How to Live with Panic Attacks

I’ve suffered panic attacks since I was very young
and it’s taken society a long time to understand them.
How do you deal with panic and acute anxiety?

How to live with Panic Attacks - The Last Krystallos

I wrote a status the other day, on FB, which described a burgeoning panic attack . Sometimes someone’s description can be an ideal opportunity to learn about panic and how it affects our lives.

Panic attacks are violent, and often out of character, reactions to stress and anxiety, sometimes they’re triggered and sometimes they appear out of the blue and for no reason at all. It’s a fear response that our bodies exaggerate when it’s unnecessary.

The physical symptoms can be so bad people can believe they’re having a heart attack. Your heart races, your breathing becomes shallow, you feel faint, shaky, sweaty, fearful, anxious, dizzy, light-headed, sick and nauseous. You can get cramps, abdominal pain, chest pain, and you can become totally dissociative or disconnected. Things around you become unreal.

Your flight, fight, or freeze response kicks in and – boom – you’re in the middle of a panic attack. They can last anywhere from five minutes to up to an hour. The residue from the attack can last all day, or all week, and it can trigger further attacks. You might only have one every now and then or they can be regular.

Learning to live with them or with someone who suffers from them can be difficult, but as always with mental health issues – education, understanding, and compassion are crucial. Once you have discovered the best way to deal with them life can return to something similar to normal.

Meg turned the tables to comfort her mother, something she was becoming far too familiar with. - Beneath the Old Oak - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

In Beneath the Old Oak I cover anxiety, depression, and panic. Meg suffers chronic anxiety and at only fourteen she has to deal with the erratic behaviour of her mother – which includes panic attacks and disturbing moods.  

In this excerpt Meg is reluctantly out shoe shopping with her mother and a brewing panic attack (you’ll notice cues for her rising panic like shredding the receipt in her fingers as she waits, how hot she feels, her impatience, and tears):

““Excuse me?” Meg’s mum waved the black trainer at the sales-boy over the child’s head. “Could we please try these in a four?”

He nodded, adding the trainer to his teetering pile of boxes. As he disappeared Mum glared at the whining child as his mother tried to prise the football boot from his grasp. Mum glanced at her watch and pulled an old receipt out of her pocket. She stared in the direction of the stockroom and began tearing the receipt into thin strips.

Meg sidled up to her mother as the boy’s mum finally wrested the boot from him, returned it to the shelf and dragged him away, his complaints still echoing. Mum ignored her daughter’s grin. “He’s going to be a real brat one day. Ah, here are yours.”

Meg noted the single trainer in the sale-boy’s hand. “I’m sorry,” he said, “only got these in a three and then a seven, sold out.”

“That’s a vast difference in sizes, no others in stock? This is a shoe shop isn’t it?” The receipt in Mum’s hand turned into confetti.

“It’s okay Mum. I like these too…” Meg grabbed two random trainers off the wall. “Can I try these instead? Size four.”

He nodded and disappeared.

“It’s hot in here.” Mum unbuttoned her coat.

“Mum…” Meg gently tugged her elbow.

“What?” Mum sounded annoyed then realised two lads were trying to get past. She stepped back and knocked into a tall pile of shoe-boxes. Meg just managed to grab the top one as it toppled and stopped the rest from slipping. “And there’s no space!”

“Mum, why don’t you sit down?”

“That’s for people trying on shoes. How long is he going to be? I told you it would be busy.”

Meg hoped he would be quick.

He returned with two boxes. “These are a five, haven’t got a four, but these are fours.”

Meg took the boxes. “I’ll try them, thanks.”

Another customer grabbed the sales-boy as Meg tried the trainers.

“So?” asked her mother.

“Too big, they’re slipping.” Meg handed her the trainers.

“Stupid boxes…” Mum groaned as she tried to fit the bulky shoes into the tight box.

“Here, like this.” Meg replaced them and slipped her feet into the other pair.

“The right size?”

“Maybe…”

“Try walking in them.”

“I am.” Meg walked up and down the narrow path through mountains of boxes and footwear. Meg frowned, deciding whether to choose a pair she didn’t like just to get Mum out of the shop. “No, they’re pinching my little toes.” She was the one who’d be stuck wearing them.

Mum sighed. “Okay.”

“Let’s leave it, come back another day?” suggested Meg.

“No, you need trainers, we’re getting trainers.”

Meg’s sigh matched her mother’s as she pulled off the shoes. She left her mum to pack them away and moved, in her socked feet, back to the display. Not a moment later she heard a frustrated grunt and a trainer flew past her ear. It rebounded on the wall and knocked three shoes to the ground. Meg ducked and twirled round. Her mother stood, red-faced and furious.

“Damn shoe boxes!” she cried. “Nothing fits in them!”

