Author Archives: Lisa Shambrook

About Lisa Shambrook

An author and dreamer who loves dragons... Author www.lisashambrook.com and owner Amaranth Alchemy on Etsy etsy.com/uk/shop/AmaranthAlchemy

 Light and Magic – Mid-week Flash Challenge

Rowena gazed from one bottle to the other with an amused expression.

“Where did you get them?” she asked.

Alex grinned. “That would ruin the magic,” she told her.

Rowena picked up the closest bottle. The thick glass, worn and cloudy with age, held tiny golden grains that shone though the smudgy glass. She ran her finger across the label. “Sun dust,” she read and smirked.

“Don’t judge,” said Alex.

“I’m not judging–,”

“Yes, you are!”

“Sun dust?” Rowena raised an eyebrow at Alex as she picked up the second bottle. “And moonbeams? Really?”

“Read the rest,” prompted Alex.

Dutifully, Rowena held both bottles. “‘Sun dust, sprinkle anytime to add a little light to your life’, and ‘Moonbeams, scatter when needed to bring magic to your life’. Are you saying I need light and magic?”

“Don’t we all?” said Alex.

Rowena inspected the bottles again, tipping the sun grains so they sparkled in the evening sunshine radiating in through the bedroom window. Then she smiled and held the moonbeams, gently shaking the bottle so the tiny crystals shimmered. “It’s just sand and salt – rock crystal – or something like that.”

“You have no imagination, nothing!” Alex sighed.

“And you’re just an old romantic!”

“You wouldn’t have me any other way, Ro!”

Rowena grinned and placed the bottles back on the window sill then she gazed at Alex and sank down beside her on the bed. “I wouldn’t.” Her hand laced with Alex’s and she leaned in to kiss her gently on the cheek. “I wouldn’t change anything about you,” she said as she lost herself in Alex’s eager response.

An hour or two later Rowena woke, her hair mussed up and her mind fuzzy with romance. She glanced beside her but the bed was empty. Just a quickly scribbled note lay on the pillow and Rowena snatched it up. “‘Sprinkle and scatter… just do it’,” she read. She laughed and sat up, noticing that Alex had taken her coat and keys. Alex had a night shift at the veterinary practice. Rowena yawned and smoothed her hair.

The bottles still sat on the window sill. The sun had lowered in the sky and the day’s light was almost gone. The sun dust still glistened in the orange sunset, and the moonbeams turned silver as the sun faded and the moon rose. Rowena smiled as she removed the stopper from the first bottle and tipped a little sunlight into her hand. She giggled and threw it up into the air. She felt a little foolish as she caught her reflection in the mirror and sand landed in her hair, but she put the stopper back in the bottle and picked up the moonbeams. She spilled the glitter into her palm and again threw it up letting it settle in her locks.

“Light and Magic, I welcome you!” she chanted, then shook her head and watched the shimmering grains float about her.

She went to bed in the sheer romance of the moment, looking forward to Alex’s arrival home.

Rowena opened her eyes to a steaming mug of morning coffee and a kiss on her forehead. Nothing could possibly be more perfect. She reached out, but Alex stepped back with a grin on her face. “I see you invited, or invoked, light and magic then!” She chuckled as she brushed sand and glitter from Rowena’s pillow.

“I did, for all the good it’ll do me!” She reached out, picking up her coffee. “I wish I didn’t have to sleep alone so often though.”

Alex shrugged. “It’s part of the job, I’m afraid. Leave your coffee for a moment…”

Rowena put her mug down hopeful that Alex was about to join her in bed, but Alex picked up the mug and moved it out of her reach. Instead she moved to the bedroom door and pushed it wide open. In a single bound a large ball of fur launched across the floor and up onto the bed engulfing Rowena in a sloppy, furry kiss. A wet pink tongue licked Rowena and then fell back to sit on the bed panting, with a wide Golden Retriever smile across its face. Rowena squealed in delight as the ball of sunshine kissed her again. Rowena laughed and grinned at Alex then she crossed her hands across her heart as Alex lead a nervous, silver-haired German Shepherd into the room.

She sprang out of bed, followed by the excited Retriever, and knelt gently in front of the anxious dog, offering her hand to the timid creature. The Shepherd glanced at the Retriever and when the golden dog licked Rowena again, the pale Shepherd gently sniffed the outstretched hand and let Rowena softly stroke her head.

