Ten Places I Found Joy This Winter

The cold months hold some real treasures –
here’s how and where I found joy this winter…

Ten Places I Found Joy This Winter - The Last Krystallos

It doesn’t matter what the weather, I spied a meadow through a gate swathed in fog and it made the most beautiful picture. The Elan Valley was cold and crisp when Bekah and I visited and the walk was stunning. A simple dog walk through local roads and fields conjure up joy especially when you’re wrapped up warm. The girls and I went up to Brechfa Forest to do a photoshoot for Cait’s art, the mist and rain offered a haunting vista through the woods.

Misty Meadow - Pen y Bont Elan Valley - Local Dog Walking - Brechfa Forest - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Vince and I escaped to London for a weekend, it rained, but The Phantom of The Opera made it memorable along with the sights and sounds of the city. Seeing the Shard disappear up into fog was beautiful. The seagulls perching atop George IV’s head and horse in Trafalgar Square were highly amusing as the statue itself had anti-bird spikes about the plinth, didn’t bother the birds, George’s head will do just fine!

Lisa and Vince Tower Bridge - Shard City of London - George IV Trafalgar Sq - Phantom of the Opera - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I mentioned being wrapped up warm. Winter is cold, and my Scottish fingerless gloves were invaluable during the cold. My Stargazer pyjamas, I don’t think I’ve ever owned nightwear up ‘til now, but I love these! My grey scarf was a must this season, and I got Dr Martens, Cherry Red Arcadia for Christmas and matched them up with this cute burgundy tulle skirt to feel especially good!

Scottish Gloves - Stargazer - Grey Scarf - Cherry Red Arcadia Dr Martens - Burgundy Tulle - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Those fingerless gloves helped keep my fingers typing during my edits, even if Raven wanted attention instead. Writing and reading brings me great joy and tapping away at the keyboard during winter months is one of my favourite things. I redrew my maps and sketched for my new work in progress The Seren Stone.

Raven interrupting edits - research - A Symphony of Dragons - Maps and Edits - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The best thing is getting out in the cold is for a Hot Chocolate and weekdays means my kids joining me at Pethau Da in Carmarthen.

Pethau Da Hot Chocolate - Bekah and Lisa, Dan, Cait and Lisa

© Lisa Shambrook

The other thing I spent a lot of winter doing was painting, some are secret projects, but I treated myself to some gorgeous art this Christmas from Tahina Morrison and J Edward Neill’s Hither The Wind and Amanda Makepeace’s Winter Raven. My children bought Vince and I the best anniversary gift with a print of the constellations on our wedding day. The stars are my thing!

Art - Hither the Wind - Winter Raven - Constellations - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Crystals and stars are my happy place. Peridot gems have been part of my research for The Seren Stone Chronicles, as are both smoky and clear quartz, I’ve been learning much about crystal therapy and using stones within my writing. The bracelet brought me great joy when Vince bought the Trollbead Wishful Sky set. It came along with one of my favourite quotes: I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the dark…

Peridot - Smoky Quartz - Clear Quartz - Trollbeads - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Our pets give us huge joy, Roxy will flip to her back and ask for a belly rub which just melts us, Raven curls up and purrs like a motorbike, and Misty had us all in hysterics when I took my new Docs out their box and she jumped in. When I tried to reclaim the box you can clearly see her warning to just walk away…

Roxy - Raven - Misty - Roxy - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then nature gives us the most spectacular displays. In December we had a Super Blue Blood Moon and as it shone over the River Towy, I stood totally entranced. It snowed, briefly in Carmarthen, but much more the country over, and just crunching in the little snow we had brought me joy! Snowdrops have just begun to nod their stunning heads, and chasing rainbows has always brought glorious moments.

Super Blue Blood Moon River Towy - Rainbow - Snow - Snowdrops - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Lastly, there are moments of joy in unexpected places. Discovering baby reindeer in town at Christmas, finding Jack Frost’s handiwork on your car windscreen when you get up, holding a baby dragon in an acorn cup… and the beauty in things that aren’t always beautiful, the rainbows of colour in an oil spill on the pavement.