Shocked, Meg picked up the offending shoe, moved back to her mum and put her hand on her arm. Her mother flipped her hand away. “Just leave them and I’ll do it. It’s fine!” Meg knelt and put the shoes in the box. She glanced up at Mum. Fire flashed and irritation simmered and she was oblivious to the stares from other customers.

“And it’s too hot! We come in wearing coats, because it’s winter, why do they make it so hot?” Mum trembled, her fists clenching and unclenching at her side.

Meg barely zipped up her own boots before ushering her mother out of the store.

“But you need shoes!”

“Not this much!” Meg shook her head. “Dad can drop me down later.”

She took her mum’s arm and led her to the car.

“I’ve let you down! I’m useless. I promised I’d never let you down…” wailed Mum.

“It doesn’t matter,” insisted Meg.

“It does! I promised I’d never let you down, because my mum always let me down!” Within moments Mum’s aggressive stance switched to the frustration of a child, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Meg, on the other hand, turned the tables to comfort her mother, something she was becoming far too familiar with.”

Panic attacks can often be misconstrued for aggression, shyness, anxiety, arrogance, and much more. Meg learns to deal with her mother’s panic as her behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. It’s difficult to live with panic and with someone else who suffers from a panic disorder.

Green Castle Woods Old Oak Nov 2016 - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I know I’ve often felt guilty for having a panic disorder as it’s not something you want your children to have to deal with. The above scenario at the shoe shop is one my children can relate to. I can easily tell you that shopping for shoes is one of my least favourite activities I ever had to do with my children. Shoes are expensive, they wear out fast, feet grow too fast, and children are both indecisive and picky. My youngest, in particular, would um and ah, and be unable to choose a suitable shoe. It’s a stressful enough activity for a parent with social inhibitions let alone with three children in tow.

We arrived at Clarks, the final shoe shop in town, as a last resort, due to their expensive shoes and how busy they always were. The ‘take a ticket’ queue system in a stuffy, upstairs shop was challenging enough, as were the price tickets. Finally, after waiting for what seemed like forever we were trying on shoes. I had an on sale shoe in mind, my child did not… and I felt my body prickle and electricity charged the air. I knew what was happening and my priority was to make a sale and get out of the shop as soon as possible.

The shoe we wanted was not the exact shoe size for which the assistant had measured my child, half a size bigger, but cheap and on sale. When I said we’d buy them anyway she gave me one of those patronising looks that stoke the fires of hell in those it’s aimed at. Panic surged, I shook, I sweated, my vision blurred, and I knew tears were stinging. At the cash desk she primly told me that unless I bought insoles too then if I got home and decided to return the wrong size shoes they’d be unable to take them back.

I had no intention of either buying insoles or taking them back. But that statement to someone in the throes of a panic attack was too much. I burst into tears. Not just one or two, but floods – and noisy too. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t move. I knew the whole shop was staring at me. I knew my children were scared and probably embarrassed, but nothing would stop. I threw money at the till and ran with the shoes, my children hurrying after me in shock.

I don’t think I ever went back.

Meg kept her head down - everywhere - Beneath the Old Oak - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

Symptoms of panic attacks are sometimes difficult to hide. My family all know if one is brewing. I get agitated, lost, I shake, and I attack myself – biting my nails or pulling at my skin, scratching, or digging fingernails in deep. When you’ve experienced them you recognise them. I know them in my daughters too.

There are ways to stave off a panic attack, but you have to learn what works for you, and you have to be in a situation to do what you need to. I have to remove myself physically and fast. I also use Calm Harm a phone app with a breathing exercise on it that helps to bring my breathing back down and in time. I carry a stim to hold and ground myself with – an acorn cup. You can meditate, or use Mindfulness. I can be held close, but only by family, if anyone else tries that they’ll be physically attacked. I can be talked down, again usually only by family.

I also take medication. Propranolol, a beta blocker, works for me. It slows down my heart rate and biologically removes the panic from my system.

What works for you?

My Facebook status described a panic attack as it rose and it helped people to understand what happens when an attack hits. I took a tablet and this one faded away.

Facebook status describing a panic attack © Lisa Shambrook

Facebook status describing a panic attack © Lisa Shambrook

If you suffer, know that there are many of us who deal with this on a daily basis,
you are not alone.

Do you live with someone who suffers from a Panic Disorder,
how do you and they cope?

What works best for you?

These pages from the Mental Health charity Mind are very insightful if you need help with understanding and coping with Panic Attacks. Please go and visit your GP if you need help. Counselling and medication are available.

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Beneath_the_Old_Oak_L_Shambrook_WEBMeg’s mother is having a breakdown, and Meg can’t cope. Seeking to escape bullies and overwhelming anxiety, she discovers an old oak tree whose revelations begin to change her life.