Alex spoke quietly, “They come together, the sun and the moon. Their owner died recently, with no family, and we won’t separate them. They’re like you and me, day and night. They belong with us now.”

Rowena nodded as she gazed at the two dogs, one as bright and as happy as the sunshine that streamed through the window, and the other as soft, mysterious, and gentle as night’s moonbeams, and her eyes filled with tears. “You’ve truly brought me both light and magic.”

I haven’t written or blogged for a while, but the Sun Dust photo Miranda, at Finding Clarity, chose for her Mid-Week Flash Challenge this week caught me. I love some light and magic…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph. I overstepped the rules this week, though, ending up with 874 words, but hey, it’s a cute short story and I loved writing it!

The Seren Stone by Lisa Shambrook Release

When Loren and her siblings’ lives change in an instant,
and dragons fill the skies above,
they will need to face danger with courage, and a little cowardly lechrad…

The Seren Stone by Lisa Shambrook

Today, April 5th, sees the release of The Seren Stone, a fantasy tale that puts Loren in a time and place she knows she shouldn’t be with no way to get home. How would you feel?

This was never meant to be an epic adventure… all Loren did was try on a family heirloom pendant and then she and her younger brother and sister were vaulted into a future they couldn’t recognise – with dragons!

Imagine Loren’s fear and sense of responsibility as the decisions she takes throws them into a situation that puts her siblings into mortal danger

This book is a fast paced, descriptive journey into an unfamiliar world which suits readers of all ages, from children to adult. As an autistic author emotions are something I work with daily and that comes through in my writing. Courage and self-belief in the face of fear is also something I fight with, but Loren needs to face her crushing fears and with help from a few dragons and a little lechrad – she might just do that!

The Seren Stone, published by BHCPress, is available in all your favourite bookshops:

BHC Press – Amazon UK – Amazon US – Barnes & Noble – Waterstones –
Indigo – Kobo – Google Play – Apple

Available as ebook, paperback, and hardback as bookshops offer.

The Seren Stone will test your courage as you fly on dragon wings
 and fight for survival in an unfamiliar land…

The Seren Stone by Lisa Shambrook

The Seren Stone Cover Reveal and Pre-order

Welcome to The Seren Stone Chronicles.
The Seren Stone is a book for all those who

believe in magic and dragons and courage…
for all three will change you.

I am so excited to share this book with you, and I can now reveal my cover courtesy of BHCPress, And it’s now *available on pre-order!

Release Date: 5th April 2022

The Seren Stone – Lisa Shambrook

An epic fantasy adventure! When Loren places a family heirloom jewel around her neck – she, along with her brother and sister, Will and Cat, are hurled into a future they cannot recognise. Centuries beyond post-apocalyptic – the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country and the rumble of dragons has returned…

This book has a deep place in my heart, as I wrote it two decades ago for my children, then I hid it away until I was able to come back and rewrite it. The redraft ignited every flame in my soul as I captured gems and dragons, and sent Loren to try to right her wrongs. Danger dances, courage flirts with fear, a little cowardly lechrad tries to help, and nobody knows how to return them home

Back cover description – blurb – The Seren Stone

The Seren Stone is *available in all your favourite bookshops:

BHC PressAmazon UKAmazon USBarnes & NobleWaterstones
IndigoKoboGoogle PlayApple

*Check your preferred format availability when you order, ebooks available for preorder on all sites. Paperbacks and hardbacks available as bookshops offer or on 5th April 2022

The Seren Stone will test your courage as you fly on dragon wings
and fight for survival in an unfamiliar land…

The Seren Stone by Lisa Shambrook

Notes and maps The Seren Stone Chronicles © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Call – Mid-week Flash Challenge

© Lisa Shambrook

The peridot-green tint of algae penetrated the wood, like it had been brushed on with a watercolour paint brush, like it was part of the mirror’s design. The wood, once damp, now flaky and dry in the barn, still sported delicate fretwork and inlays – though one touch and they’d crumble. And the glass, cloudy like a cataract, showed no reflection and mirrored nothing.

Rachel moved closer, her feet stumbling as she stepped over long abandoned debris and rubbish strewn across the floor of the barn. Chairs – covered in faded, torn damask, a tarnished bronze bedstead, garden tools with broken wooden handles, a pile of rusted metal-springs, coils, barbed wire, and myriad other lost items filled the space within the ramshackle walls. Rachel, however, noticed nothing but the mirror, as she shuffled forward.

