Meet the Author – D Hart St Martin

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I haven’t done many interviews lately, but I’m excited about this one! May I introduce you to D Hart St Martin, a wonderful, magical writer from the US, who has kept me transfixed for many years with her Lisen of Solsta series. She’s also written a paranormal romance called ‘Soul Doubt’ which will keep you guessing until the very end.

Welcome Hart! Lovely to have you with us. Let’s start with an easy one…

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 mostly pants my way through. I used to put every scene on 4 x 6 inch cards. That way I could play with them. But the more I write, the more I enjoy the challenge of letting it come as it comes. That is not to say that I don’t make notes. I make copious notes, and I’ve finally learned how to organize the “clutter” of them in a notebook (along with diagrams of various settings for individual scenes or chapters). My notebook is my little bible.

I love my notebooks! Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

I get up in the morning, and after giving a nod to social media on my phone, I sit down at my kitchen table with my computer and attack the assignment for the day. I have my water and often an apple with me, and I work for a couple of hours. My cat, Calypso, often reminds me to pet her by rubbing against my leg and chirping at me. Of course, I must obey.

Our feline friends love to help, don’t they? So, aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

I watch way too much television.

I’m a political junkie (one of the reasons I watch so much television).

I have a sister who’s a much better writer than I am.

I’m a tree hugger.

I’m a lousy housekeeper.

I’m going to add no 6, you’re always way too hard on yourself…and who needs housework? Too many better things to do, IMHO. Another question, if you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you

want with you?

My computer, my cat (if one can dare to call her an “item”), a deck of cards since I’m assuming a cell phone would be out of the question, some way to listen to music (maybe I’d take that cell phone after all), and a way to charge the computer.

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

The Lord of the Rings, Dune, the Harry Potter books (I’m counting series as one book), Octavia Butler’s two Earthseed books. And my own Lisen of Solsta series because I keep promising myself to pick it up and read it as a reader, not its creator.

 

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

J.K. Rowling. I’d love to ask her questions about how and when certain aspects of Harry Potter’s story became clear to her.

 

Tell us about your current writing projects?

I am in the middle of rewrite of book 1 in a new YA fantasy series. The book is called Into the Forsaken Forest. Fifteen-year-old Mari Spencer (her name rhymes with “sorry” and she’s an apology in motion) lives in a rural town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Her mother is a first-class narcissist who can see no good in Mari. One day Mari sneaks into a mysterious forest of sequoias where she meets a woman who transports her to a different world. I’m exploring my own psyche in this one, giving Mari both my attributes and my flaws as honestly as I can. It’s a huge risk, but if I succeed in resolving some of her issues, I’ll be satisfied.

Sounds exciting, you must keep us posted as it develops. Tell us about your books and where we can find you and them.

 My web site is a good place to start. https://dhartstmartin.com  Links to all my books on Amazon as well as descriptions of them are there.

To learn about my Lisen of Solsta series of 6 books, go to https://dhartstmartin.com/lisen-of-solsta/

I also have a paranormal romance called Soul Doubt which you can discover here https://dhartstmartin.com/soul-doubt/

Thanks so much, Hart. I look forward to reading more of our books very soon.

 

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Life begins at fifty #healthy life 6 – The scales are not your friend

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I never owned bathroom scales because I didn’t need them. While I was smoking, if my jeans felt a little tight, I increased the amount of exercise I did, watched what I ate, and over a few weeks, the jeans would loosen, but not anymore….

My absolute conviction that eating five hundred calories a day less than I’m burning would make me lose weight has been shattered. I’m sure it plays a part, but I should have realised my mistake; we’re amazing, complex individuals – why would only one formula apply to everyone?

In a bid to affirm my belief, however, I bought bathroom scales in the January sales. I read lots of helpful advice online about weigh ins, the best I thought was weigh myself three days running, once a month to get an average of the weight loss….

What I did was weigh myself every morning, even though I said I wouldn’t. Why? Because I was exercising loads, following my plant based diet to get good nutritional benefit from my food and logging my calorie intake into Cronometer, so my reward would be to watch the pounds drop off, right? Wrong!

On the first three mornings I gained weight. Even though I knew I was being dumb, I got upset about it…and then I increased the exercise, to the point I was permanently exhausted. I continued this self berating/weighing scenario for about a month, before sharing with women in my dance class to find that they too were experiencing the same problem….their shape was changing, but they weren’t losing any weight, even though people were commenting that they had.

