Wednesday, 20 May 2015

If You're Going to This Year's Foo Fighters Tour You Might...

... want to check out these amazing pre-and-post shows. All of them support the charity Given to Live which enables vulnerable and disabled people to attend live music events. Please check event posters for start times and bands. All events are also within walking distance of the stadiums so you've got no excuse for not going before and after the Foos! You can also take a look at the interview that Given to Live founder, Tom, gave.

Given to Live Twitter
Given to Live Facebook

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Inspirational Interview - Wendy Woo

Wendy is one of those people who gives off a wonderful, calming feeling. You get the sense that she'd invite you in for tea and you'd spend the entire day (and night) talking. Wendy was kind enough to stop by the blog and have a chat.


I was born Wendy Steele in Romford, Essex back in the dark ages. I've lived all over the county, settling in Billericay for 25 years. I moved to Wales in August 2013...first living in a tent, then a caravan and finally in a house in November 2013. I live on the outskirts of a village in a dilapidated Grade II listed farmhouse with my partner and two cats. My three grown up children still live in Essex and I miss them every day. Living on a building site wasn't the original plan but location was our priority and affordability a close second so we're having to work hard to make our house a home.

House restorer wasn't on my original CV but the more I learn about building with stone and lime mortaring, maybe it should be!
I've been a lover of words since I could read. During the power cuts in the 1970s (told you I was ancient!) we played word games on scraps of paper by candle light and I've loved solving anagrams and crosswords ever since. I was encouraged by an English teacher to continue creative writing and the desire to write every day has not left me.
As a chubby child, taunted as a fairy elephant, I came to dance late in life but as a dance teacher, I view my work as a mission to encourage everyone to dance.
You missed out goddess!....I believe we all hold the universe inside ourselves, just as we dwell within it. Limitations of what we can achieve are set by ourselves, our fears and worries so I try to face my fears and challenge myself, striking out in directions I once thought impossible.

Working in the City was a narrow, blinkered existence so once I left to have my first child, returning to cover holiday for a colleague, I recognised that I was no longer part of this money orientated way of life. If you have a dream, follow your heart. I waited almost 15 years before moving to Wales but the dream never left me. Once the children were through school and University, it was our time and though the break away from family and friends was difficult, their support and love has kept me going through tough times.
One of the reasons we left the south of England was the focus on wealth as a measure of worth and the judgemental attitudes of people living there. Since starting our life in a tent in a field in Wales, we've met many local people and not one of them has judged us on appearances. Money and celebrity as goals in life cannot lead to a happy planet. Until we put people first, there will always be a growing chasm between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. I'm a huge fan of the Dalai Lama and his teachings and he puts kindness and compassion at the top of the list. While the media supports celebrity as an attribute and governments support bankers who cheat and steal with no recourse, nothing will change.

I returned from the Tutankhamun exhibition in London at the age of 10 and wrote my first poem...I've been coming home and writing about my experiences ever since and received my first paid commission as a writer after attending my first belly dance workshops in London. After a two day writing course at a local college, I spent three years writing my first was wordy and the plot got a little lost but the characters were good and this inspired me to keep writing.

I write magical realism...real people, real magic. The first novel I published was Destiny of Angels, First book in the Lilith Trilogy and, like most of my writing, came out of a 'what if' question...what if you could face the perpetrators of a childhood trauma and offer them the choice of redemption? Who would take it? Who would shun it? Angel Parsons works with Lilith and other gods and goddesses on the astral plane, working magic and rituals alone and with her friends. In the second book, Wrath of Angels, Angel stands up to Lilith and faces the consequences of using magic. I have also published two short story collections, one an easy read and the other, touching on less pleasant subjects. There's also a wee erotic book, Too Hot for Angels, expanding the sex scenes in Destiny of Angels and my non-fiction book Wendy Woo's Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you. Having lived with depression all my life, this book is full of ideas I use and have used, keeping me smiling through life. Dedicated to my best friend from school who died from cancer at the age of 40, I wanted to share these thoughts, ideas, meditations and recipes to help others.

I launched The Standing Stone book series in November 2014, inspired by the landscape of Wales. The first book, Home for Christmas, is the story of three women living in different time and space who are linked together by the Standing Stone. The second book, Silence is broken is in the final stage of editing and the cover will be ready very soon.

Cats - always willing to "help"!