Cobwebs floated to and fro in the light draught that drifted through the barn, as did the white hair framing her face, and she deftly brushed her errant tresses aside. Her flowing nightdress wrapped itself around her legs and she shivered. She smiled at the sensation the shiver sent through her. She didn’t think a shiver would have registered these days, she was so tired, so –

A bird flapped at the door, feathers rustling in the wind, and Rachel glanced back at it. A raven sat, perched with its head cocked on the splintered door. It watched for a moment as Rachel met its eyes then Rachel returned her gaze to the mirror.

She stood before the old looking glass, trying to see her face in its murky reflection, but only indistinct shadows stared back.

The raven cracked its wings in the silence and flew across the floor, this time landing noisily on the bedstead rail. Its feet clutched tight and Rachel watched its outline waver in the shadowy glass.

“Is it time?” she asked, her voice soft, and as quiet as the gentle spring breeze.

There was no reply, and she moved her hand to the decaying, rotting frame around the oval of glass. For a moment, as she touched it, the mirror was restored, a thing of simple beauty. She gazed into clear glass, her face surrounded by ebony hair, and her fingers young and slim. The wood – oak, warm, and delicately grained framed the mirror, and she was twenty-two, not eighty-two. The image faded, like the wood, and Rachel stood once more before the old mirror.

She smiled and nodded again. “It’s time,” she said, as the raven shifted behind her. She peered into the glass, and in it, or was it in her mind’s eye, she saw two people. The woman behind her, with raven black hair, like hers, wrapped her arms around Rachel, and Rachel let herself melt into the long missed and welcome embrace.

The mirror reflected nothing, as Rachel rested cold and unresponsive on the freezing floor. The raven, a ghostly shadow in the gloomy mirror, muttered and flew off soaring away into the cold, white morning sky.  

Miranda, at Finding Clarity, chose one of my own photographs for her Mid-Week Flash Challenge, and I’ve always wanted to write something for this picture that I took of an old crumbling mirror in my dad’s barn… so here we are.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Dead Lake by Miranda Kate

‘Sometimes it pays to be tricky…’

I’d slipped out of my own writing and editing, and hadn’t read a book in ages, then Miranda sent me Dead Lake to beta read and I got lost in it! It reignited my own words and a desire to write again. Dead Lake has been out for a while now, and I’m still thinking about it.

From Monday Feb 14th Dead Lake will be on sale for 7 full days – up to and including the 20th of February. The price will be 99p/99c.

Seriously, if you like fantasy, crystals, forests, magic, and a heroine with bite and attitude, then you need to read this…

Tricky is searching for her lost Obsidian gemstone… © Lisa Shambrook

I really loved Tricky, the main character, and I knew I would, but I got caught up in her confidence and sass, and appreciated the times her vulnerability shone through. So, I asked Miranda what she loved about Tricky, and about writing her character:

Miranda said: I love her humour, her honesty, the way she flirts with any good looking man, and also her wily nature. She’s everything I want to be: confident, sure of herself, and lives her life on her terms.

She always makes me smile. She’s that inner part of yourself only you don’t dare let others see, because they might be offended. It’s like letting a part of me escape every time I write about her.

I agree, this is exactly how I saw her too!

Here’s my review:

‘Sometimes it pays to be tricky

Damn and blast! That rancid piece of excrement, Carter, has had her ransacked out of Clancy!

Tricky returns to her cottage to find it turned upside down. An action that means she’s got three days to leave the district or face punishment. Randolf Carter, head of the district, is spreading lies and suspicion about her kind, making life difficult. But it wasn’t just an ordinary ransacking – they were searching for something.

Using her gifts, Tricky traces the energy left by the men and spies another creature’s energy among it: a jackdaw. Swift and wily, it’s pinched her precious gemstone, a piece of black obsidian. But at whose bidding? Communicating with birds is a rare ability and she knows all who possess it.

Tricky wants her stone back, but coming up against people like Carter won’t be easy, especially when he’s got one of her kind in his employ. But she’ll handle it, oh yes she will. She’ll just have to be careful and a little bit tricky. Good thing she is then, isn’t it?

Adept at working with energy and time as well as communicating with trees, Tricky is lured into something bigger than ownership of a gemstone, and finds out that sometimes it pays to be a little bit tricky.

Dead Lake is a dark paranormal fantasy novel set a few hundred years from now in a post-apocalyptic world. After a massive shift of the tectonic plates decimated the world and its population, life on the remaining landmass has returned to simple living, with money, rulers and religion no longer tolerated.’

