Tag Archives: The Standing Stone – The Gathering

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.

 

The book that changed my life

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More than ten years ago, I was struggling with life. My daily battle with depression was compounded by debilitating and fatiguing IBS. I was dancing Egyptian belly dance but feeling stuck and uninspired. A new lady came to dance class and loaned me a book. It changed my life and the rest, as they say, is history.

Violet Mary Firth, aka Dion Fortune, penned her first short stories in 1919, as a way to bring spiritualism, psychism and inner awareness to readers, otherwise unfamiliar with these practices. Two of her novels, Sea Priestess and Moon Magic greatly influence Doreen Valiente, in many people’s opinion the resurrecter of modern British witchcraft, and it was the first of these books I opened all those years ago.

I devoured every page. My magical practise, until then, had been purely personal but Sea Priestess opened up new possibilities, especially the opportunity to share, heal and inspire, not only through my writing but my dancing as well. In 2007, I created Phoenix Bellydance and began teaching Egyptian belly dance. Over the four years I taught in Essex, I was able to teach and, hopefully, inspire over 300 women and girls.

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At the time, my first novel was underway and I spent 3 years (30 minutes in the car every day waiting to pick up my children from school), writing and editing. ‘Hubble Bubble’ was about an English teacher who lived her life through her passion for literature. I was wordy, over 100k but it started me on the path I follow today. The characters were vivid and the imagery exciting…I just needed to learn how to plot and write story more effectively.

For three years, I taught dance, practised self healing and gathered holistic healing experience. The premise for my first novel ‘Destiny of Angels – First book in the Lilith Trilogy’, ‘what if a traumatic childhood experience sent a woman on a different life path?’ inspired me to write my first novel about the use of magic, contacting other planes of existence and the Qabalah, in our physical life on earth.

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Although my books are fantasy, the characters are real, living live like you and I, falling in love, raising children, finding new jobs and moving house. Relationships are an important element in my novel, often unconventional and sometimes surprising. ‘Destiny of Angels’ relies on the strength of friendship, as Angel’s friends help her dispel the hurt of the past. In ‘Wrath of Angels’, Angel’s love for Aidan is tested, as is her self belief and self worth.

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Bringing magic, inner awareness and affinity with nature into my stories brings them to life. In ‘Sea Priestess’ and ‘Moon Magic’, Vivien Le Fay Morgan, the main character, is both of this world and ‘other worldly’ and this other dimension, almost a secret side to her personality, fascinates me and is always with me as I write.

The three women in The Standing Stone books, inspired by my arrival in Wales, appear to live ‘ordinary’ lives across three different points in time but, all three are searching for something. Even Fern, the only one who already has a connection to the goddess through ritualistic nature worship, is seeking more. In Home for Christmas, they are guided by Binah, the Great Mother, the dark goddess who stands proudly beside Chokmah on the left hand pillar of the Qabalah Tree.

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My only foray into non-fiction is ‘Wendy Woo’s Year- A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you’, written at the request of friends who kept telling me to write down my tips to combat depression and bring peace and self healing to your life. The book is often practical, sometimes spiritual but never religious, occasionally witty and full of ideas to bring a smile to your day.

Have you read a book that changed your life? Be lovely to hear from you.

 

Welcome New Moon

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Catching up with friends and family in Essex after Christmas was lovely but saying goodbye to my children is never easy, especially as I had no routine to return to.

With firewood stacked in the lounge, my partner set off for a job in Oxford and left me home alone.

I’ve always found the final week of the waning moon a challenge. Though my mind is keen to ‘tie up loose ends’, complete started projects and have something to show for my endeavours, I’ve found it difficult to apply myself.

Edits are going well on the third Standing Stone book, The Gathering and I finished one short story which you can read here https://wendysteele.com/2016/01/06/short-story-scratching-the-surface/ and wrote, edited and polished two more which I’ve submitted for magazines but my energy levels were low and I could feel the tears close to the surface.

And then Tribal Unity Wales came to my rescue! A suggestion of an evening get together gave me something to look forward to and catching up was just what I needed. Inspired by my ladies, I set myself the challenge of completing the lime mortaring/rebuilding of the wall up the stairs.

The tiny window was a later, hasty addition and needed my attention. I mixed one bucket at a time (3:1 sand and lime), pretending to be a cement mixer for ten minutes until the consistency was right. The old earth mortar needs to be scraped out and loose stones removed ready to be reset. All the resident earth mortar needs to be wetted to give something for the new mortar to adhere to. DSC_0195DSC_0197After half an hour, I use a damp paintbrush to remove excess mortar and to give a slightly smoother finish. DSC_0198This side needed a lot more rebuilding, finding suitable stones to fill the gaps rather than just mortar. DSC_0199Two hours on Friday and four on Saturday got me this far…and then I fell off the planet.

