Tag Archives: magical writing

Meet DJ Martin – plant lover, herbalist and author

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I love getting to know new people, so I put a call out on the Witch Lit group on Facebook to see who would like to take part in blog swap interviews, to find out more about each other and our writing. Deborah, or DJ as she prefers to be known, was the first person to respond and without knowing it, we have a blessed shared memory in common. You can read my interview on her blog here http://www.authordjmartin.com/posts/interview-with-a-witch-wendy-steele/

Welcome DJ! Let’s start with your writing…

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?

Non-fiction is planned so tightly about all that’s needed after outlining is to put things into coherent sentences and add punctuation. Fiction? I do loosely plot but the characters write the story. I know the beginning and end, but they generally change things to suit themselves, so how I get from “Once Upon a Time” to “The End” can be a surprise.

 

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

It’s not so much a ritual but a place – both physical and head-space. I can’t write fiction on the days I’ve been buried in accounting work (my day job), even if there’s time to do so. I can’t switch gears that easily anymore. When I do write, I have to be comfortable, which means lounging. There are spots in the loft of our house and outside on our deck that are reserved for writing. There’s always a cup of coffee nearby, as well as one or two of our four cats. (Maks is supervising from a nearby sofa as I write this. Curled up. With his back to me. Shhh. Don’t tell him sleeping isn’t supervising.)

I too find it tricky switching gears these days….

  

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

Apart from the fact I don’t like to talk about myself?

 

  • I’ve been dancing since Mom taught me to waltz when I was a toddler standing on the tops of her feet. I love to dance and was, during the disco era, a professional dancer, as well as a disc jockey in a nightclub. (No, that’s not how I got my nickname. That came earlier.) I’ve even been a member of a clogging troupe.

 

  • Strangely, for a dancer, I don’t listen to music very often. I get caught up in the music and can’t concentrate on work; or start dancing around and forget to do whatever chore I’m supposed to be doing. Even classical music makes me lose track of time.

 

  • I’m a homebody who’s waiting for someone to invent and perfect transporter technology. I love to visit far-flung family and friends, and see new and different places, but prefer my own bed to anywhere else. I usually want to make a U-turn almost as soon as we leave the house to go to the airport.

 

  • I’m a huge baseball fan. That takes precedence over virtually anything else on the telly during the season. But I don’t actually watch It’s on in the background while I’m reading or doing other things. I’ll look up when the announcers get excited about something; or check the score at chapter’s (or chore’s) end.

 

  • Apart from having sports on in the background, I don’t watch much television at all. Therefore, I’m horribly out of the loop when friends discuss the latest television series…or even movies.

 I loved dancing on my Dad’s feet, always makes me smile when I think of it. Lovely insights, thank you.

 

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

want with you?

Sunscreen! 😉

If you count people and cats as things, then my husband, the cats, a fully-loaded e-reader, coffee (one of the four major food groups) and a pot to make it in, and dark chocolate (also one of the four major food groups). I don’t need much if I have those and the basic necessities.

 

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

 For an avid reader, that’s a really tough question!

 A plant identification book specific to the island. Which ones can I use for what, and which should I avoid?

  1. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, to make myself feel better about being stranded.
  2. Any of Nigel Tranter’s fiction. He wove Scottish history into fascinating stories.
  3. One of the Harry Dresden Files, if you won’t let me take the entire series. Jim Butcher tells a good tale and makes me laugh.
  4. One of the Iron Druid Chronicles (or the entire series…). Kevin Hearne is just as good as Butcher.
  5. Cheating and adding one: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (second in the All Souls Trilogy). History and Witch Lit! (But I’d still like to take all of them!)

I’ll definitely look up Nigel Tranter for a bit of historical fiction, thank you…

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

 

Living or dead? If dead, Barbara Jordan. She was my heroine growing up. (I’ve never minded a well-behaved ghost.) If living, Sir Patrick Stewart. (Not just because of his Star Trek connection, but there is that.) His life has taken some interesting turns and I think it would be fun to talk about them. His public persona is intriguing and, like all public people, I’m curious as to whether the private person is the same.