You may ask, why am I hung up on the amount I weigh and it’s a simple answer…the less weight I have to carry, the less pressure it puts on my already damaged knee. Yes, it would be nice to fit into my clothes again, but carrying less weight while increasing my exercise has to be better for me.

I am starting to listen though…my shape change could be because the fat is going and muscle is appearing, which we know is heavier. Since my body did its ‘return to factory settings’, I’m beginning to feel the benefit of the exercise in my legs…I’m walking quicker but getting less breathless…

On Saturday, my ATS® Bellydance tribe, Tribal Unity Wales and I hosted a hafla, a bellydance party, to raise money and collect donations of clothes, blankets and toiletries for S.H.A.R.P., Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response. We had so much fun, raised £132 and took in bags of donations….and I clocked up the most active minutes ever on my Fitbit!

I’m not getting hung up on the weight anymore, but instead, I’m looking for more ways to have fun with exercise, eat new, interesting food, try new recipes and live my life to the full.

I hope you’re enjoying Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life! Please like and follow and let others know!

Visit again for recipes, tips and sharing.

 

The magic of writing, dancing and healing – International Women’s Day 8th March 2019

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I am author, wise woman and goddess. I write, I dance, I teach, I heal, I inspire.

In March last year I published my first Witchlit novel, The Naked Witch, contemporary fiction, magical realism, where the magical and the mundane co-exist. Since then, I’ve published two more, The Orphan Witch and The Flowerpot Witch, gritty and believable stories with magic sprinkled through them, offering the reader a new perspective on reality. There are layers to my novels, making them enjoyable to all readers, hopefully teaching and inspiring too, dispelling the myths about modern day witches.

I discovered belly dance at the age of forty, having been told I was a fairy elephant and too fat to dance as a child. Fifteen years on, I’ve been teaching for eleven years, encouraging women to shake off their inhibitions and dance for themselves. I learned Egyptian belly dance first and taught that, before being bitten by the tribal bug, and completing my training in American Tribal Style® Belly dance. I began Tribal Unity Wales in March 2014. We take our dance into the community, not to perform but to share, offering other women the opportunity and the freedom to dance irrespective of age, size, shape or ability.

I’m reiki and aromatherapy massage trained, so mixed with my latest facilitator training in Kate Holland’s Awakened Bellydance ™, and my magical practice, I heal in my classes and workshops and through my writing.

I’m a riverbank witch, a hedge witch, living my life with the Wheel of the Year, honouring the Sabbats and loving and respecting all that lives on our amazing planet.

Embracing my crone phase, I am wise woman, not necessarily right, but reflective and contemplative where once I jumped in feet first. Looking back, I learn from my mistakes, let go of old stories and embrace new beginnings and exciting ideas.

 

The goddess is in me and in every woman. She is the tiny voice that tells you how beautiful and perfect you are. Trust in her helps us remember, because we all know, but it is just that this reality encourages us to forget who we are and where we came from. Hers is the voice that has inspired women to stand up for equality, for equal pay and equal rights, throughout history. The more we trust in her, and ourselves, the possibilities are infinite. Listen. She is here.

 

 

 

 

 

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #5 High Carb Hannah and my salad bowl

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High Carb Hannah was one of the first whole food, plant based YouTube channels I began watching, and I loved her immediately. She’s refreshingly honest and inspiring to watch, her recipes are straight forward and she isn’t afraid to tell it how it is!

She’s been YouTubing for a while and lost loads of weight with a whole food, plant based, high carb diet. Her channel is stuffed full of videos of recipes, what she eats in a day, her workouts and hilarious mukbangs, where she, and sometimes her husband, make and try different foods.

Let me say straight away, I can’t eat carbs the way she does! White rice and white potatoes aren’t easy for my body to digest, but she’s found a way of eating that works for her, and she wants to share it to help other people. It doesn’t matter though, because I can alter her recipes to suit my body. I love watching someone make fresh, wholesome food, because it makes me want to eat it. Tune into her channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs1uwp7bB1J_3r5xN2ioL_w

Watching videos about plant based eating has inspired me, and helped me make the changes to plant based eating.