Reindeer - Jack Frost - Baby Dragon - Oil Rainbow - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

These are the things I notice,
simple and, sometimes, small things that bring me great joy.

Loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night - Sarah Williams - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Where did you find joy this winter?  


The Memory Game – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

They said I’d never amount to anything, but what did they know?

They’re all dead now.

But, truth be told, they all helped. They helped me amount.

I amounted, is that a word? I don’t care, I amounted. I amounted to this.

Mother helped first. You’ll find her in the lavender bottle, father’s in the swirling beige decanter. Mrs Barnes lived next door. She hated me, but she’s in the blue jar.

There are more, many more, each one better than the one before. It’s okay though, they were old, most of them. It’s better when they’re old. They’d lived long, interesting lives. It’s fascinating how interesting peoples’ lives really are, even when they think they’re not.

Take Grandpa, he’s in the bottle stained green, Army green. His life in the services was paramount to my success.

Just in case you’re worried by my use of words, they aren’t really in the jars, or bottles. Not really. They’re dead and buried, all good and proper. They died of old age. No story there.

Old Mr Thompson, a real gentleman, but one who wooed many young flirty things, and Mrs Crane, she had some stories I can tell you! Ms Haines lived a riotous life during the swinging sixties. Bob, I’ll use his first name, he’s special to me, a real treasure, he’s a deep burgundy, wine red, churning like hell itself. He helped. He’s one of my most popular. And Mr Bartlett, oh, yes, we have the dreamer. Hatchet, he lived in the Amazon, not the bookshop, the warehouse, the real thing! Sandy, lived up to her name.

You’re wondering now, aren’t you? How did they help me?

I wasn’t much – they told me I wasn’t much. Even when Dad gave me that chemistry set when I was eleven, he laughed and told me not to burn down the house. I didn’t.

I wasn’t much at school that I’ll admit, but when you have Google, and the world at your fingertips, you can amount to much more than people tell you you will. Chemistry, bio-chemistry, neuroscience, electronics, astrophysics, and a little dabble at alchemy of a sort. You’d be surprised what you can learn online. I wasn’t an Emo locked in my room contemplating suicide *insert mwahahaha laugh here* I was learning. I was amounting.

Mother showed an interest, the first of her negligent motherhood, so I showed her everything. I think she was worried about the number of packages arriving from Amazon, the online store this time not the jungle, and that sparked her interest, or maybe it was concern. She was great! She wasn’t well, anyway. So, timing was imperative. She helped me learn.

So, now I’m renowned. I don’t think how I became renowned is really the issue. Nobody cares anymore. They only care that I amounted, and because I did I can help them. I can offer them, and you, a service that no one else can.

After patenting the process I amounted to so much I now own businesses, governments, clients, and the entire entertainment industry. People rely on me.

You know when life gets too much? When you’re so stressed out you don’t know what to do. You can’t cope, anxiety creeps in, panic rises, and you need something? It used to be weed, Ritalin, coke, the little blue pill, brown sugar, a little bit of skunk, a tab, acid or liquid gold, the Halcyon days. Now – it’s me.

I can give you anything, whatever you want. I can help you escape for however long you wish, wherever you wish, doing whatever you wish.

I’m in the memory game.  I am the memory game.

Whatever memory you want to experience, I have it. I only take from the dead. I have clients queueing up to donate to me on their way out of this life, hoping they’ll live forever in someone else’s mind. That their memory will be your favourite, that their moment standing on the beach, waves lapping at their ankles, cotton clouds wafting by will be your chosen moment of calm.

So, tell me, what do you want to experience? Love, sex, peace, war, I have it all. What are you buying?

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Amazing picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge from Mikhail Batrak, check out his art, it’s gorgeous!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Belonging, Being a Loner, and Finding your Tribe

I’m a loner. I’m not alone, I’m not lonely – just a loner.
But when I find my people, I am one with them and of them.

Belonging, Being a Loner, and Finding your Tribe - The Last Krystallos

I’ve always wanted to belong. I ache to belong, to find my place. Outside of my family, this has been so difficult. In Real Life, except for inside my own four walls, I’ve never felt I belonged anywhere. For a long time, for many years this saddened me. I spent my early adult years longing for an attachment outside of my family and this yearning crushed me.