If you’re looking for a great book and a bargain,
you’ll not go wrong with Dead Lake and Tricky!

Unconditional Love – Remembering Kira

Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them
Thom Jones

Three years ago, on Blue Monday 2019, I saw a scruffy and forlorn German shepherd staring out at me from a Rescue site on Twitter, and I knew in my soul she was already a part of me.

She was advertised as a five-year-old with issues and EPI, a life-long health problem. We spent a couple of weeks persuading the Rescue centre she should be ours and on 10th February she was.

From rescue centre to our home… February 2019 © Lisa Shambrook

Her age ended up being fairly ambiguous, as she’d been advertised as five for two years on social media, so it was more likely she was around six or seven when she got to us. She’d been rescued from a home of neglect when she was three, so her early years were troubled, and then she spent at least two years in a rescue kennel miles away from anywhere and pretty much alone. She was fostered and rehomed several times, but always returned because her anxiety was too much to deal with. Nicola, a foster carer, did her best to save Kia and gave her love and training, but wasn’t able to keep her. A year later Kira came to us, her forever home.

We thought we’d have longer with her, not even three years, but she filled a lifetime in those few years…

Kira: six or seven years old © Lisa Shambrook

She was a dreamer – always staring off into the distance and looking romantic. She was my soul mate, she was everything.

Kira the dreamer © Lisa Shambrook

We soon realised that her anxiety was too great to be able to walk her locally, she was too reactive to other dogs, so it was off to the forest and she loved it there. Like us she loved solitude and the purity of nature.

Out in the wild © Lisa Shambrook

Flowers, they were as beautiful as she was. I could never get over how pretty she was, she blew me away every time I gazed at her. She was like the stars in the sky, the flowers in the hedgerow, the water flowing in the river, she was uncontainable.

As beautiful as the flowers © Lisa Shambrook

There was a gentleness that only we saw. She saved it for those she loved and felt safe with, and there weren’t many people in her life that gave her that. She was a teddy bear, a soft cuddly baby, and a dog that loved with everything she had when she loved you. She only trusted a handful of people in her life, and if you were one of those, you were truly privileged.

Happy and content © Lisa Shambrook

She was never happier than when she was out exploring. She always walked at the furthest point her lead let her, but if you took her lead off out on a walk, she panicked. She needed to stay connected and it gave her security and comfort.

Walks and wonder © Lisa Shambrook

Kira loved her cuddly toys. Elephant was her first and favourite with us. Kira’s toys were generally not for playing with, they were for comfort. She decided what happened with her toys. If we tried to take her indoor toys outside, she’d shake her head at us, and immediately take them back indoors. She wasn’t one for fetch either, throw a ball and she’d stare at it then back at you, and ask why?

Kira and her beloved toys © Lisa Shambrook

The day it snowed on New Year’s Eve 2020 was one of her best days! She loved the snow, eating it, catching snowballs, and racing about with us in it. It was beautiful, and her smile says it all!

The best snow day ever © Lisa Shambrook

Back in Brechfa she was her true spirit, a fae of a dog, a forest dweller, and a creature of magic

She had a wild heart that filled you with wonder.

At one with nature in Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

Then it all went wrong. She slowed down a little, but at what we thought was nine-years-old dogs do get a little slower. She had an ear infection, which got sorted at the vet. Then in September she started reverse sneezing, didn’t seem much to worry about, but it didn’t go away. In October it got worse and she began coughing. The vets were lovely, Kira’s a very difficult dog to take to the vet due to her high anxiety and panic, but the vets saw her outside and dealt with her with incredible care. At first we thought she had kennel cough and she was treated for that, but it didn’t get better. She lost her voice, lost her bark, and I knew something was really wrong. Kira was a chatty dog that talked all the time, and now she couldn’t.

Wild at heart © Lisa Shambrook

After six weeks she had scans, x-rays, and a biopsy. At the back of her throat was a mass. It was an aggressive malignant salivary gland tumour. We were devastated. We hoped we’d have longer with her, but eating became difficult. We gave her tins of salmon, her favourite, until one day she couldn’t eat anymore, and the tumour was too large to allow comfortable eating and breathing. We knew the time had come.

After we knew © Lisa Shambrook

Sunday 14th November was the hardest day, and she passed peacefully away in our arms.