Beneath the Old Oak is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will completely move you.

“A brave book that tackles serious issues for a younger audience in a mature and sensitive way.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Old Oak is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UKAmazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and NobleWaterstonesGoogle PlayKoboiTunes, and other online outlets.

 

Magical Colours of Autumn

You all know Autumn is my favourite season.
Here’s why…

Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos
Let’s start with the coloursOrange and Black.  Now, strangely, I’m not a fan of orange, but I adore russet, bronze, copper, and flame. It’s all in the tone and the name! And black is a classic – the colour of night, the dark, and magic.
Orange is the sky before dusk, dragon flames, squirrels on mugs of hot chocolate, pumpkins, and homemade soup. Black is the colour of the sky behind a full moon, Raven cat, and dark gemstones.

Orange and Black - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then it’s leaves – every shade of russet and bronze, red, brown, yellow, olive, crimson, scarlet, and copper. As the tree turns passion burns…
I become a squirrel hunting for conkers, acorns, chestnuts, and acorn cups.

Leaves - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My jewellery box opens with autumn gems and jewelsAmber glows like fire, Trollbead bracelets glimmer with stones and glass, and smoky quartz smoulders. Rose gold, copper, and bronze brighten the crisp mornings, and berries glisten like jewels in the garden. Gems of fire like citrine, amber, quartz, and petrified wood glow with autumn passion, and squirrels and foxes accompany me out.

Gems and Jewels - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

And then we’re out and about – with woollies and jumpers on dog walks. I’ll be back in my long, black Docs stopping off for hot chocolate and woodland picnics. Home in time for a good book, cuddled up on the sofa, and ready for midnight jaunts to stare up at the stars…

Out and About - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

How do you spend autumn?

🦇🎃 Happy Halloween! 🍁🖤

Monster Mash 2018 – Spellbound

She’d been an easy baby, sleeping through the night since birth, and an even easier child, generous, benevolent, sweet – even. But the teens! The Teens. She kicked, bit, fought, and battled her way through and there was no way I could just stand on the side-lines.

I sometimes got those looks parents despair of. The side-eyes, the wry smiles, frowns of judgment that sort of thing, but none of that bothered me. I’d had those all my life. And my teens hadn’t been a walk in the park either.

They hadn’t liked the nails in my ears, yep, I do mean nails, real ones, curved into a loop, or my Docs, or the leather. But I did and that’s what mattered.

I was a bit of a conundrum.

Ravel’s Bolero echoed through my headphones, and its crescendo would catch me closing my eyes to conduct an invisible orchestra as I sunk into oblivion of ecstasy. I helped old ladies and walked the neighbour’s dog, and no one in the suburbs knew quite how to take me.

I fell for the boy next door and giggled in his arms as he snapped a selfie and promptly uploaded it. The comments, none of them hidden, crushed me; and the photo – proof that I’d briefly been his – left me glaringly vulnerable despite my studs and tattoos. I fell and he was never going to catch me.

It was anger and retribution that issued forth my vengeance. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, but if you mix anger and humiliation, and candles and chalk shapes, and incantations you summon up something, or someone, quite explosive.

I don’t think I actually meant it either, invoking blood and guts and gore wasn’t really my thing. The flames of hell enveloped him and that photo of us became the least of his concerns. There were more photos, but they were of incineration and loss. His house had a wiring fault, but there might have been more to it.

I, however, gave and lost myself within the strong demonic arms I’d conjured of fire and hell and passion…

Then one day with eyes tightly closed whilst adrift with Jupiter resounding inside my head, my hands holding earphones tight, I collided.

They welcomed me into the hereafter with open arms – dying amid the swelling bars of Holst was an honourable way to go – and it was only there that my condition became apparent.

You thought there were no babies in heaven? Wrong – where else would the idea of cherubs come from?

Like I said, she’d been an easy baby, a cute toddler, and an adorable child. But when her downy white juvenile feathers dropped, no one had been prepared for what sprouted in their place. At first the little nubs, barely visible on her forehead, looked endearing – and maybe they’d hold her crooked halo a little more securely.

Her wings though, gave it away; black as the night and as dark as her soul. No feathers but sleek leather like a dragon or a bat. Puberty can be a tough time for angels.

spellbound - monster mash 2018

© Lisa Shambrook and Bekah Shambrook

Spellbound is a Halloween tale written for Laura, Cara, and Ruth‘s Monster Mash 2018. Check out the other dark stories in the links on GetWordy‘s blog. You won’t be sorry, spooked, but not sorry!

monster-mash-2018

Beneath the Old Oak – A tale of Courage and Growth

Beneath the Old Oak is a story that brings forth a young girl’s courage
and helps her grow through tragedy like a tiny acorn turns into a majestic oak.