An introvert by nature with severe social anxiety meant close friends would always be hard to find and maintain. I held back, fearful of pushing myself where I wasn’t wanted, or of people leaving. I developed the skills of being a loner. I knew I could always trust myself, so my own company became comfortable, along with the close companionship of my husband and children. The only place I belonged was with them.

I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists. One where my heart is full. My body loved. And my soul understood - Melissa Cox - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I used to be lonely in real life, but I lost myself in writing, in creating worlds and characters, and with each word, line by line, chapter by chapter, I became a fulfilled loner. I value my time alone, as much as I adore my time out with my family. I relish time to sit and be me, as much as I love sitting in a coffee shop with one of my children. I jealously guard my own time.

But this doesn’t mean I’m antisocial, or adverse to friendships. In real life I have, maybe three people, outside my own family, who I feel I could go for a hot chocolate with and chat when I need to. And this is okay, because the pressure to physically socialise doesn’t weigh me down. I can still develop real life friendships.

Heathens - Twenty Øne PilØts - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I often hear that technology has ruined communication, or made us lazy, or stopped us from developing relationships. You’ll never find me blaming tech when it has exponentially enhanced my life in so many ways! As a loner with social anxiety I avoid social events and activities as much as I can. Tech doesn’t change that. That’s who I am. If I was a gregarious extrovert, I might be out partying, but I’m not, so, much of my social life is technological. I socialise online.

People talk with frowns of teens being glued to their phones and not getting out and enjoying themselves. Have you ever stopped to discover that the extroverts are still actually out having fun in person with their friends – they never stopped doing that – and the introverts with their noses stuck to their phones are also conversing, messaging, laughing, and sharing and having fun with their friends? Some love to go out and watch a movie with mates then go for a drink afterwards. Others are watching movies in sync on Netflix with their friends in other countries or towns then chatting about it after in the comfort of their own homes. We are perhaps, via tech, the most sociable and informed society ever!

I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be, but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see - Douglas Pagels - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I discovered my people on social media. My friends, my tribe, are right there at my fingertips whenever I need them. They span my own country, they live in Wales, England, Scotland, and Ireland, and they live further afield – in the US, Canada, Australia, Israel, Europe, and in many other places. They are moments away from me when I need a virtual hug (I get plenty of real ones at home), advice, laughter, news, deep conversation, superficial conversation, and best of all – love.

They love me for who I am, I don’t need to fit into their schedule, we don’t need to answer private messages immediately, tech offers us relationships with people we’d never have discovered at home without it.

Social media is not perfect, but it helped me belong. It helped this loner discover a plethora of like-minded people, of people with differences, people who disagree with me but love me anyway, people who have time for me. I know some of these people in real life, some I will never meet, but they all have a place in my heart. And I am never lonely.

true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world - Brene Brown - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you belong?
Are you happy with your place in life and who you are?

World Book Day 2018 – A Symphony of Words…

Leave the winter weather at your door, put your feet up,
make a coffee, get yourself comfortable, and grab a great book…
World Book Day 2018 – What are you reading?

Put up your feet, get comfortable, and grab a good Book. Advert for World Book Day 2018 - The Last Krystallos

If you adore dragons and an eclectic choice of stories my latest release: A Symphony of Dragons contains seven stories that are linked through the theme of dragons.

Soar on dragon wings within a collection of fantasy, contemporary, romance, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic tales composed with the gossamer threads of dragon fire.

open book A Symphony of Dragons, labradorite gem stone, crystals, and dragons. A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

You’ll find yourself lost amid a lyrical quartet of seasons as you discover the dragons that bring you Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Read a short steampunk tale of magic and love potions… My sweet, icy romance (also found in A Winter’s Romance and too good to leave out of my own book!). A beautiful conclusion to my Surviving Hope novels, find out what happened to Freya, Meg, and Jasmine. Witness the passion of dragons as they twist and soar through a glittered sky. My longest story (also found in Cutthroat and Curses) will entrance you with steampunk pirates raiding to save their lives, and the last post-apocalyptic tale will introduce you to The Seren Stone Chronicles and a whole new future…and you will find dragons in every tale.