Our hearts broke but we let her go to run free in far flung fields, and to find Roxy who would mother her like we did. There is nothing like the pain of losing your soul mate.

Kira: 2012 – 2021 © Lisa Shambrook

She is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are her life, her love, her leader.
She will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of her heart.
You owe it to her to be worthy of such devotion.

– Agnes Repplier

Kira: always smiling © Lisa Shambrook

Kira – our German Shepherd – May 2012 – 14th November 2021

Climate Change – COP26 – Changing the Narrative, the Blame, and our Actions

What will it take to save the planet?
Change.
Change in the narrative, change in the blame, and change in our actions.

I’ve watched the News over the last few weeks, reporting on COP26 (Conference of the Parties for those countries who signed up to the 1994 treaty UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and their discussion on Climate Change. I’ve heard them say they’ll stop cutting down the rainforest in a decade, they’ll introduce some more electric cars, oh, yes, they’ll try to stop cows from farting, ie, reduce methane. I also heard they might try and get rid of coal, but I’m pretty sure we’re opening a new coal field in Cumbria soon, so that’ll go well. We’re still waiting to see if our Leaders can come up with big agreements and remain accountable, but forgive us our scepticism. Most steps our governments make are small, and it’s almost always the public who are expected to change rather than the government or industry.

It’s the big things that matter. We’re already doing the small things. We can all do our bit – walk more, buy local, put out blue bags, and recycle. We hope our local council is actually recycling it. It’s been shocking to discover many Local Authorities pack up their recycled plastic, and send it to third world countries for processing, except that those countries lack the infrastructure to cope, and it just creates massive, problematic, mountains of waste in another part of the world.

Moss © Lisa Shambrook

Local Authorities, governments, and industry need to take big steps and take accountability. Money needs to be taken out of fossil fuels and plastic and put into solar, water, and wind. I mean, fossil fuels are literally running out, and we have more sun, ocean, and wind on our literal doorstep. But the general public can’t do this. It has to come from government and big business. Industry and Law has to change. We can recycle our plastic drinks bottle, but maybe the drinks company should be producing a more ecological bottle or packaging. We can try to buy food without plastic, but if our supermarkets and their suppliers don’t stop over using it, we have much less choice. We can only work with what they give us.

We, and governments etc, need to listen to activists and scientists. Activists will keep Climate Change on our radar, they will keep us aware, and scientists will move us forward with statistics, information, time scales, and directions on what we need to do to protect the planet. The older generation seems to listen to Sir David Attenborough, and he is God tier – to be protected at all costs, but they don’t like being told what to do by the younger generation. Greta Thunberg, Patience Nabukala, Brianna Fruean, and others repeat the words of warning at COP26 for climate change, and are fully backed up by Attenborough. A NASA article explains that 97% of scientists agree on the validity of Climate Change. United Nations, NASA, many organisations, and our governments all utilise scientists and their predictions, and we need to listen to them.

Canary Wharf, London © Lisa Shambrook

It appears the older, richer, and more powerful people aren’t listening, or maybe they just don’t care. An Oxfam report noted that ‘The world’s richest “appear to have a free pass to pollute,”’ Their report found that the richest 1% will have a carbon footprint 30 times higher in 2030 than what is needed to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. According to the report the carbon footprint of the rich will always be much more than the poorest 50% who are on course to produce fewer emissions to align with the 1.5°C target. Think billionaires, millionaires, and those in the top 10% of global earning – anyone earning over $158K (£117K) – these are the people that need to change, to reinvest in ecological practices, to change the narrative, to save the planet.

The young, the rising generations, know what they’re talking about, and how dare anyone say they don’t. Back in the eighties when I was a teen Climate Change was taught to us. It was mainly about greenhouse gasses and the declining ozone layer, but we began to learn what we were doing to the planet and we began to want to change. We got rid of CFC’s and the ozone layer repaired itself. But it wasn’t just about CFC’s. And now, forty years later, we’re still fighting for change and the planet has declined even further.

Carnelian © Lisa Shambrook

The young today are taught from primary school. They know more about climate change, declining populations of animals, and about our earth from children’s books on the environment, than, it seems, our actual politicians do. They want to change. They want to save their planet. They are willing to do what it takes.

A friend of mine took her daughter, who must be a young teen, to the recent Glasgow COP26 protests, and I would put money on that young woman understanding more about the environment and climate change than our own Prime Minister.