I’ve discovered I love rocket, or arugula (love that word!), and that’s a good thing as it counts as a tick in the box for cruciferous vegetables on Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen (Use this link to take you to Dr Gregor’s website https://nutritionfacts.org/)

Cruciferous vegetables are vital to our health and wellbeing, protecting us against cancer and other diseases. You can watch videos about the benefits of cruciferous vegetables here https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg/search?query=cruciferous+veg

In my salad bowls above I’ve included rocket and red cabbage for cruciferous, mixed salad leaves for greens, carrot, tomatoes, potato and onion for other vegetables, hummus for beans and sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds and a couple of walnut halves and a brazil nut for nuts and seeds.

The beauty of the bowl is you can have lots of different food. Get creative! Go for lots of colours. Sweetcorn and peppers brighten up any bowl of food. And with every new creation, there are twenty different salad dressing options! High Carb Hannah has a sauce book out, and you can find all sorts of options on her vlogs. I put ‘salad’ in the search box and here are the results. Enjoy, and share the love for the salad bowl https://www.youtube.com/user/Rawkaholics/search?query=salad

 

Tip of the day

Whenever you have the oven on for baking or cooking, pop in an extra potato, or sweet potato, as they’re both great cold in salads the next day.

 

 

 

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life #4 Best smoothie ever!

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Thank you so much for joining me again on ‘Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life’. Thank you for liking my posts and following me for more. It’s been lovely to visit your blogs too, and something struck me…I don’t know where any of you are starting your Healthy Life journey from, I mean, I was already a vegetarian (a wheat free one at that!), so I’d already made changes from my previous typical British ‘meat and two veg’ type diet in my twenties and then again, in my thirties.

Making changes to eating habits isn’t easy because that’s what they are…habits, and we get really hooked on them. I remember the realisation that I might never be able to eat wheat based bread again, and how impossible that seemed, but after more than twenty years, I don’t really think about it.

This recipe is something everyone can try, and it ticks a number of the boxes on Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen (You can find out more about plant based eating and Dr Gregor here https://nutritionfacts.org/)

My good friend Cate gave me the recipe for this awesome smoothie….and I’ve tweeked it for even more goodness!

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup cherries

1/2 banana

2 cups spinach (or 3)

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1 tablespoon peanut butter

6 dates and/or tablespoon date syrup

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

11/2 cups of water (warm if using frozen berries)

2 teaspoons maca powder

2 teaspoons spirulina powder

This makes enough for two people and is great for elevenses or as a boost during the day. The additions I’ve made are the final two, maca powder and spirulina. Maca powder is high in certain minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc as well as some B vitamins including B3 (niacin). Its also a good vegan source of iron. Spirulina is known as a nutrient-dense food and is packed full of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins, as well as a whole host of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium. In particular, vitamin C and selenium are both antioxidants and help protect our cells and tissues from damage. This algae is also an excellent vegan source of iron.

One glass of this smoothie ticks off 1 berries, 2 fruits, 1 greens, flax seeds and nuts and seeds off your daily dozen and I promise you, you won’t taste the spinach at all! We often add 3 cups of spinach if the blender will take it.

Feel free to experiment….would kale work in this? Can I add more banana to make it more creamy? Or avocada? Or mango?

Have fun and experiment with this versatile and healthy smoothie.

Join me next time when I introduce you to one of my favourite YouTube channels and for an insight into my lunch time salad bowl!

 

 

 

How much did my Cat really need Saving?

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For regular viewers of my blog, you’ll remember my post singing the praises of the author help book ‘Save the Cat’. You can view the post here https://wendysteele.com/2018/11/19/are-you-ready-to-save-the-cat/

It’s a great little book of ‘beats’ to help you create a great score to hang your story words on, but how much did I really need this book? How much did I already know? How big a part should a book like this play when creating a novel?

Having already written the first draft of The Eloquent Witch, I applied the beats to it, and though some of the points weren’t in the exact order, I was there or there abouts, so the manuscript needed a good edit and tighten up…but I would have done this before publishing any way.

I’ve started the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin series, The Able Witch, twice now, using the Save the Cat beat sheet, and though the story is moving on, finally, and I can feel the magic happening in some of the scenes, I’ve not been feeling the joy. I put the book aside for a few weeks, and returned to it last week, as I had a break from teaching.

On the first day, I gave myself free rein to pick up the story and run…and I loved it! The next day I read through what I’d written, and started to get concerned I’d veered away from the sheet. I spent the day attempting to write my way back…it wasn’t a good writing day.