An excerpt of Autumn Flame from A Symphony of Seasons in A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

You can buy A Symphony of Dragons, featuring my own cover art, in eBook or paperback at most online stores. Find buy links on my website. You can also buy a signed paperback (at a discount price) in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.

A lyrical collection of 7 stories featuring enchanting worlds of fantasy, contemporary fiction, romance, steampunk, and more. Let the song of Dragons lead you in A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

So, on World Book Day, what are you reading? 

And…whatever you are reading, please leave a book review on Goodreads,
or your blog, or Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever you bought the book.
Post a cover photo, a selfie of you reading it, or a favourite paragraph on Instagram
Tell everyone about it.
Authors will love you forever and continue writing amazing stories
for you to read and lose yourself in!

How to Conquer Overwhelming Control Issues in Your Life

Taking control, being in charge, lacking trust…
How do you find freedom and relinquish control?

Picture of a locked castle door for the How to Conquer Overwhelming Control Issues in Your Life - The Last Krystallos blog post
Over the years I’ve struggled greatly with control issues. I was anorexic during my teens. Not excessively, but enough to control my weight and keep it low, bordering on an unhealthy level. I felt food was the only thing I had control over in my childhood, and being a perceived fussy eater or anorexic meant I had control. Once I had children the anorexia faded, there were many other things that my mind forced me to control instead.

Severe anxiety, panic, and depression as a teen fed into feelings of helplessness, which expanded into adulthood. It took a long time to understand my own mind, and I’m not there yet! But I do appreciate where my mind has taken me and I understand much more about overcoming the compulsions my mind feeds me.

Dr Martens boots and the image of a woman with elbows on her knees showing anxiety

© Lisa Shambrook

What are and what causes control issues?
Trauma and/or abuse can trigger them. Anything that causes a lack of trust, any betrayal or fear. These emotions can trigger fear, damaged self-esteem, perfectionism, acute sensitivity, feelings of abandonment, panic, anxiety, and feelings of low self-worth. An addictive personality could result in coping with control issues through alcoholism, drug use, and other self-damaging actions.

Are you a control freak?
Do you seek to control others? Do you try to limit others freedom to ‘keep them safe’? Do you have rituals and rules you need to follow? Do you often offer unsolicited advice? Is it hard to admit that you’re wrong, or relinquish control of a situation? Do you need to ‘take over’ or be ‘in charge’ in a given situation? Do you feel you can’t trust anyone else to arrange events without your help? Does giving up control cause you anxiety or panic? Do you micromanage everything in your life? Do you over analyse?

If you answered yes to several of these, you may have control issues.

Control issues which result in curtailing others’ freedom can lead to bullying, gaslighting and very unhealthy relationships and you should seek help before anyone else is affected. Domestic abuse is often a result of unhealthy levels of control, and if violence – physical or emotional – is present from either partner help must be sought.

If you find you are micromanaging your family, becoming too overprotective, or becoming increasingly critical, it is time to search for answers and help.

a fairy trapped within a cage

© Lisa Shambrook

Many of us have personal level issues and the only people we hurt are ourselves. This can lead to self-harm, addictions, and OCD. I have never been OCD, those that truly suffer Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have a very serious condition that does not lend itself to the societal mocking it’s often given. I used to think I had OCD tendencies, but if people really understand the condition no one would ever joke about it or take it lightly. I have control issues, which can be part of OCD, but is its own problem.

My own control issues have surfaced as harsh levels of personal control. I have self-harmed, felt immense guilt, and judged myself. Like with my anorexia, I put limits on myself, hurt myself, and throttled my own self-esteem. It’s difficult to turn around from self-destructive behaviour, but that’s one thing I’ve been working on for many years. I have seen changes.

closed rusty doors in a brick wall

© Lisa Shambrook

When I was a young mum, I would limit my own happiness, being sure I didn’t feel happy unless the rest of my family were happy and well-looked after first. I refused to replace my own broken shoes until everyone else had new shoes first. I would let my own food get cold while everyone else ate straight away. I wouldn’t allow myself to do fun things while my husband was at work, because I wasn’t out working myself. I permitted myself to feel guilt but not contentment.