Brechfa © Lisa Shambrook

I saw a meme the other day on Facebook, a meme that is oft repeated, but it makes me so angry.

It exonerated older generations, the Silent and Boomer generations, from taking the blame for plastic. It explained that they ‘courageously’ walked everywhere, recycled their glass pop and milk bottles, used cotton shopping bags, didn’t have plastic toys, or McDonald’s or Burger King. They had no polystyrene, wrapped their food in newspapers, and didn’t go on foreign holidays. It then went on to blame the younger generations, Millennial and Gen Z, for their culture of waste and called them ‘little shits’ for preaching to them about climate change.

It failed, in a huge way, to point out that if our children had been born back then they would have done the same – because plastic hadn’t been invented and wasn’t flooding the planet like it is now.

And guess who brought us plastic? It was the older generation, who fully embraced its convenience. We probably all would have done. But the fault doesn’t lie with a generation, not old or young, it lies with those who, once we knew of the dangers of plastic, continue to saturate the market, and the world, with it.

Brechfa Moss © Lisa Shambrook

Plastic has become part of our world, and if it was easy to get rid of it, we would. But while those in power, both in government and industry, continue to pump money into it, plastic will not die.

The irony being that plastic, point blank, will not die. It won’t degrade and will continue to pollute for hundreds or thousands of years.

Time © Lisa Shambrook

Plastic is a literal part of our world, and that is what needs to change. So, let’s listen intently to the young and the scientists who want to change the world, to save our planet, and let’s lobby parliament and industry to change. Vote for those who will take the money out of fossil fuels and plastic and put it into renewable resources. We’ve tried to change through recycling, switching to eco-friendly products, but it’s a world for the rich, and while they continue to flood the market with plastic, non-environmental products, and electric cars and heating pumps that are too expensive for most of us to buy, we can’t win. We have to vote, to be part of politics, to lobby for change before we run out of time.

We have to save the planet for those future generations
 – our children, our grandchildren –
and those that want to live in a thriving world, long after we’re gone.

Autumn’s Gratitude

Crystal Grids have become an intrinsic part of my life,
helping me meditate, use mindfulness, and set intentions.
They focus me on affirmations, self-care, and ground me when I need it.

October, and Halloween season, offers itself to gratitude and appreciation of nature’s abundance, and this grid is my latest – entwining leaves and nature’s bounty with crystals that glow with fire and autumn colours. This Crystal Grid is for Grounding, Confidence, and Gratitude.

Autumn’s Gratitude © Lisa Shambrook

A central Pumpkin symbolises gratitude, abundance, and generosity. Surrounded by nature’s harvest of Oak Leaves for strength, and Acorns and Acorn Cups for growth and prosperity. The horse chestnut’s Conkers represent growth and attainment, and Sweet Chestnuts for wisdom and hope. Fire Agate represent autumn’s bounty with grounding, courage, and confidence, and Carnelian offers confidence, empowerment, and the pure energy of life with abundance and blessings from Mother Earth.

The Wheel of the Year Crystal Grids © Lisa Shambrook

Samhain is also one of the grids in my The Wheel of the Year collection where I have created crystal grids for each Pagan Sabbatseasonal festival and celebrationImbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain, and Yule. You can buy art prints of these pieces at Amaranth Alchemy.

Stones, grids, and nature have made their way into my life, my writing, my books, my mental health, science, and the history of the world. I recently wrote an article published in Mom’s Favorite Reads, an eMagazine available for FREE on Amazon each month. You can read my article here, but do download the magazine for much more great content.

Let autumn’s gratitude fill your spirit and recharge you for the rest of the year.  

Autumn – Season of Reflection and Gratitude

Autumn arrives in a blaze of glory.
It’s a time of reflection and gratitude,
a time to recharge and choose your direction for the rest of the year,
and to enjoy the bounty and abundance from Mother Earth.

I love that moment when I step outside and the scent of autumn is in the air, when the leaves are turning, and I can pull out my favourite jumpers, slip on my boots, and find my hats and gloves again. I love my autumn gems and pumpkins, and it’s time for hot chocolate and autumn treasures.

Dog Walk, Carnelian and Fire Agate, Jumpers, Hot Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

The moon fills the crisp night sky and the stars seem even brighter. I buy a new hat and watch the squirrels eating windfall apples in my garden. Autumn is a grounding time of year, and I feel my autumn stones, smoky quartz, black moonstone, lodolite quartz and the crystals that offer healing, protection and grounding.

