Category Archives: my writing

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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Witch Lit Podcast Episode 2

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Tune into our second episode today! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZdKsXSo074

What’s been going on behind the Broom Cupboard?

What are you reading?

Listen in to Witchanory!

The benefits of an anthology

Divining with the Tarot

Subscribe for more episodes. We’ll be discussing topics including book covers and the joys of formatting, as well as interviewing magical writers, novelists, non fiction writers, poets and musicians.

 

 

 

DJ Conway – A book to change your life

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On hearing of the sad passing of author DJ Conway, I wanted to share how one of her books changed my life….

It wasn’t the book I really wanted. I had my heart set on two books, each a comprehensive tome about gods and goddesses of every pantheon from around the world. Until I saw the price.

And then I spotted it, its glossy black spine shining at me. It was a large volume. It was second hand, but still in perfect condition. I handled it with care, pulling back the cover to reveal the price pencilled in the top right hand corner. My heart beat hard, my cheeks glowing with excitement. I turned pages, read paragraphs and thanked the goddess. I paid cash at the counter. Magick of the Gods and Goddesses was in my hands! I almost skipped out the door, not suspecting my life would never be quite the same again.

Magick of the Gods and Goddesses was the first book where I found details of the Kabbalah, and more appropriately for my needs, the witches Qabalah, inspiring me to seek further and look for other work. I began to read. I started to research. I discovered the writing of Dion Fortune. I travelled the magical paths of the Qabalah. I wrote Destiny of Angels, my first novel, starting my journey as an author, and this book was with me from the beginning.

From this book I learned of Angels and Archangels, Elementals, Elements and Planets, as well as the beliefs and history of the world of the occult, from Egypt to Africa, Greece to India and more. There’s Ritual and Magick, Shamanism, Witchcraft and Paganism, and at the back, a cross reference section I’ve found incredibly useful. Because there’s so much, there may not be all the detail, but there are links to other reading throughout the book.

Her legacy will live on in more than twenty non fiction works, and every time I open my copy of Magick of the Gods and Goddesses, I shall think of her smiling down on me, happy that her love of the occult fields she studied for more than thirty five years, is still much appreciated by her readers.

Here are the links to her Amazon author pages https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B004582BDC?_encoding=UTF8&redirectedFromKindleDbs=true&ref

and for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/D.J.-Conway/e/B004582BDC/ref

 

 

1 year without nicotine – how was it for you, darling?

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If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know I haven’t found stopping smoking easy. One of the reasons was I didn’t feel any better or healthier, in fact, for a number of months, I felt dreadful. I’d made so many changes already. Why didn’t I feel any better?

More than twenty years ago, the terrible, scary pain in my side was diagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and I spent the next four years coming to terms with a massive change in diet and trying to find a work/exercise/eating balance that worked for me.

For a couple of years I ate very little because the less I ate, the less pain I was in, but gradually, I built up my eating (I was already vegetarian) and rebuilt my body with bellydance.

I believed I was strong, slim and fit due to my diet and dancing, but what I didn’t realise was that the nicotine was playing a part in this equation. Taking it out of my life, my hormones were like socks in a tumble dryer; all over the place. My IBS returned with a vengeance for a couple of months, as did violent menopausal symptoms, and on top of all this, I’d sleep for two hours and then lie awake for the rest of the night. Mood swings were violent. I experienced chronic anxiety on top of depression…

But this didn’t last! Yes, I felt terrible, but now I’m finally feeling some benefit for giving up my addiction. I’m no expert, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me….

Firstly, make sure you’re giving up for the right reasons. The Alan Carr book is really good, challenging you, making you face what you really know but don’t want to believe. Stop smoking nicotine because it is best for YOU. YOU are worth it! YOU deserve to live a healthy life.

Secondly, they say (whoever they are!) you don’t need to replace smoking with another habit, and maybe that works for some people, but I needed something else. The day I chose to begin my day walking, was the day I began to feel better. I chose walking instead of choosing that first cigarette, and that really helped me in a number of ways:

I changed my routine

I set myself a new challenge

I quickly found I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!

Walking is the BEST exercise

Thirdly, make sure you’re supported by friends and family. I’m so glad my partner and I stopped together, and support and encouragement from my tribe kept me going at the hardest times.

My final piece of advice I can tell you, but you might not believe me….you don’t have to feel as rubbish as you do. Your joints don’t have to ache. You can feel SO MUCH BETTER than you do now.

Why did I find life so difficult without nicotine? One reason was because I put on two stone which appeared on my body like a weighty, solid belt, and undermined all my confidence. All my old hang ups about my weight and appearance returned. I felt old, heavy and weighed down and I didn’t look or feel like I was the same person. Unable to show my ladies dance moves was devastating.  

The doctor was kind. I’m back on a very low dose HRT and I sleep better now, but as far as the fat orbiting my stomach is concerned, I’m told it is my lot, middle age spread I’ll have to put up with….

NO WAY!

I’m making even more changes for 2019! If I’m going to be a different person, I’m going to be the person I want to be. I am now committed to a wholefoods, plant based diet and to exercising for a fitter, healthier me. There will be changes on my blog too…

I’ll be encouraging you to watch videos, read books and check out the data about plant based eating as the best diet for you, your family and the planet.

I’ll be trying and testing new plant based recipes and sharing them with you.

Dance will always be my favourite exercise, but I’m going to be trying out other exercise which I’ll share with you.

No longer will I ‘fit in’ those aspects of my life that make me happy….I’m going to begin with them and work my life around them.

I’m looking forward to a busy, exercise packed, fun filled, exciting 2019! Come and join me xx

 

NB: even if life throws a curved ball, don’t give up. Check out my latest video from Phoenix and the Dragon and see what I mean…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz7O480_fws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now!

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For the first time, since I was eighteen, my Christmas dinner was cooked for me this festive season. We were away at our eldest son’s house, joined by our other children and partners. I shall remember it as one of my favourite Christmas times ever.

We walked and talked, catching up on life and sharing our thoughts and ideas for the future. After four glorious days, I made some decisions….

Now! Is the time to spend days and weekends with family and friends, the ones that make my heart sing.

Now! Is the time to embrace the fitness challenge with both hands, and see what I can achieve in 2019.

Now! Is the time to commit to plant based eating and to spreading the word by sharing recipes and ideas.

Now! Is the time to get the groundwork in place for our potting shed/greenhouse and new raised beds, so we can grow lots of veg.

Now! Is the time to finish my Lizzie Martin Witchlit series, inspiring women to embrace magic in their lives.

Now! Is the time to work magic every day, be it a lighted candle of thanks to the goddess or a chosen tarot guide to seek guidance or assurance.

Now! Is the time to push all our plans on our house and land forward, creating the warm, cosy home we seek.

 

Life’s too short not to do it now! ‘It’ doesn’t have to be big, but whatever ‘it’ is, don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Bright blessings, peace, health and happiness for the coming year xx

 

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.

 

 

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!