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

Meg’s mother is having a breakdown, and Meg can’t cope.
Seeking to escape bullies and overwhelming anxiety,
she discovers an old oak tree whose revelations begin to change her life.

Beneath the Old Oak is released through BHC Press on 16th October and is a novel that will completely captivate you.

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

“A brave book that tackles serious issues for a younger audience in a mature and sensitive way.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

“I was awake until about 1am reading this one. I could have put it down anytime, just didn’t want to.
This story leans heavily to the subject of depression. There are many of those on the kindle, few quite as believable, even less as credible. The family with a single child are wonderfully developed as they are deeply troubled.  A father who goes to work and his involvement limited in their troubled life, a mother slowly slipping away from all of them, and a young girl with too much weight on her shoulders left to clean up the mess.
…the oak tree becomes symbolic of the escape from harsh reality for both mother and child when there are so many issues that should be confronted, so many secrets that should be out in the open.
This is the kind of book I recommend people read regardless of what kind of genre you prefer. It’s one for everybody. Just read it.” —
Mr D. on Amazon

Beneath the Old Oak is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UK, Amazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, and other online outlets.

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak is the second book in the Surviving Hope novels, following Beneath the Rainbow already available, and once you’ve been charmed by Beneath the Old Oak you’ll be excited to read Beneath the Distant Star which releases on 11th December – and my publisher has offered a number of ARC copies of Beneath the Distant Star through LibraryThing. In exchange for an honest review you can read a prepublication copy of Beneath the Distant Star. Pop over, scroll down and request your copy now.

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Your Ideal Heaven – Your Choice…

I’ve been musing on the idea of heaven
and wondering what I’d like in the hereafter.
What would be your ideal version of heaven?

Your Ideal Heaven - Your Choice - The Last Krystallos

In J Edward Neill’s book 101 Questions for Humanity he asks: Set aside your existing belief system. Describe the afterlife as the way you want it to be.
And this is what I’m asking. If you had no current beliefs, and an afterlife was a valid possibility, how would you choose to live your forever?

In Beneath the Rainbow Freya is still a child when she passes over and finds herself in heaven. Very quickly she’s told that her heaven can be whatever she wants it to be. She’s in a place of limbo, somewhere to come to terms with the fact of death and take a figurative breath.

In this excerpt Freya finds out what she can do:

“These flowers, this garden, they’re all yours.”

“Mine?”

“Can’t you see the flowers aren’t normal? They’re all flowering together even though they shouldn’t be.”

She hadn’t noticed, but now she did. She remembered Mum’s grief when the bluebells finished and recalled how Mum always said it was sad when one season finished, but the next always brought another swathe of beauty with its own flowers. Mum loved every season, even the crunchy carpet of leaves in the autumn and winter’s snowdrops had her enthusing all over again.

Now Freya gazed across the clusters of flowers and understood, not only were the plants out of season, but each held a meaning for her.

Primroses, tiny lemon-yellow ones pushed up through the grass as she recalled how both she and her mum preferred plants that were natural and old-fashioned. As she watched primroses surface, their tough, wrinkled leaves unfurling and thin stalks revealing buds that quickly opened, her smile deepened. She raised her hands and grinned. “Watch this!” she commanded.

She swung her hands upwards like a conductor before his orchestra and loosed her mind. Bright orange geums burst forth, intermingled with bronze irises, more irises appeared, rising up through sword-like clumps of silver leaves, their buds unfurling to reveal huge silken flowers in an array of colours. Amongst these were black tulips, pink tulips and white tulips. Daisies the colour of butter cream, paeonies seemingly made of bowls of crinkled petals, gossamer-haired pulsatillas, pink, shaggy dianthus, the palest yellow daffodils, more roses and plum-coloured poppies.

Columbine and clematis climbed up into the trees and sweet peas twisted around trunks.

Foxgloves, verbena and sky-blue delphiniums grew tall, whilst snowdrops, cyclamen and delicate violas carpeted the woodland floor.

Jake kept his trademark grin as he sidestepped a patch of fuchsias, and avoided decapitation from a whippy willow branch, could you still get decapitated if you were already dead?

And Freya hadn’t finished adding sweet-smelling philadelphus, a wine-coloured magnolia and a Christmas tree.

“Any more?” asked Jake.

She folded her arms across her chest surveying her work. “Nope, I think that’s it…for now.” She nodded with a broad, satisfied smile that matched Jake’s and appraised her heaven. She nodded again. “It’s good.”

Freya’s heaven is made up of memories of flowers that she connects with her mother and happiness. She creates meadows and gardens of flowers, and oh, how I can relate!

When the bluebells finished... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

When I’ve given my book presentation to groups of readers, I’ve often asked this question; What would your heaven be?