Moon, Scarf and Hat, Squirrel, Smoky Quartz © Lisa Shambrook

It’s a time to celebrate the rich colours: bronze, orange, gold, and brown, and the glorious harvest of fruits and veg. I bury my head in a good book when the weather gets too wet or cold and start baking again!

Pumpkin, Symphony, Cookies, Courgette Bloom © Lisa Shambrook

Light that candle, so many fragrances for autumn: chocolate, caramelised apple, sweet pumpkin, vanilla bean, and berries. Apples and plums, not just for candle scents! Carnelian offers confidence and courage and fits the autumn colour scheme with its burning orange glow. And, lastly, you’ll find me searching the hedgerows, parks, and woodlands for its treasures, bringing home pockets filled with conkers, acorns, leaves, and chestnuts.

Candle, Carnelian, Apples, Conkers and Acorns © Lisa Shambrook

Autumn is me!
What are your favourite Autumn treasures?

Hades Oven – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Dead End by Svetlana Sewell

It was as black as velvet, thick with stifling heat, and she shuddered at the echoing drips in the narrow corridor. The breath she pulled deep into her lungs threatened to suffocate her in the clammy air. She shook her head, trying to rid her skin of the constant illusion of crawling ants, and tightened the frayed tourniquet tied about her left bicep. Yesterday’s wound was depleting more energy than she’d expected.

Today’s cuts and bruises were more superficial, and she took a swig of murky water from her canteen before stuffing it back into her damp rucksack. She was sweating more than she was drinking.

There was only one way into this broiling labyrinth of brick, and no other way out, and the men still waiting for her and the gem at the entrance knew it. She sighed and leaned against the wall, her head torch wobbling as she slapped the wall in frustration beside her. Her eyes stung as tears blurred her vision and defeat gurgled in her throat. The huge garnet jewel stowed in her canvas backpack, still grey with mud and dried moss, and heavy within its matrix rock, weighed on her shoulders and in her mind.

The gem, bundled inside her jacket, carried value she didn’t want to give up, but trapped inside the tunnels the stories she’d heard as a child were slowly resurfacing as desperation grew. Was the legend worth the aggravation? Could the myths carry truth? And, within the miles of hallway could she find the gem’s fabled haven?

There was always another way out, no one would ever build a labyrinth without an escape route; it was unheard of. And it was – except within the oppressive dungeons of Hades Oven.

She moved on, her fingers trailing over the ruby moss swathed brickwork. Never ending walls stretched through the obscurity, until she turned a corner and a silver doorway greeted her. The door stood ominously open, streaked with broken and decayed latticework shining in her torch light.

She tried to see beyond the darkness, but the rays bounced off the walls, artificial light glinting like a dead end. Fatigue pounded and her sweat turned cold. This was it, the end of the eternal hallway. There was nowhere else to go, nowhere else but back.

The noise of her own blood pumping through her veins thundered through her head as she gazed at the mottled silver smeared across the walls like fog, like ice. A wry smile flickered across her face. Her final moments of torture, as she baked beneath the earth, would be the imagery of ice, of mist, and of cool water running down the bricks. An illusion in her rattled and ragged dried out mind.

Then she moved across the threshold into the tiny room, and pulled the door closed, its hinges creaking tired and worn, until it clicked shut. She slipped her backpack off her shoulders and smiled at the weightlessness she felt as she slipped to the floor, the bag landing with a thud beside her. She took a last look at the small room, the beam of her torch flashing over the silvered bricks, and she switched off her light. Darkness enveloped the room and she sank into the corner to await her end in death’s antechamber.

It wasn’t completely dark. A burgundy glow emanated from her bag. Even through the thick canvas and dirty jacket the garnet smouldered. Trembling fingers tugged open the bag and turned it upside down. Dust billowed and the gem bounced on the concrete, and in the red light a tiny switch shone. She grabbed it and as the lever came away in her hand, bricks crumbled. Light, as white as heaven, flooded the tiny space, blinding her. Then the dust settled and running water crashed past the opening. Still squinting, she pushed out and gulped in cool fresh air. Without another thought she stuffed the gem back into her bag, and stepped out beneath the torrents of waterfall. A valley stood before her, miles away from the labyrinth’s entrance, and offering freedom. She’d found the haven and Hades would have to wait.

Really wanted to write something for this photo provided by Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge prompt. Something suffocating about this image, by Svetlana Sewell, that needed a story.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.