with the sensitivity of a crocodile and the big bad world from which she tries to protect her daughter. Colour is Lizzie’s armour. On her thirty eighth birthday, she is requested to bare all. There is hope though. At the bottom of the garden is a little wooden shed that Lizzie calls Sanctuary. Behind the oak and rowan trees, within its warm and welcoming walls, Lizzie surrounds herself with magic…one day, a candle spell or another, a conversation with a goddess. She consults her Tarot cards and some day, she will paint in that shed.

This month I also published the third book in the Standing Stone Series – The Gathering. Linked together across space and time, Rachel, Candy and Fern each work towards ‘a gathering’ of their own, guided by the goddess Rhiannon.

The Gathering - SMALL(1)You can buy all my books via my author pages at

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1365459567&sr=1-2-ent

I do hope you’re enjoying the Standing Stone Series…just wait for book five! This young man seems to be enjoying it. I spotted him at a Steampunk event we were dancing at and asked if I could have a photo.

DSC_0284 At this same event, I bought myself a present…I know it’s a children’s book but it’s beautiful. DSC_0285

Research is still ongoing with the third book in the Lilith Trilogy, Angels and Demons…I save it for rainy days I can spend in the library. I’ve written fewer short stories this month, only managing to submit one so far but there are only so many hours in the day.

I would love to hear your thoughts about Witch Lit. I love the idea of a light hearted, fun read where I can empathise with a protagonist but laugh with her too and know all along, that she’s a Hedge Witch like me.

 

Summer of dance

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13692988_10153561590635672_4965015085609723190_oTribal Unity

We began our summer, dancing at The Three Horseshoe Inn, Llangeitho. We were warmly welcomed and we thoroughly enjoyed our first dance outing.

13528430_10154418410354739_3392390366723899125_oAt the beginning of July, we were welcomed into the Wee Crafty Folk family at their Steampunk Extraordinaire, at the Blaenavon Ironworks. We danced in the sun 13559002_10153651712746700_6105772231861420128_othe rain and the wind 13592700_1758587191066436_4345694993005621029_n on a tiny stage 13582071_862262727212696_7293021555466940758_o and some bumpy ground. We made new friends 13528627_255460211502108_8729822987007473526_o13438956_10154326978680850_5101103827962123973_n13580516_748663858569317_4559449785190045217_o13528436_679809571849_581917443817173174_oand welcomed our newest Tribal Unity Wales performer! (She came to support us and Ashley had kindly offered to take photos so we persuaded her that it was a good day to dance:-))

Last weekend was the Lampeter Food Festival and the rain kept away again! 13693039_1363739183641733_703608656464810052_oWe danced two half hour sets in the entertainment tent plus audience participation and we loved every minute. 13701245_10153561592555672_7997562574212675563_o13765668_10153561595495672_2563386093820760471_o13731820_10153561600885672_335389288742989006_o13692978_10153561600715672_3681990756507417176_o13708338_1363739186975066_5349987637826492300_o13719506_10153561594605672_2555305949072770709_o13737576_10153561597910672_7474765846159049178_o

This Saturday is the Cardigan Bellydance Festival and we’re dancing at a birthday party on Sunday.

Classes are officially finished so my toe will have a week to rest (did I tell you I broke my toe? It’s been a painful month as well as a wonderful one!) and then I’ve two lessons to teach before the music festival on 13th August at the Brynog Arms in Felinfach. Tribal Unity Wales will be performing there between 3pm and 6pm and that will conclude our summer of dance…if the sun shines on a Sunday, of course, there will be impromptu dancing and picnicing in Cribyn!

For more information about Tribal Unity Wales, go to the Tribal Unity website. http://www.tribalunity.co.uk

You can message Deana for lessons in Essex via the website. You can message me here.

Enjoy the rest of summer and dance!

http://www.wendysteele.com has a Tribal Unity Wales page and you can view our performances via the Youtube page of Halo Quin https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAubabZ0MNYMtzHpCFqjM1A

 

The Truth….about Peter Jones, author, actor, speaker and Good Guy

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Me smallToday I’m welcoming Peter Jones to my blog to share his writing secrets and a few truths about how he ticks. We met almost nine years ago, two nervous newbies turning up at Billericay Writer’s Group and we’ve been friends ever since…and not just friends but writing buddies, supporting each other on a perilous, slippery journey along the ever changing path of publishing.