Day three, I spent a good few hours distracting myself with outdoor jobs (it was sunny!), digging and barrowing wood, even washing up, rather than picking up my WIP. When I did, the writing was forced.

Day four, I deleted what I’d written the day before and allowed myself to be caught up in domesticity.

Day five, Friday, I realised the problem…my characters and the story wanted to be written one way, while the beat sheet wanted me to write a different way. I was writing to fitting in what I needed to meet the requirements of the beat sheet, rather than how the characters wanted to run with the story. The struggle became a battle because I didn’t trust my own ability enough. I spent the weekend arguing with myself about it.

On Monday, I picked up my WIP, read the last chapter I’d written, made a few changes and wrote on with my hand written notes beside me. I’m not giving up on Save the Cat, but sticking to a pre-planned beat sheet of the whole book isn’t suiting me at all.

Sadly, my schedule this week isn’t going to leave much room for writing as I’m launching a new evening dance class in Aberystwyth on Thursday, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday lessons, and it’s Women’s International Day on Friday, but once I’ve established a new routine, I’ll let you know how the writing is going.

There’s no doubt Save the Cat has taught me a lot, but I’m beginning to see that my story writing/story telling, is as important as the structure.

 

 

Book Review – The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry

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Having ‘met’ Laura Perry on the Witch Lit group on Facebook, and seen that she had updated this book, I treated myself to a copy, and I’m so glad I did! It’s been on my bedside table for me to dip into for a few months and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

Laura Perry, N.D. is a Pagan author and artist, herbalist and Reiki master who considers natural healthcare to be part of her Earth-oriented spiritual life, focussing on healthy living in body, mind and spirit. Here’s my review of The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry…

This is a gentle, beautiful and caring book, well put together and offering the reader a host of ideas and options for ultimate wellbeing. The author’s knowledge and experience is evident throughout the book, but more than that, her intuition and spirituality shine through, giving the reader the experience of being healed and nurtured.

The Wiccan Wellness book is an interesting read in its own right, the author paying heed to all aspects of our lives that have a bearing on our wellbeing. However, I can see it being a wonderful reference book in the future too. The reader is able to select a specific section or chapter, depending on their needs at that moment, finding help from the author, or links to other books or societies who can offer more help.

The concept that mind, body and spirit working in harmony leads to well-being, is the basis of this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring all the possibilities to seek further balance in my own life.

It’s a versatile and informative book, while still being a magical read. A perfect ‘pick me up’ when you need a personal, spiritual boost.

You can purchase this book on Amazon UK here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

And for friends across the pond here https://www.amazon.com/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

If you are interested in magical writing or reading, join the Witch Lit Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

or subscribe to our new channel on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHtAJO5uh6c9TSai1lhwF7g

We’re hoping to interview Laura Perry on our podcast very soon!

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy life #3 Ignore the images!

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I have no problem with young women taking charge of their lives, and looking to be as fit and healthy as they can be, but I do have a problem when the media bombards women with only images that are not attainable by most.

I was twenty three when I join a gym for the first time, and I wanted to look like this. The reality was, I trained twice a day, six days a week and in five months, I pretty much did, but it wasn’t sustainable…or rather it was if my whole life revolved around exercise.

At this stage in my life, I have so many things I want to do! Exercise can be part of my life, and I’m happy about that, but I want it to be part of who I am, so the exercise HAS to be enjoyable.

From all I’ve read about exercise and health, there seems to be two things that are important:

Consistency

Active exercise

Consistency means you do a certain exercise, in a certain way, often, and I’ve chosen walking for this. Every morning, I walk between 2k and 4k steps around my land before breakfast. I’m now following this with 3-5 yoga poses. So, my walking is consistent but the length and intensity of my walk may vary, depending on what else I’m doing for the rest of the day. When I started, I worried I wouldn’t make 10k per day and pushed the mornings too much, especially on a ‘dancing day’. I managed the day, but struggled to get up the next morning! I’ve let go the need to achieve the 10k, listening to my body more, and going with how it feels.

Active exercise is about raising your heart rate in order to burn calories and fat efficiently. I use my Fitbit to monitor this and its really useful…yes, I can programme in extra data, but I don’t want to get obsessed by this. My active exercise can be pushing the walking harder, dancing or working on the land….mattocking and digging works well!

Should you have a goal? Should you have a weight target or a dress size? Should you have a fitness challenge?