 

 7 Your current writing projects?

I’m working on Fudge’s story. Fudge is the familiar to the protagonist in The Ogre’s Assistant series. He’s over 2,000 years old so it’s magic woven in with history. Or is that history woven in with magic? While I thought I was finished at the end of Transformation!, another Ogre’s Assistant book is floating around in the back of my head. I’ll probably get around to plotting that out in the next couple of months when I need a break from Fudge.

 Also perking in the background is a book about herb usage throughout history – both magical and medicinal. The research is pretty much done but I can’t figure out how to make it interesting to anyone but me. Perhaps someday the proverbial bulb will light, and that book will get written. If not, I learned a thing or two.

  

8 Other published work and links….

 

First, and easiest, is my website http://www.authordjmartin.com

 

 

Amazon US: http://amazon.com/author/deborahmartin

 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0046UDSM2

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authordjmartin

 

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authordjmartin

 

Thank you so much for joining me DJ. Lovely to discover more about you and your books. Check out Deborah’s books via her author pages and her website.

For more author interviews, posts about the writing process, dance, healing and plant based recipes, do visit again soon. Bright blessings xx

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The leap into Witch Lit

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My first published novel, Destiny of Angels, was the novel I wanted to read, but couldn’t find. With a large cast of varied characters, Angel Parsons led me along the paths of the witches Qabbalah, and I learned about myself and my writing. At the time I published, magical realism was stuffed full of vampires and werewolves, so it was time for real people and real magic, but without realising it, I’d written a specialist book. Not every reader cared about the opportunity to view life through different eyes, and be open to the idea of alternative realities. I wrote the sequel Wrath of Angels because it needed to be written (and it’s a far superior novel to Destiny in my opinion), but I had no readers and needed to think again.

Though ideas for the final book were rattling around in my head, they were quoshed by new ones, evoked by the Welsh landscape. Discovering a Bronze Age settlement site on the hill beside our house, my mind was drawn to the past and the people who lived there, and to those who will live there in the future and the Standing Stone book series was born. Three women linked, across time and space, are brought together in the presence of the goddess by the standing stone and given help and support to deal with their current problems and heartaches. I loved writing these books!

I was invited to submit a story for a Witchlit anthology, a gathering of magical short stories, so turned my hand to attempting to write one. The first two weren’t right; they were too magical somehow, and then I hit on an idea and Last Chance for Love was created. This short story has changed my writing path, leading me to write stories that mix the mundane with the magical with ease and pure joy. Sign up for my newsletter and receive it FREE as a ‘thank you.’

I know how much you’ll enjoy the Lizzie Martin, Wendy Woo Witchlit Series, so from 9th-14th October, you can download the first book, The Naked Witch, for FREE, and begin your journey into Witchlit. Lovely to have you with us. New moon blessings xx

https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV/ref

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV/ref

For all my books, have a look at my author pages https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

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

 

Free books

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Six years ago, soon after I joined Facebook and Twitter, I made all five of my books written at the time free, to celebrate a large birthday with a five in it. Free books were the ‘done’ thing to attract readers and reviews. I remember watching the download figures soar beyond the thousands. I believed readers would love my books and review them, drawing more readers to buy my books, and my writing career would take off. I’d sit every day, writing books while publishers clamoured over my titles.

From more than 5k downloads I received 0 reviews. No one bought my books.

I was naive…and stupid. There were godzillions of free books at the time (kindles were new) and so readers downloaded everything they saw that was free. Most people read none of them. Once again, I was a new writer full of new stories to tell, but no one to listen to them.

From then on, I thought long and hard about what I was willing to write for free.

In 2015 I put myself on a short story writing ‘course’, aiming to write, edit and submit one new story each week to a competition, magazine or anthology, hoping that at least one story out of 52 would be a good one. I managed 44 and had 10 of those published online or in anthologies. I was only paid for one of them, but even now, the anthologies I participated in are being downloaded and purchased, providing a link to my website and therefore to me. I view them as advertising, plus the year I spent honing my short story skills taught me a lot, and my novel writing improved because of it.