I was so pleased with my achievements but with rain pounding the windows, seeping up through the hall floor and leaking through the roof, I despaired that my efforts were worthless and my plans to commune with the new moon seemed hopeless…so I lit candles around the lounge and danced.  I danced hard. Breathless and exhausted I sat in the middle of my circle with Rosie Rabbit and the goddess Isis spoke to me. I scribbled on my pad, tearful but excited and once I was calmer, I turned to my Tarot cards and the future looked brighter. DSC_0160

Taking small steps works for me. Yesterday I set myself lots of small challenges and completed them all, starting this new moon phase with a clean tidy room, notes and plans for the new term of dance and lots of story ideas.

Everyone is different but if you are looking for ways to live with depression or you want to bring happiness to your life every day, my non-fiction book may help. Love, light and new moon blessings xx

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=la_B007VZ1P06_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1354202723&sr=1-5http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354202865&sr=1-3

Summer Solstice…the build up

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Since the new moon on Tuesday, life has gone from chaotic to manic…and I’m loving it!

Tuesday is always a busy dancing day, teaching a Beginners class at lunchtime and a Beyond Basics for two hours in the evening but this week, classes were buzzing and we’ve two more events in the pipeline where we’ve been asked to perform. The amazing thing is, we are not a performance group and most of my dancers have only been dancing for a year. Let me tell you our story…

Barefoot Festival 2014

Barefoot Festival 2014

I had been dancing with Tribal Unity for four years when we finally sold our house and prepared to set off for our new adventure in Wales. My wonderful ATS® Bellydance teacher, Deana Lawman, asked me if I would like to be Tribal Unity in Wales. I was overwhelmed and delighted to accept such an honour so from August 2013 to February 2014, from tent life, to caravan life to a house with no heating, I planned how to begin teaching ATS® Bellydance. I found a venue, advertised in the local free magazine, The Grapevine, and began teaching in March 2014.

First Tribal Unity Wales selfie

First Tribal Unity Wales selfie

I met the most wonderful bunch of ladies! I planned to talk to them about dancing at the Lampeter World of Dance Festival in October, just one dance to show everyone how much fun we have in class but they way laid my plan by asking if they could dance at the Cardigan Bellydance in August…and we did! 10603378_10202597850844530_906991781996694645_n Everyone had so much fun they wanted to perform again…and again and again! ATS® Bellydance allows you as the dancer to bring yourself to the group and before my eyes, a Tribal Unity family was born. From May 2014, my Mum’s dementia worsened and frequent trips to Essex were exhausting and painful but these wonderful women supported me throughout and we danced together, for each other. Indoors at the Cellan Beer Festival Dec 2014 to outdoors in the park at the eclipse in March, we have been there and danced.

11012386_10153650985507802_1147847422645631772_nWe’re now preparing for the Lampeter Food Festival on 25th July and the Cardigan Bellydance Festival on the 8th/9th August. We’re dancing at The LongWood Open Day on 6th September as well as two performances in October, also confirmed.

And we danced together to celebrate the Summer Solstice, welcoming back the Holly King as he takes over from the Oak King, bringing in the harvest and preparing the Land for the winter.10346537_1624424897816000_5432437501420269489_n

ATS® Bellydance is an inspirational dance form, combining influences from Egyptian bellydance, Kathak (classical Indian), Flamenco and African Tribal. This unique style of dance is lead by a leader who gives cues to her dancers so there is no choreography to be learned, just moves and cues. It’s hard work! Our bodies get into bad habits so muscle memory has to be created and that means repetition but when you have as much fun as we do, nobody seems to mind. For more information http://www.tribalunity.co.uk

Our house is coming on…we have a roof now! The new thatch is holding up well to the rain but we still need to finish the ends of the walls so they meet the roof so, we need clom…clay, sand, cow/horse poo and straw.

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But first, we need a man with a digger and he has been booked for Friday and Saturday, firstly to dig out our clay (we’ve removed the battered shed and agricultural asbestos sheeting that was in the way…don’t ask!), mix with the straw we have left from thatching and poo we will collect from friendly farmer on Thursday night and secondly, to dig us a meandering pathway down to our riverbank. Last year we cleared Bramble Avenue so we could walk from one end of the riverbank to the other and this new pathway will mean easy access for the barrow and mower and a clear area to start working out from to plant our new trees (ash doing well, beech still a bit wobbly) for coppicing.

As well as all this excitement, I’ve been writing the third book in the Standing Stone series The Gathering, while editing the second book Silence is Broken, getting it ready for publication on 2nd July and guess what arrived in the post this morning?

DSC_1413I love it when plans start to come together after months, even years, of hard work. Staying focussed on what I believe, trusting in myself and sharing warm heartedness helps with those difficult days. Solstice Blessings to all my friends around the world.