At thirty-three years old after a sexual assault I sought help. I’d spent my childhood being the ‘good child’, being ultra-aware of my family’s emotions, feeling responsible for my parents’, especially mum’s, happiness, and putting myself last. I went into my first relationships with the same issues, and didn’t learn how to put myself first until I went into therapy with a sexual health therapist in my thirties. I switched, but it took a good decade before I was able to put my control issues into a box and close the lid.

moss trapped within a glass sphere as a necklace

© Lisa Shambrook

How do you overcome control issues?
I have spent the last few years relinquishing control. It’s been good. As my children reached their teens I learned to step back, to allow them space. It was horrendous in my head, but both revealing and essential to them. My children have a strong sense of self and their worth, and are adults with healthy confidence and lives.

Sometimes my issues seem foolish. For instance my mind often told me that I could choose one thing and once chosen I had to stick to it. Change was something I struggled with. I laughed this week as I spoke to my daughter about the hot chocolate I drank at home. I recently switched from dairy to plant based and embraced almond milk on my cereal and in everything that needed milk. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was my hot chocolate. I make homemade hot chocolate, and almond milk wasn’t working. Bekah told me to switch to soya milk for it. My mind told me I’d chosen almond milk, why on earth did I need a change? Yep, this is my mind… I bit the bullet and bought soya milk. I had a carton of both almond and soya milk in the fridge. It felt decadent – and wrong. Lol. Anyway, I am sticking with both. My hot chocolate tastes so good with soya, but my cereal better with almond! I let go.

the scree and sides of Cader Idris mountain

© Lisa Shambrook

Letting go is the answer.
have learned the art of Surrender. I am learning it. Control is rooted in fear. Surrendering, or letting go, is allowing yourself to release or confront your fear. Don’t worry about what will be – Que sera, sera… Accept what is and what will be, deal with outcomes as they happen, and let yourself relinquish control.

I am letting my husband completely organise a trip away for the two of us. Ten years ago I would have needed to be involved in every decision, every booking, every tiny thing. I would have micromanaged the whole thing. Right now, I am for the first time, enjoying going with the flow, throwing in my ideas, my desires, but allowing someone else to make the decisions, plan the trip, and take me away. It’s liberating!

The other week I wrote about letting go It’s the best thing to do!

You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway  –
Steve Maraboli

How do you deal with control issues? Can you let go?  

Snow Feathers…

I adore watching cotton-wool snowflakes drop from the sky,
coating the land in white and trees in icing sugar frosting.

Snow Feathers title for The Last Krystallos blog post

It’s been snowing, just a bit…

Where I live in West Wales it doesn’t snow as much as other parts of Wales, but when it does I love it.

I came across this post on Twitter and thought it was beautiful! I love the Welsh language, I sadly, don’t speak much of it, but I love its lyrical prose and beauty.

Snow Feathers… such a gorgeous way to describe snowfall…

Frost swirls like feathers and a small white feather - the last krystallos blogpost

© Lisa Shambrook

It matched beautifully with a scene in my book Beneath the Rainbow:

(Freya has passed away – not a spoiler it happens in the first sentence of the novel – and her little sister Jasmine, and her best friend Meg, and Meg’s friend Steph, are visiting Freya’s neighbours Daisy and Donald. Donald, playing a joke on the girls, throws a bunch of white feathers out into the yard and they are excitedly trying to catch them…)

‘Daisy laughed as she stood in the doorway watching her husband and three little girls chasing feathers that whirled and danced around the yard. “You’ll never catch them!” she chuckled.

“Got one!” shouted Steph and punched her hand in the air to wave her white trophy. Daisy nodded and Steph presented it to her then raced off after another.

The wind played havoc, lifting the feathers and dropping them, and spinning them and spiralling them around the girls’ legs, happy with every squeal as a feather evaded the hand that grabbed at it. Hair flew about their faces and whipped up a little vortex in the centre of the patio. The delighted players converged and a rugby scrum formed as they created a barrier to keep the wind out.

Little hands snatched and they began to gather up the rogue feathers.

They’d collected most of them when the wind turned bitter and moments later the remaining white feathers were joined by huge, fat snowflakes.

The girls’ screamed with glee and the feathers were forgotten as they lifted their red faces up toward the sky.