It depends what motivates you,

I’ve set myself the challenge to lose 14lbs – 21lbs, because I think my knees will thank me for it! Carrying less weight and fitting back into my jeans is my motivation, but I’m not setting myself a time limit.

I’m also not on a diet as such. My eating is whole food plant based and I’m using Cronometer to monitor the nutrients I’m getting in as much as the calories. Most days I’m eating between 1.3k and 1.8k calories, while burning more than 2.1k. As my body muscle increases and the fat slowly drops away, my weight will decrease and I’m happy for it to be a slow process.

Join me next time for a delicious, versatile smoothie that you’ll love!

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life #2 – Whole food, plant based diet

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I’ve been a vegetarian for thirty five years, but it’s only been over the past five years that I’ve cut down on my dairy intake, and now taken eggs also from my diet. We’re influenced by so much advertising online that it isn’t always easy to know whose advice to take, but my information first came from my children.

My middle son has suffered from arthritis since the age of twelve. He’s always been vegetarian, but five years ago, he took dairy from his diet and the difference to the pain in his joints was massive and very noticeable. Where he’d been walking with a stick, he was free of it, and he put this down to cutting dairy from his diet after reading articles and watching videos by people like Dr Michael Gregor, T Colin Campbell, Dr Neal Barnard and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn.

My eldest son followed his advice, and he and his fiancee gave up meat in favour of a whole food, plant based diet.

I was already wheat intolerant and struggled with other foods too, so the thought of giving up goat’s cheese and the occasional Magnum ice lolly made me sad at first, but worth it….no, say it louder, REALLY WORTH IT! I waked up every morning and none of my joints ache anymore. Yes, I get achy if I’ve danced too much or overdone the bramble pulling or barrowing, but since giving up dairy I don’t wake up hurting every morning.

The longer I’m without dairy, the better I feel and out of all the advice and videos, one person resonated most with me and he is Dr Michael Gregor. His website has it all and his short to the point videos on YouTube cover every topic imaginable.

Dr Gregor’s advice isn’t about ‘dieting’ as such, but about changing the way you eat for a happier, healthier life. If you start with the veggies, pack in all the nutrients and vitamins you need, no one says you can’t have a couple of slices of pizza as well!

Dr Gregor’s website: https://nutritionfacts.org/

Dr Gregor’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg

Dr Gregor reads all the medical papers, so we don’t have to, and draws together all the relevant information you need to make decisions on health for yourself.

I highly recommend the App that was made for him called Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen, as a guide to getting the most from your food for the benefit of your body and mind.

It takes practise to fit everything in, but that’s the fun part, trying new, tasty recipes and foods along the way.

For food ideas, type ‘plant based’ into the search on the home page and my favourite tried and tested recipes will come up. I’m always trying new recipes and will share with you all.

I hope this is useful for those of you looking to change and embark on an exciting journey of discovery, towards a happier, healthier you.

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life#1

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There are plenty of blogs and vlogs available to inspire everyone to make their lives healthy ones. There are less by women over fifty.

One year on without nicotine has changed me, and not always in the ways one would hope for. You can read more here https://wendysteele.com/2019/01/24/1-year-without-nicotine-how-was-it-for-you-darling/

For 2019, all blog posts that begin ‘Life begins at fifty’, will be for everyone wishing to know more about the menopause, and looking for support and help with their healthy eating and fitness challenges.

There will be inspiration, recipes, links to blogs and videos, but there will be honesty too, and I’m starting with photos of how I look right now. I’ve suffered with body dismorphia all my life, so this isn’t easy, but though I’ve been inspired by fab videos online, either the women have had surgery first, or they’re almost half my age! Light is limited in my old farmhouse, but as I’m not focussing on weight, but shape, I’m hoping to see the difference over this year when I look in the mirror.

My routine at the moment:

Walking 10k steps every day (including at least 30 ‘active’ minutes)

Yoga every morning, between 3 and 5 poses or stretches

Teach 5 hours regular bellydance each week

Following a whole food, plant based diet every day

 

The idea is for the walking to build up my strength and stamina, while the yoga stretches out my body and calms my mind. Bellydance does everything!

I shall be exploring all sorts of ideas and possibilities for health and fitness this year, and telling you all about it….I’ve only been doing the yoga for a week and I’m loving it!

Join me on my fitness journey to be the fittest, healthiest and happiest I can be:-)