I still write short stories, some of which you can listen to for FREE on my YouTube channel, Phoenix and the Dragon https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA

From 9th – 14th October, you can download The Naked Witch, the first book in the Lizzie Martin Witchlit series for FREE…because I’m confident you will want to read more. Six years on, I’m a better writer, I’ve more books for you all to enjoy, and I’m sure you’ll love Lizzie Martin and her battle between her heart and her head. I’m not looking for thousands of random downloads, but looking to reach readers who enjoy a cracking story, great characters and a little humour in their books, and who’ll love to read more in the future.

I’ll let Lizzie introduce herself…

Hi, I’m Lizzie and I’m a witch. Not that I wear a pointy hat and travel to work on a broomstick! In fact, unless you get to know me well, you would never know. I live my life following the Sacred Wheel of the Year and use magic in my daily life. I might draw a single card from my Tarot pack, set a candle spell working or consult with Cerridwen and her cauldron but even if my focus is not on a magical act or ritual, the Wheel turns and I move with it.

I was a ‘ginger’ at school but if you’re going to label me, I’d prefer redhead. I love wearing bright clothes that compliment rather than clash. Paisley, velvet and Indian fabrics are my favourite, swathing my body in colour and light. I’ve never felt the need to show off my figure so I let my clothes do the talking. I rarely have to do more than smile, which I prefer. I learned to be quiet at an early age while my parents argued.

I’m not a great one for shouting. At our old house, I avoided the neighbourhood squabbles and gossip, preferring peace to provocation. I got on well with everyone but had no particular friends. My fault? Probably but I’m a private person and I worry about sharing too much of myself with strangers. At our new house, it’s different. Mr Brody is our next door neighbour, his house adjoins ours, so we met on the day Rowan and I moved in. I was worried about Rowan’s music disturbing him and he was embarrassed that his TV would annoy us!

Louise and I are friends, good ones I hope. She’s one of the security guards in the building where I work. She’s raven haired and vivacious, completely different from me, but they say opposites attract. She’s kind and funny and that’s why I like her.

With Josh, my ex-husband, out of my life, Rowan is my family. My father died when I was young. He is my first thought on waking, while my mother and I struggle to form any kind of relationship, even now. Affectionate isn’t a word I use to describe her. Some days, I don’t think she cares about me at all, but she’s Rowan’s Granny, so I do the best I can. Marsha, on the other hand, Josh’s mum is a sweetheart. She continues to treat me as family, phoning for advice about her dreams and welcoming Rowan to her villa in Spain every year.

‘Call yourself a witch! Where’s the magic?’ I hear you ask. At the bottom of my garden is a little wooden shed that I call Sanctuary. Rowan calls it my ‘Mum cave’. Within its warm and welcoming walls, I draw and paint and surround myself with magic.

Download The Naked Witch for FREE today, and begin the adventure https://www.amazon.co.uk/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV/ref

and for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV/ref

New moon blessings to you all xx

 

 

 

 

Call out to magical readers and writers

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This is a call out to magical readers and writers, poets, songwriters and creatives alike. Be part of a magical group on Facebook and Twitter, that wants to ‘take over the world incrementally’, a wonderful phrase from Laura Perry, one of the group of four of us who head up this revolution.

It all started with Sheena Cundy who brought in myself, Ruth Aitken and Laura to form a working group, working in unison to sail us in one direction; to fight for our creative talent to be heard in the world at large. Talking together, we began to understand what that meant; we weren’t just talking about stories anymore.

These are Sheena’s welcoming words that head our group page:

As the Witches among us will know, this (magic) happens when we weave the web. And here, the threads are constantly flowing from the earthly to the unearthly, reading to writing – the craft of words and magic binding together where the boundaries blur.
Witch Lit is something we are passionate about, not just because it reflects what we do but more importantly because it expresses who we are as magical creatives:
The Wise and Wild among us, the Warriors and the Healers. The Visionaries. Storytellers, poets and songwriters, bards.
The Walkers between the Worlds.