Peter’s first novel, The Good Guy’s Guide to Getting the Girl, followed his immensely successful non-fiction title How to do Everything and be Happy, and rocked the charts alongside Nick Hornby and Helen Fielding. His latest novel, The Truth about this Charming Man, is a rib tickling, page turning cracker, available now as a super summer read.

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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 usually start with a plan – some kind of simple bullet-pointed outline – and then write around it. As the book emerges I might tweak the outline (as new ideas occur to me, or – more likely – the original ones don’t quite work), but I’ll definitely update my various spreadsheets that track when each scene of the story takes place, and my daily word-count. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

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

Yes: Get up. Eat breakfast. Sit my bum in the chair (around 6am on a good day) and get writing.

No facebook. No emails. No shower, or bushing my teeth. I have to get my writing brain going FIRST.

Never mind whether I ‘feel like it’ – or whether I’m particularly inspired. I sit myself down… and write. Anything.

At some point I’ll get washed and dressed – during which I’m still writing, albeit in my head. Then it’s back to my computer. And I can normally keep going (with frequent breaks to make more tea) until eleven, maybe twelve. At that point my brain turns to jam. Only then do I look at facebook. If some of my facebook posts seem particularly ‘jammy’, now you know why.

If I get stuck, or wake up with a total lack of motivation or energy, then I’ll give myself permission to write dialogue. Just dialogue. No punctuation, no description, no speech tags – just a line from one character, followed by a line from another character. Basically I just have a conversation with myself on the page. And sometimes I can spend the entire morning writing nothing but dialogue. BUT… the following day I go back over what I’ve written and fill in everything else – speech tags, description etc. It’s a little like laying bricks on one day and adding the concrete the day after… but despite being counterintuitive it seems to work. Sure, often the dialogue changes; sometimes I end up deleting whole chucks because a ‘look’ says it all – but that’s ok; in those two days I usually write more than I would have done had I tried to write ‘properly’.

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

  • I once appeared on the front of the TV Times magazine
  • For a while I worked for Barclaycard and went by the name of Mavis
  • I fainted in the school sex-education video. Twice.
  • My favourite beverage is Champagne.
  • I recently played the part of a monk, a space-cow, and a voltine (a kind of space-wolf) in an audio episode of Doctor Who (with Colin Baker, and other people).

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

  • Some kind of solar powered generator.
  • My iPod.
  • My iPod speakers.
  • My electric toothbrush.
  • A lifetime supply of toothpaste.

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

  • The biggest copy of the Bible I can lay my hands on – preferably a Kings James version with very thin pages. It would make excellent kindling.
  • Some sort of deserted island survival guide, possibly by Bear Grylls or someone similar
  • 101 Delicious Deserted Island Recipes – or similar cook book
  • A Nigella Lawson cook book. One with lots of pictures. Of Nigella.
  • Erm… is it possible to have a second Nigella book?

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

Gosh. Well I’d like to say the Dalai Lama, or someone like that – but truth is I’d really like to meet singer songwriter Nerina Pallot. I love her music. Really great lyrics.

7 Your current writing projects?

I’m currently in the middle of my third vaguely romantic, comedic novel which I hope to be out in January 2017. Also, I’ve been promising an update to my guide to online dating How To Start Dating and Stop Waiting for quite a while now – and it’s almost ready. Almost.

8 Other published work and links….feel free to add as many as you like.

My latest novel, The Truth About This Charming Man, came out just a few weeks back and is part of Amazon UK’s June Summer Promo (which means you can get it for a mere 99p). It’s the story of William Lewis – wanna be actor – and… well… rather than me tell you, switch on the sound and watch the thirty-second movie promo by clicking the big play button in the image below (or here if you can’t see any image)

You can find more about me and my books at peterjonesauthor.com – and you’ll also find me lurking on facebook and twitter

 

Thanks Peter, more tea and flapjack?