All my books are self published. As the publishing industry changed daily around me, I made the decision out of a desire to share my stories. My books have strong female characters and though they are met by extreme challenges, just as we all are, they fight for what they believe and I hope the stories are inspirational. I was inspired by the work of Dion Fortune and I hope to bring real magic into the forefront of fiction.
I was lucky. A great friend of mine, Peter Jones, helped me (and still helps me!) putting covers together and formatting my work. Without him, I would not be published. I'll be honest, Destiny of Angels, my first novel, is not the greatest book ever written...I made mistakes but the reviews I received helped me greatly and Wrath of Angels is a tighter, pacier and better written book.

I decided to read and review Indie fiction in a bid to help other Indie authors learn and grow into accomplished writers. I write an honest review, always bearing in mind the work that goes into creating a book, but also suggesting what I found confusing or a detriment to the book. Having made a decision when starting on social media to be myself, I continue this with my book reviews. I believed, naively, that others would do the same, the standard of self published books would rise and Indie authors would stand on a level field with traditionally published authors. While reviewers continue to give 5* reviews to their friends or fellow authors in a group, regardless of the quality of a book, this system will not help Indie authors. Self published books will remain in second class. If a reader starts a book based on a rave review and finds it badly written, they won't trust the reviews on an Indie book again.
Honest reviews would help change the view of readers but while self published authors publish books that haven't been edited (I have attempted to read many!) and their friends rate them highly, this will never happen.

If you have a story you feel compelled to share, go for it....but be prepared to be disappointed. An eye catching cover is a must and editing your work is essential. If you are driven to continue to share your stories, do it but learn from past mistakes. I read and reviewed a book recently, the third by the author. Littered with mistakes and badly written, I reviewed it as such; by book three, I want to read a more accomplished book....the group disagreed, I was 'sent to Coventry' and everyone else gave it 5*!
Not everyone will like your prepared for hurts. My novels take at least two years to write, edit and publish; that's a lot of time and energy to put into a project and when few people buy them, and even fewer review, it's tough to bear but, if you believe in your work, if you are happy to stand up and say 'This is my book and I'm proud of it', keep going.

Thank you so much for interviewing me and allowing me to share a little of the world of Wendy Woo with your fans. I hope they will be interested in adding a little magic into their future reading choices. 

Destiny of Angels (First book in the Lilith Trilogy)
Traumatic events in her childhood, send Angel Parsons upon a different life path.

Fifteen years later, with the help of her new 'family' and the resurrected relationship with Jenny Parkes, her only friend from school, Angel confronts the perpetrators of her misery. Rather than seeking revenge and to free herself from her past, Angel uses the skills she has acquired to offer her persecutors the chance of redemption.

Will Angel fulfil her destiny and put her past behind her or will the demons she unleashes consume herself and her 'family' and leave her empty and alone once more?

Wrath of Angels (Second book in the Lilith Trilogy)
Angel Parsons – wife, lover, entrepreneur and witch – is back and though she strives to put her past behind her, Lilith the Dark Goddess has other ideas.

Angel has the power at her finger tips. The choice is hers. Will she evoke her wrath to take her revenge on Lilith or will she summon nature's forces and the strongest emotion on earth to put right the wrongs of the Dark Goddess?

The Standing Stone – Home for Christmas
Rachel arrives in Wales to begin a new life but will Marcus jeopardise their future together before it's begun?

Candy knows the punishment for leaving Station 23 unguarded. Will she succeed in convincing Paul to obey the Lesson?

Fern loves her life in the village but when the Tall Folk arrive with metal working skills, will her peace be shattered forever?

Though distanced by time and space, three women find the Standing Stone and the teachings of the Great Mother, Binah.

Wendy Woo's Year – A Pocketful of Smiles 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you

Once upon a time, two eleven year old girls made a pact of friendship. One left school at sixteen while the other stayed on to study. The friendship remained. One went abroad while the other stayed at home. Years passed, marriage and children followed and the friendship continued to flourish via letters and video messages.
After twenty nine years the girls were reunited and the friendship sparked with renewed love and affection. Three months later, one friend was diagnosed with cancer. Nine months later, she died.

I was the girl who lived and I made a promise to live my life for two and make sure that every day included a smile in memory of my beautiful friend.

It isn't easy and I don't claim to hold the key to a life of everlasting happiness but the ideas in 'A Pocketful of Smiles' are used or have been used by me and have brought smiles and happiness to my life.

'A Pocketful of Smiles' is about being happy, irrespective of the challenges life brings.

'A Pocketful of Smiles' is often practical, sometimes spiritual but never religious, occasionally witty and full of ideas to bring a smile to your day.