Donald cradled an armful of feathers and took them inside then he stood by the door with his wife. “Little Freya should be among them now,” he said with a wry smile.

She nodded, both unaware of the unseen figure twirling alongside Jasmine, Meg and Steph.

Freya danced and frolicked in the snowfall, and dressed in white, decorated with a million tiny, silver snowflakes, and fur-lined, white boots, she was a sight they could not behold.

She moved as gracefully and as invisible as the wind, but she was there, dancing her heart out, face tilted trying to absorb the flakes that fell around her.

“I love snow!” shouted Steph.

“And me!” added Jasmine.

The three girls grabbed hands and began to dance in a circle. The snow began to lay and a circle of footprints emerged.

“Oh, would you look at them!” Olivia and Rachel appeared at the wall, summoned by the raucous noise, and gazed over into the yard.

“Mummy!” called Jasmine, “Look at me!”

Rachel nodded and grinned at the sight before her.

“Mummy,” Jasmine shouted again, “get Feya, it snowing!”

Rachel’s smile did not falter, but Olivia squeezed her shoulder.

Daisy and Donald shared a glance and sent a sympathetic smile across the wall.

“Mummy!” Jasmine jumped, delighted in the footprints she left, and she jumped again making her way towards the wall. “Mummy, look…feetpint.”

Olivia lifted her hands and gave a quick clap. “C’mon girls, you’re messing up the beautiful snow in the yard, come over this side and leave some fresh ‘feetprints’ over here!”

Jasmine rushed to say goodbye to her neighbours then jumped all the way to her own back door, with Steph and Meg following her little footprints.

They continued to enjoy the snow until their noses were red and cold and their fingers likewise, and then Olivia called them in to enjoy mugs of hot chocolate and biscuits.

Outside, Freya danced alone unaware of the cold, or the slush and squashed snowdrops at her feet.’

tiny snowflake beginning to melt

© Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about snow?

1. L_Shambrook_Beneath_the_Rainbow_AmazonBeneath the Rainbow

“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”

Freya won’t let anything stand in her way. Not even death. Freya’s family are left to fulfil her dreams, but as time runs out final yearned for wishes remain lost. Only Freya can help as precious life hangs in the balance.

From Dusk to Dawn – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-week Flash Challange-Emerald Depths-Danielle CliftonIt was never going to be easy, and I’d pondered long and hard, and now the choice literally stared me right in the face.

The wind whipped across the moor and I glanced back as its chill bit through my bones. Faces worn with years of decay, pain, and fear stared at me. Crippled bodies, like mine, bore the brunt of the bitter gale atop this mountain and waited.

I’d spent more than an hour staring through the portals, trying to decide. There was no hurry, the chase had ended and we were all that was left. A few hundred of us, lost, but surviving, just waiting now for salvation. And that salvation rested upon my own crooked shoulders.

The storm whistled through the valley and across the crags, and the sun dived behind clouds as the mist rose below us, shrouding the world. The time was now. I turned to face them, my back braced against the blustery wind.

“This is it. It’s all or nothing and this world won’t survive much longer. This is the only way.” I began, raising my voice as loud as I could against the squall. Hundreds of pairs of eyes never left my face as I spoke. I indicated the rear portal. “That one won’t work; look at the storm raging inside… And this one,” I swept my hand out. “is reaching its own twilight, its own dusk. We all know what happens next. So, it’s this one, at the front. Look! The sun still shines as if morning breaks. A new day, that’s what we need and that’s where we’re going.”

I stepped aside and motioned for those at the front to shuffle forward. Tired limbs brought them to the gate, to the portal, to a new life, and with only my words to trust they stepped through. I didn’t realise I was holding my breath until I watched their twisted frames straighten and breathe deep in the fresh air that wafted through the gate as they moved through. The queue moved, gaining momentum, until I was alone. I stood for a moment, staring through the threshold, sudden uncertainty overwhelming me. Then I took a deep breath and stepped though.

It was indeed the dawning of a new age.

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Another brilliantly evocative picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, this time from Emerald DepthsDanielle Clifton.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Blog Posting Schedule and News

My Blog Posting Schedule is changing this year.