If you have work out in the world, we want to know about it.
If you want to put work out into the world we can help you do it. And in the doing we can all grow and build together, individually and collectively.
We don’t have all the answers, but between us we try and work them out with large dollups of humour and respect for each other, our paths and crafts.

So enjoy the vibe and we hope you get something out of being here. Make the most of it and ask questions…it’s how we all learn!!!
Remember to add your links to the file Laura has set up, it’s always useful to know where to find out more about each other.
And if you’re particularly nosey like me, this will feed any curiosity and hopefully inspire you to move out of that comfort zone.
Because that’s where the magic happens.
Dark Moon blessings! )O(

Come and share your magical creative talents, ideas and thoughts, on our group, interacting with other creatives with love and respect.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

https://twitter.com/WitchLit1

 

Carol Lovekin – author, feminist and flâneuse

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Today, I’m blogging my interview with Carol Lovekin, an author who lives in my nearest town here in West Wales, whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet and chat with at book fairs over the past couple of years. Carol is published by Honno Press, a Welsh based women’s press based in Aberystwyth. Carol will be at the Narberth Book fair on 22nd September and Llandysul, hosted by Parlour Press Publishing on 29th September.

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’m a plotter. The idea of writing a book without a plan terrifies me! It’s hard enough with one, frankly. I write a detailed outline. That said, I’m up for the challenge. If plot, characters &/or other factors (editor?!) suggest tangents, I’ll go with them. It’s part of the excitement of conjuring a story. Characters in particular have a way of knowing where they need to go.

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

I have magical, writing earrings! They’re odd – an amber one & a moonstone. Until I lost one of each original pair they were favourites. Rather than abandon them, I paired them up & gave them a role. And I do like a tidy desk. I can’t work in a mess.

3 Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.
I’m a trained ballet dancer.
I hand write in pencil on unlined artists’ sketch pads.
I can swim underwater for (almost) the entire length of my local swimming pool. Working on those last three metres!

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 59.

I don’t do even numbers.

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

Knife. Flint. Huge box of pencils. Big box of paper. Teapot.


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

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee. My favourite book. Immaculate writing & a superb indictment of racism in America.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve loved it since I was fifteen &
 read it every year. Where my love of the Gothic novel comes from. (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier vies for this slot, for the same reason.)

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Sublime writing; a beautifully constructed novel & a moving exposé on the reality of war. 

Possession A S Byatt. Insanely good writing & the best dual narrative novel I’ve ever read. 
The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman. I love her take on magical realism. The writing is lush; it has an indefinable quality to it.

 

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

 

7 Your current writing projects?

One project at a time for me. I’m currently editing my third book. It’s like wandering through a vast wild wood. Luckily, I have breadcrumbs.

 Website: carollovekinauthor.com
Twitter: carollovekinauthor.com

Thank you so much for joining me Carol. You can find Carol’s books on Amazon here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carol-Lovekin/e/B01ADAWMPC/ref

or for friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Carol-Lovekin/e/B01ADAWMPC/ref

Join me soon for another author interview; a peep into a modern writer’s life.

 

Getting the balance right part 1

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With no dance teaching in August, apart from a weekly private lesson, I’ve set myself the task of writing the fourth Lizzie Martin Witchlit novel, The Eloquent Witch. We’re entering the third week, my family are visiting from 26th, but I’m less than half way through writing the novel.

I’m a writer, an introverted soul who is never happier than cuddling up in bed with her latest WIP, immersing herself in the world of story. Being a successful author in 2018 doesn’t allow me that luxury more than a few times a year.

Every day, for years, I’ve been starting my day with social media; Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and, if I’ve time, LinkedIn. Instagram is on my list. I blog on average twice a week and have recently started a newsletter. I’m on writing, dancing and healing groups on Facebook, as well as running my own pages and being admin on a number of groups.