The answers have been many and varied:

Somewhere with my horses and cats; eternal sleep; a tropical beach with lemonade fountain, pears and chips; anywhere my pets are; music studio; somewhere with all my friends and family; a cottage from the 1600’s with a kitchen with an art studio and my family, a pool and a theatre; a bookstore with a farmer’s market and a log cabin; a field of sunflowers and poppies and a never-ending day with my family and pets and fireworks; a garden with my family and friends and dogs and lots of water; two scantily clad men in a mineral water hot tub with coffee; my family, friends and all pets past and present, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sea, hills, mountains and valleys.”

Another heaven in Beneath the Rainbow is Alice’s and she conjures castles and clouds… so, what would you choose?

Castle on a Cloud...Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

I like to think that I’ll have a say in my heaven. Life is tough and my own upbringing has prepared me for an afterlife, but there are so many versions amongst many who believe. Some believe it will be full of duty and continuation of spiritual learning and work, others believe it will be a time to relax and enjoy reward. Some believe in an old fashioned heaven of angels and clouds, some in a life similar to earth with progression and growth. Many believe other ideas such as reincarnation, or becoming one with the earth’s life stream, or that this life is it, but just imagine you could choose…

Llanberris Pass Snowdonia - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

If life after death requires yet more conforming and duty, then right now I can do without it! I’m looking to escape into the hereafter with romance and nature and endless mountains and waterfalls… I plan Scottish mountains and lochs, Welsh valleys and autumn weather. Time and access with those I love and time to be creative, whether that’s spiritual, emotional, or even some kind of physical.

Oh, and I want dragons… There have to be dragons…

I don’t want what happens after death to be linear, I’m happy with time differences, travel, movement, and much more. I want to discover my full potential, something I doubt will happen in life.

Autumn Dragons in a sparkling sky by Lisa Shambrook

Autumn Dragons © Lisa Shambrook

So, if you had a choice and weren’t limited to your belief system,
what would you choose?

How would you choose to live your forever?

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Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealFreya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death.
Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

Beneath the Rainbow is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will completely enchant you.

“I highly recommend reading this touching and moving story of acceptance and unending love.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Rainbow is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UKAmazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and NobleWaterstonesGoogle PlayKoboiTunes, and other online outlets.

Narberth and Parlour Press Book Fairs

Find your new book and meet the authors – What could be better?

Book Fairs Narberth and Parlour Press

Over the next two Saturdays I’ll be at two different Book Fairs, and not only could you come and see me, but you’ll find a plethora of authors covering every genre you can think of, probably… We’re a lovely bunch and you’ll find some stellar books.

Narberth Book Fair - 22nd September - Queens Hall

Saturday 22nd September will find me at Narberth Book Fair at Queen’s Hall, Narberth. This fair started off in Tenby, founded by Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore, and has found a permanent home in Narberth, a beautiful and friendly Pembrokeshire village. Narberth is rich in history and has a lovely array of shops to find those perfect gifts, so make a day of it.

I’ve brought my books to Narberth Book Fair before and enjoy spending time with my fellow authors. So come along and see us. It’s an ideal time to find a new book, begin your Christmas shopping, or just chat and find out about what we write.

Parlour Press Book Fayre - 29th Sept - Porth Hotel, Llandysul

Saturday 29th September, the following week, and I’ll be at Parlour Press Book Fayre, a brand new fayre at the Porth Hotel in Llandysul. Cheryl Beer set up Parlour Press seventeen years ago and used her seeds of creativity to write her own healing books. The Porth Hotel is overlooking the  River Teifi so you’ll enjoy the view as you peruse our books.

I’ll be sharing a table with Thérésa Hedges-Webb, a friend of mine who’s a screenwriter, playwright, and author. We hope you’ll pop by and take a look at our books. Between us we’ll cover Young Adult, Fantasy, Post-apocalypse, Sci-fi, Vampires and much more!

Narberth and Llandeilo Book Fairs 2017-18

I will have an amazing special offer going on my original paperback versions of The Surviving Hope series then called The Hope Within Novels. You will be able to buy all three novels for just £10 that’s a discount of £9.97 on the RRP. These original covers are no longer available since the books are being rereleased with my new publisher, so it’s an ideal time to buy the whole set as originals, or simply buy the ones you’re missing to make a whole series.

L_Shambrook_The_Hope_Within_Novels

You’ll find no shortage of great books no matter what genre you like.
There’ll be something for everyone.

So, come and see us at these book fairs, and come and talk to me about dragons!
See you there!

Symphony Sale July 2018

Black Water – Mid-week Flash Challenge

Sunbeams glanced through the pines in a ricochet of dancing light across broken roof slate, and the wind wandered aimlessly exhausted amid the boggy heat.

Lance and Scarlett had fallen for the property, literally, upon first sight. Scarlett’s fingers had shaken as she clutched the details in her sweaty palm, and Lance had visions of renovation and luxury whirling through his head. It had been the easiest sale, and they hadn’t even gone to see the house in person.

The Estate Agent had watched the couple leave her office and finally let out a shaky breath. Shivers tingled as she tried to forget the day she and a colleague had visited the long abandoned property to take pictures. It was done, sold, out of her hands.

Fixing the place up would be a long and expensive job, but Lance couldn’t wait to get his hands dirty and his creative mind busy. This was their dream.

The woodland could be curbed, the tangle of brambles and bush, trained, and the pond turned into something truly beautiful. The house, the original stone actually made Lance’s heart somersault, would be lovingly rendered and he’d already made investigations to roofing companies to find the closest match to the tiles. The photo on the page was enticing, but the finished images in his head completely bewitched him.

Scarlett grasped his hand as they fought through the undergrowth, following the wall beside the overgrown driveway. Excitement was palpable as the tip of the gables and the tiny attic window came into view. Lance squeezed Scarlett’s hand and let go as they began to hack at the brambles, already brown in late autumn’s warmth.

Scarlett took a moment to shove a long stick into the still green water and swirl it around. “It’s not deep,” she said as her stick bumped into whatever constituted the pond bed. “Probably deeper in the middle…”

Lance grinned and wiped the sweat from his brow. “C’mon!” The concrete yard was much clearer of debris and they stood in front of the house. “After years of no care and attention, this place is finally going to get the love it deserves!”

Scarlett pulled her shirt away from her clammy skin and leaned up to kiss his cheek. “So much love!”

“Let’s explore. This place has so much history, and we know nothing of it!” Lance could barely hold himself back and took Scarlett’s hand again. They crossed the threshold together, staring up into the dark, damp house with joyous anticipation. “Let’s discover its secrets!”

The wooden stairs creaked and strained, roof tiles shivered, and timbers itched with stories to tell. Floorboards, rotting and splintered, with deep holes leading to dark cellars, urged each step. Up in the attic, a partition wall, built to conceal, shook as sunlight from the fragmented roof shone in touching cracks and tell-tale interior scratches.

Slates gripped battens and rafters, and cracked pitch and roofing felt hung in stiff curved capes, ready to crumble at the slightest touch. Weathered beams braced, and plaster, paint, and mildewed wallpaper trembled and curled as mysteries clung in sanguine stains like red wine.

Outside, humidity cleaved to the trees, draping them in beads of perspiration and heavy sighs. The heat hung like a cloak and the blanket of algae swathing the pond sat in undisturbed silence, hiding its treasure beneath a mantle of green.

The house and its grounds whispered, telling secrets, not least its latest, as the Estate Agent’s colleague lay trussed and knotted beneath the calm shroud of black water and green weed.

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Feeling emotional today so this was cathartic… Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and a photo taken by Flemming Beier, a Danish Photographer, click his name to see the picture this story was inspired by.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Loving Boots – Wearing and Caring for Dr Martens

‘I’m from long flowing skirts and Dr Martens,
swishing and clumping down the street…
…I’m from kicking through leaves, golden, red, russet, and brown,
and splashing through puddles, letting the joy of life infuse me.’

Loving Boots – Wearing and Caring for Dr Martens – thelastkrystallos
You can find more about who I am on my blog’s About Me, but these things are intrinsic to my soul and boots have always been part of my life – from my very first pair of Dolcis grey suede pixie boots way back in the eighties, to Feud, and Fly, and Hotter, and Docs… I don’t generally do heels, and I live in boots pretty much all twelve months of the year, bar a few hot summer weeks!

Docs are the perfect boots for artists and creative typesthere are so many customised docs out there, from Dr Martens and from artists – perhaps that’s why they resonate with me so much. I love switching laces and ribbons, and they look great with anything, jeans, tulle, long skirts, short skirts, lace, anything. They are the basis of my wardrobe!

Arcadia 1460 Cherry Red Docs and Burgundy tulle Feb 2018

Arcadia 1460 Cherry Red © Lisa Shambrook

Last Christmas I got Arcadia 1460 in Cherry Red, and red ribbons and burgundy tulle just worked! When winter closes in I’ll be back in my 1420 black boots, 20 eye long boots (currently unavailable at Dr Martens), which see me through the rain and snow! And next on my list will be 1490’s, or 1914, or 1B99 Virginia… how will I choose?

Recently, I bought JMW Turner ‘Fishermen At Sea’ 1460 Cristal Suede Dr Martens, inspired by Turner and his paintings found at the Tate gallery (also currently not available in store). I adore being able to wear art on my feet!

JMW Turner 1460 Dr Martens Fishermen at sea - Aug 2018

JMW Turner 1460 Dr Martens ‘Fishermen at sea’ © Lisa Shambrook

As a rule, docs need wearing in, and I suggest investing in preventative blister plasters as you do so, but in a few weeks you will be wearing the most comfortable boots ever! And my Turner Cristal Suede boots were so soft they needed no wearing in at all.

I was surprised when I read the reviews that several people had returned their Turner boots due to the crackle leather wearing. First off, Cristal Suede is designed to become distressed and peel a little on first use to reveal the base contrasting colour. Secondly, they only shed a tiny amount of paint and you can easily protect the boots.

I bought, as advised, when I contacted Dr Martens for care instructions, Crep Protect, a hydrophobic protection spray. Two coats and any liquid rolls right off the leather.

Dr Martens uses crackle leather (Cristal Suede) on several boot designs – I really want ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ Joy Division 1460’s – and knowing how to keep them well looked after is imperative to enjoying your boots.

1420 Dr Martens Long Boots Lisa's Docs October 2016

1420 Dr Martens © Lisa Shambrook

Though expensive, these boots are tough, long lasting, and can be repaired when necessary. My daughter is a cobbler, and when my DM soles came away she was quick to point out it wasn’t Dr Martens fault, my car heater was to blame – a common problem with aiming the heat at your feet throughout winter – it can melt away the glue that holds the sole to the boot or shoe. I was glad my beloved docs could be resoled; however, I’ll be keeping direct heat off my feet during cold winters!

1420 Boots - Arcadia 1460 - JMWTurner 1460 Dr Martens

1420 Boots – Arcadia 1460 – JMWTurner 1460 © Lisa Shambrook

I often give my characters Dr Martens – Jasmine in Beneath the Distant Star (release date 11th December 2018) wears Cherry Red docs, and Loren also wears Dr Martens in The Seren Stone Chronicles, currently being written… They’re going to be my boot of choice for a very long time!

Look after your docs and they’ll look after you…

So, Dm’s are my mainstay and I love them.
What are your favourite boots?

The Inevitability of Death – How Do You Cope?

I have an interesting relationship with death.
It doesn’t frighten or worry me and sometimes I look forward to embracing it.

The Inevitability of Death – How Do You Cope

I’m often told my lack of fear is due to my belief in life after death, and it may be, I can’t see it without that option. Living this life, to me, makes no sense if there’s nothing else before or after it. This life is tough and often unrewarding, though it has its moments and times of great joy, but we slog day after day doing the same things ad infinitum – so my heart and soul needs something more to come afterwards!

Many have a belief stemming from religion, but that’s not what this post is about. If life after death requires yet more conforming and duty, then right now I can do without it! I’m looking to escape into the hereafter with romance and nature and endless mountains and waterfalls… Freya chooses her own heaven in Beneath the Rainbowbut, I digress.

I’ve known death, from losing beloved pets, to relations and friends, to staring it in the face myself at my own potential hand. Death has broken me, interested me, and fascinated me.

I suppose it was inevitable that my first published work would include it. In fact, it ended up being integral to Freya’s story in Beneath the Rainbow. The very first line in the book begins with her death. Don’t think it’s blasé, it’s not. It’s devastating, but ultimately inspiring and healing.

When the bluebells finished... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

When I first wrote this book, the only deaths I’d known were grandparents, I was sad, but none of us had been that close. Losing my first cat was distressing in a totally different way and it broke my heart, and losing a pregnancy was utterly soul destroying. However, readers wrote to me asking how I’d known their pain, and how had I managed to get it onto paper in such a poignant and soulful way? Writers have an innate sense of empathy – and additional magic.

It is a beautiful thing to be told that you’ve helped someone’s healing. Since then I’ve lost my own mother to Alzheimer’s and then to death. That’s a story in itself. Alzheimer’s steals someone from you in increments, and when they die it is often a relief. I grieved my mother many years before death took her. Yet, I’ve been advised by many to get grief counselling, and I may still need to do that.

Rhapsody in Blue Rose - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Death is at odds with life, there will be no escaping it. I watched Grayson Perry’s Rites of Passage (on Channel 4) opening episode about death and how different cultures deal with it and I was taken by its openness, honesty, and authenticity. He visited a people in a culture who kept their loved ones in a separate room for over a year, often visited and mourned, and loved, during that time, but funerals didn’t happen until they were ready and prepared to let the loved one leave. He then spent time with a family who’d lost their son and kept a shrine and an untouched bedroom for him and another couple where the husband was dying from motor-neurone disease.

It was the final couple that intrigued me most. They had a living funeral, where all his family and friends came together to share memories and stories, and to leave physical memories in a memory jar, created by the artist Grayson, to be enjoyed by Roch before he passed away. It was beautiful and tearful.