Blog Posting Schedule and News title for The Last Krystallos blog

Right now, my mental health has been suffering and I’m drawing back for several reasons. To find more time for writingThe Seren Stone Chronicles are foremost in my mind, on paper and the keyboard… and to give myself space for recovery.

I want to fit in more Flash Fiction and writing exercises, these inspire me and keep my writing tight, and so I will be blogging articles on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month.

Star ornament with Tell a Beautiful Story written on it - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

You’ll find stories, and I’ll keep you up to date with gorgeous photos, nature, mental health awareness, dreams, positivity, and articles on writing, reading, and more cool stuff!

cushion with Retreat written on it on The Last Krystallos blog

© Lisa Shambrook

I began to blog as The Last Krystallos in February 2010, eight years ago on Blogger, switching to WordPress in 2014.  I blogged sporadically but posted all my Flash Fiction each week. I began blogging once a week, every Wednesday, three years ago in 2015, and have loved posting regular articles on subjects as diverse as Mental Health, Positivity and Dreams, Nature, and Writing, and Reading.

Labradorite gem stone with a necklace with Strength written on it - The Last Krystallos blog

© Lisa Shambrook

My articles have generally been in line with my writing, as it says in my website About Me:  I’m a sensory writer and I delve into sensitive subjects that will lift your spirit and steal your heart, and I conjure worlds of fantasy and post-apocalypse which will ignite your imagination.

This is what you’ll find here!

Trollbeads bracelet and Hot Choc from Pethau Da coffee shop Carmarthen - The Last Krystallos blog

© Lisa Shambrook

You can search my articles on my blog and reread or find anything you want since I began regularly writing. My Flash Fiction can be discovered under Fiction in Categories in the side bar: Five Sentence Fiction, 55 Words, Monday Mixer, Blues Buster, Mid-Week Flash Challenge and more… It’s all accessible and fun to look back at.

grey cat sleeping and relaxed The Last Krystallos blog

© Lisa Shambrook

See you on the first and third Wednesdays,
but don’t forget to check out my short and micro short stories when they come up!

Thank you so much for all your ongoing support and love ❤

Punch Line – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

I was sure I was on the streets of The Capitol and Peacekeepers trolled me as the plaza swayed and shifted. I kept expecting Katniss to lunge forward and demand I run, run for my life! But her long plait never whipped over my head, and I remained prostrate and confused.

As the clock tower pitched violently to the right I fought the urge to puke. Spikes shot through my head and Leonardo DiCaprio stumbled into view. He dropped to my side shaking my shoulder. “Where’s your totem?” he asked. I mumbled, but couldn’t even recognise my own voice. “You’re not Katniss…” I slurred.

His slap stung bringing me round for a moment. “What the…” I began.

“Where’s your totem? Where is it?” he insisted, his eyes, round and big, burning into my skull.

“I don’t have one!” I yelled, my voice screeching like train brakes. I grabbed my head screwing my eyes shut.

When I opened them again he was gone but the buildings still ducked and dodged and reeled. This time Katniss did speak. She leaned across and kissed my forehead. I smiled then retched as my belly plunged like it would on the first drop of a rollercoaster. This was a bad trip. This was a nightmare.

I reached for her hand but mine waved limply in the air before me. Poison raced through my veins, and the blue blood vessels in my forearm wriggled. Bulging worms threading up my arm threatened to explode and I puked. It didn’t make me feel any better.

Noises of disgust emanated about me and I tried to see through blurry eyes. I tried to apologise, but the words refused to form. Instead a steady stream of vomit landed in the lap beside me and despite my inebriated state shame burned.

Within moments Katniss was gone. She’d left me for Peeta or for Gale, which, I had no idea, but I’d blown any chance I had. Tears stung like the slap Leonardo had delivered. The sun shone through the grey sky as steel-blue clouds roiled and churned. The light stung my eyes and made the Italian landscape bow and twist. I tried to wipe the tears, but someone had hold of my hand. They had a tight grip, a strong wrist, and for a moment I wondered if I’d been strapped to a bed like James Bond. That was it! I’d been kidnapped, drugged, and left to rot in Italy while they escaped in my DBS V12. I knew enough to know that. I had that car imprinted on my brain.