On one particular day a few weeks ago, I struggled to surface from the dark pit of despair and couldn’t face turning my laptop on. I went for my walk and realised, I didn’t have to. The world wouldn’t end, no one was going to die. I was twitchy all morning, tearful and anxious. I danced and cried and danced some more. The following day, I woke with a new feeling in my belly; I was in control of what I did and I could choose when or if I went online.

The relief was enormous, but the guilt was there, niggling away at the back of my mind. If I’m not ‘working at being a writer’ every day, will anyone take me seriously? Am I selling myself short? I’ve begun the round of summer book fairs again; footfall has been low. Should I bother? Is this a good use of my time?

But even when I’m using social media, I’m often unsure if I’m wasting my time. I bookmark podcasts and videos to watch and listen to, where others advise on the best writing versus marketing balance, but rarely get a chance to engage. I thought I’d have time with my partner working away, but I’m writing into the night instead.

Power naps help extend my days, but I’m still working on getting the most from my social media engagement.

There is hope though…three other witches and I have formed a working group to promote our work. Sharing the load could be the answer. Watch out for Witches Who Write #WitchesWhoWrite.

 

 

For the love of power naps

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I discovered power naps fifteen years ago, and now I’m self employed with no dependents living at home, I can use them to gain even more constructive time in my day.

Four years of IBS left me thin and weak, and then I discovered bellydance. If I wanted to dance, I had to eat, but also be as rested as possible, to give me the best chance of dancing the hour and a half session. How could I fit it in? I was so tired and yet, daily household tasks needed to be done and the children needed collecting at 3.15pm. I chose to power nap from 1.30pm to 2.10pm, rising from my bed, driving straight to the school able to spend almost an hour in the car writing my first novel.

I loved bellydancing and wanted to dance more. There was another hour and a half session the following evening. Could I manage two nights of dancing? It wasn’t just the overwhelming fatigue I felt every minute of every day, but the pain was often excruciating, leaving me drained and nauseous and ready to give up on life. I tried the classes and with the help of my regular nap, I was able to bellydance twice a week.

Sticking to the routine was easy for me; it helped with pain and tiredness and enabled me to do the things I wanted to do. I had so much more energy for the children too, making getting them to clubs after school so much easier.

The power nap combined with bellydance changed the course of my life. Before I had my children I ran an Offshore Funds Settlements Department in London; in 2007, at the age of 44, I created Phoenix Bellydance and began teaching Egyptian dance to women and girls, as well as continuing to write. I had articles published in dance magazines, interviewed dancers and musicians and wrote their stories, but it was around 2009 that I knew I wanted to write magical novels, having discovered the stories of Dion Fortune.

My mind was opened to all sorts of possibilities, but managing the IBS was still a problem. I’d taken on two cleaning jobs for friends, just three hours a time, but with teaching in the evening, and attending classes and workshops myself, I struggled to manage my pain and the fatigue again. And then I discovered reiki. I’d signed myself up for an aromatherapy massage course, hoping to learn more about essential oils and their healing properties, but there weren’t enough people so the reiki course was suggested as a stop gap.

Learning about chakras gave me the frame work to heal my own body and mind. I attended a later aromatherapy massage course too, and proceeded to Reiki 2 training. My naptime took on even more relevance, a time not just to rest but to heal. Around this time, I realised a sense of ‘self’ I hadn’t known before. I discovered American Tribal Style® Bellydance and around the same time, greater confidence working magic on my own or with close friends and my daughter.

Throughout this time, I discovered that a power nap wasn’t called Forty Winks by accident. Forty minutes was the perfect length of power nap for me; any less, I didn’t feel refreshed after and any more, I felt heavy and lethargic and struggled to get going. I was allowed to press the snooze button though, as it gave me ten minutes if I needed it, to come round slowly.

Now, especially if my partner is working away, I use power naps to make my day even longer. Up before 6am and out walking by half past, if I nap before 3pm, I can still have energy to pull brambles, dance, research or write until about 11pm…I feel like I’ve fitted two days into one! It’s not possible to use them every day with work commitments, but if I’m up early and fading by 11.30am, I’ll always try and fit in a power nap…or sometimes a cat nap if a kitten comes to join me.