I’m very interested in other peoples’ views of death, death itself, and how we deal with it… In Beneath the Rainbow Freya watches her family crumble after her demise and is desperate to be with them. It takes her mother discovering secrets Freya left behind before she can begin to cope with her grief and begin to heal. Freya then encounters someone else near to the end of their life and does everything she can to help him achieve his last wishes.

Room full of angels... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

How do you deal with death? My own feelings are very strong surrounding my own wishes for what happens when I die. I don’t want a funeral service, I can’t bear the thought of people who barely talk to me or share my life to gather and mourn me at a service where I’m nothing more than a memory and hymns. I want something quiet and family based with real memories and emotions, at a place where my ashes can be scattered where I loved life. I want Audiomachine’s Rebirth from Tree of Life playing on a device on a mountain top with my family laughing, crying, and remembering me!

Death can be devastating, scary, heartbreaking, relief, inspiring, and beautiful… and many more emotions. How does it affect you?

What are your thoughts? How do you want to be remembered?
Or is it something that never enters your mind?

Does death worry you or is it just a fact of life?

Dried Dead Leaf - The last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealBeneath the Rainbow is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will completely enchant you.

Freya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death.
Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

“I highly recommend reading this touching and moving story of acceptance and unending love.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Rainbow is available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UKAmazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and NobleWaterstonesGoogle PlayKoboiTunes, and other online outlets.

Drained. Empty. Done. – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

RadioArts Cadena de AmoreDrained. Empty. Done.

That’s how I felt. Life had sucked me in and spat me back out, drained, empty, and done.

There was nothing left and nowhere to go, and I’d dropped to the ground with a whirlwind of emotion spiralling through my mind about an hour ago. Rage, disappointment, and anxiety had flooded my body, and I’d ridden the waves until they crushed me.

Now I sat in the dirt, my arms tight about my knees, rivulets of mascara smudging my cheeks, and a runny nose glistening atop my lip.

I threw my head back and stared up at the sky. Grey clouds rolled and mists closed in and I relished the pathetic fallacy. Mournful moors and lonely mountains spread before me and I howled. I bawled and let the tears flow afresh like a waterfall tipping over the edge of a precipice.

I felt better as the tears dripped off my chin and down my collar bone, sliding into my cleavage. I cried more, letting the liberty of anguish relinquish my anger. I shook with sobs, my breast rising and falling against the black swathes of chiffon. Guttural and organic, my cries echoed and spilled right out of me and into the gathering fog.

“Damn you!” I cursed with abandon and wiped my nose the length of my forearm. I was ugly crying now, but I didn’t care. I was far enough away to shout and swear at the drawing night without concern, and my blubbing continued relentlessly.

Finally my body was done – drained, empty, done.

I sniffed and wept, but there was nothing more to give.

I opened puffy eyes and blinked, wiped my nose again and cleaned my arm with an inconspicuous piece of chiffon, before dropping both hands to the ground and leaning back. I really was alone up here, completely alone. I took a moment to compose myself. Wiping my wet eyes with my fingers and smudging away the lines of black mascara with my thumbs.

I sighed, my body catching with every breath as the sigh escalated then I breathed out. A few more and calmness overtook my torment. Images of betrayal, of a cheeky grin, a guilty grin – my lip curled, but I lifted my hands and lowered them in a palliative movement.

I remembered my agony, up here beneath the glowering sky, and smiled with wry embarrassment. He was not worth those tears, that grief, and exhausted I let my head sink again to my knees. I stroked my leg, soft and smooth and worth more than him. In a gesture of acquiescence I lifted my left hand and felt something weightless alight.

Very slowly I moved my head, peering from beneath my hair and saw a chaffinch, sitting, as unperturbed as my morning hairbrush, in my hand. I raised one eyebrow and he cocked his head. Grey and pink feathers ruffled in the breeze and his tiny feet tickled my palm. Was I Cinderella? Would he speak?

I held my breath and he stared at me, his black eye glistening. He warbled something deep within his throat, but I didn’t understand. Then he zig zagged through the misty air ‘til he was gone. Then I understood.

I sniffed again, pulled out my reticule, and checked my face. Fresh mountain air would take away my puffy eyes and a quick wipe corrected the stains on my cheeks. A brush of powder, a sweep of eyeshadow, and a stroke of eyeliner was all it took. I got to my feet and shook out my dress, clouds of dark chiffon billowing like the cumulus above.

He wasn’t the only man at the party, and I’d spied a bloke in a grey suit and a pink shirt on my way out… I shook my head. I wasn’t done, after all.

0000. Divider

Inspired to write for this photo literally just as it presents itself… for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and a digitally manipulated photo from RadioArts, this one is called Cadena de Amor.  You can find him on Deviant Art.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.