My wrists tensed, I’d break these bonds if it killed me… I writhed and squirmed and fought to escape. Desperation threw my mind into fresh chaos and I swung my legs off the table. Yes, I was on a table, a flat, uncomfortable table. I tried to slip off and land on my feet, but hands, many hands grabbed at me and restrained me, placing me back up on the slab. Slab! Maybe I was dead. I felt dead.

My eyes flew open, blinded by the bright sun, which was preferable to having my fears validated and seeing Emilia Fox staring down at me. Fearing death, I quietened. My head still swam and my belly still churned and to avoid further restraint, which was painful – my wrists hurt, I relaxed into my delusion.

My brain fogged as the sun grew brighter and the sky coiled about me in shades of green and grey.

When I finally woke, my eyelids were still sluggish and my eyes worked hard to focus, I noted my surroundings quickly as clarity unveiled itself. The shame of the night before enveloped me far more, as the green curtains of a Casualty bay remained, mostly shuttered, about me as I reclined on a bed covered by a scratchy blanket. My arm was restrained by tube in the back of my hand as a drip rehydrated and flushed out my system.

Katniss re-entered the room, her long plait hitched up in a twist and she checked my vitals on the clipboard at the bottom of the bed. Her blue plastic apron creased and puckered as she smiled at me. “We almost lost you last night,” her voice was soft and I knew I’d been forgiven for the vomit, but I’d have to work hard to absolve myself from the nightmare. Resolution sparked. I’d never drink such a strange concoction again.

0000. Divider

This picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Piroshki-Photography totally intrigued me.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

When Darkness Falls – the Midnight Hour

What is your favourite time of the day?
Is it dawn with the light of a new day,
or the gloaming twilight and the indigo blanket
that sweeps across the sky bringing night?

When Darkness Falls - The Midnight Hour - The Last Krystallos
I love the night, the dark, the stars, and the romance of the cloak that night draws over us as dusk trails into starlight. I’ve always loved the dark, the late autumn evenings moving into the dark, cosy nights of winter have always brought me comfort. Maybe it’s because I like to hide away, maybe because I’m a night owl, maybe it’s just because I’m a stargazer and a dreamer…

Loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night - Sarah Williams - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Just as some love the break of dawn and a new day, I love the closing of the day, its end and a time to snuggle down and sleep.

I wonder if the time of day we like the most says something about us? Perhaps those who love the sunrise and a new morning are more positive and forward thinking. Maybe those who love midday love the hustle and bustle of a lively world and enjoy being in the present. Maybe those of us who adore the quiet, solitary hours in the middle of the night are perhaps reminiscent, not negative, but maybe we dwell a little too long on the past? There might be nothing in my pseudo-psychology, but I know I might enjoy the night a little more as a dreamer.

Memory - Midnight - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I was recently listening to Memory the song from the musical Cats and it never fails to make me cry. My throat tightens and my eyes are wet every time the words fill my soul. I remember the song from my childhood, one of those classics that stay with you forever, like On My Own from Les Miserables. Memory is so evocative, so real, so heartfelt, and so lonely, and I relate with every fibre of my being. I have spent too many nights standing beneath the moon in the early hours…

On My Own - Midnight - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

But, the night brings so much more than just memories…

It brings stars, searching out Orion as a child with my dad, teaching my children about the constellations, watching the Perseids meteor showers, and gazing at the ISS – International Space Station as it moves overhead like a single-minded shooting star.

It brings safety, home, and nights cuddled up with my family.

It brings solace after a tough day.

It brings late nights out and excitement at being out when others have gone to bed.

It brings rest, sleep, and relief, and dreams.

It brings love.

It brings silence, and introspection, imagination, and inspiration. I get some of my best ideas, clarity, and moments of sheer genius late, late at night. The early, early hours are when plot holes fix themselves, characters decide what they want to do, and endings of novels are resolved.

Stargazer Lisa The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I love the night, the stars, its encompassing darkness, and the velvet night sky.

What is your favourite time of the day, and why do you love it?  

At midnight, in the month of June, I stand beneath the mystic moon. Edgar Allen Poe - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook